The Virtually Unknown Book That Lived in Queen Mary's Dollhouse for Almost a Century

Chronicle Books
Chronicle Books

In the 1920s, British artists were asked to produce miniature works for a dollhouse made for Queen Mary, the wife of King George V and grandmother of the UK’s current monarch, Elizabeth II. Writers like A.A. Milne, Rudyard Kipling, and Arthur Conan Doyle all submitted teeny-tiny versions of their stories, most of which were published elsewhere, to be placed in the Windsor Castle dollhouse. But Vita Sackville-West, the acclaimed British writer best known as the inspiration for Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, submitted a story that was a wholly new piece, one that would remain unknown, even to her estate, for decades.

Finally uncovered, that book is now available to the public for the first time. Chronicle Books just published the first full-size edition of A Note of Explanation: An Undiscovered Story from Queen Mary's Dollhouse, so you can read it without straining your eyes.

The turquoise cover of 'A Note of Explanation.'
Chronicle Books

The playful children’s story is accompanied by Art Deco-style illustrations by Kate Baylay and an afterword by Matthew Dennison, who published a biography on Sackville-West in 2014. Dennison calls A Note of Explanation “unique among Vita’s fiction" for its playful storyline.

He notes that Sackville-West’s story, about a time-traveling sprite who appears in fairy tales across time and space, may have influenced Woolf's Orlando, which was published four years after A Note of Explanation was placed in Queen Mary’s dollhouse. Dennison describes that novel as the “story of long-lived, gender-fluid Vita, the sum of all of her ancestors.” The sprite who appears in A Note of Explanation, meanwhile, “embraces old and new, fact, fiction, romance, and modernity—much like the character of Orlando … much like Vita herself.”

It’s available for $20 on Amazon.

5-Year-Old Logan Brinson Couldn't Find a Library Near Him—So He Opened One Himself

iStock.com/clu
iStock.com/clu

The benefits of having access to books are clear: According to a 2018 study, people who grow up surrounded by books develop higher reading comprehension and better mathematical and digital communication skills. But not every kid has access to reading materials in their house or even their hometown. A 5-year-old resident of Alpha, Illinois recently solved this problem within his own community by opening a Little Free Library in his front yard, WQAD 8 reports.

Logan Brinson loves to read, but until recently, the village of Alpha didn't have a library of its own. He went to Alpha officials with his family and proposed setting up a small lending library in town. Logan's Little Library opened to the public in summer 2018. Today readers of all ages come to the Brinson house and check out one book at a time from the tiny case out front.

Following the success of the first location, Logan plans to open a second library next to the gazebo in Alpha's town center. That's set to open in May of this year, and in the meantime, the Brinsons are accepting book donations from around the world. You can add a book to Alpha's little libraries by mailing packages to P.O. Box 672, Alpha IL, 61413 or 113 West B Street, Alpha, IL 61413.

It's easier than ever for kids to find books to read, even if they don't have a conventional library in their town. In Long Beach, New York, you can borrow books on the beach, and in New Zealand, kids are getting books with their McDonald's happy meals. Learn more about Logan's library efforts in the video below.

[h/t WQAD 8]

The 100 Best Love Stories From Around the World

iStock.com/aluxum
iStock.com/aluxum

There are stacks of great books about love to read from all parts of the world, and Valentine's Day is the perfect time to dive into one. If you're not sure where to start, check out this infographic of 100 iconic love stories from around the world from Global English Editing.

The list includes romantic tales of all varieties, including novels, poems, and memoirs. Some are cute modern love stories like The Buenos Aires Broken Hearts Club set in Argentina, and others are classics with sad endings, like Romeo and Juliet, the Shakespeare play set in Italy.

With countries from every continent represented on the map, you'll have no trouble finding a book that's new to you. After picking titles that interest you below, you can check out their summaries on geediting.com.

Reading isn't the only way to enjoy love stories this Valentine's Day. There are also plenty of romantic movies that are just a few mouse clicks away.

Map of love stories set in different countries.
Global English Editing

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