This week I found myself thinking over Mary Penney’s fabulous middle grade novel, Eleven and Holding. For more than one reason, it got me thinking about benevolence. It wouldn’t be fair to say the book is about benevolence, but it features some secondary characters whose benevolence truly shines.
As does the author’s.
Mary is one of those quiet people out in the world doing good things. She doesn’t need people to know she’s doing good, she just does it.
Mary would like to grow up to be a philanthropist (insert laughter from anyone with intimate knowledge of a children’s author’s earnings here). She makes the point that if one has goals, one needs to practice. And how does an up-and-coming philanthropist with a small income practice? By giving in small bits. So Mary gives. In everyday little ways, in offering conference scholarships to authors, in helping veterans, in sprinkling kindness here & there, & in writing books that offer hope & bring smiles to kids’ faces.
Mary is a poster-child for benevolence, a word which appeared in English in 1400, through Old French from the Latin word benevolentia. The bene- part of the word means good or well, while the –volentia means to wish. A person who is benevolent is spending his/her time & thoughts wishing others well.
If you’ve been watching or reading a lot of news these days, you could probably use a reminder that benevolence happens. You’d probably benefit from spending time with good people wishing others well, perhaps giving in small bits. If so, you might want to read Mary Penney’s middle grade novel, Eleven and Holding (HarperCollins, 2016).
And if you’ve got a bit of time, how about clicking on comments below & recounting a benevolent act you recently encountered?
Big thanks to this week’s sources: Etymonline, Wordnik, Collins Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, & the OED.
I write for teens & tweens, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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