The story opens with a gentle exclaim: "It's fruitcake weather!" Sook, a 60-something Southern woman, and Buddy, a young boy, embark on their yearly Christmas ritual: baking holiday fruitcakes. The tenderness between the two, locked together in a Depression-era world, is the essence of A Christmas Memory.
She's bawdy and brash, tender and vulnerable; she's graceful and klutzy, commanding and helpless. She's a singer who hits every vocal nuance, whether serious or satiric; a high-energy dancer who could probably double as a contortionist; a comic who draws roars from pratfalls, subtle glances, punchlines and sensuality.
Painter Rudolf Bauer, one of the stellar prewar abstract painters, was lucky. He earned acclaim and money. His rags-to-riches story is fascinating, yet at the height of his creative power, he cried foul -- and refused to paint again. His alleged betrayal is the essence of Bauer, an intimate, well-staged drama.
Of the most underutilized educational techniques are music and song. We know that musical intelligence is one of the eight identified intelligences of Harvard researcher Howard Gardener but we may not appreciate the role that music and song can play in deepening student learning and promoting memory.