The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
February 4, 2023
What could be better than a cheery red holiday to brighten the bleak days of winter? Valentine's Day, celebrated on the 14th of February, began as a Christian feast day honoring Christian martyrs. It has morphed into a cultural and commercial celebration of romance and love, whether one is religious or not.
For some, this is a day for pretty cards, flowers, candy and perhaps a nice dinner out with a sweetheart. Others use the day to express more platonic love, doing something nice for a friend or bringing cookies to a neighbor. For kids, it is a day to exchange cute Valentines with their classmates, Valentine's sporting favorite cartoon and superhero characters with clever greetings, and enjoying sweet treats and candies in the process. All of these acts of celebration share one thing in common. The color red. Red highlights the festivities with hearts, flowers and thoughtful gifts.
Thinking about the color red, I wondered how many books actually had red in their titles. There were so many from a variety of authors and topics for readers of all ages. I have chosen 10 to share with you in this review.
For our youngest readers what could be better than the Dr. Seuss classic, "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish?" Always creating a fun adventure, Seuss chooses words and pictures to delight and tickle the funny bone.
"The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel" published in 1915 by Thornton W. Burgess is still relevant today for middle school readers. Burgess, an early conservationist with a fascination for wildlife and concern for nature, combined his knowledge into stories and charming fables. The Red Squirrel is a mischief maker in the Green Forest. Chased by a weasel and Redtail the Hawk, he finds that a new home outside of the forest can be just as troublesome and challenging.
Both classics "The Red Pony" by John Steinbeck and "Where the Red Fern Grows" by Wilson Rawls are coming of age stories that encompass hard, heart breaking and compelling lessons for youth as well as adults. Be prepared to both cry and see red as you walk through their trials.
Historical fiction for middle graders and teens can bring both a story and an understanding of real experiences and actions from the past. In "Under the Blood-Red Sky" author Graham Salisbury introduces the reader to World War II on the islands of Hawaii, as a young Japanese-American boy faces the changes in his world and the world at large. "The Red Umbrella" by Christine Diaz Gonzalez narrates the story of a 14 year old girl who faces an unexpected journey from Cuba to America during the 1960-62 Operation Pedro Pan. An exodus of more than 14,000 children, sent by their parents to escape Castro's revolution, became an immense challenge for all involved. Lucia ends up in Nebraska with strangers, a sudden new country, a new language and a new life. Will she adjust? And will she see her parents again?
A third historical novel is "Red Wolf" by Jennifer Dance and is written for young adults. It is a difficult story about a First Nation boy, a residential school and how this five year old and a wolf work through a system created to take away heritage, spiritual beliefs and family. Hard truths are faced about how Indigenous people have been treated in the Americas and how they struggle to this day to rebuild their rightful place in their country along with their beliefs and heritage in this 21st century world.
For a change of pace, a romance novel is found within the pages of "Red Roses Mean Love" by Jacquie D'Alessandro. Haley, suddenly orphaned and abandoned by her fiance at the same time, chooses to care for her siblings and give up thoughts of romance altogether. But a chance encounter in the forest of a wounded Lord Stephen Barrett stirs her heart. And his. But first he must find the assassin who attempted to take his life.
Revisit the popular book of the 1990s "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant, and remember the women inside the story about Jacob and his brothers in the book of Genesis. There is proof that traditions of women remain strong, even under the shadow of men.
Last, "Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf" by Lois Ehert is a quiet and beautiful picture book relating a child's love of a sugar maple tree while celebrating seasonal changes joyfully. The color red, like the red found in the maple leaf, reminds us how nature and mankind are intertwined through the seasons of living and loving.
Humans are complex creatures sitting amidst the beauty and wonders of this world. We manage to find our way day to day in both simple and complicated scenarios. We get busy and distracted. But when we find ourselves immersed in the reds of February, it is a good time to take a pause and listen to all the hearts beating.
Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.