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Food & Wine

Humble shortbread cookie appears around the world, but with local twists

Humble shortbread cookie appears around the world, but with local twists


Blanche Shaheen/Special to the Town Crier
Ghraybeh shortbread cookies use sweet-tasting ghee in lieu of butter.

 

When Americans think of the shortbread cookie, they often imagine the traditional Scottish cookies, shaped like oblong rectangles and ...

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Your Health

CSA connects families with fresh, nutritious food

CSA connects families with fresh, nutritious food


Courtesy of Community Services Organization
CSA staff load groceries to take to Castro Elementary School as part of a new outreach program for children and families enrolled in the free and reduced lunch programs at Castro and Mistral schools.

Maureen...

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Your Home

Healing art: Restoration 'doctor' preserves damaged objects

Healing art: Restoration 'doctor' preserves damaged objects


Photos by Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Art restorer Rho Brown performs delicate preservation work in her Los Altos studio, above. Once fully restored, below left, it’s difficult to tell which cherub was previously missing its head. Brown’s studio conta...

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On The Road

American muscle in the modern age: Bolting to Blackhawk in the Chrysler 300S

American muscle in the modern age: Bolting to Blackhawk in the Chrysler 300S


Photo by Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier; Bottom Right Photo courtesy of Chrysler
The Andersons recently drove the new Chrysler 300S to Danville’s Blackhawk Museum, where they saw “The Spirit of the Old West” exhibition.

 

When you have a p...

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Senior Lifestyles

Local pianist performs, volunteers and finds 'keys' to a good life

Local pianist performs, volunteers and finds 'keys' to a good life


RAMYA KRISHNA/TOWN CRIER
Doreta Strotman performs the classics with her signature jazz-style improvisations at Los Altos Grill Sunday evenings. The Mountain View resident has been playing since the age of 4.

Sunday evenings, Doreta Strotman’s job is to...

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Wedding To Remember

Ring options on Main Street range from traditional to unorthodox

Ring options on Main Street range from traditional to unorthodox


 

With nine fine-jewelry retailers concentrated along the Main Street corridor, downtown Los Altos offers a wealth of options for engagement and wedding ring shoppers. From one end of Main to the other, the choices range from the traditional to t...

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Your Kids

Living Classroom grows lessons for next-gen science standards

Living Classroom grows lessons for next-gen science standards


 

Providing local students with a tangible outdoor learning experience, the Living Classroom program aims to support a new generation of students who are excited about the environment.

The Living Classroom serves 9,000 students locally in the Los ...

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Back to School

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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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