Online Edition: December 2005     Vol. XVIII, No. 4

sponsored by Peace Life Center Middle East Committee. Public invited

  • End the War, Bring the Troops Home, End the Occupation.  Bring candles or signs:

  • Vigil on FRI, Dec. 16th at 4:30-5:30 at five points (McHenry and Needham) in Modesto.  Info, call the Center, 529-5750

  • Vigil Friday, Jan. 20th, 4:30 to 5:30 McHenry and Briggsmore

  • Vigil Friday, Feb 24th, 4:30 to 5:30, Standford and Sisk.
  • PEACE LIFE CENTER WILL BE OPEN EVERY TUESDAY, Noon to 3 pm. Come by for coffee or tea and just to chat or look at our book and magazine collection. Bring your own bag lunch; there may be films some days. 720 13th St. Call us 529-5750, we'll get back to you with info on vigils and other activities.


Peace & Justice

Around the Center: 


Living Lightly

Recipes from Connections

A Gathering of Voices

Out and About


Masthead and Back Issues

Opinion and Letters to Connections

Musician bring warmth to Modesto:

 John McCutcheon returns on January 25


Folk musician John McCutcheon returns for his 5th annual benefit concert for the Modesto Peace/Life Center on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 7 p.m. at the Modesto Church of the Brethren.

John is a five-time Grammy award nominee and committed peace activist. A powerful and versatile musician, songwriter, and singer, year after year he has played to an enthusiastic full house in Modesto.

In a Dirty Linen magazine interview he said, “To me, I’m doing my job when I’m onstage and there’s a crowd of people and we’re creating something ‘in concert’ together… Making that feeling happen… That sense of community is something that people are desperate for.”

 After last year’s show, one concertgoer said, “John McCutcheon is the best thing about January in Modesto.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer raved, “The breadth of John McCutcheon’s talent is staggering.”

Opening the concert will be John Bruce, 2005 Modesto Area Music Association (MAMA) award nominee for best acoustic/unplugged artist.

ACTION: Concert tickets are $17 in advance, $20 at the door and $5 for young people 17 years old and younger. Tickets are available at the Modesto Church of the Brethren, 2301 Woodland Ave., Modesto, 523-1438 or at Anderson Custom Framing and Gallery, 1323 J St., Modesto, 579-9913.

John McCutcheon’s web site is

John Bruce’s site is

Russell Means, Marlon Brondo Memorial July 2004 Indian activist to speak at MJC

Russell Means, American Indian activist will speak at the 12th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration on Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at the Mary Stuart Rogers Student Leaning Center, Modesto Junior College’s West Campus on Blue Gum Ave.

This community event is free to the public.

More information will be available in the January 2006 issue of Stanislaus Connections.

Russell Mean’s fearless dedication and indestructible sense of pride are qualities admired by nations worldwide. His vision is for indigenous people to be free... Free to be human, free to travel, free to stop, free to trade where they choose, free to choose their own teachers ~ free to follow the religion of their fathers, free to talk, think and act for themselves and then they will obey every law or submit to the penalty.

Network of Spiritual Progressives meeting


A varied and diverse group of people from Modesto and surrounding areas has been together in the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP). We welcome all to come to the meetings as we strive to make this a grassroots effort to counter the Christian Right and to work for peace and justice including saving the environment for the future, helping the poor and working for medical care for all Americans. We seek your input on other topics.

ACTION: Please join us at 7:00pm Thursday, December 8, 2005 at the Modesto Church of the Brethren, 2301 Woodland Ave. We will discuss our mission statement and other topics. For more information, contact, or Sandy Sample, 523-9445

A Season of books for children and their friends


Children’s Librarian

We, the staff of the Children’s Department of the Stanislaus County Library, are up to our eyeballs in children’s books. This is the time of the year when we create our list of recent favorites that are perfect for the Winter Holidays gift-giving season. From brand-new babies to too-cool teens, there is something for everybody this year.

For the Youngest

Gleeson, Libby. Cuddle Time. Illustrated by Julie Vivas.

In the early morning, two children make their way to the cave of their parents' bed and enjoy being cuddled there.

Henkes, Kevin. Kitten’s First Full Moon.

When Kitten mistakes the full moon for a bowl of milk, she ends up tired, wet, and hungry trying to reach it. This book won the Caldecott Medal in 2005 for Henkes’ heart-warming illustrations.

Hoberman, Mary Ann. You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Mother Goose Tales to Read Together.

In this third installment in the “You Read to Me, I’ll read to You” series, seventeen familiar nursery rhyme characters take starring roles in this collection, designed with budding readers in mind. The author splits each rhyming story into parts differentiated by the color of the text. One color for one reader, a second for the other and a third color for the two to read together. A perfect read-together book!

Jackson, Ellen. Earth Mother. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon.

Depicted here as a young African-American woman, Earth Mother appears to be a form of Mother Nature, blessing and talking to all of the animals on Earth (including Man), tending the plants, bringing the snow and ice to northern climes, and touching the cycle of life. A wry and cosmic look at the interdependence of all things.

Krauss, Ruth. Bears. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

Let the wild rumpus continue, Max seems to say, and a joyful fete it is. With just 27 words, Ruth Krauss created a charming universe inhabited by bears. Now Maurcie Sendak has turned her bears into a troupe of players in a slapstick comedy starring a familiar boy in a wolf suit. Pure gold.

Rosenthall, Amy. Little Pea. Illustrated by Jen Corace.

Little Pea hates eating candy for dinner, but his parents will not let him have his spinach dessert until he cleans his plate.

Willems, Mo. Leonardo, the Terrible Monster.

The author of the 2005 Caldecott Honor book Knuffle Bunny is back with a new character. Despite his best efforts, Leonardo the monster can't seem to frighten anyone. When he finally discovers the perfect nervous little boy, will he scare the tuna salad out of him, or will he think of something even better? A perfect read-aloud for preschoolers!

Yolen, Jane. How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? Illustrated by Mark Teague.

Yolen’s latest “How Do Dinosaurs…” series depicts various prehistoric reptiles partaking in many different dining faux pas such as sticking green beans up their nose and blowing bubbles in their milk. Great book for discussing table manners and etiquette with preschoolers!

Early Elementary School-age Children

Cronin, Doreen. Diary of a Spider. Illustrated by Harry Bliss.

The author of “Click, Clack Moo” is back with a companion to ”Diary of a Worm,” only this time a young spider discovers that there is a lot to learn about being a spider, including how to spin webs and avoid vacuum cleaners.

Danziger, Paula. Second Grade Rules, Amber Brown. Illustrated by Tony Ross.

Amber Brown loves the second grade but wonders if she will ever receive an award from Deskarina, the desk fairy, for keeping her desk clean.

Dodson, Emma. Badly Drawn Dog.

Badly Drawn Dog wants to be a nicely drawn-dog but when the artist gives him a style change, he finds out that a change in appearance isn't the answer. Dodson illustrations feature the artistic styles of several well-known modern artists.

Gantos, Jack. Best in Show for Rotten Ralph. Illustrated by Nicole Rubel.

Hoping to beat his cousin Percy in the cat show, Ralph allows Sarah to help him spruce up his image and get in shape. Kids who fell in love with the Rotten Ralph picture books will enjoy this early beginning reader.

Kerrin, Jessica Scott. Martin Bridge Ready for Takeoff!

Meet Martin Bridge, a boy whose plans for a brilliant rocket, a substitute bus driver and a very old hamster go terribly wrong in this lively trio of stories. Young readers will identify with Martin and will celebrate his successes, while recognizing his shortcomings.

Lyons, Mary E. Roy Makes a Car.

Roy Tyle, the best mechanic in Eatonville, Florida, builds a car that has even God talking. This tall tale is wildly funny!

Munro, Roxie. Amazement Park: 12 Wild Mazes.

A collection of maze puzzles which are based on amusement park themes. Includes an answer key in the back of the book.

Reynolds, Peter. Ish.

Ramon loses confidence in his ability to draw, but his sister gives him a new perspective on things. A creative spirit learns that thinking "ish-ly" is far more wonderful than "getting it right" in this gentle new fable from the creator of the award-winning picture book The Dot.

Rodman, Mary Ann. My Best Friend. Illustrated by E. B. Lewis.

Six-year-old Lily has a best friend all picked out for play group day, but unfortunately the differences between first-graders and second-graders are sometimes very large.

Schachner, Judy. Skippyjon Jones in the Dog House.

Skippyjon Jones, the adorable Siamese cat who thinks he’s a Chihuahua, is back in another adventure as the masked superhero El Skippito. This book features a CD with both this story and the original read by the author. Ole!

Older Elementary School-age Children

Farmer, Nancy. Sea of Trolls

After Jack becomes apprenticed to a Druid bard, he and his little sister Lucy are captured by Viking Berserkers and taken to the home of King Ivar the Boneless and his half-troll queen, leading Jack to undertake a vital quest to Jotunheim, home of the trolls.

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Hidden.

In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces him that the government is wrong.

Jacques, Brian. High Rhulain.

The latest tale of Redwall marks the triumphant return of the otter clan for an empowering story of adventure and heroism.

McKay, Hilary. Permanent Rose.

In this third book of McKay’s artistic Casson family series, Saffy’s Angel (2002) and Indigo’s Star (2004), eight-year-old Rose inadvertently discovers the identity of her adopted sister Saffy’s father while trying to reconnect with her friend Tom, who has returned to the United States without leaving a forwarding address.

Park, Linda Sue. Project Mulberry.

While working on a project for an after-school club, Julia, a Korean American girl, and her friend Patrick learn not just about silkworms, but also about tolerance, prejudice, friendship, patience, and more.

Peck, Richard. The Teacher’s Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts.

In rural Indiana in 1904, fifteen-year-old Russell's dreams of quitting school and joining a wheat threshing crew are disrupted when his older sister takes over the teaching at his one-room schoolhouse after mean, old Myrt Arbuckle "hauls off and dies.”

Riordan, Rick. The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1.

When Percy Jackson's mom is informed that her son can't seem to control his temper at boarding school, she sends him to Camp Half-Blood on Long Island, where Percy learns that the father he never met is Poseidon, God of the Sea.

Ryan, Pam Munoz. Becoming Naomi Leon.

When Naomi's absent mother resurfaces to claim her, Naomi runs away to Mexico with her great-grandmother and younger brother in search of her father.

Snicket, Lemony. Penultimate Peril. From “A Series of Unfortunate of Events”

The Baudelaire siblings are back in the twelfth installment in the Series of Unfortunate Events.

Middle School and Older Teens

Brashares, Ann. Girls in Pants: the Third Summer of the Sisterhood.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants graduates from high school and spends their last summer before college learning about life and themselves.

Crutcher, Chris. Sledding Hill.

Billy, recently deceased, keeps an eye on his best friend, fourteen-year-old Eddie, who has added to his home and school problems by becoming mute, and helps him stand up to a conservative minister and English teacher who is orchestrating a censorship challenge.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

The sixth book in the series.

Scieszka, Jon. Guys Write for Guys Read.

Collection of stories, memoirs, and drawings for guy authors like Stephen King, Jack Prelutsky, Jon Scieszka, and more. Very funny and entertaining!

And for the child in all of us

Biesty, Stephen. Egypt in Spectacular Cross-Section.

Each scene shows a different part of ancient Egypt and the activities taking place there. Numerous cutaways help the reader to see into the various buildings to look at what the people are doing and learn how the buildings are constructed.

Davis, Paul. The Art of Reading: Forty Illustrators Celebrate RIF’s 40th Anniversary.

To commemorate Reading Is Fundamental's fortieth anniversary, here is a glorious celebration of children's books with beautiful and captivating images and insightful essays by forty of the brightest stars in contemporary children's lit.

Hines, Anna Grossnickle. Winter Lights: A Season in Poems and Quilts.

With breathtaking, intricate quilts and lyrical poems, Hines exposes readers to holidays such as Kwanzaa and the Festival of Lights along with the seasonal winter solstice. Each quilt depicted in the book was designed and sewn by the author herself. Includes an end section about quilting.

Sabuda, Robert. Winter’s Tale.

Master paper engineer Sabuda offers a winter wonderland spectacular in this pop-up book full of cut-paper animals that soar across snowy landscapes and light up the night in an all-new story that has a special surprise at the end.

Sierra, Judy. Wild About Books. Illustrated by Marc Brown.

In rhyming text reminiscent of Dr. Seuss’ stories (and to whom the book is dedicated), a librarian named Molly McGrew introduces the animals in the zoo to the joy of reading when she drives her bookmobile to the zoo by mistake. Adults and children alike will get a kick out of the way Molly shares the books with the animals. A wonderful read-aloud book for older kids. An ALA Notable Children’s Book for 2005.

Kerley, Barbara. Walt Whitman: Words For America. Illustrated by Brian Selznick.

A biography of the American poet whose compassion led him to nurse soldiers during the Civil War, to give voice to the nation's grief at Lincoln's assassination, and to capture the

true American spirit in verse.

Act of Kindness offers beauty as well as fair trade items


Part gift store, part global concern, Act of Kindness is a store dedicated to selling unusual gifts with a world view.

The core of the gifts is those sold for SERRV International through A Greater Gift, the non-profit alternative trade and development agency. Many are familiar with the products of SERRV sold by the Church of the Brethren in Modesto. We are reminded that it promotes fair trade, reasonable working conditions, fair pay and no child exploitation, among other principles. The goal is to alleviate poverty through marketing the products and empowering and training low-income artisans, working through community based organizations.

All items with the country of origin tag are from SERRV. But there is much more. Unusual tree ornaments, candles, jewelry by Crystal Visions, kites, scarves from Africa and India, musical instruments, “singing bowls” from Nepal, books and tapes and much more. Besides selling gift items, Act of Kindness has available books, tapes and videos to help in holistic healing and wellness.

The store, at 619 14th St., Modesto, may seem crammed but a visit is worth every minute you spend there. They’re open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturdays.


Tenth of each month. Submit peace, justice and environmentally friendly event notices to P.O. Box 134, Modesto, CA, 95353, or call 522-4967 or 575-4299, or email to Jim Costello. Free listings subject to space, availability and editing.