The Weirdos Return

Jane Sutton

How a middle-school musical in Utah brought Lexington author Jane Sutton’s most popular book to a new generation.


By Jane Whitehead

“I write because I can’t be a rock star,” says Lexington-based children’s author Jane Sutton, laughing. But a musical adventure in a small town in Utah in January 2018 gave her a taste of star treatment and prompted her to publish a new version of her award-winning novel, Me and the Weirdos.

Sutton’s books include seven picture books, three middle-grade novels, and one YA novel. Back in 1981, she wrote Me and the Weirdos, the story of Cindy Krinkle, a little girl who is embarrassed by her family. (Her mother does cartwheels, her father rides to work on a bike with an umbrella while singing operatic arias, and her sister has a pet sea urchin.) The book, originally published by Houghton Mifflin, was an ALA-CBC Children’s Choice, won the Utah Children’s Book Award and sold over 90,000 copies.

“The book brought me loads of fan letters from children, and from adults who said it was their favorite book, and made them feel being different was OK,” says Sutton. But Me and the Weirdos has been out of print for decades, so in 2017 she was surprised to receive a “long, sweet email, very polite and respectful,” from two high school seniors in Blanding, Utah, Eva Perkins, and Ashley Berrett, asking her permission to turn the book into a musical, Me and the Krinkles.

As a child, Perkins had read Me and the Weirdos, a favorite of her mother’s, and thought the story would translate well into a musical. She and Berrett wrote to Sutton, not at all sure that she would reply, and “screamed with excitement” when they received her positive response.

“I, of course, said yes,” says Sutton, “and asked to look at the script.” The script and lyrics impressed her with their professionalism and smart changes to make the plot more workable on stage, with a middle-school cast. As they exchanged drafts and comments, Sutton learned that the pair held scholarships in music and drama, and had appeared in and directed other productions.

Braving the flight from Boston to Salt Lake City – in January – followed by a five and half hour drive to Blanding (population 4000), Sutton and her husband, science writer and educator Alan Ticotsky, attended the premiere performance of Me and the Krinkles on January 22, 2018, at San Juan High School.

“We were blown away by the professionalism and wonderfulness of the play, as well as the warm welcome from Eva’s and Ashley’s families and the whole town,” says Sutton. From the motel to the visitor center to the museum, Sutton was feted as “the author” from out of town, and she and Al enjoyed private tours of local natural wonders, including a visit to Bears Ears National Monument with a Navajo guide.

The excited middle school cast asked Sutton to sign everything from programs and posters to phone cases and a plaster cast. Searching online for the original book, they were disappointed only to find second-hand copies at high prices. So Sutton came home with a mission to bring Me and the Weirdos back into circulation.

For years, Sutton has taught a sold-out class on “Writing Children’s Books” for Lexington Community Education. Now she turned for advice to long-time students who have become successful authors and illustrators, Josh Funk and Doreen Buchinski. “You should just get it out there,” said software engineer and prize-winning author Funk.

In the interests of quick turnaround, controlling the editorial process, and the freedom to choose her own illustrator, Sutton decided to self-publish the book using the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. She invited graphic designer and illustrator Buchinski to design the new edition and provide new illustrations, and the two started work in April 2018.

Illustrator Doreen Buchinski with the new edition of Me and the Weirdos.

Buchinski enjoyed turning Sutton’s “rich descriptions” into graphite and wash drawings, and designed a new cover using her niece as the body-model for the heroine. But even as an experienced graphic designer, she found online self-publishing challenging. Unlike working with a printer with whom you have a personal relationship, with KDP “you don’t always get to talk to a person,” says Buchinski, so glitches that would be quickly solved in a traditional setting sometimes led to frustrating email chains.

“I’d always be finding things I wanted to change,” says Sutton, a self-described perfectionist. But by September, she had “revised, tweaked and pared” the text to her satisfaction, and by October the new edition was available in paperback and on Kindle. Sutton dedicated it to Eva Perkins and Ashley Berrett, in recognition of the creative partnership between two Mormon teenagers from Utah and a Jewish grandmother from Boston, an unlikely collaboration that’s real-life proof of the message of both book and musical, that “it’s perfectly fine to be different!”

The new paperback edition of Me and the Weirdos is available from independent booksellers and online. For more information, see

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Life Class

By Jane Whitehead

Benjamin Zander. Courtesy photo.


“Music and the Art of Possibility:
Transforming Your Life”
Wednesday, December 5
7:30 p.m.
Cary Memorial Hall
1605 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington
The Cary Lecture Series is free and open to all.
carylectureseries.orgFor information about BPO and BPYO concerts, see:



For over four decades, Benjamin Zander has been a notable contributor to Boston’s rich classical music scene, as founder and leader of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

As a guest conductor Zander has inspired orchestras from Scotland to St. Petersburg. His recordings of Beethoven and Mahler symphonies with the London Philharmonia Orchestra have garnered critics’ awards and Grammy nominations. “This account of the work heaps revelation on revelation,” writes music critic Paul Driver of Zander’s recently released recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, in London’s Sunday Times.

Zander’s appearance at Cary Hall will not involve an orchestra, though it will feature a piano. “It’ll be an evening of ‘possibility thinking’ and music making – a wonderful combination,” he said in a recent conversation.

After nearly 20 years on the podium, Zander has written, he had the life-changing realization that a conductor’s “true power derives from his ability to make other people powerful.” Once he understood that the core of his task was to “awaken possibility in other people,” he saw also that this insight had applications in places far from concert halls and practice rooms. So began his parallel career as an internationally sought-after inspirational speaker.

“I have had a double life – that of a musician and that of a speaker about leadership,” said Zander, who at age 79 still retains the accent of his native England despite having lived in the U.S. for most of his life. His message about creativity and leadership has reached from the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies to the elite World Economic Forum in Davos, where he has appeared several times as a keynote speaker and been honored with the Crystal Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Arts and International Relations.

A passionate advocate for making classical music accessible to everyone, Zander has harnessed the power of the internet to reach a mass online audience. His 2008 TED talk on The Transformative Power of Classical Music, subtitled in 45 languages, has recorded over ten million views. The 20-minute presentation distills some of his major themes: that classical music is for everybody, that nobody is tone-deaf, and that music can give us access to otherwise inexpressible emotions.

“Everybody loves classical music – they just don’t know about it yet,” he tells the studio audience. He demonstrates the concept of “one-buttock playing,” by which he means physically moving with the flow of the music rather than sitting firmly planted on the piano stool. By extension, he says, this approach means “encouraging people to think and live outside the box and develop a more open-hearted way of being in relation to music, but also in relation to life.”

Zander has reached audiences across the world with the best-selling book, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life, co-authored with his former wife, the psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander. Packed with stories from their different but complementary professional lives, the book outlines twelve practices geared to helping readers make a “total shift of posture, perceptions, beliefs and thought processes.”

Zander acknowledged that his Cary Hall talk comes at a challenging time in the life of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. A November 5 report in the Boston Globe outlined discord in the organization following the arrest of an artistic advisor in September 2018 and the more recent dismissal of an associate conductor.

On November 9, over 70 parents of the orchestra’s young players responded to the Globe Editor with a strong letter of support expressing confidence in Zander’s vision and the orchestra’s administration, and satisfaction with the organization’s careful and respectful handling of an “unfortunate situation.”

“I’m not saying I welcome the trouble we’re in,” said Zander, who is clearly shaken by recent events, “but here’s the question: how do you deal with it?  With despair and anger and fighting back, or do you create a new conversation?”

Any situation, however difficult, can be approached in the spirit of possibility, he said, and that means having the discipline to keep a constructive, creative frame of mind, using language with care and clarity, and being energized by love rather than fear.

In Lexington, Zander looks forward to engaging with an audience of people who “care about kids, care about education, care about music,” and to sharing insights from a long and extraordinary life full of challenges and still radiant with possibilities for communicating energy and joy.

An archive of Zander’s performances, lectures, writings and interpretation classes is available





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Adopt Your Catch Basin

Keeping catchbasins clear is important for the safety of  motorists and property

Catch basins are stormwater inlets that filter out debris such as leaves, sticks, branches, and litter. They are typically located next to street curbs or in the rear yards of residential areas. It is important to maintain catch basins to prevent stormwater blockages and minimize the number of pollutants entering storm drains.

Stormwater usually discharges directly into streams, wetlands, and conservation areas. Clogged catch basins can also cause water to pond along streets and in yards. This flooding can be a nuisance to motorists and homeowners. Stormwater drainage systems are typically designed to remove water from a developed area as quickly as possible during a storm. Clearing off snow, leaves, pine needles, mud and any other debris on and around the drain grates will allow water to enter the storm system freely.

How can you adopt your catch basin?

Remove debris from grates – the grates of catch basins can become clogged with litter, sticks, branches, leaves, or snow especially in the spring, fall, and winter. Regularly inspect the grate and remove debris will prevent hazardous conditions. Encourage neighbors to adopt the catch basins in front of their homes, and keep them free of debris.
Ensure regular cleaning – catch basins should be cleaned out before the storage area is half full.

Once this level is reached, debris begins to wash into drain lines, streams, wetlands, and conservation areas. Cleaning these storage areas, under the grates and below the street or yard level, should be performed by the Town of Lexington or a private contractor. Having a clean catch basin is of primary importance during the spring, fall, and winter seasons for our community.

We thank you in advance for all your help and continued support. For more information see the Town’s website at: or call DPW at 781-274-8300.

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Ray Ciccolo: Living Legacy

New MA Auto Dealers Hall of Fame inducts only living member


Ray Ciccolo, President and Founder of Village Automotive Group, is the only living nominee inducted into the 2018 Massachusetts Auto Dealers Hall of Fame, chosen by members of the MA State Automotive Dealers Association (MSADA).

The longtime Lexington resident is one of five in the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class, alongside Paul Balise, Ernie Boch, Sr., Herb Connolly and Alvan Fuller. Active in all sectors of the automotive world as well as other philanthropic, business and artistic endeavors, these leaders left their mark on New England’s automotive industry over the last century. The inductees were formally recognized in a ceremony early this month at the Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod.

“It’s an honor to be recognized alongside such esteemed leaders who have played a vital role in shaping the automotive industry in Massachusetts,” Ciccolo said. He owns Village Automotive Group – one of the largest automobile dealers in the state – which includes the oldest and largest Volvo dealer in New England. Boston Volvo Cars recently relocated to a state-of-the-art showroom in a newly-renovated historic 1925 Allston building that once housed the likes of New Balance and International Harvester.

“In 1963, our original Volvo showroom was bare-bones and simple. Just as 21st century Volvos have transformed from solid and boxy to sleek and stylish, so has their flagship showroom in Boston,” Ciccolo said. “While our home has changed, you can still expect the same family-owned dealership and service.”

Even with this new honor, Ciccolo has no intention of slowing down. “We’ve changed over the years, but our goal has remained steadfast – to provide our customers with an overwhelmingly exceptional customer service experience.”

In addition to automotive dominance in the marketplace, Ciccolo is actively involved in developing residential and commercial properties, as well as expanding green initiatives at his dealerships in an effort to become more environmentally conscious. The new Boston Volvo dealership in Allston is equipped with high-efficiency windows, fixtures and lighting, sustainable building products and a complete solar-array on the roof. “As one of the oldest Volvo dealers in America, we have a lot to live up to,” he added.

Ciccolo holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Suffolk University and a Masters from Northeastern University. He completed the Owner and Presidents Management Program at Harvard Business School.  Ciccolo and his wife Grace have been married for over 50 years and have three daughters and seven grandchildren. The couple happily resides in Lexington, MA.

About Village Automotive Group:

Owned by Ray Ciccolo, Village Automotive Group is a leading Massachusetts automobile dealer group serving the Greater Boston Area. Comprising six locations and selling five quality brands, its respected group of dealerships has maintained a solid and growing presence in New England for 60 years.  It serves the drivers of Boston, Danvers, Norwell, and Newton MA – and beyond.  Village Automotive Group has maintained a steady reputation for excellence in customer service and in selling quality new and used Honda, Hyundai, Volvo, Audi and Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs. Its dealerships include Boston Volvo Cars in Allston/Brighton, Honda Village of Newton, Audi Norwell, Porsche Norwell, Volvo Village of Danvers in MA and Hyundai Village of Danvers.

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Adlers Leave Lexington with Meaningful Gift

By Martha Crosier Wood

When Nancy and Joel Adler moved this summer, they wanted to leave something for Lexington because felt so attached to the town and the Community Center, thus they established The Adler Fund for the capital improvement and expansion of the Community Center.

Members of the community are encouraged to make contributions. Checks should be made payable to the Friends of the Council on Aging with “Adler Fund” written in the memo line on the front of the check and mailed to the FCOA, Box 344, Lexington, MA 02420.
Nancy is a former chair of the Council on Aging was very involved in the development of the Community Center. She served on the Center’s advisory board until the couple left.

Joel served the town on the Conservation Commission and later as a member of the Community Preservation Committee. Most recently he led a financial course on Money Matters for seniors which met at the Community Center weekly.

Both Nancy and Joel served in Town Meeting for more than 40 years.
“Community activism has always been the Adler’s ‘thing’,” pointed out Janice Kennedy, chair of the Friends. “They both love and used the Community Center and want it to expand. Money raised will go for anything that will benefit the Center including physical expansion that will allow even more programs.”

“The Adlers will retain control of the Fund and how it is used,” Kennedy explained.

The Adlers moved to Lexington forty-four years ago because they were looking for a town with a real sense of community, Nancy said in an interview last summer. “I just hope that what I do is beneficial to the community.”

The Adler Fund will be used to continue that goal.

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Gallery Twist Opens “Illumination”

Gallery Twist’s winter exhibition plays upon the theme Illumination. All art illuminates in some way, right?! So the art in this show features over 50 New England artists and more than 200 pieces representing an array of styles and subject matter to appeal to a wide audience. And yes, there will be lights and candles. Gallery Twist’s website offers a glimpse of what to expect from the event, which runs from December 1 through January 1, 2018.

The show coincides with the time of year when light features in many faith-based and non-faith based events. “We are all ready for a little extra warmth and light in our lives this winter,” enthused Gillian Ross, co-owner of Gallery Twist. “On the one hand we have an oil painting that captures the warmth and tranquility of an evening sunset across Walden Pond, and on the other a colorful abstract piece that illuminates in a more conceptual way. And everything in between!”

Visitors often comment on the gallery’s unique style of displaying artwork. For some, it draws them back to every show. “I’ve never been to something like this before. This is more than just a gallery. It’s an ‘art experience’. Such a treat.” And another: “The beautiful setting combined with the way the gallery is curated makes this a magical experience.”

The show comes at just the right time for the shopping season. The gift of art is a great way to mark special occasions or connections, bring new life and ambiance to a room, and provide lasting memories.

“Purchasing art is a personal endeavor”, explained John Ross, co-owner of the gallery. “Some people know exactly what they want when they see it and others like to ponder. We want to give people space to make that decision. We are confident that visitors will find the piece they are looking for at an affordable price. Of course, if they’ve just come to enjoy the show – that’s fine too!”


About Gallery Twist
A cross between an art gallery and a pop-up show, each year Gallery Twist (formerly Gallery Blink) hosts five shows that typically hang for four weeks. Set in a 150-year-old Victorian residential home in the historical district in Lexington, Mass. the gallery provides visitors with a perfect setting to imagine art in their own home or workspace. Artwork is displayed on two floors of the home including the large foyer, living room, library, dining room, a double bridal staircase and upstairs hall. Art is offered at a variety of price points. The gallery’s website also offers a means of viewing and purchasing art.
Gillian Ross is the creative force behind Gallery Twist. She has extensive experience curating art exhibitions.  For the past seven years, she has been Gallery Director of Grace Chapel’s Art Gallery in Lexington, a role in which she continues to serve. A printmaker and painter, Ross was also an artist member of Depot Square Gallery, which operated in Lexington Center for 28 years.

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November 2018

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Author Martha Ackmann Takes You Inside her New Book Curveball

Meet Martha Ackmann, author of the Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball. This is the fascinating story of the “best baseball player you’ve never heard of” … a woman who faced incredible odds in pursuit of her dream.


Thursday, August 23


Cary Memorial Library




Toni Stone wanted to play professional baseball more than anything in the world. Since women’s leagues refused her eligibility due to the color of her skin, she ended up playing with men in the Negro League. (from 1932 until 1954) , alongside such greats as Satchel Paige, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron.  Curveball is not only the story of the talent and achievements of this amazing woman, it is also the story of the sexism and racism that she endured. Chronicling both Stone’s struggles and victories, the author reveals how far passion, pride, and determination can take one person.

Martha Ackmann is a journalist, author, and editor who writes about women who have changed America. A much sought after public speaker, she addresses government agencies, corporate and business groups, professional organizations, and has spoken at colleges and universities across America. Her talks have been described as “moving” “dynamic” “eloquent” “unforgettable” and full of hope.

She has been featured on the “Today Show”, CNN, National Public Radio, the BBC, and many other radio and television outlets around the country. Her columns, articles, and op-eds have been published in major metropolitan newspapers including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Houston Chronicle. In addition to writing and public speaking, Dr. Ackmann is also a member of the faculty at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

This program will be held in the Large Meeting Room at Cary Library. The program is free, and open to all ages. Space is limited.

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Lexington Symphony Celebrates 300th Anniversary at September Concert

 The September concert, which will kick of the orchestra’s celebration of Lexington’s 300th anniversary, features music dedicated to the love of place and of city. The program consists of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ second symphony, known as the “London” symphony, and recent compositions by two living female composers, Jennifer Higdon and Sky Macklay.

Sky Macklay



September 23




The orchestra will perform the world premiere of Dissolving Bands by young composer Sky Macklay. Macklay was selected through a process of collaboration with the Walden School in New Hampshire, a summer music school and festival that offers programs that emphasize creative application, specifically through music improvisation and composition. A jury consisting of Lexington Symphony Music Director Jonathan McPhee and Walden school leadership selected Macklay to be the recipient of a commission by the Lexington Symphony. The composer was asked to reflect on the possible meanings of the town’s 300th anniversary in musical language.

Macklay describes the resulting work, Dissolving Bands, as inspired by the first sentence in the Declaration of Independence which begins, ‘When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.’” She writes, “Musically, I channeled the emotions that the Massachusetts colonists may have felt before the eruption of the Revolutionary war, beginning with rapidly changing instrumental choirs ascending in staccato clusters of unpredictable turbulence and ever-mounting tension. Later sections express uncertainty, fortitude, and the calm, open space of unknown future possibilities.”

Jennifer Higdon

Lexington Symphony will also be performing two movements (“Peachtree Street” and “Skyline”) from Jennifer Higdon’s 2004 composition City Scape. Pulitzer-prize winner Jennifer Higdon is one of the most performed living American composers working today. Her list of commissioners range from the Cleveland Orchestra to the Tokyo String Quartet, from The President’s Own Marine Band to Hilary Hahn. Higdon received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, with the committee citing Higdon’s work as a “deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity.” She has also received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts & Letters (two awards), the National Endowment for the Arts, and ASCAP.

Tickets are available online at, by phone at 781.523.9009, with your check payable to Lexington Symphony, P.O. Box 194, Lexington MA 02420, or in person at The Crafty Yankee at 1838 Mass Ave. in Lexington Center (cash/check only). Ticket prices for the September 23 concert are $50, $40, $30, $20 (student).

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