Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen-Thrills and Chills

Let us be foolish, then, because if we can save even one life, we are the best of fools.

Chaya Lindner

So. have you ever been so engrossed in a book that you stayed up until dawn began its morning glow? Well, Resistance is that book! And thank goodness for coffee! That day, I gulped down coffee to stay focused in my middle school classroom! And, of course, my students laughed at me when they discovered the truth about my teaching slump that day! Talk about a book endorsement!

Recently, I read the book Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen. As a middle school teacher, I wanted to find a book on historical fiction about the Holocaust. This book did not disappoint! I have included this book in my classroom library, for it is an excellent addition to teaching my unit on the Holocaust.

Jennifer A. Nielsen, a noteworthy writer, grew up in Northern Utah. She began her writing journey while in elementary school. Over the years, her love of writing grew into a career. To date, her books have been translated into over 21 languages. 

She focused on young adult novels with her books, but I must maintain that this teacher was riveted and glued to her seat as she read this novel. Her characters came alive. I could not put down this action-packed book, for I wanted to find out what happened next to the protagonist, Chaya Lindner, a courier for a Jewish Resistance group known as Akiva. Throughout the story, I quietly cheered her on as she made her daring entries and escapes in the ravaged Polish ghettos during WW2.

RESISTANCE by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Jennifer wove a tale of historical fiction about the Holocaust. It was set in Poland before the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It included historical figures from the actual resistance movement. The characters were believable and well-rounded. Their stories added perspective to the historical tragedy and fighting spirit of the Jewish people who lived through the Holocaust.

The research and accuracy of this time were reflected throughout her story. Her attention to detail surfaced throughout her novel. Her depiction of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising kept me on edge as this nailbiter heaped on the action. I would recommend this book to teens and adults alike. It always jolted and astounded with its thrilling escapades and adventures. Moreover, readers will be encouraged by Chaya’s strength, courage, and determination to help her people.

Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen | Scholastic Fall 2018 Online Preview

Winning the Lottery

What would you do if you won the lottery?

If I won the lottery, I would do all the normal things that I know I should do. I would help family and friends and set aside money to help those down on their luck. But the one thing I know I would do in a heartbeat would be to find a mountain cabin among pine trees and aspens in the Colorado mountains.

For me, there is just something magical when spending time in nature. I love the smell of mountain pines on a crisp morning. I enjoy setting on a porch, drinking my coffee, and watching hummingbirds flit about their feeders and chipmunks scurry about looking for food to store. I love hearing breaking twigs and crunching leaves, knowing that when I look up, I will view mule deer walking slowly in the distance, ever alert of their surroundings.

Relaxing in the mountains offers a quiet peace and restores the soul. So until I win the lottery, I will be content taking my mountain getaways and dreaming of a time when I can call a piece of the Rocky Mountains home.

The Promise

After checking into the Coral Reef Inn, Jessie decided to grab lunch. The excited woman could not wait to explore all the local haunts she frequented when she was younger. After checking Google, the hungry lady decided on Pier 29 on Ballena Bay. She loved the little isle It was the perfect place to stretch her legs after her flight.

The young woman had flown out for her ten year class reunion. She could not wait to see her old high school friends. She knew Jenn and Trish would be there. Both still lived on the island. Jenn taught math at their rival high school. Jenn married her college sweetheart, Ryan, and the two lived in a painted lady on Santa Clara. Trish remained happily single and worked for a law firm in San Fransico. She lived in a little one-bedroom cottage behind her parent’s massive Victorian home on the east side.  

Of course, Jessi could have stayed with her childhood friends, but Jenn and Ryan were renovating their home with two children, two-year-old Spencer and five-year-old Haley. She laughed and told Jenn, “I love you, but I think I will skip the chaos.”

“Wise move. Make sure you get a room with two queen-sized beds. I may just crash with you this week!” Jenn laughed.

Trish offered her the pullout couch, but Jess knew her friend’s place would be littered with law books and case notes as she often took her work home. Trish chuckled when Jess declined. “I know, just say it. I am still a mess.”

“But you’re a lovely mess, my dear friend.” Jess honestly told her friend.

The trio would meet later for drinks and catch up on all the latest news. In the meantime, Jess wanted to explore. After finishing her shrimp and veggie salad, Jess sipped on her Pinot Blanc. She sat on the patio facing the marina.  She could smell the saltiness in the air. The seagulls cried as they flew towards the shoreline. In the distance, the San Francisco skyline loomed across the bay. The sea breeze caressed her bare arms, and it all reminded her of the boy she missed.

In high school, she spent many hours at this marina. She worked part-time for the boatyard for Jonathon’s dad. She answered phones, filed, and helped with the billing. Jonathon. She pictured the tall, lanky teen. He was a year older than her. His long wavy sun-streaked locks reached just below his shoulders. Since he worked at the boatyard with his dad, his tan remained year around. She wondered about his boyish face with the spattering of freckles. Did he still look the same? She still remembered his warm brown eyes with a touch of gold. When he smiled, his eyes smiled too. His face was an open book, and a person could easily discern Jonathon’s current mood with just one glance. She could still picture his emotions: his joy when his dad surprised him with his sailboat, his heartache when his mom died, and his sadness when he discovered she had been accepted into Columbia. Although he tried to cover up his emotions, she witnessed how his pride had changed to sorrow when he realized they would be living on separate coasts. 

“It’s only four years. I will be back before you know it. I will come home for holidays and summer breaks,” Jess told her love on that day so long ago.

Jonathon tried to smile, but it did not reach his eyes this time. He pulled Jessi into his warm embrace and softly murmured, “I love you.”

Jessi sighed at the memory. It was the beginning of their ending. She tried to shake off the sudden gloom that overpowered her. Jonathon was in the past, and she needed to focus on her present, like her two best friends she would meet later that night.

That evening, the three women gathered at the Preacher’s Daughter on Park. They ordered three BLTs, and each ordered an adult beverage.

“I am excited about the reunion this weekend,” Jenn told her friends, “I wonder if Danny will be there,” she gushed.

“Jennifer Lynn Andrews! You’re a married woman. Do you still crush on Danny Myers?” Trish scolded.

“Oh, come on. You know Danny was fun to look at. We all had crushes on Danny,” Jenn laughed.

“True,” Trish sighed, and the three women giggled like teenage girls, just like when they were in high school. 

The three women adored each other and looked forward to their weekend plans. Suddenly, Jenn sighed loudly, wishing she didn’t have to leave on Tuesday.

“What’s up, girlfriend?” Trish asked her friend. Both women looked so concerned Jenn laughed.

“Oh, I’m fine, “ Jess explained. “I just wish I could stay. I miss this, the three of us hanging out.”

“Well, the Bay Area reports the news too. Have you thought about checking out the newspapers here?” Jenn asked her old friend.

“Ya know, I have thought about it off and on over the years but always pushed it to the back burner because I have been so busy at The Seattle Times.”

“Jon still lives on the island and works with his dad at the boatyard. His dad made him a partner in the business.” Trish blurted out without thinking.

Jenn kicked Trish under the table and gave her a dirty look. Jessi’s heart skipped a beat at the mention of his name. She still missed him after all these years. And while she dated after they went their separate ways, no one quite measured up to her old flame.

Her friends witnessed the sadness that crossed her eyes. They knew she never quite got over him.  

“Well, that’s definitely old news!” Jess protested. She lied and told her friends, “I closed that chapter years ago.”

Jenn and Trish glanced at each other. They knew their dear friend still missed her first love. And both women fretted over this bit of news. 

To change the subject, Trish told Jess, “I have an idea! I will have my new intern search for jobs at local papers! She can scour ads for apartments too! Where do you want to live? Sausalito… San Francisco…”

Before Trish could finish, Jess and Jenn smiled at one another, and in unison, they proclaimed, “On the island!”

“Are we really doing this?” Jenn asked. “Am I moving home?”

“It’s time,” Trish remarked.

The three women spent the rest of the night planning on Jessi’s return and, of course, what they planned on wearing to the reunion the following evening. The night flew by too quickly, and before they knew it, Jenn and Trish dropped Jessi off at her motel. 

The next evening, Jessi finished her makeup and slipped into the little black dress she had saved for special occasions. Yesterday, while shopping at Southshore, she found a pair of black high-heeled shoes with the brightest red soles. It was love at first sight, so she purchased the pumps. It would be a cute addition to her reunion ensemble and a fun reminder of her trip to her island home.

Jessi had just slipped on her shoes when Jenn called her. “Okay, Cinderella, your carriage awaits.”

Jessi laughed, “I’m leaving now.”  

The lovely lady in the black dress stepped out of her room and spotted Jenn’s Pilot. She quickly walked to the car, excited about the evening’s adventures. Trish rolled down the passenger window and whistled. Jessi stopped, twirled, and then curtsied as her friends laughed. The trio was happy to be together once more.  Jess climbed in the back seat while scooting over an assortment of books and toys. She smiled and wondered if she would ever have a family.  

“Hey Jenn, I will be the designated driver tonight, so you can get your party on,” she told her friend.

“No drinking for me, at least not for the next nine months,” Jenn told her girls.

Trish and Jess started talking and laughing at once, excited about the news. “When did you find out,” Trish asked.

“Today,” Jenn replied. “I haven’t even told Ryan. We planned on stopping at two.” Jenn chuckled.

Jess didn’t know Ryan well and asked Jenn, “Will he be okay with the news?”

Laughing, Jenn replied, “Oh yeah. We have always enjoyed surprises. I am just waiting until we can have a moment of peace. Then, I want to plan a night out and celebrate our happy new addition. So, ladies, you have a chauffeur for the weekend.”

Jess and Trish started planning Jenn’s baby shower on the drive to the O Club. Jenn asked Jessi, “Does that mean you really plan on moving home?”

“Absolutely! I miss my girls, and I need my little family. So Trish, you better have your intern start looking for jobs and apartments on Monday.”

“Wahoo! I’m on it,” Trish excitedly replied.

Once the ladies entered the club, the three were greeted by old pals, and they quickly joined a table with some of their favorite classmates. Quickly, the trio ordered drinks, Trish ordered a craft beer, Jess ordered a glass of Zinfindel, and Jenn ordered her favorite soda, a Dr. Pepper Zero. A DJ had set up in a corner and played dance music. People were laughing and talking, and couples were beginning to dance.

The three of them decided to dance too when one of their favorite high school songs began to play. A slow dance began to play when the song ended, and the girls took their seats. Then, suddenly, the music stopped. It was interrupted by a new song, “Just a Kiss,” by Lady A, and Jessi’s heart lurched. It was their song, Jonathan and Jessi’s song. Trish and Jenn sat across from Jessi and began smiling when suddenly, a familiar voice asked, “May I have this dance.”

Trish laughed and blurted, “Well, look who crashed the party. Aren’t you attending the wrong reunion?”

Trish’s distraction gave Jenn a moment to compose herself. She immediately recognized Jonathon’s voice when he asked her to dance. Turning around, she took his offered hand, and the two made their way to the dance floor. The couple slowly danced in silence, afraid to break the spell of being in each other’s arms once again. When the song ended,  Jonathan asked Jessi, “Can we talk.”

Jessi nodded her answer. He grabbed her hand and pulled her to a corner table.  

“I was an idiot,” Jonathon began. “I should have never pushed you away. After my mom died, I thought I was losing you too. I didn’t want to drag out the waiting like we had to with mom. She deserved better; the pain was awful. I felt like I should end it quickly, for both of us. But I was wrong, Jess. I haven’t stopped thinking about you since you graduated from high school. I tried dating others, but they weren’t you. So when I heard about your high school reunion, I contacted the committee and asked if I could crash. Jessi, I want you back. Please forgive me. I will never push you away again.”

Jonathon gazed into Jessi’s eyes, silently pleading. Jessie took a deep breath before she asked, “Promise?”

“Promise!” Jonathan shouted. He jumped from his chair and scooped her up in his arms. “I promise I will hold onto you forever.”

Writing prompt:  Write a short story that ends with a promise.

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A Few of my Favorite Things

List five things you do for fun.

  • Listening to audiobooks
  • Writing family history, family stories, poetry, and fictional short stories
  • Glamping and star gazing
  • Road trips
  • Genealogy

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America’s Mountain

Name an attraction or town close to home that you still haven’t got around to visiting.

O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain

For purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain

America, America, God shed His grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

America’s Mountain regally stands north of my home, so I often sit on my porch and admire its beauty. The blueish-purple outline rests among clear blue Colorado skies with billowing clouds that nestle close to its peak. Fresh untouched snow lingers at the summit, even at times, during summer months. Then, when the sun slowly sets, dusky skies shower viewers with a stunning light show. Pike’s Peak never disappoints. 

Pike’s Peak inspired many to explore its valleys and peaks. This mountain encouraged writers and poets, artists, and dreamers. It beckoned explorers and scientists and provided refuge for wildlife and adventurers who desired outdoor havens. It provided breathtaking beauty and endless vast views of Colorado lands.

Pike’s Peak was named for an early explorer and has been nicknamed America’s Mountian. She found her way into our hearts with her amazing views and filled us with pride when we sang “America the Beautiful.” Yep, this same mountain inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write the poem “Pike’s Peak.” Later, Samuel A. Ward transformed the poem into the song we know and love today.

So why haven’t I visited this beauty since returning to Colorado over forty years ago? Good question. I was two months old when my dad was stationed at Fort Carson. We lived in the area for two years. During that time, my parents explored this mountain and drove to the summit with a baby in tow. So technically, I visited this mountain, but the older version of me would like to take away some memories and photos.

So I did a quick research. I can drive to the top or take the Cog Railway, a mode of transportation with a long history of transporting visitors to the top of this mountain. Plus, I could make a day of it and spend time in Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods, or have dinner at the Flying W Ranch. Hmm, I foresee a road trip in the future!


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My Favorite Teacher

As a child, my mother would read to me every day. Books were an essential part of my life from an early age, and Mama laid the foundation for my love of books. When I was about three years old, she started teaching me the alphabet, and I began writing those letters. By the time I was four years old, I was reading books independently.

One fun activity I enjoyed was our treasure hunts. It taught me some of my sight words. Go, to and the. Then my mother would draw objects from around the house with the word printed under her creations. My vocabulary grew as I learned the words: lamp, couch, mailbox, and so many more. Once I completed my activity, I would find a treat or barrette or hair ribbon for my treasure.

She taught me how to read with the Dick and Jane primer series as my vocabulary grew. I was so excited to show my dad that I could read Fun with Dick and Jane. As I progressed, so did my library. She always made sure that I had plenty of books to read. Some of my favorite childhood series included the Dr. Seuss books, Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys.

Looking back at that time, I fondly remember a busy mother taking time to ensure I had a good start on my educational journey. Without a doubt, my favorite teacher made learning exciting.  ‘

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What have you learned in your life about love?

Listening to stories from a favorite gramma

Watching a grandfather change a brother’s diaper

Helping mom make French Toast on a Saturday morning

Hearing a back gate scrape – dad was home

The loud shenanigans of little brothers 

Friendships made and friendships lost

Lovers lost and lovers found

One tiny heartbeat next to your own

Angel windchimes made from tiny hands

The hands that cook a favorite meal

Wiggly pups and endless kisses

Holding a grandchild for the very first time

Counting tiny fingers and toes – 

Loving your child’s husband as your own

Embracing all that truly matters

Daily writing prompt

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Often the two would fall asleep together in the yard hammock under a blanket of stars

Chloe quickly packed her bag with her papers to grade, grabbed her coffee mug and car keys, and raced out of her classroom. As the teacher left her room, she smiled at the lingering students and staff members in the hallways. The young woman couldn’t wait to get home, for she knew he would be waiting for her, and she couldn’t wait to see his smiling face and dark eyes. With just a glance, he let her know every day that she was his world. She sighed, content in the knowledge that he loved her.

Since it was a warm day, she decided to open the sunroof and windows. The spring air warmed her skin. On her drive home, she smiled as she passed the hiking trails they often walked. They both loved the outdoors, the vast expanse of prairie with its wildlife and mountain views to the south. In the evenings, they enjoyed lounging on the patio and watching the sunset behind the mountains. The Bristlecone pine scented the air, and orioles and sparrows would often serenade the two. On warm nights, they would often stay up late to watch the first stars shimmer as the skies began to darken and barn owls called in the distance. Often the two would fall asleep together in the yard hammock under a blanket of stars. Happily, she sighed. Life was perfect.

As she pulled into her driveway, she decided today would be a great day to walk the trails, and she knew he would not have any reservations about this idea. So she hopped from her car and grabbed her bag and mug. He greeted her at the door with a kiss. She dropped her bag and cup on the counter and turned to grab the leash before the happy duo headed for their favorite trail, another perfect day for the little family.

Flash fiction writing prompt:
Write about non-romantic love

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A Snapshot of Mama

The young girl poses on a rocky ridge. She wears light-colored slacks and a button-up shirt. Her long brown hair is pulled back into braids. Sitting on the ledge with her dog, she holds onto Midge’s reins. She looks into the distance and smiles.

This picture is one of my favorite photos of my mother, Dotty Allen. I received this photo after she died, and I wish I could ask her questions. Where was the photo taken? On the family ranch? How old was she? My guess is around 12 or 13, so the year it was taken was about 1946 0r 1947. I wish I could ask her what her pup’s name was. And I wanted to know what she was looking at in the distance.

Although my mom and I often talked about her life, I still have so many questions. I wish she were still here to answer my queries and spin more yarns and tales about her life on the ranch.