Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Seventh Wish

The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner. Bloomsbury, 2016.  Available now.


This book has caused a lot of controversy and I'm not sure exactly why.
Basically, it's a retelling of the old folk tale about a fisherman who catches a fish who gives wishes.  But the wishes don't turn out exactly as expected.  (The Fisherman and his Wife)

In this case, it's a girl who goes ice fishing with friends. (My goodness it must get cold where she is because she talks about the ice eventually becoming several feet thick.)
She catches a small fish who totally surprises her when he speaks - Release me and I will grant you a wish.   She was going to throw him back anyway because he's too small, so she quickly makes a wish and drops him back into the hole in the ice.  What wish?  A typical middle school girl wish - that Roberto Sullivan falls in love with her.

But it's the wrong Roberto Sullivan who falls in love with her.
Each time she makes a wish, it doesn't turn out the way she hoped.  Darn.
So, is it the magic/ wishing in the story that is making schools reject this book?

But Messner doesn't write simple stories.  She intertwines several plots here.
There's the wrong Roberto plot.
There's the dancing Irish Dancing plot.  (We learn a lot about dance class and the tryouts (feis) to move up to advanced classes,
There's the fact that her mother needs a better job.
There's her dance friend who needs to pass her English as a second language class in order to be allowed to attend regular classes at her school.
There's her other friend who has a Flour baby for Home-Ec class - a sack of flour she has to treat like a real live baby to teach her the responsibilities of being a parent.
There's a sister who has gotten into drugs and is now in rehab.

So - which of these plots makes this book unsuitable for school libraries?

None of them, as far as I'm concerned.  All the characters are fully developed.  The plots intertwine forming a good view of a busy middle schooler's life.  And, having had experience with a relative who was a drug addict, the plot about her sister and drugs is spot on.  Yes, the drug addict hides his/ her habit from everyone, steals, lies, goes through rehab and then goes back to being on drugs. Again and again.
That last part is very painful for the family and for Charlie herself - because she works so hard to ice fish, selling the fish she caught in order to earn enough money to buy a solo Irish dance costume - and her older sister steals the money to pay for her drug habit. Not only that, she abandons Charlie in a far-off city where she is competing in a feis.
This is a true picture of how drugs take hold of a person and the grief it gives the rest of the family as they try to cope.

Too many children are living through this experience and this book shows these children that they are not alone.  And that wishes can't and won't solve our problems. We have to work them out ourselves.

To see more about Kate Messner, search her website here.

Bloomsbury has created teachers' guides for this book which can be found here.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Disneyland!


(The sleeping beauty castle at Disneyland. I took a side view because too many large families were massed in front of the castle taking selflies and group photos.)

Last week our family did what a lot of southern California families do - We went to Disneyland.
Because of my crushed vertebrae was forcing me to move slowly, I reserved a suite at a Disneyland hotel so that we could easily get in and out of the park.  My daughter, her husband, and my grandson took over the 'living room' area of the suite while I got one of the beds and my granddaughter and her best friend took the other in the bedroom. This worked very well.
We did things together (celebrated my daughter's birthday) and things separately.

I highly advise anyone going to get the park hopper ticket so that they can spend time in both the basic Disneyland park and the adjoining California Adventure, even going back and forth if they wish.
We got the three day pass even though we only stayed two nights at the hotel.  What a great deal! That way we got to enter the parks Tuesday, the day we arrived, all day Wednesday, and also on Thursday, the day we left. In addition, the three day pass came with extra privileges. YAY!

I loved walking around, comparing the modern Disneyland with the black and white film of its creation that my sisters and I had watched on the Micky Mouse Show in the 1950s.  The two teen girls went off on their own, riding rides and meeting film stars. (Their top adventure was the photo opp with the teen age Sith in the latest Star Wars movie!)

My daughter's family went their own way with their 5-year-old.  Suddenly I got a text that I should show up at Tomorrowland at a certain time because my grandson was going to go to Jedi School.  There he was - in a brown Jedi robe - learning how to handle a light saber, and finally fighting a Sith.  (It took the whole crowd to use the Force to force Darth Vader and his black students back into the Jedi Temple - which then sank into the patio.  Quite a scene!)

That was the best thing about this adventure.  With all of us having cell phones, we were constantly texting back and forth, meeting up to do rides or other activities together, then going off to places that interested us again.  The girls often met up with my daughter and her family and took charge of my grandson, which he loved.

 I loved the evening parade at Disneyland the first night as well as the World of Color shown against spouting fountains of water the second night.  We could see the spouting water from our suite at the hotel, but instead of pictures on it, we just saw fantastic colors - but we loved that show as well.  (Almost as good as the fountains in front of the Bellegio in Las Vegas.  Nope, better.)

Yes, we had a great time.  Will we go again?  Probably. If I can save up enough money for the whole family, again.  Because there's lots more I wasn't able to see and by that time my vertebra should be strong again and maybe I could go on some of the quieter rides.

Tower of Terror?  Not me.  Even thought it is highly recommended by the teens in our group.

Have you ever been?
What was your favorite part?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Writer's Quotes - Jane Yolen

Yes, another goodie from jane Yolen - quoted from her daily report on Facebook:

I'd like to make a mini-rant this morning about inspiration v. perspiration. 
Most writers love the zip of the inspire part and hate the slog of perspire. That's understandable. We live for the highs not the lows. The white heat of the moment when a idea is sparking, not the long, slow unwinding of those sparks, the dampening of that fire, the cooling of the embers.
I'll never forget the first time I read the quote "I dream of an eagle, give birth to a hummingbird." in an Edith Wharton biography, a favorite phrase of hers. It made me understand myself and my difficult relationship with the work I do.
All art is about failure. But some failures are more glorious than others. And along the way, along the slogline, we get to try and make that failure better. And better. And God help us, better. 
Remember, the hummingbird, too, is beautiful. And it flies.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Writer's Quotes -

"You don’t get stuck because you’re not a real writer. 
You get stuck because you are, 
and the ‘stuck-ness’ is part of the deal." 

Wise, wise words from author Jess Keating to the writer in all of us.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Writer's Quotes - George R.R. Martin

These are taken from an article in BuzFeed.  Click on the link to see the whole article.

On his first stories.

“I never finished any of my early stories. They were all beginnings, an endless number of beginnings.” 
“The best writing advice I had was [in] ‘Heinlein’s Rules for Writers’ by (American science fiction author) Robert A. Heinlein. His first rule is that you must write, and I was already doing that, but his second rule is, ‘You must finish what you write,’ and that had a big impact on me.” 
“I had these cheap alien toys and I made up stories for them. They were space pirates. They didn’t have names so I made up names. These were the first stories I wrote. Even as a little kid I was thinking about torture.” – George R.R. Martin

On childhood.

“We never went anywhere because we had no money and we had no car, but I would look out the living room window and see the lights of Staten Island. It was incredibly romantic to me, like Middle Earth. Of course, the danger is you eventually get to Staten Island.” 
“Reading. That was the sport I was good at.” – George R.R. Martin

On his first professional work.

“It was a story called ‘The Hero’ which I sold to Galaxy magazine in 1970, for $94.” 
“I was a journalism major, and I would take creative writing classes as part of that, but I would also look for opportunities to write stories for some of my other classes. So for my course in Scandinavian history, I asked if I could write historical fiction instead of term papers. Sometimes they’d say yes.” – George R.R. Martin

On writing.

“It’s different for every writer. It’s not a career for anyone who needs security. It’s a career for gamblers. It’s a career of ups and downs.” 
“ The main thing is the stories. Ultimately you want to get back to that room, back to your people.” 
“I’ve been very lucky. There were times when I was afraid I would never sell another book, but I never doubted I’d write another book.” 
“It’s being ready to accept rejection. You can work on a book for two years and get it published, and it’s like you may as well have thrown it down a well. It’s not all champagne and doing interviews with The New York Times.” 
“There’s part of me that loves words. But sometimes it feels like you’re trying to drive nails with your shoe.” – George R.R. Martin

On killing characters and torturing readers.

“I could have written a story about a well-adjusted family. Ned Stark comes down to King’s Landing and takes over and solves all their problems. Would that have been as exciting?” 
“The way my books are structured, everyone was together, then they all went their separate ways and the story deltas out like that, and now it’s getting to the point where the story is beginning to delta back in, and the viewpoint characters are occasionally meeting up with each other now and being in the same point at the same time, which gives me a lot more flexibility for killing people.” – George R.R. Martin

On underdogs.


“I’ve always had a soft spot for the outsider, for the underdog. ‘Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things’, as the title of one of the (TV series) episodes goes. The angst that they have in life makes for more conflict, makes for more drama, and there’s something very attractive about that. My Game of Thrones is told by outsiders of both types. None of them fit comfortably into the society into which they’ve been born, and they’re all struggling to find a place for themselves in which they’re valued and loved and respected, despite what their society considers their deficiencies. And out of that, I think, comes good stories.” – George R.R. Martin

Friday, July 15, 2016

Writer's Quotes

The history of the American novel has been one of writers thinking they had nothing to write about and then discovering they did.
Le Anne Schreiber

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Writer's Quotes - poets

Thoughts from a couple of poets:

Too many poets delude themselves by thinking the mind is dangerous and must be left out. Well, the mind IS dangerous and must be left in.  
Robert Frost

When I went to school, I knew poetry was not a dead thing.  I knew it was always written by the living, even though the dateline said the mind was dead.
Stephen Vincent Bene't