Friday, May 17, 2013
Spring Fever …
By Joe Wilkins
Once upon a time not so long ago an incurably romantic writer named Richard Halliburton wrote incurably romantic books with titles like “Seven League Boots” and “The Royal Road to Romance.” Halliburton was a wanderer, much given to adventures like hiding overnight in the Acropolis at Athens, or in India’s beautiful Taj Mahal, and there communing with the spirits of the gods and maharajahs of ancient times while waiting for the first soft coming of dawn. One of his books opens with the author sitting comfortably in a ground-floor window seat at his college, then impulsively stepping out of it onto the green lawn dappled with sunlight and shade and walking away from books, studies, and musty libraries into the world of exotic travel and youthful discovery.
I couldn’t step so lightly out of my life in those days, but the lure has never faded. Today is a lovely day in May as I write these words, and my eyes drift away from my laptop and out my window to the lush appeal of shaded lawn and dappled sunlight. In that part of my heart that is forever young I yearn to be off in search of adventure and surprise. “Come, my friends,” as Tennyson says in his Ulysses, “tis not too late to seek a newer world. There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sails.
Push off and sitting well in order strike the sounding furrows with a bound, for my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars…”
Potent stuff, that, and not for the faint of heart. If ever I must give a commencement address I will read Tennyson and Halliburton to the graduates, and hope the auditorium will empty out in a mad rush of young folks to be on the road to adventure before they settle down. Life soon enough claims our time and energies.
Wordsworth had it right: “The world is too much with us; late and soon getting and spending we lay waste our powers. Little we see in Nature that is ours.”
It is probably wicked of me to spread such temptations. At the very least it is irresponsible – a shameless call to backsliding and shirking of the sort frowned upon by the serious movers and shakers of the world. After all, we all have bills to pay; jobs to work at; lists of things we’re supposed to be doing this very minute.
No doubt the ghost of some outraged Puritan is already sounding the alarm; some dried-up bony-fingered scold is clucking his tongue and slamming shut the
And yet. Why is there such a thing as youth if not for this? Why, after all these billions of years have we become creatures that come alive with hope and excitement at the arrival of Spring and its flowers and scents and sweet yearnings?
Which of us does not thrill at the flash of some free spirit on a quest; some flyer setting out to circle the globe; some volunteer off to help children in a distant land; some young mother packing a picnic lunch and heading out with her toddlers for a bit of sunlit nature? There is no rule of scale in such things. Adventure does not require travel agencies and passports; only a questing heart and a willingness to be delighted by something new; something unexpected.
The squirrels that play beneath my window and the birds that flit and chirp so merrily do not have to withstand such silly temptations; their’s is a life of do or die. They must eat and mate, and raise their young. We also are bound by those basic conditions of life, but for us there is more; much more. We hear music in the world around us; smell perfume in the grasses and the woods; feel our hearts rise with the freshness of the morning breeze. Why, then, clog up our ears with the noises of mankind and shut ourselves in from the day?
If this be Spring Fever, as Patrick Henry might have put it, let us make the most of it.
Copyright Joseph T. Wilkins.
Joe Wilkins is a semi-retired lawyer and former municipal judge who lives in Smithville, NJ. He is the author of "The Speaker Who Locked up the House", an acclaimed historical novel about Congress set in the Washington of 1890, and "The Skin Game and other Atlantic City capers", a richly comic account of the stick-up of an illegal card game as Atlantic City casino age began. To buy Joe’s books, invite him to talk to your group, or send him your comments, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit his website at www.josephtwilkins.com or catch his author's page on Facebook.
Monday, May 13, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
THE TREES HAVE HEARTS written by MRS.D.
What a charming, heartfelt story. "The Trees have Hearts," by Mrs. D, is a wonderful chapter book for any young reader, or a parent reading to a child, or anyone going through difficulties moving or making friends. The story is well thought out and developed, from the relatable character, a young girl who has just moved and is suffering the difficulties of making new friends and adjusting to the move, to the depth of the story.
We do not only see the difficulties that the girl has, but we travel through the year with her to see how she overcomes these fears and how she grows. We learn so much through the connection and friendship she makes with her garden trees, three wonderful trees that have their own stories and difficulties to grow through. The trees teach us lessons about life and let us see that growth processes and changes affect everyone, even trees.
This is a wonderful story that connects to the reader in an easy manner. The story flows smoothly, and the illustrations really capture your attention.
My favorite part comes at the end when Mrs. D. so eloquently writes, "It takes time for roots to grow, and for you to makes friends, so be patient."
Wonderful book! Highly recommended!!!
Courtesy of Kirstin L. Pulioff
Author of children's book The Escape of Princess Madeline
Kirstin Pulioff is a storyteller at heart. Born and raised in Southern California, she moved to the Pacific Northwest to follow her dreams and graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Forest Management. Happily married and a mother of two, she lives in North Plains, Oregon, and enjoys being a stay at home mom. When she’s not writing, she is busy with her kids, church and the family business.
Buy Mrs.D.'s Book
Follow the delightful story of a little girl who discovers the real meaning of friendship in The Trees Have Hearts.
ISBN 13 (SOFT): 978-1-4691-3479-6
ISBN 13 (HARD): 978-1-4691-3480-2
ISBN 13 (HARD): 978-1-4691-3480-2
MRS. D.'S BOOKS - LOOK INSIDE!!
CARLO THE MOUSE ON VACATION - PUBLISHED!
CARLO THE MOUSE - SERIES OF 10 BOOKS; COMING SOON!
CARLO THE MOUSE - Book 1; TOO MANY RULES FOR ONE LITTLE MOUSE
CARLO THE MOUSE - Book 2; NOW WE'RE TALKING!
CARLO THE MOUSE - Book 3; WHAT'S GOING ON?
THE CITY KITTENS AND THE OLD HOUSE CAT - COMING SOON!
GOOD MORNING, WORLD! - COMING SOON!
THE MYSTERIOUS LIFE INSIDE A CLOSET - COMING SOON!
THE TREES HAVE HEARTS - PUBLISHED!
Sunday, May 12, 2013
PUBLISHED IN NORTHEAST OHIO
Here are five books that will appeal to fans of the saying "Well-behaved women seldom make history."
Because Amelia Smiled
David Ezra Stein
Prepare your grin. Amelia skips happily down the street and shares her smile with Mrs. Higgins, who is inspired to bake cookies for her grandson Lionel in Mexico. He shares the treats with his students and teaches them an American song about cookies. Eventually, Amelia's smile finds its way to England, Israel, Italy, Paris and back to New York to be reunited with beaming Amelia. Stein's text is well-paced and satisfying. His vivid crayon and watercolor illustrations create an impressionistic feel. His clever dedication is "To you: Pass it on!" What a wonderful lesson is spreading good cheer. Grade: A-
Julie Cummins & Cheryl Harness
Meet 10 bold women who launched their own adventures despite the social conventions of their times. They climbed tall mountains, traveled across wilderness and reported on wars. Their discoveries and accomplishments weren't always included in history books but are now recognized in this fine collective biography. Cummins writes surely and selects facts and anecdotes with care. Harness paints skillfully, using a vibrant palette and strong black outline. Each profile runs a few pages, with plenty of illustration to break up the text. I knew about only one of these courageous women and am glad to learn of the others. Grade: B+
Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World
Laurie Lawlor & Laura Beingessner
Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson helped launch the modern environmental movement with "Silent Spring." Her landmark book documented the harm of pesticides on wildlife and ultimately on people. This lively biography begins with Rachel's childhood in small-town Pennsylvania, follows her academic career and ends with her 1964 death from cancer. It shows her strength, bravery and grace, and her unwavering commitment to science in an era when it was difficult for women biologists. Lawlor writes concisely, using details that will interest children. Artist Beingessner contributes lovely paintings that quietly reflect the passage of time.Grade: B+
Olivia and the Fairy Princesses
I approach sequels cautiously -- they frequently don't measure up to the original. Happily, this one didn't disappoint. Olivia doesn't know what she wants to be. She is certain, however, that she won't be a pink and frilly princess like all the other girls (and some of the boys) in her class. She prefers to dress in "a simple French sailor shirt, matador pants, black flats, a strand of pearls, sunglasses, a red bag, and my gardening hat." Falconer's droll humor is evident in both words and pictures. The neat ending is pure Olivia: "I want to be queen." Grade: B
Susan B. Anthony
As the election approaches, I'm glad that Susan B. Anthony, the woman who worked tirelessly to win suffrage for women, is honored in this new picture-book biography. Her passion is highlighted on every page. She didn't live long enough to see women vote, but we all live with the benefits. While the writing is a tad stiff at times, the folk-art illustrations are first-rate. Jewel-tone colors and period details enhance the story of a woman who knew how to strategically misbehave. Perhaps this tribute will acquaint children with the sacrifices inherent in the long arc toward justice. Grade: B-
Courtesy of Kathy Englehart
Kathy Englehart is a critic and librarian at Hathaway Brown School.