Zinger in the Woods

by m.t.becker

Review by Carole Mertz

Lessons Learned from a Doggie Adventure

I loved Zinger in the Woods for the way it helps children understand the concept of trust. Nestled into this lesson (written for tweens or a younger age group) is an adventure in which one dog rescues another and then finds a new home for himself. Quite a number of delightful surprises present themselves in the language m.t. becker used: “their hooves are harder than jawbreakers,” “it was a pawtastic time,” “her eyes were like shiny gold coins,” and the use of scientific terms (for rabbits and squirrels). 

A few other concepts the book teaches, some overtly, some subtly, include the use of traction, the effects of gravity, and the purposes of natural remedies. After her rescue, Ginger really wants to play with Zen, but she turns homeward knowing her family is looking for her, an example of deferred gratification.

Kids reading this book witness a child’s concern for her pet, parental consolation, the idea of being on a mission, the meaning of such terms as “ordeal,” and “mesmerized.”

A few elements not fully explained include: why is Zinger used in the title? and where did Zen get the rope for the rescue he performs? But let’s not concern ourselves with such minor things in doggie-land, as defined by Mark and Tie Becker. (Note—m.t. becker represents a husband-wife team.) 

June 9th @ Carole Writes

Visit Carole’s blog today to read her review of Zinger in The Woods by authors M. T. Becker.

www.carolemertz.com

June 10th @ Reading Girl Reviews

Visit Gina’s blog today to read her review of Zinger in The Woods by authors M. T. Becker.

www.Instagram.com/readinggirlreviews

June 11th @ Chapters Through Life

Visit Danielle’s blog today to see her spotlight and review of the book Zinger in The Woods by M. T. Becker.

http://chaptersthroughlife.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1

June 12th @ Lisa’s Reading

Visit Lisa’s blog today to see her spotlight and giveaway of Zinger in The Woods and a guest post on Growing Food by authors M. T. Becker.

https://lisasreading.com

June 13th @ Teatime and Books

Visit Janet’s blog today to read her review of Zinger in The Woods and a guest post on Education by authors M. T. Becker.

http://www.teatimeandbooks76.blogspot.com

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A Review of Leyva’s The Invisible Vegan

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Author, Jasmine Leyva, has produced an invaluable service for anyone who wants to change his eating style from carnivorous to plant-based. The documentary The Invisible Vegan directed by Jasmine and ­­­Kenny Leyva, promotes exactly what its subtitle claims: a raising of food consciousness to a new level. 

The film is largely directed toward an African American audience. It explains the healthful benefits of a plant-based diet. It also indicates why choosing a vegan diet can be a complex issue for African Americans.

Especially since the 1960s, many Blacks, as the film shows, have come to consider eating foods like fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and baked ham as soul food, the food that forms a deep part of the shared culture. For Blacks to turn away from eating meat then, can be seen by other Blacks as denying their own culture. Leyva’s film challenges blacks to reconsider their food choices. She acknowledges these choices can be difficult.

She shows that many African Americans, because of their history traced to their West African ancestors, have been unaware that their ancestors enjoyed a healthy connection with the land, that these ancestors raised vegetarian crops and enjoyed eating vegetarian. Historically, because of colonialism and other forces, this food culture was not acknowledged or taught in the schools.

Leyva wants her audience to be aware of the ill-effects caused by eating meat and over-processed foods. She wants her people to acknowledge that improved diet can combat diseases and disorders such as diabetes, gastric distress, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and prostate cancer. 

To strengthen her case, Leyva cites important cultural and political leaders who have been either vegan or vegetarian—Loretta Scott King, Angela Davis, Rosa Parks, and Dick Gregory among them. She also cites the work of Dr. Aris Latham, a Panamanian, who was “the father of raw gourmet cuisine.” She praises Dr. Alvenia Fulton, a black naturopathic doctor, for having opened the first health food store on the south side of Chicago in the 1950s.

In my view, The Invisible Vegan helps bring about changes of attitudes. “If eating high-fat foods causes you to be sick, why would you want to continue to do this?” asks one person in the film. “Eating meat is masculine.” “Eating salads is effeminate.” These are other attitudes Leyva challenges. By bringing about new awareness, she enables people to change their habits. She wants her film to help African Americans to recognize the social, economic, and political forces that have mitigated against their establishing healthier eating habits. They can decide to partake in the benefits of the plant-based diet as a pathway to healthier living.

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McKee’s Memoir

McKee’s Guns and Gods in my Genes is a rewarding memoir that transports us through important eras of Canada’s and America’s history. Though the author may not have known at the start of his genealogical research that he’d travel over 15,000 miles to complete this memoir, he did publish it in time to honor the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower. Since his heritage traces back to his ninth great-grandfather, the Mayflower becomes an important element in McKee’s account.

The book is available in paperback (through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores and libraries) and in email edition (via Kobo). I welcome it as a fascinating addition to accounts of our country’s founding, including the regrettable and bloody wars between the indigenous peoples and the earliest newcomers. 

Of particular interest is McKee’s tracking of his Haskin lineage, traced through his mother’s line via his maternal grandmother, Effie Jane Haskins (d. 1966). This segment of the author’s history carries us back to one Anthony H[o]skins who lived between 1632 and 1707.  The chapter, “The Haskins Family and the Civil War,” introduces us to Lafayette Haskins, the author’s great-grandfather, who enlisted in the 7th Wisconsin Regiment in 1861, at the age of 17. 

As an eager young soldier, Lafayette must have struggled with the awkward guns used in the Civil War. Bullets from these guns could cause irreparable internal damage to soldiers. Yet officers instructed the troops not to help the wounded, as they had to continue their tasks of loading and recharging their rifles as quickly as possible. In spite of dim prospects for survival, Lafayette Haskins, having fallen sick and thereby missing the Battle of Gettysburg, survived to 1925. In this chapter, McKee includes the shocking statistic that, of the 700,00 soldiers who died in this war, many succumbed not from battle itself, but from such diseases as dysentery, pneumonia, measles, typhoid fever or tuberculosis. (pp.127-130)

This chapter is only a tiny sampling of the fascinating and detailed accounts McKee offers. His inclusion of maps, a highly comprehensive and significant genealogical chart, eight tables, and detailed chapter notes at the back, aid the reader through the complexities of the account—vividly descriptive, poetical, and analytical in equal measure.

What Poetry Means to Me

The power of poetry accomplishes so much. It keeps us mindful, helps us heal, and allows us to share so much. In spite of Covid’s restrictions that continue to confine us, poetry breaks down barriers and offers us wide expanses to explore.

Poetry can be celebration, it can be extended lament or a personal song. Poetry is nature, decay, and reconstruction. Poetry offers precision or mere suggestion. Poetry has many horizons. Poetry, for me, is joy.

About Me

Carole Mertz

I write poetry, essays, and stories, with poetry as my main genre. My poetry chapbook, Toward a Peeping Sunrise (2019) is available at Prolific Press https://prolificpress.com/bookstore/chapbook-series-c-14/toward-a-peeping-sunrise-by-carole-mertz-p-310.html. My full-length collection Color and Line at Amazon and through Kelsay Books kelsaybooks.com.

Born into a Pennsylvania Dutch farming community, the daughter of hard-working parents, and a sister to five siblings, I treasure my early life and my student days in Quakertown, PA. I value my heritage and the blessings I receive from a large extended family.

After studying music, history, and the fine arts in Oberlin College and in Salzburg, Austria (at the Mozarteum), I moved to New York City upon graduation. There I met my husband, raised our son, and ultimately settled with my family in Ohio. I enjoy being considered a Midwestern writer. 

I am Book Review Editor at Dreamers Creative Writing, a Canadian publication. My poetry and book reviews appear in literary journals in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Africa, and India. My poems, essays, and articles are included in various anthologies. As interviewer, my work appeared recently at The Bookends Review, The Compulsive Reader, The Zingara Poetry Review, and in various blogs.

In addition to writing, I’m a professional musician. I enjoy attending concerts and traveling with my husband. Reading remains an enduring pleasure.

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