Donna Benedetti

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Donna Benedetti grew up in Petaluma, California, a farming community north of San Francisco, at a time when life was slow and the city population sign remained fixed at 15,500. She left the comforts and predictability of small town life to travel and study, eventually earning a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a certificate from the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children. Since then, she has taught philosophy to students of all ages and served in key administrative roles at the American Philosophical Association, the Trust for Public Land and the Trauma Foundation. She currently teaches critical thinking and reading to first graders at an inner city school in San Francisco, where she lives with her husband Sam Bloom.

San Francisco Boats on the Bay Cover

San Francisco Boats on the Bay

BY Donna Benedetti • POSTED ON Aug. 13, 2013

A lively book of children’s verse that captures the excitement of seeing boats of all sizes.

Two dozen riddles, all written as poems, introduce the many kinds of boats that readers might see on a trip around San Francisco Bay, from floating homes to oil tankers to the historic tall ship Balclutha. After each riddle, the book reveals the name of each type of boat, accompanied by a list of facts. Some descriptions are fairly straightforward: “Speedboats can travel as fast as 60 miles per hour in choppy waters and 90 miles per hour in calm waters.” Others are thought-provoking and complex: “Crabbers want to make sure crabs are protected and plentiful. So when they pull up their traps, they keep only the ‘legal’ crabs…and throw the others back.” (“Legal” crabs, the author explains, are male crabs at least 6 1/4 inches in diameter.) This photo-filled book will likely hold the attention of little landlubbers reading aloud with their parents, as well as that of older kids with a sustained interest in all things maritime. Benedetti (Tip Top Thinkamajigs, 2012, etc.) includes specific pointers on where to see each boat in the Bay Area—cruise ships at San Francisco’s Pier 35 and tugboats at Pier 50, for example—making it a fun guide for both visitors and residents. The verses vary in energy and quality, sometimes stilted but sometimes peppy and light, as in a description of a rowboat, for example: “I sit low in the waters / Near seals, fish and otters. / I’ve never needed motors / Or wheels, gas or rotors.” Parents of younger children will find them to be fun read-aloud introductions; older readers, however, will likely page right past them to get to the facts. It’s easy to imagine a boat-obsessed kid dreaming of a first trip to the ocean and poring over the photos, verses, trivia, maps, nautical terminology and activities provided here.

A witty introduction to boats and a useful reference for youngsters.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-1484958001

Page count: 80pp

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013


Poems from a Forgotten War: The War to End All Wars

"Poems from a Forgotten War: The War to End All Wars" is a collection of 52 poems written by Gordon B. Birrel about his experiences in the trenches of France and Belgium during WWI. As a young recruit in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Forces, Birrel saw some of the most deadly fighting of the War through the eyes and soul of a poet. His poems--heart wrenching and poignant--capture the raw brutality of that war and the scars it would leave behind, long before post-traumatic stress syndrome became a medically recognized diagnosis for soldiers of the new wars. Compiled by Donna Benedetti, his granddaughter, Gordon Birrel's words of war are spare monuments to soldiers of all wars and harsh lessons to those who would lead them into battle.

The Brooklyn Diet: Life's Tough But You Eat Anyway

"The Brooklyn Diet: Life's Tough But You Eat Anyway" is not a diet in the usual sense of the word. Rather, The Brooklyn Diet is about a way of life. It celebrates simpler times when what you ate was based on your economic means; natural exercise was an inherent part of your day; food was basic, fresh and healthy; and the rhythms of neighborhood life were part of growing up. This humorous, true-to-life guide presents a running conversation between two friends who bring the Depression era in New York City’s boroughs to life. 94-year-old Sam Bloom offers childhood remembrances of the Jewish ghettos of Brownsville and East Flatbush, Brooklyn, while 90-year-old Al Johnsen vividly recalls growing up in a poor Norwegian part of Queens and offers a crash course on the finer points of stealing day-old bread, copper wires, and pennies from newsstands. Committed to print by Donna Benedetti, Sam’s wife, the stories share the common theme of food: how food was prepared; where meals were eaten; and what they could and couldn't afford to eat. Conversations cover a variety of topics, including the perfect New York cheesecake, pushcart peddlers, street games, and home remedies. Alongside are jokes, original artwork, photos of the era, and unique recipes by Al and Sam. Harkening back to an era when people depended on their communities for food, friendships and survival, this delightful diet is a recipe for a life that is sustaining, sweet, and in every way delicious.

Tip Top Thinkamajigs

"Tip Top Thinkamajigs" is a collection of fifteen poems that pose questions and thought puzzles for children--little philosophers--to ponder and work through. In "Half Empty or Half Full?" children consider, "Is the bowl you prefer as an everyday rule * A bowl half empty or a bowl half full?" Parents and teachers are provided with additional questions for each thinkamjajig that can be used to continue the discussion. With full-color illustrations by Jeremy Thornton, Tip Top Thinkajajigs is a playful introduction to philosophy for children, ages 4 and up.
ISBN: 13-978-1466287747