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Showing posts from May, 2015

Left Behind in France

Hiding Out
by Elizabeth Laird
written for ages 9-12 | recommended
published in 1994 (1993) | Mammoth | 208 pages

The Castles and the Fletchers are driving back through France to Calais and stop for a picnic. They leave in a hurry in their two cars, and Peter Castle is left behind. The parents have traffic problems and get different ferries so they don't realise their mistake until they reach England. Peter, meanwhile, decides to make a go of being stranded, finding things he can eat, lighting a fire and trapping fish, avoiding the local farmers. His father returns to France and mobilises the police who eventually find him.

The point-of-view shifts between the characters to create a nice balance of tensions, heightened by the communication problems of different languages. Peter faces up to his situation, and deals with his fears, mostly by recalling the advice or example of his father and grandfather. There is a subplot of the friendship between Mr. Castle and Mrs. Fletcher whose husba…

Another Dog Poem!

Letting the Dog Inby Emily Ruppel

Whereas the cat has found her way

along the low roof and through

– a quick and weightless leap –

the open window of the master

room, the dog croons wearily to

an implacable moon, fastened

as he is by gravity and obedience

to the big oak in the midnight yard.

Rain falls faster, fuller, the master

still at large come one a.m. I’m curling

my tongue round the pads of my paws,

attenuating their wetness in

the warmth of the guttering fire.

I hear you, yes, and feel the surge

of what must be pity—a broad,

ambiguous heave of it. Less for you,

perhaps, than for your dimly

imagined ancestors, that they

trustingly and with such buoyance

year after vanishing year made

the selections they did.

This poem was first published in the 2015 God and Nature Magazine, a publication of the American Scientific Affiliation.

Related reading:  A Poem About Dog Sledding; Mickey Blue Eyes

Franz Wright RIP

The American poet Franz Wright died at his home on Thursday, May 14, 2015, after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 62. He and his father James Wright are the only parent/child pair to have won the Pulitzer Prize in the same category. Wright was born in Vienna, Austria. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1977.

Poet Franz Wright, 62, died at his home in Waltham, Mass., on Thursday after a long struggle with lung cancer, his publisher Knopf confirmed. Wright's 2003 collection "Walking to Martha's Vineyard" won the Pulitzer Prize.

Wright was born March 18, 1953, in Austria and as raised in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. His father was the poet James Wright, also a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.

Wright's books of poetry include "F" (2013), "Kindertotenwald" (2011), "Wheeling Motel" (2009), "God's Silence" (2006), "Walking to Martha's Vineyard" (2003) and "The Beforelife" (20…

Teens and Dark Fiction

Barbara Kay

Last week Nancy Drew, teen detective, celebrated her series’ 85th anniversary of continuous publication. In the 1950s, Nancy still wore demure dresses, drove a snappy blue convertible and called home from a telephone booth. Today I’m told she wears jeans and t-shirts, drives a hybrid car and carries a smartphone. Nevertheless, I am sure the clever sleuth is still the upright character she always was: cheerful, resourceful, civic-minded, ethical, honourable, courageous and loyal. And non-sexual.

What a sea change fiction for adolescents has undergone since Nancy solved the Mystery of the Old Clock. In my youth, children read what educators call “window books,” books that focused a child’s attention outward onto character-building adventures abroad — literally or figuratively. Nancy Drew was a humble subset of what one would call literature, and made no special moral or aesthetic claims. But the series nevertheless obeyed the general principle of its era of influence: while u…