Text by Diane Slocum

Grandparents Day is celebrated in the U.S. in September, but really, if you are or have grandparents, any time is a good time to celebrate.

“Tigers and Tea with Toppy” (Scholastic Press, Sept. 25) by Barbara Kerley, Rhoda Knight Kalt and Matte Stephens tells the illustrated story of Rhoda and Toppy, her grandfather and world-famous wildlife artist Charles R. Knight. The book includes Stephens’ illustrations and prints of Knight’s paintings. The book shares the gentle elder-child relationship between Toppy    and Rhoda as they rove through adventures in zoos and museums, enchanted by scientific inquiries.

“Ba-chan the Ninja Grandma: An Adventure with Little Kunoichi the Ninja Girl” (Little Bigfoot, Sept. 18) by Sanae Ishida is a new story in the Little Kunoichi series. Kunoichi is bored when all her friends are away during the summer, so she asks her parents for new things. Instead, they send her to visit her grandmother on an island she made herself, where Kunoichi learns to appreciate things that money can’t buy.

“Me and My Family Tree” (Knopf Books for Young Readers, new edition Sept. 18) by Joan Sweeney and illustrated by Emma Trithart helps young children understand how their family members are related by presenting the family tree from a child’s point of view.


The Tulare County Library recently launched a new e-book service called Enki, named after the Sumerian god of mischief, intelligence and creativity.  A nonprofit library cooperative, Califa, and Contra Costa County developed   the program. It has more than 50,000 books, including popular e-books, modern nonfiction, independent authors and unpublished works from best-selling authors. Among the 50 or more publishers represented are Kensington, Workman, McGraw-Hill, Smashwords, Akashic, Independent Publishers Group, F+W Media and Britannica.

Enki provides a free, open-source e-book platform and discount access to a statewide collection of e-books. Books are available in PDF and EPUB formats.

You can find Enki at www.tularecountylibrary.org/elibrary or learn about the project at califa.org.


Through CreateSpace, Julie P. Appelbaum of Visalia has self-published a book of poems called “Poems of Light, Hope and Joy: Words to Help and Heal Moments of Your Days.” It is available through Amazon.com.

Members of the Fresno State master of fine arts (MFA) program have posted recordings of the Fresno Poets’ Association reading series. Nearly 80 old-style recordings were digitized by Horn Photo through funding from the College of Arts and Humanities. The list is a Who’s Who of Fresno area poets — Ernesto Trejo, Robert Vasquez, Omar Salinas, Larry Levis, Juan Felipe Herrera, Jon Veinberg and more. Find them at  fresnostatemfa.wordpress.com/fresno-poets-archives.


While many author’s biographies list where they received their MFAs, many other writers are finding that they can get the help they need to become published through a writing center. Some of these centers include the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters in Portland, Sackett Street in Brooklyn and the University of Arizona Poetry Center in Tucson. You can find a discussion on another center, GrubStreet, on Literary Hub. According to Eve Bridburg, the founder of GrubStreet, these centers give opportunities to writers who can’t commit the time or money required for graduate study. Some students even come to the centers after they have their MFAs.


Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot was born on Sept. 26, 1888, in St. Louis. “The Waste Land,” “The Hollow Men” (“This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang, but a whimper”) and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” are three of his best-known poems. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. He also received three Tony Awards – one for “The Cocktail Party” and two for his poems used in the musical “Cats.”

Richard Nathaniel Wright was born 110 years ago on Sept. 4, 1908. Many of his novels, short stories, poems and nonfiction works focused on racial themes, especially related to discrimination in the American South. Three of his more popular books are “Uncle Tom’s Children,” “Black Boy” and “Native Son.” Another of his stories, “Rite of Passage,” was published posthumously in 1996.


“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” – Alex Haley (1921-1992)