Tuesday, February 9, 2016

true love

true love

Photography book for all ages
"...As executive editor of National Geographic Kids, I
constantly read stories of amazing animal devotion. These tales are
extremely popular, and it's easy to see why: if animals can show
kindness and love, surely humans can as well..."
In her true love: 24 Surprising Stories of Animal Affection,
Rachel Bucholz shares some truly heartwarming tales of critter
devotion including those of:
*triplet chihuahuas, born without front legs, who helped each other
overcome their mutual disability;
*a pig adopted into a family of dogs;
*a donkey who risked her life to save her best friend, a sheep, from a
runaway pit bull;
* and a migrating stork who returns every year to his mate who is
confined by injuries to a zoo.
Of course any book put out by the National Geography Society is
bound to have to die for photography. True love is no exception.
From cuddling cats to nuzzling mooses it serves up a treasury of
creature cuteness.
With Valentines Day just around the corner, I highly recommend
true love as a gift for a special someone. Chocolates add calories.
Flowers fade. But a book shows your love forever.
On a personal note, every day my special tuxedo cat buddy, Joey, adds
so much joy to my life. No matter what goes wrong in my day, he is
there for me, putting things in perspective.
A great big shout out goes out to all our critter companions who teach
us what unconditional love is all about.
Julia Emily Hathaway




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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Gay & Lesbian History For Kids

Gay & Lesbian History For Kids

Juvenile fiction
I grew up woefully unaware of the history of the fight for LGBT
rights even though a lot of that history was being made then. I
wasn't even all that aware of LGBT people's rights or lack thereof.
My mother and her fellow college professors alluded to a couple of
male colleagues as odd ducks. I heard people use words like fags and
dykes without a clue as to their meaning. That was when LGBT people
were considered mentally ill and/or criminal. That's probably why
kids were being kept in the dark.
As a society we have come a long way in the right direction.
Young people are now seen as capable of understanding gender and
sexuality issues. Heck, often they're more comfortable discussing
them than my peers. Literature written for them reflects new
sensibilities. Jerome Pohlen's Gay & Lesbian History For Kids is a
great example of this.
The book begins with a poignant narrative. A toddler was in a
hospital in a life or death medical crisis. A child in that situation
needs the comforting presence of parents. If his mothers, Theresa and
Mercedes, had been a heterosexual couple they would have been
routinely admitted to their son's room. But because they were
lesbians they had to fight for their right to be with him.
At the end of this very attention grabbing introduction readers
are invited to go back in time to understand the forces that had led
up to that moment in time. In a narrative that goes back to the
ancient Greeks and Chinese they are introduced to the events and
people central to the struggle for equality.
Among other things, they will learn that:
*Ancient Greece was comfortable with homosexuality and some of its
most influential people were gay;
*Louisa May Alcott, never wed author of children's classics including
Little Women, said, "I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls
and never once the least bit with any man.";
*During the years of Joe McCarthy's Red Scare, gays were persecuted as
relentlessly as suspected Communists;
*On December 1, 1952 the New York Daily News headline read, "Bronx GI
Becomes a Woman. Dear Mom and Dad, Son Wrote, I Have Now Become Your
Daughter.";
*Betty Friedan once feared that the feminist movement would be
hijacked by lesbians, the "lavender menace."...
The lively and informative text is interspersed with many well
chosen photographs. There are related activities for young people to
try. This is a book I really wish had been around when my children
were younger.
On a personal note, Thursday was so warm people were running around
without coats. A lot were thinking spring was here. Penobscot
County, Maine in February? As if! I warned them against
complacency. Well Friday it snowed all day.
A great big shout out goes out to my husband and the others who plowed
around the clock last night.
Julia Emily Hathaway



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The Green Bicycle

The Green Bicycle

YA audio CD
Too many books; too little time! I have a rapidly gowing list
of future reads that seems like if I printed it out it would encircle
the Orono Public Library or at least the children's wing where I
volunteer. So I decided to give audio books another try. Now I can
"read" while I do dishes, fold launddry, make the cat take pills...you
get the idea. Less wasted time. More reviews. Talk about a win
win. And I started with a most delightful novel.
If you're like me you have fond childhood memories of bike
riding. Maybe you loved the freedom it gave you. Maybe you treasured
the feeling of flying down a hill, breezes mitigating even muggy
summer heat. Maybe you enjoyed racing, putting out maximum effort to
be the fastest. Now imagine how you would feel of these pleasures had
been denied you because of your gender. Then you will have a feel for
the plight of Wadjda, protagonist of Haifaa Al Mansour's The Green
Bicycle.
Wadjda, 11, deeply desires to own a beautiful green bicycle she
has seen in the window of a toy store. She longs to race her good
friend, Abdullah, instead of always plodding along the dusty streets
of Saudi Arabia. But bike riding is not considered appropriate for
girls. In fact at her age she is about to lose the few privileges
afforded to her because of youth. She's expected to begin to wear the
restrictive garments of adulthood and focus on attaining the proper
goals of women: waiting on a husband and giving him sons to carry on
the family name.
Wadjda's mother is facing challenges of her own. Her daughter's
behavior concerns her. Getting to her teaching job is sometimes
difficult. Women are not allowed to drive; paid drivers are not
always safe and reliable. She's heartbroken that her husband, egged
on by his mother, is going to take a second wife. It's not that he
doesn't love his first wife. It's all about her being unable to give
him that all important male child. In his country that gives him a
free pass.
This captivating and poignant novel would make a perfect read
for a mother daughter book club. Just about everyone in this country
can glean much insight. I learned things. During my children's
earliest years when I ran a typing business for UMaine students my
most frequent customers were Saudis needing advice not only on
spelling and grammar, but on navigating life in the United States,
sometimes with family.
On a personal note, when I was Wadjda's age, growing up in a
Massachusetts industrial town, skateboard riding bore stigma, at least
where I lived. Girls didn't. Nice boys didn't. The boys who did
were the future motorcycle riders who would wear white tee shirts with
rolled up sleeves in which to stash Marlboros, be the bain of
principals' work lives, and get girls knocked up in the back seats of
Chevies.
As I recall in my sixth grade class the skateboard riders were boys
from the wrong side of the tracks...
...and me, the older daughter of a college professor and a
college librarian.
A great big shout out goes out to girls and women who follow dreams.
Julia Emily Hathaway




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The Shiloh Trilogy

The Shiloh Trilogy

Juvenile fiction
Remember on Christmas Eve I introduced you to a fine seasonal
book called Shiloh's Christmas? In that review I alluded to three
prequel Shiloh books and promised to check them out? Well I finally
got around to it. I found them to be well worth reading with not only
plots that will captivate young bibliophiles and believable
characters, but thought provoking ethical questions that could lead to
lively questions in classrooms or around the kitchen table.
Eleven-year-old Marty lives with his mail carrier father,
mother, and sisters (annoying Dara Lynn and cute little Becky) in
rural West Virginia. His community is the kind where everybody knows
(and has an opinion about) one's business. It's also the kind of
place where neighbors help each other out in time of need. In Marty's
opinion, his hill-surrounded home is the best possible place to live.
One day on a walk Marty is followed home by a very frightened
looking dog. Although he would love to have a canine companion, he
knows that's wishful thinking. His family lives by the rule that
people have no right to take in creatures they can't afford to feed
and get vetinary care for.
It turns out that the beagle is Judd Travers' new hunting dog.
Marty is sure Judd is abusing and neglecting him. He sees his
fearfulness and the ticks on his coat as convincing evidence. When he
and his father return the dog, Judd lives down to Marty's
expectations, kicking the terrified canine and promising to "whup the
daylights out of him" if he leaves again.
Marty's father believes that a man has a right to treat his
property as he sees fit. Needless to say, Marty is not in agreement
or able to follow Dad's advice: "...you've got to get it through your
head that it's his dog, not yours, and put your mind to other
things.". He has quite the dilemma on his hands when the dog reappears
one morning and no family members are around to see what he does.
Shiloh Season takes up where Shiloh leaves off. Marty now owns
the dog whom he has named Shiloh. Only the beagle is not out of
danger. Judd has started drinking big time. He is also hunting on
Marty's family's land even though it's posted. Marty has a guilty
secret. He had seen Judd shoot a doe out of season and had not told
the game warden as part of the deal by which he acquired Shiloh. Now
not only his dog, but his sisters could be killed by a liquored up Judd.
In Saving Shiloh Marty is faced with a new dilemma. Judd has
survived a near fatal accident and seems to be trying to clean up his
act. The community seems not to be noticing. Marty is conflicted.
Despite his less than good close encounters of the Judd Travers kind,
he believes people should give him the benefit of doubt. But what if
they're right to remain suspicious?
Good discussion leading questions:
1. At some point most young people realize that what's legally
sanctioned and what's morally right sometimes feel miles apart.
Encourage them to think of instances from the book and from their own
lives. Share some from your own.
2. Although Judd does some pretty bad stuff, he also is shown
to have good qualities. Marty learns from others some reasons Judd
may be bitter and angry. Ask if they think making this character
nuanced rather than all bad adds to or detracts from the book. Why?
3. When Judd tries to reform, people remain unconvinced. Why
is it so hard to overcome prejudice and reputation? Is this true for
groups as well as individuals?
On a personal note, I had a Shiloh worthy decision to make just
recently. In January the school board lost our chair who moved away.
As vice chair, I became interim chair. The people who would have been
better permanent chairs had no interest in doing so. I didn't feel
all that capable, but maybe I was the best in the situation. My
decision would be to accept or turn down the nomination. After losing
sleep over it the four weeks between meetings I accepted.
A great big shout out goes out to all who take big risks to rescue
animals.
Julia Emily Hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Monday, February 1, 2016

Almost Home

Almost Home

Adult nonfiction
My favorite people in the world are my children. While they
lived at home my husband and I did our best to meet their physical,
intellectual needs and enable them to pursue their dreams--to be the
wind beneath their wings and the roots that gave them security. Now
that they are grown and moving out into the world the time I spend
with them is precious beyond measure.
The hard reality is that not all children have secure homes and
loving families. Some, especially LGBT youngsters, are discarded by
nonaccepting parents. Some have to flee toxic environments that may
include parental substance addiction or physical, emotional, or even
sexual abuse. Some are taken from families and thrown into a
revolving door foster care system and sent out on their 18th
birthdays, often without the basic skills for survival. A lot of
these kids end up on the street, often becoming the property of pimps
and other abusers.
Fortunately there are angels in human form determined to save as
many as possible. The Covenant House movement is a fine example. In
a series of safe homes and transitional apartment complexes in the
United States and Canada fragile and damaged youngsters are cared for,
loved, and nurtured so they can gain the skills and strengths they
need to change their paths to ones with bright futures.
Kevin Ryan and Tina Kelley's Almost Home gives readers six
profiles of people who went through Covenant House to escape from
intolerable situations. You'll meet:
*Paulie, caught between estranged adoptive (he was taken from his teen
age birth mom) parents: his violent father and his drug addicted
mother, neither able to give him the supervision that could have kept
him out of trouble;
*Muriel, born with fetal alcohol syndrome, addicted to drugs before
her teens, sold to pimps over the Internet;
*Benjamin, tortured by his parents and then placed in a series of
placements by the state--too often emergency shelters or other group
settings rather than families;
*Creionna, a motherless teen and hurricane evacuee, impregnated and
abandoned by a peer, fleeing her father's house for her six-week-old
baby's safety...
in addition to the poignant true stories, you learn of the many
factors that set youngsters up for homelessness. Narrative and
background are interwoven seamlessly. It's a lot of food for thought.
But the authors don't just want you to put the book down after
reading it. There are suggestions for ways most of us can help to
prevent homelessness and rescue young people from the streets. It
takes a pretty darn big village.
On a personal note, this book brings back memories. When I was in
that age range my early retired mom and severely handicapped sibling
moved to an isolated island off the coast of North Carolina. My
father was fired and alcoholic and making bad decisions. Once he had
said a stranger who bought him drinks could have me. (I made sure
that didn't happen). I was alone in Massachussets. There was this
economic recession going on. For years doing the unpaid housekeeping,
caretaking (great aunt with Alzheimers), tutoring (sibling) and being
my college professor mother's teaching assistant and secretary didn't
give me the chance to hold the paying jobs that would have established
me in the workforce. For a long time what jobs I could get barely
covered shared apartment rent. I teetered on the brink of
homelessness, walking up to twenty miles a day and making one can of
tomato soup stretch for three meals. But eventually that fell
through. I would have loved it if there had been a Covenant House
around then.
A great big shout out goes out to all those who work to rescue young
people from the streets and give them hopeful futures.
Julia Emily Hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Malled

Malled

Adult nonfiction
"'There's a huge cultural barrier there. They [the buyers] make
a fortune whereas the poor sod standing for eight hours in the store
is making no money. This is the challenge we have--we pay you like
crap, we make you stand there all day, customers treat you like crap.
Nobody cares about the associate! It's highly improbable that retail
will treat people as human beings.'"
Although I do not have the brightest of job prospects, where I
took a quarter century out to raise children and I failed the eyesight
test to become a licensed driver in two states, I have sworn if at all
possible not to work retail. I've heard all the horror stories. I
would much rather collect garbage than pin on the plastic badge of a
sales associate. I had only anecdotal evidence on my side until I
scooped up Caitlin Kelly's Malled: My Unintentional Career In
Retail. (The above quote is from a company's CEO she interviewed.)
It's a cautionary tale for anyone contemplating la vida retail.
Kelly had never dreamed during her successful journalism career
that she would stand on the other side of the counter. Then the
economy started to tank. Freelance work slowed down just as more
people competed for each assignment. A steady gig to supplement
income seemed like a pretty good idea.
Kelly started her job with an upbeat attitude. "...I liked
having a set routine, a good-looking, comfortable, free company
supplied uniform, and a break from my work as a writer. I loved
learning and perfecting new skills. I really enjoyed the variety of
customers and my friendly coworkers..."
As time wore on, her optimism was eroded by the countless
indignities and real dangers sales associates have to deal with, the
lack of opportunity to learn and move up the proverbial ladder, the
poverty wages, and the capriciousness with which higher ups throw
obstacles in their paths while demanding they meet their sales
quotas. Based on research as well as her own experience, she came to
the sobering conclusion that workers in retail are seen as a commodity
to be used, abused, and discarded since there will always be others to
take their place.
If you are contemplating working retail or if you want to know
just what it entails in our capitalist system, make sure to take Kelly
up on her invitation to step behind the cash wrap.
On a personal note, I know I am very lucky that my husband of over a
quarter of a century supports the family. I can't drive. Public
transportation is extremely limited. I am trying very hard to get a
day job in an area with limited prospects and abundant competition.
I'm also looking for odd jobs and freelance writing opportunities.
Just gotta keep on looking and believing.
A great big shout out goes out to the January Hathaway birthday boys:
my husband (17th) and my son (the 29th). Hard to believe my baby is
now 19.
Julia Emily Hathaway


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Monday, January 25, 2016

Dork Diaries

Dork Diaries

Juvenile series
Darkness had fallen. Winds were whipping around outside making
eerie sounds. (The hubby was at camp and Adam was out for the
evening) The chill of January was leaking into Chez Hathaway. Joey
cat was dancing from paw to paw waiting for a warm lap to occupy. I
picked up the book I was reading and it seemed too heavy for that
particular evening. I did not have the mental energy to understand
the existential angst of the wealthy. All I wanted to do was eat
candy, cuddle with Joey, and read something relatively light.
A couple of days before at the Orono Public Library I had found
something I'd been looking for ever since I'd become a fan on the
Diary of a Wimpy Kid volumes: a similar series with a female
protagonist. Just waiting to be shelved were four colorfully covered
volumes: Rachel Renee Russell's Dork Diaries--1, 4, 5, and 9.
Needless to say, they did not get put in their ordained spaces. They
came home with me for just such an occasion.
I was hooked from the first sentences: "Sometimes I wonder if
my mom is BRAIN DEAD. Then there are days when I know she is."
Nikki is starting eigth grade in a private school where most of
her classmates are affluent. She has a secret. Her father has gotten
her a scholarship because he provides professional services for the
school, services she hopes her peers won't learn about. Let's put it
this way. He's a pest exterminator with a five-foot-long plastic
roach on top of his van.
In Nikki's words, "How am I supposed to fit in at a snobby prep
school like Westchester Country Day? This place has a Starbucks in
the cafeteria."
Unfortunately Nikki's school's ultimate mean girl, MacKenzie,
has the locker next to hers. Maybe it's this proximity. Maybe it has
to do with their both liking the same boy, one who is somehow immune
to Mackenzie's charms. But it's out and out war in a place where the
rich girl seems to have all the advantages.
Back home Nikki's parents are clueless. Her slightly strange
little sister seems to show up at all the wrong places.
The four volumes I read would certainly satisfy a lot of middle
school and soon to be middle school girls.
I'm gonna be tracking down the other seven ones.
On a personal note, I am trying to live up to advice Nikki gets from
her grandmother: when challenges arise she can either be a chicken or
a champion. Two challenges are presenting themselves in my life.
First, if the Veazie School Committee chair has sold his home I am
interim chair in danger of becoming chair. I am a terrific vice
chair. I want to become chair about as much as most of you want to
swim with great white sharks.
Second, since I've almost finished writing my first book length
manuscript I started researching how to get a book published. Holy
Hannah! Right now about the only thing that keeps me from just
quitting is my Methodist mandate to not hide my talents under a bushel
basket.
A great big shout goes out to the kids, teachers, and staff of the
Veazie Community School whom I will do my best to serve, even of it
involves becoming (sigh) chair of school committee.
Julia Emily Hathaway


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