Saturday, May 27, 2017

One Proud Penny

One Proud Penny

Picture book
Find a penny. Pick it up. All the day you'll have good luck.
That was a saying from my childhood. Of course back then a penny went
a lot further. Five could buy a candy bar, thirteen a comic book,
twenty-five admission to the Saturday matinee double feature with
popcorn for another fifteen. And we had real penny candy.
These days some grinches say we should ban pennies and stop
making them. I don't think that will happen any time soon. Too many
of us really like those coins...and pick them up to get good luck.
Randy Siegel's One Proud Penny narrates the adventures of a
typical zinc and copper coin born in Philadelphia in 1983: traveling
to places as far apart as both Portlands, being used to buy things,
and being lost in places like a sewer drain and the inside of a vacuum
cleaner. There's also plenty of good trivia.
It's a nice little book that encourages kids to contemplate the
concept of coins (the lengths I'll go to for alliteration! Bwa ha
ha!) and maybe start a piggy bank.
On a personal note, yesterday and today were the sales days for clean
sweep. Think very popular indoor yard sale with merchandise taking up
the entire surface of an ice hockey rink. We (crew) mostly engaged in
customer service and keeping everything as neat as possible. But we
also had a lot of fun hanging out together. Lisa, our fearless,
peerless leader, got take out restaurant lunches for us both days.
Mmm mmm good!!!
I know we made an amazing amount of money. I'll let you know how much
when I find out.
A great big shout out goes out to my fellow crew members, Lisa, and
our wonderful customers.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Friday, May 26, 2017

Quilting For Peace

Quilting For Peace

Adult crafts
I am not a quilter. The only quilt I ever made was baby size.
But I really enjoyed reading Katherine Bell's Quilting For Peace:
Make The World A Better Place One Stitch At A Time. It shows so many
ways groups and individuals use crafts talents (and sometimes recycled
or discontinued materials) to make a real difference.
There are not enough shelter beds for 750,000 people who are
homeless on any given night in America. Many end up sleeping in
doorways or under bridges. When Flo Wheatly started thinking on the
problem she asked her kids to give her old clothes and designed a
quilt sleeping bag. The first year she and her family gave away
eight. Then people started donating materials and time. These days
The Sleeping Bag Project distributes 6,000 bags a year along with
donated clothes.
To The Top and Quilts of Valor create quilts for wounded
warriors. The former was started by a bereaved mother who lost her
only son in Afghanistan. Between the two groups over 18,000 quilts to
injured veterans. Volunteers from as far away as Iceland have been
involved in creating them.
Emergency responders encounter children in their most vulnerable
moments at crises such as fires, domestic violence scenes, and
domestic violence calls. Firehouse Quilts makes a special kind of
quilt--large enough to comfort a child but compact enough to fit into
a fire truck cab--to be distributed by these modern day heroes.
Those are just three of the dozens of organizations richly
described in Quilting For Peace. There is even one, Mother's Comfort
Project, that makes cage comforters for animals in shelters that
actually increase adoption and decrease euthenasia rates. Each
chapter gives ways to learn more about and help a specific group.
Many of the patterns are included.
Motivated readers may find groups to link up with in person or
remotely...
...or come up with ideas of their own. That's what happened to
me. When I started reading the book I had just come from a coffee
hour the UMaine International Students Organization puts on Friday
evenings during the school year. Recently, to combat fears of
prospective international students, we made a You Are Welcome Here
video. So those words were on my mind. Suddenly an idea popped into
my head. Maybe hand crafted useful objects could help reassure
international students of their being very much wanted. Some could be
quilts. But some could be other things. I knit and crochet beautiful
scarves. Some people make mittens and socks. And nothing says loving
like something from the oven. You know? This could be a way also to
build more university-community connections. I guess the summer will
be a good time to get things started.
On a personal note, I'm about to take the bus to Orono for the first
day of our fabulous Clean Sweep: the yard sale all the other yard
sales wish they were. I am wondering what effect the pouring rain
will have on attendance.
[Unsolicited advice for anyone who is not exactly up for a day or
night's weather. What you can't change is the precip, lack thereof,
temp etc. What you can change is your attitude. So unless you're in
the middle of something like Hurricane Katrina, be happy and your day
will go better. Trust me on this].
A great big shout out goes out to my clean sweep crew, our fearless
and peerless leader, Lisa, and all who are willing to brave the
elements to glean the treasures we have to offer.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Knit Your Own Cat

Knit Your Own Cat

Adult crafts
That title made me do a double take. The charming crafts bag
sized volume was a delight to look through. Highly talented knitters
who are also feline fanciers, say those who can knit socks on tiny
needles without a pattern on a moving bus, will be able to do a lot
more than admire the creatures in Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne's Knit
Your Own Cat: Easy-to-Follow Patterns for 16 Frisky Felines.
The cats are distinctive and finely detailed. They're divided
into four groups: long-haired, short-haired, exotic, and street. If
you're ambitious enough to try the patterns, the street cats look to
be the easiest starter felines. On the more complicated side, you
have the Maine Coon with fur tufts between its toes. All the beasts
seem to be between 5" and 10" tall.
This is a great gift for the knitting diva. Maybe if you're
really lucky she or he will show appreciation by knitting you a feline.
On a purrrrrsonal note, one of this year's unusual clean sweep items
was someone's cat figurine collection. She wrote the source and date
of each one on its base. You don't see Palmer (writing style that
came before cursive) much anymore. Also the dates were decades back.
I'm going to guess she died or downsized to a smaller living space
because the collection was obviously special to her and she learned
Palmer back in school which means getting on in years. I took a few
of my favorites including an unusual cat bank and a music box figurine.
As for my own cat companion, Joey, apart from the mats he gets in his
fur as weather warms up, he is the picture of health and loving life.
Right now he's on his patio, watching through the window for birds.
He will celebrate his birthday June 8. I plan to get him new toys,
especially jingle balls which he loves to chase.
A great big shout out goes out to sweet Joey and my clean sweep gang.
We're going to price and make signs today and get ready for chaos
tomorrow.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tiny House Style

Tiny House Style

Adult non fiction
Over much of my life span houses have been growing like the
proverbial weeds. My preteen years were spent in a modest spread:
parents' and children's bedrooms linked by a large closet, living
room, kitchen, playroom, and single bathroom. A lot of people lived
that way and thought nothing of it. But over the years just about
anyone who could afford to do so acquired bigger and bigger digs,
culminating in the coveted and despised McMansion. Some huge edifices
in Veazie are inhabited by a couple. Even Human Services won't place
a kid unless he/she is guaranteed a solo bedroom. There are even
places that require houses to have large square footages.
What the bloody Hell?
These outsize abodes take a toll on the enviromnent. They also
take a toll on many families. One day a friend from a better
neighborhood told me a secret. The struggle to live beyond their
housing means left many "better off" families as economically perilous
as the trailer park crowd. And there are the many who work around the
clock to keep families they are nearly strangers to in homes they
aren't enough in to relax and enjoy.
I am delighted with a new back to basic housing trend that has
people requestioning priorities and replacing conspicuous consumption
with mindful simplicity. First considered an oddity, the new
buildings are going mainstream. Anyone contemplating making such a
lifestyle change would do well to study Steve Weissmann and Jenna
Spesard's Tiny House Style: Ideas To Design And Decorate Your Tiny
House.
This fine book is living proof that a picture is worth a
thousand words. Whether you're looking at adorable exteriors, sun
filled sleeping lofts, or unique, colorful details, the photographs
steal the show. The text supplements the visuals and answers just
about any question one might have about tiny house planning and
living. Will the kitchen meet my needs? Is there enough room to
sleep? How much storage is enough?
My only caveat: if Tiny House Style seems overly evangelistic,
there's a reason. The authors manufacture tiny houses. Have they got
a place for you!
Tiny houses are not for everyone. I have no plans for going
below trailer size even though the kids have moved out. The open plan
with sleeping loft would be a nightmare in my household. I need my
studio to get far enough from the television to write and think and
not be bombarded by artificial noise and to store my writing works in
progress and the whimsical treasures that inspire me.
I would especially advise prospective tiny house dwellers to do
this extreme downsizing during periods of lifestyle stability rather
than in tandem with other changes. Retirement is the one that comes
to mind. Make sure the two of your are comfortable spending extended
periods of time together before you compress the space in which you do
so.
Seriously.
One very positive aspect to tiny houses is that they can give
the chronically homeless housing stability. For a family living out
of a car one would be a palace. Some towns are finding that it's
cheaper to house the homeless than increase municipal services. And
for many long term street and shelter residents that permanent address
may be that tipping stability point enabling them to face and conquer
the other challenges life throws their way.
On a personal note, we had flower communion last Sunday at Universal
Fellowship. It was such a lovely experience. There were scads of
beautiful flowers and we got to bring flowers home. I also got to
bring a birthday bouquet to Amber which she really likes.
A great big shout out goes out to my Universal Fellwship family who
seem not in the least perturbed that I will be joining June 4.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Float

Float

Wordless picture book
One type of book we need many more of is the wordless picture
book. The prereader can gain book handling skills and exercise
imagination creating the story line. The apparent simplicity of the
format, however, can hide the need for excellence. Illustrations
carry the entire burden of the narrative. They had better be damn
good: complex, evocative, bordering on seductive.
Daniel Miyares' Float is a perfect example of what a wordless
picture book should aspire to. Its protagonist, a boy clad in bright
yellow rain gear makes a boat out of newspaper. (The bright yellow
and pink and blue spots on the boat are the only bits of color against
a monochromatic background, helping the very young child focus) Much
to his delight, it begins to rain. Soon the street is flooded with
puddles and streams perfect for sailing his creation. Sadly the boat
falls into a storm drain and comes out a sodden mess. The boy trudges
home sadly. A hug from a sympathetic mom, a shower, and cocoa with
marshmellows restore him. Before you know it he's folding a new boat
and heading outside.
Endpapers show step by step directions for folding a paper boat
and a paper airplane. So the perfect time to introduce this lovely
book would be a grey rainy day when there seems to be nothing to
dooooooo.
On a personal note, we are in the process of getting Clean Sweep
together in time for the weekend. It's the yard sale we make out of
all the stuff UMaine students leave behind at the end of the school
year. Just imagine a yard sale the size of an ice hockey arena. We
have the stuff all set out. Tomorrow we have the pricing and signs
and odds and ends to do. Oh, my!
A great shout out to the awesome crew who make the project so much fun
and our encouraging and kind boss, Lisa.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Monday, May 22, 2017

Girl Rising

Girl Rising

YA/adult nonfiction
"Most young people in developed nations...get up in the morning
and head off to school without a second thought, because free public
education is available to all. But in more than fifty countries,
school is not free, and often, students and their families cannot pay.
We look at numbers and facts all the time without necessarily
understanding how significant they are. But this number--the 62
million girls who are not in school profoundly affects how our whole
world functions.
Why? Because educating girls literally changes how nations
behave. Educating girls changes how governments function. It changes
economies and jobs. It changes the shape of health care. It changes
how families are raised. It can change entire cultures."
Sixty-two million girls unable to get educations! That is wrong
on so many levels. It's a tragedy for them, their families, their
communities, and their nations. Ultimately it's a tragedy for our
world. In Girl Rising: Changing The World One Girl At A Time Tanya
Lee Stone brings this tragedy up close and personal.
Where are these girls who are not in school? Some are slaves
trafficked for labor or sex to masters who hold absolute power. Some
are lost to child marriage in more ways than one. In developing
nations childbirth is the number one killer of girls age 15 to 19. In
some places the problem is as basic as dire poverty or no school to go
to. And then there are war, natural disasters, and people who assault
girls for just trying to gain functional literacy.
Some girls overcome obstacles we can hardly imagine to go to
school. Readers will meet:
*Ruksana and her family who lived in a tent like structure on the
pavement of Kolkata, India. They had moved from their rural village
so the children could get an education;
*Sokha, a Cambodian orphan who literally lived in a a dangerous,
filthy dump, scavenging to survive, until given thechance to attend
school;
*Melka, an Ethiopian woman who survived a horrific arranged marriage
and went on to become a teacher;
*Rani (India) who was sold by her parents when she was eight and had
to work as a prostitute for five years before a nongovernmental
organization rescued her and enabled her to get an education;
and other beautiful, smart girls.
Fortunately the last part of the book concerns solutions to the
problem of girls missing out on education. Readers are shown ways in
which they can make a difference. Hopefully many will channel the
anger one can't help but feel into action.
As I read this book I was so aware of my great good fortune that
free public education, good preparation for college, was available for
my beautiful, smart daughters. Amber is working on her PhD. Katie
graduated summa and has a professional job. For that matter I was
able to attend college and plan on attending grad school.
On a personal note, yesterday I went to Amber's birthday party. It
was a slumber party themed party. So we got to wear pajamas! There
were very cool party games. My favorite was a nail polish game. (For
some reason Eugene sat that one out.) The homemade pizza and cake were
scrumptious. Brian makes better pizza than many pizza joints. Katie
came up from Portland with her dear friend Shaunna. It was so great
to see them! It was a truly wonderful afternoon, the kind of event
that leaves one feeling overjoyed to be alive.
A great big shout out goes out to Amber, chef extraordinaire Brian,
and all who attended the fête.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Sunday, May 21, 2017

One Last Word

One Last Word

YA/adult poetry
I'd never heard of the golden shovel form of poetry. Basically
it pays tribute to another poet's work while adding a fresh and
personal spin. You take a short poem or a line from a longer poem and
use its words as the last words for each line of your new poem.
Here's an example from Nikki Grimes' One Last Poem. The original is
the first stanza of Clara Ann Thompson's Life And Death:

We live, and how intense is life!
So full of stress, so full of strife.
So full of hopes, so full of fears,
OF JOY AND SORROW, SMILES AND TEARS
And oh how fruitless is the quest
Unless we're striving for the best.

Grimes takes each stanza from this decades old poem to create the
portrait of a contemporary teen and the challenges he/she/they faces.
My favorite is Damien. (I'm capitalizing the words taken from the
original poem in both works).

No one cuts you any slack if you're a boy, especially OF
a particular hue, and you decide to find your JOY
in ballet. Never mind that it's tough as any sport, AND
gives you a perfect place to pack whatever SORROW
shadows you. Flex, point, leap, and you're all SMILES
before you know it! Dancing is demanding, too, AND
the strength it takes would leave most jocks in TEARS.

You see what Grimes has done there. This art form is the essence of
her book. Her originals are from the famous poets of the Harlem
Renaissance. Both they and her interpretations are well worth reading.
The illustrations add a further dimension of amazingness to the
anthology. Langston Hughes' Mother To Son (one of the most meaningful
poems ever written) and Nikki Grimes' Lessons are on the need to keep
striving even though life "ain't been no crystal stair." Christopher
Myers' interpretation shows a mother hugging her son in front of a
statue of Abraham Lincoln. Grimes' A Dark Date For Josh concerns the
difficult conversation a high school boy has with his parents when he
tells them he's taking a black girl to the prom. Jan Spivey
Gilchrist's tender interpretation shows the boy deep in thought and
the girl he obviously cares about.
My favorite picture is the one for A Safe Place. A girl walks
down a dreary city street past grim, grafiti covered walls. Under a
puffy coat, she is wearing bright red tights and tutu. She is
intently writing in a book. You get the feeling she is not only
staying safe from the ugliness all around her, but charting a brighter
future for herself. Her bold stride lets you know that nothing better
get in her way!
Readers who find a poet or illustrator to be of particular
interest are in luck. Biographies at the back include lists of
contributors' work.
On a personal note, last Thursday I was very glad I was packing a
camera. I was crossing a bridge when I saw a beetle unlike any I'd
ever seen before, a good size insect with a shell that looked like
tweed cloth or maize corn. Fortunately it wasn't in any hurry and
posed nicely. I relocated it to less dangerous turf. Now I have
evidence in case someone, say that husband of mine, thinks it was the
product of my admittedly vivid imagination. (It was much too early in
the day for beer to be involved!)
A great big shout out goes out to entomologists who study the insects
who greatly outnumber us and their many mysteries.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Rise

Rise

Adult biography
"He was on the small green sofa in only his underwear, sitting
upright with his chin on his chest. He might have been only
sleeping. But he wasn't. A dozen pill bottles were on the sofa next
to him. Handfuls of pills had spilled on the floor and the cushions,
technicolor droplets of life or death. He had thrown up on his chest
and a throw pillow that I'd once embroidered with a poem. A yellow
legal pad balanced on his left thigh. No business plans, no
equations, no patent ideas this time. It was a suicide note with
ramblings so insane they read like a bad movie script."
The he in the above paragraph is Adam, an ex husband of Cara
Brookins, author of Rise: How A House Built A Family. At that point
they were still together.
"If I walked away and closed the door, waited just a little
longer, he would have what he wanted. Was that the merciful thing to
do? I didn't ponder the idea for as long as it felt. I went to my
bedroom and called 911, finding it impossible to speak in more than a
squeak of a whisper."
Imagine being in that situation...
...and deciding what to tell the kids about the ambulance's
impending arrival.
Adam was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. His
life became a round of involuntary commitments and releases to the
care of his mother and sister. When he was not confined, Cara and her
children were never safe. Neither divorce papers nor protection
orders could keep him away.
Cara could see the toll the stress, fear, and protective lies
were taking on her children. She wanted them to have the security
that would enable them to become strong, happy adults. She also
wanted to pull her little family together. She decided that they
would rebuild as a unit by building their next home from scratch...
...which was quite the daunting task since Cara had no
construction experience whatsoever and her crew ranged in age from
high school to toddler. The challenges started right off when she had
to prove she knew enough about house building to justify the loan she
needed.
Rise is a perfect book for our decade when so many people are
faced with daunting challenges. Chapters alternate between the
struggle to achieve the seemingly impossible and the back story of
near unimaginable horror. Beneath all is the undercurrent of
suspense: will Cara's clan achieve their goal by deadline when nearly
everything takes longer than they expected?
On a personal note, recently Joey cat did something unexpected and
totally adorable. He was napping on my lap. He jumped down and
started playing with one of my grey with silver sequined bow ballet
flats. Somehow he got one of his paws wedged in one and walked across
the room with it perfectly on his paw. The camera was nowhere in
sight so I enjoyed the experience. But I was not able to convince
Eugene that it happened. He probably suspected me of snagging one of
the beers.
A great big shout out goes out to the creatures great and small who
brighten up our lives and give us reasons to laugh.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Tale Of One Bad Rat

The Tale Of One Bad Rat

YA/adult graphic novel
You must know of Beatrix Potter's animal stories. Recall Peter
Rabbit who disobeyed his mother, nearly came to an untimely demise in
Mr. McGregor's garden, and ended up ill in bed drinking chamomile
tea? I'm sure you're also aware of child sexual abuse. But did you
ever know the author and social issue would be brought together in one
volume?
That was one for sure surprise for me. But then Bryan Talbot's
The Tale Of One Bad Rat is full of surprises.
When we meet Helen, Talbot's protagonist, she's a homeless,
vulnerable teen. In alternating scenes the reader sees her struggle
to survive in a big city and the family dysfunction that drove her to
running away. A group of other street kids takes her in. But when
her rat companion is killed by a cat and the member of Parliament who
tried to molest her tries to get her arrested she's on the road again.
Helen fell in love with a little set of Beatrix Potter books she
received one early childhood Christmas. They and her art materials
are among the few things she took with her when she ran away. When
she collapses in the countryside she's taken in by a kind couple who
give her a job in their inn. (Her room turns out to be the one Potter
herself stayed in.) For the first time in her life she's treated
kindly with an option to make the situation permanent.
She decides she is going to change and not be a victim any more.
The graphic novel format works much better than a more
traditional one could have. The sparseness of text and abundance of
well drawn illustrations allow Talbot to show, not tell. Facial
expressions are especially telling. As a very young child Helen
adores her father. By her teen years she views him with fear and
revulsion. Fewer visuals and more verbiage would have made the story a
lot more maudlin and clunky.
Graphic novels are really coming into their own. The Tale Of
One Bad Rat shows one of the wonderful directions they can move in.
On a personal note, I have just had a period of major success in my
writing career. I've had two pieces published in the Bangor Daily
News, one in their print edition and one on their Internet, and two of
my poems in print, one in Echoes magazine and one in Maine Peace
Action Committee Newsletter. I feel like my star is on the rise.
A great big shout out goes out to the editors who have faith in me and
my potential.
jules hathaway





Sent from my iPod

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A List Of Cages

A List Of Cages

YA fiction
"I'm wet. I'm hungry. He's not coming back.
It's dark.
I'm scared.
I'm never getting out.
I scream and claw at the walls of the shell. There's a bright
explosion of pain, a snap of bones, but I keep hitting."
There are sadly monsters in human form doing unspeakable things
in our world, often to the most vulnerable of us. They get away with
it until they go too far. Then almost invariably the people
interviewed on the nightly news never saw that coming. Robin Roe's A
List Of Cages takes readers into one such situation.
When Adam, a senior in high school, had been younger a foster
child named Julian had lived with his family. Julian's parents had
been killed in a car accident. Gradually the boys had become like
brothers. Then Julian had abruptly been pulled out of their home.
Julian, a freshman, lives in a confusing, frightening world. At
school he's constantly bullied by peers and in trouble with adults.
When things get really bad he escapes to a little hidden room in the
school's attic. At home his Uncle Russell often leaves him
terrifyingly alone in an empty house. Russell's presence, however, is
frightening also, as are his commands to Julian to "Go get it."
The school psychologist has brought Julian back into Adam's
life. Adam also begins including him socially outside of school. He
starts to suspect that something is seriously wrong with his little
friend's living situation.
But what can he do?
On a personal note, Lavendar Graduation was awesome. The Bangor Room
was all decked out in shades of purple. We feasted on bagels, fruit,
and coffee as we celebrated our students who are graduating or getting
masters degrees.
The weather these past few days has been perfect--sunny and breezy. I
have been writing and reading outside where I can watch pollinators
having happy hour at my daffodil patch and listen to my wind chimes
and the birds. It stays light out quite late. And the mosquitos and
black flies haven't shown up in noticeable numbers. :)
A great big shout goes out to all who participated in Lavender
Graduation, especially Dean Dana, who gave a fine speech, and our
amazing grads.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Another Brooklyn

Another Brooklyn

YA fiction
"For a long time, my mother wasn't dead yet. Mine could have
been a more tragic story. My father could have given in to the bottle
or the needle or a woman and left my brother and me to care for
ourselves--or worse, in the care of New York City Children's Services,
where, my father said, there was seldom a happy ending. But this
didn't happen. I now know that what isn't tragic is the moment. It's
the memory."
A first paragraph like that creates high expectations for the
rest of a book. Fortunately Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn
lives beautifully up to the promise of its beginning. It's a
narrative of family and friendship and growing up viewed from the
perspective of remembering. But the golden patina does not negate the
real and serious dangers faced by young, innocent girls.
August and best friends Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi are
inseperable. Angela is a dancer who takes lessons each week and
becomes inexplicably sad and withdrawn. Gigi is an actress, born when
her mother was little more than a child. Sylvia is the youngest child
of a well off family. When the other girls visit her they see how her
family looks down on them.
The girls' child years start running out. They're still
learning popular dances, playing jacks and double dutch jump rope,
running through the spray from fire hydrants, and chasing the ice
cream truck. But, at 12, their bodies are changing and strangers are
looking at them in a way they're not ready for.
"We pretended to believe we could unlock arms and walk the
streets alone. But we knew we were lying. There were men inside
darkened hallways, around street corners, behind draped windows,
waiting to grab us, feel us, unzip their pants to offer us a glimpse."
Another Brooklyn is like A Tree Grows In Brooklyn for another
generation. Both, vivid in time and place, look at the good, the bad,
and the ugly of coming of age as women through the forgiving patina of
memory. Both are very much worth reading.
On a personal note, few comfort foods can top a freshly cooked grilled
cheese sandwich--all crispy and buttery on the outside, gooey in the
middle. Especially if someone else is doing the grilling. Up to
UMaine during finals week a heavenly aroma wafted from the hall
outside the commuter lounge. CASE folks were serving up world class
sandwiches to sustain and encourage folks.
A great big shout out goes out to the CASE crew. They do so much to
enrich the student experience throughout the school year.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tears We Cannot Stop

Tears We Cannot Stop

Adult nonfiction
"It has been striking, too, to observe whites for whom their
whiteness isn't a passport to riches, whites for whom whiteness offers
no material reward. But there is a psychological and social advantage
in not being thought of as black; poor whites seem to say, 'At least
there's a nigger beneath me.' And it's a way for poor whites to be of
value to richer whites, especially when poor whites agree that black
folks are the source of their trouble--not the corporate behavior of
wealthier whites who hurt black and white folk alike. It's a way to
bond beyond class. It's a way for working class whites to experience
momentary prestige in the eyes of richer whites. And there are a lot
of privileges that white folks get that don't depend on cash. The
greatest one may be getting stopped by a cop and living to tell about
it."
Michael Eric Dyson's Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon To White
America (source of the above quote) is a must read for everyone who
counters "Black lives matter" with "All lives matter" (as in a certain
Maine governor) or insists that white privilege is a myth. Dyson, a
college professor and ordained minister, has dealt with all the racial
hurts and dangers of twenty-first century America--from his daughter
being verbally abused at a skating party at the tender age of six to
enduring terrifying traffic stops conducted by racist cops. He's
heard all the convoluted rationales concocted to justify a white sense
of superiority. Amazingly he hasn't given up on us. Somehow he is
able to believe we can become part of the solution rather than the
problem if we accept some painful truths.
One thing we must realize is that whiteness exists not as an
inborn genetic trait, but as a cultural construct.
"Race has no meaning outside of the cultures we live in and the
worlds we fashion out of its force and energy. Whiteness is an
advantage and a privilege because you have made it so, not because the
universe demands it."
Although "white" people came from various nations, their
assimilation involved swapping out ethnicity for a generic whiteness.
It's an artificial identity infused with privilege and power, so much
so that it considers normative and American to be synonyms. American
history is largely a record of white acts and values.
To get to a place where black and white really don't matter we
have to understand the real ugly truth. Most of us are in big time
denial. Rather than really listening and trying to understand we are
too quick with the "All lives matter" quip Dyson must hear much too
often. We must authentically listen. We must learn. And we must not
remain silent.
Tears We Cannot Stop takes the form of a religious service from
call to worship through scripture and sermon to benediction. As I
read the book I kept wanting to jump up and yell "Amen! Preach it
Brother!"
On a personal note, one of my most poignant epiphanies on what white
privilege means happened when my one and only son was in high school.
He was late coming home. I knew he'd return with a snack and a story
to share. I realized this very age typical lateness, losing track of
time, would be the source of fear for so many black mothers. I didn't
have to worry about my son being arrested or shot by police for
something as innocuous as going to a convenience store for a soda or
just being out and about after sunset. No mother should have to fear
for her son's life because of the color of his skin.
A great big shout out goes out to all who are working to change this.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Monday, May 15, 2017

Ghosts

Ghosts

YA graphic novel
Cat, protagonist of Raina Telgemeier's Ghosts is not a happy
camper. Her family has to move. Her father has a new job. But she
knows the move has more to do with her sister's state of health. Maya
has cystic fibrosis. Her routine treatments and crises are an
integral part of their family life.
Bahia de la Luna is not just another little coastal town. It
contains a portal to the spirit world. Their Dia De Los Mortas is
more than just festivities on the part of the living. The dearly
departed actually cross over.
Maya, the free spirit of the family, plunges right into the
spirit of things, making an ofrenda (altar) for their deceased
grandmother. Cat, the more cautious sibling, is bothered by what she
considers their new town's obsession. She's also worried about her
little sister's well being. She's the one who is supposed to protect
her.
Ultimately there are deeper currents behind their feelings.
Maya knows she is not going to get better. She wonders what it will
be like to die and wants to have fun while she can. Cat does not want
to think about life without her little sister.
Ghosts is a wonderful, engaging read that subtly evokes a deep
theme. It's a must read for people like me who are or have been part
of a family deeply effected by a member's chronic illness or disability.
On a personal note, UMaine celebrated Cinco de Maya in fine form. We
had a fine fiesta with lively music and lots of fantastic food. I
helped to serve so I got to see all the happy people.
A great big shout out goes out to all who participated.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Our Mothers' War

Our Mothers' War

Adult herstory
"Hail to the women of America! You have taken up your heritage from
the brave women of the past. Just as did the women of other wars, you
have taken your positions as soldiers on the home front...The efforts
and accomplishments of women today are boundless.
But whatever else you do--you are, first and foremost, women
with the welfare of your families deepest in your hearts...Never has
there been such an opportunity, and a need, for what American women
can contribute."
My mother and I never talked much about World War II. I'm not
sure which of us was more reluctant. She had lived through the
deprivations and fears and lost her favorite brother in the fighting.
I was inexplicably terrified of a time before my birth. In fact I was
downright surprised when I borrowed Emily Yellin's Our Mothers' War:
American Women At Home And At The Front During World War II. I was
very glad I did. Over a several evening span I studied it cover to
cover.
America's entry into World War II propelled a lot of women from
fairly traditional lives with homemaker as main raison d'être to roles
they and society as a whole had not envisioned. When men were sent in
large numbers into battle shortages happened. Industries vital to
warfare needed workers. Farms needed laborers to produce huge amounts
of food needed to feed servicemen. Even the military was short on
manpower. There was no way around it. Women would have to take up
the slack.
Those who accepted this state of affairs were not always happy
about it. Some were unjustifiably concerned that women could not do
many of the tasks they were charged with accomplishing. Others feared
that the changes they wanted to see as temporary would end up being
permanent. In WWI people had asked how returning GIs would be kept
down on the farm once they had experienced Paris. Now the concern was
how women who had experienced more freedom and independence and the
thrill of earning a paycheck could be pushed back to housewifery once
the men returned to take over. Women taking on new roles faced
everything from ridiculous rules to outright hostility. Women, for
example, were said to give soldiers venereal diseases, never the
opposite.
I can't imagine any women's roles of that time, at home and
abroad, that Yellin doesn't cover. They include:
*the Rosie the Riveters who took over heavy industrial production--
anything from munitions to bombers;
*the entertainers who kept up troop morale;
*the soldiers and spies;
*the Red Cross girls and nurses;
and so many more. Readers will even learn about the sex workers of
whom the military was very much aware.
The stories of two groups of women are particularly poignant.
Black women seeking jobs were doubly disadvantaged. Those in the Jim
Crow south lived with the realization that loved ones were risking
their very lives for a country in which they would still be considered
second class citizens. Japenese women and their families were sent to
concentration camps so inadequate to meet basic human needs that
secretary of the interior, Harold Ickes sent a protest letter to
President Roosevelt.
Our Mothers' War is a must read for women's studies scholars. It
is also a lively read, full of intriguing personal stories, that
provides a fascinating look at a not so distant chapter of herstory.
On a personal note, I had an excellent Mothers' Day despite the
pouring rain. I got lovely gifts from my kids. My son dropped by and
my daughters called. I will be doing a crafts day with Amber and
Brian soon and going to Peaks Island sometime this summer with Katie
and Jacob.
A great big shout out goes out to my fellow moms today.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Evicted

Evicted

Adult nonfiction
"In Milwaukee's poorest black neighborhoods, eviction had become
commonplace--especially for women. In those neighborhoods, 1 female
renter in 17 was evicted through the court system each year, which was
twice as often as men from those neighborhoods and nine times as often
as women from the city's poorest white areas. Women from black
neighborhoods made up 9 percent of Milwaukee's population and 30
percent of its evicted tenants.
If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from
impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of
women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women [and their
children] were locked out."
It's not just Milwaukee. In the time it took you to read this
much of my review of Matthew Desmond's Evicted: Poverty And Profit In
The American City a family has had all their worldly goods dumped on
the curb or locked in a storage unit they'll never afford to reclaim
them from. Children are being uprooted from neighborhoods and
schools. Parents, marginally if at all employed, face enormous
complications and obstacles in the struggle to survive. They can, for
example, lose benefits because of not showing up for meetings with
social workers because the notice never reaches them. Slumlords with
properties not fit for human habitation are able to profit from their
desperation.
A life changing event in his college years set Desmond on the
path to writing Evicted. The bank foreclosed on the home he grew up
in. He had to help his parents move out. Back at school he began
volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and hanging out with homeless
people. His grad school plans changed from law to sociology.
To do the research for Evicted Desmond strayed far from the
ivoried towers of acadamia. He lived in high eviction poor
neighborhoods.
"To me, ethnography is what you do when you try to understand
people by allowing their lives to mold your own as fully and genuinely
as possible. You do this by building rapport with the people you want
to know better and following them over a long stretch of time,
observing and experiencing what they do, working and playing alongside
them, and recording as much action and interaction as you can until
you begin to move like they move, talk like they talk, think like they
think, and feel something like they feel..."
It's this total immersion approach that makes Desmond's work
stand out from that of so many of his peers. If his research
information forms the skeleton of Evicted, his detailed portraits of
eight desperately poor families and two landlords become the organs,
flesh, and blood. The reader gets to intimately know, care about, and
feel anger on behalf of people he/she/they would most likely never
meet. Together the two strands form a vital and fascinating narrative
that is impossible to put down.
Desmond serves us up a full measure of desperation and despair.
"Losing your home and possessions and often your job; being
stamped with an eviction record and denied government housing
assistance; relocating to degrading housing in poor and dangerous
neighborhoods; and suffering from increased material hardship,
homelessness, depression, and illness--this is eviction's fallout.
Eviction does not simply drop poor families into a dark valley, a
trying yet relatively brief detour on life's journey. It
fundamentally redirects their way, casting them onto a different, and
much more difficult path. Eviction is a cause, not just a condition,
of poverty."
Desmond also leaves us with an inspiring epiphany and a
challenge. When people with multiple challenges and transitory and
sometimes no shelter transition to stable housing they are able to
make progress on other problems such as joblessness. Recently some
cities have been showing that it costs less to provide basic housing
than to cover higher costs for police, emergency medical care,
prisons, and emergency shelters.
Evicted is a must read for anyone who wants to help America
become great by finally achieving the four freedoms President
Roosevelt entered our nation into WWII to defend: freedom of
religion, freedom of speech, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
"We have affirmed provision in old age, twelve years of
education, and basic nutrition to be the right of every citizen
because we have recognized that human dignity dependson the
fulfillment of these fundamental human needs. And it is hard to argue
that housing is not a fundamental human need. Decent, affordable
housing should be a basic right for everybody in this country. The
reason is simple: without stable shelter, everything else falls apart."
On a personal note, just this morning I was reading a piece Desmond
wrote for New York Times magazine. When we think subsidized housing
we envision projects or Section 8. Actually, even though over half
the poor pay 50% of their income on housing, and 25% pay over 70%,
only one 1 in 4 families who need this help can get it. Because of
our nation's housing policy, $134 billion a year goes mostly to the
well off in the form of homeowner subsidies, making them the real
welfare queens.
A great big shout out goes out to Desmond for his insistance,
persistence, and consistency in speaking out on behalf of the poorest
of the poor.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Friday, May 12, 2017

Loving Vs. Virginia

Loving Vs. Virginia

YA Nonfiction
"He puts his arm around me.
In the movie
When Esther gets kissed,
I let him kiss me.
It's a nice kiss--
not my first,
but the best--
soft and sweet."
In the early 1950s Mildred was a school girl and Richard held
down a job. Back then a lot of people didn't stay in school long
enough to graduate high school. Back then also rural people still
made most of their own fun. Mildred's family's home was a favorite
neighborhood gathering place, known for good food and lively music.
When Richard noticed that Mildred was someone he'd like to spend time
with, it took her awhile to figure out what was going on...
...much like so many other young people in first awkward and
tender courtships. Unfortunately it was not all that easy. Mildred
was black, Richard was white. George Wallace had declared that,
"segregationist is one who believes that it is in the best interests
of Negro and white to have a separate education and social order."
Sadly a lot of people agreed with him. In Mildred and Richard's home
state, Virginia, mixed race marriage was against the law.
The couple crossed over to Washington DC to wed. Back in
Virginia they woke up to cops shining flashlights at them.
"I never thought
I'd be in prison.

From high school
to wedding
to prison."
And that's only the beginning of their ordeal.
Patricia Hruby Powell is also the author of Josephine: The
Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker which I reviewed back in January.
With Loving Vs. Virginia she beautifully makes the difficult picture
book to YA transition. Her narrative, told in free verse, alternating
Mildred and Richard's voices, adds a vividly human dimension to a
legal case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Vintage
photographs and documents greatly enhance the book's authenticity.
I was shocked to learn how much longer the fight had to go on
after the 1967 ruling. Did you know that Alabama did not reverse its
anti-miscegenation law until 2000?
On a personal note, attitudes behind such laws were not unique to the
South. One of my very best high school friend's family experienced
death threats and rocks thrown through their windows. Her dad was
black and her mother was white. I was the only girl allowed to sleep
over her house. That was in Massachusetts in the suburbs of Boston.
My mother was friends with her parents. However, secretly she
thought they should not have brought a child into that situation. I
would reply that it's society that needs to change. I fully believed
it was a matter of when, not if. Mom, probably because she grew up in
the Jim Crow South, did not share my optimism.
A great big shout out goes out to all who worked and risked to get
those terrible laws overturned.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hopping Ahead of Climate Change

Hopping Ahead of Climate Change

Juvenile nonfiction
"It's late October. Almost Halloween. Dawn breaks across the
northern Rocky Mountains and a snowshoe hare hops through the forest
in search of food. It pauses frequently to nibble on grasses, leaves,
and the twigs of low-growing fir and larch trees. Although the sky is
light, the hare does not seem overly concerned about getting eaten.
This time of year, its dazzling white coat blends in perfectly with
snow. This camoflauge provides excellent protection against lynx,
coyotes, marten, and other predators. Unfortunately, this year, the
hare has a problem.
There is no snow."
Also unfortunately for the hare described in the beginning of
Sneed B. Collard III's Hopping Ahead of Climate Change: Snowshoe
Hares, Science, and Survival, there's a great horned owl in search of
fast food. It's a common scenario. Collard describes snowshoe hares
as "the candy bar of the forest." In fact his interest in this prey
animal was triggered by concern over one of its many predators. Lynx
populations were declining. Could dwindling hare populations have
anything to do with this?
Collard's discoveries provide yet another indictment of global
climate change. Snowshoe hares, like Arctic foxes and weasels, have
coats that change color seasonally. This works just fine when there's
good seasonal match. But when seasons are thrown off, say shorter
winters, the mismatch can lead to much higher mortality rates.
Can the species survive? Are there things we can be doing to
help? Read the book and see.
On a personal note, Maine Day 2017 was awesome! It's a UMaine
tradition. Classes are cancelled and students are encouraged to
participate in service projects. A lot of projects were well
completed. A group of us from Real Food Challenge got down and dirty
helping get beds ready at Rogers Farm. The campus barbeque was
excellent!!! Everyone I talked to had a great time!
A great big shout out goes out to all who participated.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

On Adoption

On Adoption

Picture books
Adoption can be a very delicate procedure. Kids can have strong
fears and other feelings as they enter new homes. Even adoptive
parents with the best of intentions can be challenged to meet their
needs. Two new picture books quite neatly address this reality.
Elliot, protagonist of Julie Pearson's Elliot, goes into foster
care when it's decided that his parents don't know how to take care of
him. After a couple of foster placements and an unsuccessful reunion
with his birth parents it is decided that a forever family would be a
good idea. Elliot is a likeable hero whose mixed feelings are nicely
expressed.
Vera B. Williams is a giant in the picture book world. Sadly
she died shortly after completing Home At Last. It is a gracious and
meaningful gift to readers. Lester has finally been adopted. The
paperwork took a year. Every night in his new home he leaves his
bedroom. His dads wake up and find him standing beside their bed.
"To Lester, the middle-of-the-night quiet was the quiet of a
strange house. It had a persistent whisper in it, and he was sure that
whisper would eventually get Dad Rich to mutter, "What's up, little
guy?" or get Albert to swing his long legs and big feet off the bed
and into his great big slippers and to stand up and put his arms
around Lester. And never let him go."
Lester's life has been punctuated by abrupt separations. His
parents died on a car crash. His grandmother became too sick to take
care of him. Even the transition from the children's home involved a
leave taking.
Lester's dads have a dilemma. The interrupted sleep is taking a
toll. But they had decided before they signed the papers that Lester
would sleep in his own room. Their dog, Wincka, has showed them that
beings admitted to their bed do not readily leave.
Fortunately when the two footers are at the end of their rope a
good animal companion comes up with a perfect solution.
On a personal note, my daffodils look absolutely stunning.
A great big shout out goes out to the UMaine students getting finals
and projects out of the way before summer vaca.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tell Me A Tattoo Story

Tell Me A Tattoo Story

Picture books
I can remember when tattoos were seen only on sailors and people
my mom and her friends called disreputable characters. Now this genre
of body art is much more mainstream. Parents with tats are in for a
real treat to share with daughters and sons: Alison McGhee's Tell Me
A Tattoo Story.
A dad is doing dishes when his very young son tugs at his
shirt. He tells him the stories behind his tattoos, starting with the
ones representing his favorite book his mom read to him and his
father's advice. The last one, the dad's favorite, commemorates the
birth of the son.
Eliza Wheeler's poignant illustrations beautifully complent the
text. The home scenes are tender and loving. Gotta love the one
where the dad does dishes while the mom writes. The flashbacks are
rich with context. The dad was raised by rural farming parents. His
longest trip ever was in the military. My favorite was of the day he
"met a pretty girl" in front of the appropriately dubbed Cafe de
l'amour.
This charming book works on so many levels. It depicts tats for
the picture book crowd at a time many parents and other adults sport
them. It also shows guys in the tender telling a story domain usually
inhabited by women. And the dad doing dishes while mom relaxes
picture is priceless.
On a personal note, a recent Wilson Center service project went really
well. A bunch of us cleaned up a lake beach that is popular with
local families and fisher folk. It was a sunny day and a number of
the beach recreational users were on hand to display an attitude of
gratitude for our work.
A great big shout out goes out to my fellow workers.
jules hathaway




Sent from my iPod

Monday, May 8, 2017

More March

More March

YA/adult graphic novel
You recall back in August 2016 I reviewed March Book Two, the
middle part of a graphic novel look at the life of John Lewis, civil
rights hero extraordinaire? Well I lucked out this spring and snagged
books one and three in one fell swoop. They neatly bookend the volume
I read and opined on.
Book One, dedicated to "the past and future children of the
movement," covers Lewis' early years and the events and people that
inspired his lifelong commitment to civil rights. One of my favorite
parts was how he blended family farm responsibilities with early
ministerial call by preaching to his chickens and performing funerals
for those who died of natural causes. Through a trip north with an
uncle, he was exposed to a way of life outside of the Jim Crow South.
After that epiphany his home could never again feel the same.
Book Three starts with the tragic Birmingham church bombing that
killed four girls. It ends with the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights
Act. All events in between are portrayed candidly. It is horrifying
to see what was done to people simply seeking to vote. At one point a
character asks, "Is this America, the land of the free and the home of
the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hook
because our lives be threatened daily--because we want to live as
decent human beings in America?"
I believe the trilogy is a must read for all who know that black
lives matter immensely. It's a powerful, poignant, and succinct
portrayal of a man pivotal to the civil rights movement and a crucial
chapter in it. The format makes it appealing to people who might not
pick up a more traditional book on the subject.
On a personal note, the last two International Student Organization
coffee hours of the semester were super. We made a video for
prospective international students entitled You Are Welcome Here to
combat the loud haters.
A great big shout out goes out to international students and allies.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Fannie Never Flinched

Fannie Never Flinched

Juvenile Herstory
"Pennsylvania coal country was the most dangerous place to work
in America. Death and injury waited in the dark shafts where rock
fractured and came down without warning. On average, a man died in
the mines every day, often crushed by coal cars or killed by exlosives.
When children heard the whistle blow, they stopped playing and
ran home. They waited with their mothers, hearts pounding, as men
came up the street carrying the limp body. Covered with coal dust,
all miners' faces looked alike. At which house would the silent
procession stop? Sooner or later, nearly every family lost a father,
brother, or son."
In today's America there is a growing distrust of unions,
especially those that represent public workers like teachers who
receive pay and benefits through taxes. There is a perception of the
pampered demanding more frills. We have quite a short historical
memory. If not for unions, workers, including children, would labor
under horrendously dangerous conditions long hours for starvation
pay. Mary Cronk Farrell's Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman's Courage
In The Struggle for American Labor Union Rights is a timely reminder
of the bad old days we hopefully* will not return to.
Fannie Sellins was not a politician or PhD holding college
professor. The daughter of a house painter and a homemaker, she
finished eighth grade. When her husband died, he left her with four
children to support, the youngest an infant.
Out of necessity, Fannie went to work at a garment factory. Her
coworkers included girls as young as ten, many of whom had never
attended school. Pay was meager. Conditions were dangerous.
"'All the doors were locked from the outside at 7:15 each
morning. Sometimes it made me sick to think what would happen in that
big flimsy barracks if a fire should come,' Fannie said.
Hearing that seamstresses in other cities had joined the United
Garment Workers of America (UGWA), Fannie was inspired. She began
organizing coworkers. A walk out in 1909 was countered with a lock out.
When Fannie began to work for the UGWA full time, she reached
across in solidarity to workers in other hazardous occupations. One
group she worked extensively with was coal miners. Even being jailed
did not deter her from the very dangerous work that ultimately took
her life.
*I consider Fannie Never Flinched to be a must read and discuss
for a much larger demographic than that to which it is directed. When
it comes to wages and working conditions, we are going quickly in the
wrong direction. Large corporations are able to pay so little that
workers are eligible for Medicaid and SNAP and families are living in
cars and homeless shelters. Butchering of hefty animals, that used to
be the domain of skilled professionals, is being done by desperate,
often undocumented alien, workers at perilous speeds. Some
politicians, including Maine's Governor, Paul LePage, have tried to
overturn child labor laws. Ya think the waning influence of unions
might have something to do with that?
On a personal note, at UMaine we had ourselves a most excellent May
Day program. While we feasted on pizza, soda, and chips we listened
to a wide range of speakers addressing the perils of today's world and
the need for solidarity. My favorites were the women from Food And
Medicine, an organization dedicated to the concept that no one should
have to choose between. There were also sweet music/poetry interludes.
A great big shout out goes out to all who participated.
jules hathaway




Sent from my iPod

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Cats Are Cats

Cats Are Cats

Juvenile poetry
"At midnight in the alley
A Tomcat comes to wail,
And he chants the hate of a million years
As he swings his sneaky tail.

Malevolent, bony, brindled,
Tiger and devil and bard,
His eyes are coals from the middle of Hell
And his heart is black and hard..."
Yes, Cats Are Cats, an anthology complied by Nancy Larrick, has
a lot of softer stuff. Karla Kuskin's Pictures of Cats praises the
grace of woman's best friend. Sing a Sing of Kittens by Elizabeth
Coatsworth conjures up charming images of the littlest of fur balls.
There are also down right silly poems. John Ciardi bemoans his
cat's inability to decide whether to be inside or out. In Chang
McTang McQuarter Cat he introduces quite a unique and whimsical
beast. Shelagh McGee's Wanted--A Witch's Cat is an alliterative read
aloud delight.
But even the most coddled, beloved cat has a fierce and
aggressive side. They were hard wired for survival before feline food
became commercially profitable. Dear little Joey is not thinking
aesthetics when he watches birds through his window. As for dumpster
diving, car avoiding alley denizens....
...they're represented too.
Ed Young's illustrations lend a touch of anarchy to the book.
Like our favorite feline friends, they don't properly position
themselves. Some are compact. Many sprawl across a two page spread.
With True you get huge eyes and dainty nose. They all look vividly
alive, caught in motion, and ready to spring off the page.
Read Cats Are Cats...
...if you dare. Bwa ha ha!
On a purrrrsonal note, the Rainbow Resource Center had our last tea
party of the academic year. We discussed summer plans and ways of
staying in touch over summer vacation.
A great big shout out goes out to my Rainbow Resource Center Family
with best wishes for a wonderful summer.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

The Secret Project

The Secret Project

Picture book
"Crouching down in their bunker,
the scientists prepare themselves
for something so loud,
so earth-shattering,
so huge,
it is hardly even imaginable."
Holy Cow! Even with my awareness that the scope of picture
book content is expanding faster than a speeding bullet, I was
surprised to see a volume for our very youngest on the development of
the atom bomb. It is very well done. But I wouldn't share it with
the Hop On Pop and Dora The Explorer set.
A lot of adults are still clueless about this chapter in
America's history.
Back in the 1940s World War II was raging across continents.
Physicists had figured out that the splitting of the atom could lead
to the exponentially most destructive bomb ever. Whichever side set
that bomb off would emerge the victor.
A part of the sparsely populated New Mexico desert was taken
over for the most top secret science project. Jonah Winter's The
Secret Project takes readers there. The scientists can't even call
their project by its name. They rarely leave the site. When they do,
they must be sure they aren't being tailed.
After two years they drive off in the night to conduct a test.
The fate of the world depends on its results.
This is a wonderful book for older kids and companion adults.
It can lead to productive discussions of the dangers of nuclear weapons.
It's a little too scary for their younger siblings though, very
TMI for traditional read aloud demographics.
On a personal note, the clothesline project went really well at
UMaine. We had a sunny day sandwiched between rainy ones so it could
be held outside. There were clotheslines strung between trees. Each
was pegged end to end with tee shirts. Some told survivors' rape
stories. I wrote one. Others were tributes to people killed by
domestic violence. I was pleased to see lots of people stop and read
thoughtfully. Way to raise awareness!
A great big shout out goes out to all involved in the project.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Every Day Birds

Every Day Birds

Picture book
"Eagle soars above the land.
Oriole hangs her nest.
Owl sweeps soundlessly late at night.
Robin puffs his chest."
The skies in Penobscot County, Maine are bird filled with
Spring's arrival. We humans rejoice at the sight of worm seeking, red
breasted robins. Joey watches intently from his indoor patio, wishing
the window glass would disappear.
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's Every Day Birds is a great guide for
avian loving kids and families in the New England and similarly
climated regions. It celebrates the feathered friends we actually see
on a daily basis: the puffball chickadees, the territorially
aggressive jays, the noisy but elusive woodpeckers, the roof perching
pigeons, the hand out greedy gulls, and so many more. What a perfect
volume to take on a warm weather nature walk!
If the birds are ordinary, the illustrations are anything but.
Dylan Metrano's cut paper pictures are exquisite. The contrasting
paper textures and finely honed details really bring the feathered
flock to life.
And at the end of the book there's a plethora of fascinating
facts.
On a personal note, Orono Public Library's writing class has been
going on since April. I miss Paul Lucey. But it's a good group. I
scheduled my two presentations for after the UMaine semester ends.
I'm going to do nonfiction both times: future BDN op eds. They get
more than enough fiction.
A great big shout out goes out to my highly creative writing class
chums.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Come On, Rain!

Come On, Rain!

Picture book
"Up and down the block,
cats pant,
heat wavers off tar patches in the broiling alleyway.
Miz Grace and Miz Vera bend, tending beds of drooping lupines."
I know. I know. This time of year in Penobscot County, Maine
days of endless heat, parched plants, and sizzling sidewalks seem far
in the distance. They're on the way. Trust me on that.
Tess is hoping desperately for rain. She longs to put a bathing
suit on and dance under a deluge. Her mom says the sun will burn
her. Mom is fading fast. Tess helps her into the house and makes her
ice tea.
Finally at last the rain shows up. Tess and her friends full
out celebrate. It turns out they aren't the only ones dancing in the
rain.
Karen Hesse's Come On, Rain! is a beautiful celebration of the
love between moms and daughters. In fact it's dedicated by the
author, "To my mother...in celebration of all our summers."
It is also a vivid, entrancing description of a near universal
experience. I experienced something similar last August. We were
having a long dry spell in Penobscot County. I spent much of a
Saturday hefting heavy watering cans to water the community garden.
You could practically see the soil slurping up the water. Turn around
and it's dusty dry. When I hit the sack I was hearing plenty from
muscles that usually don't have much to say. The next day I was
sitting in church listening to Pastor Lorna preach. Suddenly, as if
someone turned on a gigantic shower, rain was drumming on the roof and
pouring down the windows. It was all I could do not to run outside
and dance. (This year, knowing Pastor Lorna better, if a similar
event happens I will follow my heart.)
On a personal note, the sunshine streaming in my studio window makes
my heart sing. After two days of rain we have a clear day for Maine
Day. It's a UMaine tradition. Instead of classes students do service
projects (many of which are outside), or write papers and study for
exams. I will be volunteering at Rogers Farm with some of my Real
Food Challenge chums. Everyone who participates is rewarded with a
lunch cook out.
A great big shout out goes out to organizers and everyone who is going
to participate.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

i will love you anyway

i will love you anyway

"I steal your glove.
I steal your shoe.
I steal your socks.
They smell of you."
Really young dogs and cats often don't live up to the behavioral
expectations of their human companions. Even though the family loved
Joey from the very first day there were times he tried the kids' and
hubby's patience by getting into places he wasn't supposed to,
trashing small items, and having accidents.
Mick and Chloe Inkpen's i will love you anyway captures this
ambivolence perfectly. It's narrated by the dog in a stream of
consciousness format. There is no filter whatsoever.
"I chase a cat.
It climbs a tree.
I wag my tail...
...It chases me."
Sometimes the dog is aware of it's shortcomings. Sometimes this
knowledge motivates it to run away. One night in the middle of the
storm it is lost and frightened.
"Car! Car! Car!
Help! Help! Help!
Woof! Woof! Woof!
Yelp! Yelp! Yelp!
Squeals and howls!
And roars and growls!
And whines and wheels!
And what to do?"
Fortunately the delightfully androgynous red haired child who is
the object of dog's devotion comes to the rescue. Is puppy now
reformed?
Don't bet the farm on that.
i will love you anyway is impossible not to read out loud. I
did even though Joey cat was the only other sentient in the living
room. It's also a good way to start a conversation on coping with the
imperfections of beloved but exasperating feline friends and canine
companions.
On a personal note, the weather was much less than propitious when
UMaine had our March For Science. It featured wind and rain that
felt cold as snow. Given all that, it went amazingly well. Hundreds
of people with some really amazing signs attended, some driving big
distances to participate. I was official photographer and found lots
to take pictures of. First there was a quite varied line up of
speakers to whom the crowd responded with great enthusiasm. Then we
walked around campus.
A great big shout out goes out to Amber and Brian who organized the
march, all who helped it come to fruition, all participants, and
everyone who realizes that science matters immensely.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Monday, May 1, 2017

Amelia to Zora

Amelia to Zora

Picture book
"D is for Dolores, co-founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW). At
age 14, Dolores Huerta helped her family by working an after-school
job in the packing sheds of Stockton, California. The first in her
family to attend college, Dolores left her job as a teacher because
she felt she could help her students more by helping their parents,
who were struggling farm workers."
Although vintage (2005), Cynthia Chin-Lee's Amelia to Zora:
Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World could not be more current or
meaningful. From Amelia Earhart, who discovered her taste for
adventure on a home made roller coaster, to noted folklorist Zora
Neale Hurston, readers discover twenty-six women who pioneered in
various aspects of life. Some are fairly well known. You've probably
heard of Mother Teresa, Rachel Carson, and Eleanor Roosevelt. But
what about:
*Cecelia Payne-Gapischin, first woman professor at Harvard;
*computer pioneer Grace Hopper;
or *Suu Kyi whose sons had to accept her Nobel Peace Prize because she
was under arrest?
I'll bet at least one of these inspiring women will be new to you.
The illustrations in the form of collages are well worth
lingering over.
Teachers and youth group leaders--here's a lovely research
project. Who are the twenty-six women your crew thinks changed the
world?
I'd start with Margaret. Chase Smith of course.
On a personal note, most of us will not change the world. But we can
make a discernable difference in the parts of it we inhabit. Take me
and my literary sidekick.
J is for Jules. I do regular opinion pieces for the Bangor Daily
News. Not exactly New York Times, but today tens of thousands of
people read my essay on how we really haven't made progress since Buck
v. Bell became one of the Supreme Court's worst decisions. I'm quite
well known in Orono where I volunteer in library, community garden,
and UMaine.
O is for Olivia. Right before spring break Olivia organized and
moderated a panel (representatives of campus activist organizations)
discussion. She made it look easy. She's strongly involved in
organizations like Student Women's Association and Maine Peace Action
Committee and totally rocking leadership roles.
? is for ?: Who are you? Who do/can you make a difference?
A great big shout out goes out to B is for Butch. He lives in my
trailor park. He is always making the place better for residents by
cleaning. The man can't go by a piece of trash without properly
disposing of it. He honors not only the environment, but the people
who are part of it.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Amelia to Zora

Amelia to Zora

Picture book
"D is for Dolores, co-founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW). At
age 14, Dolores Huerta helped her family by working an after-school
job in the packing sheds of Stockton, California. The first in her
family to attend college, Dolores left her job as a teacher because
she felt she could help her students more by helping their parents,
who were struggling farm workers."
Although vintage (2005), Cynthia Chin-Lee's Amelia to Zora:
Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World could not be more current or
meaningful. From Amelia Earhart, who discovered her taste for
adventure on a home made roller coaster, to noted folklorist Zora
Neale Hurston, readers discover twenty-six women who pioneered in
various aspects of life. Some are fairly well known. You've probably
heard of Mother Teresa, Rachel Carson, and Eleanor Roosevelt. But
what about:
*Cecelia Payne-Gapischin, first woman professor at Harvard;
*computer pioneer Grace Hopper;
or *Suu Kyi whose sons had to accept her Nobel Peace Prize because she
was under arrest?
I'll bet at least one of these inspiring women will be new to you.
The illustrations in the form of collages are well worth
lingering over.
Teachers and youth group leaders--here's a lovely research
project. Who are the twenty-six women your crew thinks changed the
world?
I'd start with Margaret. Chase Smith of course.
On a personal note, most of us will not change the world. But we can
make a discernable difference in the parts of it we inhabit. Take me
and my literary sidekick.
J is for Jules. I do regular opinion pieces for the Bangor Daily
News. Not exactly New York Times, but today tens of thousands of
people read my essay on how we really haven't made progress since Buck
v. Bell became one of the Supreme Court's worst decisions. I'm quite
well known in Orono where I volunteer in library, community garden,
and UMaine.
O is for Olivia. Right before spring break Olivia organized and
moderated a panel (representatives of campus activist organizations)
discussion. She made it look easy. She's strongly involved in
organizations like Student Women's Association and Maine Peace Action
Committee and totally rocking leadership roles.
? is for ?: Who are you? Who do/can you make a difference?
A great big shout out goes out to B is for Butch. He lives in my
trailor park. He is always making the place better for residents by
cleaning. The man can't go by a piece of trash without properly
disposing of it. He honors not only the environment, but the people
who are part of it.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Grow! Raise! Catch!

Grow! Raise! Catch!

Picture book
"A long time ago there were no stores or refrigerators. To survive
people had to grow, gather, hunt and fish for their food."
Sadly most of today's kids (and adults) lack the connection with
the land (and sea) past generations had. You can go from cradle to
grave knowing nothing about the origin of foods before big box store.
Fortunately there is a growing movement to buy local.
Shelley Rotner's Grow! Raise! Catch!: How We Get Our Food
introduces children (and parents) to some of the many people who
produce wholesome food. The photographs are colorful and vibrant. At
the end readers discover that even in the city people can find spaces,
say roof tops and pots, to grow yummy food.
Olivia and I find this book to be in very good taste.
On a personal note, when UMaine had the Healthy High (a traditional
10K and 5K race and 1 mile fun run) I volunteered all day. I was just
scheduled to do set up. But my instincts told me to stay and guard
the food and drinks tables which were set up for returning runners.
My instincts were spot on. The other volunteers left just as the race
started. So come show time, the deluge of hungry, thirsty racers, it
was just me to keep food and drinks replenished and make sure the
shakiest looking racers got hydrated. Much to my surprise I felt in
control every minute and had a great time. I also enjoyed the looks
on some people's faces when they realized I pulled it off solo.
A great big shout out goes out to all who participated.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Storm Called Katrina

A Storm Called Katrina

Picture book
"'HURRICANE'S COMING, Baby,' Mama said.
'I'm not a baby anymore, Mama. I turned ten last month.'
'Doesn't matter how old you are, Louis Daniel. You'll always be
my baby,' she said. 'Hush now and go to bed.'"
The mother in the picture tilts her son's head up toward her.
Rain can be seen splattering the window behind them. A bedside lamp
casts a golden halo but otherwise fails to dispell the dark.
The next day the storm is a lot worse. A tree has been blown
down. Rain drops are larger than quarters and the wind slams the
house. It's after the storm stops, however, that the biggest danger
asserts itself.
Myron Uhlberg's A Storm Called Katrina, candidly illustrated by
Colin Bootman, creates a fictitious family to bring to life the
experiences of many families slammed by Hurricane Katrina. Fleeing
rising water, they drift through the flood on a broken off piece of
someone's porch. A bundle of clothes is what you think it is. Louis
looks even though his mom tells him not to.
Louis and his parents end up in the storm damaged, dangerously
crowded Superdome. Food and water get scarce. Then Louis and his mom
get separated from his dad. How will they ever find him?
Olivia and I found ourselves caught up in the lost dog with a
red ball subplot. If you want to know what that is, you'll have to
read the book and see.
On a personal note, the past two weeks we have had amazing after
supper discussions at Wilson Center. The first was about sexual
violence and how faith traditions can help combat it. The second was
about environmentalism and faith traditions. We have only one more
Wednesday night dinner since the semester is almost over. Sigh.
We'll also participate in an interfaith coastal clean up tomorrow.
A great big shout out goes out to my Wilson Center family whom I will
greatly miss over the summer.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Friday, April 28, 2017

A is for Activist

A is for Activist

Picture book
"C is for Co-op.
Cooperating cultures.
Creative Counter to Corporate vultures.
Oh, and cats. Can you find the cats?"
Olivia and I are over the moon over an alphabet book. Not just
any alphabet book, mind you! A is for Activist is not only a treasury
for abecedarians (yes, that's a real word) but an uncondescending
guide to just about all the meaningful social and political causes in
today's world. It's also a book that growing kids can come back to
for fresh insights over quite a time span and parents and teachers can
learn a thing or two from.
Olivia is active in Student Women's Association. So I was not
at all surprised when I saw her linger over
"F is for Feminist.
For fairness in pay.
For freedom to flourish
and choose our own way."
Where I spend as much time as I can in the Multicultural Center
I was captivated by
"Indigenous and immigrant.
Together we stand tall.
Our histories are relevant.
An Injury to one Is an Injury to all."
We both adore
"L-G-B-T-Q!
Love who you choose,
'cuz love is true!
Liberate your notions of limited emotions.
Celebrate with pride, our links of devotion."
And that's just a few of the crucial concepts succinctly and
beautifully covered. Illustrations are vivid and bold with a collage
feel to them. Remember the cats alluded to in the lead quote? There
is one for every letter. They are fun and sometimes a little tricky
to find.
Olivia and I give A is for Activist a collective four thumbs
up. We consider it a school and public must acquire and a pretty cool
addition to family collections.
On a personal note, the most recent UMaine blood drive went really
well. We got lots of dilligent donors. I gave a pint and then
volunteered at canteen the next day. One special plus was that we got
very cool tee shirts.
A great big shout out goes out to all who participated.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Thursday, April 27, 2017

I Am Not A Number

I Am Not A Number

Picture book
"I blew gently on the red welts that had bloomed down my arms.
Ashamed? I wasn't ashamed of my language. I was proud of it. But
everything I knew and loved about who I was and where I had come from
was slowly being taken away. Mother's last words--Never forget who
you are--rang in my ears. 'I'm Irene Couchie. I'm trying to
remember,' I whispered, as tears streamed down my face.
Irene Couchie, protagonist of Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer's
I Am Not A Number, was a real eight-year -old child when she was taken
from her parents, against the family will, to a government run
school. She was assigned a number instead of her name. Her hair, a
source of pride in her community was cut off. She was forbidden to
speak her native language. Right before the above quote she was
forced to hold a pan of hot coals by a nun who told her she should be
ashamed of herself.
"Irene Couchie Dupuis was among approximately 150,000 First
Nations, Metis, and Inuit children--some as young as four--who, for
over a century, were removed from their homes and sent to live at
residential schools across Canada. The schools were created and
funded by the federal government in the belief that Indigenous peoples
were 'uncivilized' and needed to be 'saved' from themselves. In
reality, that 'education' cost Indigenous children the loss of their
families and communities, their Indigenous languages, and their
traditions."
Can you imagine, as a child, being torn from your family and
community and placed in a stern, unforgiving environment where you are
systematically stripped of your identity? If you are a parent can you
imagine having your beloved children forcibly taken from you to a
place where, "...Rules were strict, conditions harsh. Children were
poorly fed; infectious diseases thrived; many students died alone and
far from home. Basic skills and trades were taught, but generally
children were overworked, and the quality of education was poor.
Those who broke the rules were punished. Most of the children felt
lonely, isolated, and unloved."
Some of today's best literature is being done for the read aloud
and early reader set. We have come a long way from my childhood when
Dick, Jane, and Sally look, look, looked at Spot run, run, run. In
both fiction and non fiction formats, children and parents are
introduced to topics many adults are clueless about. Yet language and
viewpoint are emminently appropriate. And illustrations, whether
paintings or photographs, are breathtaking.
I Am Not A Number is a perfect example of this. Dupuis and
Kacer (Irene's granddaughter) manage, by presenting the day-to-day
experience of a child, create a protagonist children will relate to.
They convey the true horror without going beyond what kids can deal
with. (For parents and teachers there are added layers of meaning,
particularly on the last three pages that kids will probably not
read.) Gillian Newland's paintings really bring the story to life.
Facial expressions are body language are eloquent. Irene's mother,
saying goodbye to her, strives valiently to hide unspeakable pain.
Her father, when she and her brothers return for summer vacation,
shows determination to do whatever it takes to not have to send them
back. In contrast, those rigid, chalk faced nuns are grim enough to
give adults nightmares.
Even if you have no children or intentions to be fruitful and
multiply I advise you to read I Am Not A Number. You'll do a lot of
people favors if you request your local library to acquire it.
Remember what they say about those who do not understand the past?
On a personal note, one night I was getting intoxicated on the new
picture books and their potential. I brought four of them (I Am Not A
Number and the next three I am reviewing next) to my lunch with Olivia
to see how she would respond to them. Olivia is a UMaine undergrad.
She's a very likeable blonde girl next door...
Warrior woman. She's very smart and knowledgeable on a wide
variety of important issues and involved in student activists
organizations like Student Women's Association and Maine Peace Action
Coalition. She also found I Am Not A Number to be extremely poignant--
a story that very much needed to be told. It bothered her that this
part of history is so little known today.
Olivia is my new partner in literature and I will include her
observations from time to time. This blog has been a solo act a tad
too long.
A great big shout out goes out to Olivia and her activist peers who
fill my heart with great hope for her generation and the future of the
world we all share.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Henry's Freedom Box

Henry's Freedom Box

Picture book
"Henry and his brothers and sisters lived in the big house where
the master lived. Henry's master had been good to Henry and his family.
But Henry's mother knew things could change. 'Do you see those
leaves blowing in the wind? They are torn from the trees like slave
children are torn from their families.'"
Sadly Henry's mother was prescient. Ellen Levine's Henry's
Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad shares his
poignant narrative.
Henry had to leave his family when his ailing master bequeathed
him to his son. In those days that often meant permanent separation.
He worked in his new master's factory. Eventually he fell in love.
He and his love, Nancy, were able to live together by consent of their
two masters. They had three beautiful children.
Nancy's owner was having financial difficulties. So like many
other slave holders in similar situations, he sold off some of his
"property".
Alone and desolate, Henry was desperate to be free. He came up
with a plan to ship himself in a box to a free state, a perilous
journey of hundreds of miles with severe penalties if we was captured.
On a personal note, I had a wonderful Easter. I did cut church. I
was so elated from the drag show it was past midnight when I fell
asleep. Sun rise was a tad too early to rise and shine. What I loved
was my rare, precious opportunity to spend time with my three children
at the family get together. That made my day, my week, my month!!!
A great big shout out goes out to the three best grown kids a mother
could love: Amber, Katie, and Adam.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Steamboat School

Steamboat School

Picture book
"I always thought being brave
was for grown-up heroes doing big, daring deeds.
But Mama says that sometimes courage
is just an ordinary boy like me
doing a small thing, as small as picking up a pencil."
James, narrator of Deborah Hopkinson's Steamboat School, is not
happy about attending the Tallow Candle School, convened in a dark
church basement. There's so much going on on the Mississippi River.
He's missing out on all the action.
Then the school is shut down. The sheriff announces that the
State of Mississippi has enacted a new law forbidding blacks, even
free blacks, from learning to read and write. To his surprise, James
misses the school.
"One morning my steps took me to the church.
I thought of our books and slates in that dark room.
Funny how something you don't care much about at first
Can end up becoming the most important part of you."
All is not lost however. Reverand John Berry Meachum (a real
person on whose life the story is based) just may be able to find a
way to carry on his teaching without breaking any laws.
The beginning lines of the book (quoted above) and the last ones
(below) perfectly bookend a stirring story.
"I won't forget
because now I know that being brave
can sometimes be a small thing
like lighting a candle, opening a book,
or dipping an oar into still, deep water."
Like More Than Anything Else which we looked at recently,
Steamboat School is a vibrant celebration of the importance of
literacy and the drive to overcome obstacles to achieve it.
On a personal note, in a couple of days I will have a special
announcement to make. Thursday you will learn the identity of my new
literary sidekick who will be sharing her opinions on some of the
books I review. You're gonna love her.
A great big shout out goes out to my readers and my new reading chum.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Monday, April 24, 2017

Dresses For All

Dresses For All

Picture books
For a long time girls and women have been able to wear garments
like pants that have typically been considered male attire. A lot
less latitude has been given to boys and men yearning for dresses.
Fortunately the times are a changing. Two lively picture books I
recently picked up at the Orono Public Library celebrate this progress.
When Jacob, protagonist of Sarah and Ian Hoffman's Jacob's New
Dress, dresses as a princess a classmate tells him boys can't wear
dresses. His mom helps him make a dress like garment that the peer
pulls off. Finally with the help of his mom he makes a real dress.
The peer is predictably snarky. But Jacob has found the strength to
assert himself.
Morris of Christine Baldacchino's Morris Micklewhite and the
Tangerine Dress is another fan of dressing up. His favorite garment
is a dress the hue of "tigers, the sun, and his mother's hair.". The
other kids tease him. The kids who ride a cardboard spaceship tell
him astronauts don't wear dresses.
When the meanness gets to be too much for him, Morris fakes a
tummy ache so he can stay home from school. The time off and a
wonderful dream help him come up with a solution to his problem.
Both books can serve as wonderful affirmations for the many boys
who enjoy wearing dresses, particularly if peers (and sadly sometimes
adults) give them attitude.
On a personal note, the grand finale of UMaine Pride Week was the Drag
Show. It was amazing. The place was packed with very vocally
appreciative drag affecianados. Professional queens Step Mother and
Chery Lemonade really knew how to work the crowd as emcees. Our local
talent was pretty impressive too. I dressed as a 50s greaser and did
Greased Lightning from Grease. I was on fire busting out my moves,
playing to the crowd, and soaking up the love. I got a standing
ovation and was one of the finalists.
A great big shout out goes out to all people who participated in the
event, especially the people who worked behind the scenes to make it
happen.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod