Posts Tagged ‘hope for the future’

We can easily be unaware or forget how strong kids have to be sometimes, or to remember how strong even we needed to be at certain points growing up. I don’t know anyone who had a totally blissful childhood, and even those who claim to have had one? It becomes apparent in further conversations or getting to know someone better that that’s the way they prefer to see it or maybe need to see it. We all have had our share of problems and pain growing up – some more, some less.

AlmostHome-JBauer2But if we were lucky, we had something or someone to hold onto – a best friend, a pet, a trusted teacher or adult, or a passion that saved us. And that was the saving grace of Sugar Mae Cole.

Reading Almost Home by Joan Bauer, reminded me of how some kids need to be the strong ones, maybe even the parents, when really all they want and need is their parents to take care of them. In this middle grade novel, Sugar and her mother Reba found themselves evicted and homeless. Sugar’s father, who she refers to as Mr. Leeland, failed repeatedly to be responsible to his family, gambling all their money away instead. Sugar, 12 years old, got it. Her mother, in her delusion, still believed he was their knight in shining armor who was always going to come through, but never did.

The story at first reminded me of Jeannette Wall’s The Glass Castle, her autobiography, in which her mother always believed that everything was going to turn out just fine.  She chose to see and never failed to point out the bright side in everything to her children even though they were suffering horribly. In either case, being the adult is a lot to ask of a kid when one or both parents aren’t grounded in reality.

Almost Home was a great story that drew me in the more I read. Sugar accepted a puppy name Shush from another little girl who foisted him upon her because her father was abusing him. Shush became an important constant in Sugar’s life, as pets often do for a child. The unconditional love offered by an animal is a phenomenally powerful form of healing. Sugar had something else – she wrote. She wrote poetry about what was happening in her life, and she wrote thank you letters to people frequently. She believed in the sweetness in life, though she found herself often struggling to find it during this time. She also had a teacher who believed in her and kept in touch even though Sugar and Reba had moved away.

What made this story such a winner is that I could easily relate to Sugar. I’m sure her reading audience does as well. One doesn’t have to be homeless to understand conflict and loss. Holding on to your dreams and hope in the midst of it all is the challenge, and getting to know this young heroine who wasn’t about to give up is what made this read so worthwhile.


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Shazaam! I’ve got a magic wand!

Each week my local county paper has a kids’ section that poses a question or two and publishes the children’s answers with their names, schools and grades. I always read these. Sometimes – kids being who they are – the answers are hysterical, some about what you’d expect from a 6 or 7 year old, and sometimes remarkably perceptive. Those are the ones that always make me smile.

This week the paper posed the question, “What would you do with a magic wand?”

There were plenty of answers about making the child and sometimes his family rich, turning her backyard into Disneyland or taking him to Disneyland, getting rid of one’s allergies, getting lots of wonderful foods,  and so on. But then there were these.

“I would use a magic wand when people need help. I would wave my wand and magic spells will help them.”  –  Amy, 1st Grade

“If I found a magic wand, I would wish everyone the best and world peace. World peace is very important to me.”   – Lauren, 5th Grade

“If I found a magic wand, I think I would go back in time to see my ancestors. I would really like to see what they looked like and see what they did. I think it would be really cool.”  – Alexis, 5th Grade

“If I found a magic wand I would stop world hunger! I would also train my puppies to do their business in the woods …”   – Margo, 3rd Grade

“If I were to find a magic wand, I would use it very wisely and only for good …”   – Kristen, 4th Grade

“If I had a magic wand I would find clues to see who lost it and give it back to them because it is the right thing to do and I like to do what is right. I would do it with my parents’ permission.”   – Rhea, 1st Grade

And then there are the future artists and scientists …

“If I found a magic wand I would summon a unicorn! Me and the unicorn would play. I would name it Buttercup. I would ride Buttercup everywhere. That’s what I would do if I found a magic wand.”  – Derek, 3rd Grade

“I would make a duplicate of myself.”   – Wayne, 1st Grade

For those who are worried, take heart … there is definitely hope for the future.

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