Happy Birthday Harper Lee

To-Kill-a-Mockingbird

NAME: Nelle Harper Lee
OCCUPATION: Author
BIRTH DATE: April 28, 1926
EDUCATION: Huntington College, University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Oxford University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Monroeville, Alabama

Best Known For:  Harper Lee is best known for writing the Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)—her one and only published novel.

Writer. Born Nelle Harper Lee on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama. Lee Harper is best known for writing the Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)—her one and only novel. The youngest of four children, she grew up as a tomboy in a small town. Her father was a lawyer, a member of the Alabama state legislature, and also owned part of the local newspaper. For most of Lee’s life, her mother suffered from mental illness, rarely leaving the house. It is believed that she may have had bipolar disorder.

One of her closest childhood friends was another writer-to-be, Truman Capote (then known as Truman Persons). Tougher than many of the boys, Lee often stepped up to serve as Truman’s protector. Truman, who shared few interests with boys his age, was picked on for being a sissy and for the fancy clothes he wore. While the two friends were very different, they both shared in having difficult home lives. Truman was living with his mother’s relatives in town after largely being abandoned by his own parents.

In high school, Lee developed an interest in English literature. After graduating in 1944, she went to the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Lee stood apart from the other students—she could have cared less about fashion, makeup, or dating. Instead, she focused on her studies and on her writing. Lee was a member of the literary honor society and the glee club.

Transferring to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Lee was known for being a loner and an individualist. She did make a greater attempt at a social life there, joining a sorority for a while. Pursuing her interest in writing, Lee contributed to the school’s newspaper and its humor magazine, the Rammer Jammer. She eventually became the editor of the Rammer Jammer.

In her junior year, Lee was accepted into the university’s law school, which allowed students to work on law degrees while still undergraduates. The demands of her law studies forced her to leave her post as editor of the Rammer Jammer. After her first year in the law program, Lee began expressing to her family that writing—not the law—was her true calling. She went to Oxford University in England that summer as an exchange student. Returning to her law studies that fall, Lee dropped out after the first semester. She soon moved to New York City to follow her dreams to become a writer.

In 1949, a 23-year-old Lee arrived in New York City. She struggled for several years, working as a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines and for the British Overseas Air Corp (BOAC). While in the city, Lee was reunited with old friend Truman Capote, one of the literary rising stars of the time.

She also befriended Broadway composer and lyricist Michael Martin Brown and his wife Joy.

In 1956, the Browns gave Lee an impressive Christmas present—to support her for a year so that she could write full time. She quit her job and devoted herself to her craft. The Browns also helped her find an agent, Maurice Crain. He, in turn, was able to get the publishing firm interested in her first novel, which was first titled Go Set a Watchman, then Atticus, and later To Kill a Mockingbird. Working with editor Tay Hohoff, Lee finished the manuscript in 1959.

Later that year, Lee joined forces with old friend Truman Capote to assist him with an article he was writing for The New Yorker. Capote was writing about the impact of the murder of four members of the Clutter family on their small Kansas farming community. The two traveled to Kansas to interview townspeople, friends and family of the deceased, and the investigators working to solve the crime. Serving as his research assistant, Lee helped with the interviews, eventually winning over some of the locals with her easy-going, unpretentious manner. Truman, with his flamboyant personality and style, also had a hard time initially getting himself into his subjects’ good graces.

During their time in Kansas, the Clutters’s suspected killers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, were caught in Las Vegas and brought back for questioning. Lee and Capote got a chance to interview the suspects not long after their arraignment in January 1960. Soon after, Lee and Capote returned to New York. She worked on the galleys for her forthcoming first novel while he started working on his article, which would evolve into the nonfiction masterpiece, In Cold Blood. The pair returned to Kansas in March for the murder trial. Later that spring, Lee gave Capote all of her notes on the crime, the victims, the killers, the local communities, and much more.

Soon Lee was engrossed in her literary success story. In July 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was published and picked up by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Literary Guild. A condensed version of the story appeared in Reader’s Digest magazine. The work’s central character, a young girl nicknamed Scout, was not unlike Lee in her youth. In one of the book’s major plotlines, Scout and her brother Jem and their friend Dill explore their fascination with a mysterious and somewhat infamous neighborhood character named Boo Radley. But the work was more than a coming-of-age story, however. Another part of the novel reflected racial prejudices in the South. Their attorney father, Atticus Finch, tries to help a black man who has been charged with raping a white woman to get a fair trial and to prevent him from being lynched by angry whites in a small town.

The following year, To Kill a Mockingbird won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize and several other literary awards. Horton Foote wrote a screenplay based on the book and used the same title for the 1962 film adaptation.

Lee visited the set during filming and did a lot of interviews to support the film. Earning eight Academy Award nominations, the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird won four awards, including Best Actor for Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch. The character of Atticus is said to have been based on Lee’s father.

By the mid-1960s, Lee was reportedly working on a second novel, but it was never published. Continuing to help Capote, Lee worked with him on and off on In Cold Blood. She had been invited by Smith and Hickock to witness their execution in 1965, but she declined. When Capote’s book was finally published in 1966, a rift developed between the two friends and collaborators. Capote dedicated the book to Lee and to his longtime lover Jack Dunphy, but he failed to acknowledge her contributions to the work. While Lee was very angry and hurt by this betrayal, she remained friends with Truman for the rest of his life.

That same year, Lee had an operation on her hand to repair damage done by a bad burn. She also accepted a post on the National Council of the Arts at the request of President Lyndon B. Johnson. During the 1970s and 1980s, Lee largely retreated from public life.

She spent some of her time on a nonfiction book project about an Alabama serial killer, which had the working title The Reverend. But the work was never published.

Lee continues to live a quiet, private life in New York City and Monroeville. Active in her church and community, she usually avoids anything to do with her still popular novel.

 

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Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

Earlier this week, I biked the lower half of the Lake Washington Loop.  Today, I am going to bike the upper half.  The upper half is a lot prettier (sorry Renton) and has a lot of it’s own path.  The whole loop is about 60 miles.  I am not sure how far the top half is.

When there are bad accidents that people survive, there are always comments about how things are “miracles” and how “God’s not done with you yet” and so forth. So I guess God was done with all the other people that died and for whatever reason, they don’t get any miracles? Whenever I see someone on the news obviously trying to wrap their heads around what they have been through and dealing with survivors guilt and they claim that their guardian angel saved them, I think of this quote:

So this is how it is: the innocent suffer, the guilty go free, and truth and fiction are pretty much interchangeable. There is neither a Santa Claus nor an Easter Bunny, and there are no angels watching over us. This just happen for no reason. And nothing makes any sense..

There are people that can handle the randomness of how the world works and people who need to have everything explained to them and are willing to believe fairy tales and fables if that’s what it takes. Pray all you want to whoever you want, but in the end, we all turn to dust and are forgotten.

Texas must be happy that Arizona and Florida are now considered the bat-shit crazy racist states and it can fly under the radar. But Arizona and Florida better watch out for Kansas and Michigan…

This week on Waldina, I celebrated the birthdays of Beverly Cleary, Mary Pickford, James Garner and Jean-Paul Belmondo, confessed my obsession for the Brazilian capitol of Brasilia, remembered the publication of The Great Gatsby, published the list of everything I am currently on my radar.

The Stats:

Total views: 109,722
Views This Week: 792
Total Subscribers: 264
Total Posts: 1,076

This week on Wasp & Pear on Tumblr, I posted photos of containers turned into houses, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of Hole’s Live Through This, reminded you that Odwalla Super Food has the same amount of sugar of five Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, posted photos of abandoned places, Saint Hoax transforming world leaders into drag queens and reminded everyone of the silliness of banning books.

The Stats:

Total Posts: 2,047
Posts This Week: 43
Total Subscribers: 163

I chronicle what inspires me at Waldina.com
I faceplace at facebook.com/parkeranderson
I store my selfies at instagram.com/therealspa#
I tumblr at waspandpear.tumblr.com/
I tweet at twitter.com/TheRealSPA
I ADN at alpha.app.net/spa

 

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Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Today is the 110th birthday of a man considered to be the most popular children’s book writer in American history, the best-selling children’s book writer of all time, and a man who revolutionized the way children learned to read: Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.  I have been obsessed with “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” since watching it one christmas at my mother’s house.  It is insane.    I am not the only fan, there are legions of them, many honoring him with similarly-rhythmed writing.  What David Rakoff did in his book Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A Novel is brilliant.   You can listen to some of it read (it is absolutely best when read by the author) in an episode  for This American Life called “Oh The Places You Won’t Go” (TAL Show #470:  Show Me The Way).   You can listen to it here and I truly wish you would.

drseusswartime1

NAME: Theodor “Ted” Seuss Geisel
OCCUPATION: Illustrator, Author
BIRTH DATE: March 02, 1904
DEATH DATE: September 24, 1991
EDUCATION: Dartmouth College, University of Oxford
PLACE OF BIRTH: Springfield, Massachusetts
PLACE OF DEATH: La Jolla, California

Best Known For:  Throughout his career, cartoonist and writer Dr. Seuss published 60 children’s books, including The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.

Today is the 110th birthday of a man considered to be the most popular children’s book writer in American history, the best-selling children’s book writer of all time, and a man who revolutionized the way children learned to read: Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on this day in 1904. He’s the author of more than 60 children’s books, including Horton Hears a Who! (1954), One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (1960), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), Hop on Pop (1963), Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! (1975), The Butter Battle Book (1984), and of course, The Cat in the Hat (1957).

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

He was the grandson of German immigrants, a lifelong Lutheran, a Dartmouth graduate, and an Oxford dropout. His mom was 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, a competitive platform high diver who read him bedtime stories every night. His dad inherited a brewery from his own German immigrant father a month before Prohibition began in the U.S., and eventually became a zookeeper who took young Theodor with him to work. The future Dr. Seuss grew up around the zoo, running around in the cages with baby lions and baby tigers.
At Dartmouth, he majored in English and wrote for the campus humor magazine. But one night he was caught drinking gin with some friends; since this was during Prohibition, it was an illegal act. The Dartmouth administration did not expel him, but as a disciplinary punishment, they did make him resign from all of his extracurricular activities, including the humor magazine, of which he was the editor-in-chief. From then on, he wrote for the magazine subversively, signing his work with his mother’s maiden name, Seuss.
His mother’s family pronounced it “Soise,” the way it’s said in Germany, but people in the States kept mispronouncing it Seuss. He eventually embraced the Anglican mispronunciation: After all, it rhymed with Mother Goose, not a bad thing for an aspiring children’s book writer.

In 1937, he published his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, which he said was inspired by the rhythms of a steamliner cruiser he was on. He wrote the book, and much of the rest of his life’s work, in rhyming anapestic meter, also called trisyllabic meter. The meter is very alluring and catchy, and Seuss’s masterful use of it is a big part of why his books are so enjoyable to read. The meter is made up of two weak beats followed by a stressed syllable — da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM, as in “And today the Great Yertle, that Marvelous he / Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.”

A big study came out in the 1950s called “Why Johnny Can’t Read.” It was by an Austrian immigrant to the U.S., an education specialist who argued that the Dick and Jane primers being used to teach reading in grade school classrooms across America were boring and, worse, not an effective method for teaching reading. He called them “horrible, stupid, emasculated, pointless, tasteless little readers,” which went “through dozens and dozens of totally unexciting middle-class, middle-income, middle-IQ children’s activities that offer opportunities for reading ‘Look, look’ or ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘Come, come’ or ‘See the funny, funny animal.’”

William Spaulding, a publisher from Houghton Mifflin’s educational division, thought that maybe a guy named Dr. Seuss, who’d published a few not-well-known but very imaginative children’s books, might be able to write a book that would be really good for teaching kids how to read. He invited Dr. Seuss to dinner and said, “Write me a story that first-graders can’t put down!”

Dr. Seuss spent nine months composing The Cat in the Hat. It uses just 220 different words and is 1,702 words long. He was a meticulous reviser, and he once said: “Writing for children is murder. A chapter has to be boiled down to a paragraph. Every word has to count.”

Within a year of publication, The Cat in the Hat was selling 12,000 copies a month; within five years, it had sold a million copies.

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Frankenstein Have Big Night Ahead Of Frankenstein

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Frankenstein Have Big Night Ahead Of Frankenstein.

By Collin Nissan

Halloween happy time for Frankenstein. Very happy time. It one time of year no one scared of Frankenstein. Me fit in. Feel normal. All of sudden, giant forehead not grotesque. Neck bolts, cool. It total one-eighty. Frankenstein go to lot of parties. Halloween like magic, turn lady into hornball. Me think because everyone escape real world for one night. Become someone else. Frankenstein become someone else too—monster who get crazy amount of poontang.

Rest of year me sit in basement lab. Me outcast. No one want see Frankenstein, let alone see Frankenstein naked. But soon as costumes come out, it on like Donkey Kong. Me walk into party, people cheer. Frankenstein hero. Lady line up to get inside trouser. Sometime men want get with Frankenstein, too, but Frankenstein no go that way. One time, long ago, but not love it, honestly.

Lady-friend very happy after hump Frankenstein. Frankenstein like to take credit but truth is mad scientist very generous with Frankenstein johnson. He good guy. Really good guy. He do Frankenstein solid.

Whole year with no action no good for Frankenstein. Frankenstein have serious case of D.S.B. It acronym. Mean deadly sperm build-up. It make Frankenstein irritable. Me have no outlet for sex frustration. End up doing lot of knitting believe it or not. Have pile of scarf and sweater to prove it.

Over years, Frankenstein get with bunnies, nurses, cheerleaders. Put lot of notches in coffin. Last year, Frankenstein have three-way with two stewardess. Let’s just say Frankenstein tray table in upright position for like three hours. Frankenstein cherish sex memories. Each one go right into spank bank for twelve lonely month ahead.

This one time of year Frankenstein can do other thing, too, beside nasty boom-booms. Simple thing like sit in diner. Enjoy nice turkey club. Maybe cup matzo ball soup. No one stare or point at Frankenstein. Me can even pick up dry cleaning and go supermarket. Instead of run away, people high-five Frankenstein. It really nice. But morning after, it back to basement lab for Frankenstein. It bittersweet moment when Halloween over. On one hand, it so long before next year. Other hand, Frankenstein junk pretty raw and need big break.

Frankenstein always peek through basement window next day. See people back to regular life. No costume, no makeup. It make Frankenstein sad. Frankenstein freak again. And not good kind of freak like night before. This not costume for Frankenstein. This reality. Frankenstein just hideous monster. Hideous monster who get laid like total maniac every freaking Halloween!

Advice from Harper Lee

Advice from Harper Lee.

A young fan of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird‘ named Jeremy wrote to Harper Lee in 2006, and asked for a signed photo. He didn’t get one, but instead received this lovely piece of advice from the author that is far more precious.

Transcript

06/07/06

Dear Jeremy

I don’t have a picture of myself, so please accept these few lines:

As you grow up, always tell the truth, do no harm to others, and don’t think you are the most important being on earth. Rich or poor, you then can look anyone in the eye and say, “I’m probably no better than you, but I’m certainly your equal.”

(Signed, ‘Harper Lee’)

Daily Prompt: Unleash Your Inner Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Prompt is:

National Poetry Writing Month is nearly at at end. To celebrate it, try your hand at some verse.

I dug through the archives and found a poem about early mornings in the city and a Haiku about kissing a littler person.

It Is Only Our Morning

The sun lights the sky and the  glass on the tall buildings before it  lights the air where we walk. We walked to under a canopy of warm  refractory light in the darkness this morning.

We claim a bit more ownership of the city at this hour. Sharing it  only with delivery trucks, school kids, and the barristas that make  our coffee. The empty sidewalks and streets, the dark shop windows,  the last of the summer blooms are all ours. We share them with each  other and witness the city waking up together.

and…

Black Out Make Out

Can’t blame the vodka

She was standing on a chair

We’re all fabulous

Happy Birthday Harper Lee

To-Kill-a-Mockingbird

NAME: Nelle Harper Lee
OCCUPATION: Author
BIRTH DATE: April 28, 1926 (Age: 85)
EDUCATION: Huntington College, University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Oxford University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Monroeville, Alabama

Best Known For:  Harper Lee is best known for writing the Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)—her one and only published novel.

Writer. Born Nelle Harper Lee on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama. Lee Harper is best known for writing the Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)—her one and only novel. The youngest of four children, she grew up as a tomboy in a small town. Her father was a lawyer, a member of the Alabama state legislature, and also owned part of the local newspaper. For most of Lee’s life, her mother suffered from mental illness, rarely leaving the house. It is believed that she may have had bipolar disorder.

One of her closest childhood friends was another writer-to-be, Truman Capote (then known as Truman Persons). Tougher than many of the boys, Lee often stepped up to serve as Truman’s protector. Truman, who shared few interests with boys his age, was picked on for being a sissy and for the fancy clothes he wore. While the two friends were very different, they both shared in having difficult home lives. Truman was living with his mother’s relatives in town after largely being abandoned by his own parents.

In high school, Lee developed an interest in English literature. After graduating in 1944, she went to the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Lee stood apart from the other students—she could have cared less about fashion, makeup, or dating. Instead, she focused on her studies and on her writing. Lee was a member of the literary honor society and the glee club.

Transferring to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Lee was known for being a loner and an individualist. She did make a greater attempt at a social life there, joining a sorority for a while. Pursuing her interest in writing, Lee contributed to the school’s newspaper and its humor magazine, the Rammer Jammer. She eventually became the editor of the Rammer Jammer.

In her junior year, Lee was accepted into the university’s law school, which allowed students to work on law degrees while still undergraduates. The demands of her law studies forced her to leave her post as editor of the Rammer Jammer. After her first year in the law program, Lee began expressing to her family that writing—not the law—was her true calling. She went to Oxford University in England that summer as an exchange student. Returning to her law studies that fall, Lee dropped out after the first semester. She soon moved to New York City to follow her dreams to become a writer.

In 1949, a 23-year-old Lee arrived in New York City. She struggled for several years, working as a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines and for the British Overseas Air Corp (BOAC). While in the city, Lee was reunited with old friend Truman Capote, one of the literary rising stars of the time.

She also befriended Broadway composer and lyricist Michael Martin Brown and his wife Joy.

In 1956, the Browns gave Lee an impressive Christmas present—to support her for a year so that she could write full time. She quit her job and devoted herself to her craft. The Browns also helped her find an agent, Maurice Crain. He, in turn, was able to get the publishing firm interested in her first novel, which was first titled Go Set a Watchman, then Atticus, and later To Kill a Mockingbird. Working with editor Tay Hohoff, Lee finished the manuscript in 1959.

Later that year, Lee joined forces with old friend Truman Capote to assist him with an article he was writing for The New Yorker. Capote was writing about the impact of the murder of four members of the Clutter family on their small Kansas farming community. The two traveled to Kansas to interview townspeople, friends and family of the deceased, and the investigators working to solve the crime. Serving as his research assistant, Lee helped with the interviews, eventually winning over some of the locals with her easy-going, unpretentious manner. Truman, with his flamboyant personality and style, also had a hard time initially getting himself into his subjects’ good graces.

During their time in Kansas, the Clutters’s suspected killers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, were caught in Las Vegas and brought back for questioning. Lee and Capote got a chance to interview the suspects not long after their arraignment in January 1960. Soon after, Lee and Capote returned to New York. She worked on the galleys for her forthcoming first novel while he started working on his article, which would evolve into the nonfiction masterpiece, In Cold Blood. The pair returned to Kansas in March for the murder trial. Later that spring, Lee gave Capote all of her notes on the crime, the victims, the killers, the local communities, and much more.

Soon Lee was engrossed in her literary success story. In July 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was published and picked up by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Literary Guild. A condensed version of the story appeared in Reader’s Digest magazine. The work’s central character, a young girl nicknamed Scout, was not unlike Lee in her youth. In one of the book’s major plotlines, Scout and her brother Jem and their friend Dill explore their fascination with a mysterious and somewhat infamous neighborhood character named Boo Radley. But the work was more than a coming-of-age story, however. Another part of the novel reflected racial prejudices in the South. Their attorney father, Atticus Finch, tries to help a black man who has been charged with raping a white woman to get a fair trial and to prevent him from being lynched by angry whites in a small town.

The following year, To Kill a Mockingbird won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize and several other literary awards. Horton Foote wrote a screenplay based on the book and used the same title for the 1962 film adaptation.

Lee visited the set during filming and did a lot of interviews to support the film. Earning eight Academy Award nominations, the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird won four awards, including Best Actor for Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch. The character of Atticus is said to have been based on Lee’s father.

By the mid-1960s, Lee was reportedly working on a second novel, but it was never published. Continuing to help Capote, Lee worked with him on and off on In Cold Blood. She had been invited by Smith and Hickock to witness their execution in 1965, but she declined. When Capote’s book was finally published in 1966, a rift developed between the two friends and collaborators. Capote dedicated the book to Lee and to his longtime lover Jack Dunphy, but he failed to acknowledge her contributions to the work. While Lee was very angry and hurt by this betrayal, she remained friends with Truman for the rest of his life.

That same year, Lee had an operation on her hand to repair damage done by a bad burn. She also accepted a post on the National Council of the Arts at the request of President Lyndon B. Johnson. During the 1970s and 1980s, Lee largely retreated from public life.

She spent some of her time on a nonfiction book project about an Alabama serial killer, which had the working title The Reverend. But the work was never published.

Lee continues to live a quiet, private life in New York City and Monroeville. Active in her church and community, she usually avoids anything to do with her still popular novel.

 

Banned Books That Shaped America: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

The Library of Congress created an exhibit, “Books that Shaped America,” that explores books that “have had a profound effect on American life.” Many of the books in the exhibit have been banned/challenged.  Give yourself the gift of a beautiful story and read one and them imagine what your life would be like if you were never given that gift.

Fight censorship.

I understand that the truth about the past can make people feel uncomfortable, but it does not change the fact that it is the truth.  There were slaves, they were treated horribly, and called horrible names.  Those are all facts that no matter how much white guilt wants, they cannot be changed.  No one is going to read this book and use it as a How-To manual.  Read this book, make your own decisions and remember that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

Like Huck Finn, Of Mice and Men and Gone With the Wind, the contextual, historically and culturally accurate depiction of the treatment of Black slaves in the United States has rankled would-be censors.

uncle-toms-cabin

Having run up large debts, a Kentucky farmer named Arthur Shelby faces the prospect of losing everything he owns. Though he and his wife, Emily Shelby, have a kindhearted and affectionate relationship with their slaves, Shelby decides to raise money by selling two of his slaves to Mr. Haley, a coarse slave trader. The slaves in question are Uncle Tom, a middle-aged man with a wife and children on the farm, and Harry, the young son of Mrs. Shelby’s maid Eliza. When Shelby tells his wife about his agreement with Haley, she is appalled because she has promised Eliza that Shelby would not sell her son.

However, Eliza overhears the conversation between Shelby and his wife and, after warning Uncle Tom and his wife, Aunt Chloe, she takes Harry and flees to the North, hoping to find freedom with her husband George in Canada. Haley pursues her, but two other Shelby slaves alert Eliza to the danger. She miraculously evades capture by crossing the half-frozen Ohio River, the boundary separating Kentucky from the North. Haley hires a slave hunter named Loker and his gang to bring Eliza and Harry back to Kentucky. Eliza and Harry make their way to a Quaker settlement, where the Quakers agree to help transport them to safety. They are joined at the settlement by George, who reunites joyously with his family for the trip to Canada.

Meanwhile, Uncle Tom sadly leaves his family and Mas’r George, Shelby’s young son and Tom’s friend, as Haley takes him to a boat on the Mississippi to be transported to a slave market. On the boat, Tom meets an angelic little white girl named Eva, who quickly befriends him. When Eva falls into the river, Tom dives in to save her, and her father, Augustine St. Clare, gratefully agrees to buy Tom from Haley. Tom travels with the St. Clares to their home in New Orleans, where he grows increasingly invaluable to the St. Clare household and increasingly close to Eva, with whom he shares a devout Christianity.

Up North, George and Eliza remain in flight from Loker and his men. When Loker attempts to capture them, George shoots him in the side, and the other slave hunters retreat. Eliza convinces George and the Quakers to bring Loker to the next settlement, where he can be healed. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, St. Clare discusses slavery with his cousin Ophelia, who opposes slavery as an institution but harbors deep prejudices against blacks. St. Clare, by contrast, feels no hostility against blacks but tolerates slavery because he feels powerless to change it. To help Ophelia overcome her bigotry, he buys Topsy, a young black girl who was abused by her past master and arranges for Ophelia to begin educating her.

After Tom has lived with the St. Clares for two years, Eva grows very ill. She slowly weakens, then dies, with a vision of heaven before her. Her death has a profound effect on everyone who knew her: Ophelia resolves to love the slaves, Topsy learns to trust and feel attached to others, and St. Clare decides to set Tom free. However, before he can act on his decision, St. Clare is stabbed to death while trying to settle a brawl. As he dies, he at last finds God and goes to be reunited with his mother in heaven.

St. Clare’s cruel wife, Marie, sells Tom to a vicious plantation owner named Simon Legree. Tom is taken to rural Louisiana with a group of new slaves, including Emmeline, whom the demonic Legree has purchased to use as a sex slave, replacing his previous sex slave Cassy. Legree takes a strong dislike to Tom when Tom refuses to whip a fellow slave as ordered. Tom receives a severe beating, and Legree resolves to crush his faith in God. Tom meets Cassy, and hears her story. Separated from her daughter by slavery, she became pregnant again but killed the child because she could not stand to have another child taken from her.

Around this time, with the help of Tom Loker—now a changed man after being healed by the Quakers—George, Eliza, and Harry at last cross over into Canada from Lake Erie and obtain their freedom. In Louisiana, Tom’s faith is sorely tested by his hardships, and he nearly ceases to believe. He has two visions, however—one of Christ and one of Eva—which renew his spiritual strength and give him the courage to withstand Legree’s torments. He encourages Cassy to escape. She does so, taking Emmeline with her, after she devises a ruse in which she and Emmeline pretend to be ghosts. When Tom refuses to tell Legree where Cassy and Emmeline have gone, Legree orders his overseers to beat him. When Tom is near death, he forgives Legree and the overseers. George Shelby arrives with money in hand to buy Tom’s freedom, but he is too late. He can only watch as Tom dies a martyr’s death.

Taking a boat toward freedom, Cassy and Emmeline meet George Harris’s sister and travel with her to Canada, where Cassy realizes that Eliza is her long-lost daughter. The newly reunited family travels to France and decides to move to Liberia, the African nation created for former American slaves. George Shelby returns to the Kentucky farm, where, after his father’s death, he sets all the slaves free in honor of Tom’s memory. He urges them to think on Tom’s sacrifice every time they look at his cabin and to lead a pious Christian life, just as Tom did.

Fight internet censorship.

Fight internet censorship.

Banned Books That Shaped America: To Kill a Mockingbird

The Library of Congress created an exhibit, “Books that Shaped America,” that explores books that “have had a profound effect on American life.” Many of the books in the exhibit have been banned/challenged.  Give yourself the gift of a beautiful story and read one and them imagine what your life would be like if you were never given that gift.

Fight censorship.

This book has quite possibly the very best opening page that I have ever read, it draws you in, creates a mystery, and makes you want to know everything.  Even if the rest of the book was a complete brick, that first initial burst of energy would be enough to propel the story for the next several hundred pages.  Buy a used copy of this book, reacquaint yourself with Scout and the rest of the characters, then give it to someone you know will love it.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960

Harper Lee’s great American tome stands as proof positive that the censorious impulse is alive and well in our country, even today. For some educators, the Pulitzer-prize winning book is one of the greatest texts teens can study in an American literature class. Others have called it a degrading, profane and racist work that “promotes white supremacy.”

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Scout Finch lives with her brother, Jem, and their widowed father, Atticus, in the sleepy Alabama town of Maycomb. Maycomb is suffering through the Great Depression, but Atticus is a prominent lawyer and the Finch family is reasonably well off in comparison to the rest of society. One summer, Jem and Scout befriend a boy named Dill, who has come to live in their neighborhood for the summer, and the trio acts out stories together. Eventually, Dill becomes fascinated with the spooky house on their street called the Radley Place. The house is owned by Mr. Nathan Radley, whose brother, Arthur (nicknamed Boo), has lived there for years without venturing outside.

Scout goes to school for the first time that fall and detests it. She and Jem find gifts apparently left for them in a knothole of a tree on the Radley property. Dill returns the following summer, and he, Scout, and Jem begin to act out the story of Boo Radley. Atticus puts a stop to their antics, urging the children to try to see life from another person’s perspective before making judgments. But, on Dill’s last night in Maycomb for the summer, the three sneak onto the Radley property, where Nathan Radley shoots at them. Jem loses his pants in the ensuing escape. When he returns for them, he finds them mended and hung over the fence. The next winter, Jem and Scout find more presents in the tree, presumably left by the mysterious Boo. Nathan Radley eventually plugs the knothole with cement. Shortly thereafter, a fire breaks out in another neighbor’s house, and during the fire someone slips a blanket on Scout’s shoulders as she watches the blaze. Convinced that Boo did it, Jem tells Atticus about the mended pants and the presents.

To the consternation of Maycomb’s racist white community, Atticus agrees to defend a black man named Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping a white woman. Because of Atticus’s decision, Jem and Scout are subjected to abuse from other children, even when they celebrate Christmas at the family compound on Finch’s Landing. Calpurnia, the Finches’ black cook, takes them to the local black church, where the warm and close-knit community largely embraces the children.

Atticus’s sister, Alexandra, comes to live with the Finches the next summer. Dill, who is supposed to live with his “new father” in another town, runs away and comes to Maycomb. Tom Robinson’s trial begins, and when the accused man is placed in the local jail, a mob gathers to lynch him. Atticus faces the mob down the night before the trial. Jem and Scout, who have sneaked out of the house, soon join him. Scout recognizes one of the men, and her polite questioning about his son shames him into dispersing the mob.

At the trial itself, the children sit in the “colored balcony” with the town’s black citizens. Atticus provides clear evidence that the accusers, Mayella Ewell and her father, Bob, are lying: in fact, Mayella propositioned Tom Robinson, was caught by her father, and then accused Tom of rape to cover her shame and guilt. Atticus provides impressive evidence that the marks on Mayella’s face are from wounds that her father inflicted; upon discovering her with Tom, he called her a whore and beat her. Yet, despite the significant evidence pointing to Tom’s innocence, the all-white jury convicts him. The innocent Tom later tries to escape from prison and is shot to death. In the aftermath of the trial, Jem’s faith in justice is badly shaken, and he lapses into despondency and doubt.

Despite the verdict, Bob Ewell feels that Atticus and the judge have made a fool out of him, and he vows revenge. He menaces Tom Robinson’s widow, tries to break into the judge’s house, and finally attacks Jem and Scout as they walk home from a Halloween party. Boo Radley intervenes, however, saving the children and stabbing Ewell fatally during the struggle. Boo carries the wounded Jem back to Atticus’s house, where the sheriff, in order to protect Boo, insists that Ewell tripped over a tree root and fell on his own knife. After sitting with Scout for a while, Boo disappears once more into the Radley house.

Later, Scout feels as though she can finally imagine what life is like for Boo. He has become a human being to her at last. With this realization, Scout embraces her father’s advice to practice sympathy and understanding and demonstrates that her experiences with hatred and prejudice will not sully her faith in human goodness.

Fight all forms of censorship.

Fight all forms of censorship.

Dr. Seuss – Style Icon

I have been obsessed with “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” since watching it one christmas at my mother’s house.  It is insane.  I have included the full movie below.  I am a sneetch of the star-bellied variety, for the record.  I have also included the full version of that story below.  In the related articles section at the bottom of this post, I have included links to some rare Dr. Seuss books on Amazon.com, a link to everything Brain Pickings has ever done on Dr. Seuss (they are brilliant over there), and a couple links to letters that Dr. Seuss wrote posted at Letters of Note (a favorite internet spot of mine).  But closest to my heart is the episode that amazing David Rakoff did with Jonathan Goldstein for This American Life called “Oh The Places You Won’t Go” (TAL Show #470:  Show Me The Way).   You can listen to it here and I truly wish you would.  Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Seuss.  Style Icon.

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NAME: Theodor “Ted” Seuss Geisel
OCCUPATION: Illustrator, Author
BIRTH DATE: March 02, 1904
DEATH DATE: September 24, 1991
EDUCATION: Dartmouth College, University of Oxford
PLACE OF BIRTH: Springfield, Massachusetts
PLACE OF DEATH: La Jolla, California

Best Known For:  Throughout his career, cartoonist and writer Dr. Seuss published 60 children’s books, including The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.

Today is the birthday of a man considered to be the most popular children’s book writer in American history, the best-selling children’s book writer of all time, and a man who revolutionized the way children learned to read: Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on this day in 1904. He’s the author of more than 60 children’s books, including Horton Hears a Who! (1954), One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (1960), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), Hop on Pop (1963), Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! (1975), The Butter Battle Book (1984), and of course, The Cat in the Hat (1957).

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

He was the grandson of German immigrants, a lifelong Lutheran, a Dartmouth graduate, and an Oxford dropout. His mom was 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, a competitive platform high diver who read him bedtime stories every night. His dad inherited a brewery from his own German immigrant father a month before Prohibition began in the U.S., and eventually became a zookeeper who took young Theodor with him to work. The future Dr. Seuss grew up around the zoo, running around in the cages with baby lions and baby tigers.
At Dartmouth, he majored in English and wrote for the campus humor magazine. But one night he was caught drinking gin with some friends; since this was during Prohibition, it was an illegal act. The Dartmouth administration did not expel him, but as a disciplinary punishment, they did make him resign from all of his extracurricular activities, including the humor magazine, of which he was the editor-in-chief. From then on, he wrote for the magazine subversively, signing his work with his mother’s maiden name, Seuss.
His mother’s family pronounced it “Soise,” the way it’s said in Germany, but people in the States kept mispronouncing it Seuss. He eventually embraced the Anglican mispronunciation: After all, it rhymed with Mother Goose, not a bad thing for an aspiring children’s book writer.

In 1937, he published his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, which he said was inspired by the rhythms of a steamliner cruiser he was on. He wrote the book, and much of the rest of his life’s work, in rhyming anapestic meter, also called trisyllabic meter. The meter is very alluring and catchy, and Seuss’s masterful use of it is a big part of why his books are so enjoyable to read. The meter is made up of two weak beats followed by a stressed syllable — da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM, as in “And today the Great Yertle, that Marvelous he / Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.

A big study came out in the 1950s called “Why Johnny Can’t Read.” It was by an Austrian immigrant to the U.S., an education specialist who argued that the Dick and Jane primers being used to teach reading in grade school classrooms across America were boring and, worse, not an effective method for teaching reading. He called them “horrible, stupid, emasculated, pointless, tasteless little readers,” which went “through dozens and dozens of totally unexciting middle-class, middle-income, middle-IQ children’s activities that offer opportunities for reading ‘Look, look’ or ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘Come, come’ or ‘See the funny, funny animal.’”

William Spaulding, a publisher from Houghton Mifflin’s educational division, thought that maybe a guy named Dr. Seuss, who’d published a few not-well-known but very imaginative children’s books, might be able to write a book that would be really good for teaching kids how to read. He invited Dr. Seuss to dinner and said, “Write me a story that first-graders can’t put down!”

Dr. Seuss spent nine months composing The Cat in the Hat. It uses just 220 different words and is 1,702 words long. He was a meticulous reviser, and he once said: “Writing for children is murder. A chapter has to be boiled down to a paragraph. Every word has to count.”

Within a year of publication, The Cat in the Hat was selling 12,000 copies a month; within five years, it had sold a million copies.