Friday, September 25, 2009

I think Kegan and McKinley are going to be as close as my Mic and Mary were as kids. These two are even closer in age and McKinley already has Kegan and her older brother Michael wrapped around her little finger. Well, for that matter, her Mom and Dad too! Mary said they are now getting their summer weather. She called me yesterday from the park and she was in shorts and a tank top.

It has gotten chilly here in Lexington due to all the rain we have been getting. But, the flowers and wild strawberries in the front flower bed are growing like crazy. Steve picked a bunch of the tiny strawberries for me. They bring back memories of picking them as a kid and my mom making a white cake and covering the white frosting with the tiny berries. The coup was to find the first ripe ones so Mom could bring the cake to the St. John's Day celebration in late June. Summer came slowly to Upper Michigan - perhaps not as slowly as to Finland but my grandparents brought many of the celebrations with them.

I've been reading The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner. I found out about this book from Veronica, one of the other LS professors at ECU whose husband is Greek. One of the Blue Zones is a Greek island, very near to the one Nick grew up on. One of the secrets to a long life is "Your Tribe" - in other words, your family and close friends. I did not realize what a close knit tribe I grew up in. My dad and his brother married my mom and her sister so my cousins are double first cousins and the two families grew up together. I was the youngest so I missed out on many of the activities but it just seemed normal for my mom and Aunt Ruth to be together. Their friends were people my dad had grown up with as both families settled in the same little area. I have come to realize I have missed out on so much by leaving my tribe behind when my kids' dad wanted to move as far away as possible and that was Alaska. So now I am rethinking this whole tribe thing and how those close connections are what may be why my parents' generation were as healthy as they were.

Speaking of the Zone, many of us grew up watching Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, which to me is much scarier than the blood and gore movies of today. There is no skill in scaring an audience by cutting people into piece with blood spurting everywhere. But, to scare viewers with the possibility that the person sitting next to you in that little diner may actually be a Martian in disguise and the cook is from Venus, is a gift. Mark Kneece, one of the founders of the Sequential Art Department at Savannah College of Art and Design, has brought 8 of the Twilight Zone episodes back to life via graphic novels that will appeal to readers from upper elementary through adult. This series, including Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone: Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up? which spooked me when I saw it years ago and again in this graphic novel. Give these to the resistant reader boys and they will be asking for each one. I hope Kneece adds to this series as it will be very popular and 8 books isn't going to be enough.

Although I was not impressed with Nuggest on the Flight Deck by Patricia Newman, with colored pencil illustrations by Aaron Zenz, I am still very aware that it will be popular with elementary age boys They will be delighted with the detailed drawings and enjoy the jargon used on an aircraft carrier. Nugget is the term used for a new aviator on his first tour of duty, but the illustrations make him look like an upper elementary age boy, rather than a young cadet. Young readers may think it odd that a boy is taken on a training mission. Nevertheless, it is still worth purchasing for the military and jet avid young readers.

Since the inception of Harry Potter there have been a lot of dragon focused fantasy for middle grade readers, but Shadow of the Dragon, Book 1: Kira by Kate O'Hearn is a bit unique in that it is set in a kingdom where girls must be married at age 13 and they certainly cannot have anything to do with dragons, which are trained and used by the king's army. Kira is a feisty 12 year old who is fascinated by dragons but not by the idea of being married. When Lord Dorcon, her father's nemesis, arrives at their farm to collect the family, Kira and her little sister Elspeth escape, but the middle daughter does not and is thrown into prison with the other girls who the king plans to starve to death. Kira's father and brother are forced to join the army. Not about to accept defeat at the hands of girls, Lord Dorcon continues to search for the girls, driving them into the mountains ruled by a rouge dragon. Their fate changes when they find an infant dragon who grows to allow Kira to ride him. With the help of a wizard, the sisters intend on rescuing their sister. A fun read. Upper elementary and MS readers will be impatiently waiting for the next book, which focuses on Elspeth. O'Hearn's debut novel will be enjoyed by fantasy readers who may have the same dream of riding a dragon that the author had, but she was vicariously riding between the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

That is it for today.