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Archives for December 2016 | FIR Productions

January 2017 Book Recommendations

Jon Krakauer’s, INTO THIN AIR; a climb up Mt. Everest; a sudden “rogue storm,” and eight deaths.

Arnost Lustig’s, A PRAYER FOR KATERINA HOROVITZOVA; Just before a girl is tricked into the gas chamber by the Nazis, she gets her revenge.

Jerzy Kosinski’s, THE PAINTED BIRD; an abandoned boy wanders through dangerous World War II Europe–and survives.

Anonymous’s, JAY’S JOURNAL; an intelligent, popular high school students falls in with a gaggle of bad kids, drugs, and the Occult.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s, THE FIRST FOUR YEARS; difficulties and desolation on the Prairie.


January 2017 Book Recommendations

Resolve to encourage your children to read in 2017

WASHINGTON, DC – Here’s a suggestion for a New Year resolution that will have a positive impact on your family: make it your mission in 2017 to inspire the love of reading in the young learners of your family, says David Bruce Smith, co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize.

Smith points to “studies exposing the sadly disturbing fact that as many as 66% of American teenagers are ‘below proficient’ in reading, which is perhaps the most fundamental element of a child’s educational experience.”

Smith is on a crusade to encourage authors and publishers to produce more works of fiction and non-fiction that can capture the interests of young readers. His purpose in creating the Prize was to galvanize young learners into reading books– preferably about American history—and to transform the ritual into an experience, he says.

One English teacher in Minnesota was so despondent over her students’ inability to read, that she wrote a letter to the editor of her local paper. She put it this way: “We are in the midst of one of the greatest literacy crises ever encountered, and we are fighting an uphill battle. Every day I experience first hand what it means to be illiterate in a high school classroom. At best it means sleeping away a unit; at worst it means depression or aggression. Average students with average abilities can fervently text away [on their mobile phones], but they cannot read.”

Parents and grandparents can and should take action if they want the children in their lives to succeed. It’s particularly important in the digital age in which we live, according to Smith.

“iPhones, tablets and other electronic devices might be great technological developments, but they can’t replace the human experience of turning the pages of a book. And, when combined with the impact a father or mother can have by reading with their children, it can encourage a life-long desire to learn.”

Kim Dallas, the English teacher who wrote to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, concluded her letter with a plaintive plea to parents of school age children: “What can you do? Model reading in the home. Visit the library. Go to the bookstore. Share your reading experiences with them. Encourage them to read their assigned work. Offer your help with comprehension. If you struggle with reading, please share how you faced this difficult challenge—and succeeded. They need your help. I need your help. To succeed in school, students must read on their own. Our future depends on it,” she said.

Happy Holidays from Smilow Design

During this turbulent time, we believe its important to remember what we are grateful for.

We at Smilow Design are so very grateful for what has proven to be a spectacular year for our business. The enthusiastic response to our seven new pieces this year has been gratifying, and we are pleased by the continued support for all of our handcrafted, american-made  reintroductions. Mel Smilow would be proud, and we are sticking with his motto: Enduring Modern Classic, and will continue the legacy of producing fine and timeless designs for modern living.

We have much more planned for 2017—stay tuned for new designs, authentic lighting and more, and you can look forward to continued customer service with the personal touch.

Thank you for your support, and we extend our warmest wishes for the holiday season and the new year to come.

UK in November with Alice Cooper

What are you doing Nov 2017? Now’s the time to make plans because we’ll be in the UK with Alice Cooper and The Mission.

Presale is tomorrow, Dec 14. The password for the presale will be posted as it becomes available on http://alicecooper.com/tour-dates

Nov 11, 2017: First Direct Arena, Leeds, UK
Nov 12, 2017: The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland
Nov 14, 2017: Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham, UK
Nov 15, 2017: Manchester Arena, Manchester, UK
Nov 16, 2017: SSE Arena at Wembley, London, UK

Visit the shows page for more information.

Give the gift of history to the children in your family

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec 14 – Those “gotcha” moments on TV when young passersby are asked to name the first president of the U.S. and respond with quizzical looks may be funny. But, they expose the fact that American youngsters suffer from a history deficit.

“It’s the reason the Grateful American Book Prize was created,” says David Bruce Smith, co-founder of the award. “The Prize encourages authors and publishers to produce more works of historically accurate fiction and non-fiction for young learners and we feel compelled to encourage parents and grandparents to give the gift of history to the children in their lives this holiday season.

Numerous studies have shown school children have a discouraging lack of knowledge of American history. Too many of them don’t know even the basic facts about our nation’s past, about the events that shaped America, the people who founded the country and those who built it, creating the world’s first superpower. One survey of elementary school children revealed that 25% believed Columbus sailed to America sometime after 1750–not 1492.

Author and publisher Smith teamed up with Dr. Bruce Cole, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, to establish the Grateful American Book Prize. It’s the first award of its kind that offers an incentive for new writers and established authors to focus on historically accurate books for children, novels and biographies that can bring history to life for kids.

“Our children are not stupid so there must be another reason for the widespread and appalling lack of the basic knowledge of who, why and how the nation was founded. If you ask the students, they are apt to tell you that history class is boring, that they don’t get the connection between what happened then and what is happening now and that history books are dull. But maybe the real reason is that many schools don’t even have history classes anymore; they cover that base nowadays with Social Studies and/or Civics classes using texts that provide the facts but do little to spark an interest in history,” according to Smith.

Perhaps since we live in an age when the focus of education is on science, technology, engineering and mathematics—the so-called STEM subjects—history takes a back seat in the classroom, he says. “Some say it’s critical that we teach young learners “practical” subjects so they’ll be competitive in the Global Economy of the 21st Century. That may be so, but as education consultant Robert Pondiscio put it: ‘Many Americans have forgotten we have public schools so students can become educated citizens capable of self-government’.”

Smith notes that the odd thing is that as kids grow older, particularly when they are out of school, many develop a hankering for the past. They seek out history-based films and, more important, books about historical places, figures and accomplishments.

Here’s what one young woman who was “bored” in history class said: “Since I left school I have become pretty good at reading lots of historical novels. It’s because they are more interesting. If I had done this while still at school, I think that my marks would have been heaps better.”

It makes sense, Smith remarks. “The books she read were engaging; they roused her curiosity and dusted up her desire to learn more about the historical characters and places in those novels. Her regret is that she didn’t start reading while she was in school. And, that shows us that there is a way of encouraging students to embrace history class: give them a good read. So, when you go shopping for holiday gifts this year, don’t just go to the toy store; make a stop at your local book store while you are at it.”


Harp & Soul: Songs of the Season at The Mainstay Sunday, December 18, 2016

Songs for the Season
Meredith Hadaway and friends

Sunday, December 18, 2016 at 4:00 p.m.

Celebrate the Songs for the Season with the lovely and lively traditional songs, dance tunes & carols from the British Isles, Celtic lands & beyond. The core group of Meredith Hadaway (Celtic harp & concertina), Ben Bennington (guitar & vocals) and Rebekah Hardy (oboe) will be joined their special guests Bob Ortiz (percussion), Nevin Dawson (viola) and singer/songwriters Barbara Parker and Pam Ortiz for an afternoon of delightful and unusual songs for the season and lots of holiday cheer. Only $15 – TICKETS