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Posts Tagged ‘Lois Lensk’

It was in the Roosevelt grade school library that I found Lois Lenski and her series of regional books.  “Strawberry Girl”, “Cotton in My Sack”, “Houseboat Girl” and other books managed to follow me home from school. These books took me to places I had never been to and introduced me to children in other parts of the United States, their schools, their homes, their regional dialect, their family life and in the places where they lived in. Some of the children were itinerant workers along with their families, some lived in poverty and a few were put in harm’s way. These books were adventuresome and, in spite of troubles that came, they were uplifting. They were also illustrated by Lois Lenski. The artwork often told as much of these stories of the 1940’s and ’50s as her words did.

Watching the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and its continuing aftermath in Houston, Texas has been sobering, to say the least. The loss of lives and of livelihoods, homes, jobs, infrastructure as well as the peril to all involved – the list is far-reaching and will be never-ending for many. Yes, people are resilient and will persevere. They will rebuild, move, leave the area. Time may heal and it may not. From afar, I can only hope and pray and do what I can, which seems meager, to help in the recovery effort. Each of you grapple with similar concerns and many have had your own “hurricanes” in life.

As I tend to do, I look toward books in times such as these, and, in so doing, I remembered one of Lois Lenski’s books, “Flood Friday”. I read it, several times, as a child and I tried, unsuccessfully, to find it in one of the libraries in my loan system this week. The book is based on a flood in Connecticut in the 1950’s and one I hope to find someday soon.

The flood takes place on a Friday, as the title suggests, and finds the town’s children displaced, first to the grade school, then to a neighbor’s house on higher ground. I remember the book being riveting as the characters experienced everything being safe and secure as they went to bed at night to their rescue from the roof of their house the next day. I also remember the feeling of people working together and of helping each other out. Lenski’s words put me into the school’s gym and I imagined our own gym being used as a shelter with cots lined up across the floor and my friends and neighbors, out of context yet there in a room where we played dodgeball and duck-duck-goose. I tried to imagine having only the clothes on my back and could not quite grasp how my grandmother would have gotten up on the house’s roof, remembering family lore of how the ushers had to carry her down from her seat at the circus. Sigh. My thoughts rambled even as a young girl. The drift of this line of thought is how books transported me to other places in time and allowed for my imagination to grow.

Like Pearl Buck’s “The Big Wave”, which I came across after the tsunami in Japan a few years ago, I find myself pondering the miracle of books and their ability to help us understand and to heal. I know how they can help children work through issues, troubling or frightening times and to understand what others may be going through, how they live, where they live.

I will continue my search for “Flood Friday”, perhaps finding an old, used copy in one of my antique store haunts, and I will continue to pray for the victims of Hurricane Harvey as the storms continue and in the long period of recovery.

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