Books explore good, evil

Faeries of the Night: Good and Evil

By Deborah Choszczyk

Faeries of the Night is one of the most creative books I have reviewed in this column. It’s a picture book designed for children ages 7 to 12, but it’s also an activity book.

Deborah Choszczyk’s journey to creating this book began with her love of dance in all forms. She’s been a dancer since age 5 and is now a dance instructor. She has taught dance in many different places, including at Northern Michigan University and Lake Superior State University.

Long before she thought of writing a book, Choszczyk created a ballet in 1999 that told the story retold in this book. The book itself is the result of performing the ballet—or at least creating scenes from the ballet in the forest and cave depicted in the ballet’s storyline and then photographing the scenes to be the book’s illustrations.

I can just imagine the work involved in this process. Choszczyk created the ballet and wrote the text for the book, but she also hired another enthusiastic young dancer, 16-year-old Lindsay Morel, to be the book’s photographer. In addition, she found several young dancers to dress up as the various fairies, goblins, pixies, wood nymphs and the dragon that appear in the storyline. She also had to make arrangements to have the settings photographed. The scenes were photographed with permission at the Piers Gorge unit of the Menominee River State Recreation Area and at the Iron Mine of Iron Mountain in Vulcan, Michigan. Plus, costumes and other props were needed. The props really impressed me, especially in one scene when the pixies present as gifts items they have stolen from humans to the faery king and queen—these include a spoon and a cookie, both made to be enormous in size to emphasize the faeries’ small stature.

The story itself does not read like a typical children’s book—there is no dialogue or real development of individual characters—but that’s because it is more like the plot summary of the ballet. We are introduced to several individual fairies—Wild Rose, Lilac, Sorrel, Ivy, etc. They are preparing to celebrate the arrival of King Hawthorn and Queen Honeysuckle that evening. Star Faery appears; her task is to place stars in the sky so the fairies have light to dance by at night. However, the faeries are unaware that goblins are nearby. The goblins hate light of any kind and only come out at night. They attack the fairies and abduct Star Faery so she can no longer place stars in the sky. The faeries are left frightened but also wanting to help their friend. Eventually, they find another faery to help them who happens to have some goblin clothing. The faeries then disguise themselves and enter the goblin cave to rescue their friend. I won’t say how the story ends, but I can well imagine it would make a beautiful ballet on stage.

Choszczyk’s goal is not only to entertain readers with this book, but to encourage children to be imaginative and creative, including in the form of dance. The end of the book includes seven individual activities and four group activities that children can do to learn to dance and behave like faeries and the other creatures in the book. Each activity has a description for how to perform it, including leaping, skipping, and how to do the goblin crawl.

Any reader, child or adult, who loves dance, faeries and creativity will love this book. You can find out more at the publisher’s website www.rrrbooks.com or at the book’s Facebook page: Faeries of the Night Series.

 

 

Justice on the Side

By Nino Green

Justice on the Side is the fictional tale of an attorney, Ernest Hunter, who becomes known in his profession as “Ernie the attorney.” The book is set in the 1960s and 1970s during the early years of Ernie’s career, and I suspect the book is somewhat biographical. Author Nino Green’s biography, as given in the back of the book, states that he’s a 1965 graduate of Wayne Law School, and he began his career in Detroit and its surrounding counties before moving into private practice in Escanaba in 1969.

Ernie Hunter’s story is very similar, with the book divided into two sections “Lex Urbanis” for the years Ernie practices urban law in the Detroit area, and then “Lex Rusticus” for the years he practices law in the rural area of Escanaba and the surrounding U.P.

I hesitate to call this book a novel because it has no overarching plot, but rather is a series of episodes in Ernie’s life that involve the various cases he takes on. At the same time, there is a little romance intertwined with the stories.

Although I felt the book started a little slow with Ernie and his family’s back story and how he became a lawyer, once Ernie established his practice, the stories moved at a good pace, each chapter often incorporating two of Ernie’s cases that he was handling simultaneously.

The Detroit chapters show Ernie getting his feet wet, setting up a private practice and being assigned his first case by the court system—an 18-year-old male named Otto, accused of arson. Many of Ernie’s cases seem almost impossible to win, but somehow he always comes out ahead, especially in this case where he has to deal with a judge who keeps leaving the courtroom as the lawyers are presenting their testimony.

Another case Ernie handles involves a young man who borrows his uncle’s truck for the weekend. On Monday, the uncle discovered his nephew was accused of having run over two kids with the truck. Ernie ends up representing the young man. I won’t give away how the case turns out, but I will say that Ernie often finds out information after the cases are settled that make it impossible to try someone for the same crime twice.

I enjoyed the U.P. chapters the most. One case involves whether the road commission should continue to plow a private driveway for an elderly couple. Another involves a school that refuses to let a girl attend there because she has a facial disfigurement that the school principal feels would be too distracting to the other students. Ernie manages to befriend people at the newspaper who help him get some publicity for the case to turn things in his client’s favor.

Each chapter begins with a list of events happening during the time of the cases involved; these events relate to racial relations, the Vietnam War, Watergate, and other national concerns. The book also reflects some of the attitudes and atmosphere of the 1960s and 1970s.

Anyone who enjoys a good legal story will enjoy the “loopholes” Ernie finds to help his clients win their cases. All of the cases are interesting and reflect the different ways that judges, lawyers, jury members and the public might view the law. In some cases, it’s hard to say justice is done—especially when Ernie learns a client is guilty after the fact—but in each case, Ernie does what is right to the best of his knowledge. He also ends up finding love before the book closes.

Editor’s Note: Tichelaar is the author of My Marquette and Willpower. All books reviewed in this column are available in local and online bookstores. For book review submission guidelines, visit www.marquettemonthly.org.

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