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A large dog with an alarm clock for a body (a “watchdog,” if you will). A giant bee that can apparently spell any word. A figure with 12 faces, one for each emotion. These are just some of the fantastic characters author Norton Juster created in his beloved 1961 children’s book The Phantom Tollbooth. Juster died Monday in his home in Northampton, Massachusetts. He was 91 years old. The cause was complications from a recent stroke, according to a statement from his daughter, Emily Juster.

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As the original guitarist for the British Invasion group The Animals, Hilton Valentine will probably be best remembered for the now-iconic arpeggiated opening riff from their 1964 hit “The House of the Rising Sun.” But Valentine was a lot more than that one moment. As a guitar player and composer, he was comfortable playing folk, skiffle, rhythm and blues and, of course, rock ’n’ roll music over his long career.

Darlene Riddick, top and bottom left, died in July 2020 of the coronavirus. Her goddaughter, Patricia Sands, top and bottom right, lost eight people this year due to the virus. Sands believes her godmother will be remembered for her smile.
Patricia Sands / Contributed photo

Finding a godmother

Patricia Sands grew up in Waterbury. She started going to church on her own at age 7, because her parents weren’t church goers.

She met Darlene Riddick at the Macedonia Church of the Living God. Riddick was assigned to watch out for Sands. She taught her how to ride the bus, invited her over for sleepovers, and fostered her faith.