Remembering Boxby Eth Clifford, ALC Staff
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Nine-year-old Joshua's weekly visits to his beloved grandmother on the Jewish Sabbath give him an understanding of love, family, and tradition, which helps him accept her death. "Clifford has done a remarkable job of depicting a very special relationship. Both the boy and old woman seem very real and very dear . . . The powerful, moving ending will have an effect on readers, but the sadness it evokes is balanced by Grandma's rich enduring legacy." -- Booklist, starred review
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Ever since he was five, Joshua Beck had gone to visit his grandmother Goldina on the Sabbath. His father took Joshua to Grandma Goldina's apartment right after school on Friday afternoons. Then he went away and didn't come back until well after dark on Saturday evening.
Joshua really liked his Sabbaths with Grandma Goldina. If a Roy Rogers movie was playing that day, he sometimes wished he could go, but he couldn't do that on the Sabbath anyhow.
Joshua loved Westerns, especially those with Roy Rogers and his wonderful horse Trigger. Roy Rogers sang a lot. When he did, Joshua ran up and down the aisles with the other kids, or changed his seat several times, or clapped his hands noisily and whistled to hurry Roy Rogers to get back to being a cowboy again.
Sometimes Joshua's father didn't let him visit Grandma Goldina because he had made his father angry. One time Joshua pushed his brother Ari so hard on the rocking chair, the rocker went spinning over, taking Ari with it and giving Ari a bloody nose and a big bump on his head. That time Joshua couldn't see Grandma Goldina for two Sabbaths in a row.
And every once in a while, Joshua just wanted to be home to share Shabbat with his family.
But Grandma Goldina always understood. She was happy to see him when he did come, and would hug him so hard Joshua could hardly breathe.
"Come in! Come in!" Grandma Goldina always greeted Joshua. "Guess what I made for you today."
She made all of Joshua's favorite foods. Sometimes it was blintzes,which were cheese-filled pancakes. She ate them with gobs of sour cream on top, but Joshua liked his blintzes with applesauce. Other times she prepared chopped liver with lots and lots of fried onions, or ice-cold schav, a soup Grandma Goldina made from spinach and leaves from the sorrel plant, which had a delicious sour flavor.
Joshua remembered that when he was little, when he first started going to Grandma Goldina's, they used to play games. One of his favorite games was hide-and-go-seek.
Grandma Goldina was a small woman, but she couldn't hide under the table the way Joshua didwhen it was his turn. Instead she would stand next to the icebox and cover her face with her hands. Then she would call, Ready!"
Joshua saw her right away, of course, but he always pretended he couldn't find her.
"Where can she be?" he would wonder aloud.
When he finally found her, he would say, "There you are, Grandma!"
He loved the way she laughed then.
On nice days they went for long walks. At least they seemed long to Joshua when he was still little. When he grew bigger, the walks seemed shorter to Joshua, but somehow they became longer for Grandma Goldina.
"Can't you walk faster?" Joshua asked one day when his grandmother slowed down.
"What's my hurry?" she answered calmly. "When I get there, I'll only have to turn around and come back."
Sometimes Joshua was impatient and raced ahead. Then he would run back and try to match his steps to hers.
When they arrived back at the apartment, Grandma Goldina would say, "It's time for you to rest, Joshua."
They both knew it was Grandma Goldina who needed to rest. She would kick off her heavy walking shoes, sit back on the sofa with a big sigh, and pat the cushion next to her. This was one of the best parts of spending Shabbat with his grandmother. For this was reading time, and story-telling time.
Now that Joshua was nine, he could read very well by himself. But he still liked to curl up next to Grandma Goldina, especially on rainy day. He liked the sound of her voice.
When she grew tired of reading, his grandmother told Joshua stories about a place called "the old country," which was a land far across the sea.The Remembering Box. Copyright © by Eth Clifford. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Meet the Author
Eth Clifford's best-known title, Help! I'm a Prisoner in the Library (1979), concerns a situation she would no doubt welcome. A passionate reader as a child, she became a dedicated author and editor with scores of her own titles on library shelves. Clifford was born on Christmas Day in New York City and moved several times as a child. She remembers learning to read in a one-room schoolhouse set in an apple orchard, and she discovered the public library when her family later moved to Philadelphia. At age sixteen, she met her future husband at a poetry reading in Brooklyn, and it was he who encouraged her to begin writing while he was stationed in the South Pacific during World War II. Clifford began with short stories and soon published her first adult novel, Go Fight City Hall (1949), which was a Reader's Digest Book of the Month and was excerpted in humor anthologies. Clifford, her husband, and their daughter later moved to Indiana, where they lived for twenty years. While there, Clifford contributed to many social studies, science, and language arts textbooks for children, and this work eventually developed into her primary interestwriting children's fiction. Clifford's books for children cover a wide range of ages and subject matter. Her youngest readers can match their sleuthing abilities against an animal detective in Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Eye (1990), handsomely illustrated by Brian Lies. Middle-grade readers enjoy Clifford's deft combination of suspense and humor in a mystery adventure series of five novels about Mary Rose and Jo-Beth Onetree, the sisters who were first introduced in Help! I'm a Prisoner in the Library, which won the 1982 Young Hoosier Award. Among the story's appealing elements are the believable relationship between the practical and responsible Mary Rose and her younger, very dramatic sister and the real sense of fear generated as the girls feel their way through the darkened rooms of the old mansion turned library. Subsequent adventures find the sisters sleuthing in such places as a ghost town and a shoe museum. All five books were illustrated by George Hughes. Clifford often incorporates interesting factual information into her humorous works. Children reading Harvey's Marvelous Monkey Mystery (1987) have an opportunity to learn about the companion monkeys who are trained to perform useful services for their physically challenged owners. In The Rocking Chair Rebellion (1978), a book for teens that includes contemporary problems, a young girl finds herself involved with the distresses of the elderly when she volunteers to work for the aged. This book was made into an "ABC Afterschool Special." Some of Clifford's books are written with a simplicity of style coupled with an emotional resonance that appeal to readers of all ages. The Remembering Box (1985) is a quiet and beautifully told story of the legacy that a Jewish grandmother gives her grandson and the understanding between them that allows the boy to accept her death. Clifford once called her ambition the desire to "rival Scheherazade and tell one thousand and one stories." She has succeeded in creating a readership that looks to her for a variety of books, all with strong characterization, sensitive treatment of relationships, authentic detail, and wonderful adventure.
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