The world lost two influential literary voices this week. Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing, best known for her novel The Golden Notebook, passed away Sunday at age 94. And Barbara Park, author of the beloved children’s books featuring her irascible character Junie B. Jones, died Friday after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Park was 66.
While it may not seem that these two very different authors have a lot in common, what Park and Lessing shared was a love of vocal women as well as sense of appreciation for life and its transient nature. Park captured what few writers for children manage to do successfully: the energy and curiosity of a girl with a questioning mind. For her part, Lessing was always adjusting the lens. As we get older, the clarity of a Junie B. Jones is harder to maintain, but Lessing asks us to remember, and to seek the authentic in an often exhausting world.
I wonder what Junie B. and Lessing might have to say to each other:
At eNotes, all of our hand-picked, real-life educators are rock stars. Anyone who reads the answers they write to students’ Homework Help questions can see that. But sometimes, we need to take a moment to recognize someone who consistently knocks it out of the park. And today, after becoming the first eNotes member to surpass 1 million points, that person is our educator pohnpei397.
In his time writing for eNotes, pohnpei has written 34,466 answers! He’s also gained 240 fans, earned 111 badges, and received the most bonuses of any educator. I think we can honestly say eNotes wouldn’t be what it is today without this educator. Just take a look at his answers here to see why.
And check out the brand new 1 million points badge created for the impressive goal pohnpei just reached. Hopefully many more will join pohnpei’s ranks soon.
For a brief week, the Seattle International Film Festival was able to bring Manchester International Festival’s production of Macbeth to the Uptown Theater in Seattle. As a part of a series called National Theater Live (which includes Othello with Adrian Lester and Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller), this production stars the illustrious Kenneth Branagh as the titular Scottish King. I was lucky enough to get tickets to see this thunderous play.
Co-directed by Branagh and Rob Ashford, the production was spectral, but appropriately stark. A lot of the eerie desolation came from the fact that it takes place in a deconsecrated Manchester church. The floors of the church were ripped out, so the stage was a pit of austere earth across which the witches skulked and the Scottish thanes clashed bloodily. Rain was poured unsparingly onto the actors. The dim lighting was the perfect harshness for this sinister play.
True Story: I remember getting my library card more vividly than I recall getting my driver’s license. My best memories of childhood were going to the library with my mom and checking out armfuls of books, which she would read to me for hours on end. At two, I am told, I would stand on tiptoe at the librarian’s desk and request favorites or authors (I didn’t know why the lady laughed at me. I guess most toddlers weren’t as particular.) I would rather go to the library than the movies, or the park, or anywhere else. Still true. The libraries I recall were nothing fancy. Maybe some bulletin boards heralding an upcoming holiday or new books perched half-open, standing on top of shelves. Of course in 197…(cough, cough), there were not nearly as many ways for a child to be entertained. The television had four channels (as God intended): ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. Cartoons were from 7am to 10am, period. No LOL cats, no Youtube…. I like to scare my son with these tidbits. Today, libraries are competing to keep your child reading and finding some interesting ways to do so, by engaging the imagination. Here are a few of my favorite new spaces, and some words from others who continue to love libraries:
On Sunday, November 3, PBS turned forty-four years old. Wow. That’s a lot of numbers. I’d have to count with this vintage piece from Sesame Street a bunch of times to count THAT high!
PBS’s mission, from the beginning, has been to “inform and inspire the diversity reflected in the American audience.” Astonishingly, even with the plethora of choices in broadcasting today, 90% of households watch PBS annually.
There are many reasons to continue to love and support your local PBS station. Its news programming has “been named the most trustworthy institution among nationally known organizations, for ten consecutive years.”
How about Masterpiece Theater, which just celebrated its fortieth birthday and is enjoying wild success with its hit show Downton Abbey? Here’s a preview of Season 4, which premieres on December 17, 2013…