The Ghost-Eye Tree review

Bill Martin, Jr.’s The Ghost-Eye Tree. is a story about a time that is a distant memory in the minds of many adults.  It is a time that has never existed for many children.  In this story a young boy and his sister are sent to the local dairy farm to fill the family’s milk bucket.  However, in order to retrieve the milk they must first walk past an old spooky tree which looks to have a Ghost-Eye when the moon shines just right.

A boy’s hat, the Ghost-Eye tree, and a sibling’s teasing continuously crop up throughout the tale.  Even though this story is about traveling at night to get milk for the family, the reader will notice that the actual focus is on the hat, the tree, and the relationship between siblings.  The boy loves his hat and it makes him feel brave.  This emotion is needed as he walks the dark road past the tree that seems to stare and reach for him.  However, the hat betrays him when he needs it the most.

The sister plays two parts in this story.  She spends much of the time telling her brother that he is afraid and that his hat is stupid.  However, when the occasion arises she proves to be the sister he can depend on.  Children with siblings reading this story will easily connect with the complex relationship between these two.

Originally published in 1985 this story is beautifully written.  It would also be a good read aloud book.  The illustrations have a dark ominous almost fuzzy look that magnifies the feelings the Ghost-Eye tree creates.  However, there are bright lighted pictures sprinkled within the book.  These warm colors show up when trusted adults such as the mother and the milkman enter the story.

Even though The Ghost-Eye Tree contains topics most children can not personally connect with, the story itself provides some unique opportunities to teach history and relationships.  The savvy instructor could use this book to discuss how much things have changed in the past few decades.  After all it wasn’t long ago, just a mere three decades for some of us, that we were still fetching milk from the local dairy and using party lines to chat with our friends.

Another lesson idea could include brining in rotary phones from the past and perhaps a guest speaker who can chat about the topics presented in this story.  Children could ask if the speaker ever experienced similar frightening images such as the Ghost-Eye as a child.  It might be interesting to learn that adults once had the same feelings as the children sitting across from them.  After all, the fear of the unknown is still relevant.  Plus, children are often fascinated by the strange devices of the past that look vaguely familiar to the devices of today.  Just that aspect alone could present many other teachable connections.

An exploration of relationships would also be interesting to explore with children.  Who can or should they trust?  Do all siblings argue like this brother and sister?  Are these healthy arguments?  Did the adults in their lives ever argue with their siblings?  These are just a few interesting questions children could explore.

Overall, The Ghost-Eye Tree is a fun story that children today can still appreciate.  This book can still be found in the children’s section of the library and many bookstores.  Appropriate for ages 8-11.

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What if….I can?

One month of preparation.  One month of learning. One month of psyching myself up for a task that quite honestly scares the hell out of me.  In one month I will drive to the Colorado border and join 799 other cyclists for the Biking Across Kansas event, and honestly I’m scared.  (doubly scared if you noticed that I mentioned the feeling twice)

The trek itself doesn’t scare me.  I’ve already cycled across three states, Kansas being one.  What concerns me is cycling with other people.  When I cycle solo I can do so at my pace without fear of ridicule for being S-L-O-W or amateurish.  That’s right, the 504 miles does not concern me, although I am feeling less than prepared for this stretch than my previous treks.  Nope it’s the idea of riding side by side people who will probably be better equipped, better prepared, and better overall for this ride.

kansas cycle

A glance in my direction is all it would take to provide the proof that I’m not the average long distance cyclist.  I don’t wear form fitting clothes, mainly because I like to breath.  Plus I don’t want to show off ALL my curves.  Also, I don’t own a road bike because honestly I can’t afford one at this time.  Our money usually goes toward the kids educational endeavors.  Instead, I will once again ride my Trek mountain bike that was paid for by the Holiday Inn hotel points accumulated through my husband’s business travels.  I’ll even ride that bicycle complete with its knobby tires.

Honestly I don’t know why I’m so nervous about how I will appear to the many other cyclists.  I guess I just want to be taken seriously and not looked upon like I’m participating in a tricycle race.

The truth is that I’m just an average woman with the same problems other average women face.  I just do so differently.  When I first cycled the length of the Katy Trial in Missouri I did so at least 100 pounds heavier than I am now.  Plus I cycled it with 45 pounds of too much gear strapped to the back end of my poor Trek.  I went on that trek because I needed a shake-up in my life.  I had finally ‘really’ recognized that I was overweight.  Not the “oh poor me” overweight mentality, but the “geez I need to take ownership and do something about this” overweight mentality.  Plus that trek was a test of whether or not I could become prepared to do other things like backpack.

trek bike

When I cycled the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska and Highway 36 in Kansas I did so with the same equipment I’ll take this time.  I’ve already battled the winds of Kansas and the never ending prairie sun.   So like I said long distance cycling doesn’t concern me because I’ve already completed three other treks.  Solo treks.  You know without anybody really watching me.  Without anybody to compare myself to, and I guess that is the real issue.

wind currents

I am okay with competing against myself, and even though I know this isn’t a competition I’m still concerned.  What if I’m consistently the slowest person?  What if I can’t make it all the way across the state this time?  What if some elitist cyclist decides to poke fun at my mountain gear?  (yes it has happened)  What if there’s a creeper amongst the group of 799 other cyclists?  What if I have to share a shower like in middle school or the military {{{{SHUDDER}}}}.  Honestly, if I can’t have a private shower I may actually resort to not showering.

What if….What if….What if…..

Those were the questions and thoughts that kept going through my mind as today approached; the one month before the start date of Biking Across Kansas.  But then a person judged me by claiming that I believed in something that I don’t, and then adamantly told me that I really did think this way.   On a different occasion a friend posted on her virtual wall that she felt that it was too late to complete certain goals.  My response was “poppycock”, but I used more words in a gentler tone.

After hearing the discouragement and lost dreams of others that sounded vaguely like mine I started really paying attention.  As I listened I noticed more and more that people speak negatively about themselves, their life experiences, their abilities, and their hopes.  I realized that I was doing the same thing.  It’s an easy thing to do, think negatively.  It’s also a toxic thing to grow.  So I decided to try something different.  I decided that I would embrace the fact that I have a few extra curves, a mountain bike with knobby tires, own only what I can afford, and that I will probably be the slowest person on the trek.  (sorry, but I will not embrace showering with other people {{{{SHUDDER}}}})

I’ve decided to name my trek within the Biking Across Kansas event.  I’m going to be the ‘I CAN FOR THOSE WHO THINK THEY CAN’T’ participant.  If you’ve ever thought that you were too out of shape then just look at me, especially when I cycled the KatyTrail.  If you’ve ever thought that you can’t accomplish something amazing then let me be an example that it’s never too late.  (I’m 40 and in addition to cycling Kansas this Friday I’m walking the university stage with a graduate degree in my dream field of Library Science.  Actually this trek is my graduation gift from my husband.)  If you ever thought you weren’t special enough then look at me because I’m just about as average as they come.  If you’ve been judged and demoralized well I’ve been judged too and there’s nothing you or I can do about that except to live our lives.

If you feel like it’s time for a change then do something about that feeling.  If you want to do something unique, great!  If you want to be a better you than go for it!  That’s what this Biking Across Kansas trek will be for me.  I’m looking for a better me and perhaps a little adventure.

kansas cycle2