One Candle by Eve Bunting

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The nights are getting longer, days shorter. Sometimes I feel this way about our country as well, like we are entering a dark period. Hopefully it will be followed by eternal light. Do we as a country understand what we have just done? I think many still do not. Because of that, it is easy to let the darkness win. But we can’t, we won’t, because we are the protectors of the children.That’s what we do, day in and day out; we protect, we love, we teach.

As I continue to wrap my head around this place we find ourselves in while at the same time maintain my health, I’ve been looking for places of light. This month our school is celebrating the lowly potato. It’s a huge agricultural crop here in Maine and a great source of nutrition for those in need, aka, many of our kids. Our FoodCorps service member, Sam, has been cooking potatoes in our classrooms while kids read a Maine Ag in the Classroom booklet about Maine potatoes. We are learning they are a great source of vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. Some say it’s the perfect food.  Being of Irish descent, I have to agree. Then something happened in our town that rocked our socks. Someone spray painted large swastikas on large rocks that are at the entrance of our small skiing and hiking trails. This of course led to many mixed emotions and discussions. We decided to make potato latkes in our classrooms as a way to show solidarity and love and peace. As we were planning our lessons I came across this book in our literacy specialist’s room. Of course I needed it.

Eve Bunting, what can be said about her and her writing that hasn’t already been said? Probably not much. This book, like almost every single other book she has written, is a book that stops you dead in your tracks. It gently demands reflection. The book is centered around the lowly potato. The lighting of a potato during Hanukkah by young girls in a concentration camp. “Oh that’s too heavy,” you may think.But like most of Eve Bunting’s work, she tells this story, about events most adults couldn’t begin to touch, in a way kids (and adults) can handle. Love in face of hatred, hope in the time of hopelessness, unity in a time of division. These are Eve’s messages. Messages that are so relevant today. Messages we must hold onto  if we are going to continue to be protectors of the children.

So with that I will get out our potato to bring to school tomorrow to light as we read this message of love, hope, and peace. May your holiday and new year be filled with the same. And may you have the courage and stamina to carry out the work that will be summoned of us as the protectors of the children.

Love, peace, and light,

Mary

 

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7 thoughts on “One Candle by Eve Bunting

  1. Ahhh the potato… it kept my partner alive during the Holocaust when he escaped a work camp and walked home. He would have starved without that lowly potato in the last legs of his journey. How’s that for a connection.

    • Wow, that story just took the wind right out of me. We hear these stories and they are (at least for me) stories of others. I don’t have a direct family history that was touched by the horrors of that time and place. Your brave partner. Well, here’s a story your partner might enjoy, A Penny for a Hundred. It’s about a Maine potato farm in the 40’s that had German POWs working there for a summer. The story is written through the eyes of the little farm girl. Wonderful, wonderful story. I highly recommend it. Thank you for sharing your connection, one I wish you didn’t have to have.

    • Sally, for a month I wasn’t able to hold onto the light. So yes, we need to remind ourselves to. This book reminded me of that need. Glad I could help someone else who may have been struggling like I was.

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