North Bend survey assesses police operations and public safety

January 27, 2015

North Bend residents and business owners are invited to participate in a survey to assess public safety and police operations.

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Medical equipment bank opens

January 26, 2015

Unfortunately when you need them, crutches, wheelchairs, walkers and other medical equipment can be expensive and hard to locate. And medical insurance doesn’t always cover some of these aids.

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Middle Fork Road closed due to flood damage

January 25, 2015

The Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road (Forest Service Road No. 56) has been closed at mile 2.2., near Valley Camp and the Mailbox Peak Trailhead.

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Wildcat Idol entertains a quest for talent

January 23, 2015

The second round of Wildcat Idol, a musical competition for Mount Si students, begins at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 in the high school theater. The top 10 performers from the preliminary round will compete for the Idol title and a chance to appear at an upcoming school assembly and a possible recording session.

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State updates geologic map app

January 22, 2015

A closer and more thorough look at what’s in and under the ground in Washington state is now available online through the Washington State Geologic Information Portal, developed by the Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources.

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King County Elections mails ballots

January 22, 2015

The King County Elections office mailed ballots Jan. 21 to the 24,000 registered voters in the Snoqualmie Valley School District for the Feb. 10 special election.

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Wolves overpower Wildcat girls, 47-39

January 22, 2015

The Wildcat girls faced the Eastlake Wolves Jan. 16 and went down, 47-39. The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for Mount Si High School. The loss dropped the team record to 4-10 for the season.

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Local author tackles children’s hunger

January 22, 2015

If you tell your best friend you’ll keep something secret, when is it OK to break the promise?

Sofia struggles with the promise and the knowledge that her best friend, Maddi, doesn’t get enough to eat.

Lois Brandt, of Issaquah, wrote a book, “Maddi’s Fridge,” that poses that dilemma.

By Greg Farrar Lois Brandt of Issaquah teaches children about hunger with her book "Maddi's Fridge." The book, just published in September, is already a big hit with fourth-graders.

By Greg Farrar
Lois Brandt of Issaquah teaches children about hunger with her book “Maddi’s Fridge.” The book, just published in September, is already a big hit with fourth-graders.

The illustrated children’s book published by Flashlight Press and released in September is a poignant look at something that’s often ignored — hunger.

“Nationally, 20 percent of the people in the United States don’t have enough to eat,” Brandt said. “It’s even worse here in Washington, where Northwest Harvest estimates 25 percent are hungry.”

A history with hunger

The realization that hunger is an American issue, not something just in Third World countries, hit Brandt when she was a child in rural Northern California.

She had an experience similar to Sofia’s. While playing at a friend’s house, she told her friend she was hungry. The friend told her to go home. Brandt didn’t listen and ran into the friend’s kitchen and opened the refrigerator, looking for a snack.

“It was white inside,” Brandt said. “There were a few condiments and nothing else except a carton of milk my friend had brought home from school for her little brother.”

Like the character in the book, Brandt promised not to tell anyone. She didn’t break her promise until 10 years ago when she began writing the book.

“Maddi’s Fridge” wasn’t easy to write and was even harder to sell. Brandt, who writes for children’s magazines such as Highlights, said publishers repeatedly told her the story was unsellable and editors told her it was not appropriate for children.

But her heart wouldn’t let her delete it.

She kept tweaking the manuscript.

Several years ago, at a writer’s conference, she read her story about two friends playing and Sofia finding Maddi’s fridge empty when she wanted a snack.

MaddiFridgeBook 20141212B

The audience was enthralled.

“Some of the people were the same editors who turned the book down,” Brandt said.

A publishing dream

Two years ago, she received an email from Shari Greenspan, of Flashlight Publishing. Like the dozens of other publishers Brandt had pitched, Flashlight had once rejected the book on the grounds that no one could imagine a children’s picture book about hunger.

“Shari told me ‘Maddi’s Fridge’ was something the story committee couldn’t get out of their heads,” Brandt said. “They wanted to publish the book. That email was one of the happiest moments in my life.”

The publisher picked the illustrator, Brazilian-born Vin Vogel who lives in Brooklyn. In the editing and illustration process, the story was moved from a rural setting to urban. Brandt likes the way Vogel captured the characters, the feelings and the messages in the book.

Brandt, who teaches English as a second language and creative writing at Bellevue College, has also been thrilled — and a bit surprised — about the book’s reception.

She’s grateful to the Issaquah Schools Foundation. The group bought copies of the book for every elementary school library in the district.

The book was recently on a recommended list in The Issaquah Press Parents Guide, compiled by Ann Crewdson, the children’s librarian at the Issaquah Library. It was suggested as a Hanukah gift in a Jewish newsletter.

Brandt aimed the story at 4- to 8-year-olds, but discovered librarians are recommending it for fourth-graders.

“Fourth-graders are already reading chapter books like ‘Harry Potter.’ I didn’t think they would like it,” Brandt said. “Always trust librarians. They know. Turns out fourth-graders are reading it and loving it.”

Buy the book

‘Maddi’s Fridge’

By Lois Brandt


Autographed copies at Barnes & Noble

1530 11th Ave. N.W., Issaquah

Also available at other book retailers and online stores.

 Scheming to help

In the story, Sofia tries to help Maddi by bringing her food. She puts eggs in her backpack. When she opens the backpack to give her friend the eggs, they’ve broken.

“We’ve all had disasters like that in our backpacks,” Brandt said. “Mine was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I just imagined what would happen with other things.”

While Sofia schemes to bring healthy food to her friend, Maddi helps Sofia learn how to scale the climbing wall at the playground. Sophie’s younger brother adds comic relief with his love of something called Cheesy Pizza Bombs.

Sofia finally shares Maddi’s family problem with her mother. The mother, younger brother and Sofia deliver bags of groceries to Maddi’s apartment.

In real life, Brandt didn’t do that. She couldn’t figure out how to help her friend without breaking the promise. To this day, she’s still angry that her friend had no food.

“I’ve discovered other adults had similar experiences when they were children,” Brandt said. “They were either the hungry child with no food or had friends who were hungry.”

One man told her about going without food for three days until his dad got paid. The family celebrated the paycheck by going to a fast food restaurant for a meal. They’d all been without food so long their stomachs couldn’t tolerate the amount of food they consumed and everyone threw up.

By Greg Farrar Lois Brandt points out details drawn by illustrator Vin Vogel in her children's book, "Maddi's Fridge."

By Greg Farrar
Lois Brandt points out details drawn by illustrator Vin Vogel in her children’s book, “Maddi’s Fridge.”

A history of helping

Brandt was a Peace Corps volunteer after graduating from the University of California at Berkley in 1981. She expected to see hunger when she served in Africa. But she saw hunger when she volunteered in her children’s elementary school in Issaquah.

Children would be fidgety and unable to concentrate in the classroom. She questioned them and learned they had come to school without breakfast, occasionally because the family was too rushed getting out of the house but at times from a lack of food.

“If they come to school hungry, they can’t learn,” Brandt said.

Since the release of “Maddi’s Fridge,” Brandt has been invited into schools and classrooms to talk about writing and the book. She waives an author/speaker fee if the school holds a food drive in conjunction with her visit.

“I recently was at Grand Ridge Elementary,” Brandt said. “The third-graders were so proud because they collected 366 cans of food for the Issaquah Food Bank.”

Going into schools has given Brandt a new appreciation for the children’s clear vision and simple solutions.

“I love second-graders,” she said. “If they ruled the world, we’d be OK. They say, ‘If we have food and someone we know doesn’t, we just need to share.’”

It’s a lesson, she added, adults need to learn and practice.

Editor’s note: SnoValley Star editor Sherry Grindeland wrote this story for the Star’s sister paper, The Issaquah Press. Because it deals with children’s hunger, something all communities face, we felt it was important to share with Snoqualmie Valley Readers. Each summer the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank emphasizes the need to give families extra food to cover children’s lunches – because they’re out of school, they’re not able to utilize the school district’s free and reduced-price lunch programs.

Sherry Grindeland can be reached at







Mount Si gymnasts score two wins

January 22, 2015

The Mount Si Wildcats took on two teams at the Jan. 15 gymnastics meet and left both Inglemoor and Skyline high schools in the chalk dust. Mount Si scored 163 compared to Skyline’s 150.25 and the home team, Inglemoor’s 145.9.

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School district makes national honor roll

January 22, 2015

The Snoqualmie Valley School District recently was named to the National College Board’s AP District Honor Roll for the fifth consecutive year.

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