Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hummin bins

Most months, Michelle, Ella and I go to a mother-daughter book club at Kearns Library. My good friend Becky goes with her daughter Maggie as well, and there are quite a few others that come. We read a book in advance, then everyone talks about it a bit and there is a craft that relates to the book.

This month we read "True...Sort of" by Katherine Hannigan. This is a story about Delly Pattison and her brother R.B. Delly is a bit of a handful. She is full of adventure and is always getting into trouble, although she doesn't really mean to most of the time. She has a lack of impulse control...she doesn't stop to think about consequences or to ask permission. I love Delly, almost right from the start. She would be one of those students that would drive you crazy but that you'd still love. I love her silly vocabulary, especially her "surpresents" (a present that is a surprise) and her "holidellydays". (holidays for Delly)

Delly's little brother R.B. and her new friend Ferris Boyd teach Delly how to stay out of trouble...R.B. by teaching her to count when she is upset and Ferris Boyd by teaching her to ask questions and by being her friend.

Ferris Boyd is new to their school, and she doesn't talk. No one is allowed to touch her. At first, I wondered if she fell somewhere on the autism spectrum, but it soon became clear that she was being abused by her father. Delly suspects this but it is a long time before she really accepts that it is true and she doesn't know how to help. There are some very touching parts and it led to a few uncomfortable and sad discussions with my kids. They are getting older and know that there is evil in the world, but they are still fairly sheltered and while the book doesn't delve too deeply into the abuse, it was still something I felt we needed to talk about. I'm sad that it exists (and angered)...but it is real and I wanted them to know what they should do if they suspect abuse was happening to a friend of theirs.

My favorite scene occurs after a bully has teased Ferris Boyd and called her an it. She runs home and is very upset. RB and Delly follow her and RB says that Ferris isn't an it. She's a hummin bin. Then Delly tells her a story. She says when she was young and learning to read, she read to her mom one day. The book was about hummin bins. Here's what she said:

“In the book, hummin bins made castles, and towers up to the sky. They tamed the animals and took care of them. And hummin bins helped each other. They were always good.
"When I was done, Ma asked, 'Delly, what are hummin bins?' 'They're like people, but better,' I said. Then I told her, 'When I grow up, I'm going to live with the hummin bins,' and she smiled.
"But Galveston grabbed the book, 'Let me see that,' she said, and started laughing. 'This says human beings. There's no such things as hummin bins.'
"'Ma, is it true?' I asked, and she nodded. 'How come you didn't tell me?' I cried.
"'I liked the hummin bins better, too,' she said." ...
"RB's right, Ferris Boyd. You are a hummin bin." Her eyeballs were wet, like they were swimming.
It was quiet, then, till RB's soft cloud voice said, "You're a hummin bin, too, Delly.” (I don't know what page this is on, as we listened to this on CD.)

I think there are such things as hummin bins...all people who try to make this world a better place. Any one who helps a child to feel safe is a hummin bin. Any one who finds ways to bring happiness to the life of another. Those who help the poor and the needy, who are friends to the lonely, who go outside themselves to cheer and bless others lives are hummin bins. I am trying to be a hummin bin. I fall short, but I won't give up. I will keep trying to be better than a human being, to become a hummin bin.

I thought this book was well worth reading and look forward to our mother daughter book club this week.