Celebrating African American History Month

Wheatley, Phillis, engraving. The Library of Congress. | COPYRIGHT 2014 Gale, Cengage Learning.

Part of the “Celebrating Authors” feature established last May, Candice P. of warmcuppatea and I featured Asian-Pacific American authors in honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Then, I went on to acknowledge National Hispanic Heritage Month by posting author profiles in October and November. Now, I endeavor to celebrate African American authors.

As the U.S. Government sees it,

February is African American History Month

As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.

By the time of Woodson’s death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. At mid–century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week. The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all color on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture.

The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” That year, fifty years after the first celebration, the association held the first African American History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history in the drama of the American story. Since then each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations. And the association—now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)—continues to promote the study of Black history all year.

(Excerpt from an essay by Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University, for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History)

Throughout February, Jorie’s Reads by Starry Night Elf will join the festivities by recognizing writers of African descent. Who will they be? Stay tuned!

Who are your favorites?

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

Don_Quixote_1-Huntington.JPG | Grafixar | morgueFile free photos

In May 2013, Candice P. of warmcuppatea and I featured Asian-Pacific American authors in honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. While I didn’t post as many authors as I’d originally hoped, I did want to acknowledge National Hispanic Heritage Month by posting author profiles throughout the month.

As the U.S. Government sees it,

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, México and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.

Each week, Jorie’s Reads by Starry Night Elf will join the festivities by recognizing writers of Hispanic descent. Who will they be? Stay tuned!

Who are your favorites?

Celebrating Asian – Pacific American Authors!

Asian Characters | morgueFile Free photos 

As the U.S. Government sees it,

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. A rather broad term, Asian-Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).

So, why not recognize a few of my favorite authors of this heritage? So, coming soon, Jorie’s Reads will share profiles on:

  1. Jhumpa Lahiri
  2. Amy Tan
  3. Jamie Ford

Who are your favorites?

An Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Eggs And Books Wallpaper

As Wikipedia puts it, an “Easter egg is an intentional hidden message, inside joke, or feature in a work such as a computer program, movie, book, or crossword.”

Here are some Easter Eggs listed on The Easter Egg Archive:

1) In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter asked Alice at the Tea Party how a Raven is like a Writing desk. Carrol never answers his own riddle. The answer is “Poe wrote on both.” – Prince Mu-Chao

2) The name of the rat in  E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web was “Templeton”. White was a Fiji (Phi Gamma Delta). He named the rat after one of the founders of the fraternity (John Templeton McCarty). – okman

3) On the back cover of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, other writers praise this work. Near the fourth comment there are coordinates written sideways heading north. These coordinates are for a sculpture located on the grounds of CIA headquarters in Langley, VA. It contains thousands of encrypted messages, of which a fourth section (containing about 98 characters) have yet to be cracked!! – ashouser

4) In Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, there’s mention of the worst poetry in the Universe was created by Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings. In the original radio series, this was a reference to Paul Neil Milne Johnstone. However, Adams was forced to retract the name for later recordings and for the book. (Johnstone is a real person, a sample of his poetry can be found at http://www.pictographics.com/poetry.html) – Inguin

5) It’s probably typical of a lot of authors but best-selling mystery writer Michael Connelly (The Poet, Blood Work, ) frequently names minor characters after people he knows, particularly former colleagues at the Los Angeles Times. Anyone familiar with the staff of the newspaper’s San Fernando Valley office in Chatsworth should recognize many names throughout Connelly’s novels. One book (can’t remember which) makes reference to an old L.A. Times photo by Boris Lugavere, a reference to Boris Yaro and Joel Lugavere, two longtime photographers at the paper. – Anonymous

6) In  John Fowle’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman, the two main characters fall asleep on a train. A mysterious stranger enters the car, looks them over, smiles, and leaves. The book comments, strangely, that this man was “satisfied” with their progress. Many Fowles fans believe that it is the author putting himself in the novel. – Al Ronnfeldt

7) The enduring fame of Poe’s dark tales and poems — such as The Raven, The Black Cat, The Telltale Heart, and The Pit and the Pendulum — have long overshadowed his strong penchant for hoaxes and puzzles. In fact, he ran several hoaxes as apparently legit news articles… In 2 of his later poems, “A Valentine” and “An Enigma”, you can find hidden names by reading the first letter of line 1, second letter of line 2, and so on… “A Valentine” spells the name of Frances Sargent Osgood, while “An Enigma” spells Sarah Anna Lewis, both poets whose work Poe reviewed. – Anonymous

Mary Higgins Clark’s All Through the Night

All Through the Night by Mary Higgins Clark | LibraryThing

(A special shout out to Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer! Merry Christmas!)

Clark, M. H. (1998). All through the night. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.  9780684856605

Reasons for Reading : My mom likes reading little Christmas books. She also owns a few. Case in point: Mary Higgins Clark’s All Through the Night. As I’ve put off reading beyond the first page of the narrative until December 22, I hadn’t gotten very far with it. However, I quickly got into this yuletide suspense story.

Summary: A chalice is stolen from St. Clement’s. A baby girl is abandoned at the same rectory. Seven years later, lottery winner Alvirah and her down to earth husband Willy don’t take a holiday from sleuthing. As Sister Cordelia, Willy’s sibling, readies for the Christmas pageant at a thrift shop/after-school center, Sister Cordelia faces the inevitable shutdown of the shelter. The donation of Kate’s home seems to be just the Christmas miracle for which they’ve prayed. Then, the tenants from “the other realm” seem to destroy this. All three of these elements meet and Alvirah’s on the case to solve these mysteries before Christmas Day.

What I Liked:  I liked this book and I found it easy to read. I appreciated that this book wasn’t gratuitous as violence was “offstage.” Not much time was spent on details and that gave readers the freedom to create the appearance of settings and costumes. Also, I liked that characters didn’t shy away from their faith but they weren’t sanctimonious. Overall, the tone is heartwarming and leaves one with warm fuzzies at the end (I hope I didn’t just spoil this! 🙂 )

What I Disliked: Maybe this was just a little too neatly tied up. I would’ve liked a few red herrings in the book. Okay, one would’ve been fantastic. Another thing (just one of my latest quirks) is that I like it when writers set a book at a certain time. So, maybe a reader who discovers All Through the Night a decade from now won’t be disturbed so much about the lack of iPads or whatever other technology is out there. The author could say 1991 and 1998.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT – Christmas Lullaby – Tom Roush.avi – YouTube

Setting: New York City

You might also like:

  • The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo
  • Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber
  • What Child is This? A Christmas Story by Caroline B. Cooney
  • Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich
For more on Mary Higgins Clark’s All Through the Night, check out the following sites:

James Patterson and Richard DiLallo’s The Christmas Wedding

The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson | LibraryThing

Patterson, J., & DiLallo, R. (2011). The Christmas wedding. New York: Little, Brown and Co. 9780316097390

Reasons for Reading : As I worked towards reading sixty books, my mom recommended this James Patterson (and Richard DiLallo) book as a quick read. She borrowed the book from HCPL and finished it long before it was due. Also, I wanted to read a James Patterson book. Don’t worry, I still plan to try an Alex Cross soon 🙂 .

Summary: Fifty-something widow Gaby Summerhill and her estranged family haven’t reassembled since the services of her late husband. Gaby sends out a video to all four of her grown children, inviting them to her wedding which will be held in the barn on her Massachusetts estate. Guess what! It’s on Christmas Day (please refer to title). Who is the amazing Gaby joining in holy matrimony? Well, come and find out on Christmas, Gaby tells her kids. Also, we’re offered glimpses into the emotional upheaval within the lives of the Summerhill progeny – Claire, Emily, Seth, and Lizzie.

Review : I enjoyed this book – it was light without schmaltz. The characters were easily perceivable, identifiable, and even likable. The Summerhills are fun and altruistic. Oh, and, yes, it’s a quick, seasonal read. I urge anyone yearning to get into the yuletide spirit to read it.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Eartha Kitt with Friends Santa Baby – YouTube

Setting : Massachusetts, South Carolina, New York City, Boston

You might also like:

For more on James Patterson and Richard DiLallo’s The Christmas Wedding, check out the following sites: