Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Am loving the meds in relation to sleeping. :-) Woke up wide awake at 5:45 and have been on the computer working since 6:00. It wasn't that long ago that it took me a good hour with a heating pad on my back to loosen up enough to get out of bed. And, my new doctor, Dr. Boomershine, at Vanderbilt Clinic in Nashville - what a dream doc! He called me yesterday, himself - not a nurse, to let me know that my blood work had come back and he was calling in a supplement for me to the pharmacy as I am vitamin D deficient (all these hours on the computer I guess). I was in pleasant shock as I am accustomed to having to call, repeatedly, to find out what the results are, or get a generic phone message or postcard.

I am so delighted to see Carol Matas' The Burning Time back out in a new paperback edition from Orca I read this book in 1994 when Delacorte published the original hardback edition and it has never left me. I can still see 15-year-old Rose hiding behind a screen, hearing her mother being tortured. These scenes are brutal as this book is written in first person from Rose's point of view. The setting is 17th century France when atypical women, like Rose's mother, are named as witches by other women being tortured until they name the other witches in their village. Rose's mother is an easy target for the lecherous priest as her father is dead and her brothers are away on business. Rose too is accused but she manages to escape, but only after she helps her mother make a difficult decision. When a teen tells me that historical fiction is boring, this is one of the books I offer him/her as an example of a historical novel that will immediately pull you in and not let you go, long after the reading is done. It has been 14 years since I first read this book and I opened it to the torture scene where her mother confesses to any and everything the priest accuses her of to stop the pain. I will start booktalking this one again.

Let's move the setting to Africa for the children's book of today - One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes. This is a new Kids Can Press title. I really like the books that Kids Can Press publishes as they are often nonfiction titles that fill a niche that isn't filled by the larger publishers. Kojo, a young boy from the Ashanti region of Ghana, lives in a village where the families pool their savings so that one family can buy something important. When the loan is paid back, another family uses the money, and so on. When it is Kojo's mother's turn, she buys a cart so she can transport firewood to the market. With the few coins left over Kojo walks 2 hours to the nearest poultry farm and buys a chicken. With the money he makes from selling eggs, he adds more hens until he can build a chicken coop and eventually a farm where he also raises a family. Along with the narrative text there is a running text in larger print that reads to the rhythm of "This is the House That Jack Built". Although a fictional picture book, One Hen is based on the true story of Kwabeno Darko who invested his life saving, and along with a $1000 loan, started his own poultry farm. As a thriving business owner he, in turn, makes small loans to the villagers to start their own business. A short biography of Darko as well as information on donating to small loan programs is included. A very interesting book to use with children and even teens when discussing small businesses and how many of them start with a small loan and a lot of hard work at home before expanding into something bigger.