Beyond Words

Mar 12, 2023 by Rose O'Keefe

The Wheel on the School, the 1955 Newbery Award winner by Meindert DeJong, started off at such a slow pace that I wondered how it could have won a prize. The determination of little Lina, the only girl among five boy students at a small school in rural Holland, was astounding. Lina wondered why their village had no storks and set in motion a sequence of events that upended everyday life before a monstrous storm threatened them all. DeJong gave such a detailed look at how boxed in the locals were about the roles of boys and girls, men and women by age and sex. I reread the first and last chapters after I got home to study DeJong’s style. The story had no dates, and I guessed it took place after WWI, but the details about rural life had an authenticity to them that was memorable. His respect for a little girl’s intelligence, vision and strength was wonderful!

When I had the energy to read, my five days in the hospital were brightened by the Winter/Spring 2022 issue of Lake Affect magazine. The articles and artwork were so good, it made me ashamed that I didn’t have a subscription to this local gem. Definitely on my to-do list. The March 2023 issue of City News magazine made me so happy to live in Rochester. Although timely, the topic of childcare, has been unchanged since the 90s when I had to juggle with day care. The feature on South Wedge Barber Jennifer Belardino, gave recognition  to a marvelous, hard-working, colorful woman, as did the article on Karen St. Aubin, our city’s “Snow Boss.” City had the sale of a longtime Irish pub and the opening of a new Mexican restaurant as well as the annual Lake Ontario plunge. The entire issue kept me entertained until I could go home.  

Back on my own couch, I groaned at the slow-paced first chapter of …and now Miguel, the 1954 Newbery Award winner by Joseph Krumgold. It told of the deep longing of 12-year-old Miguel to spend the summer in the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico, with the grown men who tended a flock of 1,200 sheep. While Miguel got his wish, it came after several unexpected turns of events that masterfully showed the daily life of sheep farmers. Miguel’s relationship with his 18-year-old-brother Gabriel brought the story to an unexpected climax. Krumgold’s respect for a country boy stepping into bigger shoes was outstanding.

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