Did you know nursery rhymes weren’t originally written for children? Many of them were coded political statements back when freedom of speech didn’t exist. For example, I believe Humpty Dumpty was about overthrowing a king. And, back in the Middle Ages, most people didn’t have the kind of musical instruments we often use. The common folk would make drums with animal skin over wooden or clay bases. They could make flutes with holes in hollow branches or reeds, and bang sticks together. Criers would walk around town using those instruments and chanting the rhymes to get attention for their political beliefs without getting arrested. There are a lot of nasty politics in the world, especially in the last few years, but at least we’re free to discuss them.
Carl Watson is an educator who has written a book about a boy who has become deaf.The plot is interesting and, at times, exciting and the characters are believable. Some of the descriptions of signs he uses are a bit difficult to picture because those descriptions need to flow without taking the reader out of the story. As someone fluent in American Sign Language that bothered me a bit, but most young readers shouldn’t have a problem with it. I especially like that Silent Journey will help readers think about what it must be like to be unable to hear while enjoying the characters and story. Silent Journey would be a great book for school libraries.
Recently I’ve been reading a series of books from the library by Trudi Truett. The series is called Explorer Academy and it’s about a group of kids who travel around the world to be learning, but must also cope with evil villains and scary dangers. Each book (I’ve only read some of them so far) has a VERY exciting plot. The characters are kids I care about and the sci-fi devices they use and seek are fascinating. This series is published by National Geographic, and subtly teaches about environments, wildlife and ecology around the world without being at all teachy-preachy, since that information is important for the young explorers to know while avoiding dangers and trying to reach their goals. I think every kid should read this series. Now I can’t wait to get back to the library and find the next one.
Kelly Yang has written a book all Middle Grade kids should read. Three Keys is about Mia Tang, who lives and helps her parents with the Calivista Motel in Southern California. Mia Tang has friends of various ethnic backgrounds and some of them are likely to be deported to Mexico. This well written book helps the reader to understand what it’s like to be a victim of racial prejudice while enjoying the exciting plot and getting to know the believable characters.
Today is the first day of the month of May, and is often called May Day. May Day is known as a call for help because the French phrase, m’ aide’ (I’ve forgotten how to spell it correctly) meaning ‘help me”, is pronounced like May Day. When I was a kid sometimes I’d see performances of girls in pretty dresses dancing around a may pole. Each girl would hold a long ribbon fastened to the top of the pole and the ribbons would become woven around the pole as they danced. It’s possible that similar dances were held in Europe centuries ago as a form of worship to pagan gods. I won’t discuss how that combined with the season of Spring and fertility. 2020 seemed like the longest year in the history of the world, but I’m surprised – and pleased – that 2021 is 1/4th over and enjoying this beautiful season.
I’ve shared this story on Earth Day in previous years, but think it might be new to some people who read it. Back in the 1970s I was working at California School for the Deaf when we had an infestation of head lice. None of us had ever heard of those critters before since they hadn’t been in our state. We tried everything to get rid of them, but nothing worked. Finally someone went down to the Public Health Department and they gave us a substance to use that would probably get rid of the lice, so we spent the very first Earth Day (it was a local thing that year) putting DDT on the heads of all the children. It worked.
A few decades ago I had never heard of gluten, but now it is mentioned everywhere. When I tell people I have food allergies they assume I can’t have gluten. (I can.)Actually, people who react to it have a sensitivity, not a true allergy. But gluten is mentioned often, and some of the labels saying products are “gluten free” are just, plain silly. I’ve even seen “Gluten Free” labels on things nobody would ever eat, such as soaps, cleaning products, and cosmetics. If only everyone would be as careful about things lots of people truly are allergic to, like fragrances.