Learn More about Author Bradley Groleau

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .<!–td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}- 
Blind Side

Describe your first kiss.
My first kiss was during the summer going into 7th grade. I was with a whole bunch of my friends on a beautiful Friday night. All of us decided to go for a walk in our neighborhood. Some of the other couples split up and went their separate ways. Brianna and I did the same. We ended up sitting on a bench with the moonlight shining down. I had my first kiss. We sat there after the kiss for about two minutes not saying a word. The moment was awkward. Finally we decided to walk back to the house where we met back up with all of our friends.
 

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .

My favorite childhood book is The Heat by Mike Lupica. The main character in this fictional story is Michael. He is a 12 year old boy from Cuba who is a great pitcher. His coaches say he is too good to be only 12 years old. Being from Cuba, Michael does not have a birth certificate. Michael’s best friend and brother help Mike in many ways that convince the coaches that he can play little league baseball. Mikes team makes it to the Little League World Series. He then is able to go to Yankee Stadium and meet his favorite pitcher El Grande. 
A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
A cause that is very close to my heart is the IVAR foundation. I have always loved animals and especially dogs. I have a dog at my home, and I love him dearly. I have a good friend back home who works for IVAR. I visit her when I can, and I help caring for the dogs. I started volunteering my time towards the IVAR foundation after I saw pictures of Michael Vick hosting dog fights. Seeing those pictures was sickening. Caring for dogs is a heartwarming experience, and I am proud to say that I volunteer my time towards IVAR which is a such a good foundation.  
 
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?

I would be Atticus Finch from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus was a great father and taught his children how to be great people and amazing role models. More importantly, Atticus defended a black man, Tom Robinson, in a rape case. Atticus knew Tom was a good man who did not commit rape. At that time supporting a black man was slim to none. But no matter what the circumstances were Atticus made the right decision. He was a man that did not get distracted by outside forces but rather focused on the task at had and conquered it.

Explain the worst job that you’ve held. 
The worst job I have held was being a painter for my local YMCA during the summer. There were some long and hard days painting those walls. My arms and legs would occasionally get sore. I wore some nice shorts on the job one day and those did not turn out so well. I messed up many times and had to clean up the messes I made. I also am afraid of heights. I had to get up on ladders and paint which was not my cup of tea. I would love to work at the YMCA again this summer but not as a painter.

A quote that motivates you . . . 
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”


The title of the one song you would take with you on that deserted island . . . 
The Man by Aloe Blacc

Three Wishes
1) To raise a well rounded family that is strong in the Catholic faith.
2) To receive a job as an Athletic Trainer for a professional sports team.
3) To go on a vacation overseas in either France or Italy.

Favorite game you played as a child . . .

Battlefield 

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
I want my readers to know that I am direct in my writing and am not afraid to share my feelings. I want my readers to realize that I put much time in my writing and like to use big words occasionally. I also want my readers to realize that I am a motivated person who is passionate about life and is a person who cares for others.

Learn More about Author Boris Kiesse-Makangu

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
RAY

 
Describe your first kiss. 
It was in Paris, under a tree by a nice summer night. I was shy, so was she. We took a little while before we kissed but the kiss was even longer. It was long, soft and lovely. I will never forget this!
 

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .

Dragon Ball Z. It’s a Manga ( Japanimation ) of one of the best Manga I ever seen when I was young. I learned how to appreciate a book by beginning to read this book.

 
A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .

Racism and Africa in general. Since I have been in Angola ( Africa ) in 2013 to see my roots and family and cannot see world the same way as before, and my actions cannot be the same as well. I saw people were really suffering even people from my own family. I try to stay close to my rich culture and never forget where I really come from even though I was born and raised in France. I consider myself as an ” African in mission “! Racism because I faced it really often and really young. It’s an issue we must stop.

  
 
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?

<!–td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}-My knowledge in novel is really weak so I cannot tell. But I wish I could be a kind of hero who started from nothing but reached the top and helped his family and never forget his journey and where he came from.

 
Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
All my experiences were different. But I will say this summer job in France when I was taking out the trash of rich people. It was hot and people were rude. I learned a lot about this experience.

 
A quote that motivates you . . . 
“Failure is not an option.”


 
The title of the one song you would take with you on that deserted island . . .
 Curious Pimpin by Tony Yayo & 50 Cent

 
Three Wishes
– Reach my dream and become a professional soccer player
– Never forget where I came from and always stay the same
– Make my family and friends proud of the man they grew up with/raised

 
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
Soccer
 

 
What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
 My experiences and my vision of life.

Lesson of a Life

I just finished my last day at work and it was time to say goodbye to my colleagues. It was late July, and the sun was up in the sky. They were sad or maybe pretended to be, but at this point, I did not care. It was a good time and I learned a lot in that company but it was time to move on and the next step was about to be exciting. I worked as a commercial assistant in a company called “Air Liquide Welding” who was selling industrial supplies. I was fired because the activity was low but actually it was perfect for me because it was my plan to quit because I had others plans for my bright future. My parents were sad that I was fired because they were worried about my future and were scared for me. Nowadays, the work market is quite difficult, and it is hard to find a job because of the crisis. I can understand that they were worried but I was not because I had this plan in my head that I wanted to go back in school but in USA, and I was going to do everything possible to do it. The plan was clear and simple : go back to school in USA. I did not know yet, but life had a lesson for me.
         The 2013 year, I just had one goal : working and save my money to go back in America to study and play soccer. During this year, I thought about coming back to the U.S every single day. Every move was in relation with my future student life in America. My mother was kind of angry because she did not want me to go far away from her once again. She likes her babies close to her. I can understand that but I also needed my space, and life in France was not for me anymore. Too much negativity for me in this country right now and I did not need this in my life. I love my country but I felt like I had to leave it for so many reasons. The reasons were because people always complain and I felt like I was not moving forward in my life anymore, so I needed change in my life. Just after leaving my job, I received this call from the soccer coach of McKendree University, and he wanted me to come to play for August 2013; the fall season. I cannot explain my joy. I felt like all my hard work finally paid off. My little brother was so happy for me. My parents were happy but not that much because they knew I will have to leave the family house once again. The coach wanted me to come in August 2013, but I told him it was impossible due to all the papers I had to send and all my diplomas I had to translate so I asked him if I could come to the university in January 2014, and he said yes. I was so happy, and I could not wait to start doing all the papers and begin my workout plan to be fit in order to be ready for soccer season. All I was thinking about right now was this future adventure, and I was totally happy about that because I take soccer and school seriously.
However, during this summer, my father made an announcement that was going to change every aspect of this adventure and also my future life. He was taking us to Angola in Africa to visit my mother’s parents. My brother and I started to laugh because we had heard this a lot and, we did not believe it anymore. We felt like we were never going to see our roots and motherland. That was sad, but actually we were used to it right now. This time my father was being serious and already had the plane tickets. I was excited because this was my first time in Africa, and I could not wait to see what Africa had to offer. Anyway, we were almost ready and booked all the doctors’ appointments before we went. We were not be allowed to go to Africa if we do not take all the vaccinations before. They are strict about this. The hardest part of a family trip was to pack. It was pretty long, and we had to take with us the right clothes. It was easy because in Angola it is hot, so bring on the shorts and t-shirts. What we also have to know is that in Africa, we cannot come without our hands full of presents. Any kind of presents : clothes, accessories but the most important : medications. They need it, and they will be happy to have it. The packing was finished, I think we were ready to go. The worst part about this long trip were all the connecting flights and the wait.
We flew from Paris to Brussels and then to Luanda, the capital city of Angola. One word to describe this priceless moment : WOW! I felt like a new-born right then. New people, new language (Portuguese), new smells, it was intense and interesting. The best moment when we landed there was when my mother saw her sisters. It was an emotional moment, and I almost cried. They all looked alike, same face, same laugh, same height. I saw my aunts for the first time of my life. I cannot understand when they spoke in Portuguese but I understood when they spoke in Lingala. They were nice and already treated me like I was their new son. In Angola and in Africa in general, people respect family. It was the most precious gift they had instead of money or materials. We were heading to my grandpa’s home, the father of my mother. She had not seen him since 1985. I looked forward to experiencing. We were in different cars my family and I because we brought a lot of luggage. So I tried to talk with my cousin with a mix of French, Portuguese and a lot of English.
We arrived at my grandpa’s house. It was a huge fancy white house the government gave to him because he used to work for the government during the war in Angola. Most of African countries had their independence during the 60s but Angola had it in 1975. So the peace in the country is new. The first time since 1996, I saw my grandparents again. They came to see us in 1996 in Paris. It was the first I met them. My grand-father was an old man. He is also blind, but he can see through his others senses and he is the wisest man I have ever known. My grand-mother is like my mother. A small old lady who talks a lot and likes to take care of people. She also had back and feet problems; the same problems my mother is starting to have. We also met a few of my cousins, around forty cousins. We have a huge family. My mother has nine siblings and my father has twelve siblings and all his brothers and sisters have children. Anyway, we were tired from the trip, but they wanted us to eat before bed. There were a lot of fish and potatoes. We finally went to sleep to be ready to attack the next day. The second day was nice. All sunny, warm weather and warm family. We were finally all reunited together for a month of vacation. My grand-father is blind, but he wrote a book about roots of Kikongo ( Ancestral Language in Angola ). When I used to talk to him, I was fascinated by his calm and wise words. My whole vision of the world changed when we started talking together. He gave advice to me and my brother. He showed me alternative thinking to have a different outlook on life. I will never forget these long night conversations with my “Avo” (Grand-Father in Portuguese). He wanted us to come back in Angola to help the country. He said “Africa needs you, you are the tools of our success. The resources are here and we need your skills to exploit them.” This quote stayed in my head since then. He was right. We came there to visit my mom’s family, but my father also had a few members of his family there.
We went to my uncle’s house. It was a house in a poor neighborhood with no water and electricity. These conditions were rustic, but we had to adapt. But I had never seen a happier person than my uncle. He was so welcoming, always smiling and had this impressive positive outlook on life even though he was poor. That was another lesson here. The world was not based on money and materials. We miss a lot of moments in our lives because we are stuck into “routines” that make us selfish. Back from my uncle’s house, we went back to my “Avo’s” home. After that, we went to the beach; my parents finally received their official Angolan ID, so that means we can be Angolan by affiliation. I am happy about that because it will be easier for me to go back in the future. Life was beautiful. We spent one month in Angola, moving from house to house, cousin to cousin, eating different food and sharing. I was not thinking of my trip in USA anymore. I clearly had the time of my life, and I now had a different vision of life. My goals were the same, but I embrace them differently.
This month gave me now more energy to finish my project to go back to America. Now it was time to go back to Europe. Everybody came to say ” Au revoir ” to us. We cried because my “Avos” were old, and it was maybe the last time we would see them but it was a precious time. Now we went back to France, and my motivation to achieve my goal was renewed. I already knew where I was going, but now I also knew for whom I was doing it.

By Boris Kiesse-Makangu
Young French/Angolan man trying to reach his dreams.  The best way to enjoy your life is to live it!

The Cheater Loses Again

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     Ever imagine being kidnapped by a skeleton made out of bones and wisteria vines? Well that happened to an angry and mean person named Charles. Having an affair and cheating on one’s wife some way or another seems to come back and haunt a person. “The Wisteria”* by Donna A. Leahey is an eco-horror story filled with wonder and excitement. An eco-horror story is “…a documentary dealing with the possible disastrous ecological consequences of human activity” (Wikipedia). “The Wisteria” is a story that definitely surprises one and can even make one’s heart rate rise as one continues to read waiting to find out what is going to happen next. 
 
      There is tension in the beginning of the story as married Charles and Gia are fighting over the wisteria vines on their house. Wisteria are flowering plants that run up stalks. These are thick and long vines that are starting to take over the house and destroy the siding. Gia said in regard to her husband, “Beauty is only skin deep, but handsome is even more shallow” (1). This quote stuck out to me and made me ask the question, does Gia even love her husband anymore? Charles yells and curses at Gia constantly. Gia wanted to pry up the deck so she and Charles could cut the vines and roots beneath the deck. There is foreshadowing in the text as Charles said to Gia, “Leave the goddamned deck alone” (2)! Charles tells Gia this because that is where he buried Melissa whom he murdered. 
As the story progresses, we see that Gia is more in love with her dog Roo than she is with her husband. This is also foreshadowing because Gia is more worried about saving her dog than she is in saving her husband at the end of the story. We know that Charles does not like Roo because he shoved Roo aside with the side of his foot. Charles has a cat named Snowbelle. Gia does not like Charles’ cat because it urinated in her $250 shoes.  
The next morning Gia wakes up early and decides to go out on the deck, relax, and drink some coffee. Charles will not be back till late at night due to a busy day at work. Gia lets Roo and Snowbelle into the backyard. Gia begins thinking about the past and how well she and Charles enjoyed being around each other. Gia starts thinking about all the women Charles went to school with over the years. These women fell in love with Charles just as she did. One woman that stands out is Melissa. Gia is right in believing that Charles had an affair with Melissa. Charles had a baby with Melissa as well. Charles then decided to kill both Charles and the baby so Gia could never find out. Charles buries Melissa under the deck that he built by the house. He also brought the little wisteria cuttings home and planted them right next to Melissa’s grave. Over the course of five years as the vines grew, the vines started receiving blood supply from the corpse of Melissa.
Gia all of a sudden hears a muffled meow and angrier howl. Snowbelle is trapped in the wisteria vines under the deck. Gia starts cutting the vines with the clippers and notices the liquid coming from the vines was dark, thick, and red as blood. This is beautiful visual imagery that reminds the reader how rich blood is. The blood also symbolizes life in the vines. Snowbelle ends up dying due to at least three puncture wounds from the vines in her belly.
After Snowbelle’s death, Roo ends up in Gia’s and Charles’ bedroom. Roo is crying for help, and eventually Gia is able to open the door to the bedroom. Roo escapes three vines that were able to puncture the screen in the room. Snowbelle dying from the vines and Roo escaping the vines both foreshadow the outcomes of Charles and Gia later in the story.
Gia finally decides it is time to start cutting all of these wisteria vines because they are out of control, and she is scared. Charles is still not back from work. She uses clippers and cuts multiple vines. Gia said the scene looked like a murder scene due to all of the blood. She then decides to start cutting through the deck with a saw. As sunlight hits the earth and vines that have not seen sunlight for five years, (hence five years since Charles buried Melissa) bones started coming out of the sun-warmed earth. A skeleton finally formed as the wisteria vines put all of the bones together.
The skeleton was Melissa who was looking for Charles. Gia finally realized that Charles did lie to her regarding Melissa. Melissa grabs a hold of Gia and Roo with her vines. Gia and Roo fight for their lives because they are terrified. Gia grabs hold of a sturdy pole and is able to start clipping vines off of her body. Charles eventually returns to the house, and Melissa’s attention turns towards Charles. This allows for Gia and Roo to return back into the house safely because Gia is able to use the clippers in her pocket and cut the wisteria vines off of her and Roo. Now Melissa has full control of Charles, and there is no way he is escaping. Melissa and Charles sink down into the ground and Charles’ wedding ring is left sitting alone in the dirt. I believe this symbolizes that Charles and Gia are no longer married together.
The Wisteria” eco-horror story contained foreshadowing and action packed events that kept the reader engaged with the reading. Charles was mean to Gia and did not treat her with respect. Charles also cheated on Gia with Melissa and had a baby with Melissa. He murdered both of them so Gia could never find out about the affair. People more often than not who are not truthful tend to lose in the end. In this story, Charles, who is the cruel husband and cheater, loses in the end. Gia can now enjoy her life with her dog and hopefully find a new husband that will treat her with the respect she deserves.
By Brad Groleau
I am a Division II baseball player and enjoy being around friends in my free time.
*”The Wisteria” may be found in the short story anthology Growing Concerns.

Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers Book Club

After listening to Leslie Leyland Fields share with the audience her own dysfunctional childhood at the 2014  Hearts at Home conference, I ordered her book, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers.  Reading this book in a twenty-four hour span, I ended up highlighting ninety-nine passages in this 213 page work.
  
Fields relays her own childhood traumas as well as others she has encountered in life and through research.  In addition the Gold Medallion-nominated co-author, Dr. Jill Hubbard, a clinical psychologist, provides further professional analysis at the end of each chapter.  Thus, not merely a “this is my story, and here’s what works for me,” but a credible exploration of forgiveness using both the Bible and the discipline of psychology as references.

Furthermore, an expansive list of references provides not only trustworthy support of the reading, but also a ready-made list of must reads and must views such as Patricia Hampl’s I Could Tell You Stories and Ed Dobson’s Ed’s Story.  

For the purposes of book club, a group of trustworthy friends gathered together to speak honestly about Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers while eating endless bowls of ice cream in acknowledgment of Fields’ father would be ideal.

Learn More about Author Donna Leahey

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .

I don’t like tear jerkers, I avoid them – I don’t need help feeling sad, I need help feeling happy! When I watch Moulin Rouge (which, I admit, I love), I always skip past the opening scenes until he first arrives in Paris and I shut it off when the curtain falls, so it’s a happy love-conquers-all story. And yes, I know, that runs counter to the intention of the story to explore every aspect of love, but that’s ok with me. 
Describe your first kiss. 
My first kiss was nothing special, so I’ll tell you about one of my favorite kisses. I was giving a friend a ride home one evening and we were in the driveway talking.

He put his hand on my neck and leaned forward and then he kissed me. His lips were so soft, and his hands were so warm. It wasn’t the sexiest or the most passionate kiss, but a few decades later, it remains the sweetest kiss I’ve ever had.

He pulled away suddenly and laughed a little, looking over my shoulder. I turned and there was one of his young cousins – a little boy maybe six years old, hands clutching the open window frame, peering in like a Kilroy-was-here drawing.

I laughed, too, because it was adorable, this little kid’s wide eyes.

If I could go back in time, that would have been my first kiss. It’s a much better memory. 

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .

I still love the Shel Silverstein books of poetry that I got for my son. Wonderful word play, wonderful messages.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .

The messages we send to young girls – and for that matter young boys about girls – bother me. I grew up before there was a pink aisle in the toy story and I don’t understand how we allowed this to happen to our daughters.

Pink sparkly toys and clothes, princesses, and sexualized images that start so very young.

Gender neutral toys – like LEGO, for instance, don’t need to be pink.

As in all aspects of a woman’s life, whether a girl wants to be a girly little princess or be her own hero should be a choice she’s able to make, but right now, being anything but a princess is tough for a little girl. If you want to be a tomboy, like I was, you’re going to have shop in boy’s clothes just for something to wear.

Add to that the lack of representation of good, strong role-models in books and movies, and it’s tough to be a girl. I am excited to see books like The Hunger Games and Divergent being published and becoming popular. These books feature strong, independent young women who deal with their own problems through determination and without a big, strong man coming along to save them.

We need more positive non-princessy images for our daughters, sisters, nieces. If a little girl actually wants to be a pretty-little-princess-in-pink, then more power to her. I hope she finds her prince. But if she wants to be her own hero, we should be making sure that’s possible for her as well.

  
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?

That’s a tough one because my favorite books are all pretty hard on their characters. I enjoy Stephen King, for instance, and who would want to be in a Stephen King novel!

But, I’m going to go ahead and expand the definition of “novel” to include graphic novels and therefore comic books and say that I want to be a super hero! Someone who flies and fights for justice and saves the world. Maybe Storm or Rogue. Yeah, I think I’d like to be Rogue.

Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
I worked in a print screening shop. There was no air conditioning and in the summer the oven that cooks the ink onto the shirts would push the temp inside close to over 110 degrees. Among other things, my job included cleaning the screens with harsh chemicals that turned the skin on my hands so rough I could have sanded wood with my palms! Not to mention the ink constantly under my fingernails that just wouldn’t go away.

None of that was the worst though. I’m a geek, a nerd, I love science fiction and fantasy, and can quote Monty Python. Every single other employee there was what a friend of mine would call “bro-dudes.” We did not get along at all and felt a lot like being back in high school where I just didn’t fit in.

A quote that motivates you . . .

<!–td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}–“The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”

That’s the opening line to Stephen King’s Gunslinger. I hope that someday I can write an opening line even halfway as brilliant.


The title of the one song you would take with you on that deserted island . . .

I think it would have to be Bohemian Rhapsody. Though anything in The Beatles catalogue would do as well.

Three Wishes
1. I wish to be able to fly – preferably with big feathery wings, but that part’s negotiable.
2. I wish my son to be happy, to have the skills and the means to achieve his dreams and to live a long, healthy, and fulfilled life (I had to have one sappy one, right?)
3. I wish people everywhere learned to listen to each other, to understand each other. I think so many of our world problems come from a lack of ability – or a refusal – to understand.
  
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
I grew up in the country. I can’t think of a particular game, but I ran wild, digging in the dirt, climbing trees, watching bugs. I learned so much about the natural world just from exploring it.
 

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?

I was rather surprised to learn that most of my stories have some sort of moral to them. Good triumphs and bad things happen to bad people. I didn’t expect it and I didn’t particularly mean to do it, but I’ve learned to accept that I am that writer.

So I hope that my readers see that the right thing is always worth fighting for.

I hope that I write female characters that girls can look up to, that they can know they don’t have to wait for a man to save them.

And, finally, I hope that reading my stories leaves them wanting to read more!

Book Club Babes: FINAL Book Selections

p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; direction: ltr; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); line-height: 120%; }p.western { font-family: “Liberation Serif”,”Times New Roman”,serif; font-size: 12pt; }p.cjk { font-family: “Droid Sans”; font-size: 12pt; }p.ctl { font-family: “Lohit Hindi”; font-size: 12pt; }Overwhelmed by the tremendous book club picks, I am counting down the days until our first discussion.  The variety of subject matter chosen was exactly what I was hoping for, and these second-grade selections surpassed my expectations.  Now, we are anxiously awaiting our book order in the mail . . .
EllaBink and Gollie (88 pages), Meet: 5/17, I see peanut butter and pancakes in our future . . .

IsabellaDisneyFrozen (123 pages), I’m thinking viewing party after discussion.  Oh yeah!

Colleen
Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab:  A Mystery with Electrogmagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build Yourself(240 pages), Experiments galore after discussion . . .

GraceThe Puppy Place:  Chewy and Chica (144 pages),Meet at the G.C. Berry to read with the STARS with Dogs

EmmaIsabelle:  American Girl Today (128 pages), I know they offer American Girl workshops at the G.C. Berry.

CorinnaJunie B. Jones and that Meanie Jim’s Birthday(85 pages),An Unbirthday Partay

AvaFlat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures 2: The Great Egyptian Grave Robbery(96 pages), Visit the Egyptian mummies at the Art Museum and take pics of ourselves flattened out next to the exhibits

FaithWhat If You Had Animal Hair? by Sandra Markle (32 pages), Photoshop ourselves with animal hair.

TessIvy and Bean Break the Fossil Record by Annie Barrows (114 pages), Make salt dough dinosaur fossils . . .
SidneeNever Girls #1: In a Blink (Disney Fairies) (128 pages), Watch Peter Pan: Return to Neverland

GrahamThree Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (256 pages), Eat at Teaspoons Cafe while discussing the book . . .

KirstinMagic Kitten: A Summer Spell (128 pages), Visit the Humane Society and pet some kitties???

Exploring Hispanic Literature: Cisneros and Soto

In teaching English 111, I like to have the students analyze a variety of short stories exploring various genres and cultures.  For a sampling of Hispanic literature, I have chosen Sandra Cisneros’ “The Storyteller,” and Gary Soto’s “One Last Time,” both of which are found in our textbook, The Blair Reader.  I have students work in pairs in order to explore the following discussion questions:

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1. Evaluate the “hook” of this essay. Effective? Why, or why not?
2. Cisneros’ father is an opinionated man. Use the text to prove this point.
3. Cisneros makes use of the senses in her writing. Use the text to prove the use of the following senses.
Smell-
Touch-
Sound-
4. Give an example of a metaphor in the reading. Significance?
5. Cisneros discusses the importance of a conclusion. Does her conclusion fill her own requirements of an effective conclusion? Why, or why not?
6. Although Cisneros is writing largely about past events in her own life, she often uses third person and present tense. Where does she use first person? Where does she use third person? Explain the significance of these shifts in her writing.
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One Last Time” by Gary Soto
1. Explain the “hook” Soto uses in his essay. Effective? Why, or why not?
2. What can you infer from, “Mother also found herself out there when she was separated from Father for three weeks” (P 2)? Significance? How do you know your inference is true? Use the text to prove your position.
3. Why does Mother drive in silence while Gary “rambled on . . .” (P 3)? Use the text to prove your position.
4. Explain the significance of the knife in this essay. Prove this significance with use of the text.
5. Find three similes in this essay. Significance?
6. How does Soto show respect for his mother? Explain.
7. Give some examples from the text where Soto judges others. Thoughts?

Learn More about Author Cym Lowell

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . . 
Love Story

Describe your first kiss.
I was a young teenager in a workers’ hotel in England with my parents. An older girl asked me to come to her room. With no such experience, I assumed it was a game of some sort. She began kissing me. I took off..
Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .

Whooba Monsters, which my oldest daughter and I prepared when she was a child, then played the game throughout her and her siblings youth, now with grandchildren.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .

Operation Next Chapter, which has opened a whole new vista of giving back. I have also discovered The Dorr in New York City that will be an object of my philanthropy in the future. Both are quite amazing. 

  
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?
I would be John C. Jaegerman in the Riddle of Berlin because he is a character that I created many years ago. In hindsight, I was writing about my own emotional feelings at the time.
Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
Any job where I am told what to do. I like freedom to achieve a result in my own way. I have done the dirtiest jobs in the world.

A quote that motivates you . . .

“I have a dream . . . .”

The title of the one song you would take with you on that deserted island . . .

Perhaps Love.

Three Wishes
1. To love and give.
2. To be loved and appreciated.
3. To give back, providing whatever of my experience in life can benefit younger generations.
  
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
Whiffle ball.
 

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?

Thoughtful emotional identity with my characters.

Looking Glass Playhouse’s The Diary of Anne Frank

Discovering there was a community theater in Lebanon, Illinois, while driving home from work, I knew I wanted to view a performance.  Perusing the Looking Glass Playhouse’s site, I saw The Diary of Anne Frank was showing in March.  Having recently watched a six-episode documentary on Auschwitz, I had to purchase tickets.

Recruiting my Hot Yoga/Yoga under the Arch buddy, Beth P. agreed to sit in the first row with me, front and center, for opening night, March 13, 2014.

Directed by Kathleen Dwyer and Rob Lippert, the utilization of the stage was mesmerizing- not a nook or cranny was wasted.  With different scenes highlighted through lighting, the audience was led through two tempestuous years of the life of a young girl.

Anne Frank, played by Diana Risse, Margot Frank played by Victoria Symonds, and Peter Van Daan played by Connor Sanders truly embraced the metamorphosis from innocent children to burdened young adults due to the horrors of warfare.

Close attention to detail was made by the costume designer, Cathy Symonds.  Characters initially dressed in white socks and kempt attire for Act I were found to be in holey socks and ragged sweaters for Act II showing the progression of time and the effects of lingering circumstances.

The visual impact of the final scene with all characters on stage standing at attention as excerpts of Anne Frank’s diary projected across their bodies had quite the influence on the audience.  When lights were brought up again, there was brief hesitation as to whether the audience should clap or cry after such an absorbing orchestration.

My only complaint was the lack of biographies on the cast, staff, and directors in the program.  Overwhelmed by such a production, I wanted to learn more about those involved in The Diary of Anne Frank’s fruition.

Future showings are March 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 2014.