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Of Hamsters and Princesses

harriettheinvincible

LibrarianLou's Blog

Princess Harriett Hambone isn’t your typical princess, even for a hamster. She doesn’t like getting all dressed up and hanging around the palace. She dislikes her etiquette lessons. She doesn’t want to be sad or melancholy like other princesses. She loves ridiing her quail, Mumsey, and pretending to slay dragons.

Harriet’s parents can’t help but be a little overprotective. They know that their daughter is under the curse of the wicked fairy, Ratshade (listed third on Fairy-God Mouse Today’s Most Wicked List.)

Ratshade showed up uninvited to baby Harriet’s christening party and cast a spell. On her 12th birthday, Harriet will prick her finger on a hamster wheel and fall into a deep sleep.  There are three conditions:

  • Harriet will not need food or water while asleep.
  • She will not need to use the bathroom.
  • The kiss of a prince will wake her.

Harriet’s parents tell her about the spell on her tenth…

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Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonneblick.

 Curveball

 The sensitive male teen, yes he actually exists and you’ll find him in the narration of books by Jordan Sonneblick.  His characters always seem like the teens I’d like to adopt.  They are often handsome and smart without knowing it, use a lot of self-deprecating humor and are in the process of falling in love.

In Curveball, The Year I Lost my Grip, Peter Friedman is facing two crushing disappointments.. 

Since Little League, he has always been a star pitcher.   The summer before entering high school, he has his best season ever on the pitching mound.   Then in the championship game, he injures his elbow so severely that he will never be able to pitch again.

Then, there’s his grandfather, he and Pete have always shared a special relationship.  Grandpa is a professional photographer who has taught Peter everything he knows.  Suddenly grandpa is doing strange things like giving Pete all his photo equipment and getting lost on familiar streets.

For many students, high school can feel like a letdown after ruling middle school.  Josh no longer has his baseball to set him apart.  Life becomes brighter when he meets Angelika in photography class.  Angelika is a sensitive girl who has a way of getting to the real issues.  She understands that Peter has experienced a great loss and empathizes with his worries about his grandfather, encouraging him to discuss it with his parents instead of keeping his grandfather’s secret.

This is a great book for middle and high school students.  While there is definitely romance going on, this book is about much more.  Readers will find Pete’s narration to be humorous even as he deals with loss and finds a new life after baseball.

 

 

 

 

 

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SavetheFood.com and Ron Sider

I was riding down  I-85 and a billboard catches my eye stating that forty percent of food in America is wasted, and I know immediately that I am guilty.

So I went to http://www.savethefood.com/.  This website has lots of helpful shopping and storing information.   They share a few powerful statistics but lots of solutions. It’s perfect for people like me who thumbed their nose  on home economics classes to pursue more practical pursuits like academia. I confess that lack basic shopping and food preparation skills.  This website has some practical help on shop ping and meal planning. There is lots of information on storing food.SaveTheFood

 

So I am making a resolution and going public with it to quick throwing food away.  This means getting better at shopping, food preparation and storing food.

I confess that  I am a terrible grocery shopper.  I tend to shop while I’m out and throw random objects into the cart.  Planning ahead has never been my specialty.  To top that off, I  am way too optimistic about how much I am actually going to cook. I am also lazy. It’s time to admit to myself that I am unlikely to take the time to cut up a cantelope or a pineapple.  It’s easier just to buy it cut up.

Summer is a particular challenge. I crave fresh fruits and vegetables and some stores make them look so good especially the Harris Teeter and Publix.  I am crazy about the Ingles salad bar.

This practical website has greater implications for me than saving a few bucks at the grocery store.   Christianity, at its best, is radical.  It shakes our world.  As Americans most of us know that we live much better than 90 to 95% of the world.  My friend, Dwight Mangum, has said that he needs to visit a third world country on a regular basis just to keep life in perspective. At the time, we were both part of a missions trip to the Philippines.

I think SavetheFood.com is a great place to start. This site is not about guilt, it’s about practical solutions.  For me, being a global Christian begin with curbing waste.

RichChristians

An excellent book on the church and the world hunger situation is Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger:   Moving from Affluence to Generosity..  I  first read this book in my twenties and it’s still in print. Ron Sider is the president of Evangelicals for Social Action.  He last updated this book in 2005.He has written many others

While  He acknowledges that issues of world hunger are complicated,  He offers practical solutions for us today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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29 Gifts by Cami Walker

I’m going to switch gears this week and write about an adult book that has impacted me.

Cami Walker has multiple sclerosis.  At the point of devasting illness and deep depression,  she was challenged by her South African healer, Mbali Creazzo, to give away 29 gifts in 29 days.   29 Gifts: How A Month of Giving Can Change Your Life is her story She gave this interview on the Today Show :  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdH8xZ6eer8)

29Gifts

Cami Walker has a very different worldview from me.  She embraces lots of new age philosophy, acupuncture and yoga.  She is comfortable with all religions and visits a garden with statues to all the major religions of the world.  Cami has lived in San Francisco and now lives in L.A.

I live in Greenville, South Carolina at the heart of the Bible Belt.  I believe in one God, the Bible and Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation.  When I meditate, it’s on the scripture  For me to be too ecumenical detracts from the God I worship-the God who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.   I am  leery of vegan diets, alternative health plans, acupuncture, and idols to other gods.

Yet, I have been profoundly impacted by 29 Gifts.    Cami is unflinchingly honest.  She shares her bouts with self-pity and squabbles with her husband as freely as she shares her acts of generosity.

Cami’s  gifts  often do not involve  major planning. Nor is the giving out of obligation.  Those things that nag at you until you do them might not be true giving.  Don’t we all know people who give out of martyrdom rather than joy?  Cami’s kind of giving is motivated by giving others delight, like making a  meal for husband or finding that just right present.  She also talks about receiving gifts graciously from others.

It’s clear that setting out to give 29 gifts changed Cami’s life.  Her health improved, she was able to get her business going again.

Lest anyone thinks I have donated a kidney to my ex-husband, my two main gifts to others have been handling out water bottles and picking up trash in my neighborhood while walking the dog.  I haven’t even focused on doing something daily just being open to opportunities. (like carrying a cooler in my car.)

I have had a difficult year of facing unemployment and limited resources.  This book has challenged me to live out my Christianity,  be grateful and to get over myself.  It has aided me in my spiritual struggle to leave the past behind and put away negative thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In Memory of Lois Duncan

Before The Hunger Games, or Harry Potter or James Patterson’s Middle School Books, there was Lois Duncan.

The Young Adult books of my time  (I graduated from high school in 1977) weren’t very good.  Most of them were problem novels about drug addicts and  teenage alcoholics. (News Flash! drug addicts and alcoholic don’t  read books.)

But in the 1970s and 1980s,  Lois Duncan was one of the most popular young adult authors.  Her books were about normal teenagers suddenly thrown into terror and suspense.

Books like…

Ransom-a story of a terrorist who comes aboard a school bus and takes a group of kids hostage.

Don’t Look Behind You – April’s normal life ends  abruptly, when she and her family are forced to flee drug dealers and  enter the Witness Security Program

or Locked in Time– Lenore begins to realize that her stepmother and stepsiblings never age.  She also learns that her stepmother kills off her husbands when they become inconvenient.

Young Adult Author, Richard Peck talked to The New York Times about Duncan in 1978:.

“Lois Duncan breaks some new ground in a novel without sex, drugs or black leather jackets. But the taboo she tampers with is far more potent and pervasive: the unleashed fury of the permissively reared against any assault on their egos and authority. … The value of the book lies in the twisted logic of the teenagers and how easily they can justify anything.”KillingMrGriffin

This was certainly true of Killing Mr. Griffin. When several high school students execute a prank to get even with their loathsome English teacher by kidnapping him, they are suddenly dealing with a dead body and a whole host of other problems.  Lest you think I am giving the plot away, that’s only the beginning.  The story is about the teens’ attempt to cover their tracks.

DaughtersOfEve

Then there were The Daughters of Eve in Duncan’s first book. Members of a female secret society are advised by a radical feminist teacher to carry out extreme acts of violence.  The New York Times Book Review referred to it as a female Lord of the Flies.

Lois Duncan died on June 15 at age 82.  Her books will be remembered by many former teens.

She knows what you did last summer. And she knows how to find that secret evil in her characters’ hearts, evil she turns into throat-clutching suspense in book after book. Does anyone write scarier books than Lois Duncan? I don’t think so.

—  R.L. Stine, author of Goosebumps and Fear Street

 

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Ten-Gallon Bart

Ten Gallon Bart is the sheriff of Dog City, the most peaceful town in the West, thanks to brave and courageous sheriff.  He’s served the town for 10 years. The other characters in Dog City include Miss Kitty, the  owner of the local saloon, two chickens named Pixie and Dixie,  and two pigs named   Bill and Wyatt.

TenGallonBartgunsmoke2

None of the children at Hollis Academy knew  about Gunsmoke but that didn’t stop them from giggling at this silly story.

Ten-Gallon Bart is just about to announce his retirement when he learns that Billy the Kid,  “the roughest, toughest, gruffest goat in the country” is headed into town on the noon train. It’s up to Bart and all the other animals to put Billy in his place.

I read this book aloud to first, second and third grade groups.  They all enjoyed the story but needed guidance at getting all the jokes in the story.  For example:

“I  see this place is going to the dogs” snarled Billy the Kid.

“You gotta bone to pick?” asked Bart

This is a great book for teaching visual literacy.  It was helpful to have the Promethean Board so I  could zero in on the details.  Most of the children needed help understanding the story.

The artwork by Dorothy Donahue is unusual.  She uses cut paper collages and a variety of textures.

ten_gallon_bart_all_1

Here  are a few other stories about Ten-Gallon Bart:

bart_wild    bart_beats_heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Holocaust Hero

 

 

PassagetoFreedom

There were many heroes of the Holocaust, people who chose to put their lives and even the lives of their families in danger to save others.

Hiroki Sugihara was a young Japanese boy growing up in Poland in 1940.  His father was a Japanese diplomat.

One morning, he awoke to find hundreds of people crowded around the gates in front of his house.  He learned that that they were Jews, all of them in great danger.  They wanted his father to write visas so they could leave the country safely.

The Japanese Government refused to allow his father to write the Visas.  He heard his father say to his mother, “I have to do something.  I may have to disobey my government but if I don’t I will be disobeying God.”

When he consulted his family, even his young son agreed that they must do something to help these Jewish people escape the country.   His young son understood that his father needed to put the lives of these Jews ahead of himself and his family.  By writing these visas, he helped almost a thousand Jews escape Poland

The Sugihara family were also forced to leave Poland.  The family spent eighteen months in an interment camp in Soviet Russia.  He lost his job as a diploma.

In the 1960s, the family began hearing from the “Sugihara Survivors,” Jewish people who had escaped almost certain death because of these Visas.  Chiune Sugihara was awarded the “Righteous Among Nations” Award.

This is an inspiring story about a very dark period of history.  It could be a good introductory piece about the Holocaust.  It focuses on the heroes rather than the atrocities.

Mochizuki

 

Ken Mochizuki is the author of this book.  He tells the story from the perspective of Hiroki Sugihara,  a young boy who remembered his father as a hero.