Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pretty new US stamps

The U.S. Postal Service recently introduced a new set of Forever stamps, the "Flag for All Seasons."

In the stamps dedicated earlier this month, Old Glory is illustrated in four different stamp designs. According to the USPS website, each stamp shows the American flag, viewed from below, flying from a pole at full staff against a background of trees painted to evoke all four seasons of the year.
The stamp art, consisting of opaque watercolors on illustration board, is the work of Laura Stutzman, who used personal photographs of the flag for reference. The seasons are reflected in the colors of the leaves on the trees or, in the case of the flag in winter, the lack of leaves on the background trees.
These stamps are being issued as Forever stamps. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce price.

Booklets of 20 "A Flag for All Seasons" Forever stamps will go on sale nationwide Friday, May 17, followed by booklets of 10 stamps Aug. 16. The stamps also are available in coils of 100 stamps at local Post Offices, online at or by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New book of letters

Princeton University Press is publishing a book of letters written by the late Italian journalist Italo Calvino. "Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985" features his letters, as selected by Michael Wood, who also wrote the introduction. They were translated into English by Martin McLaughlin.

According to the publicity on the Princeton University Press website:

"The letters are filled with insights about Calvino's writing and that of others; about Italian, American, English, and French literature; about literary criticism and literature in general; and about culture and politics. The book also provides a kind of autobiography, documenting Calvino's Communism and his resignation from the party in 1957, his eye-opening trip to the United States in 1959-60, his move to Paris (where he lived from 1967 to 1980), and his trip to his birthplace in Cuba (where he met Che Guevara). Some lengthy letters amount almost to critical essays, while one is an appropriately brief defense of brevity, and there is an even shorter, reassuring note to his parents written on a scrap of paper while he and his brother were in hiding during the antifascist Resistance.
This is a book that will fascinate and delight Calvino fans and anyone else interested in a remarkable portrait of a great writer at work."
You can also read excerpts from the book on The New Yorker website. There are at least a couple of segments posted on the Page-Turner section so far.

Monday, May 13, 2013

New USA Philatelic catalog

Have you seen the great cover of the new USA Philatelic catalog? Mine came in the mail last week!

It features a wonderful image of Johnny Cash, in advance of the issuance of the new stamp coming out next month. Inside the catalog, Art Director Greg Breeding writes about how he chose the photo for the stamp.

If you don't get this catalog in the mail, go to the Beyond the Perf blog and sign up!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Letters About Literature Reading-Writing Program Winners Announced

I just received this notice about the winners of the Letters About Literature program.

Letters About Literature, a  national reading and writing program that asks young people in grades 4 through 10 to write to an author (living or deceased) about how his or her book affected their lives, has announced its 2013 winners.

More than 50,000 young readers from across the country participated in this year’s Letters About Literature initiative, a reading promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. This year’s winners come from all parts of the country and wrote to authors as diverse as Laura Ingalls Wilder (“Little House in the Big Woods”), Amy Tan (“The Joy Luck Club”) and J.R.R. Tolkien (“The Hobbit”).

The top letters in each competition level for each state were chosen. Then, national, national honor and national runner-up winners were chosen from each of the three competition levels: level 1 (grades 4-6), level 2 (grades 7-8) and level 3 (grades 9-10). In the states, the program is sponsored by affiliate state centers for the book. National judges include published authors, editors, publishers, librarians and teachers.

Following are this year’s winners:

Level 1

National Prize:
Alessandra Selassie’s letter to Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of “Little House in the Big Woods.” Alessandra is from Washington, D.C., and is a fifth-grade student at the Basis D.C. Charter School.

National Honor:
Rose Yuanhong Benas’s letter to Steven Mosher, author of “A Mother’s Ordeal: One Woman’s Fight Against China’s One-Child Policy.” Rose is from Naperville, Ill., and is a sixth-grade student at the Avery Coonley School.

National Runner-Up:
Dalton Vassallo’s letter to Jerry Spinelli, author of “Stargirl.” Dalton is a sixth-grade student at the Derby Academy in Hingham, Mass.

Level 2

National Prize:
Matilda Berke’s letter to Amy Tan, author of “The Joy Luck Club.” Matilda is an eighth-grade student at the Chandler School in Pasadena, Calif.

National Honor:     
Elizabeth Chambers’ letter to J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Hobbit.” Elizabeth is an eighth-grade student at Jackson Hole Middle School in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

National Runner-Up: 
Shannon Chinn’s letter to Ray Bradbury, author of “Fahrenheit 451.”   Shannon is a seventh-grade student at St. Pius X/St. Leo School in Omaha, Neb.

Level 3

National Prize:
Emily Waller’s letter to Laura Ruby, author of “The Wall and the Wing.” Emily is a 10th-grade student at Normal Community West High School in Hudson, Ill.

National Honor:
Claire Fieldman’s letter to Jay Asher, author of “Thirteen Reasons Why.” Claire is a 10th-grade student at Monte Vista High School in Danville, Calif.

National Runner-Up:  
Grace Mitchell’s letter to Karen Kingsbury, author of “Unlocked.” Grace is a 10th-grade student at Pecos High School in Pecos, Texas.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to “stimulate public interest in books and reading,” the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress ( has become a national force for reading and literacy promotion.  A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading- promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s website and administers both the Library’s Young Readers Center and its Poetry and Literature Center.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Book of Walter Cronkite's letters

It seems like every time I turn on the TV, there's another story about letters. I love it!

Last weekend, I saw there was a CBS news segment on a new book that is set to go on sale today: "Cronkite's War: His World War II Letters Home."

Walter Cronkite was a war correspondent before he was the anchor for the CBS Evening News from 1962to 1981.After he died in 2009, his grandson, Walt Cronkite, discovered a treasure of letters that the elder Cronkite had written when he was in Germany in 1942 covering the war for a newspaper.

Those letters are now compiled into the book so that we all might appreciate them. The book is available at major booksellers and online.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Great story about a teacher who writes letters to his students

Steve Hartman of CBS News did a great story on Dan Stroup, a junior high teacher who's been writing birthday letters to his students for years and years. But, he doesn't stop sending the letters when they stop being in his class...he keeps sending them letters every year. He's up to 2,800 letters a year now.

Read the story here:

Teacher's bond with students lasts long after graduation

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mother's Day is coming up next weekend

This is just a reminder that next Sunday, May 12, is Mother's Day in the U.S. and many other countries.

Don't forget to send the mom in your life a letter this week! These notecards from the U.S.P.S. match the La Florida stamps. They're pretty enough to be a letter and a card in one!

Happy letter writing!

(PS: I corrected the date after Shanna alerted me to the mistake. Thanks for catching that!)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To Pin or not to Pin, that is the question

I don't have a Pinterest account. I occasionally enjoy perusing Pinterest pages, such as this one about Letter Writing by Kelly McDaniel and this Snail Mail page by Beverly Lloyd, but I don't have my own account.

Do you have a Pinterest account? What do you think about the site? Let me know!

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