Fri05272016

News

FAA report

FAA report "a start" in allaying noise onslaught


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Anti-noise advocates exchange informational door hangers to give to neighbors.

A federal report released last week identifies possible solutions to the aircraft noise plaguing South Bay communities.

The Federal Aviation...

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Schools

Almond community packs meals for those in need

Almond community packs meals for those in need


Courtesy of Polly Liu
Almond School families worked together last month to package more than 15,000 meals for the Stop Hunger Now organization. Approximately 85 volunteers, including students in grades K-6, packaged meals of rice, soy, vitamins and...

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Community

Veteran Marie Houghton Mong: Mapping out a long life of doing

Veteran Marie Houghton Mong: Mapping out a long life of doing


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Marie Houghton Mong relaxes with one of her two 16-year-old cats at The Terraces at Los Altos retirement community.

On the average day, Marie Houghton Mong can be found in her attractive and comfortable apartment at T...

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Comment

Blame it on Rio: No Shoes, Please

In 2008, I wrote a column explaining why I thought Beijing was an inappropriate venue for that year’s Summer Olympic Games. I cited health risks: the city’s terrible pollution and the country’s corrupt food supply chain. I also note...

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Special Sections

Upscale modern: Los Altos Hills home honors DNA of originals

Upscale modern: Los Altos Hills home honors DNA of originals


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Melissa and Nick French, right with son Grayson, pooled their talents to design their dream home. Melissa designed the living room sofa and table.

Melissa and Nick French took “do it yourself” to a new dimens...

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Business

ATHENA awards recognize local leadership

ATHENA awards recognize local leadership


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Chamber of Commerce Mountain View presented this year’s ATHENA Leadership Award to Maria Marroquin, left, and Leane Reelfs, right. The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award went to Diana Bautista, center.

Chamber ...

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People

ERNEST TRAUGOTT

ERNEST TRAUGOTT

Resident of Los Altos 
August 18, 1920 - May 11, 2016 

Ernie died peacefully at his home, just a few months short of his 96th birthday. 

Ernie had an amazing life, born in Germany he and his family fled the Nazi's soon after Kristal...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company's 'Arts Razzle-Dazzle' showcases local talent

LA Stage Company's 'Arts Razzle-Dazzle' showcases local talent


Courtesy of Eileen Eng
Mountain View High junior Julia Rogers, 2015 South Bay Teen Idol winner, is slated to perform at Tuesday’s “Arts Razzle-Dazzle” at Bus Barn Theater.

Los Altos Stage Company shines a spotlight on the perfo...

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Spiritual Life

Former St. Nicholas pastor shares his story as exorcist

The Rev. Gary Thomas served the Los Altos faith community as pastor of St. Nicholas Catholic Parish for several years before he announced in 2005 that San Jose Bishop Patrick J. McGrath had assigned him to study in Rome, not unusual for U.S. priests...

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Time for magic: Classic books that enchant

 

The Harry Potter series’ success is such that one might think J.K. Rowling invented magic. But that would mean overlooking the truly wonderful examples of magic in children’s literature written over the last century. Following is a collection of some of my favorites, which I love now as much as I did as a child. There’s still time for a little magic before summer ends.

In E. Nesbit’s “Five Children and It” (UNWIN, 1904), we meet a quintet of siblings whose encounter with a magical creature turns their summer vacation into a wish-making experiment. We’re far from the drama and glamour of genies swirling out of bottles, however. Their unorthodox granter of wishes is the curmudgeonly Psammead, a Sand Fairy they uncover while playing in a gravel pit near their vacation home. Curt to the point of rudeness, he would much rather be left alone, and has nothing but contempt for the mishaps that result from their improvident wishes.

His irritability is ultimately endearing, however, and the friction between the children and the cranky Psammead doesn’t run deep. The real tensions are between what the children wish for and what they get. Never fully in control of the grand adventures they wish on themselves, the children gently remind us of the pitfalls of foolishness and desire.

In Edward Eager’s “Half Magic” (Harcourt, 1954), it’s reading E. Nesbit’s “The Enchanted Castle” (Harper and Brothers, 1907) that makes four siblings feel the crushing ordinariness of their world. “Magic never happens, not really,” says Mark, “who was old enough to be sure about this.”

Enter a coin, whose magical, wish-granting properties the children discover accidentally. But the coin’s magic is unruly: Wishes only come half true, and there’s no way of knowing in advance which half. The business of figuring out this half magic baffles them at first, and they blunder – but they devise ingenious solutions as well.

Part of the book’s delight comes from following the children as they uncover the nature of this unusual magic, outwitting it and being outdone in turns.

The characters are compelling and quirky, each with his or her own particularities. And magic itself is a character, too: With “Half Magic,” we explore the odd kind of thing magic is. The book’s tone is mischievous, the pages full of wit and wordplay.

In Eager’s “Magic at the Lake” (Harcourt, 1957), the same crew figures magic out all over again, and their children continue the magical escapades in “Knight’s Castle” (Harcourt, 1956) and “The Time Garden” (Harcourt, 1958).

The world of Monica Furlong’s “Juniper” (Knopf, 1991) is darker. The arts of healing and black magic swirl around Juniper, daughter of King Mark of Cornwall. Born with a propensity for healing, she will ultimately face the threats her evil aunt presents to kingdom and family.

But Juniper has a complicated relationship to her calling. Initially, her apprenticeship with her stern and ascetic godmother Euny, who will teach her the healing arts, is simply tedious and bewildering. And the forces of magic can be terrifying; Juniper must learn discipline and strength.

As we trace her progression, the first-person narrative achieves a wonderful balance. It feels absorbingly intimate. At the same time, the healing arts are closely tied to attentiveness and observation, and Furlong’s writing is full of vivid detail. We can feel the path as we accompany Juniper on her herb-gathering walks; we can see her pet owl, Moon, shuffle his feet. We are equally engrossed both in Juniper’s world and in her mind. It’s a powerful combination.

If you like to plunge into a long series, try Lloyd Alexander’s award-winning “Chronicles of Prydain” (Henry Holt). The setup is familiar: dichotomies of good and evil; a threatened kingdom; a young and inexperienced protagonist with visions of being a hero. It’s Alexander’s skillful pacing and sense of humor that make the books shine. A cast of eccentric supporting characters accompanies Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper (and would-be hero), as he sets out to prove himself in a series of adventures that feel like a heroic romp.

Readers can share a love of magic, but the magic comes in different forms. The classic canon of fantasy literature offers us – children and adults – as many different kinds of magic as there are magic-lovers.

Eve Hill-Agnus is an English teacher and freelance writer. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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