Thursday, February 28, 2019

Good grief

Book - The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins 

The wind BLEW on Monday.  It reminded me of the picture book (The Wind Blew) by Pat Hutchins. The night before, recycling bins all up and down our street gave up their contents to the howling gales. Cans, plastic lids and newspapers shuffled and tap danced up and down the sidewalks all night long.

On Monday, the sky was bright.  The sun shone. So we, D and I, took Little Blue Bunny to the playground for an ordinary windy day adventure.

UNTIL...I, known as Nana, suddenly felt years younger than I am and tried to dismount the climbing tower via the monkey bars. I landed on my face. For a second, I worried that my glasses had been crunched. No, they were fine. Then, I worried that my nose was going to bleed. No, that didn't happen either. I managed to pick myself up and sniffling, just a little because of the shock, I found that D had not noticed my clumsy fall - not at all. Good grief. I was relieved and at the same time disappointed.  I FELL DOWN.  HARD.  FROM A GREAT (not) HEIGHT!  And it HURT! and no one noticed at all.

I have to admit that I have been feeling ever so slightly sorry for myself ever since. I grieve for a younger self who might have been able to jump from the tower without falling. I miss that woman.  Never all that athletic, she was still able to jump without tumbling. Sigh.

Grief. We delegate that term to major losses - most particularly the death of a loved one. We grieve for large catastrophes - house fires, earthquakes, the loss of a home, even the loss of a job. Yet, every day we lose things, things that we become nostalgic about, things we find ourselves pining for.

D is changing. Every few days, she looks and acts like another child. The words that come from her lips are words of a much older person than I think she is. I find myself missing her four-year-old self, five-year-old D, six-year-old D, at the very same moment that I rejoice in her understanding and skill. Heck, I miss the D of last week.

At 12 years old, I looked out the kitchen window and realized that the hillside I saw would change. (A house sits there now.) My breath caught in my throat when it hit me that I could never return to younger times and younger perceptions.

Even earlier, no older than D is now, I tried to duplicate the magic of a cartoon I saw. I spread a map on the floor and took a hop, a skip and a jump. But no matter how often I did it, no matter which direction I took, the map remained just a map. I never entered the land of talking animals. My best toy friend did not come to life. I ran weeping to my bedroom. I forgot the disappointment the next day. Lesson learned; life resumed.

At 12, the realization was deeper. The grief, though not accompanied by silly tears, was real. It was the beginning of grieving for things that no longer are.

We have so much to anticipate. Why look backwards with regret? We should remember those bright days that we "grieve" for and view them as harbingers of more wonderful days to come.

I am fortunate to have good memories to mourn. I can relive the good times - even the tumbles - until my memory fades.  Good grief. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Richest Bunny in the World

All the goodness that Little Blue Bunny has been radiating is B.O.R.I.N.G!  He is tired of all the new brothers and sisters. (Acornio and Nutsa went to Planet Foxler so that Nutsa could deliver a chubby little fox brother for Felina Fairyfox and the whole Acorn family.  That was just last week!)
Foxleer - the sweetie! See what you can do with pompoms and hot glue.

So Little Blue Bunny had a great idea.

His parents had stellar careers as astrosquirrels and they did so much to advance toy astrophysical science, that Little Blue Bunny sold his parents' life stories to a major publisher.  He found an agent who never even questioned whether or not LBB is old enough to legally sign contracts. And the money LBB made on that story was - wait for it - astronomical!!  (See?  What I did??)

He made so much that he moved into a mansion with a butler. He invested the rest of his money until he HAD ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD!!!!
His own space shuttle?  That's rich, all right.

Well, almost all the money in the world. He wanted MORE. So, he hired his criminal nemeses Big Grey Rabbit, (sometimes known as Monsieur Lapin Lupin) and Stripe -the green bunny, to help him swindle money out of everyone else.

Sadly, D and I came face to face with the power that being the richest bunny in the world can bring.

LBB bought off every jury that tried him. (TRUTH alert! Every time I was ready to put LBB in jail, D told me he got out of his punishment somehow. It was D who insisted that no one could stop LBB. Unfortunately, I never found out why she wanted him to be invincibly bad.)

Please don't worry. LBB found out that his money could not buy him true friendship. When his sisters and brothers refused to visit his mansion; when his mother looked at him with sad reproach; when his father told him that "I am so disappointed in you. You have such promise.";  when the girl he was almost sure he was in love with broke up with him; when he was rejected by the good faithful people in his life, he turned away from crime.

I mean how much money does a Little Blue Bunny really need? 

Right now, he is on a year long punishment of doing the dishes every single night even on holidays AND he has to babysit Pinella, Chester and baby Foxleer every Saturday.  He doesn't mind - well, not much.
Felina F. Acorn gets Saturdays off.  Yay!

All the Kids

In the past two weeks, I read the following books:

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Lu (Track #4) by Jason Reynolds

Not long before that I read;
Blended by Sharon Draper.

What these books all have in common is simple.  They deal with kids of color.

But what I imagined as I read the books was kids - just kids.  I imagined their skin was darker than mine and I imagined that their lives were way different.  But the authors of these books are that good, that any reader can pick up these books and see themselves in these characters - even as they learn just how different their experiences are from the lives of these characters. 

And that is important.  These books are not strident or pontifical. The kids in these books have kid problems.  A parent is missing in action.  Or parents don't get along.  Or the main character learns that his or her adult role model has faults - a problem that plagues us all.  Or the family moves to a strange and different neighborhood.

Finding Langston takes place before I was born, right after World War II.  Langston and his father move far away to a big city after Langston's mother dies.  The city is a confusing, noisy and crowded place.  Langston is left to manage on his own as his father works to support the family in the South.  Taking refuge in the library, a wonderful place free to all "colored" people, Langston learns where his name comes from and discovers beautiful words.  He helps his father come to terms with grief. 

In Blended, the main character is caught in a police action and ends up in the hospital.  She seems so typical, almost boringly normal, that when that happens, the reader - if the reader is white - is stunned. It got my attention.

In Harbor Me, one of the kids in the special group is white.  His friends, because they ARE all friends, try to explain why he is privileged.  He is.  When the main character sees what happens to that white boy as he walks home from school, the group doesn't let their friend walk home alone.
The other kids in the group have bigger problems,; the threat of deportation, a father in prison, fear of being found guilty because of skin color.  They make sure that their friend is protected.  That's what friends do.

I can't even begin to explain what Lu (Track #4) is about because it is ALL the THINGS!  Lu has to face a new challenge in track, accept the disturbing pasts of people he loves and admires, and face, again, the dangers of living in his neighborhood.  Also, a camel made of kiwi fruit and bananas???  And a new baby?  How did the author get all that into such a skinny book?

I have read other, more pointed books that describe the pervasive atmosphere of discrimination that anyone who doesn't fit the White Privileged mold lives in.  The books I write about today offer vignettes of different lives, without calling anyone out - except perhaps the mean kids.  Those different lives are are relatable and real.

They help young readers consider how very different each of our burdens are. Underneath it all, we each offer something special to any tribe we belong to. Underneath it all, kindness, honesty and acceptance can make friends of us all.

I am white. I am a woman. I am privileged. I love these books, without exception. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

What We Don't Need

I went to the store today - primarily to recycle a HUGE plastic bag filled with plastic bags. But, I needed things I can't get at the discount grocer of my choice. (Aldi's, if you must know.) I wanted a scent free spot remover for my laundry. I wanted white whole wheat flour.

I came home without the scent free spot remover. 

I don't need it!  Freedom!

Someone came into worship today wearing a beautiful necklace. Another person sported lovely rubber boots. I wanted the necklace AND the boots.

I don't need them! Freedom!

All winter I have worn the same three pullovers to the gym and to the library. I finger the new long sleeved tees and blouses at the store. Then I remember.

I don't need them! Freedom!

We don't need all the things we see in Sunday's paper, or on television. We don't need a car to make us feel powerful. We don't need the spinning broom to clean our floors.  (I bought one. We don't need them. Really.) Yet, we spend a lot of time making money to spend on things we don't need.

More than anything, we don't need things that make us feel inadequate. We don't need to be in a constant state of envy or desire. Look around. Unless you are homeless or nearly there, starving or very ill, you have what the things you need.

And if your heart hurts, if you are lonely, sad or angry, there is not a single thing in this world that will take that pain away. Then you must find the answer among your friends, among nature, in the hands of whatever you view as divine.

Marie Kondo talks about things that give you joy. We DO need those; a new journal, a box of sharpened colored pencils, a clever tin, a cozy throw. For some, joy will come with a new hair color - play! Or a jacket that fits just right. Or a custom car cleansing done by someone else. Or a new sautè pan.

Invite in the things YOU need, the things that give YOU Joy. Don't be seduced by ads, fashion, and what you think is required of you. Think how easy your life will be when everything that surrounds you, warms you.

Me, I need empty tea tins, my family and a Little Blue Bunny.

Friday, February 22, 2019

RIP Paul B. Janeczko

So Peter Tork died.  I bet you recognize his name.  "Hey! Hey!  We're the Monkees!  We just monkey around.  We're too busy singing to put anybody down!"  (That's how I remember it.  Don't mess with my youth.)

Someone else died.  Paul B. Janeczko. His name - I always spell it wrong. The "z" and the "c" sometimes change places.  I drop the "e" or stick it where it doesn't go.  But his writing, ah, his poetry - and the poets he introduced to hundreds of thousands of young people - well, I will never forget those.

His poetry is what we think of when we remember Paul B. Janeczko. Even in his obituary, written for Publisher's Weekly, his non-fiction works on spies and spy craft get little or no mention.  I found them fascinating and fun to hand to that kid - the one who wanted to write in code, or play James Bond.

Still, it is his poetry that stands out.  His anthologies introduced me to Naomi Shihab Nye and J. Patrick Lewis.  So I bought their books as well.

And now he's gone. 

You won't find Janeczko's obit all over FB - unless you're a friend of mine.  I doubt that people my age will gather at a tribute band concert or a poetry reading to mourn his passing.  That's a good idea, though.  Anyone want to join me?

I hope that Paul and Peter meet up in the Big Beyond. Maybe Peter could use some help with his lyrics. Paul's got the beat but a little bass accompaniment never hurt.

Another voice silenced. I am grateful for books.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Trailer of the week - New School

Jeff Kinney REALLY likes this new graphic novel.  That means that a lot of your middle grade readers will like it, too.

Check it out.  New School by Jerry Craft.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

We're Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey - a stolen review.

I am not on here very often lately.  Because - um - stuff!  And right now, I am sick.  I am NOT sick as a dog.  I am sick as a cloud of cotton in my head.

Because I have a great deal of respect for the Nibling bloggers, I am stealing one of their reviews.  The author is Betsy Bird, my all time favorite blogger for books for young and younger readers.  I am putting this title on my to-read-as-soon-as-possible list (TRASAP).

We're Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey - a review by Betsy Bird.

Hashtag things: Do they work?  Discuss among yourselves.

#bookreviews, #sciencefiction, #BetsyBird, #niblings, #GeoffRodkey, #humor, #differences