Monday, March 19, 2012

what happened to goodbye

Sarah Dessen, in my mind, is one of the bright shining stars of
young adult literature. Pegging her books as romance, although
possibly selling them to teenage girls, ultimately does them a
disservice. Her heroines struggle poignantly with the same deep
issues as their peers. What happened to goodbye is a perfect
example. McLean, the heroine, must deal with perhaps the most
defining issue of adolescence, identity.
McLean was given the name of a winning basketball coach at her
parents' alma mater where they were college sweethearts. Her father
had lived for eventually making the team from kindergarten on.
Following graduation he had remained an avid fan, indoctrinating
McLean into his passion at a very early age. In a supreme irony
McLean's mom had left him to marry the new basketball coach.
McLean's father then sold his restaurant and took a consulting
job that would require a great deal of travel. It was assumed that
McLean would live with her mother and stepfather and their soon-to-be-
born twins in an exclusive gated community. Her father would visit
when he could. She, however, had other plans. "She could have her
bright and shiny new life, with a new husband and new kids, but she
didn't get to have me, too. I decided I was going with my dad."
MacLean and her father moved to the point where she knew by
heart the signs of an imminent uprooting. With each new school she
tried out a new persona. Eliza was a popular good girl. Lizbet was a
dancer and drama queen. Beth was an all round joiner. McLean tossed
each personification out with the inevitable next move, vanishing
without a trace. Hence the book title.
When McLean and her father move to Lakeview things change. She
uses her own name. Friends really start to matter to her. She's
becoming involved. There's even a special boy in her life. Then the
people she's come to care about, who have shared their homes and lives
with her, learn about her previous identities...
...Read the book already. You won't be able to put it down.
On a personal note, I am so happy! My favorite thrift shop brought
out their spring and summer clothes. I was in bargain heaven.
A great big shout out goes out to our courageous RSU 26 finance
subcommittee. They have the gruelling task of figuring out how to
budget dwindling funds for five schools in the ways that will impact
students the least. A lot of people who don't agree with what they
suggest are mean and abusive. It takes staunch hearts and true
loyalty to continue under those conditions!
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Friday, March 16, 2012

60 Quick Knits

In the past year I've knit and crocheted nearly one hundred
scarves: keeping my hands busy during meetings and sermons, watching
tv with kids, giving Joey cat a lap on a cold Maine night. I use
recycled and repurposed yarn--yard sale and thrift shop finds, mangled
afghans, other people's unfinished projects, gifts. It's amazing what
a variety of looks you can achieve, ranging from sophisticated to
whimsical, in a seemingly prosaic end project.
If you want to embark on a manageable fashion project that will
get you compliments from friends and family or sincere thanks from a
lucky recipient and you don't fancy my fly-by-
the-seat-of-your-pants methodology, you'll find 60 Quick Knots to be a
treasure. Twenty scarves, twenty hats, and twenty pairs of mittens
are presented in a wide range of colors and styles. Beaded lavender
flowers are embroidered onto purple mittens. A lion scarf sports
button eyes, a cloth nose, and a lush mane. A cupcake hat comes
complete with yarn sprinkles and cherry. From toddler to Grandma,
there is something for all the girls and women in one's life.
Instructions are clearly written. Projects are rated by degree
of difficulty. None require a large amount of yarn. Illustrations
are bright and colorful. There are projects just right for newbies
and pros.
On a personal note, I'm wondering if maybe the length of time
government agencies put one on hold is an indication they might need
to hire more customer representatives.
A great big shout out goes out to Maine's own Ardeana Hamlin whose
delightful crafts columns enliven the Bangor Daily News every Tuesday--
a very kind and decent friend, good friend, and cat lover.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Black Heart Crypt

Intermediate fiction
"Zack Jennings did not want to chase a slobbering black dog with
glowing red eyeballs into the Haddam Hill Cemetary three nights before
It was Zipper's idea."
With these sentences Chris Grabenstein begins his latest haunted
mystery, The Black Heart Crypt. Talk about an attention getter! Not
only the young bibliophile, but the child who doesn't relish reading
and may need to do a book report for school will want to check out the
identity of Zipper, why he/she/it considers the course of action
advisable, and what the dog with glowing red eyes leads Zack and
Zipper to.
The Black Heart Crypt is the fourth in the series. In the first
book Zack and his family move to a new town. Zack has an unusual
talent--the ability to interact with the more colorful deceased. The
place is swarming with them. And Zack is quickly caught up in their
drama. Each sequel really lives up to its promise.
This book focuses on a feud that goes back centuries between the
Jenningses and the Icklebys. There are thirteen Icklebury evil ghosts
trapped in a crypt by a spell. They want out. And they want
revenge. Unfortunately the captive spell is broken right before
Halloween, the night when spirits can pass through to interact with
and wreak havoc on the living. Aided by his family, including three
quite unique great aunts who rush up, with their cats, from Florida to
protect him, Zack is in for the fight of his young life.
You'll have to read the book to see how it turns out.
On a personal note, I plan to brighten up a rainy day by baking
cupcakes with pink icing and sprinkles.
A great big shout out goes out to Gail Harrison, our Veazie Community
School librarian who is also in charge of the creation of amazing
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Paper Covers Rock

YA Novel
Coming of age novels are legion in young adult fiction. Good
ones, though, are rare. Good ones with a male protagonist are
practically an endangered species. Jenny Hubbard's Paper Covers Rock
is one of those.
Alex (16) has just started writing in a journal his father gave
him when he started boarding school. Now he has something to write,
something a lot less idyllic than what he's sure his dad had in mind.
A classmate, Thomas, has died. Alex was there when it happened. And
it's a lot more complex than the story one could read in the newspapers.
For one thing, the official version of the incident involves a
cover up. Four boys had been swimming and diving in a river. All had
been drinking in violation of the school rules. Thomas' autopsy would
bring that to light. Alex and Glenn, a popular classmate he alludes
to as "Golden Boy" while he calls himself "Solid Kid", deny drinking,
letting Clay take the rap and get expelled.
Alex is not sure he knows all the answers. He could have been
quicker at getting help. If he had perhaps Thomas would still be
alive. And was the death totally an accident? There were rumors...
Finally, the boys were not the only ones at the river that
fateful day. The young English teacher Alex has a crush on, Miss
Dovecott, may have seen more than she lets on. Glenn sees her
continued presence at school as a threat. When she takes an interest
in Alex's writing Glenn sees the opportunity to put her into the kind
of compromising position that would have caused a teacher to be
terminated instantly in the 1980's, using his conflicted classmate as
The journal format is highly effective. Details about the
incident and the events leading up to it merge seamlessly with Alex's
emotional discovery and growth. This is a perfect read for a lover of
mystery with the maturity to understand that sometimes life doesn't
fall into blacks and whites, but rather a wide range of greys.
On a personal note, I can hardly wait til Giffords (ice cream stand)
opens with a new flavor. :-)
A great big shout out goes out to Stephen King, Maine author and
philanthropist extraordinaire, who will share his half birthday with
me on March 21st.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Notes From A Maine Kitchen

Kathy Gunst, author of Notes From A Maine Kitchen: Seasonably
Inspired Recipes, is, like me, a transplant from away. [Translation
for non
mainers: someone who was not born in this lovely state.] She first
gained an affinity for Maine as a child during summers spent with
grandparents and at sleep away camp.
As an adult, Gunst and her husband decided to spend a year in
Maine. At times they wondered what they were doing. They must have
found the answer. Nearly thirty years and two daughters later they're
still here which is a darn good thing.
An award-winning cookbook author, Gunst is impressed with how
Maine cuisine has evolved in her decades here. She arrived in a time
of clam bakes and church suppers. Now we have the push for local
foods and sustainable agriculture. Lobsters and chowder are sharing
culinary attention with cheeses, breads, greens, and local treats such
as fiddleheads (ferns). A blog evolved into the book. "I was
interested in exploring the food world in Maine throughout the
seasons, from my kitchen and garden and its surroundings. It's been
several years of discovering great food, meeting inspiring chefs,
gardeners, farmers, and people passionate about making Maine food
something worth talking about."
Notes From A Maine Kitchen is organized by calendar with a
chapter for each month. Two strands are woven together in each
chapter. One is a narrative strand of people, places, and
activities. The other is the wonderful recipes.
In January Gunst heads out resolutely for her first time ice
fishing. We're with her as she travels to the ice shack, baits hooks
and tends lines, and helps cook the results of her labor. The recipe
follows along with one for tartar sauce. She speaks of the pleasures
of a warm, slow cooked stew on a frigid day. Then there are recipes
for winter comfort foods--
parsleyed potatoes, chicken stew, and chowder.
All is not perfect even in Vacationland. In an essay on the
wonders of farmers' markets, Gunst criticizes stores that import
strawberries from California when fresh local berries are in season.
She believes that we must speak up on behalf of local farmers whose
foods we want to purchase. In the November chapter she speaks
eloquently of her discovery of hunger in Maine when she volunteered in
her daughter's first grade classroom.
If you enjoy cooking rich, nourishing food, if you enjoy a good
narrative, if you want to learn more about the fascinating state of'll find Notes From A Maine Kitchen a must read. My only
frustration when I read it was the lack of snow outside to scoop up
and pour maple syrup on.
On a personal note I'm so excited about the warmer temps and longer
days. I've started spring cleaning :P and look forward to getting
productively dirty in the Orono Community Garden :-).
A great big shout out goes out to the memory of Mimi Perry,
quintessential Mainer, who welcomed me into her state and heart. When
I was at the University, hundreds of miles away from my family cat
sitting, she'd bring me Thanksgiving dinners from her own kitchen. As
the children arrived she was always ready with advice and
encouragement. Boy, do I miss her! But we never completely lose
those we love when we carry their memory in our hearts.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012


YA fiction
Imagine that your one time best friend is found unconscious
outside the convenience store where he works, a gasoline pump nozzle
duct taped into his mouth. It's a hate crime. The words, "Suck this,
faggot," are written in his chest in blood. He is in a coma from
which he may never emerge.
Sherrif Doyle claims that the crime was the work of outsiders.
"Nobody from Black Creek woulda stooped so low." But Cat, heroine of
Lauren Myracle's Shine, is not so sure. She's seen her brother and
his friends acting quite strangely since the incident. Sure that
Doyle will make a pretense of investigating and pin the blame on
phantom drunk out-of-town college boys, she decides that she must
speak for her brutalized friend, Patrick. She must discover the
identity of his attacker and make it known.
This is much easier said than done. Really bad drugs have
infiltrated Cat's small town, plunging many people into contact with
very unsavory characters. Because of the intimacy of connections, it's
hard for Cat to keep what she's trying to do a secret. She has to
though. The killer, possibly desperate enough to do anything to avoid
discovery, may be someone who knows her only too well.
There is also something in Cat's past complicating her situation
even more. Several years ago when she was only thirteen her brother
whom she had idolized had stood by while his friend had tried to rape
her. The experience was so traumatic Cat withdrew emotionally from
everyone she was close to. Now she must confront her past in the
process of seeking the truth.
As she starts closing in on answers, Cat finds herself in
peril. A cow tongue is left on her pillow with a note. "Stop flapping
your tongue, or I'll cut yours out too."
Teens or adults who enjoy a fast paced mystery with an
engrossing plot and believable characters will find Shine to be a
great read.
On a personal note: I am quite proud of myself. I chaired my first
school board meeting. People said I did quite well.
A great big shout out goes out to Michelle, our Veazie Community
School guidance counselor. Her warm personality, sense of humor, and
love for young people serve her well.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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