Wednesday, January 11, 2006

It is 10:30 a.m. and just now a cruise ship is coming in. I can see the pilot boat out there waiting for him. Odd at this time of the day. We had 5 ships in yesterday and Steve decided he wanted to watch one of them navigate between St. Thomas and Water Island as it left Crown Bay. So we sat on the balcony of the Oasis, a restaurant and bar in a building that used to be the Russian consulate years ago (or at least that is what I over heard someone say last night). It was a sight to see. The ship looked huge as it came through the passage between the islands. Beautiful to watch the lights fade out into the ocean. Was a relaxing way to end the day. Then we went out for dinner in Frenchtown and I made the mistake of ordering the spicy pasta. The waitress warned me, but I went for it anyway. Bad mistake, even though it was delicious. So hot that I drank two bottles of water while I ate it and my lips and mouth were on fire. That was nothing compared to the indigestion I got from it later! Let's just say the bland Finnish food I grew up with sounds really good on my poor sore tummy right now.

Have had an interest in translated titles for children and teens as of late. So I picked up An Innocent Soldier by Josef Holub (born in Bohemia and lived through WWII). The title page indicates Russlander English. Holub's writing is certainly not overly descriptive or sentimental in any way. The narrator is an uneducated farm hand who is conscripted into the military in place of the farmer's own son. Adam becomes George in a matter of minutes and finds himself fighting in Napoleon's Grande Armee as they march across Europe to conquer Russia. Well, the Russian weather and lack of supplies conquers Napoleon's great army. Adam keeps himself and his lieutenant alive through the worst of conditions. There are no pretty words here and rightfully so as Holub starkly portrays the brutality of this war and the corruption within the ranks of the army. Although Holub's abrupt style of writing caught me off guard a number of times, I was swept into his tale of a frail 16-year-old boy fighting to keep himself and his rich young lieutenant alive as the world was being blown apart or freezing to death around around them. Give this one to the boys who liked Paulsen's Soldier's Heart.

One of the small publishers I watch closely is Illumination Arts out of Bellevue, WA. Their books are visual delights. Heidi Cole, the mother of a bi-racial child, has written Am I a Color Too? to addresses a young boy's questions about why people focus on skin color rather than who we are inside. "My dad, my mom, and me... Black, White, and am I a color too? I think I'm just a person, A person just like you." The text is thought provoking, but the beautiful illustrations of children and adults of every color are breath taking. I find myself flipping through this book again and again, enjoying the variety of smiling faces.

All for now, need to make my airline reservations for a trip to Greenville in February. I will be presenting a booking session at a conference, which I love to do.