Archive for June, 2014
Books used in this review are from my personal library or were provided by my local public library. I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my website and purchase it from Amazon, I may receive a very small commission on your purchase. You will incur no additional cost, however. I appreciate your support.
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We are on the eleventh blessing of the Nisim B’Chol Yom/the blessings for daily miracles recited during morning prayers:
“Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe,
Who made me free.”
I grew up watching Thoroughbred horses run around race tracks. My parents, with some family friends, owned several race horses for a number of years. I learned at an early age, “You win some, you lose some.”
I watched excitedly as Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed won their Triple Crown races. I have waited over the years as other horses have tried and lost their bids to add their names to that notable list. A few weeks ago, another remarkable horse, California Chrome, entered that field. I truly thought he had a chance. But, like his many predecessors, he also lost the race after a noble try. What, you might ask, does any of this have to do with She-asani Ben/Bat Chorin/ Who made me free?
It was the reaction of one of California Chrome’s owners, Stephen Coburn, that stopped me in my tracks that Sunday and started me thinking. Immediately following the Belmont Stakes race, Mr. Coburn said the owner of the winning horse took “The cowards way out,” referring to the fact that Tonalist, the Belmont winner, had not run in the previous two Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby & Preakness. He followed that criticism up the following day on Good Morning America with, “That would be like me at 6’2” … playing basketball with a kid in a wheelchair. They haven’t done anything with their horses in the Triple Crown … You figure it out. You ask yourself, ‘Would it be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheel chair?’” Mr. Coburn (no doubt with some serious prompting from family and friends) has since apologized publicly for these remarks, however, he had the choice to never make them in the first place.
He had other choices as well:
- Like all the owners of eligible thoroughbreds, Mr. Coburn had a choice to enter California Chrome in each of those Triple Crown races.
- Up to the Belmont Stakes, his horse had earned his stable $3.5 Million dollars in winnings. California Chrome’s dead-heat Fourth Place finish, earned his stable an additional $80,000. He had a choice to express gratitude for topping the $4 Million dollar mark in winnings. He has not said a word about this or the fame his horse has brought him.
- His horse ran a great race, competing mightily, suffering a damaged hoof in the process. He had a choice to commend his horse and rider, along with all the other participants, and run to check on his horse’s condition. Instead, Mr. Coburn chose to degrade the winner and demand that the rules of a 95-year-old horse racing tradition be changed to conform to his idea of “fair.”
We all have the freedom to make choices, AND “you win some, you lose some.” Yes, the losing is hard – very hard. There was a lot riding on California Chrome winning the Triple Crown Trophy. But if losing meant showing off as a poor sport and an ungrateful competitor, the choice was a poor one. Unless his goal was to serve as an example of how NOT to behave after a loss, in that Mr. Coburn took the Grand Prize. Mr. Coburn is new to racing. My hope is that he will soon discover the magnificent gift he has been given in California Chrome and choose to be grateful for that extraordinary animal every single day.
Benjamin and the Word. By Daniel A. Olivas. Illustrated by Don Dyen. ©2005. Piñata Books. Ages 4-8. Benjamin and his friend, James were playing handball at recess. When Benjamin won the game, James used a very bad word to hurt Benjamin and make him feel bad. A Benjamin discusses this with his dad, the two explore the reasons why people use angry, hateful language. A bilingual book (English/Spanish), Benjamin is also the child of an interfaith marriage (Jewish/Christian).
Brendan and Belinda and the Slam Dunk. By Anne Rockwell. Illustrated by Paul Meisel. ©2007. HarperCollinsPublishers. Ages 4-8. Mr. Porker, Brendan and Belinda’s father, loves basketball, so he teaches his kids everything he knows. As soon as they are old enough, they begin to play in the All-Hoops Parents and Kids League. It turns out that Brendan and Belinda are very good players, and the Jump Shot Juniors recruit them. Now it is Basketball 24/7, much to Mr. Porker’s delight. Brendan and Belinda soon make it very clear that basketball is not their favorite sport and they want to do other things with their friends.
The Meanest Thing to Say. By Bill Cosby. Illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood. ©1997 Scholastic, Inc. Ages 5-9. Little Bill is invited to play a new game, “Playing the Dozens.” Each person gets twelve chances to say something mean to a person. The meanest thing wins. So?
You’re a Good Sport, Miss Malarkey. By Judy Finchler. Illustrated by Kevin O’Malley. ©2002. Walker and Company. Ages 4-8. The class decides to join with the Youngstown Elementary Soccer League (YELS) and tries a number of coaches before settling on Miss Malarkey, who does not know much about soccer, but is excellent with the players. The parents, however, are another matter. When one day things get out of hand with the spectators, the league changes its name to Soccer Instructional League Elementary Neighborhood Teams (SILENT), and a new rule is put in place – parents can watch the game, but only with suckers in their mouths.
©2014 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com. All rights reserved.