In Days Gone By...
Oral tales, songs, and poems reflected the lives of the people. They were stories and songs of wonder and dreams.
They were told and discussed around the hearth, the marketplace,the spinning room, and in the taverns --wherever people gathered.
They helped people to cope with the wars, hunger, poverty and religious conflicts that characterized their lives.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Giambattista Basile, a Neopolitan soldier, courtier and writer (1575-1632), collected and rewrote, in the language of ordinary people, 50 tales of wonder.
They were called the Tale of Tales or the Pentamerone.
Now, for the first time, several of these tales have been adopted into a landmark film, the Tale of Tales.
I have seen the film and found it uncompromising in reflecting the sensibility of the original tales. However, like the original tales, they are far from the simplified, romanticized, linear simplicity of Disney films.This, in turn, may be affecting the as yet incomplete distribution of Tale of Tales.
I found that the two reviews excerpted below offer insightful personal reactions to the film. They both came from viewings at the Cannes Film Festival.
Unnerving Even For Adults
"Drawing on the rich and until-now unexplored vein of Neapolitan fairy tales written by Giambattista Basile in the early 17th century, Tale of Tales combines the wildly imaginative world of kings, queens and ogres with the kind of lush production values for which Italian cinema was once famous. The result is a dreamy, fresh take on the kind of dark and gory yarns that have come down to us from the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault, only here they're pleasingly new and unfamiliar. Starring Salma Hayek as a childless queen who is willing to do anything – absolutely anything – to conceive...
These fairy tales are certainly not aimed at children, though they will light the fire of many teens. Apart from a few moments of artistic eros — the first a shot of two court ladies consumed with passion for each other in a carriage; the second a post-orgy scene laced with naked, Felliniesque bodies — there is an underlying horror that is unnerving even for adults."
"Matteo Garrone’s Tale of Tales is fabulous in every sense: a freaky portmanteau film based
on the folk myths collected and published by the 16th-century Neapolitan poet and scholar Giambattista Basile ... It is gloriously mad, rigorously imagined, visually wonderful: erotic, hilarious and internally consistent. The sort of film, in fact, which is the whole point of Cannes. It immerses you in a complete created world..."
From the review by Peter Bradshaw in the
Bawdier and Crueler
"The tales were probably intended to be read aloud in the 'courtly conversations' that were an elite pastime of this period...Lo conto (the tales) contains the earliest literary versions of many celebrated fairy-tale types -- Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and others -- that later appeared in Perrault's and the Grimm's collections. But Basile's tales are often bawdier and crueler than their more canonical counterparts." -- Nancy Canepa,The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales.
Here is a link to the Trailer: Tale Of Tales
Here is a link to the 1894 translation by John Edward Taylor of the Tale of Tales (The Pentamerone) with illustrations by John Cruickshank.
Except for the detail from a Bruegel painting, at top, all of the above images are from the Tale of Tales.
The Sun, Moon and Talia...the original story of Sleeping Beauty.
Here is an excerpt from Basile's story of what later became a very different story, by both Perrault and the Brothers Grimm (Briar Rose). Written for adults in the early 17th century, it's a long way from Disney.
"So he (a young king) climbed in and wandered the palace from room to room, but he found
nothing and no one. At last he came to a large, beautiful drawing room, where he found an enchanting girl who seemed to be sleeping. He called to her, but she would not wake. As he looked at her, and tried to wake her, she seemed so incredibly lovely to him that he could not help desiring her, and he began to grow hot with lust. He gathered her in his arms and carried her to a bed, where he made love to her. Leaving her on the bed, he left the palace and returned to his own city, where pressing business for a long time made him think no more about the incident.
But Talia, who was not dead, but merely unconscious, had become pregnant, and after nine months she gave birth to twins, as beautiful a boy and girl as ever were born. Kindly fairies attended the birth, and put the babies to suck at their mother’s breast. One day, one of the infants, not being able to find the nipple, began to suck at his mother’s finger. He sucked with such force that he drew out the splinter of flax, and Talia awoke, just as if from a long sleep. When she saw the babies, she did not know what had happened or how they had come to her, but she embraced them with love, and nursed them until they were satisfied. She named the infants Sun and Moon. The kindly fairies continued to attend her, providing her with food and drink, which appeared as if delivered by unseen servants..."
Here is a link to read it all: Sun, Moon and Talia
The top illustration is by Edward Burne-Jones. The lower illustration is by Walter Crane.
The Oral Tradition
..."The tales came to the tellers from other tellers, or they read tales, digested them, and made them their own. Indeed, we always make tales our own and then send them off to other tellers with the hope that they will continue to disseminate their stories..." - Jack Zipes, The Forgotten Tales of the Brothers Grimm, in the The Public Domain Review
The illustration of Beauty and the Beast is by Walter Crane.
Inside Those Secret Forests, Caves, and Seas...
"These were the 'last echoes of pagan myths...A world of magic is opened up before us, one which still exists among us in secret forests, in underground caves, and in the deepest sea, and it is still visible to children...(Fairy tales) have existed among the people for several centuries.' And what we find inside those secret forests, caves and seas...(are) fairy tales full of families, full of parents who bequeath a sense of self to children, full of ancestors and heirs whose lives play out, in little, the life of a nation from its childhood to maturity."
The TN Safety Spotters
The TN Safety Spotters, dogs from Memphis, TN, are Deaf Therapy Dogs who travel the Mid-South with owner, trainer, and handler, Paricia Bell. All the Spotters are rescued dogs.
"TN Safety Spotter’s goal is to significantly reduce the number of dog bite injuries and fire deaths in children using deaf therapy dogs as educational tools and teaching aides in Fire Safety and Dog Bite Prevention programs...
"The Spotters visit schools, libraries, hospitals, Fire Stations, camps and special events"...they are an excellent example of a dedicated dog lover finding multiple ways to help children and adults through their therapy dogs. The fact that the latest scientific research shows 30% of Dalmatians are born deaf has not deterred Patricia Bell nor her dogs
Who were the Snow Valley Heroes?
Did they really save Christmas? The question has been asked by children and adults for many years. And there have been many who tried to answer these questions.
The confusion and uncertainty is because the Snow Valley Heroes came from the Planet Of The Dogs long, long ago.This is the true story of how the dogs saved Christmas, told for the first time in many years.
"Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, represents the age-old struggle between good and evil, and the fight to save the Spirit of Christmas–told in a format children can comprehend. My 10-year-old son was excited to see a new Planet of the Dogs book arrive in our mailbox..I give this Christmas treasure a rating of five stars." -- Charyl Miller Pingleton, The Uncommon Review
For sample chapters, please visit our website: Planet Of The Dogs
We have free reader copies of the Planet Of The Dogs series for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, librarians and teachers...simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you the books.
Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's and many more.
Planet Of The Dogs is now available in digital format at
Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Oyster, Inktera, Scribd, Tolino
Librians, teachers, bookstores...You can also order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.
To read sample chapters of the series, visit Planet Of The Dogs. -
The illustration, above, from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty.
The Skies Have Clouded Over
"Disquiet about fairytales has become rather more widespread...Dislike of shallow promises and easy solutions in times of war, eco-disaster and other horrors have grounded fairytales; the escapist stories have become lenses through which difficult truths are inspected. Children around the world continue to grow up with the magic of fairytales in books, and to relish the multiple ways they are adapted, updated and put on to stage and screen. But the “realisation of imagined wonder”, which JRR Tolkien saw as the aim of the genre, isn’t always bright and shiny any more; its skies have clouded over..."
From: How Fairy Tales Grew Up by Marina Warner in the Guardian
The picture is from the TV show Game Of Thrones
A Global Event HungerGames:Mockingjay2 is opening on November 18-20 worldwide after a premiere in Paris on November 9th. The first three Hunger Games films have grossed nearly two billion dollars. The films came from the Hunger Games book series by Suzanne Collins; over fifty million books have been sold.
This is another huge crossover phenomenon.
The Hunger Games films have also become an example of what Marina Warner refers to when she writes, "the escapist stories have become lenses through which difficult truths are inspected.
Mockingjay2 will see Katniss Everdeen on a quest to unite and liberate the citizens of war-torn Panem and destroy the evil President Snow. Hi-tech danger, mortality and moral choices are all part of the challenge.
Here is a link to the trailer for Mockingjay2
Pan Has Crashed
The disappointing reviews discouraged me from seeing Pan. Here is an except of the NY Times review by AO Scott (whom I respect), and a review/analysis from the entertainment world by Brent Lang in Variety.
"Peter Pan, who flew through the air in a costume, was in many ways a prototype of the modern superhero. He has certainly been a lucrative entertainment franchise for a very long time, with durable merchandising potential, from feathered hats to peanut butter. All of which may help to explain the otherwise baffling existence of “Pan,” a hectic and labored attempt to supply the boy who never grew up with an origin story.
The dominant emotion in 'Pan' is the desperation of the filmmakers, who frantically try to pander to a young audience they don’t seem to respect, understand or trust." AO ScottNYTIMES; "
“Pan” was supposed to provide a fresh spin on the oft-told tale of the boy who could fly, but the pricey epic remained earthbound last weekend, opening to an anemic $15.3 million.
That disastrous start guarantees it will rank alongside other costly misses like “Jupiter Ascending” and “Tomorrowland” as one of the year’s biggest box office disasters. With an $150 million price tag, Warner Bros. could lose tens of millions on a film it hoped would kick off a new fantasy franchise.
When the dust settles and studio executives comb through the wreckage for clues about what doomed the adventure film, it appears that it will suffer from two fatal and seemingly contradictory flaws. “Pan” was both overly formulaic and too wild a deviation from J.M. Barrie’s beloved children’s classic to succeed." Brent Lang, Variety
The Hollywood Movie Meeting - How Movies Get Made
The following transcript was taken from a meeting of executives of a major Hollywood film company. The meeting is already in progress...
Executive #1: Should we produce this film?
Executive #2: Well, here's a Synopsis: It opens when the mother dies and the bereaved father, a merchant, remarries. His lovely daughter now has a cruel stepmother with two ugly daughters and they all abuse the girl. Her only friends are birds and a magic tree. That's act one. Now in act two...
Executive #3: What happens to the father? He just stands around while they abuse the kid?
Executive #2: He has to travel for his work. He's away a lot.
Executive #2: Act two better be good after that start.
Executive #1: I wanna hear Act two. I heard Disney made a lot of money with this.
Executive #2: In Act two we meet a handsome Prince who is planning a big party.
Executive #3: Why are we even talking about this if Disney already made it?
Executive #1: Maybe, we can make some changes.
Executive#3: Changes? What kind of changes?
Executive #1: Maybe we can we change it to Christmas? We need a new flick for Christmas and at least this is based on a winner from the past. And we'll change the name...call it Cindy's Happy Holiday!
Executive #3: That's a helluva idea. What's next?
To Be Continued...
How to Change the World in 30 Seconds
A Web Warrior's Guide to Animal Advocacy Online by C A Wulff
Although you may want to help animals, you may not have any idea where to begin. Or maybe you think that you don’t have enough time to make a difference. This guide will offer practical steps to get started using dog advocacy as the focus and will explain how just thirty seconds a day on the Internet can not only make a difference, but can also change the world.
Here is a review..."Combining case histories with practical tips on how to use the Internet to advocate for dogs, Wulff's book is an inspiring, informative and highly useful volume that anyone who thinks dogs are worth fighting for should have on their shelf."
John Woestendiek, author of 'Dog, Inc.' and the website ohmidog!
Read sample chapters of How to Change the World in Thirty Seconds: Amazon
An Outstanding Program: Therapy Reading Dogs for At-Risk Students!
"Austin Dog Alliance Bow Wow Reading Dogs are non-judgmental certified therapy dogs who listen to at-risk students reading aloud. The dog's handler has been educated on how to help at-risk readers learn to read. Many of our Bow Wow Reading dog volunteers are retired teachers or principals.
Here are the requirements for BowWow therapy reading dog handlers:
- Must enjoy children; Love to read!; Have a willingness to get to know the children, understand their challenges and remember small things about them; Have compassion for and sensitivity to the hesitant and reticent child; Patience with over-active children; Possess patience with repetitive reading of the same book; Have the ability to discern age with reading abilities and related activities; Are flexible and have the ability to 'go with the flow'; Are a retired teacher or principal or have attended a seminar on how to help at-risk readers."
Read more about this wonderful therapy reading dog program at Bow Wow Reading Dogs:
Texas Textbooks: McGraw-Hill changes slaves to immigration workers in High School textbook
HOUSTON — "Coby Burren, 15, a freshman at a suburban high school south of here, was reading the textbook in his geography class last week when a map of the United States caught his attention. On Page 126, a caption in a section about immigration referred to Africans brought to American plantations between the 1500s and 1800s as 'workers' rather than slaves.
He reached for his cellphone and sent a photograph of the caption to his mother, Roni Dean-Burren, along with a text message: 'we was real hard workers, wasn’t we'..."
Read it all in the article by MANNY FERNANDEZ and CHRISTINE HAUSER NY Times Motherlode
Beasts of No Nation
The post that follows is about a book and a film outside the usual purview of this blog.
I have included it because of the subject matter, a young boy caught in the savage chaos of the real world today, and because it relates to the world of war, fear, and painful uncertainty of the past. Oral tales, that live on today as tales of wonder, originated in a hard world where ruthless power reigned and cruelty, superstition and hard times dominated daily life for most people.
And so, I have posted below about a book, Beasts of No Nation, by Uzodinma Iweala, and a movie made from the book, that tells the story of A Boy Soldier's Heart Of Darkness. This is the title of Simon Baker's book review of Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala. Here is an excerpt:
"In a young child's life, few games can equal hide-and-seek: the excitement of crouching in a secret place as the pleasure of remaining at large vies with the thrill of possible discovery. The problem comes when a game like this turns serious -- when, say, the people you're hiding from want not just to find you but to hack you to pieces."
Here is a link to read all of the NY Times Book Review by Simon Baker
The Movie Wants Us To Look At That Moment Square In The Face
"The movie holds on to a fair chunk of the book’s first-person narration, which is critical, because it establishes Agu as a character with his own thoughts and ethics rather than merely a shellshocked onlooker. There comes a moment when the boy has to cross the line
from theory to action — from training to murder — and 'Beasts of No Nation' wants us to look that moment square in the face. It is awful, it has happened and is happening still, and for once you aren’t able to turn the page or switch to another channel. And then the movie invites us to wonder what happens to the child who is now a murderer. 'It is the worst sin, but it is the right sin to be doing,' Agu tells himself, but that lie doesn’t last. Before long, he is begging the sun to stop shining on this world."
It took courage and great commitment by the brilliant young American director Cary Fukunaga to make this film. Netflix has released the film simultaneously in theaters and on the Internet. Over 3 million viewers in North America have seen Beasts of No Nation since its release on October 16.
Here is a link to Ty Burr's review in the Boston Globe.
Here is a link to the trailer for the movie: Beasts of No Nation
The Amazing Sesame Street
KJ Dell'Antonia, in a very informative NY Times Motherlode article, wrote about a very special new Sesame Street initiative -- Julia, an autistic little girl. Here are excerpts:
"Sesame Street got so many things right with its new character, Julia, an orange-haired girl with autism whose eyes never quite meet the reader’s. Introduced in a digital storybook available online and in print, Julia is described as an old friend of Elmo’s. When Elmo’s muppet friend Abby meets Julia, she is confused, and she has questions. Julia doesn’t talk to her right away, does that mean Julia doesn’t like her? Why does Julia get so upset over loud noises?
And then there are the things Abby doesn’t comment on — Julia knows every word to a lot of songs. She spins the wheels of toy cars over and over and over again, and flaps her arms when she is excited. She is a recognizably different (and recognizably autistic) without being overwhelmingly so… children with autism can find themselves in her, and children learning about the condition can start here.
Sesame Workshop based Julia on years of research, says Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop’s vice president of outreach and educational practices. “We wanted to demonstrate some of the characteristics of autism in a positive way,” she says. The choice of gender was also deliberate. “We wanted to break down some of the myths and misconceptions around autism. It’s not only impacting boys, but girls as well...”
Here is a link to read all of this insightful article on Motherlode
Here is a Sesame Street link to their many programs devoted to autistic and/or special needs children.
How to be a volunteer animal rescue transport driver...
"Over-filled animal control facilities or pounds euthanize an estimated 4 million dogs and cats each year...
Each weekend in America, an army of volunteer rescue transport drivers deliver dogs and cats to safety in an organized relay of vehicles. Hard-working volunteer transport coordinators plan the logistics, organize the four-legged passengers, and provide support by phone continuously during the entire one- or two-day operation. Drivers sign up for relay "legs" via e-mail. They meet the previous leg drivers at an appointed time, transfer the lucky dogs and cats to their vehicles, and drive to the next relay meeting spot where the process is repeated until the destination is reached..."
Here is a link to read the rest of this informative Sunbear Squad article: Rescue.
And here is a link to sample pages of Deb Eades book: Every Rescued Dog Has a Tale: Stories from the Dog Rescue Railroad.
"The more one gets to know of men, the more one values dogs."
Hope and Celebration - Light in the darkness, time out for happiness, wonder and magic.
Enter the world of tales told by people, of stories that live on. of tales of wonder, fairy tales.
Santa Claus, the man in the red suit stepping out of the chimney, comes to us from the talented Thomas Nast; his popular 19th century illustrations helped to popularize Santa Claus as we know him today.
Charles Dicken's, A Christmas Carol, and the power of story.
This book influenced the thinking of generations of readers, and transformed the spirit of the Christmas holiday. The transformation was guided by Dicken's passionate belief that the true Christmas spirit embodied caring and generosity -- especially for those less fortunate.
A Christmas Carol was written with the passion born of his painful childhood as an impoverished 12 year old boy from a broken family.With his father in debtor's prison, Dickens was forced to leave school and work ten-hour days for six shillings a week under harsh conditions (the factory was home to multitudes of rats) in England's new industrial economy.
Much has changed with the passing of time and the commercialism of the marketplace has brought an endless stream of marketing -- more games, toys and advertising -- to Christmas.
But the Spirit Of Christmas does live on.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” ...Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.
Scrooge Lives On...
Viking has recently published (October 2015) a well reviewed book by Charles Lovett, The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge. For more information, visit his website: Charles Lovett
The above illustrations are by John Leech from the original A Christmas Carol.
The Legend of Santa Claus
IN the USA, the legend of Santa Claus was greatly enhanced in the early nineteenth century by the poem, A Visit From St.Nicholas.
The popularity of this story-poem, first published in 1823, continued to grow with the passing years. It was originally written for his children by Clement Clarke Moore.
Later in the century, popular illustrations by Thomas Nast, including Moore's poem, A Visit From St Nicholas, firmly established Santa Claus as a jolly, rotund figure in a red suit with a white beard. Nast's images of Santa and his red suit became accepted and remain the norm today.
The illustration is by Thomas Nast.
The Fairy Tale Moves On Its Own Time
"It all adds up to this: the fairy tale narrates a wish-fulfillment which is not bound by its
own time and the apparel of its contents. In contrast to the folk tale, which is always tied to a particular locale, the fairy tale remains unbound. Not only does the fairy tale remain as fresh as longing and love, but the evil demons that abound in fairy tales are still at work here in the present, and the happiness of "once upon a time", which is even more abundant in the fairy tale, still affects our vision of the future..."
The above insights into the role of fairy tales are from an essay written in 1930 by the German scholar and philosopher, Ernst Bloch. I believe that the context in which they were written adds to their import. Germany in 1930 was in the grip of the Great Depression. Poverty and uncertainty had swept the land. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party were feeding on people's fear and rising in power. Bloch later escaped to the USA where he wrote his renowned three-part treatise, The Principle of Hope (1938-1947).
The illustration from the Secret Of The Kells is by Tomm Moore. The painting is by Gerard Dubois.
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Here is an excerpt from a fairy tale by the Grimm's that came to be a Christmas story. It tells of the elves who helped a hard working, but impoverished shoemaker and his wife ...they, in gratitude, surprised the elves at Christmas time.
"About midnight in they came, dancing and skipping, hopped round the room, and then went to sit down to their work as usual; but when they saw the clothes lying for them, they laughed and chuckled, and seemed mightily delighted.
Then they dressed themselves in the twinkling of an eye, and danced and capered and sprang about, as merry as could be; till at last they danced out at the door, and away over the green..."
Here is link to read it all: The Elves and the Shoemaker The illustration is by Lucy Crane.
The Saga Of Santa Claus
Who is Santa? Where did he come from? How did the toy workshops get started? Where did all the elves come from and why did they agree to move to the wintry north and make toys for Santa? And how about the flying reindeer...where did they come from? These are among the many heretofore unanswered questions about the orgins of Christmas and Santa Claus.
Now, at last, author Mark Couturier has written The Saga Of Santa Claus, a fascinating book telling the complete story of the ancient origins of Christmas and Santa Claus. For a comprehensive picture of this original book, check out the enthusiastic Amazon reviews.
"The year 2015 will see the 49th annual Kwanzaa, the African American holiday celebrated from December 26 to January 1. It is estimated that some 18 million African Americans take part in Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, nor is it meant to replace Christmas. It was created by Dr. Maulana "Ron" Karenga, a professor of Black Studies, in 1966. At that time of great social change for African Americans, Karenga sought to design a celebration that would honor the values of ancient African cultures and inspire African Americans who were working for progress.
Kwanzaa is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years."...Kwanzaa ends with gift giving and a celebratory feast.
This post is based on a comprehensive article by Holly Hartman.
Christmas Lights Moving Through the Hills...
A Holiday treat, and a wonder to behold, the moving lights are on hundreds of sheep, running in the darkness, guided by sheepdogs...this is a classic video...Here is the link: Moving Lights
Penn Vet Working Dog Center Philadelphia, PA is a recent recipient of a Planet Dog Foundation (PDF) grant. The goals of the Penn Vet working Dog Center are "national security, fields of detection work, canine health and performance, and to enhance that unique bond between humans and man’s best friend". The Planet Dog Foundation has awarded grants exceeding one million dollars to fund "the training, placement and support of dogs helping people in need."
"The Penn Vet Working Dog Center is part of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine, and serves as a national research and development center for detection dogs. They work to train elite detection dogs to assist in medical research, national security, and finding victims of disasters. PDF has awarded a $10,000 grant in support of Punches, a female Labrador Retriever named in honor of Jack Punches, a victim of the attacks of 9/11. Punches is training to detect explosives, explosives residue, and post-blast evidence. Trained explosives detection dogs can also detect firearms and ammunition hidden in vehicles and containers, on persons, or buried underground."
Learn more about Penn Vet Working Dog Center here.
The Ghost Dog of Christmas Past
Here is an an excerpt from the dog lovers book, Circling the Waggins, by CA Wulff. The dogs seen in the ebook cover are the current residents of the cabin in the woods wherein this saga of a life with rescued dogs takes place. The book is a journey into the heart and mind of a dedicated pet lover who shares her experiences, concerns, and deep emotions with the reader.The setting is a cabin-home in a national park forest. The characters are several adopted dogs, cats, and, for a while, domestic mice -- and two compassionate women.
"I feel like we are haunted by the ghost dog of Christmas past. The season brings a million reminders of our Troll, a dog who had loved Christmas more than any other time of year. He would get excited at the first signs of holiday decorations, and his eyes would shine with a child’s wonder. On Christmas morning, he would race to be the first dog under the tree, to tear at the packages full of biscuits and rawhides. Each of the dogs would tear at a package, but Troll unwrapped with such gusto and fervor, that they would all abandon their presents to stand back and watch him, and then make off with whatever treats he had revealed."
CA Wullf also created the cover for her book.
Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale
Review... Loved it… This delightful conclusion to the Planet of the Dogs series just caps off a wonderful tradition. The story is well suited to be read aloud to younger children and as chapter book for the older ones. All of your favorite dogs help rescue two of Santa's reindeer from the Evil King of the North. The story also imparts important lessons of cooperation and responsibility." Mary Jacobs, Editor/reviewer Bookhounds
We have free reader copies of all the books in the Planet Of The Dogs series for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, librarians and teachers...simply send us an email at email@example.com and we will send you the books.
Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's and many more. They are also available in digital format at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Oyster, Inktera, Scribd, Powells, Tolino,
Librians, teachers, bookstores...You can also order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.
To read sample chapters of the series, visit Planet Of The Dogs. -
The illustration, above, from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty.
"What a truly wonderful and unique Christmas story for the whole family..." Don Blankenship,
Teacher, Reviewer for Great Books For Kids.
Singing One Of The Old-Time Carols
..."'I think it must be the field-mice,' replied the Mole, with a touch of pride in his manner. 'They go round carol-singing regularly at this time of the year. They're quite an institution in these parts. And they never pass me over—they come to Mole End last of all; and I used to give them hot drinks, and supper too sometimes, when I could afford it. It will be like old times to hear them again.'
'Let's have a look at them!' cried the Rat, jumping up and running to the door.
It was a pretty sight, and a seasonable one, that met their eyes when they flung the door open. In the fore-court, lit by the dim rays of a horn lantern, some eight or ten little fieldmice stood in a semicircle, red worsted comforters round their throats, their fore-paws thrust deep into their pockets, their feet jigging for warmth. With bright beady eyes they glanced shyly at each other, sniggering a little, sniffing and applying coat-sleeves a good deal. As the door opened, one of the elder ones that carried the lantern was just saying, 'Now then, one, two, three!' and forthwith their shrill little voices uprose on the air, singing one of the old-time carols that their forefathers composed in fields that were fallow and held by frost, or when snow-bound in chimney corners, and handed down to be sung in the miry street to lamp-lit windows at Yule-time..."
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Illustration by Ernst Shepard
Interview With Santa
This interview was conducted as part of a program to determine the truth behind the incredible story of Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale....
Interviewer: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and clarifying things.
Santa: I’m happy that the story is finally coming out.
Interviewer: Is it a true story?
Interviewer: Why haven’t we known about it before?
Santa: I think it was lost in the mists of time…It took place hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
Interviewer: Is it true that there was to be no more Christmas?
Santa: I’m sorry to say that it’s true. Until the dogs arrived.
Interviewer: The dogs?
Santa: It was a surprise to all of us in Santa Claus village. None of us, and that includes all the elves, had even heard of dogs.
Interviewer: Is that because you were so far North and rather isolated?
Santa: Well, that and the fact that dogs has just started arriving on planet earth. Prior to that time, there had been no dogs on Earth.
Interviewer: Really! Where did they come from? And how did they find you?
Santa: They had started coming down to Earth from their own planet – the Planet of the Dogs. They came down to help people. Somehow, they heard we were in trouble, and one day, there they were, just like that...
To read all of the Interview with Santa, click this link: Interview with Santa
"One Christmas was so much like the other, in those years around the sea-town corner now, out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve, or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.
All the Christmases roll down towards the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged, fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen..."
Dylan Thomas, A Child's Christmas in Wales
Light In The Darkness
"The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) supports developing countries to ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, most vulnerable and those living in fragile and conflict-affected countries.
Established in 2002, the Global Partnership for Education is comprised of 60 developing countries, more than 20 donor governments, and international organizations, the private sector and foundations, teachers, and civil society/NGOs."
Since its inception, the Global Partnership has supported developing country partners to achieve remarkable and measurable results. For example, the number of out-of-school primary school children has been reduced from 56 million to 41 million in 2012. They have also achieved substantial improvements in gender parity and major increases in the number of girls completing primary school in countries where GPE has supplied support and resources.
Here is a link for more ot the remarkable RESULTS, from around the world (updates and photos), of the Global Partnership for Education.
Hope in Dystopia in Mockingjay: Part 2
This film is being seen by multitudes of people worldwide. Based on that fact alone, Mockingjay 2 is an important YA crossover film. It is a rather long, dark, viewing experience, executed with excellent acting and all the traditional elements of a very well done action movie. Mockingjay 2 also deals with issues of morality amidst the painful chaos of war.
Richard Lawson, in his thoughtful Vanity Fair review, considered the film's significance in these troubled times as well as the "entertainment" value of the film. Here are excerpts:
"Mockingjay: Part 2 shows us, in rich and bracing fashion, the Hunger Games movies have been saying something all along—about the tragedy of youth (or anyone) in war, about post-traumatic stress disorder, about the ways we cede our autonomy to notions of comfort, to spectacle, to the easy lies of othering. The film makes these points in a far more clear-headed, more resonant manner than its source material. It’s a rare film adaptation that improves upon the original text, highlighting its crucial themes while streamlining and shaping the action into something legible and gripping...
The Hunger Games films...show us how good blockbuster movies can be. And they beseech us, in their earnest way, to be better, conscientious stewards of our own fraught and fragile world. That’s a useful message for anyone these days, young adult or not."
Here is a link to the article: Richard Lawson
Here is a link to the trailer: Mockingjay 2
Star Wars: The Force Awakens -- in time for the Holidays
The Dark Side Returns Worldwide on December 18-19 in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D...just in time
for the Holidays. Disney executives expect a very happy holiday, anticipating box office records with this $200,000,000 million dollar film. Fans will find that Harrison Ford, Chewbacca, Jedi Knights and light sabers have all returned along with the Dark Side. In keeping with changing times, the good side also has an important female warrior woman, Rey. Played by newcomer Daisy Ridley, she is also a red hot pilot.
Here is a link to Trailer #1: The Force Awakens
Review: In ‘The Good Dinosaur,’ a Reptile Tends to His Human Pet
Manohla Dargis, the excellent NY Times reviewer, wrote a warm review for this latest Pixar production. Here is an excerpt...
"Blink and you may miss the sly joke that sets 'The Good Dinosaur' on its enchantingly eccentric way. It begins with a near apocalypse 65 million years ago and an asteroid racing toward Earth. And while that’s around the time, more or less, that science hypothesizes the dinosaurs bit the dust, the wizards at Pixar have forged another creation story. Instead of crashing, the space rock zips past the big blue marble... "
Here is a link to read all of MS Dargis' review: The Good Dinosaur
Hope and Celebration are here with music... 3 minutes and 40 seconds of joy from singing kids in many places...What A Wonderful World (Playing for Change)
All About Dog Love
Nancy Houser, on her Way Cool Dogs Blog, provides a wide variety of information on dog issues ranging from health care and nutrition to canine science and dog love. On a recent post, How To Love Your Dog, she wrote about many facets of dog love. Here's an excerpt...
"How to love your dog by being a dog is something every dog owner should know about, as long as they do not continuously wag their tail!
And, whether your dog is a mischievous young puppy and full of bounding love, or an older dog that has been abandoned with very little love— it won’t be too hard to play the part.
Loving your dog makes it easy to build positive and loving feelings for this furry friend, choosing what is best to develop a better life. Dogs who are loved not only feel safe, but secure and cherished. But, recognizing if you love your dog does not mean a thing if your dog does not love you back."..The article continues, including a point by point section entitled , "How to tell if your dog loves you back".
Nancy also includes information on fascinating MRI studies regarding a dog's love by neuroscientist Dr Gregory Berns. Dr Berns wrote a book titled "How Dogs Love Us". To learn more about Dr, Berns and his MRI dog studies, here is a link to his Ted Talk.
The photo is courtesy of the wonderful Paws Giving Independence therapy dog organization, Peoria,Illonois. Please click on the photo to enlarge and to see why it was chosen.
Children, War, and Hope
Thirty million children have been driven from their homes by war. In a touching and informed article on refugee children, Jake Silverstein -- in the New York Times Magazine -- writes of this devastating situation by telling the stories of three young girls. Each is from a different part of the world: the Ukraine, South Sudan, and Lebanon. Here are excerpts from this excellent article:
..."Young as these girls are, they have already been asked to bear a profound loss. You can see it in their faces. They appear to be only half children, the other half having been matured ahead of schedule by trauma and displacement. They know what they should not. And yet, there is still that other half. They are still kids. Unlike the adults in the frame, who must be constantly aware of their dangerous ordeal, the girls, from time to time, might forget. If the moment was right, they might play a game...
That children, even under the worst of circumstances, are able to remain children supplies the world around them with the sense of a future, which is the equivalent of hope..."
The photo of the five Syrian children was taken in the Domaz refugee camp in Iraq.The photo of the young girl and her brother was taken in a Syrian refugee camp by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty
Long Line at the Library? It’s Story Time Again
by Winnie Hu NY Times
"Story time is drawing capacity crowds at public libraries across New York and across the country
at a time when, more than ever, educators are emphasizing the importance of early literacy in preparing children for school and for developing critical thinking skills. The demand crosses economic lines, with parents at all income levels vying to get in.
Many libraries have refashioned the traditional readings to include enrichment activities such as counting numbers and naming colors, as well as music and dance. And many parents have made story time a fixture in their family routines alongside school pickups and playground outings — and, for those who employ nannies, a nonnegotiable requirement of the job...
Libraries around the country have expanded story time and other children’s programs in recent years, attracting a new generation of patrons in an age when online offerings sometimes make trips to the book stacks unnecessary. Sari Feldman, president of the American Library Association, said such early-literacy efforts are part of a larger transformation libraries are undergoing to become active learning centers for their communities by offering services like classes in English as a second language, computer skills and career counseling."
The illustration of the rabbits is by Beatrix Potter.The illustration of the Moomins is by Tove Jansson.
Anna Nirva is the guiding light at Sunbear Squad, a leading source for information and guidance in dog rescue and care. Here is an excerpt from their site about fostering dogs