07262016Tue
Last updateThu, 21 Jul 2016 12pm

News

Detectives seek to identify bank robber

Detectives seek to identify bank robber

Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office detectives have released images of a man robbing a local bank earlier this week.


The suspect

At approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday (July 19), a man wearing a black baseball cap, glasses and a black coat entered the...

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Schools

Hofmann boys reel in customers with their new fishing business

Hofmann boys reel in customers with their new fishing business


Courtesy of Amy Hofmann
The Hofmann brothers – Grady, from left, Hayden and Baylor – fish three to five mornings a week from their family’s boat, “Party of Five,” docked in the Santa Cruz Harbor.

Three to five times per...

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Community

Local vet: Dogs need teeth brushing, too: Pet Pause

Home oral hygiene can make a tremendous difference in your dog’s comfort and health. There are several home care oral hygiene options from which to choose, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation...

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Sports

Don't tell these guys it's only an exhibition

Don't tell these guys it's only an exhibition


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View High defensive end Noah Kjos celebrates a tackle by one of his teammates. He recovered a fumble in the game.

There was nothing on the line but pride, and that proved more than enough to motivate the play...

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Comment

Letter to the Editor

LAH should examine short-term rentals

I used to think that a short-term rental (Airbnb style) was operated by someone who has a spare bedroom to share and was thus not a big issue. Living in Los Altos Hills, I was surprised to find out that one of m...

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Special Sections

Reading in sign,  ink and song

Reading in sign, ink and song


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A baby girl learns sign language during a program offered Wednesdays at the Los Altos Library.

Visit Los Altos Library’s community room on a Wednesday afternoon and you’ll see its plain gray expanse descend i...

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Business

Longtime LAVA director announces resignation

Longtime LAVA director announces resignation


Dunaway

After more than 10 years on the job, Nancy Dunaway is stepping down from her role as executive director of the Los Altos Village Association (LAVA).

“It’s a good time for both the association and myself,” Dunaway said las...

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People

DONNA MYERS

DONNA MYERS

Donna Lee Arrants Myers was born in Selma, California on Feb. 20, 1926. She passed away on June 23, 2016, at the age of 90, after suffering a stroke. Donna was the youngest of four children. She had two sisters, Jessie and Bonnie, and one brother, ...

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News

Detectives seek to identify bank robber

Detectives seek to identify bank robber

Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office detectives have released images of a man robbing a local bank earlier this week.


The suspect

At approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday (July 19), a man wearing a black baseball cap, glasses and a black coat entered the Wells Fargo at the intersection of Foothill Expre...

Readmore

Business

Longtime LAVA director announces resignation

Longtime LAVA director announces resignation

Dunaway

After more than 10 years on the job, Nancy Dunaway is stepping down from her role as executive director of the Los Altos Village Association (LAVA).

“It’s a good time for both the association and myself,” Dunaway said last week.

Readmore

Sports

Don't tell these guys it's only an exhibition

Don't tell these guys it's only an exhibition

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View High defensive end Noah Kjos celebrates a tackle by one of his teammates. He recovered a fumble in the game.

There was nothing on the line but pride, and that proved more than enough to motivate the players in the 42nd annual Charlie Wedemeyer High Scho...

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Community

A free pop-up arts festival Friday at Montalvo

Los Altos area residents are invited to attend Villa Montalvo's annual summer festival "Rock the Garden," the theme of which this year is "5 Hour Sculpture: A Pop-Up Arts Festival." The free event, scheduled 5-10 p.m. Friday (July 22) at the Saratoga arts center, involves more than 35 artists from t...

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Comment

Letter to the Editor

LAH should examine short-term rentals

I used to think that a short-term rental (Airbnb style) was operated by someone who has a spare bedroom to share and was thus not a big issue. Living in Los Altos Hills, I was surprised to find out that one of my neighbors in a small cul-de-sac is renting out a...

Readmore

People

DONNA MYERS

DONNA MYERS

Donna Lee Arrants Myers was born in Selma, California on Feb. 20, 1926. She passed away on June 23, 2016, at the age of 90, after suffering a stroke. Donna was the youngest of four children. She had two sisters, Jessie and Bonnie, and one brother, Clyde, whom she adored. At the age of eleven, the ...

Readmore

Schools

Hofmann boys reel in customers with their new fishing business

Hofmann boys reel in customers with their new fishing business

Courtesy of Amy Hofmann
The Hofmann brothers – Grady, from left, Hayden and Baylor – fish three to five mornings a week from their family’s boat, “Party of Five,” docked in the Santa Cruz Harbor.

Three to five times per week, the Hofmann boys get up much earlier than m...

Readmore

Special Sections

Reading in sign, ink and song

Reading in sign,  ink and song

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A baby girl learns sign language during a program offered Wednesdays at the Los Altos Library.

Visit Los Altos Library’s community room on a Wednesday afternoon and you’ll see its plain gray expanse descend into a slobbering, rolling, gurgling-baby Thunderdo...

Readmore

Stepping Out

'Pan' flies into town

'Pan' flies into town

Courtesy of Pati Bristow
Valerie Hu, front, plays the title character and Ellie Schwartz is Tinkerbell in the Los Altos Youth Theatre production of “Disney’s Peter Pan Jr.”

The Los Altos Youth Theatre production of “Disney’s Peter Pan Jr.”scheduled to close Sunday.

Fly away to Neverland with P...

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Obituaries

DONNA MYERS

DONNA MYERS

Donna Lee Arrants Myers was born in Selma, California on Feb. 20, 1926. She passed away on June 23, 2016, at the age of 90, after suffering a stroke. Donna was the youngest of four children. She had two sisters, Jessie and Bonnie, and one brother, Clyde, whom she adored. At the age of eleven, the ...

Readmore

Magazine

Festival offers fun for just about everyone

Festival offers fun for just about everyone

TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The 37th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival expects to draw thousands of people to the downtown village over the weekend. The festival features arts, crafts, food, wine, beer and children’s activities.

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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..

Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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