I find ecstasy in living, the mere sense of living is joy enough.
– Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson, Vincent Van Gogh and Scott Joplin were famous for their unique contributions to the arts, but their genius was not recognized during their lifetimes. “Emily Dickinson is the American poet whose work consisted of exploring states of psychic extremity,” says author Adrienne Rich. “More than any other poet, Dickinson seemed to tell me that the intense inner event, the personal and psychological, was inseparable from the universal.”
I feel that the same can be said about some of the terrific books published today, particularly in the growing arena of Young Adult (YA) literature. These books tend to have rich character development with intense storylines. They can include a variety of personal and social issues that hit you faster and harder than traditional literature. The personal and psychological become inseparable from the universal.
The YA genre is often a victim of its label: People assume that the stories will only appeal to teen and preteen readers. But YA literature crosses all age brackets. Here’s why: It’s fresh. Many teens and adults are rediscovering their love of reading in YA books that have compelling themes. From vampires and dystopian societies to social issues and family dramas to thrilling adventures and magical realism, YA writers are doing new things that haven’t been done in literature before, and they’re getting – and keeping – our attention.
As author Patricia McCormick describes, “Here are a few audacious books you won’t find in the adult section of the library: a Holocaust memoir narrated by Death; a novel written entirely in electronic messages; a historical novel in prose poems; a murder mystery in screenplay format; a 550-page novel in pictures and words that may or may not have been written by an automaton.”
Whether you already love the energy behind YA books, or you are curious to learn more about this genre of writing, or you just want to know more about what your kids are reading, here’s your chance. The Inquiring Minds Bookstore in New Paltz celebrates Young Adult literature in the Hudson Valley with a special “Juicy YA Reads” panel event featuring YA authors Jennifer Castle, Kim Purcell and Nova Ren Suma.
I asked Castle, author of the award-winning Beginning of After, her thoughts about this special YA evening: “Multi-author events like this are so fun, because booklovers get to hear a range of writing and perspectives, and it always ends up feeling like a big party. What the three of us share is that we’ve all published novels that represent how YA is more than The Hunger Games; these are literary stories that take on weighty contemporary themes. We’re also lucky to have Nicole Brinkley moderating, because few people know YA better than book bloggers!”
Purcell is the author of Trafficked, and Suma wrote Imaginary Girls. Brinkley is a SUNY-New Paltz student who writes “WORD for Teens,” a well-known blog offering YA book reviews and commentary. This free event is open to the public and will take place on Friday, June 15 at 7 p.m. Inquiring Minds is located at 6 Church Street in New Paltz. For more information, call (845) 255-8300 or visit www.inquiringbooks.com. To learn more about the authors and their books, as well as the moderator, visit the following websites: www.jennifercastle.com, www.kimpurcell.com, www.novaren.com and www.wordforteens.com.
Nature programs for kids this weekend at Minnewaska State Park
Get yourself a copy of Kermit the Frog’s song “On My Pond” – “There’s a place where I can sit, just me, myself and I, on my pond…” – and take your family out to search for the creatures who call this ecosystem home. “Pond Exploration for Children” takes place at Minnewaska State Park Preserve on Saturday, June 16 from 10 a.m. to noon. This program is recommended for children between the ages of 6 and 10 years; there are no guarantees that you will find Kermit.
Then on Sunday, June 17, check out “Nature Journals for Children” from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon. Children will make their own nature journal, then take a walk to look for pinecones, leaves and other natural items to include in their book. This session is geared to children from 7 to 10 years. And remember to bring your bathing suits to take a dip afterwards! Lake Minnewaska’s beach is open daily beginning Saturday, June 16. Or pack up your bikes and a picnic and head over to Lake Awosting’s beach, which will be open for the weekend.
Both nature programs are free, but there is a park entry fee of $8 per car, and preregistration is required. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over age 18. Minnewaska State Park Preserve is located at 5281 Route 44/55 in Kerhonkson. For more information or to register, call (845) 255-0752 or visit http://nysparks.com.
Dads ride free on Fathers’ Day at Trolley Museum in Kingston
If your last trip with a trolley was to the Land of Make-Believe with Mr. Rogers, then it’s time for the real thing. Head over to the Trolley Museum of New York in Kingston this weekend and take a mile-and-a-half ride back in time over to Kingston Point Park. On Sunday, June 17, Dads ride free in honor of Fathers’ Day. Regular rates are as follows: Adults get in for $6, seniors aged 62 years and over for $4, children ages 5 to 12 years for $4 and children under 5 get in free. Admission is valid all day from 12 noon to 5 p.m. and includes a trolley ride, the gallery and the restoration shop.
The Trolley Museum of New York is located at 89 East Strand in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 331-3399 or visit www.tmny.org.
…and get in free to living history event this Sunday at Mount Gulian in Beacon
When I mention a historic reference to our daughter, she often says, “How do you know that’s true?” I’m excited to take her to Mount Gulian Historic Site for the Civil War living history presentation, “On the Side of the Angels.” They will be reenacting a scenario from June 30, 1863: the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg. Find out what Robert Newlin Verplanck decided to do that fateful night. The story is drawn from an extensive collection of letters and journals written by these two figures: Robert Newlin Verplanck and escaped slave and longtime Verplanck employee James F. Brown.
The presentation takes place on Sunday, June 17 at 2 p.m., with a tour of the site to follow. Dads are admitted free on Fathers’ Day! Admission for other visitors costs $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for children ages 6 through 18 and free for children under age 6 and for Mount Gulian members. Mount Gulian is located at 145 Sterling Street in Beacon. For more information, call (845) 831-8172 or visit www.mountgulian.org.
Meanwhile, Sunday is Children’s Day at New Windsor Cantonment
Instead of giving Dad yet another necktie for Fathers’ Day, how about the gift of time? Eighteenth-century time, to be exact: On Sunday, June 17, it’s Children’s Day at the New Windsor Cantonment. This fun-filled day of family entertainment includes the Two by Two petting zoo, 18th -century magician Mr. Bayley and a variety of games from the 1700s. Children’s Day runs from 1 to 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
The New Windsor Cantonment is located at 374 Temple Hill Road in New Windsor. For more information, call (845) 561-1765 or visit www.nysparks.com.
Renegades baseball season opens this Monday in Wappingers Falls
Playyyyyyy ballllllll! It’s baseball time! Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” I remember the first time that I observed a Hudson Valley Renegades baseball game. I didn’t actually want to go, but I was roped into chaperoning a group of enthusiastic kids who were excited to attend a game. As a grumpy non-sports-fan, I had brought two large tote bags of paperwork to do during the game. After the National Anthem, I hunkered down in my seat to get started on my work. I happened to glance up and see the first pitch. The next thing I knew, I had thrust my papers down, jumped to my feet and started yelling support to the home team.
That was it: I caught Renegades fever. My husband and I have been attending games ever since, and now our kids look forward to the Renegades every summer like we do. In addition to the great stadium layout (every seat’s a good one), some of the Renegades’ family-friendly elements include the periodic interactive coordinated cheering, clapping and stomping; special appearances by the Renegades’ raccoon mascots, Rookie, Rene and Rascal; wacky games and activities between innings; a bounce house area; and plenty of space to walk around. Kids can even run the bases after the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday games.
Kids age 12 and under can join the Little Rascals Kids’ Club for free online. Kids’ Club members receive a free general admission ticket, a membership card and information about special events and offers throughout the year. Some games feature souvenir giveaways, and our kids love the fireworks shows scheduled throughout the season. Over the years, we’ve collected foam fingers and Renegades apparel that we display proudly whenever we attend a game. Ticket pricing depends on where you sit, ranging from $6 general admission to $17 for premium box seats and $2 extra on fireworks nights, and you can purchase them online.
Spend some quality family time together while enjoying this great American pastime, right here in the Hudson Valley. Opening day for the 2012 season is Monday, June 18 at 6:35 p.m. against the Aberdeen Ironbirds. Dutchess Stadium is located at 1500 Route 9D in Wappingers Falls. For tickets or more information, call (845) 838-0094 or visit www.hvrenegades.com.
Poughkeepsie & Kingston Barnes & Noble stores host Lego Build events for kids next week
I’ve got two words for you: Free and Legos. What a sweet combination! Barnes & Noble stores across the country are offering a special Lego-building event this month for children ages 4 and up. There are free kits for the first several registrants, as well as Lego demonstrations. The Poughkeepsie store hosts its event on Monday, June 18 at 7 p.m. The Kingston store offers its Lego Build on Saturday, June 23 at 11 a.m. Preregistration is required.
For more information or to register, contact the store that you plan to visit. The Poughkeepsie Barnes & Noble is located at 2518 South Road, (845) 485-2224; the Kingston store is located at 1177 Ulster Avenue, (845) 336-0590; or visit www.bn.com.
In honor of Fathers’ Day, Erica Chase-Salerno dedicates this week’s column to her awesome, wonderful Dad, Robert Chase. Special hugs to her amazing father-in-law, Sal Salerno. And deep appreciation of the sacred connection with her loving grandfathers, Austin Chase and George Chandler. Erica can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.