First lady Melania Trump responded to a Massachusetts librarian who rejected her gift of Dr. Seuss books while calling them “cliché” and “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures and harmful stereotypes” in an open letter.
The letter read, in part, as follows:
“Dear Mrs. Trump,
“Thank you for the ten Dr. Seuss titles that you sent my school library in recognition of this year’s National Read a Book Day...
“My school doesn’t have a need for these books. And then there’s the matter of the books themselves. You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature...
“Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.
“I am honored that you recognized my students and our school. I can think of no better gift for children than books; it was a wonderful gesture, if one that could have been better thought out. Books can be a powerful way to learn about and experience the world around us; they help build empathy and understanding. In return, I’m attaching a list of ten books (it’s the librarian in me) that I hope will offer you a window into the lives of the many children affected by the policies of your husband’s administration.”
Liz Phipps Soeiro, a librarian at Cambridgeport Elementary School, faced backlash after writing an open letter rejecting Trump’s donation of Dr. Seuss books to her school. While parents supported her statements, the Cambridge School district distanced itself from the letter.
“The opinions expressed in the Horn Book editorial were those of the writer and not a statement on behalf of Cambridge Public Schools,” officials explained in a statement. The school added that the response “was not a formal acceptance or rejection of donated books, but a statement of opinion on the meaning of the donation” and reportedly “counseled” Soeiro on “all relevant policies, including donations policies and the policy against public resources being used for political purposes.”
Trump’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, later responded to the comments.
“Mrs. Trump intends to use her platform as First Lady to help as many children as she can. She has demonstrated this in both actions and words since her husband took office, and sending books to schools across the country is but one example,” Grisham said in a statement. Grisham added that the divisive nature of the letter was “unfortunate” and that Trump “remains committed to her efforts on behalf of children everywhere.”
Springfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Domenic Sarno, who presides over Seuss’ hometown, heavily criticized Soeiro’s characterization of Seuss.
Akia Brown released her self-published memoir in February. A few months later, she learned her decision to reveal her life in print would get her children dismissed from their school.
The book, “Beyond Love,” details Brown’s journey from a single parent in Detroit to her current life as a mother of six in Atlanta who said she is happy in an open marriage with her husband.
It took a few months for news of her book to travel to administrators at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia, where her daughter had been a student for two years and her son was set to begin pre-kindergarten this fall.
In late July, Brown received a call from two administrators at the school. Via speaker phone, they told her that her daughter would not be allowed to return and her son was being denied admission.
Mount Paran is a private Christian, nondenominational, college preparatory day school that serves students ages 3-12. Parents are required to sign a covenant agreement upon enrollment, school officials said. The admission policy states:
The applicant and his/her parents must express a belief of biblical teachings, and a willingness to follow them, as well as student and parent’s affirmation of faith. Parents and students must read and agree to support the Statement of Faith (p. 4-5 in parent/student handbook on MPCS website), commit to uphold Christian principles in their daily lives, and actively participate in a local church body. As a covenant Christian school, MPCS reserves the right to determine whether Mount Paran Christian School is an appropriate placement for the applicant and/or the family. MPCS reserves the right to deny acceptance, terminate, or suspend enrollment of students at the school’s discretion with non-disclosure of reasons.
In this case, the school did give a reason -- Brown and her husband’s open marriage -- but Brown wanted the opportunity to plead her case.
“They haven’t even read the book. I don’t know how they even found out about the book,” Brown said.
She said her daughter, a shy first-grader, was flourishing at Mount Paran and misses her friends. She and her husband had made sure their children were supported academically and socially, she said.
In the book, Brown describes her nontraditional life. Her husband, Brian Maurice Brown, was incarcerated for almost 10 years on drug charges. In 2012, he started BMB Records, which has hosted a roster of hip-hop artists including Charli Baltimore and Ray J.
According to a recent story in the Detroit News, the company has been under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration since 2013. Brian Maurice Brown has not been charged with a drug-related crime.
Over the years, their relationship evolved from husband and wife to one between her, her husband and at least two other women, which they refer to as “wife-in-laws.” In the vein of urban nonfiction, Brown offers salacious details, but she contends the book is about unconditional love.
Brown said she was able to enroll her children in a new Christian school. She told the school administrators right upfront what happened and explained her views, an opportunity she said she never had at Mount Paran.
“Yes, (the book) discusses open marriage – or what others may consider an open marriage – but the real meaning and everything I have ever talked about is unconditional love and having a forgiving heart,” Brown said.
Gucci Mane’s decision to offer an unvarnished glimpse into his roller coaster life in “The Autobiography of Gucci Mane” is one of the smartest in his rehabilitated career.
After its first week of release, the book from the Atlanta rapper and writer Neil Martinez-Belkin sits at No. 24 on the Amazon Best Sellers list. It’s also No. 11 on the site’s Most Sold and Read through its own services (Kindle, Audible.com, Amazon.com) and, unsurprisingly, No. 1 in books about rap and hip-hop.
Last week, Gucci Mane visited a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan for a book signing (and was heckled by anti-fur activists, whom he calmly ignored), but according to the book’s publishing rep, he has no other events planned.
It is odd that Gucci Mane hasn’t slated an Atlanta appearance considering that his autobiography is firmly rooted in the city he has lived in since moving from Alabama with his family in 1989.
If you haven’t spent time with Gucci Mane’s unflinching recap of his life -- his early years of running drugs to Alabama, the numerous arrests that often overshadowed his musical output, his crippling addiction to “lean,” the three-year sentence at the U.S. Penitentiary in Indiana, almost losing his love, Keyshia Ka’oir (they’re now engaged) -- it’s worth the dive.
Gucci Mane, born Radric Davi, and Martinez-Belkin unspool some of the most traumatic incidents in the rapper’s life with vivid detail and sharply recalled conversations. But what is most impressive is Gucci Mane’s obvious self-reflection. This exercise might have started as a way to share his life with fans, but readers can sense as he comes to realizations about what he lost -- and how much more there was, and is, to lose.
In one passage he says, “I was spending money like it was never going to stop coming. Why would it? Some nights I was making ninety thousand dollars. I was pulling in sixty thousand at these stadium shows, like Hot 97’s Summer Jam or Hot 107.9’s Birthday Bash, and then I’d do an after-party and bring in another thirty thousand. I had songs all over the radio. The royalty checks were flowing. It never occurred to me that any of this could be temporary.”
As it should be, the Atlanta rap scene is highlighted as Gucci Mane -– who gets his nickname from his father, the original “Gucci Mane” –- delves into his ongoing beef with rapper Young Jeezy, describes working with his “go-to producer” Zaytoven and Mike Will Made It and shouts out to the ascension of 2 Chainz and Future.
Of working with Mike Will on his 2012 mixtape, “Trap Back,” Gucci Mane says, “Mike Will has me feeling like this ... is a job sometimes. Recording is supposed to be fun, and re-doing verses and ad-libs is not my idea of a good time. It’s not something I typically do. But when we were working on ‘Trap Back,’ I could tell that Mike Will wanted to see me come back and win just as bad as I wanted it. He knew what time it was.”
After spending three months at Jackson State prison in Georgia for a probation violation (an experience that included lice shampoo and rats “the size of cats”), Gucci Mane was released to find that 2 Chainz – whom he’d known for 15 years – and Future – a newcomer to Gucci Mane – were the new kingpins on the scene.
It became an easy collaboration among the three after Mike Will Made It recruited Future and 2 Chainz to hop on Gucci Mane’s song, “Nasty,” and a new respect manifested between Gucci Mane and Future.
Future, Gucci Mane says, “was certified Zone 6, so that made me even more inclined to work with him. Also I liked what a studio rat this dude was. I recorded every day but I also hit the clubs at night and enjoyed myself. Future didn’t leave the studio. All he did was record.”
AfterGucci Mane’s release from federal prison in 2016, the image-reconstruct began immediately. He lost a ton of weight, produced a successful homecoming concert at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, was featured in a major profile in the New York Times and, with fiancée Ka’oir, signed on for a reality show on BET to highlight their upcoming wedding (reportedly Oct. 17 at 10:17 a.m.).
The date “The Autobiography of Gucci Mane” arrived also marked his final day under probation – two years earlier than scheduled.
Perhaps it is a new chapter, indeed.
“Charlotte’s Web,” “Stellaluna” and “The Ugly Duckling” are among the innumerable children’s books written to teach kids lessons through situations and images involving animals.
But a new study says books that feature humans learning lessons, instead of animal characters, stick with children more and allow for more insight into application of values and morals.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and published in the journal Developmental Science, found that children who read a book with human characters were more affected than those who read a book with animal characters.
In an experiment, nearly 100 children between the ages of 4 and 6 were read one of three books: Little Raccoon Learns to Share by Mary Packard, which illustrates a fictional raccoon who learns that sharing makes one feel good and proves beneficial to all involved in the action; a version of the story in which the animal illustrations were replaced with human characters; and a control book about seeds.
The experiment found that children who were read the book with the human characters were more willing to share later in the day than those who were read the book with animal characters. And “there was no difference in generosity between children who read the book with anthropomorphized animal characters and the control book; both groups showed a decrease in sharing behavior,” the researchers found.
Reading a book about sharing “had an immediate effect on children’s pro-social behavior”, according to the study. “However, the type of story characters significantly affected whether children became more or less inclined to behave pro-socially. After hearing the story containing real human characters, young children became more generous. In contrast, after hearing the same story but with anthropomorphized animals or a control story, children became more selfish.”
“A growing body of research has shown that young children more readily apply what they’ve learned from stories that are realistic ... (but) this is the first time we found something similar for social behaviors,” said Patricia Ganea, who led the study, according to The Guardian. “The finding is surprising given that many stories for young children have human-like animals.”
Drew and Jonathan Scott are ready to open up about the trials and tribulations of their lives. From divorce and bankruptcy to marriage and babies, the brothers are not holding anything back in their new memoir, “It Takes Two: Our Story.”
“We didn’t want to cut anything out of the book,” Jonathan told People magazine. “We talk about all the highs and all the lows.”
Fans may be surprised to hear that before hitting it big with the HGTV series “Property Brothers,” Jonathan filed for bankruptcy and Drew was $100,000 in debt.
“We had been doing real estate for some time, but I missed my passion -- acting,” Drew said. “I went to Vancouver to pursue that, and I was taking acting courses, networking and doing all the things I had to do to make sure that I was being seen.”
Within months, Drew had racked up debt. “In the end, that experience was really important because it created the buzz for our first auditions, which got us on TV and made it worth it,” he said,
Jonathan had dreams of becoming a magician but lost everything after all of his props and equipment were stolen. “It really turned out to be a game-changer for us, because we realized how any reckless decision you make can leave you vulnerable,” he said.
The twins eventually bounced back and found great success with their HGTV home improvement series. Now, they are entering a new chapter in their lives -- marriage and family. Drew and his fiancee, Linda Phan, are busy planning a destination wedding and recently bought a home in Los Angeles while Jonathan has settled down with his longtime girlfriend, Jacinta Kuznetsov, and apparently, he has baby on the brain.
“Of all the success and everything we’ve achieved, I think I’ll be a great dad,” he said. “That’s going to be exciting.”
The house that inspired horror novelist Stephen King to write “Pet Sematary” is up for sale, the Bangor Daily News reported.
The house in Orrington, Maine, carries a $255,000 price tag. King and his family lived there for a year while he was a writer-in-residence at his alma mater, the University of Maine at Orono.
King said he did not remember the house number -- 664 River Road -- but recognized its picture in a real estate listing. The house has been featured in news stories, books, blogs and television shows.
“Don’t remember the number, but it was across the street from the store owned by the late, great Julio Desanctis,” King told the Bangor Daily News. “That’s actually where I wrote the book — in his storeroom.”
During King’s stay at the four-bedroom, three-bathroom home, his daughter Naomi’s cat, Smucky, was hit by a truck and died. The animal was buried in an informal pet cemetery on a hill behind the rental property, King said on his website.
“I can remember crossing the road and thinking that the cat had been killed in the road — and [thought] what if a kid died in that road,” King said on the website. “We had had this experience with [our son] Owen running toward the road, where I had just grabbed him and pulled him back. And the two things just came together.
“On one side of this two-lane highway was the idea of what if the cat came back, and on the other side of the highway was what if the kid came back — so that when I reached the other side, I had been galvanized by the idea, but not in any melodramatic way,” the author said. “I knew immediately that it was a novel.”
“Pet Sematary” was published in 1983, and a movie version was released in 1989.
The aunt of Loran Dosen purchased the home, which was built in 1904, in 1991. When Dosen’s aunt died recently, Dosen’s parents, Lin and Joe Dosen, inherited the house. Loran Dosen said her aunt was interviewed for a Stephen King TV biography featured about living in the house.
“Some super fans have knocked on the door and asked to come inside,” Loran Dosen told the Bangor Daily News.
The Maine barn from the beloved children’s book “Charlotte’s Web” is officially on the market.
Listed at $3.7 million, the New England property, including the beautiful barn, was home to late author E.B. White. It was where he lived with his wife until his death in 1985, according to an online exclusive from Yankee Magazine.
Since then, Robert and Mary Gallant have made the lovely Allen Cove farmhouse in North Brooklin, Maine, their home.
“It’s clear they do not want to leave,” Yankee Magazine writer Mel Allen penned. “They know they should. It is time, they say, to downsize to one home and live closer to their four children and seven grandchildren, who remain in the Carolinas.”
So now, decades later, the Gallants want another family to love the home the way they have.
The more than 200-year-old New England property has the original swing hanging by the doorway (the same one that E.B. White’s character Fern enjoyed) and, Allen wrote, “there may or may not be a spider spinning her web in the darker corners of the rafters.”
It includes 12 rooms, six working fireplaces, three and a half bathrooms and a wood cook stove.
The 44-acre saltwater farm also features views of the bay and mountains of Acadia National Park, a sun porch, a boathouse with a dock and more.
The House at Allen Cove listing is priced at $3.7 million.
According to The Associated Press, Down East Properties listing agent Martha Dischinger said Wednesday the property retains many historical touches, and the owners maintained the gardens tended by E.B. White’s wife, Katharine, before her death in 1977.
Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush are headed on a book tour.
According to PEOPLE magazine, the sisters are hitting the road together to promote their upcoming memoir, “Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life.”
“In ‘Sisters First’, Jenna and Barbara will take readers on a revealing, thoughtful, and deeply personal tour behind the scenes of their lives, with never-before-told funny and poignant personal stories and reflections about their family, their adventures, their loves and losses, and the special sisterly bond that fulfills them,” Grand Central Publishing said in a statement.
The official tour is set to begin on the day of the book’s release on Oct. 24 in New York City, and their mother will join them for a preview of the book in Kennebunkport, Maine, on Aug. 18.
“We’ve always felt lucky that we had each other to walk side-by-side as sisters through the extraordinary circumstances of our ordinary lives,” the sisters previously said after announcing their book in March. “We are so excited to share the stories that mean the most to us — from the ones that made us laugh to those that shaped us the most — and we hope to make ‘Sisters First’ an entertaining read that will also give readers a more nuanced look behind the headlines.”
Tickets for the tour go on sale on Aug. 4.. More information about the tour can be found on the book’s official website.
Sweet Valley's Wakefield twins are reportedly taking their identical blonde tresses, Pacific Ocean-hued eyes and "perfect size 6 figures" to the big screen.
According to Deadline, Paramount Pictures has tapped "Legally Blonde" writer Kirsten "Kiwi" Smith and Harper Dill, who writes for Fox's "The Mick," to work on a film adaptation of the popular "Sweet Valley High" young-adult novels by Francine Pascal.
The cult-classic book series, which debuted in 1983, focuses on teen twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their soap opera-style lives in idyllic Sweet Valley, California. The franchise includes multiple spin-off book series, two modern-day reboots published in 2011 and 2012, and a 1990s TV show starring real-life twins Brittany and Cynthia Daniel.
TSA officials will not screen and search books separate from luggage during security checks before passengers board planes at airports across the country.
The agency announced the decision to end testing the practice at select airports at the end of June. Testing was being performed at two U.S. airports.
Many people criticized the book screenings, saying TSA agents could potentially choose passengers to search based on the titles and topics of their reading materials.
“Academics are unsurprisingly big readers, and since we don’t simply read for pleasure, we often read materials with which we disagree or which may be seen by others as offensive,” Henry Reichman, chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, said last month. “For instance, a scholar studying terrorism and its roots may well be reading -- and potentially carrying on a plane -- books that others might see as endorsing terrorism.”
Other critics said publicly disclosing reading material could feel like an invasion of privacy to some travelers.
“A person who is reading a book entitled ‘Overcoming Sexual Abuse’ or ‘Overcoming Sexual Dysfunction’ is not likely to want to plop that volume down on the conveyor belt for all to see,” said notes privacy expert Jay Stanley in an analysis of the TSA’s previous plan.
But the TSA has asserted the the book search, which has been terminated at test airports will not expand across the country as previously planned.
Passengers do not need to remove books from carry-on bags before sending luggage through X-ray machines.
“We’re always testing procedures to help stay ahead of our adversaries. We were testing the removal of books at two airport locations and the testing ran its course,” the TSA said in a news release. “We’re no longer testing and have no intentions of instituting those procedures.”
In the release, the TSA said it implemented the book screening test because “adversaries seem to know every trick in the book when it comes to concealing dangerous items, and books have been used in the past to conceal prohibited items.”
“We weren’t judging your books by their covers, just making sure nothing dangerous was inside,” TSA said.
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