May 4th would have been Audrey Hepburn’s 90th birthday, so now’s the perfect time to celebrate her remarkable life. (When isn’t it, really?) We all know Audrey for her classic movie roles (ROMAN HOLIDAY, MY FAIR LADY, WAIT UNTIL DARK, CHARADE) and iconic fashion moments (the little black dresses in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, the post-Paris ball gown in SABRINA, The lace eye mask and sparkly eyeshadow in HOW TO STEAL OF MILLION, the entirety of FUNNY FACE), but she was so much more than that.
Though she never thought much of herself, Audrey Hepburn was a woman of compassion, courage, humility, selflessness, intelligence and gentleness. She enjoyed her acting career, but throughout her life she was most passionate about children – both her own two sons and the impoverished children she advocated for through her work with UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund). Audrey spent the last years of her life tirelessly traveling the globe to meet with, serve, and fight on behalf of suffering children.
Because I loved MY FAIR LADY, I wrote a report on Audrey my sophomore year of high school, and I was blown away by her goodness. Ever since, I’ve been joking that I’ll find a way to become her best friend in the afterlife. In addition to watching her films, I’ve read a number of books about her inspiring life over the years. Here are a few of my favorites:
This biography, written by Audrey’s son Sean, is the one I most often recommend. It features personal memories and gorgeous family photographs that reveal her love for gardening, ballet, animals (she adored her dogs), motherhood, and a quiet life at her home in Switzerland. It also discusses her insecurities and the heartache she experienced when her father left the family and when she experienced miscarriages as an adult. Ferrer makes a special point to emphasize his mother’s work as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in her later life, and he donated proceeds from the book to the Audrey Hepburn’s Children Fund.
Audrey’s younger son, Luca, compiled this collection of memories, recipes, letters, and hundreds of previously unpublished photographs. It feels more like a scrapbook than a biography, which is why I recommend starting with Ferrer’s book first if you only know Audrey from a movie or two. If you’re already familiar with her backstory, though, AUDREY AT HOME is charming. I love how intimate it feels, particularly in sharing Audrey’s favorite recipes like Penna alla Vodka. I’m grateful that Audrey’s sons have been so generous in sharing their private memories with the loving fans who miss her.
Though other biographies discuss Hepburn’s experiences living through the Nazi occupation of Holland as a teen, this is the first book to cover those years of her life in depth. Though her father and initially her mother were Nazi sympathizers, an uncle helped lead the resistance in the Netherlands, and as a teen Audrey carried messages for the underground movement and raised funds through secret ballet performances. Matzen reveals that Audrey and her mother even sheltered a downed English pilot for a time. Later in life, the memory of food and medical relief at the end of the war fueled Audrey’s passionate work on behalf of children. Matzen’s new book offers a fascinating glimpse at this formative time in Audrey’s life.
If you idolize Audrey for her fashion sense, it’s important to know the man behind many of her most iconic looks: Hubert de Givenchy. When Audrey, a Hollywood newcomer, first went to meet the young designer in the 1950s, he famously expected a different Miss Hepburn at the appointment. That mishap led to a forty-year friendship and collaborative working relationship, however. AUDREY AND GIVENCHY provides wonderful insight into their personal bond and the designs they made famous.
This sweet picture book provides a lovely overview of Audrey’s life, career, and charity work, and the beautiful illustrations by Julia Denos perfectly capture Hepburn’s personality and charm. Readers of all ages are sure to draw inspiration from JUST BEING AUDREY.
This emmy-winning documentary series helped make Audrey one of only fifteen EGOT winners in history. She was a passionate gardener, in part because of the deprivation she experienced during World War II; her son Luca said “Her garden in Switzerland which has fruit trees was proof of this – it was beauty in the form of protecting your family.” GARDENS OF THE WORLD reflects her love for the topic. Beautiful shots of roses, tulips, and famous gardens combine with Audrey’s lilting voice for a very relaxing viewing experience. It’s practically ASMR.
Music is important in our house. I play a little piano, my husband plays the guitar and ukulele, my children are taking piano lessons, and we all love to sing. We own a lot of music books and sheet music, but as much as I would love to have my own full music library, it isn’t possible.
Thankfully, the library has tons of music! There are many compilations, anthologies and a huge span of books from classical to currently popular artists and musicals.
I love checking out music from the library. It adds variety to what we own. I have a chance to try out music I am considering to purchase. I am not an accomplished pianist - I'm mediocre at best - and I often need to see if the book will be enjoyable for me to own, based on how well I am able to sight-read the music (though if I would just buckle down and practice more often I would be able to play the more advanced stuff).
Here are a few of my favorites from the library I have tried.
I was probably a little obsessed with the movie Newsies when it came out. My friends and I basically watched it every chance we could and memorized all the songs. The library has the original motion picture music as well as the new Broadway adaptation music book. I may have also recently shown the movie to my children and given my daughter the soundtrack on CD. It makes my heart happy to have the obsession continue to the next generation and have the music playing in my home.
When I was in high school I learned to play “Jessica’s Theme” and “The Man from Snowy River: Main Title Theme”. I just had the sheet music for those two songs. I love that the library has the entire book of music from the movie.
This “Big Note Piano” version is available in the children’s department. If you have a princess lover, this is the collection for you. This is a simplified version even beginning piano students can successfully play.
Greatest Showman songs exploded last year. I loved that it was a well done movie, with amazing music AND I could share the entire experience with my children. We listened and sang along with the music together. It has been fun to extend our experience and fill our home with the music on the piano and guitar.
I have always loved musicals and I am glad they are popular again. Although I haven’t yet shared this movie experience with my children, I love tinkering around and singing along to the jazzy songs on the piano.
Let’s face it. We all know what it’s like to be sick. Headaches, runny nose, chills, etc. All you want to do is curl up in a ball. You wonder if this awful feeling will last forever and if your left nostril will ever work again. It’s times like these that I enjoy pulling out a few books to distract myself from my misery, and to remind myself that I at least have a great excuse to read.
A fellow librarian recommended this book to me, and I’m so glad she did. This book revolves around a pair of siblings, Prudence and Robin. Certain circumstances require Robin to disguise himself as a woman. However, it would be most improper to have two women gallivanting around without protection. Thus, Prudence dawns the disguise of a man. The two then enter high society London and hilarity ensues.
This book first graced my to-read-when-sick list in the fourth grade. It is one of my favorite books ever written. What’s not to love about a sassy princess who volunteers to work for a dragon? Princess Cimorene is not like other princesses. She is tall, dark haired, and would rather practice magic than a swoon. When her parents decide to marry her off to a prince she isn’t interested in, she decides to run away.
I recently listened to this book and I loved it. The story is fun, cute, and is just the thing to lift your spirits when you’re not feeling 100%. I honestly laughed out loud a few times. This book follows the life of 15-year-old Marcus. Due to a bet made by his great-grandfather, Marcus must perform an incredible magic trick in front of a large audience. There are only a few problems: he has stage fright, an evil magician is out to get him, and he needs a shark.
Yes, I admit it. My guilty pleasure is Covenant Communications romance novels. I just love a clean romance with a flourish of silliness. It gives me hope for a better world. And when I’m ill, I need all the hope I can get. In this story, Pepper Spicer is unlucky in love. After two failed engagements she takes a new job to repay her accrued debts. Unfortunately, her new job requires her to experience and write about online dating (this is only available as a book on CD).
Of course Harry Potter is on this list. What better way to help soothe the soul than to be reminded of childhood? Adventures with wizards and witches will always cheer me up (especially the story of Harry Potter). An 11-year-old boy finds out he’s a wizard and leaves his extended family to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The more he learns about the wizard world, the more secrets he uncovers.