McKinley library director digs up presidential treasures | Book Talk

The smallest object pictured in “Exploring the American Presidency Through 50 Historic Treasures” represents the president with the shortest tenure. It’s a frayed wisp of russet fabric, a scrap of flag from the Battle of Tippecanoe. Kimberly A. Kenney, executive director of the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, has selected artifacts that characterize each president, with photos and thoughtful annotation.

As there have not been 50 presidents, why are there 50 objects? Because there are five items that are shared among presidents, including the Resolute Desk and the largest in the selection, Air Force One.


A study of George Washington’s false teeth dismisses the lingering belief that they were made of wood or ivory. Instead they were made of human teeth, with a good-chance postulate that they were taken or bought from enslaved people who could hardly object. There are several desks and other pieces of furniture in the collection, the most affecting being the shabby rocking chair in which Abraham Lincoln was sitting in Ford’s Theatre.

Kenney provides enlightenment on even the most familiar objects, like Harry Truman’s “The Buck Stops Here” desk sign and the coconut shell with John F. Kennedy’s PT-109 rescue call.

Kimberly A. Kenney will sign “Exploring the American Presidency” from 5:15 to 6 p.m. Thursday in the gift shop of the McKinley Museum, 800 McKinley Monument Drive NW, Canton, followed by a dinner at 6 p.m.; the cost is $60 for nonmembers. Reserve at

‘A Long Stretch of Bad Days’

Lydia Chass will be the valedictorian of Henley High School. That is, if she graduates. In “A Long Stretch of Bad Days,” a mystery for mature teens by Cardington author Mindy McGinnis, Lydia is informed that, because of a disgraced guidance counselor’s error, she is one history credit short of her diploma.

The principal agrees that an independent study project will allow Lydia to make up the credit, and that concentrating her podcast on local history for a few episodes will “call it even.” When she learns the school’s bad girl, Bristal Jamison, is in the same short-credit situation, she makes an out-of-character decision and invites Bristal to co-host her podcast.


The girls decide to focus their episodes on “The Long Stretch of Bad Days,” a period in 1994 in which the small Ohio town suffered a devastating tornado, a flood, a murder and the disappearance of a teen girl. Their outspokenness draws repercussions and Lydia’s parents lecture her – and that’s just for her report on the Memorial Day ceremonies. When the girls start looking into the murder and the missing girls, they find that there are people who want some mysteries left unsolved.

Though “Stretch” contains explicit language and disturbing visual images, it is not as gruesome as her addiction drama “Heroine” or her Poe-inspired horror duology “The Initial Insult” and “The Last Laugh.” These are not pleasant stories.

“A Long Stretch of Bad Days” (364 pages, hardcover) costs $19.99 from Katherine Tegen Books, a division of HarperCollins. Mindy McGinnis also is the author of the survival story “Be Not Far from Me.” She won a 2016 Edgar Award in the Young Adult category for her historical Gothic thriller “A Madness So Discreet.” She will sign “A Long Stretch of Bad Days” from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Learned Owl Book Shop, 204 North Main Street, Hudson.

Award nominees

The e-book version of “Fatal Rounds” by Akron physician Carrie Rubin has been nominated for an ITW Thriller Award in the Best Original Novel category by the International Thriller Writers The winners will be announced in June in New York.

“Reluctant Immortals” by Massillon native Gwendolyn Kiste has been nominated in the Bisexual Fiction category of the Lambda Literary Awards, Kiste’s remarkable Cleveland-set “The Rust Maidens” won the 2018 Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award in the category of Superior Achievement in a First Novel. The awards will be presented in June in New York.


Fireside Book Shop (29 N. Franklin St., Chagrin Falls): Brian Monte reads from “On the Level: Poems on Living with Multiple Sclerosis,” 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday. From 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Carol Ludwick signs “March to the Sea: The Story of Sherman’s Pivotal March,” which she finished after her father’s death.

Warren-Trumbull County Public Library (Howland branch, 9095 E. Market St., Warren): Chelsea Banning signs “Of Crowns and Legends,” 6:30 p.m. Monday. Register at

Heights Arts (2175 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights): Adele Bertei (“Peter and the Wolves,” about Cleveland punk musician Peter Laughner) signs her novel “Twist,” 7:30 p.m. Monday. Register at

Ashland Public Library (224 Claremont Ave.): Rob Wipond talks about “Your Consent is Not Required: The Rise in Psychiatric Detentions, Forced Treatment, and Abusive Guardianships,” 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Register at

Stark Library (Perry Sippo branch, 5710 12th St. NW, Perry Township): Jonathan Knight, author of “Paul Brown’s Ghost: How the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals are Haunted by the Man Who Created Them,” talks about his writing and “How a Hook Becomes a Book,” 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library: Pam Jenoff, author of “The Orphan’s Tale” and “The Lost Girls of Paris,” joins the Online Author Talk Series in a virtual event at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Register at

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Strongsville branch, 18700 Westwood Drive): Julie Carrick Dalton, “The Last Beekeeper,” about a woman who tries to find her father’s missing research about a supposedly extinct bee, 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Register at

Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library (30 Public Square, Willoughby): Author Karen Rocco and illustrator Betsey Burrell will read from their storybook “The Domino Effect,” recommended for ages 3-5, 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday. Register at

Hudson Library & Historical Society: Pailin Chongchitnant, author of “Sabai: 100 Simple Thai Recipes for Any Day of the Week,” gives an online cooking demonstration and talks about Thai flavors, in a Zoom event at 7 p.m. Tuesday. At 1 p.m. Saturday, Cornell University history professor Barry Strauss talks about “The War that Made the Roman Empire: Antony, Cleopatra, and Octavian at Actium. Register at

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Beachwood branch, 25501 Shaker Blvd.): Harvard professor Naomi Orsekes talks about her book (with Erik M. Conway) “The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market,” 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Register at

Dover Public Library (525 N. Walnut St.): Jim Ingram talks about his biography “Mike Hargrove and the Cleveland Indians: A Baseball Life,” 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Register at

Visible Voice Books (2258 Professor Ave., Cleveland): Cindy Rovtar signs her storybook “Welcome to the World, Squirrelly Q,” 1 p.m. Saturday.

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Libraries (Coventry Village branch, 1925 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights): Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate Ray McNiece leads a “Poem for Cleveland” workshop, 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Register at heights

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Middleburg Heights branch, 16699 Bagley Road): WJW-TV co-anchor Wayne Dawson talks about “The Seeds of Greatness Are Within You: A Memoir,” 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Register at

Email information about books of local interest, and event notices at least two weeks in advance to and Barbara McIntyre tweets at @BarbaraMcI.

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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: McKinley library director digs up presidential treasures