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Monday, December 12, 2011

Reading and Reviewing 6, and a pre-holiday message

Where the River SplitsWhere the River Splits by Jeffrey Penn May

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jeffrey Penn May has written an award winning book which he has shared with all of us. It is filled with beautiful descriptions of the wilderness in Canada, the Midwest, the West, and in Mexico. The reader can see the surrounding vegetation, feel the spray of the river rapids, and sense the scent of the foliage and trees. But more than that, Jeffrey has given us a view of two lives, their inner conflicts, their shared struggles, and their solitary quests. The balance of power between Susan and David shifts throughout the story, as it does in life. Fans of pre-Columbian history in MesoAmerica will be satisfied with the accuracy of his settings and cultural observance. This book gives an equally satisfying amount of plot and character development that enhances the story's action. And it leaves the door open for a sequel~

Here is a special book written by Lauren B. Grossman that I've been reading this weekend: Another five star review!

Once in Every GenerationOnce in Every Generation by Lauren B. Grossman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was drawn to this book by the brief summary that hinted at a life interrupted by MS, for I have MS as well, and have recently written of it. Lauren has written a true novel, and her character development is excellent, her plot interesting with just enough layers and turns to hold the reader's enduring attention. I agree with the author's statement, that this is a book for all generations of readers. Bravo, Lauren, this is very well done. May I ask you to take a look at mine? Multiple Sclerosis,an Enigma

View all my reviews

And a Pre-Holiday Note to the Students and their Parents who are Readers:

Before you bake those cookies or fill that holiday mug with chocolates or tea sachets. before you buy the special book or pick up that book store gift card, before you shop for your children's teachers, please note:

After thirty years in the classrooms of public schools, having received precious hand made cards from elementary students and warm notes of appreciation from older students, I can tell you honestly that those are the gifts I remember. I have many holiday mugs, tree ornaments, and memories of leisurely winter vacation reading in books that were given that make me smile as well, sometimes still able to connect a name with a mug, or a book, or an ornament ... or a memory of cookies or fudge or tea.

But holidays have changed in classrooms today. In our state of Massachusetts, teachers must now record and declare gifts received, and attach an estimated monetary value to each one. Sounds, crass, doesn't it? How does one value a batch of chocolate chip cookies, or home made fudge ... or store bought goodies, for that matter? This legalese is in response to accusations of greed at the higher levels of government... it is our legislature's effort at maintaining transparency in financial benefits to public employees.

It puts teachers and parents in an awkward position, but one that need not be experienced. If students and parents and teachers were to simply wish a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah, and a Happy New Year to each other ...

I worked with a teacher who, quietly, for years, bundled up her December holiday gifts from students and took them all to the nurse's station at a local nursing home, to be distributed among the elderly residents ...

The same could be done with the local homeless shelters, or food pantries. A simple card or cheerful greeting exchanged is enough, and leaves open the possibility for sharing and caring among those who need it most.

The way the government form reads, the teacher who transfers the gifts to the shelter or food pantry will still have to fill out the inventory form with prices attached. But if parents and students make the donation instead ... all the better.

Rethink your holiday spirit this year. Times are different, now.

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