Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda

Picture book
It's hard to imagine a world where hardly anyone knows what a
panda bear looks like. They inhabit out zoos and our imaginations.
Their sweet, round faces adorn logos. Our children sleep with toy
ones in bed. But that was the world of 1934, the year in which Alicia
Potter's Nrs. Harkness and the Panda is set.
Ruth Harkness' husband had set off to capture a live panda in
the mountains of China and bring it to the United States. Women were
considered too "dainty" for that kind of expedition. She was left at
When Mrs. Harkness got word of her husband's death she decided
to carry on his work. Her properly horified friends did their best to
talk her out of that crazy idea. How did she hope to succeed on a
quest that killed her experienced (and male) husband? Fortunately she
chose to ignore them and the many other naysayers she encountered
along the way.
Here's to a wonderfully empowering book to inspire girls and
women of all ages to embark on quests!
On a personal note, now that my younger daughter has a retail job I'm
reusing a skill I acquired in the distant past of my childhood:
ironing. :)
A great big shout out goes out to people who don't let their friends
and society talk them out of "crazy" ideas. This includes me. I
didn't let mine dissuade me from running again after losing my first
two school board elections. Look where I am today.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Monday, June 25, 2012

My Heart Will Not Sit Down

Picture book--historical fiction
When we think of international food aid we tend to think of the
United States as donor and African nations as recipients. It isn't
always the case. Mara Rockliffe's My Heart Will Not Sit Down, based
on a historical event, tells of a time when the reverse happened.
Don't let the fact that it's a children's book fool you. It contains
simple but profound truths that hopefully will touch even adults'
hearts and minds. It reminds me of the parable of the widow's mite
(small coin, not pestiferous insect) in the Bible.
Kedi's American teacher has bad news about the Depression.
People are starving because they don't have money to buy food. Kedi
can't stop thinking about hungry children across "the great salt
river" (Atlantic Ocean). She goes from house to house in her
village. Something wonderful happens.
This story should make Americans feel humble. We give very
little out of our much more plentiful resources--only what we feel we
can afford beyond our needs and wants. It's very much an us and them
situation. We tend to feel down right superior.
Like the Biblical widow, the people in this book give generously
from the little they have. There is no sense of us and them, rather
of shared humanity and decency. We're all in it (life) together.
Just the title brings the point home. Kedi feels such caring for the
starving children her heart stands up in sympathy for them and will
not sit down until she has found a way to help.
I wonder when we ("first world" nations) will catch up with this
way of thinking. I hope it's very soon. In a world of dwindling
resources our modus operendi is down right unsustainable.
On a personal note, I'm looking forward to the fourth of July parade
and fireworks.
A great big shout out goes out to people who understand the
interconnectedness of our fragile world and it's inhabitants.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Body of Water

Intermediate/YA novel
As Sarah Dooley's Body of Water begins, Ember, her parents, and
her little sister, Ivy, have just lost their home to a pre dawn fire.
They've been left with literally the clothes they're wearing. It's
not only their home and belongings that have been taken from them.
Their dog is gone and presumably dead.
After getting by on weeks of charity, the family is able to buy
tents and rent space at a vacation campground. Every day presents
challenges. It's hard to scrape together rent, never mind money for
enough food. Even keeping hair and clothes clean is overwhelming.
Hanging over everything like a black cloud is the knowledge that if
the wrong person finds out that they're homeless and destitute and
reports them, Children's Protective Services could tear their family
Ember has reasons other than the need to not raise suspicion for
keeping the other kids at the campground at a distance. She suspects
her best friend of setting the fire that destroyed her home and
probably killed her beloved dog. In her eyes, even though she
sometimes envies Ivy's cheerful and trusting nature, she feels that
letting someone else get close is much too dangerous.
Sadly this sensitive and poignant coming of age story is all too
relevant in today's world. We have many homeless children in our
schools. Some, like Ember and Ivy, belong to families struggling to
survive and stay together. There are other youngsters who have been
abandoned or kicked out by their parents, left to fend for themselves
much too soon.
On a personal note, I was homeless once. It was for a short time long
ago. I can, however, still remember lying awake in a shelter as the
elevated train rumbled past the window every few minutes, desperately
trying to figure out how to find shelter before the days I could stay
would be up and I'd be on the street. I have never lost the fear that
it could happen again.
A great big shout out goes out to the teachers, guidance counselors,
and other caring people who work diligently to help homeless students
stay and succeed in school.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

all the earth, thrown to the sky

"We were like bad luck charms. Wherever we went, a dead body
was bound to show up before long, and it was bound to be left unburied
or unreported. It was a knack."
Jack, the hero og Joe R. Lansdale's all the earth, thrown to the
sky, set in the 1930s, certainly knows what he's talking about. As
the story opens his mother has just lost her struggle with dirt
pneumonia. When he goes out to the barn to tell his father, he finds
dad hanging from the rafters--unable to face life without his wife.
He must bury both his parents at an age where these days we'd debate
whether or not he should attend the funeral.
This is where Jack's confederates arrive. Jane, a classmate he
was not allowed to associate with because of her family's tendency to
harbor lice, and her little brother, Tony, have just been half
orphaned. (Their mother, who ran away with a Bible Salesman, is out
of the picture.) Jane wants to take Tony out of the "gritty hell" that
is dust bowl Oklahoma. They just need someone to drive the Ford they
plan to liberate from a newly deceased neighbor with no kin.
From the moment they take off in their "borrowed" car the
youngsters encounter non stop peril and challenge. They're car jacked
by a couple of gangsters who have pulled off a bank heist. Not only
do they lose their vehicle, they're kept as hostages by notorious
criminals, one who is none too fond of them, especially "Blabbermouth
Jane." That's when Jack comes to a realization. Jane is a liar and
thief who has dragged him into a desperate situation, but he can't
stand the thought of her being harmed.
I really enjoyed the book. What I liked best was the voice of
the narrator. In a soul searching moment he muses, "Heck, they had
stole the car that we had stole from a dead man, so we couldn't
exactly place ourselves on a much higher level than they were. Course
we hadn't shot any body and they had. But to tell you true, I wasn't
feeling so good about myself right then."
My advice: check out all the earth, thrown to the sky. Along
with its three feisty protagonists, you'll be in for quite the ride.
On a personal note, my work on my poetry book is coming along slow but
sure. I plan to finish it by the end of the summer.
A great big shout out goes out to Denise who lets her chickens live
like God or evolution meant them to--eating insects, taking dirt
baths, all that good stuff.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Friday, June 22, 2012

The Silence of Murder

YA novel
Dandi Daley Mackall's novel, The Silence of Murder, hooked me
with its cover. The title is succinct but rich with possibility.
That's a hard thing to do. The illustration, a green glass bottle
shattering against a black background, and a blurb in small letters,
"an unspeakable crime
A voiceless defendent,"
helped to make my giving the book a chance inevitable. Fortunately
the narrative lived up quite nicely to the promise of it's jacket.
Hope, Mackall's heroine, is in quite the bind as the story
opens. A popular baseball coach has been killed. A bunch of
circumstantial evidence points to her brother, Jeremy, as the killer.
Most people feel that he committed the act, even their mother who is
counting on a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict. Hope is
desperate to prove him both innocent and sane. But how?
Part of the problem is that Jeremy hasn't spoken for half his
life. Elective mutism is about the only thing the doctors can agree
on. Each of the family's many moves and school changes has led to a
flurry of tests, a new diagnosis.
Hope knows that if Jeremy is found guilty the death penalty is a
distinct possibility. She's sure, however, that her sensitive brother
would not survive in a mental hospital. She's doing her best to
investigate and find new evidence that can create reasonable doubt in
the minds of the jurors.
Jeremy's lawyer is a lot less than cooperative. His mother is
convinced that an insanity plea is their only chance. Hope, however,
just may be onto something. She's started getting ominous phone
calls. A mysterious white truck has taken to parking in a vacant lot
across the street from her house.
What if she's getting too close to the truth and someone doesn't
want her to discover it?
On a personal note, I won reelection.
A great big shout out goes out to the Veazie voters who gave me three
more years.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Real American

Intermediate historical fiction
As Richard Easton's A Real American begins, Nathan (11) is
waiting to say goodbye to his last friend. Like so many other farners,
Ben's father has sold out to the coal company. Even as Ben's family
rides away, a company crew has begun to hack down their trees and tear
apart their house to make room for shanties that will house immigrant
coal mine workers and their families.
Nathan hates the ways the pursuit of coal has changed his town.
At times he resents the miners. He doesn't, however, want to be in a
gang that prides itself on breaking bones and cracking skulls. He
also doesn't want to become hardened and bitter like many of the
remaining townspeople. He's even becoming friends with Arturo, an
Italian boy he thinks he can Americanize enough to make acceptable.
Nathan's father is no help whatsoever. It's been thirteen
months since the death of his older boy, Harry. Mourning for his
deceased son blinds him to the reality that his living wife and son
need him desperately. Nathan has to grow up really fast and make
decisions nothing could prepare him for--decisions that could
determine the fate of Arturo and his family and neighbors.
If A Real American has the ring of authenticity there's a
reason. Easton based this fine coming of age narrative on the stories
of his ancestors. "My relatives taught me more than the hardships of
those times. I learned from them how people survived by taking care
of each other, by making friends and working together. If we listen,
the stories our relatives tell us can guide us in our own time."
Isn't that the truth?
On a personal note, I'm on a search committee working to select a new
principal for Orono Middle School.
A great big shout out goes out to the awesome team that I'm lucky to
be part of charged with carrying out this mandate.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Child of the Mountains

One day when Marilyn Sue Shank was at her computer preparing
lessons for her students she heard a girl's voice in her head saying
in a West Virginia accent, "My mama's in jail. It ain't right."
Fortunately that persistent voice wouldn't let itself be drowned out
by work. Those sentences became the opening of her poignant and
lyrical Child of the Mountains.
At eleven, Lydia is experiencing more heartache than many
adults. Her beloved little brother, BJ, has died after a long
struggle with cystic fibrosis. (In 1953 treatment for this chronic
disease was not well advanced.). Her grandmother had passed on a
couple of years earlier. Her mother is in jail, serving time for her
brother's death. The aunt and uncle she has moved in with seem
distant and aloof. Wanting her to put the past behind her, they won't
let her talk about or communicate with her mother.
When Lydia must stay after school four days for fighting with a
mean girl, her teacher, confident that she is college material, hands
her want ads and tells her to discover her dream job. What she
confides in him, however, is her heartfelt dream: to get her mother
out of jail. It turns out that his fiancée is a lawyer, interested in
the case and willing to do an appeal pro bono. Information Lydia has
may hold the key to an acquittal. Then right before the retrial she
stumbles across some disturbing information. The woman she would move
heaven and Earth to be with might not be her birth mother after all.
The narrative takes the form of Lydia's journal. In each
chapter she skilfully interweaves details of life with her aunt and
uncle with memories of her earlier life. These tender memories
touchingly build up to the final act of love she and her mother do for
BJ, an act of heroism that is interpreted by the law as negligence and
I thought very deliberately about characterizing this book as
YA. The rule of thumb is kids want to read about older kids. I
couldn't, however, see fifth graders handling the subject matter. I
don't mean illigitimacy. Any child with access to afternoon tv knows
that not all babies are conceived in wedlock. I mean the correctness
of smuggling a dying child out of a hospital so that his last minutes
on earth are with his family at home, not in a sterile institution.
That had me in tears. And I'm an adult.
On a personal note, I have just voted for myself for 3 more years on
RSU 26 Board of Directors. I admit I like to vote for me. I love
being a public servant.
A great big shout out goes out to all the voters who weighed in after
careful consideration of the issues.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Monday, June 11, 2012

May B. A Novel

Caroline Starr Rose, author of May B. A Novel, was a big fan of
the Little House books as a child. When she grew up and became a
teacher she wondered what life would have been like for children of
that time who would have struggled with the favored educational
techniques: memorization and recitation. Back then dyslexia had not
been discovered. Would they have been considered lazy or stupid, been
kept out of school? Her musings resulted in a truly fine work of
May is only twelve when her parents hire her out to live with
and help a couple in a soddy fifteen miles away. They need the
money. The wife, new to the hardships of prairie life, is bitterly
unhappy even though her husband does all he can to make things better
for her. May notices that she is withdrawing emotionally. One day
she rides off, leaving a note that she's taking the train home to
Ohio. Her husband leaves to find her. Neither returns.
May is in quite a predicament. She has no way of getting word
to her parents that she's been abandoned. There are no neighbors to
help. Although she rations them carefully, food and stove fuel are
running out. Wolves approach closer and closer. Then there is the
harsh reality of a prairie blizzard.
May's reflections are in free form poetry. Her details form
vivid pictures; her feelings come through loud and clear. Many of
these are about her previous schooling. Although she had to sit with
the littlest children, heard the teacher whisper that, "the girl's not
fit for learning," and was even sent home, she will not give up the
hope of mastering reading and even someday earning her teaching
On a personal note, I am proud that RSU 26's new alternate high school
program just had its first graduation. These fine students would have
slipped through the cracks in a more traditional setting. One is a
family's first high school graduate.
A great big shout out goes out to these pioneering graduates and their
proud families.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Sunday, June 10, 2012


OK, I'll admit it. Romance tends to be so not my genre. But
combine it with tragedy, intrigue, and time travel and you have me
hooked. That's what happened when I stumbled upon Alexander Monir's
Michelle's father has been out of the picture all her life.
When her mother is killed in a car accident, she must leave her
California home and friends to move in with her mother's estranged
parents, the ones who had done all in their power to prevent her
romance with Michelle's father. Her new residence is a New York City
mansion, far posher than the modest home she and her mother had
shared. Her grandparents seem cold and aloof, her new classmates,
scions of top society families, snooty.
When Michelle opens a box of her mother's jewelry that had been
in a bank safe, she discovers a special gold skeleton key...a key that
has been in recurring dreams she has had for years...dreams featuring
a dazzling young man with eyes the color of sapphires. The key seems
to move in her hand. Later when she is holding it and looking at a
journal from the year 1910 she is pulled back in time to that very
year. Her room is inhabited by an orphan who has just been adopted by
her ancestors.
In this time period the boy of Michelle's dreams, he of the
sapphire eyes, is alive. He can see her even though nearly everyone
else can't. Somehow they know they are destined to be together. But
how can this be when nearly a century lies between their births?
Well if that hasn't whetted your taste for this beautifully and
poignantly written book, I don't know what will. So I'll say only one
more thing. At the end a sequel is promised. Life is good. :-)
On a personal note, after so much rain I wouldn't have been surprised
to see Noah sorting the animals two by two and building an Ark, we're
enjoying fine, sunny weather. I saw my first daisies of the year.
A great big shout out goes out to my good friend and campaign manager,
Sue, who has promised me ice cream if I win my reelection.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012


Intermediate fiction
I am a big time fan of time travel novels and highly familiar
with the genre. It takes a lot to impress me. Kate Saunders'
beswitched has that in spades.
Flora (12) is furious with her parents. Her grandmother has
broken her hip. Because their home has to be renovated to meet her
needs and the parents must travel to Italy to sell her home and
furniture, Flora is being sent to a boarding school and away from all
her friends.
True, it's a posh school with a swimming pool and horses.
Flora, however, feels that if her mom and dad really cared about her
they could make other arrangements (i.e., nursing home for
grandmother) and not tear her world apart. It isn't as if her father
even likes his mother, who ran off with a famous artist when he was a
child, all that much.
On the train trip to school Flora encounters an interesting
detour. She falls asleep, dreams about three white clad figures
performing a candle lit ceremony, and wakes up in 1935, clad in
hideous clothes and headed toward a very different boarding school as
the daughter of missionaries in India. Her headmistress won't believe
her time travel story. Worse, she finds that the other Flora's
memories have begun to invade her mind.
When Flora meets her roommates she learns how she was kidnapped
from the 21st century. Wanting to do something special their first
night back at school, they had tried a summoning spell they'd
discovered previously in a book they'd found in a secret room of the
dorm attic: a spell to summon a helpful demon from the future to
bless a life. Of course they never dreamed the spell would work. So
they have no clue how to set things right.
Until Flora is sent back to her own century she must behave in a
way that will not cause trouble. If she's expelled and sent "back" to
India, she'll be stuck in a time before her own parents were born.
The other Flora's memories keep crowding hers out. She's become the
target of the number one school bully. There is even trouble with her
roommates who are, after all, responsible for her predicament.
As time goes on Flora begins to fit in, starting to like parts
of the past and becoming friends with classmates. Still she has a
deep longing to return to her own time and family. If you want to
find out if this happens...
...well read the book!
The plot is captivating. The characters are believable and, for
the most part, endearing. The time travel element is plausible and
historic details are authentic. What makes the story even more
compelling is Flora's unique chance to get to know a younger version
of a previously loathed and dreaded ancestor.
On a personal note: my grandmother was one of five sisters. The only
one I spend much time with seemed scary. And the pictures, even of
them as children, looked stiff and formal. My mother tried to make
them come alive as people. But it took an experience in the home they
grew up in to break the ice. My newly engaged grandmother had used
her ring to etch her name in window glass. I saw a young woman with
hopes and dreams. That was just the beginning...
A great big shout out goes out my older daughter, Amber, self taught
geneologist extraordinaire, who is a tireless sleuth of information on
both sides of her ancestry. Her family tree website is something
else. My
Mother must be smiling up there in heaven to see that someone in that
generation has taken up this cause so dear to her heart!
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Friday, June 8, 2012

The Hungry Ghost of Rue Orleans

picture book
Fred, the ghostly hero of Mary Quattlebaum's The Hungry Ghost of
Rue Orleans, enjoys haunting his home. He considers the dust covered
furniture, leaky roof, and squeaky floors perfect until...
...a man and his daughter buy the house and start to convert it
into a restaurant. They wash and sweep and polish and paint.
Furniture arrives. Food preparation begins. No one heard Fred's
frantic protests.
The day the restaurant opens Fred is at the end of his rope. He
starts juggling and flipping food to make the unwanted guests leave.
But they decide that his presence makes the place even more
What's a specter to do?
Check out this lively, colorfully illustrated just made for read
aloud story to learn how the living and departed find a way to get
along just fine.
On a personal note, I'm very excited that my son will be out of school
for the summer soon.
A great big shout out goes out to my birthday cat, Joseph Jacob
Hathaway, who is nine today. He almost died when he was three. We
are truly fortunate to have him with us and in good health.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Picture book
A discovery back in 1986 of a statue, The Falconer, in Central
Park inspired Tim Jessup to take up falconry. Since then he has
gained an intimate knowledge of an amazing raptor. Fortunately he has
seen fit to share this with us in his Falcon, a picture book to savor.
A little boy lies in the grass. Thinking "If I were a
falcon..." he slips into a daydream where he soars over mountains and
seacoasts, ending up amazing people (and scaring pigeons) in the man
made steel and glass landscape of a big city. Breathtaking paintings
are paired up with poetic text. A lighthouse's yellow beam stands out
against a seascape in shades of blue. The weary falcon blends in.
The words are, "If my wings grew tired, I would find shelter among the
rocks and fall asleep to the sound of the crashing surf."
Daydreaming was frowned on when I was young. When my kids were
little it was only available to kids whose parents couldn't afford to
overschedule them. These days...with all the electronic
alternatives...is it possible? God, I hope so. Far from a waste of
time, daydreaming aids children's creativity, enables them to play
with solutions to problems and think outside the box, promotes the joy
of creation and discovery, and makes it possible, in the face of
conflict, for them to walk in the other person's shoes. All that is
bright and beautiful in humanity is nurtured in daydreams. A book
that promotes this noble passtime...
On a personal note, I am still a daydreamer extraordinaire. Even my
BFF Rose who must nag me to do prosaic stuff like housecleaning
realized that without flights of fantasy and fancy I could not survive
or be me.
A great big shout out goes out to my fellow daydreamers. Bon voyage
to wherever your imagination may take you! :-)
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rosie Sprout's Time To Shine

Picture book
Rosie wants to be the best at something. According to her
classmates, Violet is the best at everything that matters: running,
singing, telling stories, and looking fancy on picture day. As far as
Rosie is concerned, that's getting really aggravating.
The class decorates pots (Violet's is the sparkliest) and plants
peas. Rosie's and Violet's are the first to sprout. One morning,
close to the plants with no other kids present and the teacher writing
on the board, Rosie sabotages Violet's plant. She gets away with it
but feels guilty...especially when she learns that Violet will be
absent with chicken pox.
Fortunately there is a way to make amends. Rosie is willing to
put in the work it requires. In the end she has gained a valuable
insight into the true meaning of being the best.
Any child who feels constantly outshone in school, scouts,
Little League, or even family will relate to the sprightly heroine of
Allison Wortche's Rosie Sprout's Time to Shine. Rosie is very tempted
to find a way to beat Violet--whatever it takes--and, indeed, succumbs
to temptation. In the end, however, her better nature wins out. What
a wonderful way for a parent or teacher to ease into this topic which
unfortunately is becoming all too relevant in our winner take all
society where pressure to be the best extends to kids barely out of
diapers! Think Toddlers in Tiaras.
On a personal note: spring cleaning is going...well, for me that's an
improvement...that I haven't just given up like I've done every other
year. I would say that's due to friendly persuasion on the part of my
BFF Rose. Would that be positive peer pressure?
A great big shout out goes out to the custodians who keep our RSU 26
schools spiffy. I find keeping up with four people and a cat
challenging. I can't imagine having to clean up after a few hundred.
But they do an awesome job of it.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Monday, June 4, 2012

The Smiley Book of Colors

Picture book
I have just discovered the most perfect book EVER for teaching
about colors. Ruth Kaiser's The Smiley Book of Colors is a visual
treat for kids and parents. And it helps one see the world from a
fresh new perspective.
Kaiser has the ability to discover natural smiley faces
everywhere: a basketball hoop, the front of a sneaker, a strawberry
slice, macaroni and cheese... Eventually she started putting her
photos on facebook. People responded and sent her theirs. Now people
can help Operation Smile, a group that gives free surgeries to third
world children with facial defects, by uploading photos. Talk about
something to smile about!
The text is boldly upbeat. There is a wonderful stress on the
power of a person to emphasize the good or the "ick" in the world--a
message no one is too young or old to hear. Forgiving and choosing
deliberately how to react are suggested. Cutting slack when faced
with a big problem is also. The philosophy seems summed nicely in
this sentance: "Life is yours to define."
But the pictures are surely the stars of the book! Heck, I'm
keeping it so they can inspire me even my kids are way older than its
target audience with no grands in sight!
On a personal note, I will choose to focus on my wonderful family
(including cat) and friends rather than the fact it will rain all week.
A great big shout out goes out to Asa Adams school principal, Paula
McHugh, for showing that even under the most trying circumstances it's
possible to stay positive. Way to go, Paula! :-)
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Suppose You Meet A Dinosaur

Picture book
Parents wanting to introduce young children to manners in public
settings could do no better than Judy Sierra's Suppose You Meet A
Dinosaur. A young cart pushing shopper with a totally oblivious
mother is startled to see a dinosaur in the grocery store. This, the
author notes, doesn't happen every day. Fortunately our heroine has
the presence of mind to greet the reptile and indicate her pleasure in
meeting her. From then on the two carry out just about every
interaction in which youngsters can be reasonabky expected to know the
polite thing to say.
The illustrations are wonderful. The dinosaur's formidable
appearance and size are softened by glittery pink glasses and tiny
flowered pocketbook. She and the child show grace and dignity in
their interactions. The startled expressions of grocery store
employees are priceless.
This lively, up beat volume would be perfect also for a class
library or gift from a grandparent.
On a personal note, election day is getting closer. Less than two
weeks. Yikes!
A great big shout out goes out to all people who treat others--
including those who disagree with them--with respect and consideration.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Secrets of the Garden

Picture book
Each year as days grow longer and warmer, even if there's still
snow on the ground, I find myself daydreaming of the Orono Community
Garden. I yearn to prepare soil, plant seeds, tend growing veggies,
and harvest healthy food for our dear senior citizen friends. The
feel and smell of the earth, the cool relief of water on a sunny day,
the sight of growing plants, the sound of bees at work, the taste of
freshly picked spinach...all a delight for the senses and soul.
As the price of healthy food goes up and the ingredient lists of
many mass produced products in kitchens bear more resemblance to
science fair products gone horribly awry than something a sane person
would consume, a home garden or piece of a community one would be a
smart option for many families. Kids are more willing to eat well if
they participate in growing and preparing food. They can feel the
pride of contributing to the family economy. And what a way to get
you all away from electronic distractions and into the good fresh air
and sunshine for quality time!
Families with such a plan would do well to invest in Kathleen
Weidner Zoehfeld's Secrets of the Garden. Daughter Alice tells the
story of one year of her family growing veggies. All including Honey
the cat participate enthusiastically. Their story is interwoven with
that of the other residents of their summer home and their
interconnectedness in nature's food web. Talk about fascinating!
On a personal note, I have a larger family to sell this idea to, my
RSU 26 family. I have long been a believer in school gardens to
provide local food for cafeterias, not to mention kids in food
insecure families during the summer, make science more hands on,
create nutrition awareness, and provide another venue for community
involvement. Because of this I was invited to a neighboring
community's planting of a school apple orchard. Lucky for me they
were short a volunteer. I was able to work with 3rd, 4th, and 5th
grade students. They loved being out there, digging in the dirt,
carefully and respectfully handling earthworms. They related this
experience to classroom learning. They were proud of making a real
contribution to their community. It was amazing! I want nothing less
for RSU 26. I intend to bring the right people from the school and
community together to make sure that this happens. :-)
A great big shout out goes out to our RSU 26 principals, teachers and
staff, and students and the equally gifted and talented community
members who I know will help make this dream a reality.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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