• White Facebook Icon
Oct 13, 2018

Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein


Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein by Amanda Peet, ’90? and Andrea Troyer, illustrated by Christine Davinier. Young elementary school children will enjoy reading this picture book and even younger ones will love having it read to them. Helping Jewish children cope with their longing to belong as they view from the outside Santa and all the frenzied excitement of Christmas that comes with him is an age-old problem. Little Rachel just knows that the jolly old elf must care about her too. What she learns amounts to a lesson in comparative religion for the very young and may set her on a path of self-acceptance and tolerance for her future. I will definitely pass Dear Santa on to the kids library at my Unitarian church.



New Posts
  • xxpaulmartin12345x
    Sep 2

    What’s it For? by Henry Humphrey ’49. I was surprised to find that the urban contraptions explained in this book are still mostly quite familiar even though the book is fifty years old. Manhole covers, standpipes, and grates still look pretty much the same. The gizmo where you put your change when you board the bus Is a thing of the past, and I suspect that night depositories have been rendered obsolete by ATMs. Still, the idea of engaging the curiosity of the young about objects they see every day is charming and timeless. I would still show this book to young children and ask if they wonder about the function of anything else.
  • xxpaulmartin12345x
    Jun 25

    Love and Betrayal, A Catullus Reader ( Expanded Edition ) by Elizabeth Baer late 70’s early 80’s with cowriters Bruce Arnold, Gilbert Lawall and Andrew Aronson. The poetry of Catullus (84-54 B. C.) provides the basis for this Latin textbook for intermediate and advanced students. Most of Catullus’ extant poems appear supported by vocabulary and questions in English, which check for recognition of such poetic matters as imagery, rhythm and sound and for appreciation of such literary matters as irony, sarcasm, and motivation. From the standpoint of Latin, I am ill-equipped to comment on this book. I took two years of Latin in high school in the 1950’s. There is not enough left to understand anything but the occasional “puella” and maybe “puer” if it isn’t in an unrecognizably declined form. Nonetheless, I have boldly gone where anyone so scantily prepared should fear to tread, and as with all the other books on this site, I read Love and Betrayal cover to cover. I did cheat. I found a book of free translations online (really dreadful – I’m sure Catullus is spinning), but I plowed ahead and was rewarded. Catullus, you make me wish I had lived in the first century B.C. (That’s an apostrophe btw). In his short life Catullus wrote of what he experienced: love and betrayal (as the title states) friendship, grief, sympathy, silly social climbers, beauty (and sometimes the lack thereof), and securing a bit of immortality through his poems. My favorite of the poems addressed to his love, Lesbia, is number 3 – fletus passeris Lesbiae. It’s about a dead bird. If you read it, let me know what you think. I have two major take-aways from this book. First, Latin must be an important part of the American curriculum. Without scholars, such as the authors of this text, who are dedicated to showing students the allure of antiquity, we would float unmoored in the waters of the present. And without those scholars who preceded them, who date back to the Middle Ages and recovered and transcribed these poems, we could easily have lost this powerful link to our own roots. Secondly, I am struck by how full-blown literature already was back then over two thousand years ago. And then think of, say, Homer -- even farther back. What are we doing as a species? Still writing about love and all that, I guess. Perhaps we have made progress. To be sure, science, medicine, and technology have leaped ahead, and maybe if Catullus lived in our times he would have been spared a young death. But the level of skill and sophistication in the figures of speech, the prosody, and the wit is as fresh today as it was ages ago. Indeed, the emotions that fuel the poems are the same from time immemorial. I love that the authors include comparable poems of more recent poets; as a Francophile, I was thrilled to see represented Ronsard, one of the great carpe diem seducers of all time. That his sixteenth-century French is not modernized, reminds us of the winding road language has taken from Latin to vulgar Latin to old French to the Renaissance to the present day. Oh, and what about that plumb line from Catullus to Chaucer to T.S. Eliot? Fortunate is the student who learns Latin through this text.
  • xxpaulmartin12345x
    Nov 6, 2018

    The Joy of the Court, Retold by Constance Hieatt ’46? Illustrated by Pauline Baynes. Constance Hieatt, a Medieval scholar, sought to make the tales of King Arthur accessible to the young. The Joy of the Court is filled with the magic, whimsy, adventure, valiance and love that we associate with King Arthur and his knights. This is the tale of Erec and Enid as they try to map a course, balancing knightly valor with domestic love. Young readers will enter an enchanted world of spells and honor where nobody says goodbye. Rather they “bid farewell.” Enid seems to be a most obedient and subservient wife, and certainly this is a world of docile women. In this milieu, her bravery is even more remarkable.