BERNIE BOLTON'S BIG APPLE CHRISTMAS
BERNIE BOLTON'S BIG APPLE CHRISTMAS is 90 pages long, and is written as a middle-reader for 8-12 years old. As Bernie tries to make sense out of some of the problems that face her age group, the reader will, hopefully, identify with the hard work it takes to grow up.
This story takes Bernice (Bernie) Blossom Bolton, age 9 1/2, on a Christmas trip to New York City with her grown sister and brother-in-law. When Santa doesn't make a stop at The Plaza Hotel to drop gifts for Bernie on Christmas Eve, she is furious. After refusing to go to breakfast on Christmas Day, she sneaks out of the hotel to explore Central Park on her own.
Before heading for the park, she takes a stroll down Fifth Ave. and meets up with a few interesting New Yorkers and then visits St. Patrick's Cathedral. During her walk, she begins to learn that the word ‘gift’ has more than one meaning.
Finally, in Central Park, Bernie meets Ellis Duncan, a homeless man who, by choice, has taken up residence on a bench by the skating rink. They spend the whole afternoon together, sharing experiences that are completely new to Bernie. The best part of the day is when Ellis's sister Ruby arrives with a basket full of Christmas dinner. She and Ellis tell Bernie about a along ago Christmas in Harlem, when their mother gave them a special and unusual Christmas gift. It is a story Bernie will never forget, told by new friends she will always remember.
After the cranberry sauce and pie, Ellis and Ruby return Bernie to the hotel and into the arms of her frantic sister. What started out being the worst day of Bernie's life, ends up being one of the best.
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BERNIE BOLTON'S BROTHER
The End is really the beginning (or Prologue) as Bernice Blossom Bolton, age 10, prepares for the first day of fifth grade by luxuriating in a Jacuzzi filled with bubbles, as she recalls the most awful summer of her life.
Bernie, who believes her full name should belongs only to grandmothers, was going to turn ten in a few days when disaster struck! As she attempted to baby-sit for her stepbrother, Kirby, while her very pregnant stepmother, Priscilla, took a nap…the worst possible thing happened. Worse even than getting Miss Boggs for fourth grade! Kirby climbed a tree, and by the time Bernie and Emmy, her best friend, discovered his whereabouts, he was attempting to touch the sky from the very highest branch.
He fell…landed in the emergency room, and lingered in a coma for most of the summer. Bernie was convinced it was her fault, and vowed to find a way to wake him. She tried everything, from prayers, which she wasn’t very good at, to intimidation, which she was, to loud Elvis music and peanut butter. Nothing worked…until Emmy suggested visiting Mr. Ralston. He was the oldest person in the neighborhood, and lived in a scary looking house on Hitchcock Street.
The house was old, and cluttered, and kind of creepy…and it smelled like fish…lots of old stinky fish. It was also full of cats…everywhere. But Mr. Ralston made wonderful cookies, and had a mysterious, secret box, which he opened for the girls after telling them a story from his childhood.
The story was about how his little brother, Val, got shot by accident with a BB gun and was in the hospital just like Kirby. That same night, Mr. Ralston, who was just a kid, went out to sit in the field out back of the hospital and prayed for a miracle to save Val. Just then a shooting star streaked across the sky and fell to Earth. Later that night, Mr. Ralston’s older sister, CeCe, told him that if you see a shooting star you get one wish and it was guaranteed to come true. The next day, Mr. Ralston went to see what had fallen from the sky and discovered a large “star rock” lying in a big hole. He picked up a handful-sized piece that had broken off, took it up to Val, placed it in his little hand and made a wish. When Val woke up, Mr. Ralston was convinced the rock was magic.
Inside the box he showed to the girls was the rock, the answer…the magic, that might wake Kirby from his long sleep.
Really believing that the rock was indeed magic, Bernie borrowed it, waited for an opportune moment when she would be alone with Kirby…and tried out the magic star rock. She made her wish… Within hours Kirby was awake and Bernie was sold on the rock’s magical powers.
When she returned the rock to Mr. Ralston the next day, along with some of Priscilla’s dreadfully disgusting muffins, Mr. Ralston gently explained how the rock might not, in fact, be magic…that the “magic” might really be the love she had for her little brother. Bernie wasn’t convinced, but all ends well when Mr. Ralston gives her and Emmy two of his new kittens.
The Beginning is really the end (Epilogue), as Bernie finishes her bath and comes to the conclusion that this awful problem was successfully dealt with. She feels strong and confident and ready to tackle fifth grade. Except… now there was the other problem. A problem that looked a lot like three new babies (her married sister, Lizzy, was pregnant too…with twins), one stepbrother, and cute, but obnoxious Freddie White. The problem was called …boys.
In this 112 page, 23,000-word middle-grade novel, Bernie Bolton learns about taking responsibility, trusting in the power of love…and, if you believe, using a little magic.
This 114 page, approx. 29,000 word novel tells the story of fifteen-year-old Hanna Berkenski’s journey from her family's tiny apartment in the Warsaw Ghetto, through the awful night she spends in a cattle-car with her mother and sister, to her three years as a violinist in the welcoming orchestra at Auschwitz. Through first-person narrative, Hanna takes the reader on her journey.
We see through the eyes of one young girl, the terror of living surrounded by pain and death, the horror that can be created by mad-men, and the friendships and hope that sustained her and allowed her to dream of a future.
The real horror begins as the train arrives at Auschwitz. Hanna’s first impression is of a warm welcome because of the flowers and sunshine and music. She has been told she will be spending the next few weeks in a “work” camp until her family is reunited and relocated. Even the snowflakes make her feel a sense of relief…until she realizes they are not snow at all, but ash. Her life begins to spin out of control when her mother is shot and killed at her feet for objecting to the rough treatment of her daughters. Her sister is loaded onto a truck that is traveling to an unknown destination, and Hanna is taken to Bldg. 11, where the “welcoming” orchestra women are housed.
Her red hair is shaved, her arm tattooed, and she is given a blue skirt, and a white blouse. She is also given a gray dress, which she wears when she is not performing. Then, she is expected to help the Sundercommando at their ghoulish tasks in the death house. She overhears the final words exchanged by a mother and daughter, as they are lead to their deaths naked and terrified. She watched the bodies being fed into the hungry mouths of the blazing furnaces by Jews whose own pain far out-weighs the dead. She spends three years in Hell, and yet she still, at times, is able to laugh, love, give and receive friendship, and dream of a time when she will see the sun… not obscured by a veil of human smoke.
When the liberation finally comes there are only a few prisoners left in the camp… most of them too sick to be bothered with. The others had been marched from the camp by their Nazi captors, weeks before.
Sick and alone, Hanna is befriended by an elderly physician who nurses her back to health, and fills her with a loving memory she will carry with her always.