The Gift of Sarah Barker
by Jane Yolen
Viking Press, 1981.
The Gift of Sarah Barker is one of Jane Yolen’s earlier books. The young adult novel explores the growing romance of Sarah and Abel, who live in a Shaker community. The novel kept me reading, carried along in part by my curiosity about how the Shakers lived. It must have been a challenging situation, especially for teens, to be so disciplined. The men and boys, and the women and girls, worked near each other every day, but strict rules guided how they interacted.
Yolen’s description of daily life in this religious community pushed me to do a little research after I finished the book.
The Shaker’s main tenets are Celibacy, Community, and Confession of sin. The Mother Ann Lee, the founder, arrived in America in 1774 with eight followers. At its peak, the Shaker community numbered 4000 to 5000 Believers. “Hands to work, hearts to God” are the words they lived by.
Today the last active Shaker community is found in Maine, at Sabbathday Lake. The website below provides comprehensive information about the Shaker sect.
I spent a couple of happy hours wandering around this fabulous event at the Hudson middle school. In the gym were various organizations with tables of information and books. Free books were displayed on tables in the middle of the room.
Pat and I gave a pass to the cafeteria full of loud music and children blowing off steam.
The authors’ area was packed. Writers came from as far away as California and Tennessee. I was thrilled to meet two of my favorites: Jack Gantos of Dead End in Norvelt and the legendary Jane Yolen–Owl Moon. Coincidentally, I was reading one of her earlier books that weekend. She kindly gave me some tips about how to move forward.
On the way home, we paused at a truck stop to get gas. I also needed a phone charger for the car. Two Pakistani guys owned the place. The first cable I found was three feet long and $15.99.
“Don’t you have anything cheaper?” I asked.
The taller man went to a carousel and found a better choice for $9.99. Then the short guy came up with one for $7.99. What kindness and lack of greed!
In the bathroom, I appreciated this sign:
It was a great day for book fun and information.
Prince Emric does not wish to inherit the throne. He yearns to make music and explore the world. Soon he escapes to a life on the road with the Travelers.
When the kingdom is in crisis, and on the verge of war, only Emric can unlock the deep earth magic to reunite them all.
As I may have mentioned, Awakening Magic is my favorite of the Karakesh Chronicles. Why do I like it best? Maybe it’s the music that flows throughout the story. Certainly its partly the surprises I got while I was writing it. I still ask myself, “Did I really think of that?”
I don’t remember how the twists in plot appeared. For me, the writer, that is the excitement of making a story. The characters go off in a different direction. The plot tangles and winds into complicated knots that somehow weave together at the end.
Please like this page, leave a comment, and read Awakening Magic.
We have been watching this mallard pair for a while. No babies yet, so I’m wondering if it’s still early for nesting. Anybody know?
Mallards are native to the Northeast U.S. They are “dabbling ducks” and happy to reside in any wetland habitat. They eat a variety of food including seeds, aquatic vegetation and small creatures like earthworms and snails.
The female lays 1 to 13 eggs that incubate for 23 to 30 days. The ducklings are ready to leave the nest after only 13 to 16 hours.
As I’m a teacher, I dredged up my preschool songs about ducks. Here’s one:
Little Ducky Duddle, sitting in a puddle, sitting in a puddle so small.
It doesn’t really matter how much I splash and splatter,
I’m only a ducky after all–quack, quack!
This is how my mind works.
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