Friday, March 15, 2013

hold fast to dreams

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow. 
This poem, Dreams by Langston Hughes, serves as the inspiration for the book Hold Fast by Blue Balliett. One of the most valuable elements of this book is that it will open your eyes to the issues of homelessness. Daily life for homeless children is especially difficult. Life in the shelter system includes shame, fear, guilt, embarrassment, hopelessness, and anger... just to name a few emotions.

Early Pearl falls into Chicago's shelter system, and from there she must solve the mystery of her father's disappearance. 

One of my favorite passages:
Dashel Pearl offered words to his kids from the day they were born. A man who loved language almost as much as color or taste or air, he explained to his daughter, Early, that words are everywhere and for everyone.
"They're for choosing, admiring, keeping, giving. They are treasures of inestimable value," Early heard him say many times. Even when she didn't know what inestimable meant, she understood from the careful way he said it. 

Early, like Dashel, recorded stuff that made her curious, and the Pearls always had a notebook or two available. They kept a family Quote Book, for collecting wise or delicious things that other people had written, and a Word Book, where any of them could note down a word they liked and include at least part of the dictionary definition.
Early learned from her dad that a dictionary is a powerful and underestimated kind of book. First of all, it has the shorteststories in the world, and thousands of them: stories with sounds, changing shapes, history, and mystery. Open anywhere and you'll find layers of meanings. Choices. And when you put a word in your Word Book, you can pick what you want from the definition, like picking flowers from a garden. You don't have to take everything, and that is fine. 

Dashel Pearl had been gone for four days, and nothing was okay. Jubie whined and asked, "But when is Dash coming home?" again and again; Early felt as though someone had removed her insides, leaving her scooped-out like a melon. She felt as light and strange as the dead might feel if they could tell you about it.

I also loved Early's project Home Dreams. Early had started something amazing and it grew like wildfire. 

Again, don't miss the author's note at the end. It will inspire you to educate yourself on homelessness and the plight of homeless children. In the city of Chicago alone, there are an estimated thirty thousand homeless children. Only one child in ten doesn't qualify for free meal programs in public schools.

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