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Food & Wine

Citrus-y beers celebrate summer

Citrus-y beers celebrate summer


Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Session beers offer an alcohol content low enough to sustain sipping through a long, lazy picnic. Local breweries are celebrating the citrus hop style now in vogue with other fruit-forward influences.

With the h...

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Your Health

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 ...

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Your Home

Gardening for life: Strategies to make it easy

Gardening for life: Strategies to make it easy


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Succulents are a good choice for a small, low-maintenance garden that needs minimal water. Combine a variety of interesting colors and shapes.

If aches and pains are starting to limit your ability to garden, then g...

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On The Road

A different kind  of driving school

A different kind of driving school


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The Andersons observe Bixby Bridge – located on Highway 1 near Big Sur – from a dirt road during their recent Land Rover Experience Driving School lesson.

It is always exciting to do something youR...

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Senior Lifestyles

Monkey business: Senior Program volunteers lift spirits of sick kids

Monkey business: Senior Program volunteers lift spirits of sick kids


Photo Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos Senior Program volunteers – affectionately known as The Monkey Toy Ladies – make sock monkeys to comfort sick children.

Last year, nearly 400 children at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital received a special ...

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Wedding To Remember

The Veils of Time

The Veils of Time


Courtesy of Los Altos History Museum

For a new spin on the Town Crier’s “Peek into the Past,” the Los Altos History Museum has been gathering historical local wedding photos and the stories behind them.

Frances Elizabeth Shoup, second...

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Your Kids

Back to School

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?


Courtesy of Hollis Bischoff
This chart compares the rate of Early Decision acceptances with the overall acceptance rate at various colleges.

As students apply to an ever-increasing list of schools, colleges are challenged to predict accurately whether ...

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Bears emerge from hibernation to delight young readers

Little Bear is the endearing young cub at the center of Else Holmelund Minarik’s “Little Bear” series. In her books, short vignettes full of heart unfold in a simple, Dick-and-Jane style appropriate for early readers. But the books’ life and charm ultimately come from Maurice Sendak’s illustrations.

Scratchy pen-and-ink drawings and simple color washes draw us into a childhood world full of nostalgia. The nuances of facial expression and body language communicate Little Bear’s personality – a personality not unlike Sendak’s famously feisty Max from “Where the Wild Things Are” (Harper & Row, 1963), the 1964 Caldecott Medal winner.

One of Little Bear’s early adventures involves his abrupt announcement that he will fly to the moon.

“I’m going now. Just look for me up in the sky,” he tells Mother Bear as he sets out wearing a cardboard-box helmet topped with twirly antennae. He may be an adventurer, but spunk and imagination are always balanced with innocence in Minarik’s stories – and framed with the intimacy of home.

Mother Bear is a realist who radiates tenderness, much like the mother rabbit in Margaret Wise Brown’s “The Runaway Bunny” (HarperCollins, revised, 2005). In “Little Bear,” the first book in the series (Perfection Learning, 1957), she may challenge Little Bear’s dreams of flight, but she is also the one to surprise him with an unexpected birthday cake.

The books’ sweet, domestic charm is reflected in the last chapter of “Little Bear.”

“You always make me happy,” Little Bear tells Mother Bear as he gets ready for bed.

“Little Bear’s Visit” (HarperCollins, 1979), in which family stories captivate the little cub during a visit to his grandparents’ house, is a Caldecott Honor Book.

Michael Bond’s Paddington is another kind of innocent altogether: a bumbling bear set loose in the big-city world of London, where he gets into wonderfully absurd scrapes.

In “A Bear Called Paddington” (Houghton Mifflin, 1958), the first of the series, the Browns adopt Paddington after finding him at Paddington Station’s “lost property” desk, wearing a placard marked “Please look after this bear.” Paddington is more lost cause than lost property, and the Browns come to be fondly wary of their muddle-prone charge from Darkest Peru.

I discovered Paddington when I was 8 years old and living in London for a year with my mother. The hilarity that ensued as Paddington committed one blunder after another often made it hard for us to read the books aloud to each other on the Tube, where our laughing fits outnumbered the station stops.

Like the sensible housekeeper, Mrs. Bird, we could sense the impending disasters, and the dramatic tension was delicious as we watched simple projects like repainting a room or cooking dumplings turn apocalyptic.

Though he may be misguided, Paddington is driven by a strong sense of right and wrong, and there’s something beguiling about the bewilderment he feels as his well-intentioned actions constantly backfire. It’s impossible not to love this gentle, bungling arbiter of justice, with his fondness for marmalade sandwiches and hot cocoa. And fittingly, the stories always end well, thanks in large part to the good sense and good humor of others.

Bond received the Order of the British Empire for services to children’s literature in 1997. And it’s because he’s created one of the most compelling bears in chapter-book history.

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