Saturday, August 18, 2018
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We know that Lucie Burian Liebman was married for 52 years and had five children. Sir Nicholas Winton British humanitarian (b. 1909) who organized the rescue of about 669 mostly Jewish Czech children visiting Prague in October 2007 – meeting with Czech students. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) At 76, in 2002, a widow in a wheelchair, she revisited her childhood home in Vienna, Austria, and the home of relatives who took her family in for nearly three years in Prague, Czechoslovakia. But, until you read her book, Unconquered: A Tale of a Girl’s Survival During the Holocaust, you don’t know what... (Read More ...)

On a recent visit to China, I asked mothers and fathers if there were any issues between generations in their family about how to raise the grandchild. Sunset of the Forbidden City, Beijing (northwest cornor of the Forbidden City) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I expected to hear about the issues raised by the one-child policy, introduced in 1979, and the pressure on a single child to fulfill all the wishes of the parents and grandparents. What I heard was rather more practical issues, such as a difference of opinion about whether a child should be so bundled up against the cold as to be sweating. Since... (Read More ...)

How did two sisters get jobs with the CIA when their father was a career criminal? U.S. Penitentiary, Atlanta, Ga. (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress) Why did two sisters decide to write a biography of their father when he had mostly been in jail while they were growing up and unrepentantly continued some of his illegal activities every time he got out? What kind of letters do you suppose such a father wrote his children from jail? “My sister and I always thought we would keep our childhood a secret.” The triggering event was an email from an adoptee seeking information about... (Read More ...)

When my father died, suddenly, in Atlanta, Georgia, four days after a hemorrhagic stroke and twenty years before his family’s history would have suggested, I told my mother’s friends I was most worried that my mother would stop eating. A fudge cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia) They swung into action. Mom told me later that, though she had lived in the South for more than fifty years, and generously participated in the ritual of bringing food to the home of the bereaved, she had never understood the tradition. Now, she did. She was unable to lift a finger to feed the dozens of family who came for... (Read More ...)

How many moos should you allow in a herd of cattle? A curved “V” cattle race. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) “…each year, half the cattle in the United States are handled in cruelty-free facilities [Grandin] has designed.” ‘To achieve this unprecedented success, Temple used one of the strengths of autism: she thinks visually, the same way animals do.” Her father thought she was retarded and insisted she be sent to a mental hospital at the age of three. Her mother refused. Instead, she engaged a speech teacher to come three times a week for a daughter who could not talk or laugh. She... (Read More ...)

Many of the science experiments in my blog originated with the Steve Spangler science for kids site, so you can imagine my delight when I was browsing the kids’ section of my local bookstore with my grandson and spotted Spangler’s book, Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes. Diet Coke and Mentos geyser. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I haven’t had success with all of Spangler’s experiments – I tried the Naked Eggs, for instance, and, though it works, I had the reaction of “OK, that’s nice. So, what?” For this reason, I didn’t write it up as an activity to do with your grandchildren, but I... (Read More ...)

If you were a creative artist and decided to paint dozens of old bicycles white and make a fence around your yard with them, at what point would you realize this is a great theme for a children’s book? Bicycle fence. (Photo credit: bestbib&tucker) Sculptor and landscape designer, Tom Noll, in Washington, DC, just wrote his first children’s book around the theme of recycling, called The Bicycle Fence. Based on his decade-long white bicycle fence project in Manassas, Virginia, which he famously decorated for holidays and various occasions, Noll’s book introduces children to... (Read More ...)

DNA model built by Crick and Watson in 1953, on display in the National Science Museum of London.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia) There are several ways to read The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, by Nobel Prize Winner James D. Watson. There is the scientific breakthrough of the structure of DNA that its discoverers thought so significant, that: “Francis wanted no time lost in seeing whether satisfactory three-dimensional models could be built, since the geneticists and nucleic-acid biochemists should not misuse their time and facilities any longer... (Read More ...)

Patrici Hampl, author of I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory, takes an unusual approach to memoir. Koláčky – czech sweet bread with plum jam or poppy seeds, Czech Republic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) First, she tells you about a time when she was a young woman, trying to figure out love. She meets a stranger on a cross-country bus trip, a middle-aged woman she’d just seen passionately kissing, on the mouth, a young man in his 20s, whom Hampl presumed to be the woman’s son. The woman gets on the bus, sits down next to Hampl and, guessing the reason for her confusion,... (Read More ...)

How do you come to terms with growing up in a family where women get pregnant and married young, then spend much of their lives deciding whether to leave their abusive husbands, also trapped, too young, with children to feed? A scan of the book Aunt Louisa’s Bible Picture Book. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) If you not only feel trapped, but, even as a child, you see this pattern repeating throughout your family and are waiting, as for the other shoe to drop, for it to happen to you, how do you cope? Stories. Dorothy Allison, author of “Two or Three Things I Know for Sure,” opens her autobiography... (Read More ...)