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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Dragons in the Sleeping Bear Dunes!

There’s a new legend in Sleeping Bear country, and the characters are not bears but dragons! According to one story-telling grandfather, dragons came to northern Michigan long before human beings were here. In fact, the dragons came to get away from human beings.

Suggested reading level for Dune Dragons is 7 years old and up to 12, but I’d say a 7-year-old reader would be rather precocious to take on this illustrated chapter book. There are always precocious readers, however, and children will often reach past what they can read easily, given an engaging story.

Dune Dragons seems to be taking the North by storm this season. Maybe adults are reading it, too?

Dune Dragons
by Gretchen Rose
With illustrations by Dianita Ceron
Indigo River Publishing, hardcover, 73pp


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What's sweeter than a small town in Michigan?

How about 99 more small Michigan towns?

Northport is small, but the author may be saving us for a future volume, because only Empire represents Leelanau County in the new book, Little Michigan: A Nostalgic Look at Michigan’s Smallest Towns, a book featuring 100 towns with population of 600 or fewer full-time residents, from Ahmeek in the Upper Peninsula to Zeba, also in the U.P. But never fear — lower Michigan holds 84 of the book’s little Michigan towns.

An introductory map of the state shows all 100 alphabetically and geographically. Each book is then given a double-page spread, opening with a rectangle of color photographs, history of the town, additional noteworthy information, and a paragraph on the town as you will find it today. 

Little Michigan is an invitation to venture off the main roads and into Michigan’s past. How many of these small towns were born in the lumbering era? 

Following the Lake Michigan shoreline south from Empire, a reader quickly finds Bear Lake and Beulah. Perhaps a sequel will include Cedar and Maple City? We can hope! 

Little Michigan: A Nostalgic Look at 
Michigan’s Smallest Towns
by Kathryn Houghton
Paper, 239pp with information source notes


Saturday, August 3, 2019

“Not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom…”

This morning in my bookshop, when I picked up a softcover copy of The First 100 Days of the Kennedy Administration, for some reason I opened the back cover first and found printed there the entire inaugural address. John Kennedy was not a man without flaws, and his administration was not perfect, either, but it does seem that we were then a country of ideals and that we could recognize ideals in one another, even across our differences. 

I was in eighth grade in 1961, a high school sophomore two years later, and it would be a while before my political consciousness was fully raised and engaged. All I would have recognized immediately from John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s inaugural address was the oft-quoted line near the end: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” The line I used for today’s heading is not one I would have remembered at all. And, back near the end of the speech again, does anyone ever quote the imperatives that followed the first “Ask not”? 
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.  
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.

Ponder that last one for a moment.

My parents had not voted for Kennedy, but we wept as a family when he was assassinated and watched the funeral together on television. And now as I read his inaugural address, I keep thinking how different our country is today. When JFK addressed “those nations who would make themselves our adversary,” he ws still, also, speaking to Americans, asking that all of us —
…begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. 
He recognized the “common enemies of man” as “tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.” 

You can read Kennedy’s entire inaugural address here. It’s worth reading, either for the first time or as a reminder of where we've been.