These days it can be hard for children and even some parents to
imagine any life other than a hectic, electronics dominated
existence. That is why Alma Flor Ada's Island Treasures: Growing Up
in Cuba is a must read. Consider it a literary breather or siesta.
Island Treasures is a set of narratives Ada gleaned from the
experiences of her childhood and family legends passed down in the
oral tradition. She brings to life a world in which:
*a fallen tree could provide children with a play place, transformed
by imagination into a pirate ship, a castle, a camp in the jungle, or
a covered wagon;
*many foods such as milk, breads, vegetables, and sweets were
purchased fresh from travelling vendors rather than picked up in big
*fiestas with their colorful parades were eagerly awaited community
*families made much of their own fun by activities such as making and
flying kites together...
The stories are an exquisite blend of the particular and
universal. Ada grew up in a very unique, colorful clan. But she
viewed life through the lenses of Everychild. Broken Wings is the
story of Medardito, a daring uncle who never outgrew his need for
adventure. When he learned to fly and purchased an airplane the
family, for the most part, was very much against this activity. Ada,
however, was excited. "I felt both pride and joy that he would dare
to defy everyone and everything, including the force of gravity that
keeps us all tied to the earth." Sadly when he died in a plane crash
she felt overwhelmed with guilt. "Of course, I had never believed
that flying was as dangerous as everyone else seemed to think. But
why had I not seen it? How could I have wanted him to fly when it was
going to cause such pain?"
Island Treasures brings together stories she wrote to keep
treasured memories alive and honor loved ones. Over a course of
fifteen years previous books containing some of these events have
inspired reader responses that delight her.
"Many of you have written to tell me that the attention these
stories give to the simple details of daily life has helped you value
things previously taken for granted. Others have written to say that
these stories moved you to a greater appreciation of your own
families. And I am delighted whenever I hear that some of you have
begun to write about your own lives!"
If there is a finer mandate for reading a book I can't imagine it!
On a personal note, I am looking forward to Halloween and the party we
will hold in the children's wing of the Orono Public Library. For
over a week now clients have been finding costumes generously donated
by the Orono Thrift Shop. I helped a girl find a unicorn costume she
thought was the bee's knees. I, myself, acquired wonderful new
butterfly finery. Recently I met a little boy, new to our library
family, who adores Bob the Builder, as my son did at his age. This
brought back memories of one of my most memorable Halloweens when Adam
was five. He was too sick to go trick or treating of even care. That
night I went out with the girls, dressed as Bob the Builder,
collecting for him. People learning that he was home sick gave me
insane amounts of candy. One man dumped a bowl full into my bag.
When I returned with all the loot Adam said, "Thanks, Mom," and fell
asleep. Bet Ada would enjoy that story!
A great big shout out goes out to all who will devote a lot of time
and energy to giving the kids a fine Halloween party and to the very
generous volunteers who run the thrift shop!
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod