The Heart and the Bottle

img449I grew up as a guide dog in training. My 1st year of life was pure bliss living and loving with my family at the 7 Acre Wood. I went EVERYWHERE and did EVERYTHING with my Mom Person. She taught me about the world – the good and the bad. I was a curious pup and she encouraged my curiosity about the world and how best to relate to it. She opened my eyes and my heart to all the wonder and love that the world contained.

img450Then one day we got on a plane and flew far away to Florida. We took my best girl, Brenna, and stayed in a hotel with a whole bunch of other dogs. All my Guide Dog Puppy friends were there. We visited the beach and played in the park and went on a really long walk through town. Then we went off to visit the place where I was born. Southeastern Guide Dogs. My Mom Person had been telling me for some time that I was going off to college to learn how to be a Guide Dog, but I didn’t really get it until I saw the campus. And the next thing I knew, I was being led away by some stranger. I looked back at my Mom Person and she was crying. What was going on?

img338I didn’t see her again for a year. At least that’s what she says. For me it was infinity and beyond. I watched for her everyday. I tried to be a good college student. I did all I was supposed to do, but my heart was locked away.

We have a book by Oliver Jeffers called The Heart and the Bottle that seems to be all about what that year was like for me.

IMG_4094This book was published in 2010 by Philomel Books.

It is the tale of a girl whose life was filled with all the wonders of the world. She shared it all with a man who must be her Dad. They went EVERYWHERE and did EVERYTHING together. But one day he wasn’t there. And he wasn’t ever there again. She wasn’t sure what to do with her heart so she put it in a bottle to keep it safe and hung it around her neck. She was no longer filled with curiosity and the bottle was heavy around her neck. She went through infinity. Then one day she met a little girl who was still curious about the world, and she decided it was time to take her heart out of the bottle. But she didn’t know how. The little girl did know and showed her how. The big girl put her heart back where it belonged and all the wonders of the world came back to her.

You just can’t lock your heart away forever.

After my infinity time (a year) I was brought out of my kennel one day and there was a familiar scent in the air and then a familiar voice calling my name and then I saw her — My Mom Person had come back!  And this is what it was like for me —

Nobody thought to take a video of our reunion, but this is exactly how it was. JOY!!!

And now I spend my days with the Mom Person and we share the wonders of the world together again. Life is Bliss. And my heart is where it is meant to be.

I am truly blessed to have had the life that I have been given. I hope you have found your bliss this Thanksgiving weekend.

Open up your Heart


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Muddypaws and Birthdays

We had quite a wet, cold weekend here. Glorious weather to play in. The Mom Person deemed it too yucky. She does not appreciate the cold.


And I certainly didn’t mind lounging by the blazing fireplace. We also went to the library where we met up with my good reading pals, Will and Sunshine. And guess what?! Today is Will’s birthday!!

IMG_4102Will is really into video games and likes to keep me informed about the latest ones. I don’t know anything about video games, but he doesn’t seem to mind. He’s a pretty cool guy that way.

But since it was about to be his birthday, and since it was “yucky” outside, Sunshine found us the perfect book to read.

IMG_4100Muddypaws and the Birthday Party. Written by Deborah Chancellor and illustrated by Simon Mendez. This book was published in 2009 by Parragon Books.

“A story about birthdays, balloons, and best friends.” Sounds good.

Muddypaws looks to be a wee Golden retriever pup. Ben is his best friend, and they do everything together. One morning Muddypaws woke up to find a lot of new stuff around the house and Ben was too busy to play ball. He was playing with a big shiny thing that kept getting bigger and bigger. There was a whole mountain of these things on the floor. Muddypaws pounced on them and BANG! It wasn’t fun anymore.

It seems that it’s birthday time at Ben’s house and Muddypaws just seems to get into trouble trying to help. Ben didn’t want to play, Mom shooed Muddypaws out of the kitchen, then the yard was filled with stamping feet and loud voices. He couldn’t figure out what was going on and he was bored. But then Ben came to the rescue and invited Muddypaws to join the party because “best friends do everything together!”


This is a pretty cute book. There are quite a few books about Muddypaws and all the ones I’ve read are pretty cute. You just can’t get much cuter than a pup and his boy. Unless it’s a pup and her girl! An interesting thing about these books is that they are all written by different authors. Mr Mendez is the illustrator for all of them, but different writers. i don’t know the story behind that. This one is a good early reader book. The text is nice and big. There are a lot of words to sound out and think about. The pictures are great and help tell the story. I highly recommend this series of books.

A dog, a boy, a puddle — enjoy —

I wish you warmth and happy trails


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Little Beauty PPBF

I am sooooooo excited about the book we found this week!!!

It’s a book by ANTHONY BROWNE!!!!!

Anthony Browne is the King of Gorillas. I have shared other of his books HERE and HERE.

Today’s book is one we found at the school library. It just popped out at me and made me go Whoa!!

IMG_4099Little Beauty. Just look at that cover! Doesn’t it make you say Whoa!!?!

It was published in 2008 by Candlewick Press. (You can never go wrong with Candlewick!)

It is a fiction book about friendship and gorillas and animal communication.

It is suitable for ages 3-7. We read it with some 4th graders and they loved it!

Little Beauty is about a very special gorilla living in a zoo.

It begins – “Once upon a time there was a very special gorilla who had been taught to use a sign language.”

Because he knew sign language he could “talk” to the keepers and ask them for things that he wanted or needed. And he had almost everything he wanted and needed. Except a friend, and he was sad and lonely.

img446Now is that a sad face or what?!

I can do that face too —

Copy of CIMG7898Anyway, the gorilla told the keepers that he wanted a friend. There were no other gorillas at the zoo so they were baffled about what to do.

But finally one of them came up with a great idea. They got the gorilla a kitten named Beauty. The gorilla loved Beauty, and they became BEST friends. They did everything together, and were happy for a long time.

But one day they watched a movie together. King Kong. And the movie upset the gorilla. So much so that he got angry and smashed the TV! The keepers rushed in to see what had happened. They said “Who broke the television?” and ” Now we have to take Beauty away.”  Oh, No! But then Beauty, the kitten, started to sign! She said “It was ME!!!!” This made the keepers laugh and they decided to let Beauty stay and the kitten and the gorilla lived happily ever after.

One reason that I like Mr Browne’s books is because the illustrations are so rich and full of detail. This book is a little different – there are some pictures that are just black and white sketches. Kind of unfinished. That made me stop and think about why he would do that. I’m not sure, but I think it may have something to do with the two characters being happy? Anyway, it kind of caught me off guard and made for an interesting bit to think about.

Now, this story may sound familiar to some of you — I recently did a review of a NON-fiction book about this very friendship. Koko’s Kitten. Koko is a REAL gorilla who uses sign language. And Koko got her very own kitten that she loved. This is one reason that I was so excited about this book, Little Beauty. The two books go together nicely.

For more information about gorillas and gorilla research visit the Gorilla Foundation HERE.

Anthony Browne was the Children’s Laureate from 2009-2011. For more about Mr Browne and for some teacher resources and information about some of his projects visit HERE.

And for more about unusual animal friendships you might check out this book –


Unlikely Friendships, by Jennifer S. Holland. As the cover says, this is a collection of stories and pictures of “Unlikely friendships” between different animal species. Stories and pictures with big AAAHHHH! factor.

I have a couple of videos of Mr Browne talking about this book Little Beauty that you might find interesting –

Now you must visit Susanna Hill’s Blog and see more Perfect Picture Books along with some great resources.

I wish you a Joyful weekend full of friends and good times


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Inspiration in a Brush Stroke

The best thing about Picture Books is —- the Pictures!! I love art and admire folks who can turn some brush strokes into something inspirational.

Walker and I paint a bit. To entertain and, I suppose, inspire somewhat. Walker paints with his tail and we both do some pretty awesome pawpainting.



But lately I’ve been hearing a lot about a young man who is an incredible artist — and he’s blind. Yes, blind. He can not SEE what he paints. At least not in the same way that we see. Also, he’s from Texas – so he’s doubly blessed!

I just want to share his story with you — You will be amazed and inspired. And grateful that there are people in the world like John Bramblitt.

Mr Bramblitt has a website HERE that you might want to check out to see more of his work.

And a memoir titled Shouting in the Dark, My Journey Back to the Light

And that’s all for today. I think it’s enough.

Think on that


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Hide and Go Seek

One of my favorite games is a kind of hide and go seek. Somebody hides my toy and I have to find it by listening to hot and cold hints. I LOVE this game!!!!

IMG_4071Sometimes I hide the toy and the Mom Person has to find it. She’s not very good at it and  usually needs help.

IMG_4068Sometimes I like to hide myself and see if anyone can find me.

IMG_3067And sometimes the other animals at the 7 Acre Wood like to play hide and seek as well.


Hide and Seek is a fun game no matter how you play it!

IMG_4062We found a fun book at the library last week that’s all about Hide and Seek.

Millie and the Big Rescue by Alexander Steffensmeier.

It was published in 2012 by Walker Books. (We LOVE Walker Books!)

This is a FUN, SILLY Picture Book. Millie is a cow and the star of the book. She loved to play hide and seek. And so did all her friends on the farm. One day Millie chose to hide in the top of a big tree. No one could find her. She watched them all looking and looking. After awhile she got bored and decided to try to climb down, but found she was STUCK!

Well, in her attempts to get down from the tree, she gave herself away and all the other animals saw that she was stuck in the tree. They all made various attempts to rescue her, but as they did, each one got stuck in the tree with Millie. This book is very reminiscent of Oliver Jeffers’s Stuck! Even the farmer lady ends up in the tree. (I like that it’s a farmer lady and not a farmer man.) They decide that it’s a nice spot for a picnic and tea. But then the mailman comes and then the firemen to rescue everybody. And they ALL end up in the tree enjoying the view and eating cake. A very Happy Ending!

I love this book! The illustrations are really funny and require lots of thoughtful observation because there is a lot going on on every page. Even the endpapers show Millie in various hiding places.

Mr Steffensmeier has a pretty cool website HERE. It’s all in German so I can’t read any of it. But you might can.

And here is a little video of Mr Steffensmeier drawing Millie the Cow. Except in German she appears to be Lieselotte. Anyway, enjoy —

Wishing you a Joyful week full of nice views and fun with your friends


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My Big Dog

When I was a wee, young pup and first came to live at the 7 Acre Wood, there was already another dog living here. A Big Dog named Hank. Hank was not very happy to meet me in the beginning. It took a few days for him to be ok with me cuddling with him.

DSCF0020Then when Walker came to live with us, I was the Big Dog and I was not too happy to share things with him. But it didn’t take long to realize he wasn’t so bad after all.

walker 7-1-07 039I guess it’s hard to share attention with a new brother or sister or whatever. They steal your toys and get in your space and upset the family dynamics.

IMG_3752One of my all time favorite books is My Big Dog by Janet Stevens and her sister, Susan Stevens Crummel.

It was published in 1999 by Golden Books Publishing

It is a fiction Picture Book suitable for K and up

Themes would be animal stories and sibling rivalry

It begins — “My name is Merl and I am a cat, a very special cat. Inside my house, my PUR-R-R-R-fect house, everything is MINE!”

Merl the cat goes on to list all the things in the house that belong to him — including the people. Then he hears some strange sounds – CRASH. THUD. WOOF. His house has been invaded by a very large puppy! He tries lots of ways to get rid of the obnoxious, slobbery pup, but nothing works. And the puppy keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. So Merl decides that he himself must leave.

IMG_3749Merl is picked up by a nice lady who takes him home and proceeds to bathe him and fluff him and dress him. Well, that’s no fun! He tries a farmhouse, but they shoo him out to the barn. Two kids find him, but they play tug-of-war with him. The he gets rained on. A very sad state.

The next thing he knows, he’s being picked up by that pesky big dog! The big dog takes Merl back home. And Merl decides that home is the place to be even if he has to share it with a big dog. Maybe they can be friends after all.

The illustrations in My Big Dog are funny and fabulous. Soft artwork is combined with photographs to make for a whimsical reality. I love it!

This book has quite a bit of onomatopoeia (big fun word!) that makes it a fun read aloud. It would provide for a fun lesson about that Big Word.

Some of the kids in the class we visited have little brothers and sisters and we had a good discussion about how they felt when those siblings arrived. Some of them love their little siblings like crazy but some find that they get a little jealous. I can sure understand that.

Ms Crummel has some class activities on her website HERE.

It is Perfect Picture Book Friday so you might want to venture over to Susanna Hill’s blog for more fabulous Picture Books and great resources.

And here’s a little video that I’m guessing will make you humans chuckle —

So go hug your sibling – and your dog – and your cat —
and have a JOYFUL weekend!

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Infinity and Me

Infinity is a big word. It’s a bigger concept than my canine brain can come to terms with. What is infinity? The dictionary defines infinity as “anything endless or unlimited as space, time, distance, quantity, etc. Without limit or end.”

IMG_4053Whew! Without limit or end. Well, certainly when I look up at the sky at night, I must be seeing infinity. When I think about my Mom Person and the love that I feel in my heart, I must be feeling infinity. When she leaves me at home, I feel the infinity of time passing. When I go to school and visit with kids, I know the infinity of possibility. When I sit at this computer, I see the infinity of connections that are made every day all around the world.

We have a lovely Picture Book called Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford. I was attracted to this book because of the fabulous illustrations by Gabi Swiatkowska. I am quite taken with her artwork. It has an old fashioned, Edward Gorey feel to it. She illustrated another book, the Golden Rule, that I did a post about HERE. And we have a couple of others on our bookshelves.

Infinity and Me was published in 2012 by Carolrhoda Books and is suitable for ages 5 and up.


This is the story of Uma, a young girl with some brand new red shoes that she can’t wait to show off. When she can’t sleep for the excitement, she goes outside to look at the stars and starts to feel very small. She also starts to wonder about infinity. What does infinity mean?

The next day she asks various people what infinity means to them and gets an infinity of answers. From numbers too big to count, to a “napping 8” racetrack that goes on forever, to family, to friendship, to music. The possibilities were endless! In the end she realizes that infinity for her is found back at home in the comforting arms of her grandmother. I can relate to that!

IMG_4058A book about New Red Shoes, Infinity, and Grandmothers. Fabulous!

At the end of the book is an Author’s Note in which Ms Hosford explains a little about the science of infinity. Did you know that the “napping 8” that is the symbol for infinity is called a lemniscate ∞? Fun word! Ms Hosford asked a lot of kids what they thought infinity was and got an infinity of answers. Just like Uma. And in the end she challenges the reader to “find your own way to imagine the idea.”

Danielle at This Picture Book Life did a really nice review of this book that you might want to check out HERE.

If you happen to be into the mathematical idea of infinity THIS LINK might interest you.

If you see music as infinite you might check out THIS LINK. And THIS LINK for some Circular Music.

And if you see infinity in art you might like this video —

So now take up the challenge — How do you see INFINITY?

Wishing you Endless Joy

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No Words Necessary

i have become a big fan of Picture Book author and illustrator, Mr Chris Raschka. I first made his acquaintance some time ago with a book called A Ball For Daisy.

IMG_4049A Ball for Daisy was published in 2011 by Schwartz & Wade Books. It was the 2012 Caldecott Medal Winner.

There are no words in A Ball for Daisy. Just pictures of a happy little dog who receives a new red ball. No words are necessary to see the JOY that comes from having a new red ball! It is written in the sparkle in Daisy’s eyes. Daisy’s girl takes Daisy and her new ball to the park to play, and oh dear! Another dog steals Daisy’s ball! And bursts it! No words are necessary to see the devastation that comes from losing your new red ball. It’s there in the hanging head and tail. Poor Daisy. But the next day the owner of the murderous dog presents a new blue ball to Daisy. Oh JOY! No words are necessary to see the relief and forgiveness. It’s there in Daisy’s prance. This book is an emotional roller coaster. Laughter and tears and cheering. I love reading this book with kids. They GET it!

Well, Mr Raschka was at the Texas Book Festival recently talking about his new book — Daisy Gets Lost. Published in 2013 by Schwartz & Wade Books.


In Daisy Gets Lost, Daisy and her girl go to the park with Daisy’s blue ball. Daisy gets distracted by a squirrel and chases it into the woods. Uh oh! Daisy’s lost in the woods! She doesn’t know where her girl is! And her girl doesn’t know where she is! Now we have the 1st words in the book “DAISY!!!!” We see the girl and the dog running back and forth frantically. Then Daisy howls! And her girl can find her. Yay! Happy reunion!! Another emotional story. The Mom Person got me my very own copy of Daisy Gets Lost and Mr Raschka signed it for me —

IMG_3891We read this book to some kindergarteners recently. They were supposed to write a story, but they didn’t know how to write the words!! So we showed them how a story didn’t really need written words. You could do it all with pictures! They were quite excited! No letters and no words to write. They could do that! And they did. They did some awesome stories!

I love wordless books. They spark imaginations and one story can become lots of stories.

Mr Raschka has written and illustrated many, many books. I have enjoyed several of them (I reviewed Fishing in the Air by Sharon Creech and illustrated by Mr Raschka here.) and want to find more. His artwork is big and bold and loose and free and full of emotion. Not all of his books are wordless. He does a nice job with poetic verse as well. He has done several books about jazz musicians in which you can feel the Rhythm and beat.

For such a prolific author and illustrator I could find no website for Mr Raschka. But you can read about him HERE and HERE and HERE

A video of Mr Raschka talking books –

Now I’m off to play with my red ball —

IMG_4043I hope you have a JOYous week! And don’t get lost!

Your friend in the woods

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I’m the Best!

My Mom Person is always telling me that I am the Very Best Girl That Ever Was.  And I have to believe her because she always knows Best!

IMG_1729I know I’m the best at getting the Mom Person to do my bidding

IMG_5645And I’m the best at making therapists cry when their patients do something for me that they wouldn’t do for the therapist

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Like wear a special “calm-down” vest or pick up and hold objects like a ball.

I may be the best at some things. But I know that I am not the best at a lot of other things.

IMG_3759We recently read a really cute picture book called I’m the Best by Lucy Cousins. It was published in 2010 by Walker Books. (We like Walker books!)

This is the story of Dog who thinks he’s the Best of everything. He says his friends are brilliant, but he’s the best. We see him compete with his friends in various competitions like running and digging and swimming and being big. He brags about being the best at everything. It makes his friends sad. But they figure out a way to teach him a lesson.

IMG_3761The illustrations and the words are all BIG and BOLD and I like that. The kids really liked this book. It was easy to read. It was funny. And it had a good lesson. Don’t be a show-off!!! Be a GOOD friend! Root for your friends and stand up for them. Be proud of their accomplishments. Good friends are a good thing. See what good things you can learn from a picture book?! They’re the Best!!

Ms Cousins is quite famous for her Maisy books. You’ve probably heard of those. Maisy has her own website for kids and teachers. You can check it out HERE. To see an interview with Ms Cousins click HERE.

Here’s a little song performed by 2 very good friends, Lucy (Ball, not Cousins!) and Ethel —

I hope that you have your Best Day ever! And be the Best that you can be!

Your Best Friend

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