5/28/07

I'll Alway's Love You




Published in 1985, by Crown Publishers, I'll always Love You, is the story of

a child’s love for his dog, Elfie. Brilliantly author/ illustrated by, Hans Wilhelm, I'll Always Love You, nicely communicates the relationship between a boy and his dog.

“My brother and sister loved Elfie very much, but she was my dog,” we are told by the first person narrator in the beginning of the story. The child makes it a point to tell Elfie he will always love her each night before they go to asleep. Hans Wilhelm steadily moves us along with his masterful portrayal of the development of the close bond shared between the child, and his dog. As the years go by the young boy grows older, and Elfie grows rounder (and older) until the family takes her to a vet who explains to the family that Elfie is slowing down with age.
Then one night Elfie dies in her sleep, and although brokenhearted the boy finds comfort in the fact that he always told her he loved her. The heart-warming plot moves forward with the child’s heartbreaking message of conveying our love for our loved ones while they are here. After Elfie’s burial the narrator explains how his brother and sister never told Elfie how they felt about her. His grief is somewhat relieved by the fact that he told her he loved her every night.

A neighbor offers him a puppy, and he judiciously declines although he knows Elfie would not mind. Then he gives the neighbor Elfie's basket figuring the neighbors puppy needed it more. It seems he is thinking of his neighbor when in actuality he is helping himself. Wilhelm's has an ability to teach us without us knowing a gift shared by all great storytellers. There is not one wasted word in this beautifully crafted picture book.
Hans Wilhelm creates an atmosphere that is warm, sensitive, and inviting, a book every child should have on their bookcase.
Age Group- 4-8

5/25/07

Your Child 's First Summer Camp






When I was four or five years old, I rode with my mother to buy storage trunks for my brothers to use at summer camp. The first time I saw the chests, I broke out in tears. Here were these huge trunks with large locks on the side, which resembled something you would pack if you were leaving home for good! I remember trembling inside at the thought of my brothers packed in those trunks! I really thought my parents were shipping them off to live for good, since they were always into some kind of trouble. My mother figured out what I was thinking, and cleared it up nicely, however I developed a fear of summer camp. Never mastering this fear, I missed out on a fun childhood experience.


When we send our children to summer camp, and they seem excited about it at the time, it is shocking to find a tear stained letter from them within a few days. To experience some homesickness is normal, and will lessen with age, however for some young children, a short overnight stay with a friend is difficult, much less summer camp!

For these kids, summer camp can produce intense fear, depression, trouble eating, and social problems. Children can be so cruel, and it does not take them long, to pinpoint the child who shows the slightest sign of fear.

It seems children with this fear act out by either withdrawing from their peers, or showing signs of unacceptable behavior in social gatherings. However, there are ways you can help your child, if they are afraid of going to their first summer camp.

When I saw my parents buy the large trunks for my brother’s departure, I saw the desire to send them to camp as a sign of rejection. Therefore, it is best to include your kids when making the decision to send them to camp. Have them help you with the research in finding a camp that matches their interests, and ask them questions about what kind of camp they would like to attend. There is not any point in forcing them to go to one particular camp, like the one you, or your spouse attended when you were children. Since they may say they want to go just to please you, then get there, and want to come home. Do your research on camp policies and procedures for writing home, and schedules during the day. Everyone wants to know the expectations of them in any given situation, and children are not any different.

After doing your research, bring your child to the camp for a visit, and meet the camp counselors. They will be spending time with these people everyday, so it will help if they like them, and can look forward to seeing them again. The advantage in this is they will feel more secure about whom they will share their days and nights for six or more weeks. How would you feel given you were embarking on the same journey?

Next, have them help pack their belongings for the trip and make it fun, by offering examples of what they will be doing, and the fun things you think they will do. Reassure them they can do this, and how proud they will be of themselves when they do. Do not bargain, or make threats, as this encourages them to feel they cannot be honest with you, for fear of letting you down. It also threatens their security about whether camp will really be fun, or if you are just trying to get rid of them for the summer. Children will share your attitude about going away, and facing challenging situations, so be upbeat and secure in your manner.

Let your child know if they call you, they can voice whatever is troubling them, and it will be received without indifference, anger, or judgment. Children need to have a soft place to fall, and for your child, let that place be you.

I certainly hate to think of other children internalizing the thought of being sent to camp in a trunk, so I wanted to share with my readers these important ideas.

However, there are many ways counselors can help you and your child, cope with separation anxiety, after all, they deal with it daily, so keep in touch with them, and your children over their stay.

Remember, you are your child’s soft place to fall, and their example of how to master the many obstacles and fears life will toss out each day.






Cartoon contributions - public images



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5/24/07

Not Afraid of Dogs




My picture book pick for May, Not Afraid Of Dogs has been reviewed by Didgeridoo Dogs

"A site about Australian shepherds and other K-9s"

Posted by jteitelman, the review has a common sense note, plot summary, and some of the text from inside the book.


Not Afraid of Dogs won the Society of Children's Book Writer's Golden Kite Awards for 2006, and is such a great book you cannot read about the plot and not want to read it.

Written by Susanna Pitzer and illustrated by Larry Day, Not Afraid of Dogs, is a story that had to be told, and will not go unnoticed.

I had trouble finding a copy it is so popular, and since I have to really "live" in a book awhile, before writing a review, I am delighted this site noticed the title.

Parents and dog lovers alike need to stop by Didgerdoo Dogs blog to read this review, and see what else this new blog has to offer!



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5/21/07

Beauty Is In The Mind, Not The Eye, Of The Beholder, Or Is It?






What do you see when you look in the mirror, or better yet, what do you feel when you look in the mirror?

It seems that beauty is more in the mind of the beholder than in the eye of the beholder. Studies show that attractive people benefit from more advantages than unattractive people. For instance, we know newborn babies respond better to attractive faces, or at least faces that are pleasant looking. People use the common expressions, "pleasant to the eye" or "easy on the eyes" when describing someone with good looks, meaning the person is attractive.

Studies from the journal "Emotion" a publication of the American Psychological Association, have found that underlying processes "prime" our brains to respond differently to good looks. For instance, after viewing an attractive face our brains produce more positive thought, than viewing an unattractive face. It seems that faces have the particular power; objects do not produce the same effect.

Obviously, we would not buy an unattractive house, or ugly clothes, but objects do not "prime" our brains the way faces do. Studies show that after viewing an attractive face, our brains react to stimuli with happy or positive thoughts. We associate an attractive face with a positive emotion. Also, people are more likely to trust a nice looking person, as opposed to an unsightly individual. People trust serial killers who are nice looking, because their brains are "primed" to believe they are also kind. For example, the murderer looked "nice,” or was "attractive," as if this is some kind of testament to the killers character and disposition. People get into murderers cars, open their doors for them, and speak to these people in the first place, because of how they "look" or appear. The biological priming is part of a natural selection going back to our very beginnings. We naturally seek out people who share common characteristics with us.

It seems that background and cultural diversity, can influence how we judge beauty, or what is pretty, but the biological responses are the same. For instance, it does not matter what background or culture we belong too, we are still "primed" by a pretty face. In other words, we are ready to trust, listen, and respond better to a person we find appealing, as opposed to someone we do not find pleasant looking.

Consequently, do you feel good after you look in the mirror? You should, since it appears that beauty is in the mind of the beholder. If you feel good about yourself, or how you look, you will manifest this feeling, thereby projecting positive emotion. Since we naturally seek out people who share our characteristics, it stands to reason that if we feel good about ourselves, we are more likely to attract others who feel good about themselves as well.

Little babies and animals naturally feel good about themselves, since their mind and natural instincts instruct them too. We may think of different things as beautiful, but what we think is attractive, makes us feel good, and so it seems beauty is in the mind, not the eye of the beholder, or is it?

5/18/07

First Graders Fear Of Rejection








As he tasted the water from the creek bed,

he saw the reflection of a dogs’ head!

He turned his head sideways, unsure what to do,

But when his head turned, the dogs’ head turned too!

Poddle barked at the dog, but his body felt weak.

He tried to run backwards, and slipped in the creek.

(From my manuscipt, Poddles Mistake)



The problems first graders have to deal with on their first day of school, and later, has an enormous influence on how they will deal with life later on. Especially when they are paralyzed by the fear that they will somehow not met their parents, teachers, and peers expectations. Everyone likes to read about what they can relate too, and children are not any different. That’s why people who write for pre-schoolers and beginning readers, use these fears as the foundation for many of their books. Since our readers are just beginning to join their peers in the world, especially at school, they are beginning to deal with the many social standards set by a cultural society difficult to master. Many of the social skills required to make it through the first grade require self-confidence, and a strong self esteem. One of the hardest obstacles first graders face is when parents do not realize that first grade involves some of the same problems adults face when starting a new job. In addition, we forget they are coping with some of the same pressures to succeed, as adults, without the benefit of experience. Now, who among us would like to repeat the first grade?

In many ways, we have all remained in first grade, stuck in the fear of rejection, no matter how confident and successful we happen to be.

Deep down within us all, we remember the fear of stepping off the school bus for the first time, and entering a classroom of other children. It really is a terrifying feeling, your hands are sweating, and your mind is racing, wondering how your clothes and school supplies compare with other students. I remember my teacher assigning desks, and the desk she assigned me, had some unmentionable grossness stuck under the seat. I felt it when I put my hand underneath the desk the second day of school . I was too embarrassed to tell the teacher, so I spent most of my first year of school horrified by what may be lucking from beneath my desk! Why I didn’t tell my mother, I do no know, although, I suspect it was since I thought I would let her down somehow. Children can be so silly, however I think they pick up on the fact that fear makes grown ups uncomfortable. Hence, we deny our children’s fears, and run from most experiences that have the propensity to cause us pain.

We are biologically designed to forget pain, especially when it comes to our children. I think the first way to help children overcome any fear, is to relate their experiences to our own. Think back to your first day of school, and what you would have wanted your Mom to say. Maybe your parents brought you to school, and even brought you into the classroom. However, you probably started your first day the same as the rest of us, keeping your fear of rejection at arms length, not eluding to the fact, you were scared to death. What is wrong with being afraid anyway? Who ever said it was something to be ashamed of? Somewhere, someone came up with the idea that fear is a weakness, and you must hide it away. I remember being embarrassed to cry in front of people at that age, as if there is something wrong with showing your emotion. Somehow, I got the impression, that it is shameful to cry in front of others.

My manuscript, Poddles Mistake, (exerpts above) deals with children’s fear of rejection , and there are plenty other manuscripts and books for children that do. Since it is a characteristic bestowed upon first graders everywhere. We can all relate, and I think we owe it to our children to help them discover the ways in which we can help them cope with these fears. Fear is an antiquity faced over and over again, by us adults everyday, so when we notice it in our children, these characteristics are intimidating. The puppy in my manuscript is so afraid of displeasing his owner, he leaves home, and his owner is never made aware of his feelings. Forced to come to terms with his fear of rejection, he masters it, and in doing so gains confidence in his own ability, to make himself happy. Since, he recognizes his fear for what it is, he is able to overcome it, and is set free by the experience. Conquering fear is one of the biggest challenges with face in life, so it is important we learn to manifest the necessary coping skills, early in our lives.

In the literary world one must agree to conform to the principles of rejection, so I have struggled with this issue, however nothing compares to dealing with that same prospect in the first grade; consequently, children really need their parents on this issue. Kids also fear rejection by their parents and friends, so be careful with what you say. Watch saying things like, “ If they jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” since children really want to please their peers, and this will make them feel foolish. This is too young an age to understand what that means anyway, and it does not help you, help them, build confidence in their own abilities. Get your kids to talk to you about what they are most afraid of, and then validate their feelings by giving examples of how you dealt with the same desire to fit in with the crowd, and please parents and teachers. Young children learn by watching their parents, so begin by being the living expression of what you wish your children to be, and encourage the fact they can and will become and be anything they wish.



Poddles Mistake is unpublished at the moment , however there are many good books available, to help children overcome fear in school , and in other areas of life.

Poddles Mistake will be available on the market before you know it, so remember the title and subject matter!

Thanks for reading-

5/16/07

Once Upon a Time ...







Billy's eyes filled with tears, as he plop down.

He wiped back the tears, but still wore a frown.

His face felt hot, he was mad as could be.

He could not believe Mom took his T.V.

She said, "Billy, you will not watch T.V. during the day."

"Now, go read a book, or go out and play."

(from my manuscript Billy Board and the Reading Glasses)



When my son was born, I was a scared young person, who hadn't the slightest idea what to do with a newborn. In fact, if it hadn't been for a copy of Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes, his first night at home would have been a disaster, since the rhythm of the words in each verse helped him fall asleep- that and a rocking chair.

I read him his first complete story, two days after he was born, and later introduced him to the likes of Peter Pan, Wendy, and Winnie the Pooh. We read about countless characters, in a variety of books until he wanted to read himself to sleep. We stayed on a reading routine, and read every night, as well as many times during the day, since reading became one of our favorite pastimes.

Reading had always been a family pastime, but for my mother it is a passion she insisted on sharing with her children and grandchildren, therefore we had plenty of reading material. I have always loved to hear the beginning of books or a story that begins with "Once upon a time..." although not many have begun with those words in a long time- they just capture the imagination and excitement of what will happen next.

If you haven't begun to read to your child there are many reasons why you should began, I'm glad I did.

One of our favorite books was Goodnight Moon, crafted by the great Margaret Wise Brown, whose elegant prose puts children and adults in the mist of the story; tranquilizing readers into sleepy heads at bedtime.

I read Goodnight Moon to my son every night during the colicky period of his infancy. The years followed with Dr. Seuss, P.D. Eastman, E.B. White, and Old Yeller’s, Fred Gibson.

Even after he could read on his own, I still read to him, and he began to rely on them to cope with many difficult and different situations. The characters and events in a good book are great examples of what to do, and how to react when you find yourself in the same predicaments- to put it another way they give them a head start by teaching them about life. In addition, books show children they are not alone, by showing them that we all experience similar feelings and situations, even if we may react differently when dealing with the same circumstance. I wanted my son to understand the comfort of a pet, guitar, and good book on a cold and rainy night- especially when he wasn't near a partner, friend, or me later in life. I love everything about books even the way they smell and feel because of my mothers influence, and often lose my place in the book because I fell asleep holding one in my hand-


When my son and I looked over his collection of books today, we were transported back through time, remembering the books he loved, and what age he was when we read them. Recently, while writing a book review for P.D.Eastman’s Are you my mother? he reminded me of the part of the text when the baby bird asks a cow if he is his mother, and the cow replies, “No, I am not your mother, I am a cow!” He laughed at this passage when he was four, and he laughs again when he's reminded of it.


The Are You My Mother book review inspired one of my readers to leave a comment, referring to a memory of when her mother read Are you my Mother? to her, and her younger sibling. We remember our favorite childhood books, as if they're old childhood friends. In fact, they are our old childhood friends. Books inspire, teach, and capture our imaginations, during every phase of our life. That is why it is so important we start reading to our children at a young age.


When I started reading my son a book one night, not long after he was born, his father said to me, “What on earth are you doing? He is an infant; he doesn't understand the words.” I beg to differ with that statement. Children understand the rhythm of language, and by reading aloud, you strengthen their vocabulary, and develop their ability to learn proper sentence structure. When they're listening to you read a story, they're listening to the sound of the words, and the inflections in your voice. They learn to predict what is going to happen next, and develop a desire to learn to read on their own. This readiness, not only pays off down the road, when they're learning to read, it also ensures a lifetime love for language and books.



At times, when my son would pick out the same books, I secretly wished he would suggest a different title. However, kids love to read the same titles over and over again and follow it to the end. When they know the book by heart, they learn about the characters and words. This helps encourage pretend reading, which helps them really want to learn, and maybe even wish to read to you.

I remember reading time changing quickly in our home, when my little boy was in the first grade, because he started to insist on reading books to me. And anytime we went somewhere with a waiting room, for example the dentist office, he would pretend to read while I was reading a magazine. I never had the heart to tell him, that six year olds do not read Time magazine. Especially since, he would give the other patients a serious smile across the waiting area as if he were actually reading the magazine upside down.


When you read in front of your children, they will imitate your actions, therefore when you read, they will read. This is true for teenagers as well as older children, since readers produce readers. Therefore, reading to your children and encouraging them to read is one of the best ways to contribute to their future, and the future of your grandchildren. I am pleased that my son will associate books with happy memories, and in the back of his mind, when he reads a story to his children, he will smile when he begins to read any sentence that begins with, “Once upon a time...

5/14/07

Book Review - A Dogs Life






A dog’s life, published in 2005, is the heartwarming story of an older dog-named Squirrel. The story is told from Squirrels point of view, about her experiences after losing track of her family. Squirrel is a stray, and must make her way through a world filled with cruelty, danger, and loss. She is alone until she meets two friends who end up determining her destiny. The author of A Dogs Life is Ann Martin, a seasoned children’s writer, with a forthcoming intelligence, found in all the great children’s writers.

The author of The Baby Sitters Club, books, Ann Martin grew up in Princeton New Jersey, and is the daughter of a cartoonist father. A former teacher and children’s book editor, Ann is now a full time writer in upstate New York, living with a dog and two cats. Like many children’s book writers, she draws many of her characters from her own childhood experiences. She has always enjoyed writing and wrote the first Baby Sitters club in 1986, followed by a series of Baby Sitter titles. The Baby Sitters Club titles are a popular series adored by many teens and are still bestsellers today.

Parents and children can see Ann Martin in interviews, and on different children’s web sites.

A Dogs life is a great summer read, for children between the ages of 9 and 12, and could be one of your child’s favorite summer books.

5/11/07

Book Review-- Are You My Mother?





When I was growing up, my mother read the children’s book classics, Stuart Little, The Grass Hopper and The Ant, The Cat In The Hat, and Are You My Mother.

All of these books and writers are great, and you really cannot pick a favorite, however “Are You My Mother?” has a special place for me. My mother gave my son a copy of the book when he was learning to read, and I , in turn, read it to him. We both remember him laughing, when the baby bird asks a cow if it is his mother, and the cow replies, “No, I am Not Your Mother, I am a cow!” My son would ask me to read that particular text over and over again. The book, passed down in my family, like a priceless jewel from one generation to the next, is a great read. My son inherited one of the older copies with the baby bird in his nest, on the front cover.

The book, written by, Philip Dey Eastman in 1960 has a unique appeal, and humor all its own, however Mr. Eastman wrote closely and collaborated often with our endearing Dr. Seuss.

P.D. Eastman, an author, illustrator, and filmmaker, worked with Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) on the training film, “Private Snafu” during the Second World War. He also wrote cartoon scripts for the near-sighted Mr. Magoo, and worked on Dr. Seuss’s “Gerald McBoing-Boing” for UPA Studios. He wrote many other beginning book titles, one of which was “Go, Dog, Go”, adding to a genre enjoyed by writers and readers alike.

I am, for one so appreciative of P.D. Eastman’s work. Great books withstand the test of time, never losing audience appeal, and “Are You My Mother?” is certainly one of these books.

P.D. Eastman wrote in a style that demonstrates his love for children and storytelling.

The story is about a little baby bird, who falls from the nest, immediately after hatching, missing his opportunity for a proper introduction to his mother. Armed with an enthusiastic attitude, the little bird sets out to find Mom, introducing himself to everything and every animal he happens upon. He sees a plane in the sky and wonders, “Is that is mother?” He asks a dog, cat, cow, and even a large construction truck! A page-turner, “Are You My Mother?, follows the baby birds quizzical bewilderment, as he searches for his mother. You feel a rising tension, until the story arrives a cheerful and satisfying conclusion.

Most people fall in love with the baby bird on the first page, and are completely won over by the last! This is a book created to be a part of the family, and will continue to be a definite family treasure.

Today's Popular Children's Picture Books

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My First Book Of Hockey!

Motherhood- Courage


Motherhood is an art impossible to explain, one which requires a vast sea of love, devotion, compassion, and understanding, unmatched by any affection we will ever know again.- Ann Clemmons

Courage-

Courage



Humor-

Humor


Words-

Words are the core of our souls, without written, vocal or lyrical expression we lose sight of one another or worse, ourselves. Words bring forth the essence of the human spirit; so express yourself without abandon.

Ann Clemmons

Written Phrase

Why is it that those we should know or believe turn out to be the ones we least understand? I suppose the world is an illusion until we find our way home.-Ann Clemmons

Favorite Phrase

I remember I used to half believe and wholly play with fairies when I was a child. What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood, tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense...

Beatrix Potter’s Journal, 17 November 1896, from the National Trust collection.

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The Storyteller, by Dawn Drover

Alone in her world
of make believe
weaving her stories
of magic and light

She brings joy
to the eyes
of innocent minds
less jaded and free

For only they know
what's in her heart
holding the secrets
she guards so well

Life's hidden mysteries
belong to those
whose wisdom and truth
shine on in imagination


Written for Ann
~Dawn Drover~

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Most of the worlds' great things were born of adversity and hardship; because these roadblocks encourage us to dream, imagine and believe.- Ann Clemmons

Favorite quotes-

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”'


F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Lines from The Great Gatsby)
"A Southerner Talks Music"

Mark Twain

"A book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us."

Franz Kafka

An author values a compliment even when it comes from a source of doubtful competency.

- Mark Twain in Eruption

"I like a good story well told. That is the reason I am sometimes forced to tell them myself"

Mark Twain

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