Vol. 16, no. 3
May -- August, 2004
The 2004 Book Awards!On the Go! A Health Rocks! feature
Volume 16, No. 3
The 2004 Skipping Stones Honor Awards
Are you searching for authentic, multicultural books? Do you enjoy exploring the natural world through a good book? The 2004 Skipping Stones Honor Award winners cultivate an awareness of our multicultural and natural world without perpetuating stereotypes and biases. They encourage positive role models, promote cooperation, nonviolence and appreciation of nature. These books and the educational video also offer a great variety of learning experiences for students and teachers, children and parents. Our thanks to over 20 reviewers-teachers, students, parents, librarians, interns and board members-who helped with the selection process.
Reviews appear in the summer issue (pages 29 - 35).
From the Editor
Welcome! Have you already started dreaming about your summer vacation? What do you want to do this summer? While I hear some kids say, "Summer...what a bore...nothing exciting to do," there are many simple ways to make it extraordinary!
In our daily life, for the most part, we live and feel separated from nature and the outdoors. How can we feel that we belong in nature? As a kid, I remember taking morning walks with my father, uncle or brothers. We'd enjoy ripe mangoes, tamarind or other tropical fruits as we walked past those trees. Even now, as an adult, I love to take early morning strolls. Today, while I was enjoying the morning mist, what a pleasure it was to see two beautiful songbirds perched on the crowns of two nearby evergreens, welcoming the new day with their melodious chirps!
As we spend more time getting to know the woods and outdoors, we no longer feel afraid of those bugs, slugs and other critters that are simply minding their daily business. Nature walks, hikes or back country camping with a family member and a friend will help you feel at home in the great outdoors. An afternoon in the woods will offer more food for your soul than sitting in front of a computer or video screen. Pay attention to what you smell, hear, see and feel as you walk, without drifting in daydreams.
Do you have a garden? No? Then try window-sill, patio or roof-top gardens. Use garden compost and good potting soil in big planters to grow your favorite flowers, herbs, tomatoes and other vegetable plants. Eat plenty of garden-fresh salads and seasonal fruits like watermelon, berries and peaches when available. Watering a garden, chopping vegetables, making pizza from scratch with Mom or Dad...there are many ways to bring joy into our summer.
Many great literary works wait silently and patiently to be held in our hands. Look for the latest multicultural and nature books on pages 29-35. As a student, I immersed myself in historical and spiritual books or (auto)biographies of people who have made our world better. I invite you to dig out the classics by Thoreau, Rachel Carson, Mahatma Gandhi, Herman Hesse, Khalil Gibran or Rumi.
As we learn about these visionaries, we see how they were able to make changes in their own lives. Like them, let's discover in our own life journey that the world does not revolve around us. While we must know that we're special, it's equally important for us to realize that everyone else is also very special, with their own feelings and values. Our mind works like a parachute, only when it is open! (Let us be open respectful and receptive of other ideas and ways.)
Summer is also a great time to get involved in community projects-maintaining nature trails, working in soup kitchens, helping the disabled or visiting a nursing home for the elderly. Some Sundays, I volunteer at the county juvenile detention center talking with youth. Difficulties or challenges that we face working with others do have a purpose in our life-to help us learn and grow. When we volunteer with humility and compassion, it feels really good inside. Now, that's something worth trying this summer!
Things to Try this Summer
Understanding our true nature and practicing selfless love and compassion for all is the core of the One World ideal that saints of many faiths practice and teach. As we learn it, we realize we are all connected and our true nature is unconditional love.
We feel useful, wanted and happy when we treat friends, family and strangers with kindness, when we help people in their hour of need. What if we seek and work for the well-being of all, for the greater good this summer? Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavatu-May all beings be content!
When My Dad and I Go Camping
When my dad and I go camping at one of Wisconsin's State Forests, we go hiking. Once, we went hiking on the biggest trail in our park. It was enjoyable because we heard the sounds of nature and could glimpse out onto the lake.
When my dad and I go camping, we rent bikes. The trail is twelve miles long, but we only go four because we get tired-the steep hills wear us out. Once we saw three deer drinking out of a pond. There was a mama and two baby deer. They were adorable.
When my dad and I go camping, we go swimming in the lake. At the lake, I feel like I'm at the beach because there is sand all around the lake. The water is cold like Lake Michigan, and you have to step in slowly. When my dad and I go camping, we read books together-we grab a picnic table by the lake and read. On our last few trips, we have taken the Harry Potter series. I like reading with my dad because we like the same kinds of books. When my dad and I go camping, we cook: breakfast, lunch and dinner. We prepare hamburgers, hot dogs, and noodles. I like to help my dad cook because I like cooking myself.
When my dad and I go camping, we sit by the fire and talk about school, funny things, life, boats and business stuff. While we sit there, we look up at the stars. We just sit in our chairs and stare. The stars there are so different: They are much clearer. Sometimes, our marshmallows turn out burnt, but typically, they turn to just right.
When my dad and I go camping, we stay up late, until 11 pm. Before then, we hear yelling and playing music. If my mom were there, we would be in bed sooo much earlier. When my dad and I go camping at Wisconsin's State Forests, we have GREAT time!
-- John McCarthy, The Skokie School,
A Day at the Barn
I could feel the rhythmic pounding of Geronimo's hooves underneath me. We rounded the corner and Geronimo sped up to a smooth canter. He had gotten the right lead this time. There had been many times when he'd gotten the wrong lead, or had cantered with the wrong foot in front. I have tried to explain to him that you have to start with the outside leg forward when doing the trot to canter transitions. He'll learn one of these days. "Now look at the jump and anticipate that he'll stay at this speed," Sarah yelled from the center of the arena. She had been my riding instructor for the past two years.
I looked at the jump. It was a vertical. A long, white pole resting on two jump cups. It was around two feet, higher than I had ever jumped before. I prayed that he wouldn't refuse-Jumping is very difficult and scary if your horse doesn't know what he is doing. But Geronimo never hesitated for a second as he took off through the air. Quick release, hands up, heels down, hands and face up his neck. We landed gracefully and evenly on the other side.
Some people don't appreciate the long years of sweat and hard work that equestrians pay for a good fifteen minutes in the show ring. It had taken me two years to get to this point and I was loving every minute of it.
"That was good!" Sarah yelled with a smile.
I slowed Geronimo down to a trot, then a walk. I led him to the center where Sarah was, and dismounted.
"You did well today," Sarah said.
"It was all Geronimo," I replied.
I walked Geronimo out to the crossties, took off his bridle and put on his halter. He stood perfectly still as I untacked him and gave him a good brushing. I stopped for a second to admire him-he really was a beautiful animal. Some commented that he was too short and fat for jumping. I thought he looked just as beautiful as a pricey Grand Prix jumper. He was an Appaloosa, with spots to spare. Grey, black and white hairs stuck out in all directions, giving him a scruffy look. His mane stood straight up, making a perfect mohawk on top of his head. Overall, he was quite a sight, one to be laughed at and loved at the same time.
After grooming and picking his feet, I led him back to his stall. He began munching on a mouthful of hay, only stopping momentarily to watch me go.
-- Laura Langford, 13, Pennsylvania.
Lo que pienso como adolecente
* Test your Spanish skills with this one! Use dictionary if needed.
Como una joven adolecente pienso que debemos dar a nuestros padres el placer de ver a sus hijos preparados y con una carrera con la cual nosotros podamos defendernos en el futuro. Quiero contarles mi experiencia al venir a este país.
Soy de El Salvador. Mi nombre es Regina Martinez. Estoy muy contenta porque poco a poco voy logrando lo que me propongo. Estoy estudiando el octavo grado en la escuela Hamlin. Yo tenia 13 años cuando mis papás decidieron venir a los Estados Unidos. Nosotros nunca creímos que esto fuera algo serio. Sin embargo, despues de tres meses, ellos salieron hacia Oregon con mi hermano menor de tres años, despues mi papá nos dió la residencia.
Lo que quiero contarles es que nunca habíamos estado separados de mi mamá por mucho tiempo. Esos meses solos nos hicieron madurar y razonar un poco sobre todo lo bello que es tener a tu mamá contigo. Pensamos en esos momentos que era entonces cuando teníamos que valorar lo que una madre hace por sus hijos sin pensar que tanto pueda costar el esfuerzo. Yo le doy gracias a Dios por permitirme tener una madre como ella y ahora mi meta es tener una carrera y demonstrarle a mi familia que los esfuerzos no fueron en vano.
Pero ahora, lo que quiero expresar es como dije al principio mi pensamiento como adolescente sobre la vida: cada uno de nosotros tiene que pensar en todas las cosas buenas que son nuestras, educación, nuestra cultura y muchos otros principios más, que si nosotros los valoramos y nos guiamos por ellos seremos unas personas de bien, y el orgullo de ser una persona preparada no solo lo tendrás tú sino tambien las personas que están a tu alrededor y que te quieren y que te demuestran que quieren lo mejor para ti.
Este es mi pensamiento para todos nosotros, los jóvenes que aún tenemos todo un camino por delante y que nuestro futuro y nuestra felicidad depende de nosotros y de el valor que le queramos dar.
-- Regina Martinez, Hamlin M.S., Oregon.
The Leaf and the Sheath
Traditionally, people in India have sat on the floor to eat. At most weddings in South India, people eat sitting cross-legged on the floor in lines. Cutlery is used, but the majority eat with their fingers. They eat off of banana leaves. Soups are served in leaf-bowls kept in shape by little twigs.
After the meal, all the leaves and cups are collected and dumped into a pit dug in the backyard. This is covered with mud. Eventually this turns to humus and can be used in farming. The leaves can also be eaten by cows and buffaloes.
Many eateries serve food on a plantain leaf. They might cut the plantain leaf in the shape of the plate. Where fresh plantain leaves are not available, plates made from locally-grown leaves are used. The leaves are collected and fashioned into plates using little twigs as pins to hold the leaves together. When they dry out, they are stored stacked one on top of another and can be kept for a long time.
The person washing the dishes puts the leaves in a bin after their use. If plates are used under the leaves, less water is consumed and less soap is needed. The garbage is completely bio-degradable. Income from leaf-making supplements household incomes in many tribal areas.
In addition, leaf plates or bowls are invariably used to serve roadside snacks in many regions. Even in South India today, it is common for food to be wrapped in a piece of banana leaf, then wrapped in newspaper, and tied with string. Also, bunches of coriander or other greens are often tied with string-like lengths of a fibrous leaf. Since it's not very thin, it does not cut the delicate stalks.
In parts of Eastern India, single-use, little clay pots are used to serve tea. These are called khullar. They are low cost, bio-degradable and generate business for potters. In fact, they have become fashionable in many of the newer tea cafés in places like Manhattan and London! Until recently, it was very common for people to buy and carry sweets, like rasgolla and gulab jamoon, packed in clay pots and covered with a leaf tied at the neck with jute thread, which had an extra loop for carrying! Natural materials are also used many ways other than for serving food. Palms of coconut and areca are used for decoration during festivals. Flowers are strung together to add colour to the green background. The palm fronds are also used as thatch for homes: Hay is spread on a latticework of bamboo, and the palm thatch is placed on that.
The traditional way was to live as part of nature, but with increasing urban pressures, lifestyles have changed. Still, with bettter ecological awareness, a balance is possible.
-- Radha H.S., Banglore, India.
Why Go Green?
A garden without wildlife? Not for me! Gardens should be alive, not just with plants, but with all kinds of insect, bird and animal life. To me, the notion of a sterile garden is frightening. To raise pest-free crops and still enjoy the wildlife in the garden, a truce must be called.
A few years ago, I went completely organic after deciding that chemicals were not for the health of my garden or myself. I think science and nature could work more harmoniously by not introducing unnatural chemicals into our food, earth and water.
So, what do I have? A garden full of pests? No! I have a garden full of pests and predators. The predators balance the number of pests, leading to their natural decline. It takes several years to build up a balanced, working organic garden. But in the end, it's worth it! Slugs and snails were on the leaves of my plants, leaving visible holes, especially the cabbages. I tried to use to get rid of them. But, there was no way! Nothing worked! So, what I did was find a new place to attract the snails. Now, using this natural method, they go there instead of on my cabbages.
Today, I am happy. Nobody said it was going to be easy to have a garden welcoming everything. But, the process is interesting. And the success is yours-you worked for it.
-- Monica Matei, Petah Tikva, Israel.
Monica is trained in botany, plant anatomy and physiology.
* Organic food is food grown without use of pesticides, insecticides, artificial fertilizers or chemicals, on uncontaminated soil.
Five Fantastic Fathers
Sure, human dads can play catch and help with homework, but can they give birth? Daddy sea horses can! This Father's Day, while you're praising your family's patriarch, you may also remember that some of the best dads in the world can be found in the animal kingdom:
Sea Horses: The "Mr. Moms" of the marine world, male sea horses, carry up to 2,000 fertilized eggs in pouches in their stomachs until they hatch. Even after the babies are born, they stay inside the pouch until they are ready to venture out on their own.
Microhylid Frogs: Buy these dads a "Baby on Board" sign to put on their backs! These froggy fathers from New Guinea play piggyback once their babies hatch from their eggs. One by one, the dad lets as many as 24 froglets climb onto his back for a family road trip. He hops about 50 feet each night, and one by one, his kids jump off along the way to begin new lives of their own.
Darwin's Rheas: Thought your dad was overprotective? Darwin's rhea, also known as South American ostriches, are so protective of their children that they routinely rush cowboys on horseback and have even been known to attack small airplanes on the ground if they get too close to their brood! Marmosets: These little monkeys do everything but Lamaze class! Dedicated dads assist during labor by biting off the umbilical cord and cleaning up the afterbirth. They also let Mom get some R&R by taking care of the kids when they're not nursing.
Sand Grouse: Talk about sponging off Dad! These pigeon-like birds live in areas where water is sparse, so fathers fly as many as 50 miles to get water for their kids. After they soak up the water in their breast feathers, they fly home and let their chicks suckle the moisture from their bodies.
Fathers of the animal kingdom are not that different from our own beloved dads. This Father's Day, when you are honoring your dad, honor animal dads, too, by practicing kindness and compassion toward all animals.
-- Amy Skylark Elizabeth,
Life as a Caterpillar
Skipping Stones Magazine