Search This Blog

Google+ Badge

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 28, 1856- A President is born. Happy Birthday, Mr. President. Read about his childhood in Tommy: The Civil War Childhood of a President.

The little boy who became President Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born December 28, 1856. In honor of his birthday, I am repeating my earlier blog about my childhood biography of him. Known to his family as Tommy, I think you will like the little boy that lives through one horrific war only to be called upon to lead us into another.

In Tommy: The Civil War Childhood of a President, readers will get to know Tommy through his family and friends, through his leisure moments, and even through his stubbornness and his caring for others. Each chapter provides insight into the youngster who became 28th president of the United States. The reader will see Tommy learn from his faith and family, and from the history lived. These lessons learned were later evident as President Thomas Woodrow Wilson guided his country through another war, World War I. 

In "Tommy" we get a glimpse of everyday life in a southern town not directly in the line of fire in a bloody civil war. An important strand in the book is found in the many parades, all verified, that took place in Augusta during that time. At the beginning of the war the parades were glorious. By the middle and end of the war the tempo of the parades was changing. The following except describes one memorable parade.

  An excerpt from Tommy: The Civil War Childhood of a President.

     The future President of the United States stood on the edge of the field fascinated by the parade passing in front of him.  He had seen many parades since the war started two years ago, but this one was different.  There were no brass bands playing, no freshly uniformed infantry units stepping high and no prancing cavalry horses.  No one was marching, and no one was cheering.

     This was not a parade of clean, smartly dressed military men.  This was a parade of ragged men in tattered uniforms.  Their sabers and sashes were replaced by blood and bandages. And dirt. 

     There was no one to watch this parade by the railroad track in Augusta, Georgia, but seven-year-old Tommy and his young friends.  Playing in the fields near the tracks, they had heard the solemn ringing of the troop-train's bell and watched as it shuddered to stop beside the field.  Curious, the boys ran to the train and watched as slowly it emptied its cargo of Civil War wounded.

          A few of the injured limped unaided, but many more shuffled, supported on one or both sides by others who were themselves wounded.  Others hobbled on crutches.  One man, with a foot missing kept his head down and his eyes on the bandage at the end of his leg.  He seemed to be looking at the foot that wasn't there.                               
     After the walking wounded came men on litters.  Their bodies, their heads, their limbs wrapped in bloody, dirty bandages.  Some of the blood was old and caked; some new and oozing. 
    One man alone seemed to see the boys.  His large body was covered with a blood-soaked blanket on which several medals and many flies competed for space.  His head and face were covered with bloody, dirty bandages.
     A foul, wretched smell filled the air through which the litters moved.  It was not a smell like the barnyard or the cow pen.  It was not even a smell like hogs being slaughtered.  This smell was worse, much worse.  As it grew stronger, Tommy and his friends covered their mouths and noses as to protect themselves from this smell which instinctively they knew to be the smell of death.

     Finally, from the car nearest the engine came a different sight.  Men under guard.  Men whose arms and legs were bound together, making it hard for them to walk.  So they too shuffled.  And they too were covered with dirt and blood and bandages.

     One of Tommy's friends  finally broke their silence.  "Come on," he said.  "Let's get back to our game."

     Everyone turned to go but Tommy.  Tommy stood still, only his head moving to follow the hundreds of wounded and dying soldiers who were passing by.

     Finally, he turned and headed, not toward his friends, but back to his home and the security of his family. He could play no more that day.  He wasn't sure he could ever play that game again.

      The boys had been playing war. 

Tommy: The Civil War Childhood of a President
A Childhood Biography of President Thomas Woodrow Wilson
By Julia Faye Dockery Smith

Monday, December 9, 2013

Based upon historical fact, Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, is a joy to read.

I love this book. It is by far the best Sue Monk Kidd to date. It is too bad the book will not available until January 2014 for it would have made a wonderful Christmas gift for all the avid readers on anyone’s list.

The blurb for the book almost prevented me reading the book….women, free and slave, in pre-Civil War Charleston. My first thought was ‘oh boy, here we go again with this story.’ But, wow! What a refreshing, riveting story it turned out to be! Then came the icing on the cake; I read the author’s notes at the end of the book. It is based upon a true story; real family, real sisters, real situations, factual history. That took the wonderful story and lifted it even higher.

There are initially two main characters, Sarah Grimke and Handful (Hetty) Grimke, with a strong third character (Sarah’s sister) coming in late in the book. For her 11th birthday Sarah is given Handful as her personal slave. Sarah immediately renounces the gift and the idea of owning another person. Nevertheless, the times and society, along with her Mother, demand that she take Handful as her own. From there grows a bond, a friendship as much as possible, and a fierce caring for each other. 

As this relationship grows, so does Sarah’s commitment to fighting slavery and fighting for women’s rights. It isn't easy in the early 1800’s in upper class Charleston, but Sarah has a toughness that even she didn't know she had. As everything unfolds Sarah realizes that Handful is enslaved by the law, and that she. Sarah, is enslaved by society and her family.  As life hands her one setback after another, Sarah’s toughness upholds her and finally guides her to make one final attempt at freeing Handful and one final break with her family and Southern society.

Abolitionist history, suffragette history, and black history are expertly woven throughout the story. The Charleston Grimkes are real, and their adherence to Charleston society and Southern ways are well documented as is the split that tears apart their family. We meet historical characters such as Denmark Vesey.  How many of us remember reading and chanting the poem about him banging on our desks to make the boom, boom, boom, bang, bang, bang of the drums? I remember it all these years later. 

Likewise, I was familiar with Virginia Hamilton’s “The People Could Fly” which retells old slave tales including the one from Africa about their people flying. This idea of the slaves once having wings and being able to fly provides a strong thread in the slave community in this book. Quilts, also, which were important in the lives of slaves, are equally important in this book.

This wonderful story is told in vivid descriptive terms that helps one see the event, person, or place being described. It is a joy to read. Part I, (the book is divided into four parts), is especially poetic in the author’s choice of imagery.

The book has spoiled me. My bedside table, desk, and Kindle are all heavy with unread books, but I need a few day between the beauty I have just experienced and what might be mundane in some of those waiting works. I don’t want to lose Sarah and Handful, and Sue Monk Kidd just yet.

We don't always get what we want for Christmas....or do we?

From Paul R. Hewlett comes this lovely Christmas story. Check out the author's blogspot for more details and to enter a giveaway.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

December 7, 1941--" War Comes To Paradise" Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii

A brief story or the morning attack on December 7, 1941 told in large print and historic photos. A short tour of today's memorials to the memory of that morning and those lost and those that survived. Originally written as a video pictorial history for middle schoolers, the author was amazed at the number of parents and grandparents who wanted to borrow or purchase a copy. The text and photos are now available in an 8X10 history book. Appropriate for middle grade students to veterans. The pictorial tour tells of the many ships in port that day, of the buildings, planes, airstrips and bases away from the harbor front. The author spent several weeks at Pearl Harbor studying with scholars. For two weeks she had the privilege of having lunch each day with survivors of the early morning attack. This book is a concise history of that morning and a look at today's memorials published with gratitude to those who gave their lives and those who survived.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fairy Tales meet today's youth....Meet Ann T. Bugg and see how she does it.

Ann T. Bugg loves Disney, collectibles and fairy tales, not necessarily in that order. Prompted by these loves, she has written a series of fairy tales-meet-today books. The umbrella name for this series is "Before Happily Ever After Series," and each book has its own title. The series does what many imaginative readers do in their own minds, they add to the story, blend the story with others, rewrite the endings, or ask 'what if?'.  I recently read Soaring Up To The Clouds, Not Knowing Jack, Before Happily Ever After Series Book 5. The book is, of course, about Jack and his beanstalk...and our two 21st century girls, and Snow White and the wicked queen. Oh, my how they meet, blend and help each other is straight from a fertile imagination.
Our two 'today' main characters are Valerie and Samantha. Their journey, this time, begins at a county festival as they journey to Val's family farm for they summer. The girls are nosy, and being so end up stranded in a hot air balloon as it rises up, up, up. As they arrive at their unknown destination, they must determine where they are and how to get home. We learn that this is NOT their first mysterious trip, so they are not frightened or bewildered. They are, however, very inquisitive. And so, their journey begins. We meed Jack and his mother first. We find Jack stealing gold coins from the GIANT...Oh, dear. We learn that Snow White is again in DANGER...Oh, dear. Can they help Jack? Will they save Snow again? Read  Book 5, Soaring up to the Clouds: Not Knowing Jack to find out and perhaps set your imagination to work. Try rewriting your favorite fairy tale, or combine several. It isn't always easy, but Ann T. Bugg does it effortlessly.

If you go to the I Love Middle Grade Books site, you can participate in a blog hop and win many prizes, including a free download of this book The link for the hop is   Go there and click on any one of the middle grade authors listed to get started enjoying middle grade book reviews, news, and giveaways. Many giveaways. Check out all the authors, for the books cover many types of literature and good reading. Again, all the authors are giving away goodies, just in time for the Christmas holidays. From now through December 15. Get started!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Let's talk cooking: Canal House Cooking that is.

Canal House Cooking Volume No. 8 Pronto:
I don't know why I loved this book, but I did. I do not cook, but I do eat, so that may explain the attraction. That and all things Italian. When I requested this book from Net Galley, I expected the Canal House to be somewhere in Italy, probably Venice. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the Canal House is in New Jersey. Oh, well. The recipes are Italian and sound delicious. I can't wait to pass them on to our cook, my Italian husband, and have him try a few of them. Some were already familiar and some not. The chatty tone of this book is engaging and makes for an easy read. I would love to see the book in print form. My only complaint was....too much eggplant! Loved the mentions of my favorite cheese, pecorino,which is not available in our little hamlet, albeit the state capital. Some of the Tuscan wines discussed are among my favorites. I guess I am beginning to see why I loved this book. I would recommend it and would read another by these authors.°-Pronto-ebook/dp/B00FS0MVWC