Minds Behind the Magic: Favorite Children’s Authors in Audio and Film

Chances are, you’ve been spending a good bit more time with the kids recently. Are you struggling just to remember how it feels to be a child, let alone figuring out how it feels to be one in the middle of a global crisis? If so, you might turn to some old friends for inspiration–writers who, Peter Pan-like, never seemed to lose their passports to the realm of childhood, and who have made the lives of their readers all the richer for their magic.

If you’d like to get to know these remarkable personalities better, why not have a listen to the biographies curated in a brand-new hoopla audiobook collection: 2020 APL Minds Behind the Magic Audio? Here, you’ll find portraits of imaginations born out of the crisis of World War I in books like A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and the Great War by Joseph Loconte or Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle Earth by John Garth. (To enjoy a glimpse of Tolkien’s own parenting approach, you might also take a look at his playful Letters from Father Christmas, a richly-illustrated ebook available on hoopla.)

In a similar vein, Louisa May Alcott’s life and writing were undoubtedly shaped by crisis: childhood privation and the Civil War loom large in her biographies. For a well-rounded study, try Susan Cheever’s Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography; to observe the strong mother-daughter bond that shaped Alcott, listen to Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eva LaPlant. 

In the memoirs of Christopher Robin Milne, we have a different sort of perspective: the complicated influence of famous children’s author A. A. Milne and his works on his own son. While the two-part autobiography (The Enchanted Places and The Path through the Trees) is not all sunshine, it offers some fascinating windows onto Winnie-the-Pooh’s world and its creator. Even more compelling is The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest That Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood, a biography-cum-ramble through rural England.

For further insight into the minds behind the magical worlds of classic children’s literature, have a look at a companion film collection in hoopla, available here.

Get Wild at Home with the New England Aquarium and Zoo New England!

We may not be able to visit our favorite furry, feathery, or fishy creatures, but the amazing folks at the New England Aquarium and Zoo New England have found some creative ways to bring a little bit of wild into our homes. 

Bonnethead Shark at New England Aquarium

The Aquarium’s Virtual Visit page features daily presentations starring southern rockhopper penguins, harbor seals, bonnethead sharks, and more! A particular highlight is Reggae the Harbor Seal’s tooth brushing routine. The Aquarium has also curated a list of fun at-home activities and educational resources, from making a 3D turtle shell out of items at home to a tide pool aerobics class.

Zebra at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston

Zoo New England is bringing the #ZooToYou through daily videos and activities on their Facebook pages, letting viewers check in on all of their favorite animals at the Stone Zoo and Franklin Park Zoo. They also have a great kid’s activity and resource page on their website, featuring word searches, coloring pages, instructions on how to make a butterfly garden and compost, printable animal masks, and much more.

Be sure to also explore our digital collections for more resources about these animals and the natural world. hoopla has an extensive selection of National Geographic nature documentaries, running the gamut from wild pandas and tigers to killer whales and emperor penguins. And for our Libby app users, check out Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus, a New York Times bestseller and finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction featuring the octopi of the New England Aquarium!