Thursday, September 29, 2016

Night of the Moon

Night of the Moon

Picture book
Most kids adore the special holidays of their faith traditions.
I know in the Decembers of my childhood it seemed like Christmas would
never arrive. Hena Khan's Night of the Moon, an older book very worth
borrowing through inter library loan, combines the universality of
childhood celebration with a lovely introduction to Ramadan and Eid.
Yasmeen's mother shows her that the moon is in its first
crescent. It is the beginning of Ramaden, a month when Muslims old
enough to do so safely fast from sunrise to sundown. Families and
friends celebrate night meals together. There is sharing with the
poor. Finally the month ends with the very festive Eid and Yasmeen
receives a very special gift.
Remember the saying about small pitchers having big ears?
During this election season a lot of kids will hear nasty and
misleading statements about followers of Islam. Books that show the
truth about this ancient faith and its practitioners can go forward to
innoculate then against fear and hatred.
On a personal note, one on the secular Maine traditions is the Common
Ground Fair. This year I was lucky enough to go on a Common Ground
road trip with my Real Food Challenge crew. We explored, checked out
exhibits, ate yummy local food, and had a great time.
A great big shout out goes out to all the fine folks who made the fair
possible.
jules hathaway


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Big Book Of Why

Big Book Of Why

Juvenile nonfiction
If you're a parent or teacher you will probably agree with me
that why is one of kids' favorite words. Four-year-olds want to know
why the sky is blue. Teens want to know why they have to obey rules
none of their peers have to cope with. In between these points they
begin a myriad of questions with this ubiquitous word.
Which is why a book built around whys (with a bright, eye
catching cover) will fly off the shelves when spotted by youngsters
(and adults like me who never completely grew up).
I mean who doesn't want to know why cats meow or why penguins
can't fly?
Within Time For Kids Big Book Of Why fascinating facts
accompanied by colorful photographs are organized into categories and
subcategories. So I could go to the animal section and find that page
12 is devoted to my favorite beast, felis domesticus, and discover why
cats land on their feet, meow, and hack up hairballs.
Some questions can lead to serious follow up discourse and action:
*Why is composting so good for the planet?
*Why are bees good for flowers?
*Why did the U.S. drop bombs on Japan?
*Why do kids send paper cranes to Japan?
Anyway, if you're lucky enough to have pre high school kids
still to home or you're acquiring books for a public or school library
Time For Kids Big Book Of Why is a great investment. Just don't be
surprised if it also piques your curiosity.
On a personal note, I had the greatest birthday anyone could possibly
have. I spent the day with close friends. I had cakes at
multicultural center and rainbow resource room. And at the dinner at
Wilson Center we had ice cream cones in honor of the occassion.
People sang Happy Birthday and I got to blow out the candle (and make
a wish). Who could ask for more?
A great big shout out goes out to everyone who helped make my birthday
truly special.
jules hathaway


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The Chosen One

The Chosen One

YA fiction
"Here are my father's children.
Adam, 17.
Finn, 16.
Emily, 15.
Nathaniel, 15.
Me, almost 14.
Jackson, 13.
Robert, 13.
Laura, 12.
Thomas, 11.
Margaret, 10.
Candice, 10.
Abe, 9.
April, 8.
Christian, 6.
Meadow, 5.
Marie and Ruth, 4.
Carolina, 3.
Trevor, 2.
Foster, 1.
Mariah, 8 months.
And two more babies on the way."
I know what you're thinking. Impossible. Not where polygamy is
concerned. Carol Lynch Williams' The Chosen One is a fine example of
one of my guilty pleasure favorite subgenres: religious cult dystopias.
Kyra's dad has three wives who he keeps in a near perpetual
state of pregnancy. His three households dwell in a small cluster in
the isolated sect compound. The Prophet and his Apostles (who live in
luxury while the rest of the faithful are poor) make all the
decisions. In a cleansing all books except the Bible were burned.
There is evidence of euthanasia being practiced on the most fragile.
All marriages are arranged and tend to pair off young girls with men
at least old enough to be their fathers.
Kyra has her secrets. She has discovered a book mobile with a
route that passes her compound. Each week she borrows a forbidden
volume, careful to hide it. And she has fallen in love with a young
man who feels the same way about her. She's even had fantasies about
the prophet's death.
Then one day Kyra is forced to make a terrible decision. The
Prophet and his Apostles meet with the combined family to announce
that it is God's will for her to become the seventh wife of Apostle
Hyrum Carlson in a month. If Kyra stays she must be the child bride
of and make babies with her 60 something year old uncle. If she runs
away and manages to escape (some who have tried to flee were shot) she
will never see her beloved family again.
On a personal note, we are in that short part of the year when local
ripe tomatoes abound. Now that we no longer deliver this year, I
collect them from the greenhouse. My husband grows me some also in a
plot beside the house. This year he grew almost brown ones with a
faint chocolate taste.
A great big shout out goes out to Eugene who grows me tomatoes every
summer even though he does not eat them.
jules hathaway



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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Barefoot Heart

Barefoot Heart

Adult/YA biography
"My whole childhood, I never had a bed. In the one-bedroom
rancho where I was born, my apa suspended a wooden box from the
exposed rafters in the ceiling. My ama made a blanket nest for me in
the box. It hung free in the air over my parents' bed, within reach
of both. If I cried, they would swing the box."
I can't imagine a reader with a heart and soul putting down Elva
Trevino Hart's Barefoot Heart. In her earliest years Hart lacked a
lot more than a bed. Her family, for example, still used an outhouse.
In 1953 Hart's family (she was the youngest of six children)
drove with another family from Texas to Minnesota to become migrant
farmworkers. Her father was excited about what he saw as an
opportunity to get ahead financially. Her mother was frantic at the
prospect of moving six children far away from family and friends for
four or five months. It did not help that when they arrived they
learned that all school-age children (all children but Elva) had to
attend school until it ended in June.
"'...I didn't know they would have to go to school! You told me
to pack light. We brought mostly work clothes! The girls only
brought a couple of dresses to wear in case there was an occasional
day off! How can you expect me to dress five children for a month in
a gringo school when we didn't bring anything!...'"
Hart was in for her own rude awakening. After she had watched
her siblings get on the school bus for the first time she saw three
habit-wearing nuns heading toward her temporary home. They offered to
take the children too young to work in the fields for the summer. She
ended up separated from most of her family except for occassional
visits for months at the age of three.
That was only the first of Hart's families immigrant summers in
Minnesota and Wisconsin. She candidly describes the primitive living
conditions which once included living in a stable, the grueling work,
and the other challenges--financial, physical, and psychological faced
by migrant farm workers in the years her family worked the circuit.
Barefoot is a eye opening and poignant book that would be
worthwhile reading for all of us fortunate enough to live in the same
place year round and enjoy luxeries like indoor plumbing and a bed to
sleep in. Sadly, over half a century later, it is still relevant.
On a personal note, my mentor, Silvestre, gave a talk about his
immigrant experience. It was a real eye opener. He had to leave
school and work full time in the fields to help his family at the age
of eleven. There were years he made the dangerous trip to the United
States where anyone who complained of exploitation could be deported.
When he arrived in Maine he had a sixth grade education and very
little English. Now he has a high position at UMaine and is working
on his masters degree. Silvestre is amazing. He is a hero to me. I
am going to wrote his story in the form of a YA book. Si Dios
quiere. (God willing)
A great big shout goes out to Silvestre for not only succeeding, but
doing so with integrity, kindness, and hope.
jules hathaway




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On My Journey Now

On My Journey Now

YA nonfiction
"I do not see a downside to black Americans. All we did was
clear the land, find a way to worship our God, find a way to sing a
song. That song went from the work song, to the spirituals, to
gospel, to blues, to musical theater, to rhythm and blues, to hip-
hop. What is the downside to this story?"
From the time that kidnapped Africans (those who surived the
treacherous ocean voyage) were forced into slavery in America
spirituals helped them to survive and even hope under inhuman living
conditions. Sadly these days few of us grasp their meaning or
significance. Fortunately Nikki Giovanni has studied this subject
extensively. In On My Journey Now she shares her wisdom with readers.
Giovanni beautifully interweaves the words of the songs and the
conditions under which they came into being. She tells us like it was:
"America was looking for very, very, very cheap labor, because
they wanted workers who were even cheaper than indentured servants.
The Africans were taken from their homes, their villages, their
cities. They were chained and lined up, and people who could not keep
up were thrown to the side. So many people dying changed the patterns
of the predators, especially the hyenas, the buzzards, the
scavengers..."
My favorite chapter is the one about the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
When Fisk University was founded in 1866 most of its students were
former slaves. It wasn't very long before hostility on the part of
the KKK and financial hardship threatened to do the school in. A
group of students sacrificed their educations to travel around America
singing to raise money. When they sang popular songs of the day
things did not go well. Fortunately they changed over to the
spirituals that told their stories. That was their key to success.
They even toured Europe and performed for Queen Victoria.
The complete lyrics of all the songs are in the back of the
book. You may be surprised how many you find familiar. When I was
reading it we sang "Let Us Break Bread Together" in my church.
On a personal note, the day before my birthday was the last delivery
day for Orono Community Garden. Once again we had a wonderful run
delivering bags of lovely organic veggies to people who otherwise
couldn't afford to them. In addition to melon and juice we had
cookies to celebrate my birthday early.
A great big shout out goes out to my community garden family.
jules hathaway



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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Slowest Book Ever

The Slowest Book Ever

Juvenile nonfiction
"If you think a table of contents will tell you what is inside
so that you can put down a book and not turn a page you are wrong.
This is a slow book written with snails and sloths in mind.
It may take gumption to read it all the way. But don't worry;
this book was manufactured for sampling. Page flipping and rereading
are enabled, even encouraged on this device. Read it slowly and you
will age."
I don't know about gumption. I wasn't sure what to expect when
I borrowed April Pulley Sayre's The Slowest Book Ever. But when I
read on one of the first pages that some sequia trees started growing
before the births of Christ and Muhammed I was captivated. When I
read a few pages later that caterpillars taught to avoid a certain gas
remembered this as butterflies (even though in the pupa stage there is
a complete body dissolution and rebuilding) I could not put the book
down.
We and our children live in a world where fast is generally
considered best. Fast food. Fast service. Fast information. When it
comes to cognition, however, deep trumps speedy any day. And many
things that take a long time are pretty important. The Slowest Book
Ever presents readers with information such as:
*the long time it takes for synthetic garbage to decompose;
*the reason microorganisms don't move as quickly as they seem to when
they are seen under a microscope;
*the role of magnets in cow digestion;
*the activity brains carry on during sleep;
and *and some of humankind's slowest construction projects.
I'd recommend that kids (and adults) who enjoy interesting new
information to read this book...
...appropriately slowly.
On a personal note, the Ending Violence Together rally and march went
really well. There were lots of groups tabling. I took pictures for
organizers. There were speeches, poetry, and music. I read one of my
poems. We marched around downtown. Finally we had a closing prayer
as we passed around a huge earth beach ball. Everything was perfect
including the weather.
A great big shout out goes out to my fellow organizers and participants.
jules hathaway


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The Usual Rules

The Usual Rules

YA fiction
"One thing Wendy had learned from carrying on her own normal-
looking behavior for a month now--pushing her tray along the line in
the cafeteria, working on her geometry proofs, buttering her toast:
you never knew who else was doing exactly the same thing--which people
were really okay, and which ones only looked like it, even though they
could just as easily go jump in front of an oncoming subway train as
step inside it for a ride to the next station."
September 10, 2001 Wendy, protagonist of Joyce Maynard's The
Usual Rules, had an argument with her mother. She had wanted to visit
her father in California; her mom had said school was too important.
Wendy had accused her of hating her father and hating her for her
resemblence to him. Like probably all of us at least once she'd
regretted her words. Just her parents were getting on her nerves so
much.
The next morning Wendy didn't get to speak to her mother before
school. The bell between home room and first class didn't ring on
time. A voice on the loudspeaker said there had been sn accident. A
plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers...where
her mother worked.
At first Wendy and her stepfather, Josh, and very young
stepbrother, Louie, held out hope that her mother got out alive or
would be found on time by emergency rescuers. They put up flyers with
her picture. But days turned into weeks with no sign of hope. Then
on Halloween, with Josh out and Louie asleep, Wendy hears a knock on
the door. Her biological father has flown in to take her back to
California.
Not surprisingly, The Usual Rules made the YALSA 10 Best Books
for Young Adults. This poignant coming of age novel perfectly
portrays a young teen in a situation most adult adults would be hard
pressed to cope with.
On a personal note, I was able to help out at a wonderful outdoor
fiesta at UMaine. There was lots of food, wonderful music,
dancing... I helped to serve food. When I noticed no one was taking
pictures I put my new camera to good use. I saw lots of friends and
found a lucky dime for my grad school fund.
A great big shout out goes out to Silvestre and David and all the
others who planned the event.
jules hathaway



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