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A relaxing morning, cooler temperatures, a good run, and a mystery to be solved. That’s what greeted me on Sunday. What started off as an excellent day devolved into a conspiracy against me! The evidence piled up early until I had no other option but to come to the conclusion that I am not trusted in my home when it comes to selecting fragrances.
No one would tell me this shocking news, of course. I had to figure it out on my own. Since my littlest’s sickness means my wife stays with her most of the time, I must do a good portion of the shopping. I am up to the task. I have now purchased things I didn’t know we used, needed, or even existed. One of those things is fragrance products. Did you know there is a whole store that just sells that? I knew about air fresheners, baking soda, and odor-eaters, but do we really need a store.
The aforementioned little one currently loves bubble bath – which apparently, they only sell at the smell store. So I volunteered the previous day to go and get her more. When I did so, I noticed a few sneers and strange looks around the room. Never did I think they would stoop so low as to plot an underhanded way to keep me from helping. But that’s just what they did.
I believe in honesty! If someone has an issue with me, tell me. I would much rather someone tell me that my pants are too tight and my shirt too puffy than let me walk around all day looking like a foolish pirate. I guess this is a value I have been lax in instilling in my children…
On our way home from church, we passed the smell store. When I suggested to the two daughters present that we stop in, I got fumbling excuses about homework and hunger. I should have known something was amiss right then. I mean, when do they ever want to do homework?
Arriving at home, pizza appeared from nowhere along with cold Dr. Pepper. I was ushered to the TV where the Falcons game was already cued up on the DVR. Hmmmm….
Lulled into a football coma, three hours passed as my team got pushed around by their opponent. Likewise, I got manhandled by five delicate females. Angry about the game, I grabbed my keys to go – only to find that the purchases had already been made.
I was going to get something exotic, tropical… something that would have let her float away to an island retreat… Whatever scent I picked would have soothed her beyond all her troubles. It would have uplifted her mood and spirits just to reflect on its glorious scent. My choices were as endless as a box a crayons:
Warm Vanilla Sugar
Peace, Love & Daisies
Why wouldn’t they let me? Why?
None would make eye contact with me as I probed for an answer, leaving me:
Finally the little one said, “Dad, you like the smell of your farts.”
And there it is! Honesty! That’s all I’m asking for. Wait… Huh?
Clucky, the mother hen, takes her three chicks to school every day. But, while learning to read and write, the chicks hear ugly things about themselves and others. As they bring these words home to repeat to Clucky, she reminds them to get that nonsense out of their heads.
After a while, Clucky uses a bit of her magic to create a bubbling brew full of the mean and nasty things others have said. Then she recycles it, turning it into love, support and gratitude instead.
Kids face harsh criticism and gossip every day at school, and it’s important for them to realize they don’t have to believe everything they hear or participate in those conversations. Clucky and the Magic Kettle shows kids that they can transform the ugly into the beautiful, making life more enjoyable for everyone.
I've had a lot of sleep to catch up on, after my adventures in Brazil, not just from the looooooooonnnng journey home (3 different planes, 2 cabs and a train to get back), but from all the late nights while I was there (one night we didn't stop dancing until 4.30am - yahoo!).
So, it was a bit of a struggle to get up at 6.15 on Monday morning, to get myself to a primary school. Although Woodhouse West is a Sheffield school, I needed to be there early, to set up for a pre-school book-signing session in the library. Before the children arrived, the Y1 teacher told me that they had been working from my website and had all done a portrait of me. Here are a couple of my favourites:
We were rather silly (I do enjoy reverting to being a child during these session with littlies). I did my Bear on the Stair poem and gave out badges to the best burpers and growlers in each group. Then we designed monsters. I had a new idea at the end. I got them to think about what kind of noise their monster might make. Then we formed a circle, facing in and holding up the monster drawings so everyone could see and, on the count of 3, made our noise - hilarious!
Reading opens the doors that take the child beyond all borders.
From castles and great forests,
To ocean storms, island kingdoms,
Talking animals and magic stones.
From fear and darkness,
To light and peace.
For a child who has found the stories,
There are no borders to the imagination
. The illustration, The Defense of the Sampo, from the Finnish Kallevala, is by Akseli Gallen-Kallela ................................
Reimagining Mythology, Tolkien's Heritage and Movies
Peter Jackson has become the primary reinventor of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth Sagas. He has brought his vision of Tolkien to millions of people, young and old. His medium is film, and on December 17, 2014, the latest of his epicHobbitmovies, The Battle of the Five Armies, will thunder its way to movie theaters around the globe.
Tolkien, in turn, was inspired by and borrowed from mythology including Beowulff, the Norse Fables,and the Finnish Kalevala.
In the National Geographic News, Brian Handwerk, in an article entitled Lord Of The Rings Inspired by an Ancient Epic, wrote: "While the author's imagination was vast, Tolkien's world and its cast of characters do have roots in real-world history and geography, from the world wars that dominated Tolkien's lifetime to the ancient language and legends of Finland."
Tolkien, in his letters, said: "The germ of my attempt to write legends of my own to fit my private languages was the tragic tale of the hapless Kullervo in the Finnish Kalevala."
"After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth', and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear."
Tolkien also wrote that he was, in many ways, a Hobbit.
"Fairy tales since the beginning of recorded time, and perhaps earlier, have been a means to conquer the terrors of mankind through metaphor.”-- Jake Zipes, professor emeritus, University of Minnesota, translator, author of many books, including The Irresisitable Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre. The illustration of Kullervo is by Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Adults Are Crossing the Borders of Imagination Into Teenland
In September, 2012,Bowker published the results of a survey that revealed that adults were buying YA (young adult) books in startling numbers. The article said that 55% of YA book purchases were by adults and 78% of those adults acknowledged that the books were for their own reading. The turning point was said to be the Hunger Games movie and the popular Hunger Games book trilogy.
Controversy has followed the article: should so many adults be reading books written for 12-17 year olds?
My interest is primarily in younger readers; however, it seems the age lines today are blurred for all. Movies seem to have precipitated the situation, and the children's market today also crosses into Teenland. How many kids today, who went to see films like E.T., Harry Potter, and the Lion King, are now going to the Hunger Games, Divergence and the Lord of the Rings Saga? I don't know the answer, but I do know their is a huge degree of difference in the violence quotient.
In defense of adults reading YA, there is respected YA Author (Cut, Purple Heart, Sold) Patricia McCormick:"Why are so many adults reading young adult books? No need to page Dr. Freud. This isn’t about the guilty pleasures of communing with one’s inner child...It’s because adults are discovering one of publishing’s best-kept secrets: that young adult authors are doing some of the most daring work out there. Authors who write for young adults are taking creative risks -- with narrative structure, voice and social commentary -- that you just don’t see as often in the more rarefied world of adult fiction."
Also defending YA books and encouaging adults to read them is popular YA author( Deviant, Orgins, Sleeping Beauty, Vampire Slayer) Maureen McGowan. She concluded her Kindle post with this thought: "I could list more reasons why I love YA but, bottom line, I’ve found most books in this category to be engaging, entertaining, thoughtful and well written."
On the other side of the controversy, journalist (Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe) Ruth Grahamcreated a firestorm when she wrote an article in Slate with this headline: "Read whatever you want. But you should be embarrassed when what you're reading was written for children."
Here are excerpts from Ms. Graham's article..."I know, I know: Live and let read. Far be it from me to disrupt the “everyone should just read/watch/listen to whatever they like” ethos of our era. There’s room for pleasure, escapism, juicy plots, and satisfying endings on the shelves of the serious reader... But if they are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something...
But even the myriad defenders of YA fiction admit that the enjoyment of reading this stuff has to do with escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia. As the writer Jen Doll, who used to have a column called 'YA for Grownups,' put it in an essay last year, 'At its heart, YA aims to be pleasurable.'"
Pioneers In An Untrodden Forest
Seth Lerer points out that the comment, "We are pioneers in an untrodden forest" made in 1884 to his staff by James A.H. Murray, as presiding editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, also describes how the Grimms felt about their work in publishing their "nursery and household tales".
Lerer goes on to quote Wilhelm Grimm, who, in referring to these tales, wrote, "that 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 forest plays a very prominent part in the 1812 edition of the Grimm's tales as it did in the lives and imagination of people. Two thirds of the 210 tales take place in the forest. It is also worth noting that the lives of all people in the land of the Grimm's was in was in constant turmoil and change during the time that the Grimm's collected, wrote, and published their books. The quote, above, is from Seth Lerer's book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter.
The top illustration is by Julius Diez for Sleeping Beauty; the other illustration is by Hermann Vogel for the Three Little Gnomes in the Forest. Both tales are from the brothers Grimm 1812 edition of fairy tales.
“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” - Antoine de Saint-Exuprey
The True Magic of the Imagination
This was the headline on BREEZES FROM WONDERLAND, Maria Tatar's Internet forum for storytelling, folklore , and children's literature.
Ms Tatar wrote about a New York Times report, Harry Potter Casts a Spell for Tolerance. Written by Annie Murphy Paul, the article reports on a study that describes the "Potter Effect", citing it as an example of how reading can positively influence young minds regarding bigotry and intolerence...
"...The study, which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, concludes by noting that the Harry Potter novels may be especially effective at increasing the tolerance of their readers precisely because they concern themselves with made-up categories like Muggles and Mudbloods. More overt attempts to change readers’ views about real-life groups, Mr. Vezzali and his co-authors note, could prompt defensive or resistant reactions. By identifying with the fictional character of Harry Potter, and by drawing connections, conscious or not, between his treatment of people different from him and their own attitudes toward stigmatized groups, readers of these novels work their own kind of wizardry: the magic of the literary imagination."
Ms Tatar comments:"Is anyone surprised that children’s books, which often feature outsiders, quirky kids, adventurous orphans, and nomadic heroes turn us into more empathetic people in real life?"...she continues her comment with a related personal anecdote from her own childhood.
A long-time therapy dog owner, advocate, coordinator, and volunteer Nancy George-Michalson, sent us news of the latest Angel On A Leashevent to benefit the Ronald McDonald house in New York where children from around the world with cancer -- and their families -- come to stay when receiving hospital care..."Here a child with cancer plays and grows, surrounded by other children and families sharing similar experiences, supported each day by volunteer therapy dog teams waiting to meet and greet them as they return from a grueling day at the hospital. "
Ronald McDonald House New York - Angel On A Leash
3rd Annual “Family Fun Dog Walk”...a day to support therapy dogs and the courageous children who love them.
This fun-filled event is a 2k walk open to the public, with proceeds from funds raised going to support children battling cancer, and the therapy dog teams that bring smiles to their faces on a daily basis. There will be raffle baskets and prizes for the best dressed big dog and the best dressed little dog. Participants must be registered walkers and in attendance to win. David Frei and Cat Greenleaf will serve as the judges.
Date: Saturday September 20, 2014, Rain or Shine. Time: 10 AM-12PM. Location: Carl Shurz Park, East End Avenue, 84th St promenade entrance
"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
"Sometimes,' said Pooh, 'the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
“The things that make me different are the things that make me.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Penguin U.K. will issue this month a fiftieth-anniversary edition of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” under its Modern Classics imprint. I find the cover design disturbing, inappropriate, and misleading.
In a very insightful New Yorkerarticle entitled, Meant For Kids, Margaret Talbotwrote about this cover, and the cross over book market. Here are excerpts:
"Why did the cover of a novel about five kids and a wonderful—if admittedly bizarre—candy-maker look like a scene from ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’? Commenters on Penguin’s Facebook page called it ‘creepy,’ ‘sexualized’ and ‘inappropriate garbage'... It seems likely that the Modern Classics cover of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is an example of a new trend: enticing older readers to buy books intended for children and young adults by publishing them with covers that look sophisticated. Read it on the subway, read it in a bar—no need to feel sheepish..."
How do you explain loyalty to children? Does loyalty have a place in the world outside? Is it a virtue? Does loyalty bring trouble and problems? Or is it rewarding?
Does loyalty have a beginning and an end? Where can a child find examples of loyalty that they can experience and understand? In stories? In daily life? In computer games?
Dogs offer a wonderful way for a child to understand loyalty. Dogs are the embodiment of loyalty and a story with dogs can illustrate loyalty...
Suppose it is long, long ago...A sister and brother, are on a journey that will take them home. They have stopped for the night and are sleeping at a campsite in the woods. They have been riding on horseback, accompanied by two soldiers who are believed to be loyal to their father, and by their two dogs.
Betrayal...But the men are not loyal. They are traitors and the children find that they have been kidnapped. The children's dogs appear to be dead.
Thus begins a hard journey for the children, through the mountains to the land of the Forest people. There the children are imprisoned in an old castle. Their father cannot rescue them, because he does not know where his children have been taken. The children are dismayed and frightened.
Loyal Dogs...Until one cold foggy night, with the forest and the castle enveloped in mist, the sound of howling dogs is heard by the imprisoned children. Their dogs, their loyal dogs, have found them. Hope returns. And thus unfolds the story of the Castle In The Mist .
The illustrations above , from the book Castle In The Mist, are by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself Any direction you choose."
Borders Of The Imagination
The Boxtrolls are coming...
Alan Snow, author, designer, and illustratorcreated a 501 page illustrated fantasy story book, Here Be Monsters.I haven't seen the book, except on the Internet, but it looks rather amazing. This month , on the 26th of September, Laika Studios, creators of the excellentCoraline movie, will bringBoxtrolls, their reimagined film version of Here Be Monsters, to movie theaters. The trailer (link below) is very enticing. The stop-motion annimation looks to be riding the borders of imagination.
Five Canine Heroes Receive Recognition and Rewards
I belatedly learned about these meaningful Awards. Here is an excerpt from the article by Cheslie Pickett in the Canine Chronicle that tells the story...:
"The AKC® Humane Fund announced today the winners of the 15th annual AKCHumane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE). These awards honor five inspirational dogs that have made significant contributions to their communities and truly exemplify the power of the human-canine bond. One award is presented in each of the following five categories: Exemplary Companion, Uniformed Service K-9, Search and Rescue, Service and Therapy dog. This year’s winners include a faithful companion that saved her owner from a bear, a heroic K-9 (Bruno) that took a bullet in the line of duty, an international search and rescue traveler, a blind therapy dog bringing comfort to abused children and ACE’s first mixed breed winner, a service dog to a U.S. veteran raising awareness of the profound impact service dogs can have on trauma survivors." I found the summaries of each award winner to be rather awesome; each is shown in a photo, including the blind recued therapy dog.
The photo is of Bruno ("who took a bullet in the line of duty") and officer R.J. Young
Books to Have and to Hold
Author, journalst and Yale Professor, Verlyn Klinkenborg, wrote about the difference in reading an ebook as opposed to a physical book Here are excepts...
"I finish reading a book on my iPad — one by Ed McBain, for instance — and I shelve it in the cloud. It vanishes from my “device” and from my consciousness too. It’s very odd.
When I read a physical book, I remember the text and the book — its shape, jacket, heft and typography. When I read an e-book, I remember the text alone. The bookness of the book simply disappears, or rather it never really existed. Amazon reminds me that I’ve already bought the e-book I’m about to order. In bookstores, I find myself discovering, as if for the first time, books I’ve already read on my iPad.
All of this makes me think differently about the books in my physical library. They used to be simply there, arranged on the shelves, a gathering of books I’d already read. But now, when I look up from my e-reading, I realize that the physical books are serving a new purpose — as constant reminders of what I’ve read. They say, “We’re still here,” or “Remember us?” These are the very things that e-books cannot say, hidden under layers of software, tucked away in the cloud, utterly absent when the iPad goes dark.
This may seem like a trivial difference, but that’s not how it feels"...
Planet Of The Dogs Is In China The publishers, Chongxianguan Books of Beijing, have created new illustrations and covers. The stories remain the same.
Complimentary copies of the English version of the award-winniong Planet Of The DogsSeries are available for therapy reading dogowners and organizations. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simple Ways to Test Dog Intelligence
Here's an excerpt from Nancy Houser's outstanding blog for dog owners (and dog lovers).
As well as being ‘man’s best friend’, dogs with excellent dog intelligence are capable of performing some pretty amazing feats. We’ve all heard stories about our canine companions alerting their masters to fires. Or, protecting their owner from an attacker or intruder. And then there are those who are visually impaired who rely on ‘seeing eye dogs’ in order to go about their daily lives. A dog’s intelligence is measured by its ability to think and problem solve...Here is a link to read it all: Dog Intelligence The illustration by Stella Mustanoja McCarty is from Snow Valley Heroes, Vol 3 in the Planet Of The Dogs Series
Sponsors of Banned Book Weekinclude the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Association of College Stores, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center and Project Censored.
Thoughts on the Borders of the Imagination
"We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.”
"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
“There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.”
Phillip Pullman, Author of His Dark Materials (trilogy), Fairy Tales from the BrothersGrimm and many more.
Empowerment Through Rescue
by CA Wulff
There’s a saying in rescue that saving one dog won’t change the world, but it will surely change the world for that one dog. Except that just isn’t true. The truth is that saving one dog most certainly changes the world. It changes everything.
First, it changes YOU, because once you save an animal it awakens an empowerment in you. You come to realize that you can affect change wherever you apply yourself. Secondly, it changes the world for that animal, who has been given a second chance at life…and there is nothing more joyous and grateful than an animal who has been saved. They become loving and faithful companions. They protect and comfort their families.
They teach the children in the family to love and respect animals. They bring hours of joy and laughter to their people keeping them healthier in body, mind and spirit.
And there is always the possibility that a dog you save will become a service dog, or a therapy dog or a search and rescue dog. There’s no way to measure the impact you can have by advocating for just one animal.
"I wonder if I've been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is, "Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle."
-Lewis Carrol, Alice In Wonderland
A Rescue Story from the Rescue People at Sunbear Squad
Meet "Muddy Puppy," named because he was found in a muddy ditch in the pouring rain. Hit by a car and with two painfully broken back legs, someone did care enough to try to protect him from the driving rain with an old jacket. But not enough to offer him relief from his painful suffering and overwhelming fear. Instead they just drove off leaving this 4-month-old puppy to slowly and painfully die all alone. All hope gone...Visit Sunbear Squad and read the upbeat ending to this story from Oklahoma Beagle Rescue
What should you do, what can you do, if you see an injured dog or one in distress? You can be prepared...Sunbear Squad offers guidelines, wallet cards, and information.
"A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before sitting down -- Robert Benchley
As your children head back to another school year, we parents might wonder how we can support teachers and which programs are worthy of attention and support. Here are 5 to think about:
1. GIRLS WHO CODE: Men outnumber women in the fields of science, technology, math and engineering. This organization hopes to change that by partnering with Google and other tech companies to launch coding clubs for female teens across the country. Contribute at: http://www.girlswhocode.com
2. School Supplies: For every YOOBI brand pencil set, notebook or other school item purchased at TARGET, or at http://www.yoobi.com another will be donated to a classroom in need.
4. Dine Out: For the entire month of September, eat at one of thousands of restaurants nationwide to get meal discounts and help raise money to wend childhood hunger. Visit: http://www.nokidhungry.org for participating restaurants.
5. Used Books: If you donate or buy used books and textbooks at http://www.betterworldbooks.com a portion of the funds raised will go to literacy programs around the globe.
Make the school year count for those less fortunate and have a great year!
Stewart is on the run from a gang of bullies when he discovers an open manhole. Scrambling inside, he’s safe, for the moment. But when he finally escapes out the other side, he finds himself in a whole new world – a world of children hiding in a walled city to keep themselves safe from the Venators.
One child – the Princeps – holds the key to the city in a book called the Comlat. Inside, she claims, is a prophecy about the city’s Forebears who were defeated after three battles with the Venators. But Stewart doesn’t believe in prophecies, and he thinks the Forebears went home after defeating the Venators. A daring attempt to discover the truth leads to his expulsion from the city, and an unexpected chance to prove his theory correct.
What Stewart discovers is the key to understanding and defeating the powers these bullies have over the children. Once he knows what they need to do, the Venators have no power over the city, and everyone is finally free.
Title: Understanding Bullying and Ways to Make It Stop!
Author: Ari Magnusson
Publisher: Olivander Press
Genre: Teacher guide
This accompanying discussion guide is meant to be used with Bitopia in schools. They are designed to empower children to understand what bullies are doing to them, and how to handle bullying situations by themselves, without relying on adult interference. While the guide suggests kids may want to ask an adult for help, it discourages adults from stepping in without being asked.
Bullying occurs at all ages, not just in childhood, and teaching kids to rely solely on adult intervention makes them powerless to deal with bullying later in life. By providing them with the tools to deal with the problem on their own, they will be able to handle it any time it happens, without waiting to be rescued.
I highly recommend Bitopia and Understanding Bullying and Ways to Make It Stop! for classroom use.
Buster is a service dog who helps guide the author, who is nearly blind. In Adventures with Buster, kids learn about how service dogs are trained and how they help the people they serve.
We meet Buster in Florida, where Pickett and he spend several weeks getting used to each other. Then it’s time for him to come home to North Carolina and an unexpected snowfall. And soon after, they take a trip to Arizona together. Travel by plane doesn’t upset Buster one bit, and he takes good care of Pickett. But along the way, she is surprised by some of Buster’s adventures.
In Adventures with Buster kids will be treated to a glimpse of life with a service dog and join in the fun of his adventures. This is a nice read for all ages.
Charley Harper is known for seeing nature in a different way, drawing animals with geometric shapes and lines to create fanciful images. In ABC’s, kids will see these unique and unusual pictures representing each of the letters of the alphabet.
Author & Illustrator: Patrick Hruby
Publisher: AMMO Books
The circus is colorful, and so are these ABC’s. Geometric shapes in vibrant hues contrast with black and white, representing many of the things kids would see at the circus, as they spell out the alphabet.
I was just thinking that it’s not the perfect flower I look for in my photography, it’s the perfect feeling, same with my friends, they all have little flaws just like me but when I close my eyes and think of them I only know the sweet essence of their perfection and see how wonderful life is to let me see them … Love you all !
Baking is so enjoyable, especially when putting silly faces and sprinkles on cupcakes and cookies. Created to be a hands-on experience, these recipes allow kids to have fun in the kitchen. Parental guidance and assistance is essential, since recipes may contain many ingredients or have hard preparation steps.
Yummy recipes for juices consisting of: all fruits; fruits & vegetables; and fruits, veggies and dairy/non-dairy milk or yogurt to make smoothies. This book is designed to get kids to eat more fruits and veggies in a way that tastes great and is easy to consume.
Snapshots of the drinks and snacks, as well as the kids enjoying them, accompany the recipes in these vibrant and colorful books.
That night, up on the roof, one old calico cat spotted three furry heads poking out of the chimney, and three wet noses sniffing the sweet midnight air. As they creep through the neighborhood, intent on mischief and fun, only the calico cat sees their antics.
That Night shares the adventures of three nocturnal animals as they play hide and seek, romp in the playground, and chase grasshoppers. Adorable watercolor illustrations show them in partial silhouette, adding to the enjoyment of the story, as children can try to guess what they are. They are are finally revealed to be raccoons at the end.
Any child who has wondered what goes on at night will smile at the antics of these cute critters. And maybe they will even dream of a nighttime adventure of their own. That Night would be a wonderful addition to any child’s book collection.
I recently attended my niece Gabby’s 11th birthday party where one of the desserts were some gorgeous sugar cookies she made. Though dazzling to the eye, the recipe is simple to make and should be a definite crowd pleaser at your next picnic, barbeque or party.
GABBY’S RAINBOW SUGAR COOKIES: The cookie’s are simple. Just use your favorite sugar cookie recipe – we even used a box mix. Then:
• Divide the dough into 4 even portions and place in four separate bowls. • Choose 4 food coloring colors • Dye the dough to your desired color by adding the food color a few drops at a time to each portion. • Mix the food coloring into the dough (use a spoon to mix unless you wish for stained hands) and add more if you wish for a more vibrant color (remember you can always add more but you can’t take it away so be careful.) • Then take teaspoon-sized portions of the colored dough from each of the four bowls. •Set the four balls tightly next to each other in a 2X2 square configuration. • Then, begin to roll the four balls together pulling gently outward to make a long hotdog shape. • Coil the hot dog shaped dough around itself and bake as directed in the recipe. • Enjoy your creation! It makes great ice cream sandwiches with a scoop of your favorite flavor ice cream sandwiched between two cookies.
Howard B. Wigglebottom and his friends are competing in the Pup Scouts Good Manners Competition in five days. Their skills need a lot of improvement, so Howard hires Ms. Owlee as the team’s coach. She reminds them that they need to think, “I care,” and good manners will come naturally. After practicing their new skills, the team does well in the competition. But more importantly, they have learned how to be polite to others.
Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matters is suitable for classroom use, with discussion topics presented at the conclusion. Although this is more of a lesson than an actual story, kids will giggle over the animals’ bad manners in the beginning, and learn from their new and better behavior.
A child loves living on Herkimer Street and thinks it’s the greatest place in the world. So when his family is taking a trip to Hawaii, he wants to bring the whole street with him. Everyone cooperates to make the trip happen, facing obstacles with ingenuity and determination. Soon they’re all having a wonderful time in Hawaii.
The Hawaiian Hiatus of Herkimer Street is a simple tale for young children, highlighting the importance of community and cooperation. Working as a team, the residents of Herkimer Street are able to realize their dreams of a fun Hawaiian vacation together.
God created everything and made it all good. In Animals All Around, kids get four books in one: forest creatures; feathered friends; cats, dogs, hamsters, and horses; and barnyard critters. Each animal is presented in photos along with several interesting facts. Kids are reminded throughout the book that God made all these unique animals.
This simple book presents basic facts about the featured animals but does not go into any depth. Kids will find it a good introduction at reading level 2, but I would have liked to see some more unusual facts about these animals.
"The authors of books for children enchant us with clarion calls that transport us to desinations in the mind, turning us into adventurous hunters, even when we are sitting still, not moving an inch." --Maria Tatar, Enchanted Hunters,The Power of Stories In Cildhood
My Neighbor Totoro (illustration above) is from the enchanted world of the great Japanese story teller and film director, Hayao Miyazaki.
"When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast" -the Queen in Alice In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Newly Discovered Fairy Tales are Coming
Lost, but now found, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's trove of fairy tales have been translated by Maria Tatar, and will be available as the Turnip Princessat the end of February, 2015.
"With this volume, the holy trinity of tellers of fairy tales—the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen—becomes a quartet. In the 1850s, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth traversed the depths of the Black Forest and scaled the heights of the Bavarian Alps to record fairy tales, gaining the admiration of even the Brothers Grimm. Most of Schönwerth’s work was lost—until a few years ago, when a researcher unearthed thirty boxes of manuscripts in a municipal archive in Germany.
Now, for the first time, Schönwerth’s lost fairy tales are available in English. Violent, dark, and full of action, and upending the relationship between damsels in distress and their dragon-slaying heroes, they bring us closer than ever to the unadorned oral tradition in which fairy tales are rooted, revolutionizing our understanding of a hallowed genre."
In 1885, Jacob Grimm said this about von Schönwerth: "Nowhere in the whole of Germany is anyone collecting [folklore] so accurately, thoroughly, and with such a sensitive ear." The collection includes versions of Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rumplestiltskin and tales completely new to us.
The translator, Maria Tatar teaches folklore, children's literature, and German cultural studies at Harvard University. She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology. Among her books are two that I can recommend witout reservation: Enchanted Hunters, the Power of Stories in Childhood and TheAnnotated Classic Fairy Tales. Her blog is Breezes from Wonderland. Ms Tatar lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The illustration for Briar Rose (Cinderella) is by Arthur Rackham.
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”...Albert Einstein
The Doors of Enchantment
The Brothers Grimm, J.K. Rowling, and Linda Woolverton all have something in common...they have reached the hearts and minds of millions of children (and adults) around the world.
Woolverton is a master of reinterpreting stories, staying true to the essence of the original, and transforming them into remarkable movies. She also guides her scripts -- maintaining their integrity and originality -- through the multiple processes and inputs that are part of theatrical movie making. Few writers, female or male, have had the ability to do this successfully. And Linda Woolverton's films are both creative and as well as box office successes.
In a candid interview with Aaron Couch in the Hollywood Reporter regarding the writing ofMaleficent, Ms Woolverton said that even after rewriting the script a 100 times, she still choked up when she came to the kiss scene where Maleficent awakens the sleeping Aurora. I don't know if this was a true manifestation of passionate involvement in the script, however, when Couch asks her other questions in this and in her Indiewire interview (below), she is disarmingly candid and straightforward.
What were some of your big challenges when you were approaching this?
The biggest challenge was how to make a villain into a protagonist. How on earth was I going to justify that this woman would curse a baby? (Laughs.)
Where did that motivation start?
We based this on the Disney movie, not the fairy tale. I was looking at that scene, and I had done some research, and the biggest surprise is that she's a fairy, not a witch. I've always wanted to do a dark fairy story. Then I watched that scene where she curses the baby, and I'm thinking "well if she's a fairy, where are her wings?" Suddenly it was "boom. Lightbulb. Oh! It's the wings!" Then I worked backward from there to create the Stefan relationship. (for those who haven't seen the film, Stefan's horrendous behavior unleashes the dark side in Maleficent).
Adapting Fairy Tales for a New Generation
I found fascinating insights into Ms Woolverton and her work in an excellent interview by Susan Wloszczyna inIndiewire . Here are brief excerpts:
SW: "Did turning a villain into the central figure in Maleficent present a greater challenge? There is a reason that she is often ranked high among the popular villains in Disney lore. Even Angelina Jolie, who never warmed to the princess characters, has said the evil fairy was her favorite with her wicked sense of fun and serene elegance.
LW: It was very difficult to turn a villain into a hero and yet keep her a villain...I had to figure out what possibly could have happened to her to make her want to hurt an innocent baby. Something that would equal that act. In the animated movie, she had no wings. She just threw her robes open like wings. I thought, 'Is that it? Did someone take her wings?' They stole her soul and her heart had to turn cold. I knew that was the right answer. We depicted it in a way that is horrible, yet you can tolerate it and still feel it. Angelina does a great job in portraying her anguish.
SW: Yet some critics are simply interpreting her need to avenge as simply the act of a woman scorned.
LW: That is part of it. She did love him.
SW: This is a PG film. Was there concern that this scene and a few others might be a bit much for young children?
We really didn't think that so much. It is wings, nothing that any of us have. We didn't cut off her legs. We killed Mufasa in The Lion King. We killed Bambi's mother. The world is an intense place. Storytelling helps children to be strong. Hansel and Gretel is about eating children. Fairy tales have never shied away from that..."
Among Linda Woolverton's achievements: Beauty and the Beast(1991) including the Tony Award winning stage musical version; co-writer of the Lion King (1994), for film and stage; Alice InWonderland (2010), directed by Tim Burton; and, Maleficent(2014). Maleficenthas currently grossed over $739,000,000. Here is a lnk to the trailer that focuses on Maleficent's wings: Maleificent
Ms Woolverton's next Disney film is her version of Lewis Carrol'sThrough the Looking Glass.
August 26 is the 10th annual National Dog Day. Founded in 2004 by pet lifestyle expert and author Colleen Paige. National Dog Day was created to celebrate dogs of all types, from the mutts to the purebreds, the companion animals to working dogs. It is hoped that the day will encourage dog ownership of all breeds and embrace the opportunity for all dogs to live a happy, safe and ”abuse-free life.”
National Dog Day is against BSL (Breed Specific Legislation). Dogs should not have to lose their lives because of the atrocities they have been forced to endure at the hands of man. It’s a reminder to adopt from rescues or shelters where millions of dogs are euthanized each year because they are unwanted. And if you must buy, instead of buying from pet stores, backyard breeders, the internet, newspaper ads and puppy mills, buy only from a verified reputable breeder.
People who are not dog owners are encouraged to donate $5 to their local shelter on National Dog Day.
In celebrationof this wonderful recognition of dogs and what they mean to us in our lives,
Among the array of many fascinating Dog related articles on Way Cool Dogs, Nancy Houser has posted regarding developments in the latest studies of the effects of dogs on children with cancer. Over 13,000 children in the USA are diagnosed with cancer annually. Here is an excerpt:..
..."The latest Vanderbilt University clinical trial on dog therapy-childhood cancer is accompanied by a grant from Thompson, to determine whether therapy dogs actually help young cancer patients. Saliva from the dogs are tested in addition to testing of the children, in order to track the dog-patient relationship.
According to Medical MedScape, 'It really promises to be a landmark study,' said John Payne, chair of the board at the American Humane Association, which is running the trial, with funding from the Pfizer Foundation and Zoetis..."
I believe the work done by LitWorld in bringing the gift of reading to disadvantaged children around the world is wonderful. I highly recommend a visit to their website. Meanwhile, here is an excerpt from a message by LitWorld founder, Pam Allyn: "
"...We started LitWorld with a small LitClub in Kibera (A Nairobi slum), and since then, LitWorld has grown to countries, cities, and towns around the world. The LitClub – a safe, nourishing space for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing – is our model for what the world should look like: a promise to all children that their voices can and should tell the future..."
Imagine being a woman unable to communicate with your service dog to the point where you have lost the independence that you had once gained with your dog.
ONI - A New Development
The Planet Dog Foundation (PDF) has made a grant to Educated Canines Assisting with DisabilitiesECAD, a multi-faceted service and therapy dog organization, to pursue the development of an imaginative solution to the problem caused by speech problems and service dogs. This innovative pilot project is called Operation New Initiative (ONI) and will use iPads and Tablets to communicate with the service dogs.
ECAD has a perfect candidate, Lois, for their beta effort. Lois is "a 60 year old woman who, because of the effects of Muscular Dystrophy, has such weakened vocal chords that she can no longer verbally communicate with her service dog. The goal is to train and place the first successful dog through ONI with Lois, to enable her to go back to the independence she once knew."
PDF statement: "Operation New Initiative will explore the use of modern technology (i.e., iPads or Tablets) to enable adults and children who have impaired verbal abilities, or who are non-verbal due to Autism, to communicate commands to service dogs via images that are sound activated on the iPad. The Plant Dog Foundation grant will fund the acquisition of the iPads and the software necessary, and the training of instructors to train the dogs to respond to commands generated on the tablet.
Planet Dog Foundation(PDF)
"PDF Has contributed over $1,000,000 to support: Therapy dogs. Service dogs. Search & rescue dogs. Bomb sniffing dogs. Police dogs. In fact, The Planet Dog Foundation celebrates all "working" dogs that are enhancing and saving human lives. They do this by supporting innovative, respected and effective non-profit organizations that work tirelessly to raise, train and place the dogs."
The funds come fromPlanet Dog, which sells high quality products (all guaranteed) to dog owners.
Many PDF benefeciaries have been featured in this blog. We salute PDF, ECAD and all the service and therapy dog organization who continue to make life better on this planet.
Alice will dance in New York
In Christopher Wheeldon's wonderful version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The Joyce Theater Foundation and the National Ballet of Canada have announced that they will present the New York premiere of Wheeldon's Alice's Adventure in Wonderland . Set to an original score by Joby Talbot and with costume and set designs by Bob Crowley, the production of the Lewis Carroll classic is scheduled to run from Sept. 9 to 14 at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center. Mr. Wheeldon’s interpretation of “Alice” had its premiere at the Royal Opera House in London in 2011. A film was made of the original production.
Here is a link to one minute and thirteen seconds of this lauded reimagining of Alice
Therapy Reading Dogs...Children on the Road to Reading...Our Beginnings
Our invovement with therapy reading dogs has expanded to all kinds of therapy and service dog prograns and activites. It began simply, in 2008, when I learned about and became involved with teacher Julie Hauk andPages for Preston
"I am a third grade teacher in Sheboygan, WI, and I have developed a Therapy Dog Reading program for second and third graders at Longfellow Elementary School. The program's name is Pages for Preston, after my own therapy dog. We have read Planet of the Dogs during our reading time with the dogs and my students are absolutely enthralled with the book! I was in awe at their eagerness to learn about the characters and events in the story. Watching the students read about Miss Merrie and Lucy while reading to therapy dogs was a full circle moment for me."
This was the beginning of my awareness. Thanks to Julie Hauk, since starting with Pages for Preston six years ago, we have been supporting therapy reading dog owners and organizations with complimentary books, and by sharing their stories on this Barking Planet blog.
Hansel and Gretel are running through the woods...
Children can read the story of Hansel and Gretel and, if they visit England's Lake Country, they can see them running through the woods in Lancaster's Williamson Park.
Clare Brennan in a Guardian article wrote"Hilltop, woodland and lake are the perfect setting for ZosiaWard's vivid retelling of multiple fairytales...Hansel and Gretel may get top billing at the Dukes' annual outdoor production, but they are not alone. Threaded through the main story are shreds from seven fairytales, three classic children's films and one nonsense poem. Part of the fun of this show is spotting these, as you follow the abandoned twins up hill, down dale and through mysterious, wooded glades...The setting is magnificent: a hilltop memorial, swards of grass, copses and a lake. During the interval, people sit and watch the sun slip into Morcambe Bay; it is a drama in itself..."
Mary Laura Philpott wrote a warm family story in the New York Times:
And Then The Dog Died: Things You Can't Plan For When Planning a Move.
Here's an excerpt:
When planning my family’s move to Nashville from Atlanta, one of the things I put a lot of thought into was creating a sense of consistency in order to manage how much change and disorder our children would experience this summer. I read somewhere that children need to know they can rely on some things to stay the same, even when a big transition comes along.
I know, I know. Makes about as much sense as a “birth plan,” doesn’t it?...Read it all:Philpott
The New York Public Library for the Performing Artswill host a Sesame Street themed exhibition called "Somebody Come and Play."
This multimedia exhibit was organized to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the show and celebrate its 45 years of great success. It will run from September 18, 2014 through January 31, 2015. Visitors will not be charged an admissions fee.
Our experience at Barking Planet has been that NYPL creates wonderful exhibitions.
Also from NYPL, an invitation from librarian Elizabeth Bird..."NYPL's Children's Literary Salon is pleased to announce our next event on Saturday, September 6th at 2:00 p.m.
Personal Passions and Changes in Nonfiction for Children and Teens
Author, professor, speaker, editor and publisher by turns, Marc Aronson's love of nonfiction and his conviction that young people can read carefully, examine evidence, and engage with new and challenging ideas informs everything he does. Join us for a conversation about the changing role of nonfiction for youth, and the special challenges and advantages of this one-of-a-kind genre.
This event will be held in the Schwarzman Building at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue in the Berger Forum on the second floor. No reservations are necessary."
We publish four books by C.A. Wulff. But...who is she, beyond living in a house in the woods with rescued dogs and a varying group of other saved critters during 25 years plus of multifaceted active pet rescue...
She is an accomplished writer, artist and animal advocate. She has written three books about her true-life adventures living with an ever-changing house full of pets: Born Without a Tail, and Circling the Waggins, and Parade Of Misfits. She has also writtenHow to Change the World in 30 Seconds, A Guide to Animal Advocacy Using the Internet as a Tool; and Finding Fido, a handbook for dog owners who have lost their dogs or other pets.
Wulff also writes an Animal Book Review column for the Examiner, and the Cleveland Pets Examiner; She is a contributing editor to the animal advocate organization AnimalsVote. Her dog news and advocacy blog is Up on the Woof. The dogs that here are from her yelodoggie art work: yelodoggie . She is also an Associate Publisher of Barking Planet Productions. She attributes her love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs. I have no idea what she does in her spare time.
1,000 DOGS PLUNGING INTO PIRATES COVE AQUATIC PARK
Date and Time: September 6, from 9am to 3pm.
Pirates Cove 1225 West Belleview Avenue Littleton, CO 80120 USA
If you are in Littleton, or anywhere nearby, take the
Doggie Plunge at Pirates Cove Aquatic Center. Take the plunge with hundreds of four legged swimmers living it up, splashing and smiling in the last of the summer sun!
Throughout the day join hundreds of families enjoying food trucks, doggie activities and so much more!
This is a benefit for nonprofit Freedom Service Dogs of America, tickets $15...
"Freedom Service Dogs... enhance the lives of people with disabilities by rescuing dogs and custom training them for individual client needs. Clients includechildren, veterans and active duty soldiers, and other adults. Their disabilities include Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord Injuries, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)." Visit their website: www.freedomservicedogs.org
A dog is lying by the side of the road...What do I do? What are my options? I want to be helpful, but this is all new to me... For answers, examples, true stories and more, visit Sunbear Squad...Let the experience of compassionate dog lovers guide you. Here's the Link: SunbearSquad -
"To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring, it was peace." - Milan Kundera
Calvin the starling is having trouble reading, and when he trips over a chair in the library, he asks Mrs. Readalot what’s going on. She suggests he might need glasses. A quick visit to the eye doctor confirms her diagnosis, and Calvin has a new pair of spectacles.
Calvin is surprised that the other starlings make fun of him for wearing them. He brushes off their comments and heads into the woods, now able to see all the interesting things he’s been missing. After finding himself in unexpected trouble, Calvin comes up with a brilliant solution that has all his friends and family wishing they had a pair of glasses just like his!
Calvin, Look Out! features Calvin the bookworm birdie who first appeared in Calvin Can’t Fly. This adorable starling will have kids wishing they all had such nifty spectacles – or at least a pair of cool sunglasses.
Someone asked me at a recent book talk why I chose to write about hope and children in poverty. They asked whether it was frivolous to write about such a topic at a time when children are experiencing the challenges associated with poverty and economic disadvantage at high rates. As I thought about that question, I began to reflect on the stories of people I know and families I’ve worked with who, despite the challenges they experienced, were managing their lives successfully. I also reflected on popular figures who shared stories in the media about the ways in which they overcame early adversity in their lives.
As I reflected on these stories, it occurred to me that a common theme among these individuals was hope. I began to see the various ways in which hope is a highly influential and motivating force in their lives. This kind of hope is not passive—it is not merely wishing for a better life, but it is active. It involves thinking, planning, and acting on those thoughts and plans to achieve desired outcomes. It is the driving force that keeps us moving despite the adversity and allows us to adapt and to be resilient in the midst of these circumstances. In reflecting on these themes, I decided that I wanted to tell these stories and to link the stories with theoretical frameworks that help illuminate why I believe hope is so important. Most of the theories and ideas I discuss are well known to those of us who study children and families. However, it occurred to me that practitioners and policymakers may not be so familiar with these ideas and may find them useful in planning their work with children and families. My goal is to foster understandings of hope and resilience in practical terms so that together researchers, practitioners, and policymakers alike can help more children and families manage their circumstances and chart pathways toward well-being.
So when I think about a response to the question “Why focus on hope?” — I respond “Why not?” Why not focus on strengths rather than deficits? Why not focus our interventions, legislative activities, and funding priorities on processes that will motivate individuals to strive for the best outcomes for themselves and their children? In so doing, we can formulate an action agenda on behalf of children and families that first assumes they can and will succeed in rising above their circumstances.
As I learned from the families I interviewed, success means different things to different families. For some, success is being able to keep their family together—have dinner together, talk with each other, and support each other. For other families, success means being able to be a good parent– to go to bed at night realizing that you’ve provided for your child emotionally, spiritually as well as materially, and that by doing so, your child might have an even better opportunity than you did to achieve success. These individuals are truly courageous. They have overcome many obstacles and are striving to continue along that path. There are countless other courageous individuals who may never have the opportunity to tell their stories or to have their experiences validated with concepts and theories I discuss from the psychological literature. I hope this volume will represent their lives too. I challenge those of us who work with children and families and who advocate for or legislate on their behalf, to have the courage to “ hope” and to allow that hope to be a motivating and unrelenting force in our efforts to foster resilience and well-being in these families.
Dr. Valerie Maholmeshas devoted her career to studying factors that affect child developmental outcomes. Low-income minority children have been a particular focus of her research, practical, and civic work. She has been a faculty member at the Yale Child Study Center in the Yale School of Medicine where she held the Irving B. Harris Assistant Professorship of Child Psychiatry, an endowed professorial chair. She is the author of Fostering Resilience and Well-Being in Children and Families in Poverty.
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3rd Annual Flor y Canto para Nuestros Niños y Niñas
This year Flor y Canto Poetry Festival is very special and important. It is dedicated to the children coming from Central America and Mexico who are being detained in shelters at the borders - some of them are facing deportation back to their violence and poverty ridden countries.
The event is a welcome celebration of love and hope, to also demonstrate that these children are not alone, that people care and are working towards making things better for them.
The festival is scheduled to start at 2pm at Accíon Latina 2958- 24th St. (between Harrison & Alabama) San Francisco, California.
We kindly ask you to please come and support the festival by coming to the children's activities. Also a reminder, we will be collecting children's books in Spanish, Arts & Craft Kits, puzzles, coloring books, crayons and stuffed animals for the little ones.
We are thankful to Accíon Latina and El Tecolote Newspaper who for the 3rd year are partnering with us to produce this festival. Please note that Saturday August 23rd is also the 44th Anniversary of El Tecolote Newspaper and we will be celebrating in the evening at Cesars Latin Palace with music by John Santos, Roger Glenn, Tito Gonzalez and Anthony Blea.
Admission is $20, and all proceeds go to benefit El Tecolote, and community journalism. Mention that you participated in Flor y Canto and get $5 off the cover. Please join us!
'Unaccompanied Latin American Minor Project'
5 days left to support the 'Unaccompanied Latin American Minor Project' Fund! La Casa Azul Bookstore staff will deliver books to local shelters/court offices and provide them directly to children and teenagers who are currently in deportation proceedings. Please share with your networks, gracias!
One of my favorite summer activities is being out on the water in a boat, enjoying the afternoon sunshine as the boat – any boat – glides through the water. Even if you can’t take a ride in a people-sized boat, you and your kids can make an amazing flotilla of boats using all kinds of recycled materials. And, best of all, they all float! So save your egg cartons, margarine tubs, seashells, and sponges and get ready to have a boat race in your pool or even in the bathtub. Don’t forget to take a video of the event and who knows, it may become an annual tradition.
Arlo’s grandmother wants him to join her for a visit to the art museum, and he is not a bit happy about it. But he’s in for a fun treat when he actually gets there. Far from being the stuffy pictures he expected, this artwork holds a secret behind its serious facade.
As Arlo wanders through the museum, he sees the art as it’s supposed to look, but a flap can then be lifted to reveal the surprise inside. As grandmother comments on the seriousness of the art, Arlo smiles and laughs at what hides behind.
Art doesn’t have to be boring, as Arlo finds out in Arlo’s ARTrageous Adventure! And kids will laugh along with him as they enjoy the fun.
What is strength? I don’t mean muscular strength, I am wondering about the use of the word to describe a mental and emotional strength. Strength of the heart.
The dictionary defines strength as moral power, firmness, or courage.
I’ve recently seen several quotes about strength. This one stands out:
You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option.
We quote scripture to help us with our strength. Beautiful verses come to mind such as:
But those who hopein theLord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
But he said to me,“My graceis sufficient for you, for my poweris made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delightin weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions,in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I have been given many more. We read them in times of need and feel their comfort. I don’t mean to minimize the impact of the Word – it is all-sufficient. But it isn’t always a quick band-aid overcoming the darkest struggle. Slap this on and feel strong, as it were. I wish it were that simple. In the best of circumstances, most of us need to be reminded time after time before things sink in.
While the concept of strength might be an easy one for you, it has troubled me of late. You see, I am trying to care for my daughter who is fighting cancer. Actually, to be honest, right now she is fighting the chemo that is fighting the cancer. She is only twelve and should never have to deal with any weight so difficult. This road would buckle the knees of some of the world’s strongest men, yet she trudges on.
She puts on a brave face and true to her nickname, smiles to most. But at night, with her mother, her sisters, and me, she often falls apart. The thing I hear from her most often is that she isn’t strong enough – she can’t do this. I wish there was something I could tell her to change her situation, but I can’t. There is no choice, no option, no plan B. The chemo regimen must go on. I wish I could break her cycle of self-doubt, but it is her cycle. I can’t change it. I can only encourage and hold, assuring her of my presence and love.
That leads me to my present dilemma: What is strength? Does she have it? If not, where can she find enough to continue when there is no other way?
I think back over her history and wonder if she’s had to rely on strength in the past. She has run two 5k races with me and had to reach down deep to finish each one. That took some strength – but not the kind I am looking for. I need her to have strength to say, “This life is worth living and I will fight for it.”
* * * * *
My wife has been asking me to add a picture CD onto her computer so she can look at them. After putting it off for too long, I finally complied. The pictures I saw reminded me of simpler times and I enjoyed scanning them as they flashed across the screen. They were from our school’s play, Anne of Green Gables, in which Kylie had a part. She barely made it through the performances because of the pain in her leg caused by the cancer soon to be diagnosed.
Wait… what are you showing me, God? Is that strength?
Back up – let me look again.
I see a little girl who was crying herself to sleep every night due to a growing tumor inside her knee. Yet in these pictures she is singing, moving, dancing, and hiding the pain behind a range of her character’s emotions so she wouldn’t disappoint in the show.
I see a little girl who wouldn’t stop dancing until the director forced her to use crutches in the final two performances – and she was mad about that!
I see a girl who collapsed after the finale and couldn’t attend the cast party because the pain was simply too great.
Isn’t that smiling little girl playing a part on stage the same one who lay in a hospital bed in a medication-induced sleep just a week after the curtain fell?
When told she had cancer inside of her, instead of crying out in anger at God, isn’t this the girl who simply said “God must have a great, big plan for me”?
Is that precious, animated child the same one who, when she began to lose her hair to chemotherapy, decided shaved it herself to deny cancer the pleasure?
That is incredible strength! Undeniable strength.
What about now? If we agree that this girl is a strong girl, has four months of treatment changed her? How would a strong person face chemotherapy? Should she charge in, laughing in the face of the toxins that wreck her little body time after time?
Or is it okay to cry, yet move on?
Is strength found, not in the tears leading up to a hospital stay but in the gritting of her teeth when she allows the nurse to access her port one more time, knowing what will soon flow into her veins?
How much resolve allows a transfusion that scares her to death without saying a word?
What measure of courage is there in quiet submission to a treatment that is nearly as bad as the disease?
An immeasurable amount!
The frail body of my daughter holds enormous strength and when this treatment is over, I pity the boy who would try to hurt her or the obstacle that would stand in her way.
I have always been big and thought myself strong. I have pushed large objects and run long distances. Yet I realize I am weak in comparison to my frail, eighty pound daughter, who day after day pushes on through this hell.
She is my hero.
Every morning that she wakes up and greets the day adds to her resolve. There may be tears, angst, cries of terror, and fits of rage – yet every day also contains smiles, kisses, hugs, warmth, joy, praise, and enough laughter and love to beat back at this enemy on her terms.
Oh, she is strong!
My little girl is strength personified, even if she can’t see it.
Jersey Farm Scribe here, and I’m so excited to do a post here on Darlene’s website.
It’s exciting for me to get a chance to talk about something farm-related, since I’m usually posting on writing on Kathy’s website Writing and Illustrating or Children. http://www.kathytemean.wordpress.com
I thought about what I should write about. I could write about the animals that I have here on The Farm. I could write about the lifestyle, being more in touch with the world around us, agriculture and fresh food. I could write about one of the many projects that are always going on… and never quite finished.
In the end, I decided to write about something close to my heart that I HAVEN’T gotten fully involved in. What a great motivator for me to finally jump in!!! Plus, then perhaps I can do another post in a few months and update everyone on any progress that has been made.
So here we go… they’re cute… they’re amazing,
and they’re SUPER sweet. I had the amazing opportunity to visit an active BEE hive with my brother’s family, including their bee-guru boys. We went to Dan Price’s Farm, the founder of Sweet Virginia Foundation http://sweetvirginia.com, a Honey Bee Conservation and Education Organization. Here we all are at their farm. The three little ones are three of my four amazing nephews. I’m the odd-ball in the green suit.
There were some high school kids doing a project. The high schoolers were very leery of the bees, (understandably), and a bit skittish about going up to the hive.
My nephews, 12, 11 and 7, had absolutely no problems. They were informing the older kids of where to stand that was safe. (bees create a main highway where they travel in and out of the hive, and as long as you keep that area clear, you’re perfectly fine!) They operated the smoke puffer (definitely NOT it’s technical name) and answered all the questions the hive experts had like it was NOTHING.
Hive Manager: Does anyone know how many different types of honeybees there are?
7 yr-old-nephew (looks at her as if to say, um, who doesn’t??: Three. The queen. The worker bees, which are girls, and the drones, which are boys.
Hive Manager: That’s right. And the bees that we see flying around sometimes, which are they?
11-yr-old: Worker bees.
Hive Manager: And why’s that?
12-yr-old AND 7-yr old: Because they are the only ones that leave the hive. All the drones do is mate with the queen and all the queen does is lay eggs.
Eventually, the hive manager realized she was going to have to think of harder questions.
Then Marcus and Ethan, the 11 and 7-yr olds picked up a BEE COVERED slat from the hive, (without any gloves on!) and with absolutely no fear:
And here is Jared, (12) even letting a bee crawl on his hand!
I was unbelievably impressed, to say the least. (as were the high school kids who they completely showed up!)
I learned a lot. I won’t get into the dorky-science details here. (I’m a total science nerd at heart). But here’s a fun one: Bees communicate with DANCE!
They use it to communicate where the good hive or flower is located. It’s pretty unbelievable.
I think most people know at this point that there are concerns for the honeybee’s health around the world, which would be devastating to our food sources. It’s more than just not having beautiful flowers. Fruits and vegetables pollinate and grow because of bees. And the animals that we raise for food eat these fruits and vegetables as well!
But luckily there is something really simple you can do that can make a BIG difference! You know those signs you see?
Those are people who either run their own hive, or have someone come in and run a hive for them. This is GREAT for the honeybee population. You can help out your local farmer, and help the honeybees at the same time.
Honey is such a great natural sugar substitution. Try substituting it for sugar in recipes, to give an extra yummy flavor, and a much healthier sweetness. Sugar is sweeter than sugar, so you would about ½ to ¾ cup of honey for every cup of sugar.
I do a combination:
For every cup of sugar a recipe calls for I use:
¼ cup sugar
½ cup honey
This is amazing in almost ALL baking, cakes, muffins, cookies, breads, the works.
Honey has some pretty amazing healing powers as well. It’s been used as a natural antibacterial agent for years!
Feeling like you have a cold coming on, or just can’t kick one? Try this:
Raw Honey – (natural antibacterial agent and throat coater)
REAL ginger – (natural anti-inflammatory)
REAL garlic – (natural antibiotic)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (with the mother) (balances the acidity level – excellent for chest cold)
Okay…. so I’m not gonna lie, this is not a delicious drink. But I can from personal experience it can really help to kick those sniffles!
Allergies? Try local honey. A full T every single day. The closer the hive is to your home, the better.
The idea is that you’re introducing a small amount of the pollen into your system via the honey, making your body more use to it (similar to how allergy shots work). This method of course depends on what you are actually allergic to, and there is actually not a lot of actual pollen in honey, but there is some.
I am lucky and don’t suffer from allergies myself, but I have a few friends I’ve suggested this to that swear it helped them. Plus, this one IS delicious!
(I am obviously NOT a doctor, these are just personal home-remedies I’ve always used)