Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Report for the Summer Reading Club - Holly Hotel: A Mystery by Elisabeth Kyle

On my second report on my 1959 Summer Reading Club list I find Holly Hotel.  It was a favorite: a girl in Scotland writes posters that advertise her old house as a hotel, and the guests arrive.  With beautiful illustrations, the story is enriched with fictional history about the Village of Whistleblow, named, sadly, for the story of an unsuspecting shepherd led to betray his neighbors to the Redcoats during a war with England. 

Near the end, Mollie Maitland uses the N word. 

In context, her use of the N word is a short moment, a reference to vulgarity comes twelve pages before it - a character says, “Are ye so ignorant as not to know that knock’s the old Scotch word for clock?” And another ‘ “Aye, so it is, but Rowena says it’s awful vulgar.. “”  On the internet, I find the reference she makes – She refers to a book called Ten Litte N. Boys  -
Ten little n boys went out to dine;

One choked his little self, and then there were nine.

The fourteen-page picture book with the verses is on the internet at

University of Florida, Baldwin Library of Historic Children’s Literature. 

 Social change and cultural change since the nineteen-fifties make it necessary that new books reflect the experience new children have. To read an old children’s book can be a useful reminiscence.  We can reflect on the social change, the cultural change, the demographic change.  

 We can wonder what other reasons place a book like Holly Hotel: A Mystery in university libraries of historic children’s books.  Among possible reasons is that fact that one of the several sub-plots, a lost poem, is by a fictional Scottish-American Writer – perhaps they object to fictional history for children.  Three of those who arrive at Mollie Maitland’s hotel are adult men who smoke.  Active descriptions of these men include lighting cigarettes, leaving a tobacco pouch behind as a diversion, coughing because of the smoke.  There is violence in Glasgow toward a little girl guest. 

There  are new authors as well,  so new books are a natural change. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Totem Pole Tacoma Ephemera

Not an only child       My sister does not want her photos or her stories on the internet. I was not an only child, as a pair we were pretty good friends after we moved into our house when I was two and a half. I was left behind as I entered fourth grade and she individuated into junior high school. After fourth grade I can talk about myself as a child on her own.
The Totem Pole of the 1959 Book Club    At McCormick Branch Library to the right as one entered the double doors, was a thin wall where there was a bulletin board. During Book Club in the summer, the Book Club Name Cards of children gradually were stapled, one or two, to a flurry of names and a solid assemblage of names of a lot of children who reported on books. On the other side of the thin wall was the last of the alphabetically arranged children's fiction, which had begun on the other side of the room.

My Name Card for the '59ers Book Club was a totem pole, and currently the Tacoma Totem Pole downtown is in the local news.  It is to be restored.  The library made some effort to create a totem pole that was like the Tacoma Totem Pole, although it is not the same exactly.  It was a celebration of Alaska Statehood, Alaska, the 49th State. I believe a star was given after ten, then a star was given after twenty-five. After 50, a blue flag on a toothpick with stars was given. I won the flag.

The view from the library windows is Washington Grade School. In that school had been a small room off the hallway of classrooms that was used as a school library where I found Dean Marshall's The Silver Robin and read it many times. I liked to reread books. In the autumn McCormick Branch Library people came to our fifth grade classroom to award us our name cards and our reading records and certificates. The certificates also featured a totem pole.  I reported on 50, actually 51 books. I seem to have visited ten or eleven times to report.

“Compensating”   My ephemera from childhood achievement was not the experience of a fit, nice looking child with a financial advantage. Such a child can be viewed as in a simple good balance, while childhood achievement by a less physically even or disadvantaged child can be labeled "compensating" - "Compensation" is a defense mechanism of emphasizing one aspect of a situation to offset other aspects that are clearly limited. (It is only one aspect of my situation that I could not see the blackboard anymore. In third grade I could see the board clearly from my seat near the rather high window across the room. In fourth grade I began to not be able to see the board. I was unwilling to talk to my parents about this.) We should not belittle the academic achievement of those who are less perfect. And yet, I also recognize the theory and can view my achievement in some ways as "compensation". Yet I remain sure it was, yes, a childhood academic achievement.  In fifth grade I told my mother I thought I needed glasses and she said we would make an appointment with the eye doctor right away.

Nancy Pearl’s Book Crush (2007)   Among the first eleven, my first visit, only one title appears now on the Tacoma Public Library catalog. One title among the first eleven remains clear in my thoughts, and the author, Dean Marshall, I recently found in the index of Nancy Pearl's Book Crush (at King's Books). On my list was The Long White Month, another Dean Marshall book that, like The Silver Robin, featured birds. I was introduced to juncos in The Long White Month. Nancy Pearl believes (2007) it is not too likely that Dean Marshall will be reprinted but wishes to hear from her admirers.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Read Pollyanna, in its hundredth anniversary year...

Yesterday evening I read Pollyanna, in its hundredth anniversary year.   One observation - many of the episodes seemed like the 1960 movie.  After I had finished, and had been busy with other things for a while, it seemed to me strange that a story about a child should involve such a terrible accident. The story was very popular until the late 1940s, according to Jerry Griswold, Audacious Kids:  Coming of Age in America's Classic Children's Books.  It can be interesting to return to these classics which readers found so appealing in the past.

In Pollyanna, Aunt Polly assigns a room high in the attic when the girl arrives from the west.  This detail of the setting was set forth in the movie in an appealing way, the movie setting enters my thoughts and directs my visual experience of the story.  The reprint edition features a picture of Pollyanna on the windowsill reaching into the branches of the tree near the window - interesting that in the movie version, Pollyanna's accident is a fall from this tree.  In the book Pollyanna is struck by a car as she crosses a street. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Reading Club Post Number Two

Motivated again by Tacoma Reads Together and the junior adult choice for 2013.
The Golden Age of Children’s Literature, 1865-1914, followed the Civil War and was led by interests that wished to shape the new history and the new outlook of the United States.  In Audacious Kids: Coming of Age in America’s Children’s Books, Jerry Griswold discusses elements that motivated the publishers and authors - the horrors of the Civil War, changing technology, institutional concern with child welfare, among others.  Jerry Griswold’s discussion often includes psychological analysis and the theme of oedipal development of the major characters while also discussing the same theme, oedipal development, as an analogy for the aging and growth of the United States.  Our present outlook on Mental Health involves very little Freud.  However, the book discussion remains lively and important – he describes how very alike in plot development twelve books are - The Wizard of Oz, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Lord Fauntleroy, Tarzan of the Apes, The Prince and the Pauper, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Little Women, Toby Tyler, Hans Brinker, The Secret Garden, and Pollyanna.  (2013 is the hundredth anniversary of the book Pollyanna.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Reading Club Post Number One

Below is my first post for the Tacoma Public Library Adult Summer Reading Club.  Probably I was influenced to write about a children's book by the fact that Tacoma Reads Together this year read a Young Adult Book. 

I have a record of having read a book in 1959, the summer before I went in to Fifth Grade.  In Mystery of the Pirate Oak a sister and brother who play in a huge oak tree in the vacant lot next to their house, meet a new neighbor who used to play in the same tree sixty years before.   Helen Fuller Orton, the author of Mystery of the Pirate Oak, was a children’s writer of the past.  Below I include some of her biography from the internet:
(1872–1955). U.S. author Helen Fuller Orton began her career in children's literature writing nature stories for small children. Later she turned to historical stories and mysteries for juveniles.

Helen Fuller was born on Nov. 1, 1872, on her family's farm, between Sanborn and Pekin, N.Y. Both of her parents were teachers, and she taught elementary school herself before marrying Jesse F. Orton.  This is some of the biography of Helen Fuller Orton from the internet.

Social change as well as cultural change since the nineteen-fifties make it necessary that new books reflect the experience new children have. There  are new authors as well,  so  new books are a natural change.  To read an old children’s book can be a useful reminiscence.  We can reflect on the social change, the cultural change, the demographic change. 

The house is apart from the town, a few miles outside of town.  Although probably some houses are like that in our time, in the nineteen sixties American demographics changed from a rural and small town country to a predominantly urban country.  In order of reflect the more commonplace urban experience of new children,  more authors have sought to reflect the kind of urban experience so many children have and would recognize.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Event at Harmon Tap Room Yesterday

Yesterday I noticed a Facebook Message by Eric Hanberg that asked people who were published authors to go to the Harmon Tap Room in the afternoon from 5:30 to 7.   

I noted it down as 4:30 to 7, so I spent an hour at King’s Books.  There are always a lot of interesting books there, and the cats.  I thought I could report to poets at the Friday Reading about the meeting. 

At the Tap Room were Susan Odenkrantz and David Domkoski from the library, along the Eric Hanberg, exploring whether there are enough authors to set up a group.  A Facebook Identity might result, one mission might become “Library Sponsorship” of the author’s works, according to Ms. Odenkrantz.  About a dozen people were there, Eric Hanberg had them fill out a form.

During the event rain began to pour down, it let up some after a while.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Poem 1968, and Maple Bars at Raitt Cafeteria, Autumn, 1968: There was a part we played, unknowing, in the structuring of a future in doughnuts.

Maple Bars at Raitt Cafeteria, Autumn, 1968: There was a part we played, unknowing, in the structuring of a future in doughnuts.    (For National Doughnut Day)

Scientific principles and experimental method applied to food preparation and preservation.  Management related to food purchasing, meal preparation, and service.  Prerequisites, 110 and permission, or 216, and organic chemistry.

(5) WSp  Ziglar  Laboratory and institution practice in large-quantity food preparation and cost control,   Prerequisite, 315 or permission.

University of Washington Bulletin, 1967-1969 General Catalog Issue 

When you consider the difficulty of point of view you find an understood from plane geometry - if there is one point, there must be another.  It can be important to understand in more than one way – not to judge quickly but to be patient, and to deepen your awareness by gathering detailed information.  At the University of Washington were other Departments.  But this class description in the University of Washington Bulletin has a lot in common with English Department Descriptions in the same volume.

The art building had its own coffee shop, a dark room off one hallway in the building.  It looked psychedlic and plastic.  

Perhaps someone there said they were not open, but there was - the Raitt Cafeteria.  The Raitt Cafeteria was geographically related, across a gray and green campus pathway and down a gray stair with smooth dark walls - the Raitt Cafeteria. 

It may have been a myth that the cafeteria was a part of the Home Economics Department.   

But the maple bars there were perfect, decorated with very thick icing, thicker than other maple bars.  The maple bars were no myth. 

Boomer students were structuring the future of doughnuts.  Practice brought this other Department forward.  These were languages - in a way, how to realize it - food was a language from another Department. 

I turned this poem in – it is from “a folder of 29”.  On the written draft, I have noted that St. Christopher is the patron saint of ferry men. 


Christopher protects the migrant workers.

The lady wears a medal.

She is related to the man and the other woman.

They are from Po River.

Every summer they come to the island

then work farther east.

They go back home to spend the winter.


She goes through the fawn

to get to the morning.

She is telling the story.

It happened years ago.

She pushes a stick into the broken shells

that stretch for miles down in the sand.


We started for the vet.

We walked for miles while the haze cleared off.

I watched its wound.

The broken parts of bone.


If we had known that it would die...

but it was like we'd known

that it could never die.

We left it behind in the thick grass.