11th Serialized Excerpt: Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.


Cover and logo art by Willowraven.
Cover reveal for Volume II: April 15, 2014

11th Serialized Excerpt, 3/28/14


Snapshots of Clara’s Daily Life: Fourteen Octobers, 1963 – 2017

October, 1963

    Age and Living Circumstances/Location:

Fourth-grader, age 9, in Bayonne Elementary School, Missouri; living in Bayonne, suburb of large, midwestern USA city in family home with her: father, Isaac; mother, Rose; older brother, Thomas, 10; younger sister, Cassie, 3; and, a dog.
Many local friends from school, some who live further away from the family’s Reform Jewish Temple and Camp Cedar (residential summer camp run by the local Jewish Community Center).


stories, articles, songs, poetry (published in school and camp newsletters).

    Favorite Books:

Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, Robert Heinlein; A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L’Engle; The Door in the Wall, Marguerite de Angeli; Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White; The Borrowers, Mary Norton; The Bronze Bow, Elizabeth George Speare; Danny Dunn series, Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams; Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series, Betty MacDonald; Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars, Ellen McGregor; The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, Eleanor Cameron.

    Music on the Radio:

“Love Me Do,” “She Loves You,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” The Beatles; “It’s My Party,” Lesley Gore; “Be My Baby,” The Ronettes; “He’s So Fine,” The Chiffons; “If I Had a Hammer,” Trini Lopez; “I Only Want to Be With You,” Dusty Springfield; “Surfer Girl” and “Surfin’ USA,” The Beach Boys; “Up on the Roof,” The Drifters; “Wipeout,” The Surfaris; Elvis Presley; Patty Duke; Roy Orbison.

    Popular Songs Available in Sheet Music:

“Anyone Who Had a Heart” and other songs by Burt Bacharach & Hal David (sung by Dionne Warwick); “Charade,” Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini (sung by Andy Williams); instrumental music reconfigured for beginning and intermediate players of solo piano by many popular composers.


► Attending (under duress) Jewish religious education services and classes most Sunday mornings (“Sunday School”) during the school year.
► Reading constantly (see above).
► Taking weekly piano lessons and practicing regularly; winning prizes in regional classical piano competitions, ages 9 – 11.
► Playing outdoors a lot, climbing trees, playing hide-and-go-seek, going to play at the elementary school’s “jungle-gym” and playgrounds for kickball, softball, tennis, soccer, field hockey, sprinting, and indoors for balance beam/gymnastics.
► Also, bike riding; waterskiing, canoeing, Israeli folk dancing, swimming, sailing at Camp Cedar (Jewish residential camp, Lake of the Ozarks) and local outdoor pool in the summer.

ESPE: Clara asks me to include some stories and poems she is “guilty of writing when younger” (her words, not mine). She asks that I put each one in the closest year for the October of each of these sections.

Here is her first (and only) fairy tale, dated May 11, 1964. It’s written in pencil, on yellowing, manila-colored, lined paper, in cursive writing. At the top, next to her name and the date, she writes “9 years old” and across the top she prints “DON’T THROW AWAY!!!” Guess she keeps what she tells herself to keep!

“Princess Why” by Clara Ackerman, 9 years old

May 11, 1964

Not so very long ago, in a far-off land, lived a princess called Princess Why. She got this name because the very first and only word that she had ever uttered was “Why?”

The good Queen Falina had given birth to twin daughters, but the evil witch, Zweezy, had drugged the Queen and her husband, the kind King Loten, and had stolen one of the baby twin princesses away. When the good Queen and the kind King awoke from their enchanted sleep, neither of them remembered that there really had been two babies. They now only saw one baby princess, and one was all they now had.

Zweezy, although a very cruel witch, was nonetheless not very smart. She had not remembered to drug the other baby or the royal dog, Kays, and they had both seen Zweezy carry out the terrible kidnapping with their very own eyes.

When the baby princess, who still lived with her parents, was very small, she managed to say her first and only word, “Why?” From then on, she was destined to be called Princess Why.

The word she had spoken was meant to ask: “Why didn’t Mother stop Sister from being stolen?” “Why has Sister been taken away from us?” “Why isn’t Sister back with us, yet?”

For fifteen long years, the good Queen Falina and the kind King Loten ruled their kingdom wisely and well. Princess Why grew older and more beautiful, but she never said anything but “Why?” She grew more and more weak and sickly as she tried so desperately to tell her royal parents all that had really happened on that awful day. She tried very hard, but all she could say was “Why?”

She became very ill, and would have certainly died, but the royal nurse, Vetina, consulted the sickness god, Wade, and the Princess remained alive. For many months, she lingered on the verge of certain death, only able to stay alive by the chants Vetina did at the Princess’ bedside.

One day, Princess Why managed to sit up by her window and look weakly out into the royal garden. She watched Kays, the royal dog, romping and playing with the rabbits and the squirrels. While chasing a rabbit, Kays happened to follow it through a hole in the royal garden wall. As he ran around outside the palace grounds and into the village streets, who should he meet but the evil witch, Zweezy, the very same Zweezy who had taken Princess Why’s twin so many years before!

Kays being a good and loyal royal dog and remembering how he had seen Zweezy do the terrible deed with his very own eyes, pounced upon Zweezy. He tore her to pieces before she could even open her evil mouth to cast a spell on him!

Just then, a strange thing occurred. There was a great rumbling sound throughout the kingdom. Suddenly, in her room, Princess Why screamed and there before her stood her long-lost twin! Both were fair and kind as well as beautiful, and now both could speak and both were well.

The good Queen Fatina and the kind King Loten rejoiced to have both their daughters safe again, and proclaimed the day to be a royal holiday in honor of their daughters’ good luck and good health. They had a Royal Banquet, and at the new Christening, the two Princesses were given the beautiful names of Princess Faya and Princess Fosa.

In the years ahead, both Princess Faya and Princess Fosa would marry and have children and would always be kind and good to all. They especially made sure that Kays, the good and faithful royal dog, and all his pups, lived their lives as comfortably as royal dogs could.

The End

CLARA: It holds up rather well, all things considered, I think.

ESPE: If you say so.

CLARA: I have a comma problem then, same as now.

ESPE: Yes, you do.

CLARA: I suppose someone could analyze this to tedium. Let’s not.

ESPE: Fine with me.

CLARA: How about if I tell another story, my first memory of timulting?

ESPE: Good idea. In fact, I think the more you put in here which helps to explain the ways that your early life experiences and qualities contribute to your being selected to be Chief Communicator, the more easily we can justify spending the time on this Volume. There are hundreds of hours involved interviewing you, interviewing all your nieces, nephews, your son, me. And, you pay me a lot.

CLARA: All right. Your point is taken. Here we go.

Stay tuned on Sally’s blogs on WordPress (which has all links) and Tumblr, and on The Spanners Series‘ pages on Facebook and Google+, for each of the upcoming Excerpts from Volume II from March 16 – April 18, about one/day.

4/18/14, Volume II becomes available for Pre-orders via Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks and nook for half-price: @$1.99, through June 8, 2014.

On 6/9/14, Vol. II goes LIVE everywhere ebooks are sold for $3.99.