Filled With Christmas Joy!

The Christmas Season is filled with joyful hustle and bustle. Trees come into the house. Empty spaces are filled with boxes and paper and ribbon. Intriguing aromas spread from the kitchen. Christmas music is everywhere. Decking the Halls and Jingling the Bells. A Holly, Jolly Christmas over and over again. Parties and parties and visits from family and friends. And then there are the presents!! Toys and boxes of treats and brand new tennis balls!!! Life couldn’t be better!

I don’t know about what goes on at your house. Maybe the same sorts of sensations, maybe you celebrate in different ways. But I’m guessing that a lot of you receive new books under your tree. Our Christmas tree seems to sprout them like roots. And not only  that, but our Best Girl Brenna was here to read them to us! Life couldn’t be better!

BGB presented us with a new William Wegman picture book. She knows how much I love Mr Wegman and his weimaraners.

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Flo & Wendell was published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2013.

It stars brother and sister, Flo and Wendell and begins ” This is Flo. What’s your name? Is it Flo, too?” We learn that Flo is a very sophisticated young pup. She can read and write and tie her shoes. She paints like her artist father. (and very much like Walker!). Then we meet her little brother, Wendell, who likes to play hide and seek.

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He hides from Flo. She seeks. Sometimes. The two of them have lots of fun together. Sometimes, like most brothers and sisters, they have different ideas about fun. But at the end of the day, Flo likes to read and Wendell likes to listen. My kind of friends!!

Mr Wegman is a funny, talented gentleman. He loves his dogs. I love his artwork. You will love this book!

Another book that appeared under that Christmas tree is Baa Baa Black Sheep written and illustrated by Iza Trapani.

IMG_4695This book was published by Charlesbridge Publishing in 2001.

This is one cute tale stretching out the rhyme about the sheep with 3 bags full of wool. We don’t have sheep here, but we have goats and lots of bags of mohair. I would gladly give 3 bags full. And the sheep in this book gladly gives away her wool. But then she is faced with all the other farm animals who want other things from her. The kittens ask for milk, the mouse wants some cheese, the pig wants some slop, the horse wants some hay, and the dog wants a bone. But the poor sheep has none of these things. All she has is wool and all she does is knit. Throughout the whole story. The animals get angry with her and call her selfish, until they see that all along the sheep has been knitting things for each of the animals! This is a story about giving of yourself and sharing your talents. And you will receive much joy in return.

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I love the illustrations in this book. They are soft and fluffy and wooly looking. The sheep reminds me of our goat, Henry. She seems to be so content with what she has in her life. She has a great smile. Like Ms Trapani.

You can visit Ms Trapani at her website HERE

You can visit Mr Wegman and Flo and Wendell on Mr Wegman’s website HERE.

And now Christmas is over and the tree is gone, the boxes and paper and ribbons are all put away. The new books are on the shelves. BGB leaves tomorrow to go back to her other home and her other dogs. Time to greet a new year and return to the daily routine of school and library visits and a quiet house.

IMG_4697I hope you had a house full of JOY during this Christmas time.

Happy New Year
Rhythm

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Every Day is Christmas

I mentioned before that this was a week filled with Celebratory Joy. I talked about my birthday, but we had Christmas parties as well! All the classes at school had parties with silly games and lots of sugary stuff that I wasn’t allowed to share. I did get some french fries from the cafeteria though!

There was a Christmas party with the Guide Dog Puppy raiser group in Dallas. We get to celebrate with them because we (me and Walker) are Career Changed dogs. That means that we were once upon a time guide dog pups in training, but didn’t become working guide dogs. We had other jobs in store for us. This party was much more fun because lots of doggy friends were there and the whole place was filled with doggyness!! As in treats for us!

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My book choice today is Dogs Think That Every Day is Christmas by Ray Bradbury. Illustrated by Louise Reinoehl Max. Published by Gibbs Smith in 1997.

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This book is a lovely poem about dogs and the Joy that we find in each and every day! It is a top notch little book of dog philosophy. The pictures by Ms Max are spot on – full of joyful exuberance. Check it out!

And a little gift from me to you — A Merry Texas Christmas wish!

Joyful wishes –
Rhythm

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They Say It’s My Birthday

This is the time of year for Joy and Celebration and this week has been a particularly Joyful one. We Celebrated my birthday. I don’t really “get” birthdays. The passing of time has no real meaning for me. But I do appreciate a good party! Especially when special treats and presents are involved! And good friends!

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We got to have burgers and fries from Dairy Queen!!!!! My favorite dining experience! And look at those goodies I got! My very own Tomato and Pea and Mr Wintergreen! And a new floatie for the river. And some yummie treats! What a lucky girl I am!!

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Walker decided that Mr Pea was meant for him. I don’t mind sharing.

We also partied at school and the kids did some chalk drawings of me.IMG_4567

This is an outline of my lovely self.

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We found a great book at the library. Bow-Wow Birthday by Lee Wardlaw and illustrated by Arden Johnson-Petrov. It was published by Boyds Mill Press in 1998.

IMG_4570It’s the story of a young girl who decides to have a birthday party for her Grandpa’s dog, Rambler who is about to be “about a hundred”!!! You know, kids ALWAYS want to know how old I am in dog years. What does that mean anyway? Time is a baffling thing to me. I’m told that I’ve been on this earth for 11 years. I’m told that that’s pretty old. And in Dog Years or Human Years or whatever, it’s about 80 or something. A concept that I can’t wrap my head around.

IMG_4572Anyway, back to the book — Little Marisa decides that Rambler needs a birthday party. She invites her friends to come celebrate. They must wear their best dog outfit. They make dog tags with their “dog” name on it to wear at the party. They have hot dogs for lunch and have a barking, howling game. Rambler just wants to nap in the sun. After the fun and games the big cake is brought out, but Rambler is no where to be found! The kids all look far and wide for the old dog. Marisa is distraught. But she eventually finds him warm and comfy in her closet. The illustrations are all cool pastel drawings – just like the kids at school did of me! The last picture is one of a smiling girl and a smiling dog. Priceless!

If you’re interested in “dog years” vs. “human years” you can find more info HERE.

I’ll leave you with a bit of Joyful Christmas Cheer —

I wish you Joy in the coming week of Christmas!

Rhythm
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Doggyness

Last week before all this icy weather locked us in, my buddy Walker had an opportunity to go do some painting with Mrs K’s 2nd graders. Every year they read a story about an elephant that paints and invite Walker to come demonstrate how dogs can paint too! This is the 3rd year that Walker has visited them and he sure has a fun time!

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We also went to the library last week and came home with the perfect go-along book.

IMG_4234Rabbityness is written and illustrated by Jo Empson. It was published in 2012 by Child’s Play. (Please click on Ms Empson’s name and visit her lovely website!)

The artwork in this book is extraordinary! The story is reminiscent of the Heart and the Bottle. It begins “Rabbit liked doing rabbity things.” Like hopping and jumping and washing his ears. Each of these pages shows a black rabbit on a white page in sparse green grass doing rabbity things. Then we see “Rabbit also liked doing unrabbity things.” “He liked painting …”

IMG_4235And there suddenly is a BURST of color like fireworks. Painting and music made Rabbit very happy and he filled the woods with both. This made all the other rabbits happy too. But one day Rabbit disappeared. Now the book is back to black and gray. The other rabbits were very sad and didn’t know what to do. They bottled up their hearts. Then they found that Rabbit had left a deep, dark hole and in the hole were some gifts — paints and musical instruments. The rabbits unbottled their hearts and started filling the woods with color and music and discovered that this let them remember Rabbit and they were all happy again.

Rabbityness is about individuality and knowing your own heart. Like the Heart and the Bottle, Rabbityness is also about loss and finding your heart again. The two books are so alike and yet so different. This one is very “Walker” with his splashes of color everywhere. He likes doing undoggy things like painting. And eating bark off of trees. But he sure spreads JOY along with paint splatters with his happy tail.

walker painting 4I wish you a Doggyness day full of laughter and color and music. Dance and be creative and Joyful!

Tis the season!

Your friend
Rhythm

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Pups in the Snow

CIMG8440Things are starting to thaw out a bit now, but we’re still pretty much iced in. A good day for sitting by the fire with some good books.

IMG_4237We pulled out a couple of good ones.

Puppies in the Snow is by James Young. It was published in 2003 by Scholastic, Inc.

This is a cute counting book with pups playing in the snow and other critters watching. It begins with “ONE lonely puppy in the snow, so far from home, so far to go!” A crow sees him as she flies by, and in an old tree stump you can see a puppy nose sticking out. Then there are TWO friendly puppies and an owl and her babies watching. Each page gives you a glimpse of a new puppy being added and a mom and babies of some other animal. In the end TEN puppies make it home to their mom for dinner and a nice warm bed. It’s a pretty fun book with happy, smiley pups romping in the snow.

Mice on Ice is by Rebecca and Ed Emberley. This is an I Like to Read book published in 2012 by Holiday House. This father/daughter writing team does the craziest books!! Illustrations are BOLD and Bright and Kookie. This book is kind of Dr Seussish. Very simple text – “Mice walk on snow. Mice skate on ice.” But the illustrations just make you smile and giggle. The mice skate all over the ice making designs with their skating. And they make a CAT! A Cat with a Hat! And the cat with the hat skates with the mice on the ice! Pretty cool!

I could not find any information on Mr James Young. 😦

But Rebecca Emberley has a great website HERE.

And her Dad, Ed Emberley is the Master and Commander of children’s books and fingerprints. His website is HERE.

For more about I Like to Read books visit Holiday House HERE.

And here are some little pups having a fun time in the snow –

I hope you’re having a JOYous day wherever you are and whatever the weather

Rhythm

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The Land of Snow and Ice

We are iced in this weekend. No school on Friday. All the roads are ice. The 7 Acre Wood is a regular ice rink. It’s white and beautiful and when I run across it the Mom Person says I sound like a horse clopping along. Buddy the pony left us some yummy popsicles! We don’t get this white stuff very often. It’s fun when it comes – for me and Walker anyway, the Mom Person does not like it at all!

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It all brings to mind a lovely book we have called Hannah’s Bookmobile Christmas. We got this book some time ago because the Mom Person has a thing for bookmobiles. She would like to have her own bookmobile and I could help her with it! But the thing that I love most about this book is that it is illustrated by one of my very favoritest illustrators – Ms Gabi Swiatkowska. Incredible artwork! The book is written by Sally Derby. It was published in 2001 by Henry Holt and Co.

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This is a story of a young girl Hannah and her Aunt Mary who drives a bookmobile named Blue Bird. It’s Christmas Eve. “Snowflakes like dandelion fluff floated in the air. Christmas carols rang through the streets, and the sleigh bells on Blue Bird’s door chimed merrily as people went in and out.” All day they made stops for people to come in and visit and check out books. Lots of people gave them Christmas goodies and warm cheer. And all the time, Mary worried about the snow. At the end of the day she would have to return Hannah to her home on the top of a very steep hill. The tension mounts as the day slips away and the snow gets heavier. But Mary and Hannah visit everyone on their route. Then comes the trek up Hannah’s hill. It’s nail biting time as Blue Bird slips and slides. Finally they reach Hannah’s lane but it is too treacherous to go any further, so the two librarians decide to stay the night right there in Blue Bird. They were safe and cozy and snuggled up with their hot cocoa and Christmas stories to read.

There is a brief history of bookmobiles at the end of the book. This is a great read for a snowy, icy day!

historic-bookmobile-No-2I hope you’re warm and snuggled wherever you are
Rhythm

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Percy Learns to Fly

I was bred to be a Guide Dog for a Blind person, but that was not meant to be. Instead I became a special friend to young people with special needs. I spend much of my time at school helping these little folks adjust to a world that is sometimes harsh and misunderstanding. For kids with autism and down’s syndrome and other disabilities, I become a bridge to a more comfortable day at school. If they can hold on to me, school doesn’t seem such a scary place. If they can walk me down the hall, other kids are impressed and want to talk to them. If they can hold my leash or brush, they can learn to hold and use a spoon or a pencil. If they can laugh, the world is good.

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We have a special Fiction Picture Book that is all about being different and trying to fit in.

IMG_4144Percy Learns to Fly was written by Patricia Schetter, a Behavior Analyst and Autism Specialist.

It is illustrated by my special friend Mary Livingston.

It was published in 2013 by ABTA Products and Publications. (Autism and Behavior Training Associates)

Percy Learns to Fly just recently won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award. For more about this award check HERE.

Themes – Being different, penguins, motivation and inspiration

From the book – “Everyone can see Percy is different. He tries hard to fit in with his friends and do well in school.”

“The families of Gull Island were excited as their eggs began hatching. The Hatcher family was the most excited because this was their first chick.”

Percy Learns to Fly is kind of an Ugly Duckling tale. The birds on Gull Island are sea gulls; graceful flyers of the sea. Percy does not look like all the other chicks. He’s big and gawky and doesn’t sound like all the others. As all the chicks grow bigger, they develop long wings with fluffy light feathers. Percy’s wings are short and stubby and sleek. His parents know that he’s different from the other chicks, but they are non-the-less proud of him and love him. When all the chicks started school, everyone made fun of Percy because he couldn’t do things like they did. They told him he was “hatched from the wrong egg.” But his mom told him that “God made each of us in a different way so we can do what we are called to do in life.”

IMG_4146And that’s what Percy found to be true. When it came time for all the chicks to fly, Percy just couldn’t fly like all the others. But he soon found that he COULD fly — in the water! Then everyone cheered him for his differences.

This is a great little book for talking about finding your special talents. It’s a good motivational tale of overcoming difficulties. Percy is an inspiration!

I hope that you will check out Percy Learns to Fly and see for yourself. There is a great list of resources in the back of the book for parents and teachers.

You can find out more about Mary Livingston at her blog, The Backdoor Artist.

For more information about autism visit Autism Speaks.

The California Academy of Science has a live penguin cam where you can watch penguins “flying” underwater. Check it out HERE.

penguinsAnd here are some funny penguins made from water bottles

Click on the picture to visit a Pinterest board that is chock full of all things penguin.

Since today is Perfect Picture Book Friday, you might want to visit Susanna Hill’s blog for more Perfect Picture Books and lists of resources.

Spread your wings and FLY!
Rhythm

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