Rickie and Henri

When I was a wee pup, I lived in a heavenly puppy paradise in Florida. The place was called Southeastern Guide Dogs. There were lots and lots of pups there – all my brothers and sisters and cousins. We spent our time playing and wrestling and cuddling together. People were always coming to play with us and cuddle with us. Oh! It was heaven!


Then one day some people came and took me away from my family and my paradise. I flew on an airplane far away and ended up in Texas at a strange house with strange smells and no other puppies. There was a big dog who was very nice to me and he explained about what my new life was about to be like.


We had a fun day playing together, but when the nighttime came, I was carried into a cage. I was to sleep here. All by myself. Oh my! But wait! I could smell my brothers in that cage! My new Mom Person had put in a big towel that had my brothers and sisters smell all over it. A bit of my paradise. And there was a big soft creature in there that I could cuddle with. I was told that it was a gorilla. That gorilla became my sleeping buddy and I have him still.

IMG_3547Gorilla was a real life saver for me. He helped me not be afraid of my new surroundings.

It’s hard being taken away from your family.

We recently read a book about this very thing.

Rickie and Henri by Jane Goodall and illustrated by Alan Marks

It was published by Penguin Young Readers in 2004

This is a non-fiction book suitable for Pre-school and up to adults.

Themes- friendship, endangered animals, family

Rickie is a baby chimpanzee living happily with her mother and family in the rain forest of Central Africa. One day her world is turned upside down when some men come and kill her mother and take Rickie away in a cage. She is put up for sale in a market. Poor, scared Rickie! But one day a kind man rescues her and takes her home with him where she discovers a true friend in a big dog named Henri. She sleeps with Henri, clinging to his fur like she did with her mother. She rides on his back, like she did with her mother. They become best friends.

Rickie eventually becomes too big to ride on Henri and the decision is made to send her to a sanctuary for orphan chimps where she makes many new friends of her own kind.

IMG_3550This is a lovely story about a very unlovely topic – illegal hunting and selling of endangered wildlife. The  beginning of the story is a little scary and very sad. It made the Mom Person cry. But then it becomes a happy, hopeful tale. Mr. Marks’s illustrations are beautiful and full of emotion. It is a beautiful book.

Rickie and Henri is a true story and Rickie still lives at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Sanctuary in the Congo Republic.

Ms Goodall is a very famous lady who began studying chimpanzees in 1960. You can find out more about her and the Jane Goodall Institute at their website here.

A worthwhile class project might be to become a chimpanzee guardian through the Institute and learn more about the plight of these fascinating creatures.

You might also look into other unlikely friendships and talk about what being a friend really means. What makes a good friend? How does one be a good friend?

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday, brought to you by Susanna Leonard Hill. You might want to visit her blog for more fun picture books with resources to go with —

Here is a look at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary —

Have a great weekend — read a book with a friend!


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Goin’ on a Bear Hunt!

Labrador retrievers are hunting dogs. At least a lot of them are. That’s what they were originally bred to do.

hunting lab 5These hunters mostly retrieve ducks. Labs were bred to go find ducks that fell into the water, so that the hunters didn’t have to get wet and muddy. Labs love to be wet and muddy. I have been known to retrieve ducks —

I like to bring back just about anything that falls into the water –

IMG_2041And I like to play a good game of Hot and Cold, hunting for toys hidden in desks. But I don’t know about hunting for bears. Especially in dark caves. But our California Princesses LOVE going on bear hunts! I think most all little kids love going on bear hunts!

The Noodle Princess, who is 2 yrs old, recently discovered the fabulous book about bear hunts — We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.


They recently checked it out from the library. This is an especially wonderful addition because it is a pop-up book!! This book was published in 2007 by Little Simon. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt was first published in 1989 and before that it was a favorite camp fire song. It has since become an early childhood staple. The pre-schoolers at my school sing and perform this song daily. They love wading through squishy mud and swimming through big rivers.

If you don’t know the story, (where have you been?!) it’s about a family that decides to go on a bear hunt. They encounter lots of natural obstacles that they can’t go over or under or around so they have to go THROUGH! The Noodle Princess reads this book to me over the airways via Skype. She loves the refrain – “We’re going on a bear hunt! Gonna catch a big one. What a beautiful day. We’re not scared! Oh, oh —– “

And in this book from the library she has all the tabs to pull that make the pictures come alive!


And she even likes to draw her own bear hunt —


But — library books have to go back to the library! She was not at all happy about that!!! So the King and Queen had to go on a book hunt and find the Noodle her very own pop-up copy of the Bear Hunt. Now everyone is happy and safe at home and she can pull the tabs to her hearts content.

Mr Rosen has a really cool website that you might want to visit here.

You can view a series of video interviews with Ms Oxenbury here at Reading rockets.

Dantheman has a whole list of activities and suggestions to go with this song/book here.

And now Mr Michael Rosen himself doing We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!

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Hope you have some exciting adventures this week!

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The Adventures of Tomato and Pea – a blog tour review!!

Yay!!! It’s my turn! It’s my turn! There’s a blog tour going on which you may or may not be aware of.

tp1blogtourbannerTo get the full blog tour schedule and to see where to find the book click on this banner!

I’ve been anxiously awaiting my turn to talk about this really cool book written by this really cool kid, Erik Weibel. I discovered Erik early in my blogging career about a year ago. He has a blog called This Kid Reviews Books. A KID doing book reviews! Surely a dog could do that, too! Erik is actually kind of like a Labrador retriever. He seems to be always happy, and positive about the world. He has a great sense of humor. He’s a real jokester. He’s a genius. He’s very creative. Like I said — a Labrador retriever! (I’m not sure if he likes to play ball or not)

Erik1Well, Erik — who is 11 years old in people years, has written and published a book! A very clever book, I might add. The Adventures of Tomato and Pea,  Book 1:A Bad Idea. But the book was a good idea!

The storyline from the back of the book — “For years the evil villain Wintergreen had tried to destroy super crime-stopper, Tomato and his sidekick, Pea, and take over planet Oarg. In a plan gone wrong, Wintergreen traps himself along with his arch-nemesis in a runaway rocket ship that crashes on a strange planet called “EAR-TH”. Now these perennial enemies must learn to work together to survive the dangers on this strange world. Hungry birds, enormous snakes and the giant inhabitants of EAR-TH stand between this brawling bunch of aliens and finding a way home.”

IMG_3142We took this book to school and read it with some 3rd graders. It was the perfect book to share with them because they have been discussing “visualization” in class. Visualization is about turning the words you are reading into a movie in your mind. Seeing the pictures that are only there in words. And we all felt like Erik did an outstanding job of that! Tomato and Pea is a great read-aloud. There is lots of dialogue and lots of onomatopoeia. (Big word!). The characters are all nicely drawn out and have very unique qualities. But “visualizing” the characters is where I had a hard time. There are NO PICTURES of the characters in the book. So, this is how I pictured Tomato and Pea —


But the words in the book say that they DON’T look like a tomato and a pea! So we had to read over the descriptions again and again so I could get a better picture! The words say that Tomato is thin and has horns and when he sees his shadow he thinks he looks like the letter Y. And Pea says that he is taller and heavier than Tomato. So – they must be more like a hot dog and a cucumber.


The kids had a much easier time with this visualization than I did. But I think I’m getting the hang of it!!

(I have to confess that I ate Tomato after this photo session.)

My 3rd graders loved this book. They gasped when the S.S.Poofy took off with villains and good guys all aboard. They screamed when the rocket crashed on EAR-TH. They laughed when the crew fell out and landed in a bird’s nest surrounded by giant birds. They shook with fright when the heroes were faced with a giant rat. They giggled when Pea used the Chameleon Cloak. They held their breath as the travelers tried to get to the computers in the library. 3rd graders give this book all thumbs up! We are all anxious to read about the next adventure!

Now, in honor of Tomato and Pea, and since we had those nice tomatoes from our garden, when we got home we made some yummy Texas Cavier!


Those are black eye peas – yummmmm.

And this movie trailer is kind of a visualization of the S.S. Poofy

Now, Y’all go visit the other stops on the blog tour and then go out and find this book and have some fun!

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East Texas Book Fest

We had a big, big, busy weekend! Whew! The life of a working dog! We went on a bit of a road trip to Tyler, Texas, about 3 hours from our home in Glen Rose. Because —- we were participating in

The East Texas Book Fest!!

img436This was our first experience with a book festival. And it was an experience for sure! There were 65 authors there sharing their books and their writing journeys. There were library people and storytellers and newspaper people and photographers and kids!! — Lots of kids! and one other dog! Elvis. A gentlemanly Golden Retriever who also visits libraries.


I painted our table cover! The illustrator of my book, Paul Howell, joined us for the day. He drew lots of pictures while sitting at our table.


I got to help out at storytelling time. They had the best pillows. It was just like being at school.


We provided some coloring pages for the kids, and another author provided tiaras! That’s my buddy Makenna with the big smile! She shared her tiara.


But then we met Mamma Nellie who gave me my own tiara! Mamma Nellie’s daughter, Annette Bridges wrote a pretty funny book called The Gospel According to Mamma. Those two together are a pretty crazy pair! You can find out more about Ms Bridges and her books at her website here.

We got to meet lots of authors with some very interesting stories. Writers are really nice folks! And they like to talk a lot!

We met some newspaper folks, too. Ms Vanessa Pearson was quite interested in Paul’s story and wrote an article that was in the Tyler Morning Telegraph on Sunday!

We sold quite a few of my books. And the Mom Person purchased several books from other folks. Lots of books changing hands. One book that the Mom Person particularly fell in love with is put out by the Stephen F. Austin University Press. The book is a visual interpretation of a Wallace Stevens poem called Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. It is “imaged” by Corinne Jones and is a stunning book. A simple “culmination of sensation.”


You might notice some of my drool on the cover. It’s that luscious! The SFA Press table had some really fine books that the Mom Person was drooling over. I had to pull her away from there!

We also met Elvis, as I mentioned. At the end of the day we were two tired pups!!


For your listening pleasure — Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

All in all, it was a very fine day! I hope you had a fine weekend as well!
Happy trails to you all!

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National Library Card Sign-up Month

As I mentioned in a previous post, September is National Library Card Sign-up Month. To honor this tradition, Walker and I signed up and received our very own library cards from the Somervell County Library in Glen Rose, Tx.


It was an exciting event! Our library ladies are some pretty special folks. I’ve told you all about them and about our library in another post that you can check out if you so desire by going here.

To promote Library Card Sign-up, the Pinal County Library in Arizona has created some really cool graphics about the benefits of Libraries.

pcld-library-card-benefits-series-discover-new-worlds-8To see more of these unique advertising tools you can visit the Pinal County Library blog here.

For more things to do to promote Library Cards visit the American Library Association website here.

Here is a little movie called The Lord of the Libraries by Chris Martin. – enjoy!

I LOVE Libraries! They are magical places full of adventure and also quiet places of comtemplation.

IMG_3179Now, go hug a librarian and get yourself a library card!

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National Guide Dog Month

Well, September has arrived and it seems that a lot goes on at this time of year! September marks a whole new year for school folks. Kids and teachers. There’s Labor Day, football, and birthdays at our house. This is the month to celebrate lots of good things. Like Chickens!!?? Did you know that September is National Chicken Month? Now you do! It’s also National Library Card Sign-Up Month. And best of all – it’s National Guide Dog Month.


Guide Dogs, or Seeing Eye Dogs, are dogs specifically trained to assist a blind or visually impaired person in navigating through their world. They become that person’s “eyes”. The dog takes instructions from the human, but must watch out for obstacles and dangers in the path. They alert to steps and doors. They help find things – like doors and stairs and bathrooms and chairs. Guide dogs must be alert and vigilant in their job. Never reach out to pet a Guide Dog or interfere with their work.

National Guide Dog Month was established in 2008 as a fundraising event to help non-profit guide dog organizations that are accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation. There are a number of these organizations throughout the country. You can see a list of qualifying Guide Dog schools at the Guide Dog Users, Inc. website here.

img338I, myself, and my buddy Walker were born at Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida. Most all working Guide Dogs are bred by and born at an accredited Guide Dog school. As puppies they are usually placed with volunteer puppy raisers who keep them for about a year to a year and a half. It is the puppy raiser’s job to socialize the pup and teach us good house manners. We wear some kind of jacket or cape to identify us as pups in training and this allows us to go lots of places. After our time with our families we go back to our place of birth for work training. Ideally, after 6-8 months we get placed with a blind person and become their companion for the rest of our lives. It’s a lot of transition! Some dogs don’t handle all that moving around very well. Only about 50% of pups actually become working guides. And it’s been said that by that time, a guide dog is worth about $45,000.00!  And the blind person doesn’t have to pay for his/her dog. It is a gift to them from the school.

So Guide Dog schools depend on donations. Southeastern Guide Dogs allows supporters to name puppies. I was sponsored by Petco and named after one of their employee’s  favorite German Shepherd. You can find out more about Petco and their involvement in National Guide Dog Month here.

I’d like to share with you some pictures of me and Walker from our lives as guide dog pups in training –

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And I’ll send you off with a little music video from Southeastern — enjoy!

and go learn more about how you can help!

I wish you JOY during this fine month of September!

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Black Dogs

CIMG7124My buddy Walker is a black dog. A big black dog. When we go places, I always hear people commenting on how big he is. I don’t think he’s all that big – I’ve known much bigger dogs than Walker. But he’s a good size. I have heard that people tend to be afraid of big black dogs. Shelters claim that big black dogs are the hardest to find homes for. I’ve never seen anyone be afraid of Walker. That may be because his tail is ALWAYS wagging and he usually has some kind of pacifier in his mouth.

Not very fearsome, I don’t think. Walker, himself, used to be a fearful boy. He was afraid of lots of things when he was a pup. Thought for sure that the vacuum cleaner would gobble him up. As would the little kids at school.

walker and vacuum

He ate his dinner next to the vacuum for a long time and now he actually likes to be vacuumed! And I had to go to school with him a lot to show him that kids were actually a good thing.  We discovered that those pacifiers made a big difference for him. Now he’s the official greeter in the school halls.

I, myself, went through a time in my younger days when I would encounter things that gave me a fright. But I learned that most of those fearful moments got a lot smaller when I faced them head on and looked at them from a different angle.

Fear can make us do some crazy things. And lots of times because of fear we miss out on some good things.

We discovered a great book about fear. Black Dog by Levi Pinfold.


Black Dog was published in 2011 by Templar Books.

The book flap says, “This is a story about being afraid. It’s also a story about not being afraid. It all depends on how you see things.”

It is the story of the Hope family who live in a house all alone in the woods. One morning Mr Hope looked out the window and saw a black dog the size of a tiger. It really scared him and he called the police. Then Mrs Hope saw the dog and it appeared to be as big as an elephant. So they turned out the lights. As each member of the family wakes up and sees the dog out the window, the dog gets bigger and bigger and the family gets scareder and scareder. Until the youngest Hope, called Small, got up. Small got dressed and went out to face the dog.


Small was indeed very small. And the dog was indeed very large. But Small was not afraid. Small took off running and the dog chased after her. As she ran, Small sang. And as the dog chased, it got smaller.


And in the end, the family sees that the dog was not so big and scary after all.

This is a wonderful book. The artwork is scrumptious and fun. The family is quite funny. And Small is quite clever.

A book about being afraid. And about not being afraid.

I give this book all 4 Paws up!!!

Black Dog was the winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Award for 2013 and you can learn more about that here.

Mr Pinfold has a blog here.
And a Facebook page here.
You can view his website by clicking on his name above.

To find out about Black Dog Syndrome check here.
And here.

And here is an interview with Levi Pinfold —

I hope that all the Black Dogs that you encounter have wagging tails —

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