Archive for February, 2015

Joseph and Kento are cousins living on the island of Saipan in the South Pacific. Their mothers are sisters and both care for their families. But Joseph is native to the island. Kento is Japanese. It is the final months of World War II and the Americans are coming to the island. Both boys must follow the paths of their fathers, but is what their fathers told them always right? Twelve-year-old Joseph isn’t sure what to do or believe.

This fast paces story gives insight to horrific battle of Saipan from the perspective of two boys caught in it. It tells of the ruthlessness of both sides, the Japanese and the Americans, as one tries to hold onto the island and other to free it. It is astonishing at the lengths they go to in order to achieve their goal. And then there’s the people caught in the middle, the innocent who live there especially the women and the children. Some have to grow up fast, too fast.

Always keen on books about this era, I enjoyed the story. I liked the conflict between Joseph and Kento. Even though they live in the same place, share family and history, their fathers make them so different, and yet so alike. I recall recalling about the Battle of Saipan, but this gave me more insight and will be something I’ll remember better than the history book. While I would have liked to know more what happened after the Americans came, it ended at a good place so I won’t complain.


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Valentine’s Day has come and gone and once again Angus looked forward to it and once again had his hopes dashed. I don’t know why he sets himself up like that. And, to tell the truth, he’s only got himself to blame. He’s always picking potential sweetie prospects from his mini sheep magazine, the one from New Zealand, and he always falls apart when he learns something about them, like they’re getting married, have their own potential sweeties, or have foot rot or whatever.

It was the same thing this year. Angus bebopping away, scoping out his new prospect. “Isn’t she the most beautiful creature you’ve ever seen,” he asked me.

“She’s okay.” They pretty much look all the same. I’ve seen Angus’ family photo and every one of them look like Angus, like they cloned one mini sheep and added a little difference here, and a little difference there.

“Okay? Ye silly, foreign ewe, she’s stunning. Look at her smile. Look at her wool. Look at her precious ears.” He gets this goofy look on his face at this stage. “I must send her some vegetation.” He taps on his ‘mobile’, his cell phone to order a bunch of carrots for her family.

The next day, Valentine’s day, I find Angus huddled in a corner, eyes red, sobbing. I don’t even have to ask. He’s been rejected.

“It’s because I don’t have me horns yet. It’s because one of me ears is bigger than the other. I will never get a potential sweetie. Never.” With that he’s overcome with more sobbing.¬† “I don’t want to talk to anyone ever again.”

“Okay. What do you want me to do with this hay then.” I wave it around and, you know, it doesn’t smell half bad. Not that I want to eat it, but I could sleep on it and relish in its aroma.

“What hay?”

“This hay.” I open the card. “To Angus, from your secret admirer.” A bit of wool slips to the floor. Angus pounces on it.

“Och, this is fine quality wool, very fine.” He inspects the card, a hoof reaching out for the hay to sample. My job done I get some turkey meat and have a snack. Next year I’ll get some carrots for him.

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Libraries are cool. Saturday I went to one for a workshop on bookbinding. I didn’t know what to expect, but it sounded useful and, well, just plain interesting. It promised light refreshments too, which is always an attraction for me, but that’s not why I went.

Despite it being free there weren’t many people, say eight in all, and all women. I guess bookbinding isn’t a manly sport. Rectangular pieces of cardboard paper-clipped together lay on the table and we were encouraged to take one. This would be the front and back of our book. We would all be making spiral bound mini notebooks. While I coveted the bright yellow and red Sugar Babies cardboard rectangles, I got a blueberry toaster pastry one for my cover. I exchanged this for the chocolate Christmas candies. That didn’t have any words on the cover, not that I’d mind the Sugar Baby logo.

Making the notebook wasn’t hard. We got paper and cut the paper into the same size as the cardboard. The people at the library did that. It’s a liability issue for anyone else to use the paper cutter. We did get to punch holes in everything. Once that was done we spiraled the wire and forced it through the holes. That was pretty much the hardest part.

I learned they had other bookbinding classes too, ones involving sewing. I can’t sew, but it can’t be that hard. The notebook I made has 32 pages. I made it that many even though we were advised to use less because I want to use this for a mockup for my picture book.

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Hawai’i. Great surf and sunny skies and flavored shaved ice. 16-year-old Leilani loves her life in Hilo, on the big island of Hawai’i. What she doesn’t like is suffering from epilepsy. That’s keeping her from surfing longer, gymnastics and driving a car. New medication may help and she and father travel to another island O’ahu for clinical trials. What starts as a promise to a better life ends with disaster and destruction as the whole world goes crazy.

With the power out, people stranded, and resources running low, Leilani and her father search for a way to get back home. If all that isn’t enough there are racial divides between Native Hawaians and white. Leilana is half Hawaiian something that has complicated her life in Hilo.

Running out of pills she has to reach home to get more pills, but her epilepsy might also be a way to help fight the crisis.

This was a fast moving, action packed, thriller. The power outages and what happened because of them sounded all believable, the good parts and the bad parts. I enjoyed reading the legends and the history of Hawai’i and appreciated the maps so I could keep track of where the two were as well as get an idea of what the islands look like. It’s hard to imagine some of them are so small. I had to wonder what I would do in that situation if I were a tourist stuck there.

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Angus got his sisters hula hoops for Christmas. I watched him pack them, hammering a nice box for each so the post people wouldn’t squish them and make an oval out of the circle. He had a hard time deciding what to get the twins for Christmas. It pretty much takes a year. He’s already started thinking for next year and he still has to think up nice presents for their birthday. He’d rather give them nothing, but his parents wouldn’t approve.

“You could say it got lost in the mail,” I told him.

“Nay. I can’t lie to me parents and me Grandmum would know right away. She’s canny like that.” And then he glared at me in a disapproving way.

After Christmas, after the Queen’s speech, which is very important for all Scottish Miniature Sheep to listen to, he called his family up. He’d already arranged to have Hamish bring his mobile to the McSheep croft where the twins, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a few cousins assembled. And, of course, there’s Hamish himself. He’s the only sheep with a ‘mobile’. I bet he gets invited to a lot of places.

I always get a good place for these calls, someplace where I can see the picture and yet not be seen. After setting up his mobile and making sure the camera caught him on his ‘good’ side, Angus made the call.

“‘Tis Angus”, a voice said. Heather, one of the twins. Angus

“Angus,” said Peatmoss..

“Angus,” said Heather..

“Angus,” said Peatmoss again. They’ll go on like this for ages, alternating Angus’s. It drives him crazy.

“Whist now. Happy Christmas.”

There’s a chorus of Happy Christmas’s. It lasts a good two minutes and then Angus’ Dad tells him all about the Queen’s Speech, what she said, while his mother tells him all about what the Queen wore and then everyone discusses the Queen’s speech and Angus’ acts like this is the first time he heard it when he just watched it himself not that long again for the I don’t know how many times. In the meantime, on the screen of his mobile, you can catch a glimpse of a hula hoop twirling around. First on the right, then on the left.

As the Queen’s speech discussion dies down, Angus thanks everyone for their Christmas presents, a book, a new bow tie, hoof polish, and other boring stuff. Now the other side, those in Scotland give their thanks for the ‘prezzies’ from the ‘colonies.’ Angus found some nice stamps to give as pictures. I’m not sure what else he gave. I think he bought some mail order mountain hay and a variety of fruities too.

“Thank you me huley hoop, Angus,” Heather said as she hula hooped by. I have to say those pear shaped sheep bodies kept those hula hoops up high.

“Aye, thank you, Angus.” Peatmoss hula hooped by. She swept by again huling hooping with both hoops. Heather did the same, but stopped, the hula hoops crashing to the ground.

“When are we coming to the colonies, Angus?”

“Aye, when?”Peatmoss appeared in the screen.

“We called the airlines.” Heather moved closer.

“That we did and they said we had to buy each a ticket.” Peatmoss moved even closer.

“And we could sit in one seat we can. No use to buy two.” Now Heather’s face was right in front.

“‘Tis unfair.” Peatmoss pushed her sister out of the way.

“Aye, dreadfully unfair.” Both faces appeared, both squished to the camera.

“How many times do I have to tell ye, neither of you are coming to the colonies. There isn’t enough insurance in the world to handle you two.”

“Now, now, Angus.” The twins disappeared and the Grandma McSheep appeared. “Hush now.” And they start talking sheep stuff about the Farmer’s sheep, the big sheep and that and Angus gets all relaxed again, but I do notice him stiffen whenever a hula hoop hula hooped into view.

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I have been on the prowl for a good book on how to draw. Specifically I have been looking for a book where all I need is a pencil. I’ll take pretty much anything including a book on how to draw trees. My trees could use a bit of help. Having seen many potential prospects at the downtown library, I decided to look there. After parking my Mom in the magazine section, letting her select some magazines first¬† to keep her occupied, I dashed on over to the art section. I didn’t remember the Dewey number exactly, but I had a good idea.

The shelves were empty. I mean, there was, like one book, and the rest gone.

I recalled then, how on the main floor I’d seen art books encroaching on the fiction books, forcing them to bunch up in the back, hanging on for dear life. Maybe they put them there, I thought although I couldn’t fathom why. Did art become suddenly popular? Were a lot of people checking out coffee table sized art books?

It took me a while, but I found the drawing books. There weren’t many, not many at all, not as many as I thought there would be. I saw more at the branch libraries. I slid each book out, checking to see how much more material I’d need than my pencil. Most seemed to want one to use colored pencils or chalk or charcoal. There wasn’t a single one to help me draw a tree or maybe a cat. Disappointed I headed to the children’s section to see if they had something.

No art books. The books just jumped right over art. Spotting someone with an official library I.D. I went over to ask. They were rearranging the books she said. Personally I thought the Dewey Decimal system just fine. The Library of Congress numbering system works for me too except the only destination I can ever remember is BS – religious books.

She found the art books, but first had to recall what type of art drawing is under, fine art it seems. I didn’t find what I wanted there either, but it got me thinking. I’d read in journals how some libraries are changing their libraries so they look more like bookstores. Art over here. History over here. The trouble is, I can never find what I’m looking for in a bookstore; I always have to ask. Also, doesn’t the Dewey Decimal System already do that? Put art over here and History over there, bunching similar books in the same location? Am I missing something here? Wouldn’t bigger signs help? ART. HISTORY. I just can’t figure it out.

I’ll be going soon back to the downtown library. I’m going to see if I can find books first in the card catalog and then I’m going to do what I do in the bookstore, have someone there find the books for me.

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