Being a teenager is tough enough: trying to fit in, figuring out who you are and want to be, and finding your place in the world. Jasmine Price also has to deal with being alone most of the time because her mom works two jobs to make ends meet. Her dad? Well, he’s been serving in the military so long Jasmine’s afraid she might be forgetting what he looks like.
But things seem to be looking up. They have moved out of the Projects into a better neighborhood; their neighbor Bibi, a grandmotherly figure, provides the companionship and confidante Jasmine needs while her mother’s at work, and Jasmine has a good shot at making the basketball team at her new high school.
That is until she runs afoul of Nevaeh, the team captain, and her crew. The game plan is on: take Jasmine out.
Hard pressed to deal with the escalating attacks and violence against her, Jasmine confides in Bibi who offers a solution to all of her problems: Jackson, a pet chameleon from her native Tanzania. This magical creature speaks and can transform not only his colors, but also his size, and defends, to the death, those he has sworn to protect.
When Jasmine uses the chameleon’s powers, things spiral out of control. She even becomes a police suspect in another teen’s disappearance.
Jasmine learns that by her actions she must choose who she wants to be, and realizes that positive change starts with her. Now she wants to get rid of Jackson, but how?
My Friend Jackson is a unique and riveting story of the physical and emotional impact of bullying, and the consequences of one’s actions and choices to resolve conflicts that every teenager and adult can relate to. A great and compelling story!
See you next time on November 22nd!
(A Sarah Blair Mystery) Book 3 of a series
by Debra H. Goldstein
Kensington Publishing Corp. 2020
Sarah Blair couldn’t be happier. Her life’s on track and now her twin sister Emily’s dream of owning her own restaurant, Southwind, has finally come true. Soon Emily will be able dazzle Wheaton, Alabama with her superb culinary skills. But she can’t open until the building inspector clears her and he seems to be dragging his feet. Meanwhile, the nightmare across the street, her rival’s restaurant, Jane’s Place, has just celebrated its grand opening and threatens to eclipse Emily’s restaurant even before it welcomes its first customer.
To make matters worse, patrons are raving about Jane’s Place where Riley Miller, heart breaker and sous chef, is whipping up delicious and healthy recipes to die for.
But when Riley turns up dead it’s up to Sarah, faithful sister and amateur sleuth, to find the killer.
Think you’re good at following clues and figuring things out? Convinced you can beat Sarah to the punch? Then you need to read, Three Treats Too Many.
Psst! Don’t forget to try the recipes. They’re a real treat!
See you next time on October 22nd!
As summer winds down to a hazy memory and schools re-open to welcome children, I am transported back to one of my own September days and that dreaded first assignment: the essay, My Summer Vacation.
Why was I asked to splatter my most precious moments on a sheet of plain old loose leaf paper only to have them defaced with red ink across the top? It just didn’t feel right.
Moreover, how could I even begin to describe a Brooklyn city summer, or explain how it felt to walk shoulder to shoulder with your best friend sharing secrets, giggles, and a Good Humor or Mr. Softy ice-cream?
Every perfect vacation includes fun, exercise, adventure, education, music and art. We had it all!
We played handball (there was always a building with a smooth wall), punch-ball and two-hand touch: our city versions of baseball and football, the latter usually played in the middle of the street, and basketball (the third rung on the fire escape ladder was the hoop).
For fifty-cents, Al’s deli made a mean ham and cheese hero that he’d cut in half for you and your best buddy to share. Allowance money went a long way at kid-friendly Cheapie Charlies where you could splurge on a water gun, a slinky, jacks, or a one-flight paper airplane, two if you were lucky. Clustered on a stoop we sang and clapped in time.
The main library on Cadman Plaza provided an air-conditioned respite from the heat. Seated in a cozy arm chair with an illustrated hard-cover our wings spread and our imaginations soared. Next door was the Brooklyn Museum, home to the largest Egyptian collection in the nation. Tombs and mummies, that was the place for mystery and adventure.
If we wanted to hit the high C’s, we’d hop the subway to Coney Island and scream our heads off on the cyclone rollercoaster as it clattered down the wooden rails.
At night, I sat out on the fire-escape staring up at the starry sky while my big brother pointed out the constellations and told me stories of Orion’s belt and the Wings of Icarus.
My summer vacation was about friendships. It was about growing and going back to school just a little older, not about going someplace. In a different way, we did go someplace, but it was within ourselves, our neighborhood, and our special little worlds. Your family and your friends were your summer. What you did, what you talked about and the experiences you shared made up your summer vacation: some things too private and personal to tell anyone except your closest friend, some moments too happy or too sad to actually put into words, but mostly those giddy, silly days filled with laughter that would be impossible to write about in an essay.
I don’t know what stories or memories children will share when they return to school, but I hope the joys of youth and friendship will outshine and outlast whatever troubles or sorrows may have touched their lives this summer.
See you next time on September 22nd.
When you love someone, you want to know everything about them. That someone, in this case, was my maternal grandmother. We shared a close bond, but there was a wrinkle on the face-map of her life that I could not trace. I wish I had asked her my questions while she was still with me.
Interviewing relatives would, I hoped, complete my connection to this woman I dearly loved, and terribly missed. But to find the remaining pieces, I did what writers do best—research in order to build a world.
So like the hummingbird that can fly backward, I went back in time to Grandma’s world.
Historical records, genealogies, news media archives, the library, and the internet supplied a wealth of factual information. But it was the literature of my grandmother’s generation that proved invaluable. These books transformed into photo albums before my eyes, showing me beginnings, goals accomplished and milestones reached: footprints on the path of life. Preserved intact on the pages of novels and poems were the tears, sorrows, dreams, humiliations, and losses of real people; experiences true to their time and place.
Stories, I realized, are essential to our lives. They preserve the knowledge of who we are. They alone have the power to travel unfettered bridging cultural gaps, producing empathy, and transforming strangers into friends. Stories too serve as mirrors. By them, we view and measure our growth and change, or lack thereof.
I started out seeking missing facts about my grandmother’s life. I found so much more: a living reminder of the hopes and sacrifices of my ancestors that paved the way for me to be born happy, healthy and free. Lives and experiences that I want to always remember and never forget.
May these novels and poems never pass away for my Granny lives enshrined therein forever.
See you next time on August 22nd.
My father always said, “Know who you are. In whatever you do, do your best.” By his hard work and example, he instilled in me the importance of integrity and quality. This makes me scrutinize everything I say and write (sometimes to excess). But also causes me to dig a little deeper and write from the heart which makes for a satisfying journey.
When I showed interest in wearing makeup, he made me feel beautiful and confident without it. In his own special way, he taught me that natural and simple is best. So writing, I find, is like learning how to dress and color coordinate. You develop your own style. Mix and match colors to accentuate. Create different looks depending on the season and occasion. Dress to impress or just to chill out. And when you meet a special someone…dress to be “effective.” You want your writing to stand out, but not overwhelm. That would be like wearing too much makeup. Picture the character, Mimi, on the Drew Carey show, or the sea witch, Ursula, in Disney’s, The Little Mermaid.
“Be original. Be creative,” said dad. “And above all, when you speak, don’t ramble.” By which he meant that if someone asks the time, don’t explain how a clock is made. (That’s when I edit, edit, edit).
Many writers speak of having a muse, but I find that although my father is long gone from this world, the words and teachings which he wove into my being continue to guide and inspire me. This leads me to conclude that my dad had a super power: Words.
I hope I have inherited it.
See you next time on July 22nd.
For all you’ve taught me, dad, this one’s for you.
Veronica Jorge – Manager, Educator, and former High School Social Studies teacher, Veronica credits her love of history to the potpourri of cultures that make up her own life and to her upbringing in diverse Brooklyn, New York. Her genres of choice are historical fiction where she always makes new discoveries, and children’s picture books because there are so many wonderful worlds yet to be imagined and visited. She currently resides in Macungie, PA.
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