From the Huntington Beach INDEPENDENT
Serving Huntington Beach & Fountain Valley, California March 11, 2009
‘It’s up to us to make a difference’
Mom reads her son’s book, ‘The Jester Has Lost His Jingle,’ to students at Reading Makes a Difference assembly.
Barbara Saltzman presents her son's book, "The Jester Has Lost His Jingle," at College View Elementary School's Reading Makes a Difference assembly.
By Candice Baker
Nineteen years after the death of her son, Barbara Saltzman continues to pass on his love of learning and laughter.
One of her latest stops was College View Elementary School, where the entire student body watched as she read from her son’s storybook, “The Jester Has Lost His Jingle” — and learned how to make a difference in the lives of children with life-threatening diseases.
The story tells of a jester who tries to learn why the inhabitants of his kingdom don’t laugh; he discovers, with the help of his talking scepter Pharley, that laughter is hiding in each person, waiting to be drawn out.
“It’s up to us to make a difference. It’s up to us to care,” the Jester says in his book.
Students who attended the Reading Makes A Difference assembly March 2 have been reading as many pages as possible this month to have copies of the book and Jester & Pharley dolls given to young patients at Children’s Hospital of Orange County.
Principal Kathleen Jaquin has asked each student to read at least 25 pages each day; to date, past Read-A-Thon students have logged more than 22 million pages in eight years, Saltzman said.
Kids also will have the opportunity to draw the characters in scenes from the book, and to create get-well cards for children in the hospital. At the end of the Read-A-Thon, they will make a list of their favorite books for other students.
Each classroom, as well as the library and the school’s specialist teachers, has been given a copy of the Jester book and a set of enrichment materials, including a curriculum guide, educator’s guide and a “Jester & Pharley PhunBook.”
The Jason S. Subotky Charitable Fund underwrote the program. Subotky was one of Saltzman’s college friends.
Author David Saltzman died of Hodgkin’s disease in 1990, days shy of his 23rd birthday, after writing and illustrating his book.
Her son had just graduated magna cum laude as an art and English major from Yale, and wanted to make a difference in the world. His book was based on a personal experience in which he walked into a classroom and made a bad joke — and no one laughed, not even out of politeness. A random doodle of a jester who had lost his ability to jingle became larger than life for Saltzman, who quickly wrote and illustrated the entire book.
His last request was that a copy of his then-unpublished book be given to children with cancer around the country, his mother said.
“The book had such an impact on everyone who was exposed to it,” Saltzman said. “I have become overwhelmed at how successful this program is.”
Today, Saltzman — perhaps better known as the Jester’s Mom — serves as the executive director of The Jester & Pharley Phund. She travels tirelessly throughout the area, reading the book to kids and eliciting a desire to read and to excel in life.
“The only thing that is limiting the number of our programs is funding,” she said. “I’m very hopeful that we can continue to expand in Orange County.”
“I think it’s such a good cause,” Jaquin said. “Every time I read the story, it has a different meaning. And it’s such a good message: Sometimes we’re down, but we can find the laughter inside of us.”
For more on the program, call (310) 265-0119 or visit thejester.org .
Reporter CANDICE BAKER may be reached at (714) 966-4631 or at email@example.com .