Weekend Coffee Share

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some timely catching up with friends (old and new)! To join, al l you need to do is create a post and link to Eclectic Ali

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that work is moving along. It’s like pulling nectar from a sieve to get people to do the Census in half the cases. I’m surprised about how many people who were most likely born here refuse. One young man swore about the government and stated that the government has never done anything for him. He was walking on the sidewalk the government put there and getting on public transportation the government build and subsidized. There was no need to swear at my partner and I as we sat in the cold rain trying to get people to do the census. Such is life.

Last night my brother and his family came over bringing take-out from a favorite local hamburger place. My nephew was in from Minnesota and it was great to see him. He lives near some of the violence and it’s been tough. Just the week before there was a shooting near his apartment. When will all the violence end?

Yesterday afternoon a friend and I went for a long walk around a small lake. It’s one of my favorite walks and it was lovely to catch up.

I’m thinking of what to do with my writing. I have sent my play to a few friends and am waiting for feedback. Theaters have been on hold with the lockdown, but won’t be forever. They can’t commit to anything, but they can plan for the future. However, they don’t have revenue so they probably aren’t able to pay the people who’d read through submissions.

In Illinois, COVID-19 cases and more importantly deaths and hospitalizations are down. One sad statistic is that last week more people died from shootings and suicide than the CCP Virus.

RIP, Gracie

Last week my sister’s dog Gracie died. She would stay with us every summer when my sister lived in New York so we were closer to her than them my other siblings dogs. Gracied had a long life for an English Bulldog. She lived to be 9 and she was a great companion to my sister particularly in hard times.

I finished the Hillsdale College online course in Children’t Classic Literature. I highly recommend it as I gained a lot of insight into favorites like Wind in the Willows, which I’ll soon begin to reread and Beauty and the Beast, which I haven’t read, though I did see the Disney version. Those have their place, but don’t hold a candle to the originals.

Snow Queen

snow queen

After watching the Hillsdale College Classic Children’s Literature lesson on The Snow Queen, I had to read the story for myself. I got a version of this Hans Christian Anderson story, which was illustrated by Yana Sedova. The pictures were sumptuous with lots of icy blues to capture the world of the story.

After watching the lecture, I noticed so many facets of this tale and its theme of reason vs. imagination (a false dichotomy if ever there was one). I don’t remember ever reading The Snow Queen though I had a vague familiarity with its plot. I liked it’s depiction of friendship and loyalty as well as its emphasis on friendship.

Hate that Cat

hate cat

Sharon Creech’s Hate that Cat is a super quick read, perfect if you have a book report due tomorrow and hadn’t started a book. Though Creech’s Walk Two Moons is among my favorite novels for children, Hate that Cat didn’t grab me.

Evidently, Hate that Cat is the second book in a series. The hero writes letters to his favorite teacher and shares all his thoughts about poetry, cats, dogs, and writing with the teacher. The book introduces young readers to poets like William Carlos Williams and Edgar Allen Poe. The most interesting facet of the book was that the narrator’s mother is deaf and he can sign ASL.

For a mature reader, there isn’t much in the theme that isn’t well worn ground. The book doesn’t delight readers of all ages, which is a hallmark of the best of children’s literature. The narrator seemed like a cookie cutter Creech hero, but one who shares little of his personality or background.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some timely catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, we might actually be out. Now it’s week 18 of the lockdown.

I mentioned having some big news last week. A week ago Wednesday the head honcho called me and offered me a promotion. Woohoo! I was told to immediately send my resume to his boss and that woman’s boss and I did. Then I waited patiently. I didn’t want to bother anyone and I had faith that they’d contact me.

By last Tuesday, I wanted to hear. I sent a message to the head honcho, who replied a few hours later that they changed their mind. They didn’t need another manager after all. How capricious.

Friday we went to a barbecue at my brother’s house to celebrate my nephew’s 21st birthday. My other nephew came in from Minnesota so it extra nice to see him.

My sister-in-law teaches 3rd grade. We asked her how she felt about returning to school and what her school plans to do. She said she’s not crazy about starting the year with such young kids online. It was one thing to teach online with kids she knew, but this seemed harder. On the other hand, she didn’t see how kids could learn if they couldn’t work in groups in the class room. The school board is making a plan and this week sometime they’ll share the plan with the teachers and ask for input.

I had a great time talking over lunch with my cousin. We haven’t gotten together since February due to the CCP Virus. We had a lot of catching up to do at a proper distance.

I’ve started the Hillsdale College online course on Children’s Literature. I recommend it already. The emphasis is on classics and I must admit I need to read more classic children’s literature.


The Young Adventurer

young adve

Another Horatio Alger book read. I’m catching up on my Good Reads 2020 Reading Challenge deficit.

In Alger’s The Young Adventurer, teenage Ben’s a new orphan at 14. His mother died when he was young and now his father’s just died. The $400 he inherited won’t last forever and there aren’t many opportunities in his hometown so though his uncle would like him to stay with him, Ben sets off to New York to make some money. He plans to earn enough to get passage to California where he can make a fortune mining gold.

Like a lot of Alger’s heroes, Ben encounters some swindlers, and luckily manages to avoid them with his funds in tact. Then he lucks out and meets and heiress in distress who asks him to accompany her to California and pays him to locate her fiancé. The adventure continues.

While the story offers a likable hero and plenty of villains, I wasn’t as enthralled as usual. The Young Adventurer is dated in its treatment of a Chinese character. The language of the era came off the way old Charlie Chan stereotypes do. Alger isn’t on the side of the bigots and those bigots probably were presented authentically, but I couldn’t stomach those chapters even though King Si, the Chinese miner, ends up doing well. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend this book to kids. Now maybe they should read about how people people discriminated and hurt others as that is the real history, but I’d find another book to recommend.


Frank Fowler: Cash Boy


To catch up on my Good Reads reading challenge, I figured an Horatio Alger book was just the ticket. I got Frank Fowler: Cash Boy in a couple days. Frank Fowler, an orphan decides to go to the big city to get a job. He leaves his step-sister, who he thought was his biological sister. On her deathbed his mother admitted that Frank was adopted, that he was adopted under mysterious circumstances. Such is the storyline of a Horatio Alger book. Frank’s pal’s family agrees to take in his sister to keep her from the Poor House.

Though he comes across the swindlers common in these books, it’s not till Frank is hired to read to a wealthy man each evening that he meets his nemeses, the housekeeper and the man’s nephew. They fear Frank will worm his way into the old man’s heart. They plot to get Frank out of the house so that they can get the lion’s share of the old man’s will.

Although Alger’s books follow a formula, I don’t tire of his spunky, honest, courageous boys living in tough times when there were many children who had to take on adult responsibilities. It’s a quick, fun read.


dog-of-the-sea-wavesJames Rumford’s Dog-of-the-Sea-Waves depicts early Hawaiian culture and manatees. With beautiful illustrations, we learn of how Hawaiians first encountered manatees, what they thought of these odd looking creatures and how they bonded with one. Yet manatees are not dogs and aren’t tailored to become pets so the story ends with a sad parting. This children books offers a poignant tale with lessons in culture and natural science. It’s be great in a primary classroom for a unit on the sea, culture, or animals. It’s also just a beautiful story to enjoy.

Wabi Sabi


Written by Mark Reibstein and illustrated by Ed Young  Wabi Sabi is a poetic book about Japan. Here Wabi Sabi is a cat, who’s puzzled by her name. She sets off to find someone wise enough to explain her inexplicable Japanese name.


Brown Wabi Sabi consults wise Snowball

The idea of a hero seeking answers to a perplexing question is nothing new in children’s literature. You see it in the The Wizard of Oz, Are You My Mother? and a slew of others. What I liked best in this journey was Reibstein’s inclusion of classic haiku like:

An old straw mat, rough
on cat’s paws, pricks and tickles . . .
hurts and feels good, too.

Young’s collages illustrate the book and do offer the messiness of wabi sabi, a cultural term that according to I wasn’t wild about the collages. Perhaps I’d have preferred water colors or another medium, which could include mistakes and thus illustrate the concept. Young does communicate wabi sabi, I just wasn’t a big fan of this style.

I’d definitely use this book in class and advise getting it from the library.

I’ve been told that wabi sabi refers to beauty that’s got imperfections such as age or wear.

12 Days of Christmas Books, #3

Christmas 2014

Tomie diPaolo’s Mary, Mother of Jesus mainly uses scripture to tell the Mary’s life story. The book’s strength is diPaolo’s illustrations with their simple lines and soft colors. Like some of the other children’s books I’ve reviewed here, there are a couple words like Messiah that younger children will need explained. Still it’s a gentle telling of this illusive religious figure.

The cover promised influence from folk tales, but I didn’t notice any in the story. The story is a very traditional, orthodox tale.

12 Books of Christmas #2

off to bethlehem The children’s book Off to Bethlehem! by Dandi Daley Mackall is a breezy, poetic telling of the story of the nativity has endearing illustrations by R.W. Alley, though I was surprised how much older Joseph looks than Mary. (I guess he looks like he’s 40 while she’s a teen. There’s nothing I know of in the Bible about their age difference. I’d be happier with a younger Joseph. How about 20?)

Off to Bethlehem! is a great introduction or reminder of the reason for the season.