I hope your Easter is full of laughter and joyful times!
Rhythm, Walker, and Electra
This is a pretty special time of the year. Spring is here! The earth is awakening after the long cold winter. New life is emerging everywhere. The Church is celebrating rebirth with a lovely holiday called Easter. I don’t know what “Easter” means. Easter is an unusual celebration, with rabbits laying colored eggs and kids eating lots of chocolate. I like eggs myself, but I’m not allowed the chocolate variety. I also like to join in the hunts for those colored ones. It’s my favorite game!
We have chickens here at the 7 Acre Wood and sometimes we have to hunt for eggs for real. Even when it’s not Easter.
Sometimes those eggs hatch and we get little baby chicks running around. They can be quite amusing.
At the library this week, we read a cute book about a little chick who wanted to hatch on Easter day and be an Easter Chick. Our friend Allie helped us read this one.
This book was first published in Switzerland in 2003 under the title Das Osterkuken.
It was translated to English in 2004 by Marianne Martens and published by North-South Books
Theme: Easter, chickens, dreams can come true
Suitable for ages 4 and up
It begins -
Hilda had laid the most beautiful egg, and she fussed over it lovingly………Suddenly she heard a little voice. “Mother, when is Easter?”
Hilda is a lovely little orange hen with little lacy bloomers on her legs. She is worried about her egg that hasn’t hatched after several weeks. Then the egg starts talking to her! She is quite surprised! The voice comes from the little chick inside the egg who has decided that it wants to hatch on Easter and be an Easter Chick. But it doesn’t know when Easter is. (Does anyone ever know when Easter is?) Hilda goes in search of the answer. She asks all the animals in the barnyard, but none of them knows when Easter is. They suggest that she ask Max the Owl.
Max tells her that three things must happen. First she must wait for the first day of spring. On that evening he will hoot once and Hilda must meet him by the barn. When March 21 arrives, Max hoots and Hilda rushes to meet him. He tells her that now she must wait for the next full moon. That night he will hoot two times. Now the illustrations show us the different phases of the moon as Hilda and her chick wait. When Hilda hears the two hoots, Max tells her that the next Sunday will be Easter. “Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon that comes after the first day of spring.” Whew!!
On Saturday night before the next Sunday, Max hooted three times and the chick knew that it was time to hatch. Everyone was happy and excited to have a little chick born on Easter.
This is a really fine little picture book. I like how it explains about when Easter is. Easter is not on any specific day like most holidays. It’s rather complicated. The illustrations are quite lovely and humorous. Ms Elschner has taken a serious subject and given it a light touch that makes it more accessible for youngsters. I think that Allie liked this one. I sure did. It had my mind thinking and wondering.
To find out about Easter and where that word comes from check HERE.
Backyard Chicken has instructions for incubating and hatching eggs.
Now you might want to skip on over to Susanna Hill’s blog and see what she’s hatching today! It is Perfect Picture Book Friday and there should be a big list of Perfect Picture Books for you to browse.
I hope all your Easter dreams come true!
Your egg hunting friend
We are all about guide dogs here at the 7 Acre Wood. And goats. And grapes. And swimming. And tennis balls. But I digress. I want to talk about guide dogs today. My family here has raised guide dog pups off and on for a good number of years. The very first one was a black Lab named Gretta. During her long, illustrious life she actually achieved Sainthood. St Gretta came from a guide dog school in California called Guide Dogs For the Blind.
All the other pups that have passed through our gates have come from a guide dog school in Florida called Southeastern Guide Dogs. Including myself.
The life of a guide dog puppy in training is an emotional ride – for the humans and for the pups. There is a real bond that develops and lots of love is invested and then the pup has to move on to other things. The humans have to let go. The pup has to let go. And both have to create new bonds and new attachments. Some dogs just can’t do it. I couldn’t and came back to live where I knew I belonged. Only about half of the pups that return to school actually go on to become working guide dogs. Statistics show that a higher percentage of Labs become working guide dogs than any other breed. I think that that may be because we Labs are basically happy with anyone who feeds us on a regular basis.
Anyway, I have a Perfect Picture Book for you that’s about a year with a guide dog pup.
Theme – dog training, guide dog pups, friendship
Rugby is my dog. He is a chocolate Labrador, and we have had him for as long as I can remember.
We used to do everything together – just the two of us.
Then Rosie came.
The narrator of the story is a young boy who has a really close friendship with his dog, Rugby. One day his dad comes home with a little yellow pup named Rosie. Rosie was a guide dog pup and would only live with the family for one year. The boy knew all about this, but didn’t know how to tell Rugby. Rugby was not happy about the new pup. She tried to get him to play, but the wasn’t interested. It took him quite a while to decide that she wasn’t going anywhere and he might as well make friends. After that the two dogs were always together, romping and playing and napping. Rosie needed a lot of extra training out in public where Rugby didn’t get to go. But he was always waiting when they returned home.
Then the day came that Rosie had to return to the guide dog school. Everyone was sad. Even Rugby. Rosie became a guide dog and the family, along with Rugby, got to go to the graduation ceremony and see Rosie again and meet her new person. They saw that Rosie was happy and making a difference in the life of this new person. All because of their love and devotion. They were all very proud of her.
This book makes my Mom Person cry every time she reads it. It’s a well done story. You can see and feel all the emotions tugging at everyone. Even the dogs. When we read this book to kids, there is always a discussion about letting go. Life is full of letting go. Even if you’re a little person growing up.
There are 13 accredited guide dog schools in the United States. For information about all of them visit the Guide Dog Users, Inc. website.
If there is a school near you, you might want to go for a visit. I know that Southeastern has puppy hugging days when they let people come play with all the pups. You can visit their website and find out all about pups and being a volunteer puppy raiser.
HERE is a link to some thoughts on etiquette when encountering a guide dog team.
HERE is an article for kids about blindness.
You could have a discussion about being blind. Put on blindfolds and take a Listening Walk around the room. Think about how you would be using all your other senses if you couldn’t see.
Here is a little video to show you what it’s all about — enjoy –
And now you might want to venture over to Susanna Hill’s blog to see a whole big list of Perfect Picture Books and resources to go with! — Enjoy!!
Your friend indeed
I understand that April is National Poetry Month. I don’t know a lot about poetry. I like to listen to the Rhythm of a good poem. Poetry sounds nice to my ears. I try to get my reading buddies to read poetry to me, but I’m not always successful. When I was the official Library Dog at school I seemed to have better luck steering kids to poetry books. I even had some kids writing poems about me!
Golden fur everywhere
On the ground
or floating around.
She is sweet
She is furry.
She likes to sleep and sit.
Rhythm is who she is.
The Dog Called Rhythm
Hairy, sweet, yellow
She snores, rolls, chews all around
Rhythm is her name.
Now those are unbelievably lovely poems!! But I also have an unbelievably fantastic book for you as well! After all, this IS Perfect Picture Book Friday!
Theme – poetry, dogs
This is a book of Haiku poems about dogs. There are 20 dog breeds represented here. Each with an incredible wood block portrait done by Mary Azarian. Ms Azarian can create magic with a block of wood. The poem for the Labrador Retriever is -
the first duck splash-lands
speck in the iced pond’s lone eye
soon … the chase restarts
Of course if you are going to read a book of Haiku with your little people, then you must have them create their own Haiku!
And if your are really ambitious here is a video of REAL wood block art making -
And after all of that, you might want to venture over to Susanna Hill’s blog for a list of Perfect Picture Books and some great resources to go with!
The month of April is Autism Awareness Month. And April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. A time to learn about and think about and be aware of Autism in our lives. It has been a big part of my life. I have spent a lot of time walking and playing and just sitting with young people who have autism as part of who they are. Autistic people do not perceive the world the same way that most people do. Their senses work differently than most of the world’s.
Some autistic little people love to stroke my hair – with their hands, their feet, their faces. Some don’t like to touch my hair at all, but they like the feel of my leather leash. They stroke it with their hands and rub it on their faces. They feel things differently.
People with autism sometimes smell the world differently. I have had kids sniff me from one end to the other. They want to smell my feet and my ears and in my mouth. They bury their noses in my hair.
I’ve been on many a walk with autistic little people. For some, the world is far less confusing with their hand on my back. For some, holding on to my leash is comforting.
And the illustrator of my book Reading With Rhythm, Paul Howell, is a very talented young man with autism!
I recently did a post about a Listening Walk. I like going on listening walks, and sniffing walks and rain walks. Today I’d like to take you on a walk with Ian.
Ian is a young boy with autism. This is a fictional story told through the eyes of Ian’s older sister, Julie. Julie, and another sister, Tara, are planning a day at the park and Ian wants to go, too. But Julie isn’t sure she wants him along. Ian sees the world differently and has to be watched closely. He sometimes does things that are embarrassing. But the girls decide to let him come along.
The walk to the park is all about how differently Ian senses the world around him. The things that he sees and doesn’t see. As they pass a diner, Ian wants to stop and watch the ceiling fan, but doesn’t notice all the people. The things that he hears and doesn’t hear. A fire truck rushes by with its siren blaring, but Ian doesn’t seem to notice. Ian smell things differently – he doesn’t like the smell of the flowers at the flower stand, but when they go past the post office, he puts his nose up to the wall to smell the bricks. Ian doesn’t like the feel of a soft feather, but lies on the ground to feel the warm, hard pavement. When they stop to sit on a bench and eat some lunch, the girls get distracted and Ian slips away. The girls are now in a panic and rush around frantically asking people if they have seen him. Julie decides to close her eyes and try to think like Ian. Where would his senses take him. Suddenly, she hears the big bell ringing and remembers that Ian loves that bell best of anything! And that is where she finds him! The girls are so relieved to find their little brother that they decide to walk home the way Ian likes.
This is a really lovely little book with some great illustrations. This is not a book to teach you all about autism. It is a picture book that provides a window into a life with autism. I like that it’s the point of view of the sister. Siblings of autistic children can have a particularly hard time sharing life with autism.
There are lots of resources out there for further study –
Here is a recap of the 2013 Light It Up Blue campaign
Think BLUE today! And Light it up tomorrow!
Your friend in BLUE
It’s a GRAND BIRTHDAY DAY!!!!!
I would like to give a big HOWLING Shout Out!
to my special Reading Buddy, SUNSHINE!
To our GRAND BOY Mr. T
To their MOMS!
Job WELL Done!!!!
Rhythm, Walker, and Electra
Saturday, March 22, 2014 is World Water Day
I love the water. I love to splash in the pools in the river. I love to feel it raining down on me. I love to drink and slurp it. I love to shake it all over everything. Water is a precious thing. We live in a place that doesn’t get a whole lot of water raining down. We do happy dances when rain comes. Rain makes the river flow with JOY. Rain makes grass and flowers pop out all over. Rain means our well won’t run dry. Water is a very precious thing. My Mom Person worries when the rains don’t come. She worries when the river goes dry and the trees start to die. She worries when she passes by houses with sprinklers going. She likes living here at the 7 Acre Wood, but she likes the rains to come.
Water conservation is a really important thing. Water is precious. I understand that there are some places in the world that have more water than they can deal with. And there are some places that have less water than what we get here in Glen Rose, Texas. There are people in some parts of the world who don’t have clean water to drink and bathe in. That’s a sad thing. Water is sooooo precious.
I have a book about water. It’s a cute book about a summer day in the life of a city park where water is an important part of the daily cycle.
A note from the author about the story reads -
“The story comes from my spending early mornings and evenings in Prospect Park, in Brooklyn, New York, one summer when we had many, many ninety-eight-degree days. I watched the people and thought about the way the park’s water is used differently by all the inhabitants of the neighborhood, human and animal.”
This neighborhood seems to have plenty of water. The people here do not seem to worry about a lack of water. But the water in the park is precious to them nonetheless.
The story begins in the early morning when the park is quiet and empty and the turtles come out of the pond to sun themselves on the rocks. Then the dog walkers come to let their dogs have a romp in the pond. They are very lucky dogs!! As the day progresses the neighborhood awakens and more and more people come to enjoy the park. They play in the pond and the sprinkler pool. They drink from the water fountains. Kids fill water balloons and pour buckets of water in the sandbox. They pour water down the slide to cool it off. Birds and squirrels come to play and bathe in the water. Workers come to water the gardens. The pond and the fountains are a haven for everyone. At the end of the day the rains come. Everything in the park is now wet with glorious water. Water is a precious thing for sure!!
I really liked this book. It’s not a conservation book. It’s kind of like you’re sitting on a park bench watching the day go by. But the day is filled with water. And I like a day filled with water. The illustrations are great with lots of details to catch the eye. I will be looking out for more books by both Ms Jenkins and Ms Graegin.
There are quite a few organizations that work to provide clean drinking water for people around the world who are without this most precious commodity.
Living Water International
Goodnet.org has a list of seven non-profit organizations that provide safe water solutions for developing countries. You can check out the list HERE.
I recently did a post about a Listening Walk. What about a Water Walk? How far would you go for Water?
Enjoy YOUR Water Day!
Your friend at the river
Saturday was a Good, Good Day here at the 7 Acre Wood! The rains came!!!
Not a whole bunch of rain, but rain nonetheless. Enough to perk up the bluebonnets and make the river bubble with JOY!
The rain also provided a training opportunity for Little Miss Electra. She came here from Florida so I’m sure she’s seen lots of rain, but I don’t know about umbrellas and thunder. She was not bothered by any of it. We all had a nice rain walk.
As I said, this was a Double Good Day — The mail lady came to our house and delivered TWO, yes, TWO surprise packages for ME! I love that mail lady!
One of the packages was from our friend Kay. It was actually for all of us Pups to welcome the “new addition” to the family. TWO bags of yummy treats!!!! From the Canine Cookie Company in McKinney, Texas. One bag had tiny treats for Electra and the other had nice big treats shaped like squirrels! All chicken flavored! MMMMMMM! They sure know how to make some GOOD snacks in McKinney!! There was also a bear for Electra. Walker thinks it was meant for him.
The second package came from the Mom Person’s friend Rhonda. It was a new book! A new book of my Hero, Momo. The book is called Find Momo. Momo is a border collie who likes to hide. We follow Momo on Facebook where he posts pictures every day of good hiding places. He is a GOOD hider. And I am a GOOD finder! I’ll tell you more about this awesome book after I’ve had a chance to peruse it and find him.
In the meantime you can check on Momo and his hiding places on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/gofindmomo
And if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation spot you might check out Rhonda’s inn in Arkansas - Mountain Thyme Bed & Breakfast. I understand that she is a very GOOD cook!
And some more GOOD cooks are found at the Canine Cookie Company! You can visit their website HERE and order some of those GOOD snacks for yourself!
I hope you had as fine a weekend as I had!
Now I will wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
May your day be filled with rainbows!
As you may know already, we have a new pup in our house. A Guide Dog Puppy who will grow up to be “eyes” for some lucky blind person. Her name is Electra and I am in charge of training. (With some help from the Mom Person and my buddy, Walker.)
Training a puppy is not an easy task! Ms Electra is a Mini-Godzilla! Chewing and eating everything in her path! What’s a good dog to do?!
The Mom Person to the rescue! She pulled a book off of our shelf that is a story about puppy training. And written by none other than Mr Maurice Sendak and his dog training buddy, Mr Matthew Margolis.
The book is titled SOME SWELL PUP or Are You Sure You Want a Dog?
Suitable for K and up
Theme – puppy training, being kind to animals, the power of love
I think that this would be considered a graphic novel. It’s done in comic book style. It begins with a brother and sister pining for a dog of their own. And then a pup is left on their doorstep. They are thrilled! Until the puppy proves to be a Mini-Godzilla! Chewing and eating everything in its path! They get angry at the pup and decide it needs to go off to school. The pup is soon returned to them with a note saying the pup is too young to train and the school is now a wreck!
What are two kids supposed to do now?! Well, a stranger comes along and tries to show them that what the pup needs is lots of love. That everything it has been doing is normal puppy stuff. The kids continue to argue with each other (as siblings are wont to do) but soon realize that talking kindly and showing love to the pup is the right thing to do.
The sub-heading of this book “Are You Sure You Want a Dog?” is a fitting one. This is a tale of a Godzilla pup. But it is a realistic view of what it is like to have a puppy in the house. It is a BIG responsibility! They chew things, they pee and poop, they jump, they whine and bark. Having a new puppy is not just fun and games!
This is not really a “training book.” It is a Maurice Sendak take on a training book. It is a very old book and hence has very old ideas. One thing that is a bit befuddling is that it asserts that the pup is too young to train and you should wait until a pup is 12 weeks old. That’s just crazy!! Training needs to start at day ONE!!! The sooner the better. The book does show that shouting and hitting and ignoring are NOT the ways to deal with a young pup. A pup needs lots of love and understanding. And that’s the main thing about pup training. Love and patience and understanding.
The story could also be seen as a story about getting along with other PEOPLE in the big world. The book is actually a good lesson in how to treat ANYBODY. Not just pups. Be kind and gentle. Always. Show some love and it will be returned to you. A BIG lesson to learn!
I am trying to be patient and understanding with my Godzilla pup. It’s not always easy. But I can already see some improvement in her understanding of household rules. She is learning to be more polite. It’s not easy for her either. She is just a pup after all.
There are some good pup training books out there for kids.
Dog Training for Kids by Carol Lea Benjamin
See Spot Sit by Carol Lea Benjamin
My Dog! A Kids’ Guide to Keeping a Happy & Healthy Pet by Michael J. Rosen
Martha Stewart has instructions for making some cute origami animals from napkins.
Southeastern Guide Dogs likes to get donations of DIY paracord puppy collars. They provide instructions HERE.
HERE are instructions for making a great fleece tug toy for your dog. We LOVE these toys! And our detention boys sometimes make a bunch of these to give to the local animal shelter.
Now you might want to visit Susanna Hill’s Blog for a list of more PERFECT PICTURE BOOKS and fine resources to go with!
And here is a little training video with a 5 week old pup!
I have some crazy hair. Not the long, flowing, curly kind, but the flying everywhere kind. I shed. A lot. I leave trails wherever I go. Everyday I get brushed and combed and furminated. And sometimes I get vacuumed. I like getting vacuumed. Yet the hair still drops wherever I go.
At school the kids are always fascinated by my hair. While they read to me they are messing with my hair. If the Mom Person is reading, they brush me with their fingers and collect handfuls of hair. They always want to take some home with them. The Mom Person carries some with her wherever she goes (on her clothes, hehe!). She loves having a bit of me with her all the time. :D
This is not actually me, but it could be. Someone was very clever. The Mom Person has a friend who knitted a sweater with her dog’s hair. Crazy.
My Princesses were here recently for a short visit and we read a book about Crazy Hair. Not the shedding kind of Crazy Hair, but the long, unmanageable kind of Crazy Hair.
The book is called Crazy Hair!!
This is a crazy book about some REALLY crazy hair!! Scary kind of crazy hair. With stuff living in it. It’s written in some fun, jivey rhyme and is fun to read. The illustrations are FANTABULOUS!!!! It begins with a young girl, Bonnie, telling the narrator that he has crazy hair. Then -
I said, “Miss,
How do you dare
Talk about my
This hair, you know,
Is all my own
Since I was two
My hair has grown.
Birds fly down
Nesting in my
He then proceeds to tell her all about the birds and other wild beasts that live in his hair. Hunters have expeditions and get lost. There are musicians and dancers and hot air balloons! Carousels and pirate ships! The Noodle Princess, who is 3, was a little terrified by the thought of those kinds of goings on in someone’s hair and worried about what might be in her hair! I won’t tell you how the story ends – but it is a little scary!
Ms Gruener at The Corner on Character recently did a post about hair and shared a really charming video that i would now like to share with you. And feel free to visit Ms Gruener at her blog HERE and see the whole inspiring post. She is a school counselor and does some really fine things at her school.
I wish for you a Good Hair Day!
Your friend with the Furminator