Writing this edition of my “Summer Slide” series from Gate C30 at DFW airport. PC and I have a three-hour layover on our way to Ohio so I thought I would use my time to catch up on some overdue blogging. The airport feels electrified as news has just broken of the terrorist attack in Nice, France. Big screen TVs mounted at all the gates reflect the blurred images of the pandemonium there.
I felt unusually nervous leaving home today and this last tragedy has escalated my jitters.
In my first “Summer Slide” series post, here, I mentioned wanting to read A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord.
Well, I did! In less than a week (granted, the book was only 111 pages on my Nook but still amazing for me). Pretty amazing for me because as I have shared before, I am kind of a slow reader. And to further slow down my progress, I tend to read just a few pages then ponder them. And if the pages start getting really, really good…I don’t speed up, I slow down. I really savor the story at that point.
Putting stickers on the spines of children’s fiction library books to indicate their genre is a popular trend among my librarian colleagues lately. It would be hard for me to assign just one genre to A Handful of Stars. It is realistic fiction and an animal story about making new friends, and how older friendships often change. The main character, Tigerlily or just plain Lily for short, has been orphaned. She and her almost blind dog Lucky are being cared for by Lily’s maternal grandparents not far from the Canadian border in Maine.
Lucky gives Lily quite a scare when he slips off his leash and takes off running through the blueberry barrens on the outskirts of town. But the smell of Salma’s bologna sandwich stops him short which begins the unlikely friendship between these two little girls who have both experienced loss and sacrifice in their lives.
Salma is the daughter of migrant workers from Florida who are in Maine just long enough for blueberry picking season. She yearns to live somewhere long enough to have a real home and a dog and a sense of belonging. Lily misses her mother’s loving touch and struggles to keep her memory alive. Together, the girls become friends and join forces to raise the money needed for Lucky’s cataract surgery and to secure for Salma a piece of the future to hold onto. But not without some disappointments because life is like that.
A Handful of Stars is written on a 4.4 reading level. It has been recognized with the following awards: Junior Library Guild selection; “Children’s Choices”, Best of the Year List of the Children’s Book Council; Boston Globe “Pick of the Week”, Down East Magazine – “2015 Best of Maine Kids’ Books”. And near and dear to my heart, it is on the Bluebonnet Reading Award Master List for 2016-2017.
In El Paso, we have a fairly significant number of migrant workers who come to the area for seasonal work. I have always had migrant children among my students at each campus. Those children and their families often receive counseling and assistance through the district. I remember reading Grapes of Wrath in high school and have always held our migrant workers in a special place in my heart. I think our children need to recognize and appreciate the hard work of these people who literally put the food on our tables.
These titles are also excellent children’s books about migrant workers.
I have only read some of the books above. Tomás and the Library Lady is a favorite of mine. Can you guess why? Yes, there is that ‘library lady’ thing that I can relate to but the author, Pat Mora, was born and educated in El Paso. I am waiting til payday to order Migrant by Maxine Trottier. I’ll let you know how it is.
Here’s tonight’s Question of the Post. Question: Do migrant workers do seasonal work where you live? If so, what are they harvesting?
Next time you enjoy a crispy green salad, a fresh tomato, grapes, chilies, or blueberries, I hope you will send up a good thought for those people who pick the produce we enjoy everyday. And I will, too. Be safe and hold your loved ones close.
Hugs and kisses,