Book Bag: ‘Worth the Wait’ by Lynne Scott; ‘If I Were President’ by Vincent Valetutti

Staff Writer
Published: 12/1/2020 4:38:08 PM

“Worth the Wait,” by Lynne Scott, Illustrations by Laurie Lemrise

Lynne Scott of Worthington, a retired special education teacher, had long wanted to write a children’s book. Now, with the help of her friend and neighbor, illustrator Laurie Lemrise, she’s done it.

“Worth the Wait” is the tale of a young girl, Lori, who lives in Worthington and likes to spend part of winter observing wildlife — bobcats, squirrels, birds — from a big window in her house and painting pictures of the critters. Lori is generally pretty patient, but as spring approaches, she starts to get a little fidgety as she waits for the snow to melt — and for the return of two friends.

Those friends are Sandhill Cranes, majestic birds that 100 years ago had been hunted almost to extinction in the United States but have since rebounded, expanding their range to places such as western Massachusetts. (The birds have been spotted in Worthington for the last several years.)

Lori’s two feathery friends have been spending summers near her house for the last few years, and she delights in observing them and noting their habits, such as how the cranes turn their silvery-gray feathers to a rusty brown by rubbing themselves in mud, dead leaves and grass, the better to make themselves less visible to predators like coyotes.

That camouflage is particularly important, Lori has discovered, because the couple is nesting and protecting an egg, which after some weeks turns into a fuzzy, yellow chick. Over the summer, she gets to watch the chick stumble through its first awkward steps and then take to the air; it grows steadily and takes on the colors of mom and dad as the family readies to migrate in late October.

Lori is sad to see the family go, but she’s heartened by a sign from them as they take to the air one last time: “Lori was sure the two larger birds dipped their wings as they headed off to the South.”

The story is ably served by Lemise’s warm watercolor paintings, which help make “Worth the Wait” a celebration not just of the cranes but of the changing seasons and the rural Hilltown landscape of meadow, marsh, woods and hills.

Scott, who finished her teaching career in Amherst schools, says her interest in writing a children’s book came in part by seeing the work that her late father, Dick Scott, did as a pediatric surgeon in Springfield, as well as her own experience as a teacher.

In addition, she’s been inspired by watching Sandhill Cranes the last six years in Worthington. She says the birds have been nesting in a marsh behind Lemise’s property for part of each year, and they also come into Lemise’s yard to nibble birdseed and poke for other things to eat in the ground.

“And then, with all the restrictions with COVID, this just seemed a good time to do this, to make some productive use of a difficult time,” Scott said.

All proceeds from sales of “Worth the Wait” are going to the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of Hampshire County, a nonprofit organization in Northampton that helps coordinate efforts to fight child abuse and also provides services to abused children. Scott is a longtime supporter of the group.

By late November, that amount had hit about $5,000, said Scott: “Not bad for a $20 children’s book.”

For more information about purchasing the book, visit cachampshire.org.

“If I Were President: 29 Alternative Ideas for Solving Global Problems,” by Vincent Valetutti

Florence resident Vincent “Vinny” Valetutti got some attention this past summer when he began displaying a giant vertical banner around town, a banner shaped like a 30-foot ruler and lashed to a telescoping flagpole, all of it mounted on a trailer that he towed behind his car.

The hash marks denoting the 11- and 22-foot levels were in red, indicating what sea level is expected to rise to if 5% and 10% of the ice in Greenland and Antarctica melts.

Valetutti, a retired engineer and repairman who also took his giant ruler to Washington, D.C. this summer, told the Gazette earlier this year that he believes rising sea levels pose the greatest threat of all the effects of climate change. He’s been inspired by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage climate activist, to make a public statement on the issue himself.

Now Valetutti has taken Thunberg’s model one step further, penning a slender book in which he lays out his thoughts on health care, environmental protection, government reform and a host of other issues: 29 proposals in eight categories, for all of which he offers short observations on a situation, how he’d approach that situation as president, and what his goal would be.

And in “If I Were President,” designed by Janice Beetle Books, Valteutti writes that many ideas “have been percolating in my mind for decades…. Thanks to Greta Thunberg … I was motivated to get my ideas down on paper.”

The author also says he hasn’t approached the book as a Democrat or a Republican, and not necessarily as a political independent, either. Rather, he says, “I consider myself a realist.”

For instance, he proposes not to eliminate production and use of oil but to reduce its overall consumption, making its extraction more efficient and less damaging to the environment while simultaneously increasing use of renewable energy. “I don’t believe we will ever completely lose reliance on oil, ” he writes.

How about choosing our presidents and vice presidents separately? Valetutti also suggests amending the U.S. Constitution so that instead of one-third of the Senate being put to the vote every two years, one-sixth of senators must run for reelection every year. Representatives, meantime, would serve three-year terms instead of two, with one-third of the House up for reelection every year.

“Voters will be better able to hold members of Congress accountable because they will be at the polls more often,” Valetutti writes.

Janice Beetle, the owner of the press, writes that Valetutti adds a disclaimer to his book, noting that his proposals “are not intended as fully formed concepts, and they are not intended as facets of a presidential platform. They are simply food for thought for all of us to create a better world.”

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.




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