Tag Archives: Library

Little Free Library 07090

Message in a Bottle: A Feel-Good Story at the Perfect Time!

Like many of us this past week, Sara Liptack of Little Free Library 07090 in Westfield and her family were saddened and upset by the recent violence in our country. A message from two best friends in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina quickly changed Sara’s mood and she felt the need to share her incredible experience with the entire community!

Little Free Library 07090

During a fun night out with Cross Fit friends over the summer – Sara decided to keep a unique bottle of coconut rum that her friend had brought back from his hometown in Puerto Rico. Being an Earth Science teacher at Westfield High School, she was fascinated by ocean currents and how messages in bottles have been used in scientific studies. Sara, her husband, and her daughter Lyra decided to take that bottle and have some “good old-fashioned fun!”


They wrote a letter on August 18, 2017 and told of the location of drop-off in the sea, their excitement to see how far the letter would travel, and shared their contact information. The family rolled it up tightly and placed it in inside. Sara’s father “Pop-Pop Steward”, an avid fisherman, went out on his boat about 6 miles from Manasquan Inlet and tossed the bottle into the sea on September 7.



Time passed and heavy tropical storms came and went. Sara said she was talking to her husband just the other day as they were collecting sea glass at the shore. Both wondered when or if they would ever find out about the bottle. She anticipated it could be even a decade before she would hear anything. Sara worried that perhaps someone would just see it and think the bottle was trash.


Literally one week later she received an amazing text. Best friends Wende and Christine from Kitty Hawk, a very small beach town in the Outer Banks of NC, had discovered the bottle during one of their morning walks on October 5! This was less than one month from entry into the ocean! They thought the bottle was cool and then realized there was a message inside. They fell in love with the fact that someone was on the other side of a heartfelt story and quickly texted Sara.

Sara was utterly amazed that these two women had not only found the bottle – but in the exact opposite direction as she had speculated! She was so happy that they were also happy to connect with her! She figured the intense tropical storms were the cause for the interesting direction of the message’s path into NC. The crazy part of this whole story is that Sara’s aunt, uncle, and cousins live in this small town of Kitty Hawk yet neither family knew each other! Maybe now they can all remain friends and visit!


Sara commented that this has been such an exciting experience. Wende and Christine wrote a new letter and included everyone’s contact information. They tossed the bottle back out to the sea. Sara was able to share with her class the interesting news and her students have been eager to investigate the history of using communication and science experiments through bottles. She feels that in this digital age, it’s a true “old school adventure”. She wants her students to realize that there is more to experience in life than just on an iPhone or iPad.


This is definitely a “stay tuned” type of story. I can’t wait to see where the bottle turns up next! With the craziness in the news this week, Sara’s impression on this story is one that we can all take to heart – “it happened to the right people at the right time”. Perhaps one small story of connection can motivate others to do the same.


You can visit on Facebook at Little Free Library 07090 or stop by to grab a book at 710 E Broad St in Westfield!

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Westfield Resident Pens a Page-Turner

Few things bring me as much pleasure as a GOOD BOOK, and when I enjoy one, I like to spread the word about it. You might have heard of the bestselling novel “The Memory Box,” but did you know it was written by a Westfield resident? I caught up with the author to get the scoop on how her riveting debut novel came to be!

Eva Lesko Natiello Eva Lesko Natiello has lived in Westfield for the past 15 years with her husband and two teenage children, and only started writing creatively 12 years ago. Eva said, “I actually never planned on writing a book, but one day I read in the ‘New York Times’ an article about people Googling themselves. This was back when people just started Googling themselves. The article told the story of a teenager who Googled himself and discovered he was on a missing persons list. He didn’t know that he was kidnapped when he was two years old, until he Googled himself. When I read that article I thought it would be a great idea for a psychological thriller. ‘The Memory Box’ is about a NJ suburban mom who Googles herself and discovers the shocking details of a past she doesn’t remember.” If that isn’t a great premise for a suspenseful novel, I don’t know what is!

Eva revealed that living in Westfield greatly influenced “The Memory Box.” She said, “‘The Memory Box’ is a fictionalized version of Westfield, which I called Farhaven. The opening scene at the schoolyard was inspired by the grounds of Franklin School. Some streets in the book were unintentionally named after streets in Westfield. When I was in the throes of creative inspiration and the writing was coming fast, I would use street names from town just as place holders for when I’d have time to really think about names. I never wanted to interrupt writing flow with naming, but in the end I never went back to change them. People think that some of the characters are based on locals, and they will stop me in the grocery store or at a party to tell me their theory of who the characters are based on. That’s always funny for me. None of the characters in the book are based on real people. But they are definitely relatable.”

Admit it: if you haven’t already read the book, you want to now!

The Memory BoxI enjoy interviewing creative people, because I get a sneak peek into the inner workings of their minds, almost like a magician revealing the secrets behind his tricks. Eva described a little of her writing process to me: “My current routine is to write 1500 words a day, and I usually write first thing in the morning and I will typically stop by noon. After noon, I work on the business side of being an indie author: marketing, public relations, distribution, etc. I also blog, so that needs to be fit in somewhere. I do have loose outlines for the novel in progress. It keeps my first draft organized and on target, but honestly, once the writing flows it can take me in directions I’d never planned. So it’s important for me not to stay too committed to the outlines. The characters always have their own ideas!”

If you’re an aspiring writer, you’re sure to be motivated by the story of how “The Memory Box” came to be published, because it did NOT happen overnight. Eva recounted, “When I finally finished writing and editing ‘The Memory Box,’ I queried literary agents in hopes of getting representation. Unfortunately, after about three years of writing to agents, I was rejected 81 times and could not find one to work with. This was a tough time for me because I thought if I couldn’t get an agent, the book would never be published. So I put it away for over a year and worked on other projects. Then one day a book called ‘Gone Girl’ was published, and after reading that book and seeing its success, I realized ‘The Memory Box,’ which is in the same genre, had a potential audience out there. That’s when I decided to self-publish. It took a long time to learn about self-publishing and cover designing, and copyediting, and distribution, marketing etc. It finally was published in June 2014 and is available worldwide. I have also started to sell the foreign rights to the book, which is very exciting. And last spring, the audio book rights were sold at auction. You can imagine how happy I am that I didn’t leave it in a desk draw to collect dust!”

“The Memory Box” went on to become a New York Times bestseller and even reached #1 on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com,  and it’s been one of the top ten bestselling books at The Town Book Store in Westfield for three years running. Eva had this to say about the wild success of her novel: “Honestly, it has surpassed my wildest dreams. And I’m additionally proud of its success because it’s self-published. It’s very difficult to author a book and then do all of the business behind it as well. Indie authors, these days, are called authorpreneurs. It’s the perfect name for what we do.”

So many of us are members of book clubs (which is where I first learned about ‘The Memory Box’), and Eva is no stranger to them and has visited with dozens of book clubs to discuss her book. She makes sure to acknowledge those that have contributed to the success of ‘The Memory Box.’ “I am very grateful to the community for all of their support. I am sure that ‘The Memory Box’ would not have been as successful without the enthusiasm of the community, book clubs, and readers who have been so excited to spread the word. Thank you, readers!”

You can follow Eva and read her blog on her website: https://evanatiello.com. If you’re a fan of ‘The Memory Box,” please comment! 

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Cranford NJ Homeowners offer “Free Little Library”


IMG_7678If this doesn’t scream small-town charm, I don’t know what does! It’s the LITTLE FREE LIBRARY, an adorable curbside wooden cubby that offers free books to passers-by, and receives donated books as well. There’s a new one right in our beloved hamlet of Cranford, and you simply must visit it.

IMG_7988Arline McCloskey has been the library media specialist at Brookside and Bloomingdale Schools in Cranford for the past 16 years, so books are in her blood! When we asked how she came upon the idea to start her own Little Free Library, she said, “I saw one set up in front of a house on Bloomingdale Avenue, and I just knew I should have one. My children gave it to me for Christmas, and I just finished staining it this summer.” You can visit her Little Free Library at 40 Manor Ave in Cranford, it will be up and running after Labor Day!IMG_7989

The Little Free Library as a global initiative was launched in July of 2009. It’s slogan is: take a book; return a book. Such a simple idea, but it has caught on like wildfire, and there are currently more than 30,000 Little Free Libraries around the world!

You can also visit the Little Free Library at 30 Bloomingdale Ave by cruising down the avenue and looking for the charming home with the fabulous purple door!

According to the founders, the libraries are as much about community connection as they are about fostering literacy. Anyone who starts their own Little Free Library is affectionately known as a Steward and is sure to make many new acquaintances during the lifetime of his or her library. And isn’t it heartwarming to think of all the people who will enjoy a good read and will then pay it forward by sharing a book they loved?

For a map of Little Free Libraries or information on how you can start your own, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org

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Meet Local Author Ed Robinson at the Cranford Community Center 7/9/15


Cranford breeds talent!

On Thursday, July 9th, at 7:30 PM, The Friends f the Cranford Public Library are sponsoring an event at the Cranford Community Center (220 Walnut Avenue), at which you can meet one of the examples of our home-bred talent.

Ed Robinson, who was the mayor of Cranford in 1992, will talk about his recently published novel, a mystery entitled A “Jersey Shore Angel.”  He will also have copies of the book available for purchase and for signing. Admission to the event is free, and all are welcome.

A Cranford resident for many years, Mr. Robinson now lives in Sea Girt. “A Jersey Shore Angel.” is his first book. During Hurricane Sandy, Mr. Robinson had no power for nearly two weeks and sat by candlelight. This afforded him the perfect opportunity to sit down and start writing – something he had always wanted to try.  The novel’s main character is Angel Barnacle, a decorated New York City detective who returns to his roots at the Jersey Shore, and  starts a private detective agency chasing down wayward spouses. He becomes romantically involved with a client, a Broadway star, who becomes a victim of Hurricane Sandy.

It’s a great summer read, with “down home” connections for the NJ reader.  So put your chair on the beach, your toes in the sand, and your nose in this book!

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Doo-Wop Program at the Cranford Community Center March 4, 2015 at 7:30pm


Doo-Wop Groups of New Jersey


Did you know that NJ was the birthplace of many a “doo-wop” group?  It’s true!  The Duprees, The Monotones, The Rivieras, The Shirelles . . . . . the NJ music scene was hoppin’ in the 1950’s and 1960’s!

Thanks to The Friends of the Cranford Public Library ,  doo-wop historians Charlie & Pam Horner will be at The Cranford Community Center at 220 Walnut Avenue on Wednesday, March 4th, at 7:30 PM.  Bask in all kinds of “doowop trivia” – how the Duprees got their name,  a rare tape they made before they ever recorded “You Belong to Me,” the real story of Frankie Valli and the Jersey Boys as the Four Lovers,  how a toothpaste commercial and an errant baseball led to the Monotones writing “The Book of Love, ” which groups’ careers were cut short by tragedy, and so much more.   See photos of more than 50 NJ-based doo -wop groups, learn stories, see photos, and hear plenty of sing-along music.

Admission to the program is free and all are welcome.  So why not “doo-wop in?”


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Salsa Night at the Westfield Library 2/4/15 at 7pm

If you’re someone who loves to listen to salsa music — or better yet, someone who loves to shake those hips — then you should be at the Westfield Memorial Library on Wednesday, February 4 at 7 pm. Salsa at a public library? Well, why not??

The Jose Obando Trio will perform an exuberant medley of music from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, along with lively selections of Latin jazz. A dance lesson will be included in the event, as well as a discussion of the roots of salsa music and its instruments.

Jose Obando is one of the founders of the Salsa Museum located in Spanish Harlem, New York. He founded and serves as the current executive director of the Lubona Corporation, an educational consultancy that has aided such institutions as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Juilliard School, and the NY Public Library. Among the selections his Trio will perform at the library are “Guantanamera” and “Besame Mucho.”

The salsa event is FREE and open to all members of the Westfield Library. You must register to confirm a space: visit www.wmlnj.org, click “calendar,” then click on “Jose Obando Trio” on Feb. 4 to sign up to attend. Or call 908-789-4090. The performance will take place in the meeting room within the library.

And take advantage of the dozens of other great events offered for adults and children at the Westfield Library, most of which are free!

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Pajama Story Time at the Cranford Public Library 1/27/15 at 6:30

Cranford Public Library

Cranford Public Library

We’ve all heard the research about how important it is to introduce children from a very, very young age to the world of books and reading.  Experts agree that the younger children are introduced to reading, the more they tend to gravitate towards books, and the better readers they become.  In fact, many professionals even suggest reading to your baby before he or she is BORN!  And most parents can’t wait until the day they bring their Kindergartener to the main desk of the public library for their very first library card!  But why wait until then?

Why not help your child develop a love of reading and a comfort with the public library right now?  In fact, they don’t even have to get dressed!

Children ages 2-6 and their families are invited to don their coziest pajamas and join the library staff for a special story time on Tuesday, January 27th at 6:30 PM in the library’s Raddin Children’s Room.  Kids can cuddle up with parents while surrounded by books, hearing some great stories.

While you are there, ask about the other various story time and children’s programs that they offer to the community.  What better way to make your child feel comfortable with reading, and to foster good reading skills that will last a lifetime?

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Cranford Library Offering Computer Classes for Senior Citizens Beginning in January


People helping people is what a community is all about.  Everyone has something that they can share with someone else, and everyone can offer a helping hand in one way or another.

Students at Cranford High School are learning this.  The CHAPS (Cranford High School Assistance Program) students will once again be sharing their technological savvy with some of the town’s older citizens who may be a little hesitant about using computer technology.

The Cranford Public Library will be offering Computer Internet Basics for Beginners classes for senior citizens on Thursdays.  Students from Cranford High School will teach senior citizens basic Internet skills in a casual, one-on-one setting. Classes are ongoing beginning Jan. 8, 2015 and will run through May.

What a great set-up!  Not only is it an opportunity to share skills, but it’s also a great way to promote understanding relationships across the generations . . . . going both ways.

Pre-registration is required as seating is limited. For more information or to register, call the library at 908-709-7272 and ask for Fran Housten.


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Fun Pumpkin Event for Kids at the Cranford NJ Public Library 10/11/14

Halloween pumpkin

We’ve all done the pumpkin thing for Halloween.  We paint them, we carve them, we put them on our porches. Some even dress as them.   But why not jump into the pumpkin scene a little bit deeper?

The Friends of the Cranford Library are sponsoring a special “get to know your pumpkins” event in the Raddin Room (children’s room) of the Cranford Public Library at 224 Walnut Avenue.  On Saturday, October 11th, come with your little ones from grade K-6, and learn all about our favorite Fall gourd with Marigold Mike from “Let’s Bloom Together,” a gardening / going green enrichment program designed to make learning about plants and flowers fun and interesting for children, by providing them with an opportunity to experience and appreciate the beauty and wonder of the natural world we live in through engaging, hands-on programs.  Find out about the history of Jack-o-Lanterns, how pumpkins were used by our ancestors, and the uses of pumpkins as food. Then, of course, stay to paint your own Jack-o-Lantern!

Registration is required, so contact Lauren Antolino at (908)709-7272 to save a spot for your little pumpkin-lover!


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A Touch of Sinatra at the Cranford Community Center 9/29 at 7:30

USA Frank Sinatra postage stampIt just doesn’t get any more “Jersey” than Sinatra.  Old Blue-Eyes was a Jersey boy, born and bred.  His music and that unmistakable, velvety voice have been enjoyed for generations, and there will never be another exactly like him.

The Friends of the Cranford Public Library are sponsoring  “A Touch of Sinatra,” a musical show about the life and music of Frank Sinatra, on Monday, September 29th, at 7:30 PM, at the Cranford Community Center at 220 Walnut Avenue.  The show will be narrated by Joe Gilligan, a former singer and founder of the oldies group Reminisce.  Some of Sinatra’s songs will be sung by Donnie Fararro, an authentic sounding Frank Sinatra performer.  Now singing about 100 performances a year, after being diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer in 2004 and told he would probably not survive, much less sing,  Donnie has been an inspiration to many.

The audience can expect to hear many of the songs that made Frankie one of the most renowned singers of the 20th century, along with funny stories and jokes that will keep everyone entertained.  You can check out the show’s website at http://atouchofsinatra.com/3.html .

The best part?  The show is FREE!  Grab your loved one, a neighbor, a friend, whomever . . . . and head to the Community Center.  Be sure to sing “Fly Me To The Moon” very loudly on your way home.  Your neighbors will love that!

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