Friday, August 31, 2012

We've Got A Job

Intermediate/YA nonfiction
Most of my readers were probably very young during or born after
1963. In a world that can seem light years away, it can be hard to
imagine a nine-year-old-child volunteering to go to jail and her
parents allowing it. It can also be hard to imagine society mandating
segregation in every aspect of life and allowing cross burning and
other acts of terrorism to prevent change. Fortunately Cynthia
Levinson's We've Got A Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March
leaves very little to the imagination!
There was a lot of discrimination going on in Birmingham in
1963. Schools were separate and anything but equal. Job access was
limited for even the brightest and best blacks [term used in the
book]. They couldn't try on clothes in stores, sit on the main floor
in movie theaters, eat at lunch counters... It really disturbed me to
read about parents having to carry glass jars for children who
couldn't "hold it" all the way home on shopping trips.
Blacks knew that things had to change. They were, however,
sharply divided on how this was to happen. Some espoused a cautious,
incrementalist approach, encouraged by efforts to remove hard core
segregationists like Bull Connor from office. Others felt that
confrontation was needed to achieve justice.
Children and teens realized that, unlike their parents, they
could go to jail without losing hard to replace jobs and income. They
were trained in roles that would be very hard for most adults. As
they protested nonviolently, no matter what abuse they experienced,
they had to refuse to retaliate. We've Got A Job follows four of the
youngsters: Audrey Faye Hendricks, Washington Booker III, James W.
Stewart, and Atnetta Streeter on their quest for justice.
We now interrupt this book review to bring you a touch of
irony. I checked my email. I read about a church that is refusing to
marry a couple because the bride and groom are black. The minister
has been told that he'll lose his job if he performs the ceremony.
Yes, now, in 2012. No, I'm not making this up.
In my mind that constitutes all the more reason to read the
book. The text maintains a great balance between individual narrative
and larger picture. Each photograph is worth the proverbial thousand
On a personal note, I just want to wish my readers a happy and safe
Labor Day weekend.
A great big shout out goes out to the courageous people I read about
in this book and those in this day who carry on the fight for racial
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Lunch Thief

Picture book
As Anne C. Bromley's The Lunch Thief starts out, it's
protagonist, Rafeal, is hungry. The new kid, Kevin, has taken his
lunch. The next two days the same thing happens to other kids.
Fortunately Rafael is able to reflect rather than fighting or
reporting the theft. On a ride with his mother he sees something that
gives him a whole different perspective.
Many of our kids go to school with kids who are homeless,
chronically hungry, or in other precarious situations. Seeing only
actions can make them perceive these children as "mean" or "not nice,"
leading to reactions that further marginalize them. This wonderful
book can help even very young children empathize better and reflect
rather than reacting in haste.
A special note to teachers: some long standing assignments
carry assumptions that aren't always true. The diorama project is a
classic. Shoes come in shoe boxes if you can afford to shop at the
Mall or KMart, but not if you buy at Goidwill or Salvation Army.
On a personal note, my girls, Paula and Darcie, had good first days in
their new principalships. This pleases me no end.
A great big shout out goes out to my dear Christine who works hard to
help homeless kids stay in school and get them what they need.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Without Tess

YA Fiction
When Lizzie and Tess are little girls they complete each other's
worlds so well they have no need of other friends. Tess lives in a
world of magic, believing she can become a winged horse or a selkie.
Lizzie, although more reality oriented, loves Tess' created fantasies,
even though she must take real risks sometimes. Tess, herself, is in
terrible danger. Believing that food is for mortals, she starves
Life gets more complicated when a family with twins near
Lizzie's age moves into the neighborhood. Tess urges Lizzie to become
chums with devoutly Catholic Isabella and then resents their
friendship. Her actions become more extreme. Lizzie ends up in the
hospital. Tess is put on pills that she knows will make her leave the
world of magic.
Six years after Tess' death, Lizzie and her parents are isolated
from each other, unable to come to terms with their loss. Lizzie
submits her sister's poetry in class, trying in that way to keep Tess
alive, to not face the tragedy that has come to define her life.
Isabella's quiter twin, Niccolo, can see what's happening and wants to
Marcella Pixley, author of Without Tess, has done what few can
do convincingly. Lizzie's voice as teen and child is consistant
enough to feel like the same person. But both ages seem authentic.
Child Lizzie has a terrible secret. As much as she loves Tess, there
are times she sees how much her family's life revolves around her
sister and her problems and wishes she would go ahead and die and get
it over with. Teen Lizzie, in contrast, can't bear to say goodbye.
On a personal note, I'm waiting to see how Darcie and Paula do their
first day of their new principalships. I'm so proud of them.
A great big shout out goes out to Paula and Darcie and Maine's other
excellent principals with wishes for a super year!
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Monday, August 27, 2012

The Running Dream

YA/adult novel
If you decide to read Wendelin Van Draanan's The Running Dream
make sure you have hankies or tissues nearby. From the first three
"My life is over.
Behind the morphine dreams is the nightmare of reality.
A reality I can't face."--
you're drawn into the reality of Jessica, the young protagonist, as
inexorably as succumbing to an ocean undertow. Only you want to
surrender. She's a really good kid about whom I feel it would be
impossible not to care and want to know how her story turns out.
Jessica wakes up in the hospital. An out of control truck had
hit the school bus she was riding home from a track meet in. A
teammate was killed. One of Jessica's legs was so badly damaged it
had to be amputated below the knee. For a girl who lives to run, this
is devastating.
There is so much Jessica has to adjust to. There's physical
therapy and getting ready for a prosthetic limb. Many acts that were
simple before, such as taking a shower, require forethought and
effort. Going back to school demands a great deal of social and
psychological as well as physical adjustment.
Jessica's teammates haven't given up on her. They've discovered
a specially designed artificial leg that would allow her to run
again. If they can raise $20,000 she can be on the team for her
senior year. I won't give away the ending. But I'll tell you I
couldn't put the book down.
One very adult reality is not glossed over. As Jessica's
medical bills pile up the insurance companies squabble over which one
has to pay. Her dad has to work fourteen hour days. Her parents have
had to take out a second mortgage. Only in America!
On a personal note, I really could relate to Jessica. I don't mean
the running. It gives me shin splints. I mean not knowing if you
have to give up on something that makes you feel alive. I want so
badly to go to grad school to get my phd in educational advocacy. But
having a significant disability that precludes the valid drivers
license requirement of so many jobs and having been out of the work
force to raise kids...even meaningful work seems so far out of reach.
I'll be better in a few weeks. But right now every back to school ad
feels like a shot to the heart.
[Two days elapsed at this point.]
A great big shout goes out to our new Asa Adams principal, Darcie, for
telling me how other people see me and reminding me that even if I'm
not where I want to be career wise I'm not, in her opinion, I'm not
what I was calling myself which was loser. I left her office feeling
that if I try hard and don't give up maybe a miracle can yet happen.
Back to school talk doesn't hurt a bit. I guess that girl told me a
thing or two.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Keep Holding On

YA fiction
For Susane Colasanti, author of Keep Holding On, junior high and
high school constituted the worst years of her life. It wasn't until
college that she found a milleau where it was not only acceptable, but
awesome to be unique. Memories of those painful times and the
strength she developed surviving them motivated her to reach out to
others in similar plights as an teacher and as an author.
Noelle, protagonist of the book, has what you'd call a very
dysfunctional family. Her mom has made it clear that having a child
ruined her future. She's basically checked out of the parenting bit,
not even keeping the kitchen stocked with food or buying basic hygiene
supplies for her daughter. She's a bitter woman, constantly
complaining about her plight, never taking a real look at the young
woman she's supposed to be raising.
Before, when her mom had a boyfriend, Lewis, and her family
enjoyed a good standard of living, Noelle felt like she fit in. There
was always enough food. She could invite friends home. She had
friends to invite. Then Lewis died.
Now all Noelle's friends except one have deserted her. Bullies
regularly torment her. The other kids for the most part go along with
it. The boyfriend she makes out with in private will not be seen with
In one chapter Noelle is trapped in a school bathroom with her
prime bully, Carly, and her former best friend, Audrey. They steal a
bracelet she loves, given to her as a birthday present, and sling it
into a stall. It lands in a toilet.
There are, however, changes on the horizen. You'll want to read
the book to see what they are.
At the end of the book there's a list of groups to help students
in crises. There is also a deeply touching letter from the author.
I'd like to end the review by quoting from it.
"On your worst days, the days when it seems like everything is going
wrong, when you want to hide from the world and never come out, please
know this: I was in that dark place, too. And I made it to the other
On a personal note, back in the day I had just started a new boarding
high school as a junior. For some reason the prevailing mean girls
wanted me to join them. They told me to talk to a girl they
tormented. I could hear them snicker in anticipation of a real
zinger. I asked her if she'd like to sit with me at supper. That
dear, kind girl urged me to reject her to protect myself. She was
used to it. I had the chance to be popular. If I had to be mean to
be popular I wanted no part of it. Needless to say, I had a friend.
Amazingly, considering my very small size, the pack, instead of
tormenting us both, went in search of other prey.
A great big shout out goes out to people who try to help instead of
looking the other way.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Junk Food

Forget Cujo. Never mind Nightmare on Elm Street. Say whatever
to Friday the 13th. I have just read a book that makes all the above
look like something you'd see on Sesame Street. The scariest thing
about it is it's on a non fiction shelf.
Eat meat or eggs? Got milk? Take a regimen of meds prescribed
by a doctor? If you answer yes to any of those questions (or drink
water or breathe air for that matter) it will be in your best
interests to read Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks,
Quacks, and Hacks Pimp the Public Health. Martha Rosenberg carefully
delineates the ways Big Pharma and Big Food are sacrificing our health
and lives in pursuit of big bucks. Even those who are supposed to
protect us are too often in cahoots. The Mafia, if there is such an
entity, would be green with envy.
Have you ever wondered why so many children (and now adults) are
being diagnosed with and medicated for ADHD, never mind the whole
alphabet soup of psychiatric maladies we never heard of back in the
day? Does it seem slightly bizarre that suicide can be a side effect
of anti depression meds? Does there appear to be any reason why
hormone replacement is still being pushed after ample documentation of
its lethat side effects? Why would anyone need a female Viagara?
There's lots of money to be had in those pill bottles. As you will
read in the first six chapters, drug companies, with a little help
from their friends, maximize profits by getting doctors to peddle
their products to as many people as possible, even if they are not
needed or safe.
I was especially interested in the bone chapter. I went through
menopause hormone free. I haven't had an antibiotic since a freebie
from a doctor proved far worse than the illness it cured. I think in
2004. I've been described, however, as the poster adult for
osteoporosis. I'm white, female, and small boned with a BMI of 20 and
a family history. I'd actually considered taking something. Can you
imagine my outrage when I read that stuff caused osteomecrosis,
cancers, fatal infections, and even the bone fractures it was taken to
prevent?I think I'll stick with calcium, vitamin D, weight bearing
exercises, and not smoking.
If these chapters don't upset you, read the rest of the book to
see what's being done to what passes for food these days.
Think hormones and antibiotics should be given to food and dairy
animals to speed up weight gain and enhance milk production when they
can lead to health hazards to consumers and increases in antibiotic
resistant bacteria? Think the above mentioned animals (and people who
tend to them) should have to live in conditions that can only be
described as barbaric? Think big companies should be able to sell
genetically engineered foods without labelling them as such, taking
away our right to be informed consumers? Those and other atrocities
fill the last seven chapters.
On a personal note, my family and I deserve safe food and medicine.
You and yours do too.
A great big shout out goes out to all people who are working to
protect us from the ills this book documents.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Girls Don't Fly

YA fction
High school Myra has a life that resembles those of single
parents. In addition to school and work, she spends a lot of time in
charge of her four rambunctious younger brothers. Her parents are
absorbed with the drama of her older sister who has gotten pregnant
and left college.
The bright spot in Myra's life is her future dentist boyfriend
Erik...that is until he breaks up so he can have some space. Her
sister claims she's a doormat, trying to keep everyone happy and being
taken for granted. She wants to get out of the town and life she
feels stuck in. But how?
Well, there's a program that will enable two students from
Myra's high school to go to the Gallapagos Islands for a research
project. She'd have to attend a ten week Saturday class, submit a
winning proposal, and pay $1000. What can go wrong other than...
*Her 4.0 ex boyfriend is also competing. She's been the average
student teachers tend to overlook.
*The money will be quite hard to come by.
*Her parents count on her to care for her brothers and her sister who
is facing life threatenng pregnancy complications.
One of the most endearing and unique features of Girls Don't Fly
is that each chapter starts with the definition of a bird related
word. Not only does this show Myra has a serious scientific interest
and realm of knowledge she doesn't give herself credit for, but each
gives a subtle hint of the chapter's content. The chapter in which
she quits her job after Erik, who also works there, refuses to admit a
mistake and the boss makes an offensive comment about "those Morgan
girls" is preceeded by a definition of molting.
If you want to read about a protagonist you can really get to
care about and root for, you can't do better than Girls Don't Fly.
On a personal note, sadly, my treasured friend and mentor, Paula, Asa
Adams principal, is going on to be a principal in Dexter. Fortunately
that's Dexter, Maine, not Alaska.
A great big shout out goes out to Paula and soon to be interim
principal, Darcie. My girlz are simply the best. And they do fly! :)
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Titanic Twosome

Adult nonfiction
"The sum and triumph of civilization, guaranteed to be safe and
perfect, our greatest achievement, sinks at a touch, and drowns us,
while nature jeers at us for our folly."
I found this amazing quote in Richard Davenport-Hines' Voyages
of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuildres, Aristocrats, and
the Worlds They Came From. I read that and Building The Titanic: The
Creation of History's Most Famous Ocean Liner by Rod Green the weekend
of my 23rd wedding anniversary (no icebergs in sight on the marriage--
thank Goodness). It was a wealth of information--even for an
affecianado like myself.
Voyages of the Titanic is a veritable Who's Who of the rich and
famous and the anything but--the cast of characters of the tragedy and
its aftermath. A lot of the information is contextualized into a
larger picture. I had always wondered why the Titanic had so few
lifeboats for its number of passengers and crew and why she continued
full speed ahead despite ice warnings. I learned that regulations for
lifeboats had not changed since days when liners were exponentially
smaller. Also Captain Smith was following standard operating
procedure. Although from a 21st century perspective these decisions
would seem to constitute gross negligence, they were due dilligence
for that time in history. Another wonderful insight considers the
officers of the steam powered liner being described as sailors. It
turns out that the technology sea change from wind to steam power had
occurred so recently these men had been trained in the old ways.
There is a wonderful photographic midsection.
Building The Titanic goes into much deeper design and
engineering detail than any other book I've seen. Chapter three, for
example, contains detailed diagrams of every deck. Many photographs
from the actual construction are included. But even the reader like
me whose eyes would glaze over with a recitation of statistics will
find this book captivating. It has an easy reading narrative format,
enlightened by the ample inclusion of anecdotes. The photograps and
other visuals alone are worth the price of the book.
For an unsinkable reading experience try this wonderful non
fiction twosome--especially if you think that you know the Titanic.
On a personal note, we had another wonderful community garden day--
good fun and camaraderie and wonderful veggies to give our seniors.
A great big shout out goes out to the farmers market folks who
contribute generously to our veggie bags.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hidden Gifts

When I was in grad school (that unsuccessful first Ph.D.
attempt) I taught at a university preschool. I became quite impressed
by a special subset of students. Creative and articulate, they were
content to bond with a close friend or two or play solo. They were
wary with new experiences or people, but once familiarity set in they
did just fine. I didn't understand why their parents were so often
ashamed that they weren't mini party animals. In my mind they just
marched to a different drummer to what I perceived as beautiful music.
I was very pleased to read Marti Olsen Laney's The Hidden Gifts
of the Introverted Child. Introverts are a definite minority in
countries like ours. Society tends to value traits extroverts bring
to the table. Laney contends that when introverted children are
allowed to be themselves they have something wonderful and special to
Laney starts by debunking commonly held myths about introverts
such as that they are shy, antisocial, or egotistical. She cites a
wealth of research to show that introverted and extroverted children
are wired differently. Blends of neural transmitters and preferred
neurotransmitter pathways predispose kids to a "give it the gas" or a
"put on the brakes" mode of interacting with the world. Part I ends
with a wonderful description of twelve precious gifts of innie
Part II goes from theoretical to practical parenting, matching
traits of introverted children with ways to work with them rather than
forcing these kids to behave like extroverts like all too many people
do. For instance innies need to be able to recharge in privacy and
quiet. Personal space and ready access to it are crucial. Innies may
have trouble switching off their active minds and need special
precautions to ensure a restful sleep. The rest of the book covers
beyond nuclear family situations such as visits to grandparents,
school, and the playing field.
I would recommend this book to parents, grandparents, teachers,
scout leaders, pediatricians...anyone who works with children.
Actually I think anyone who isn't a hermit in a cave could stand to
read it. If you're an extrovert it may help you to understand some
people who perplex you or seem aloof or snobby. If you're an
introvert you may feel validated for the first time ever.
On a personal note, that is what I experienced. I always thought I
was an extrovert. Wasn't I an elected school board member? Didn't
public speaking and media interviews come easy for me? Still there
were things I didn't understand.
*often managing day to day seems exhausting, but I feel tired or burnt
out, not depressed.
*Living in a densely populated neighborhood, I feel isolated.
*Actions that seem just natural to me are considered very thoughtful
to others.
*People describe me in introverted seeming ways. Our special
education director said I observe much more than most people. Lots of
people comment that I don't say a lot in school board meetings, but
when I do it's very insightful or right on.
The book was a real eye opener. When I read the list of introvert
advantages I felt like Dr. Laney had sent me a picture of myself.
What a relief! Now I don't have to wonder what's wrong with me.
Nothing is. OK, dear readers, this humble reviewer is coming out of a
closet I never knew I was in. I am introvert; hear me whisper.
A great big shout out goes out to my fellow introverts and the people
who understand us. :)
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Guys Read

One of the most common complaints of reading and English
teachers is that boys do not read or at least read enough. Especially
in the preteen and teen years, it can be hard for books to compete
with sports, girls, and the omnipresent electronic media. Popular and
prolific children's book author Jon Scieszksa decided to create books
boys would really want to read. There's a Guys Read website (
). It contains the work of well known writers and illustrators. Boys
choose their favorites which are put into anthologies. Royalties from
these books are used to support the website.
I was able to score two of the volumes at the Orono Public
Library. One contained vignettes of guy defining moments, both
fictitious and autobiographical. There were really neat drawings from
contributers' childhood and current work. The other consisted of
longer funny stories. Both, in my mind, are well worth reading.
On a personal note, I've been seeing some lovely butterflies and moths
A great big shout out goes out to writers who understand what our sons
want to read.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Clouds of Glory

For a poet I read very little poetry. Unless a fellow poet
really captures my heart and mind I have a short attention span. Go
figure. When I saw Ken Nye's Clouds of Glory: Poetic Thoughts from
Maine with its iconic lighthouse I thought I'd skim a few pages.
Wrong. I ended up reading it cover to cover.
What I did NOT expect to see in the works of a male poet who
puts a lighthouse on his book cover is soul touching sensitivity. His
most amazing writings, in my mind, concern his mother's last years.
She had alzheimers at the end. In "Prelude to Goodbye" he talks about
the gradual process of loss and the preciousness of her increasingly
rare moments of being with her family again. In "Everyday Courage" he
talks about the strength of her finding joy, beauty, and love in a
progressively confusing and frustrating world.
Like me, Nye is a major league Wordsworth fan. He shares the
belief that infants arrive trailing clouds of glory from a heavenly
home to which the deceased return, a far more comforting view than
birth and death as abrupt beginning and end. This trust is epitomized
by "Eternity in a Ring" in which he describes being home with his
brand new grandson and dying mother.
The poems aren't all bittersweet. There is some great nature
observation. His memories of his boyhood are also terrific. My
favorite is "Birthday". Turning eleven, he hopes for a new bike but
remembers that the last time his parents promised him a surprise he
got a baby sister.
On a personal note, I'm back to knitting scarves for the first time in
months, seeing what I can create from my random yarn collection.
A great big shout out goes out to Leo and Willie because they're good
sports when I include them--in not always the most flattering light--
in my poems.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

The iConnected Parent

Journalist Abigail Moore Sullivan had written an article on the
really risky things people do to get cell phone reception when they're
in dead zones. She noticed also that teens and parents seem a lot
more connected than they did in even the recent past. Middlebury
College professor, Dr. Barbara Hofer noticed more students whipping
out cell phones to call home. She wondered how this would effect
their growth and development. Fortunately for us they met and
embarked on the mutual inquiry that resulted in The iConnected
Parent: Staying Close to Your Kids in College (And Beyond) While
Letting Them Grow Up.
Back when I was a student (Gordon College Class of '83--1983
that is) typically students called home about once a week. Today's
students can chat with Mom several times a day. Why the change?
Sullivan and Hofer say it's largely driven by technology. In my day
we had land lines and high long distance rates. Now there's cell
phones, Skype, Facebook...
However, the authors note other factors. One is described as
peer pressure. Today's parents have been bombarded with messages that
their constant involvement is the only way to protect their kids and
get them on the road to success in life. This major league
involvement can now extend to college and beyond. Not only can
parents have a hard time switching out of this mode, particularly if
they find it fulfilling, but failing to live up to it can bring
ostracism and negative judgements on the part of the "good" parents.
Additionally, people tend to become parents later in life than older
generations and have fewer children on whom to lavish their love and
Hofer and Sullivan say the results of this change in
communication patterns are decidedly mixed. On the positive side,
many families are closer, to the enjoyment of both students and
parents. However, there are a number of substantial dangers. The
developmental tasks of the college years include becoming more
disciplined in study skills, more able to make decisions autonomously,
and more skilled in negotiating interpersonal relationships. This
important progress may not happen for kids if Mom and Dad write or
edit papers, choose classes, and intervene with roommates.
Too tightly connected kids may also not get as much out of
college as previous generations did. When Mom is best friend there is
not as much motivation to bond with those more problematic peers.
Parent chosen majors and classes often don't inspire the passion and
dedication of self chosen ones. Long distance nagging doesn't give a
son or daughter the motivation or chance to take ownership of his/her
college experience.
Frankly I'd recommend this book to anyone who has a child in or
headed toward college. I know I learned a lot from it.
On a personal note, I had the most fun morning volunteering at Orono
Public Library. A gentle rain (which also benefitted the garden)
brought in a lovely congregation of readers. I also finally located
an electric ice cream maker I could afford at the Orono Thrift Shop. :)
A great big shout out goes put to my three wonderful children who
continue to survive my parenting.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Friday, August 10, 2012

How They Croaked

Juvenile non fiction
In the Orono Public Library's children's wing we display new
books on higher shelves. One day I found myself eyeball to eyeball
with a grinning skeleton in doctor's attire. The title of the book in
question, as well as the gruesome vissage, startled me.
A proper reviewer most likely would have passed on Georgia
Bragg's How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. She
probably would have commented primly on the quality (lack of that is)
of today's children's lit. But we have never confused me with her,
have we?
Although in a morbid sort of way, the book is very interesting.
Kids go through phases where they will find it fascinating. The
deaths of a veritable who's who from King Tut to Einstein are examined
in vivid detail. Each chapter has a two page appendix of useful
additional information.
A lot of what we "know" on this topic can be considered urban
legend. Cleopatra, for instance, did not meet her end at the fangs of
an asp. The tell tale pricks were made by a poisoned hair pin.
Garfield, the president, not the cat, was felled not by a bullet, but
by infection caused by the unwashed hands of his doctors. Forget
everything you've learned about Pocohantas courtesy of Disney films.
In addition to their last moments, there is information on the
lives and times of the famous subjects. This book may not be a parent
or teacher's cup of tea. But for a child at the stage where "Eew,
gross!" is a term of endearment it can provide a fascinating glimpse
into history.
On a personal note, in America in the twenty-first century tens, if
not hundreds, of thousands of non famous citizens like me are in
danger of dying early for lack of health insurance.
A great big shout out goes out to the people who are working so hard
to get the United States to join the civilized world in this regard.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Black Gold

YA non fiction
Iraqui religious leaders declared jihad (holy war) against
foreign infidels occupying their country. There were demonstrations
in major cities. Occupiers struck back with violence that took the
lives of civilians (including women and children) as well as rebels.
Nope, this was not something orchastrated by President Bush. He
hadn't been born. I'm not even sure his dad had been. The year was
Wow! Invading the Middle East for oil goes back a lot further
than I imagined. I learned that and a whole lot more when I read
Albert Marrin's Black Gold: The Story of Oil in Our Lives. It is a
truly comprehensive study covering the formation of fossil fuels, the
history of their production and usage, their role in recent major
world conflicts, and moral and ethical issues.
One might fear that the scope of information covered in 158
pages with liberal use of relevant photographs would allow only for
recitation of the facts. No way, Jose! Marrin's writing style really
makes the subject come to life. Consider these sentences concerning
WWI aerial combat: "To burn alive was the most horrible fate a pilot
could imagine. The pilots' nicknames for gasoline captured their
fears: 'Orange Death,' 'Hell-brew,' 'Witches' Water,' 'Infernal
Liquid.' "
If there's a theme to this book, it is oil as the richest prize
and greatest problem of our time. The final chapter covers the need
to transition to a new energy order-if for no other reason than fossil
fuels being finite and rapidly depleted. A wide range of options is
covered. I'd call Black Gold a great read to gain insight into one of
the most critical issues facing humankind.
On a personal note, the hubby took me to the Bangor State Fair despite
his dislike of fairs. We went to the shows, many of which had good
environmental information. We rode the rides, especially my favorite,
the carosel. We brought supper home to the family. I didn't have to
A great big shout out goes put to the hubby. If that isn't romantic,
I don't know what is.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

1001 Cupcakes

The cover of 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies, and Other Tempting Treats
looks like a page from what I hope Heaven will be like. The promise
it makes is kept beautifully in its 299 pages. The range of recipes
is amazing and inspiring. Novice and kitchen will find sweets at the
perfect level of difficulty.
The only problem is deciding what to make first. Rum and raisin
cookies with orange filling look super. But so do mocha cupcakes with
whipped cream, brandied peach galettes, chocolate florentines,
tropical fruit cookie sandwiches, mocha biscotti, black forest
brownies, chocolate eclairs, strawberry tartlets, baklava, Italian
chocolate truffles...
I highly recommend this book which I find to be in excellent
On a personal note, the hubby and I recently celebrated our 23rd
wedding anniversary. We went out with the kids for breakfast (Dennys)
and supper (99). In between we went for a drive in the Moosehead Lake
region and had wild blueberry ice cream.
A great big shout out and thank you go out to Eugene for 23 amazing
years and 3 awesome children,
Julia Emily Hathaway

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Intermediate fiction
There are very real perks to, as an Orono Public Library
volunteer, being considered belonging exclusively to the children's
1) Our creative, cheerful, energetic professional children's librarian
never has to discover her inner pit bull.
2) The people who bring their children to library care deeply about
RSU 26 schools. They know I'm on board and give me very valuable
3) I see what kids are actually reading which is often different from
what parents and teachers wish they were reading. It has them
motivated to read. In light of today's many electronic distractions,
that has merit in and of itself.
Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series volumes become
battered quite rapidly. Recently I became curious about their appeal
and borrowed a few. They're funny, but more than funny. Greg, the
young protagonist, lives through the experiences and nightmares of
many kids his age.
First there's the family. Greg's father is always pushing him
to be more manly and involved in sports. His mother is perpetually
trying to schedule family time and bonding, often of the father-son
kind. His older brother bullies him. His younger brother gets
everything he wants.
Greg's best friend is socially inept. The girl he has a crush
on is unapproachable. Think Charlie Brown and the little red haired
girl. Non family adults like teachers are clueless and/or
malevolent. Classmates are often mean.
The many line drawings complement the text beautifully. One
shows the family in the car. Little brother, Manny, is screaming his
head off. Big brother, Rodrick, the instigator, is smirking. Mom and
Dad look ready to do anything to stop the racket. This does not bode
well for Greg.
Shapespeare--nope. Worth at least trying--definitely.
On a personal note, when I was a child there was also a gap between
literature and fun reading. My peers and I devoured comic books.
Parental disapproval and teacher confiscation made them all the more
precious. My mom, being a college English professor, set a higher bar
than most mothers. Only the classics met her standards. I had to
spend my own money on Nancy Drew books which became for quite awhile
the focus of my reading and daydreams.
A great big shout out goes out to Renee, our superintendent's
administrative assistant, who can translate the often chaotic
proceedings that are board meetings into organized, comprehensible

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