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11 November 2019 FIX THAT CLOCK by Kurt Cyrus, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-1-328-90408-9


“Inertia - a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged”

— online definition from prezi.com


“Some of them were angry

At the way the Earth was abused

By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power

And they struggled to protect her from them

Only to be confused 

By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour”

— Jackson Browne, “Before the Deluge” (1974)


“The United States began the formal process of leaving the Paris Agreement on climate change yesterday, withdrawing on the first day it was legally possible. Barring something unforeseen, the country will depart the accord on November 4, 2020--a day after the next presidential election.”

— from The Atlantic, “Trump Isn’t a Climate Denier. He’s Worse” (11/5/19)

“Wibble-wobble goes the clock,

shaking loose a noisy flock.

First, the flapping pigeons go;

second is the cawing crow;

third, the owl; then the bats,

swallows, sparrows, mice, and rats.

Flap and flutter! Scratch and hop!

Scramble to the tippy-top.”


When I was young, and we were in the midst of innovating our way to the moon, it felt like there were no limitations to what humankind might accomplish. Fifty years later, given the multitude of subsequent technological changes, flying to the moon feels less of a leap now than it did back then, as if moonwalking were just a few logical steps beyond the Wright Brothers. 


Democratization of information is what amazes me. In our digital, Internet world, I am able to instantly access and share information like word definitions; song lyrics; written discussions of The Three R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle); the history of the Human Potential Movement; what has happened anywhere in the world over the past hour; or whatever other searchable notion pops into my head.  


And yet all of this computing power can’t readily solve the planet’s most pressing problem. Given the severity of the climate crisis, I have no confidence that, after I am gone, there will forever be an inhabitable planet on which my young grandchildren and their children can enjoy life--with or without screen time. And that’s why I embrace this book about repairing what’s broken, rather than bulldozing and replacing it


We thought the condition of our planet was problematic in the era of the first Earth Day. But those problems pale in comparison to today’s scientific predictions and the changes we are already experiencing.


Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.


Kurt Cyrus’s FIX THAT CLOCK is a lyrical picture book story in which a decrepit clock tower is renovated, bottom to top. The wood scraps that remain after completion of the project are then used to build little homes for the various critters who had been occupying the old tower. 


It’s fun, it’s poetic, and it’s pleasurable to read aloud. I’ve been a fan of Kurt Cyrus’s illustration work going back two decades to THE SLOW TRAIN TO OXMOX. I especially appreciate that this book so wonderfully depicts craftsmanship in the employ of repair rather than to tear down, dispose, and replace. 


Until and unless some major advances take place in our ability to produce energy, propel vehicles, provide food, and create consumer goods, without the unintended consequences to our planet that we are now witnessing, we need to put on the brakes for the sake of future generations. Particularly when so many corners of the world that have lagged behind us in economic prosperity are now demanding a share of the earth-destructive luxuries that have filled our lives over the past 75 years. 


We need to fight inertia. Books like FIX THAT CLOCK will help introduce young people to the concept of repairing what is broken, rather than trashing what can be fixed. As they say, we’ve got to get this right, because there is no planet B.


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com





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