Tasha Tudor’s Magical World

A long time ago — nearly seven decades — a young illustrator published her first book, “Pumpkin Moonshine.” It was filled with beautifully rendered idealized images of childhood in the early 19th century. The nostalgic charm of the book resonated with readers and ignited a long career that would make Tasha Tudor, now 90, an artistic and literary legend with legions of fans.

“People all over the world are searching out her work,” says John Hare of Cellar Door Books in Concord. “Nobody is letting go of it. They buy it. They love it. They keep it.”

John and his wife Jill have bought, loved and kept more than a few Tasha Tudor things. They have the largest inventory of her books in the world — more than 6,000 volumes. They also have her original art, prints, cards, programs and china. “If Tasha’s done it, we probably have it or had it,” says Jill.

The Hares started collecting aggressively when they were writing a definitive bibliography and collectors’ guide of Tudor’s work, “Tasha Tudor: The Direction of Her Dreams.” It took 15 years to complete and, during that time, they decided their book collecting would specialize in her work.

Starting May 21, some of the extensive Hare collection will be at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont (www.shelburnemuseum.org) for a five-month exhibition called “The Artful Life of Tasha Tudor.”

The exhibition will also include re-created environments from Tudor’s home in southern Vermont, where she has replicated the lifestyle of the 1830s — dipping candles, making cheese and butter, spinning and weaving cloth from her own flax and so on. Prior to moving to Vermont 30 years ago, Tudor lived for many years on a farm in Webster, N.H., also in 1830s style. She is said to have used the profits from her popular “Mother Goose” to buy the farm.

Tudor’s unconventional lifestyle follows an unconventional childhood with parents who were both creative. Her mother, a portrait painter, favored the Bohemian life of an artist. Her father, a noted yacht designer, was a great storyteller, always ready for an impromptu performance. After her parents divorced when she was 9, she lived in Greenwich Village, absorbing its nonconformist ways as well. She had only a few years of formal schooling.

Why has Tudor’s work been so popular for so long? Jill says it’s both Tudor’s eschewing of modern-day conveniences and her paintings of lovely, innocent children. Combined, she says, they create a yearning for a simpler, long-ago way of living.

The Hares accommodate the many Tudor fans with an online business (www.cellardoorbooks.com, www.theworldoftashatudor.com) that offers a wide variety of Tudor items.

Katie’s Song

Everybody knows the words to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” — the song is said to be second only to “Happy Birthday” in its familiarity.

But, the truth is, most of us know little about it, except for the chorus. How many know it’s a song about Katie Casey, a girl who loved baseball? Here’s how the lyricist Jack Norworth, writing it on a train filled with New York baseball fans in 1908, starts the song:

“Katie Casey was base ball mad.

Had the fever and had it bad;

Just to root for the home town crew,

Ev’ry sou Katie blew.”

You’ll find all the words to the song in Jim Burke’s book, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Burke lays out Katie’s story verse by verse and pairs each with his evocative illustrations of a historic game — the battle between the New York Giants and the reigning World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. The pages are also laced with facts about the game and about baseball in general. Words and pictures combine to create a heart-warming, once-upon-a-time-in-America story.

Burke, who grew up in Manchester and now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., has illustrated a number of well-received picture books and won many awards for his work. For more information about Jim Burke, visit www.jimburkeillustration.com.

High Stakes

As you’re shopping for plants this spring, you might see a cute little face peering out at you from among the leaves. That’s CASA of NH’s “Happy Child,” who will carry CASA’s message on thousands of plant stakes at garden centers, greenhouses and nurseries around the state.

The message: Volunteers are needed as advocates for abused and neglected children. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a private, statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children grow up in safe, loving, permanent homes by advocating for their best interests in N.H.’s court system.

Why use plant stakes to recruit volunteers? A marketing study by national CASA showed that “the largest pool of viable volunteer candidates also likes to garden.” Plant stakes, it was decided, are a non-intrusive, inexpensive, easily distributed, universally appealing way to reach gardeners — and potential volunteers.

CASA’s Althea Valentine says, “We have volunteers who came to us solely because they saw the plant stakes.” She adds that the three-year-old program is so successful, nearly 35 other CASA programs around the country have replicated it. For more information call (603) 626-4600 or visit www.casanh.org.

Sweet Remembrance

Flowers are always nice, but this year why not do something really different, really special for Mother’s Day?

Present mom with a photo of what the day is all about — her children.

Photos like this one by Kelley O’Connell of Epping captures one of those sweet moments that you never want to forget.

“There is nothing better than re-living the happiness and expression of your children through photography,” says O’Connell, herself a mother of two. She does her candid shots in natural surroundings with natural light.

“I capture real emotion without them even noticing.”

For more information call (603) 734-2435. See her online portfolio at www.oconnellportfolio.shutterfly.com.

Driver’s Seat

There have always been females in the very-male world of Harley-Davidson motorcycles — but mostly, they’ve been on the back of the bike, holding on to their man.

That’s changing. Statistics show the number of female Harley owners is at an all-time high, up 36 percent in recent years. Leslie McGourty of Greenville is one of those Harley owners. “We’re off the back of the motorcycle,” she says. “Things have changed there, just like in industry. Women are the fastest-growing segment of the market.”

McGourty wants other women to experience the freedom and pleasures of the road she’s had in the driver’s seat. Her business, Full Blown Motorcycle Tours, is offering a tour of the White Mountains for 15 female riders over the Labor Day weekend. “Riders can explore their own capabilities as day trips can be abbreviated or extended to fit a rider’s needs,” she says. And the ride is tailored to fit rider’s pocketbooks as well, with accommodations ranging from posh to bare-bones ($1,575-$475).

For more information call McGourty at (603) 878-4869 or e-mail mail@fullblowntours.com. McGourty also offers other tours not restricted to women.


The long-awaited (or dreaded) film version of Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” will be in cinemas everywhere in mere days. Without a doubt, Dan Brown and the Holy Grail will soon replace TomKat and Scientology as the Great American water-cooler theology topic of the year. Brown (and director Ron Howard and America’s favorite leading man Tom Hanks) will get the last (well, loudest) word, so for critics of the controversial religious subtext (Spoiler Alert! Let’s just say that Jesus gets the girl and moves to the French Riviera.) it’s speak now or forever hold your peace.

Besides, why wait for the Ebert and Roeper film reviews, when plenty of folks have their minds made up on “The Code.”

Pastor Jon Taylor, whose Presbyterian congregation meets in Manchester, is terse in his appraisal of Brown’s religious revisionism: “It’s a thoroughly engaging amalgamation of fact and fiction that, nonetheless, is like a stew of half-rotten vegetables. It just doesn’t taste right.”

State representative (and devout Catholic) Barbara Hagan says, since the work takes a shot at the heart of her religion, “I’ve done my best to ignore it and don’t intend to see it.” Asked about the tremendous popularity of the book, she remarks, “P.T. Barnum was right.” She equates the attraction to that of astrology and palm reading. “Psychic readers work with lots of gaps and guessing and assumptions, and yet people spend millions every year to get their fortunes read. I think it’s the same draw. It may even be the same appeal that tempted Eve to take the apple off the tree in the first place.”

Fellow Catholic, writer and well-known curmudgeon Jack Kenny was more gracious: “I’m just glad we live in a culture where we are free to honor saints like Mary Magdalen and yet where Dan Brown can write something like this without being hunted down like Salman Rushdie.”

Jane Carroll, professor of renaissance and medieval art at Dartmouth College also has a gripe with the story, though not a religious one. She says it’s good that the book has shown people the kinds of messages that art can convey, but adds: “The bad part is that the messages that Brown reads are totally erroneous.” Though sometimes it’s funny, she notes. A scene where Brown’s hero, Robert Langdon, lifts down a painting of Da Vinci’s “Madonna of the Rocks” and inspects the back for clues would require him to be not just a fictional hero but a super hero. “It’s five feet tall on a panel,” says Carroll. “When it was hung in the Louvre it took a crane.”

So now, spleen vented, points made and steam blown off, it’s time to pop the corn and roll the film. In theaters everywhere May 19.


The Smoking Gun Web site notes that a movie scene by Manchester’s own Adam Sandler was cited by a Texas federal court in a statement denying a defendant’s motion as “incomprehensible.” Judge Leif Clark quoted a court scene from “Billy Madison,” Sandler’s 1995 comedy, in a February 21 court order. “Deciphering motions like the one presented here wastes valuable chamber staff time, and invites this sort of footnote,” wrote Clark. (thesmokinggun.com)

Dirt Diva: Gisela Behrendt Estes of Plymouth was honored in the April/May issue of Organic Gardening magazine as “Composter of the Month.” Estes was baptized as an organic gardener in post-war Germany when her family had to grow food to eat. “One of my chores was to follow the horse carts on the street and collect the manure…” she recalls.

Here’s a plug for a project that New Hampshire Magazine and NH.com are both piloting: a “community blog” that brings together a mixed bag of some of the state’s most loquacious pundits and cultural mavens. It’s called Area 603 (www.area603.com). NH.com new media director and Area 603 designer Ernesto Burden was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal on the rise and power of such blogs.

New Hampshire Made members are local producers of goods and services united under a banner of state pride. Their latest great idea is a coupon book that helps promote state products while raising funds for worthy groups. Bravo! Visit www.nhmade.com.