Sunday, January 31, 2016


By Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Scholastic Press, New York, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-545-60958-6
Price: $13.59

      This novel is for readers from eight to twelve. For baseball lovers and everyone overcoming their grief after a terrible loss.

      This story opens introducing the main character, Peter, running an errand to get eggs from the neighborhood store. He returns to a house where his mother is not in the kitchen. I read on to find out why. It is beautifully written. Peter is well developed and his dialogue is realistic.

      Here is the opening:

         “I am only gone long enough to get the eggs.
         “Ba had asked me to stop by the Minute Mart after school, but I had forgotten and come straight home, only to have to leave again. I ride my bike, but with the eggs I have to ride fast-slow—slow enough that the eggs won’t break but fast enough that I won’t get in trouble. When I turn the corner to our street, I see my sister, Elaine, sitting on the steps. She had been inside when I left, but now she is outside, holding her binoculars.
         “What are you doing, Laney? Looking for birds?” Laney usually looks for birds in the morning, but really, for her, anytime is a good time.”

         As the story goes on Peter tells us about a before and an after hinting at a tragedy that split the families history into these categories. It is told sensitively with insight into his own grief and response to this tragedy. He discusses the other responses of the family members.

         During Peter’s attempt to heal himself, he decides to play baseball. When he goes to sign up, his father comes with him to keep him company.  When there is a call for a coach for a team because the program doesn’t have enough coaches, Ba, Peter’s father, volunteers to coach his baseball team. Peter doesn’t know Ba can play baseball. Their relationship changes as they go through the season. The team faces many challenges they handle with courage and responsibility.

         Wan-Long Shang writes of loss, and grieving and give us this successful story about the love of baseball. The mysterious relationship between a father and son are explored when they are both traumatized by their grief.

          I give this story five out of five stars. It is a wonderful story of a boy struggling with grief, his mother’s depression, and his inability to communicate with his father. Everyone should enjoy it.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What's The End Of January 2016 Good For?

End of January 2016

         What’s the end of January good for? I gather up tax forms. I get estimates from contractors for spring construction projects. I gaze at the pictures in the seed catalogues that come in the mailbox. I order plants in the hope that spring will eventually come. Seed catalogues come in January, just like toy catalogues come in November. The ebb and flow of the mail makes me aware of the seasons. It reminds me of  raisin season.
         I discovered raisin season in Mississippi in the 70’s one late spring day when I wanted to make hot cross buns for Easter. I went into the local food store, in the south, we called them Jitney’s, and asked where the raisins were. Coming from a home on the range, and next to a major truck route, it seemed like a logical thing to want.
         The indignant manager looked at me like I was from an alien culture and said, “Lady, you have to buy your raisins during raisin season.”
         “When is raisin season?” I asked, puzzled by his shortness of temper. “In Oklahoma I can get them all year.”
         “Raisin season is in the fall when the harvest is over,” he said.
         “I thought they were dried so I could have them all year.”
         He showed me his back as he went down the aisle back to his onion stacking.

         I’ve endured many seasons since then, and enjoy the seasonal nature of things. I’ve observed the season of toys, the season of housewares, the season to buy sheets and blankets, and many other markers of the passing of time. Observing the seasons reminds me of the rituals I need to observe as I participate in the life of my family and my community. I think my favorite are the seasons of the church and its celebrations. Important things defining my existence and giving grace to my days.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Share memories with us about the special snow days you remember, please.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016



January 12, 2016

         Long ago, cause I’m older than dirt, no kidding, have compost younger than I am, I made snow ice cream. I didn’t have a recipe. I had a bowl, sugar, snow (lots of snow), vanilla, and milk. I remember mixing the ingredients and everyone eating it. Once I even dyed it pink, just like it had some sort of exotic flavor.

         With today’s storms, I wonder, does anyone out there make snow ice cream today? What are the customs for being inside when it is cold? Blizzards drive everyone in, but there are some pleasant snowstorms that can be enjoyed and they will produce this ice cream. Might try it with real cream now, but there was no such thing at my house then. Today I could make many variations on the original recipe. Maybe coffee with creamer and snow for a real iced coffee? How about smoothie snow with spinach? Okay, we could go healthy, but no squash.

         The confusion that a snow day brought is part of the memory. We were out of school, and Mom, a teacher was out of school, but we were left pretty much to our own devices.  Sometimes we played card games or we worked on school assignments. We even watched TV during the golden age of Television. Leave it to Beaver, (the first time around) and the Andy Griffith Show. Was it the good old days? I don’t remember it that way. I remember it as a time of confusion. I remember trying to understand the world and my place in it. Since I still work on these things, I think I’ll stick with the memory of the snow ice cream.