Brightly

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If you need help finding a book for a child or teen, Brightly is a site that’s sure to help. Used by librarians and teachers, Brightly offers reviews and lists of books for every sort of reader, e.g. 20 Early Chapter Books for Boys, 14 Best Books for Kindergarten Graduation Gifts, 7 Picture Books that Celebrate Great Teachers, Books for Star Wars Obsessed Kids, and more. It’s easy to search by age or interest. The site publishes new articles regularly. In addition to book posts, Brightly offers articles on parenting with topics including social media and kids, communication and dealing with perfectionism. It’s a terrific resource.

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24%?

rich parent

I live in the New Trier school district which is one of the best high schools in Illinois. The district is affluent and parents, most of whom are professionals, can easily afford tutors and summer enrichment programs. I was stunned to learn that a whopping 24% of these high school students get extra time on the ACT test. In discussing this matter, one mother I spoke with told me that there’s a high school college counselor at New Trier whose main task is to manage all these requests for extra time or accommodations.

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New Trier District’s Average Income

Reported in the Chicago Tribune in 2012, New Trier is one of many well-funded schools with a higher than expected number of students with special needs. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, New Trier spent $29,272 per student, which is

New Trier students tend to come from homes that offer advantages other than wealth. Their parents tend to be married (82%) and to have completed college if not graduate school (90.9%).

The Varsity Blues college entrance scandal has made this matter return to the spotlight. I’ve figured that this investigation in Los Angeles is just one of many and that gaming the system is rampant among parents without morals who’ll do anything to get their child into a school with status.

What really goads me is that parents are teaching their children to seek additional advantages to gain status.

Chef Flynn

A patron recommended the documentary Chef Flynn about Flynn McGarry, a boy who’s been creating fine dining experiences since he was in middle school. Flynn’s mom, a filmmaker who repeatedly laments putting her own career on the back burner, has supported Flynn’s cooking since he was a toddler and was probably eating organic baby food.

While watching a prodigy teach himself the fine points of gourmet cooking was interesting, I found the stage mom’s hovering hard to watch. It’s great to see a parent promote a child’s interests and talent development, but this “support” can cross a line into control and vicarious living. In Chef Flynn I saw that misstep from the mother who continues to film her kids even when they ask her to stop and when she inserts close ups of her business card into the documentary. Sometimes the mom offered solid common sense, but often she made me cringe when she asked Flynn how many “Likes” he’d received or when she got up in the middle of the night to see if The New York Times story was published online and then worried that it wasn’t online at the minute it was promised. Of course, a mom would buy the paper featuring her son, That’s normal, but getting up before the sun and refreshing a page compulsively because the article wasn’t yet posted was fanatic. And all that hovering as well as the self-imposed pressure for Flynn to make it big as a world class chef as a teen was painful to watch.

I also wish the father had been able to speak in the film. What does he think about the family, about Flynn’s talent and success? We get all our information and the analysis of her divorce from the mom. Again, painful to watch since it’s clear to the audience what’s missing.

West Side Story

I like to be in America
Okay by me in America
Everything free in America

Lyrics from eLyrics.net

Sunday, after going to the Lyric Opera’s West Side Story, I woke up with the above tune playing in my head. Throughout the day, “Maria,” “There’s a Place for Us,” “I Feel Pretty,” and “Tonight” played in my head. Boy, is this show packed with great songs. With a full orchestra the music is all the more powerful.

The most beautiful sound I ever heard
(Maria, Maria, Maria)
All the beautiful sounds of the world in a single word
(Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria
Maria, Maria)
Maria!

Read more: Westside Story – Maria Lyrics | MetroLyrics

The Lyric’s production is four star. With great singing, stellar dancing, and marvelous expansive sets, this Romeo & Juliet tale is not to be missed. Often revivals decide to “update” a story, thus ruining a show with tinkering. The Lyric trusts the original to entertain and they’re right to do so.

There’s a place for us
Somewhere a place for us
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us
Somewhere
copyright http://elyrics.net

It was a joy to watch this tragic tale of 20th century star-crossed lovers. Funny, how one can watch a show with failed love and even murder and leave the theater uplifted, but while the story does succeed in making one consider injustice and division, West Side Story, like Romeo and Juliet, succeeds in warming the heart and making the audience think. Go figure.

Henri Duchemin and His Shadows

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I discovered this book via Literature-Map.com, which predicted I would like Emmanuel Bove’s writing. Boy, was that first prediction right. I’m now going to read more of the books it suggests.

A modern writer, Emmanuel Bove (1889 – 1945), has been described by Peter Handke as “the poet of the flophouse and the dive, the park bench and the pigeon’s crumb . . . a deeply empathetic writer for whom no defeat is so great as too silence desire.”

A collection of short stories, Henri Dechemin and his Shadows takes us inside the hearts and minds of the narrators. Each is down and out, but also very perceptive and wise.  The narrators navigate shame, homelessness, breaking relationships and infidelity painfully aware in a way that reminded me of Dostoyevsky of their own pain and motivation as well as that of their wife or friend who was causing it. This wisdom didn’t lessen the hurt.

Bove’s style is succinct. He has no verbose descriptions. The gets to the crux of what needs to be said and leaves it at that. I think it made for more powerful stories, though some may disagree. While Bove writes of characters in dire straits, he’s more positive than Sartre or Beckett. Though Bove’s characters have it hard, they often see the positive. They know that tomorrow may be better and there’s hope.