Monday, May 3, 2010

Good Morning To You

All year long my youngest has been asking for a surprise party for her birthday--which is later in May. It's all been very funny, especially when her older brother points out
"If you ask for a surprise party, what part of it is a surprise?"
But I thought I'd try.
So I booked a campsite this last weekend, told her we were going camping and invited all her friends.
There was only one issue. We weren't doing a cake (but smores), so there would be no candles to blow out.
"Where did that tradition come from anyway," my husband asked.
We stopped packing the van to find out. Apparently blowing out candles on your birthday cake originates from the ancient Greeks. Every sixth day of the month, the Greeks celebrated the birthday of the Goddess of the Hunt (Artemis). Each household made a honey cake in her honor. In ancient times, people believed the Gods came to attention when you lit a candle. Thus each month, they lit a candle and made a wish to the Goddess. Once she received the wish, the candle was blown out. Over the years, we've adopted a similar idea with our birthday cakes.
Once I started researching on the subject of birthdays, I couldn't stop....
The birthday song originates from a kindergarten song written in 1892 by two sisters Patti and Mildred Hill. Patti Hill was a kindergarten teacher (who incidentally laid the foundation for the standards of kindergarten education in public schools.) She wrote a song called, "Good Morning To You." Later the words were changed around--and we got Happy Birthday To You.
It's a good thing one of the birthday guests called to remind me of the original goal--a surprise party--and took me away from this gold mine of information.
The party turned out to be a great surprise. We sang the Hill's birthday song. Then we all held candles and blew them out, figuring whatever wish my daughter had, she would need her friends (as well) to help her make it come true.
Book of the Week
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is set in the 1940's and is the story of a young girl whose given up into the foster care of a German family sympathetic to the Jews. It is told fascinatingly through the voice of death. I loved this book, and then passed it onto my 8th grader. He's devouring it.


Becky Levine said...

And was she surprised!? :)

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

Yes! In fact, she said to her friends, "What are you guys doing here?" I guess it helps to celebrate a month early.:)

What People Are Saying About My Half of the Sky

My Half of the Sky was the BookSense Pick for August 2006 as well as a Forbes Book Club Pick.

"McBurney-Lin tells a wonderfully entertaining story with the traditional coming-of-age theme (which is experienced universally)...weaving in the cultural challenges of growing up in China's rapidly changing social system."
Mary Warpeha, co-President of the Minnesota Chapter of US-China Friendship Association
March 2010

"The novel ...includes many of the tales and the folk ways of the people living in the rural areas of South China, still followed provincially. The story takes place in current China, but could relate the dilemma of any young woman in rural China through the ages."
Kitty Trescott, National Board of the Midwest Region of US-China Friendship Association. March 2010

"A lot is expected of a young Chinese girl. My Half of the Sky by Jana McBurney-Lin is the story of Li Hui, a young girl who has just achieved marriageable age. She seeks to make the most of herself, but the expectations all around her make it difficult, as her parents seek to use her as pawn to their advantage, she is faced with what she believes to be true love. She must balance career, romance, and family, all to somehow make everyone happy, a tough endeavor indeed. An engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end, "My Half of the Sky" is a poignant tale of the modern Chinese woman, and recommended for community library collections.
--Midwest Book Review November, 2008

“It is a rare women’s novel that sensitively describes the life of a young educated woman in modern-day China in its full complexity, without resorting to unnecessary sentimentalism. Jana’s deep knowledge of the realities of life in China and Singapore makes the reading extra rewarding. In fact, with every new page the novel gets harder to put down and you find yourself gobbling it up before you know it. Finally, the author has given a voice to the Li Hui in all of us, as we struggle for the golden middle between tradition and the modern momentum of our world.”
Isabella Sluzek
Friends of the Museum Book Review 2008

You'll be rooting all the way for Li Hui as she struggles, ahead of the curve, to be her own woman in an emerging, modern China. Jana McBurney-Lin's My half of the Sky is a beautiful, witty, touching debut novel.
Thomas B. Sawyer
Head Writer TV Series "Murder, She Wrote,"
Author - The Sixteenth Man

A complex and mesmerizingly original tale of a young Chinese woman caught between the modern world and the pull of her ancient culture. McBurney-Lin’s intimate portrait of China sparks with insights and is peopled with characters so rich and alive, they seem to breathe on the page. Dazzling and unforgettable.
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Author - Girls in Trouble

McBurney-Lin's debut novel is a gift. Li Hui is a memorable heroine, a young woman torn between her heart and her culture.Her daunting journey is a trip into China's complicated soul, and a deeply moving exploration of love, honor, duty, and loss." Frank Baldwin, Author - Balling the Jack

My Half of the Sky is a wonderfully-crafted story that was obviously written with a piece of McBurney-Lin's heart. A masterpiece."
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