Epitaph Road

by David Patneaude, a young adult novel, now available in Kindle format

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Imagine a future world run by women: no war, no violence, almost no crime. The military budget has been diverted to support infrastructure, and the jails have been converted to schools and libraries. But the cost was high: A terrible plague has wiped out most of the male population, and strict population controls limit the males to three percent. Kellen is a fourteen-year-old boy living in this future society, and he misses his dad.

Underlying this utopian but regimented world lies a disturbing secret. When Kellen and two girls uncover it, they set off on a bicycle journey to warn his dad. The tension ratchets up as they discover a secret underground lab where an even darker evil is being hatched.

Compelling and gripping, David Patneaude’s stunning story draws you in with both cinematic action and heartfelt poetry. Each chapter opens with an epitaph written by a woman or girl for the man or boy she lost in the plague. The premise—a world run by women—fires the imagination, and the ending will keep you pondering long after you have finished reading. 

More about Dave at http://www.patneaude.com/patneaude.com/Welcome.html 

The War that Saved My Life

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, ages 9 – 12,  A Newbery Honor book in 2016

The War That Saved My LifeThis compelling story kept me reading late into the night—partly because awful things happened and partly because I cared so much. When the story begins, in a grim flat in London just as war with Hitler begins, Ada and her brother live with their mother, Mam. Ada has a clubfoot, and Mam won’t let her leave home or even walk with crutches. That seems so cruel!

But when London children are evacuated to the countryside, Ada and her little brother get on the train and have to go live with strangers in a place safe from Hitler’s bombs. In a village in Kent, they are placed with Susan, a cranky woman who does not want children. But Susan, who wrestles with her own demons, provides food, baths, clean sheets, patience, and eventually love. An ill-kept pony, a mangy cat, a nearby airfield, and, yes, bombing by the Germans bring the story to life.

She persisted. She stood up for herself. And she found where she belonged.  An inspiring and lovable tale!

Eager to see the sequel, The War I Finally Won, coming in October 2017. More at http://www.kimberlybrubakerbradley.com/

Kira-Kira

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by Cynthia Kadohata, ages 10 - 14,   2005 Newbery Medal winner

Be prepared for sadness as well as beauty when you read this glittering novel. Katie adores her older sister, Lynn, who helps her when they move from Iowa to Georgia in the 1950s. They are among only 31 Japanese Americans in their new town, and their parents work hideously long hours in a non-unionized poultry plant and hatchery.  Yet they enjoy camping trips, their baby brother, and special moments together, staring at the stars. Lynn has a special way of viewing the world, seeing joy in everyday things.

When Lynn starts to feel tired and sick, no one realizes how serious her illness is. Still devoted, Katie spends long hours with her sister as the illness gets worse. Heartbreaking as this story is, it is also funny, poignant, compelling, and inspiring. Lynn’s dream was to go to college and to live by the sea in California, and Katie wants to keep her dreams alive. Because of Katie’s fresh and detailed way of telling her story, you will come to love her family as if it were your own. 

The author's website is http://cynthiakadohata.com/

Inside Out & Back Again

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by Thanhha Lai, ages 8 – 12,   a 2012 Newbery Honor book and 2011 National Book Award Winner

Delightful verse brings you right inside the head of a girl who has always lived in Saigon with her mother and brothers. Her vivid descriptions of papaya trees and mopeds and water spinach and hammocks illustrate how much she loved her life there. In 1975, as the war ends badly, we follow young Ha as she boards an overcrowded boat, “trapped in putrid, hot air made from fermented bodies and oily sweat” as their country, South Vietnam, disappears.

A man she thinks is a cowboy rescues them from a refugee camp in Florida, but life in Alabama is hard. At school, classmates tease her with whispers of “Boo-Da,” and a bully she calls Pink Boy torments her. Her brothers save her more than once, by bicycle or motorcycle. The family gets by.

This story is based on the author’s own experience, moving from Vietnam to America, so it rings with authenticity and lyrical grace. Highly recommended—even for those who think they don’t like books in verse.   The author's website is here http://www.thanhhalai.com/author/

From Age-ing to Sage-ing

Aging to Saging smallI was moved by this book, which offers “a profound new vision of growing older.” It encourages us to become more spiritual and compassionate as we age.

Written in 1995 by a rabbi, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, with co-author Ronald Miller, it draws on many wisdom traditions, including the native American concept of “wisdom keepers,” and speaks to all of us who are getting older. This rabbi recommends that we each consciously aim to be an elder, “a sage who offers his experience, balanced judgment, and wisdom for the welfare of society.” His new model of late-life development – which he calls “sage-ing” - aims to enable us to “become spiritually radiant, physically vital, and socially responsible elders of the tribe.” The book explores his vision and gives tools for “harvesting life” and examples of how we can become mentors of the young and healers of family, community, and earth.

For nearly twenty years, Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi headed the Spiritual Eldering Institute, which organized nondenominational workshops to help people become elders in our modern world. Others took over this work in 2005, and the rabbi, a founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, died at age 89 just last month, July 2014.

As we age, he wrote, “we still have a full-time vocation that gives our lives meaning: developing wisdom and making it available for the well-being of society.” He encourages us to develop our inner life and become “sages in training.”

To me, this was fascinating – and relevant to my work in interviewing elders about their understanding of life issues in Warm Cup of Wisdom.

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