My Very Own Book!

Many years ago when I was a youngster and just getting started in my career as a Library Dog, the Mom Person and I wrote a story about my job duties. We had a conversation with some of the kids about different jobs that dogs have and what kinds of things were expected of me in my role as Canine Librarian.

At this same time, I started visiting the Life Skills classes at the schools. These are classes for kids with special needs so they can learn at their own pace in their own way. I love visiting these kids! One of my favorites was a high school boy with autism named Paul. He liked to draw pictures of me and play ball.(What more could a girl ask for?!)

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He was always drawing something. Draw, draw, draw. One day the Mom Person had the brilliant idea of asking Paul to draw pictures to go with our story! So with the help of his art teacher, Mr Haney, Paul went to work. It took him a long time to finish, but it was fun watching it all take shape.

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Then the Mom Person thought it would be fun to somehow publish it all! But she wanted to do it soon, before she lost touch with Paul and while I was still around! ( Dogs don’t live forever, you know!) She didn’t know anything about book publishing, but she found a company called Mill City Press that she liked and set the whole thing in motion — and now the book is here!

We had a book party this weekend to celebrate! Lots of friends and family came!

A great time was had by all!!

Reading With Rhythm, The Tale of a Library Dog, can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And at our local libraries!!  Thanks for letting me share!

I have a confession to make

I have a confession to make.

When I was a wee babe, I ate books. Yes, I did. I ate them. They were right there. They smelled quite nice. And I found that they tasted pretty good.

But the Mom Person moved them out of my reach and I soon found other, better things to chew on and eat. Now, in my maturity, I enjoy books because they bring me closer to the people that I love. They bring me soft hands and soothing voices. Sometimes giggles and laughter. And sometimes I learn a thing or two.

A book that was recently read to me and brought those peals of JOY and laughter is another one by that wonder boy, Oliver Jeffers. The Incredible Book Eating Boy. It was published by Philomel Books in 2006. It is suitable for all ages. It is hilarious!

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I am a HUGE Oliver Jeffers fan! His books are incredibly unique. This story is about Henry, a boy who LOVES books! But, he loves to EAT them! He loves to eat all sorts of books. And he finds that the more he eats — the smarter he gets! And he wants to be smart, so he eats and eats. But then he finds that he is feeling very ill indeed! And all the books that he was ingesting start getting all mixed up. In his tummy and in his head. Everyone tells him he should stop eating books. So he decides that he must. Then one day he picks up a book and instead of eating it, he opens it and reads it. And, lo and behold!, he discovers that he loves to READ!

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The story is a fun one, but the book itself is a real treasure. There is a big piece of the back of the book that has been bitten off! ( I did not do it!) The kids thought that was pretty funny. But the really clever thing is that the illustrations and text are printed on copies of real book pages from found books. Mr Jeffers has said that he used pieces of paper that he got from trash bins! Who would think to do such a thing!?

The kids that read this book to me gave it a very high 5. and I give it 4 big paws up. You must check it out!
This book lends itself to a discussion of the proper care and use of books. Some resources can be found here and here.
And here is a pdf file for a bookmark with rules on it!

Now you might want to head over to Susanna Hill’s blog — It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday! and there will be lots of great books and resources for you to check out!

One Red Dot

So the Mom Person visited the Princesses in California. And the Princesses showed her all their favorite books. They LOVE books. They love words. They love stories. They love art.

The Noodle Princess is the smallest one. She’s 1 1/2 years old. Just a babe! She talks kind of funny. Her words don’t sound quite like everybody else’s, but she tries to mimic everyone. Even me!! And she reads her books! She LOVES Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. She also likes the I Spy books IMG_0127(fun and challenging children’s books by Walter Wick) and books with flaps and pop-ups. Her special favorite book seems to be One Red Dot. Her Mom and Dad have to hide it from her. She wants it ALL the time!! She can’t seem to get enough of it!

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One Red Dot is a fabulous pop-up book by the incredibly talented David Carter.  It was published in 2005 by Little Simon. Each page has a fantastical pop-up, fold-out creation in which you have to find the ONE RED DOT! Some of them are pretty tricky, but that Noodle girl can find them all!

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This is such a fun book for every age! If you like puzzles and pop up extravaganzas, this book will be a sure delight!

Check this one out and be amazed!

Art Loves Art!!!

Since I’m on kind of an artsy roll right now, I thought I would share with you a magical book called ART by Patrick McDonnell. Mr McDonnell is also the creator of the comic strip “Mutts”. He is a very clever gentleman.

IMG_5765ART was published in 2006 by Little, Brown and Co. It is suitable for every age. It has 39 pgs. and 154 words. Very sparse, but lots of art! And Walker thinks the art looks very much like his art! Walker loves this book. He likes a book that is mostly pictures.

Art is a little boy who loves art. He spends all his time drawing and painting and doodling. He paints zigs and zags and scribbles and squiggles. Dots of all colors and splotches and blotches and curly cues. He is a busy, imaginative boy.

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This is a book about the pure joy of creation. What makes art art? Perfect lines and dots? Or chaotic splatters and splotches? Is art in the eye of the beholder or the brush ( or tail!) of the artist? This is a simple little book with some big thoughts to ponder. It is a real treasure!

Now go pull out your paints and brushes and have some fun! Have a party! Create some fabulousness!  And check out ART! You’ll be glad you did!

Paint Spatters

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I’m going off road a bit today and looking into the art world. My live in buddy and work partner, Walker, is quite the artist and recently spent some time with some 2nd graders splattering some paint around. So I thought I would tell you all about Walker and his world.

Walker is a 5 yr old black Lab who, like me, was career changed from Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc. in Palmetto, Fl.  He was career changed because he was evidently being a fool with some of his dog buddies and hurt his knee bad enough that the trainers and veterinarians at the school felt like it would limit his working life. So he came back to live with us.

Walker hurt his knee,( which is perfectly fine now ), but his tail works overtime. He is one happy boy! So one day the Mom Person decided to put his tail to work, and the artist was born.

dec 2012 walkerIt takes a lot of preparation to create his masterpieces, so he doesn’t paint often. He uses acrylics or water colors on paper.  He says he gets a little nervous painting in front of a bunch of kids. But laughter makes him happy and it’s hard to rein in that tail!

This class had read a story about an elephant who paints. Their teacher, who happens to be the Mom Person’s daughter, asked Walker to come do a painting demonstration for them. So, Walker painted for the kids. They will all get their very own Walker originals after he signs them all. Then the kids did some pictures for Walker! Now isn’t that cool!  So I’m sharing with you some of their artwork as well. It’s just an artsy day!

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We ended this artistic trail with a fabulous blog post from Kristin Nador. She has a great post about “getting your creative groove on” with a fun, fun video of the television painter Mr. Bob Ross. I think you should visit Ms Nador and check it out!

Now go get your groove on and do something creative today!

The Night Before Christmas – with Mr. Wegman!

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William Wegman and his magical weimaraners are back for Christmas!
My PPBF pick for today is William Wegman’s version of The Night Before Christmas, starring Batty, Chip, Chundo, and Crooky.

This book was published in 2000 by Hyperion Books for Children. It is appropriate for ALL ages.

It is the classic Christmas tale written by Clement C. Moore for his family in 1822. Mr. Moore called his poem A Visit From St. Nicholas and it is probably now the most popular and well known Christmas story in history.

Mr. Wegman’s take on this story is quite unique. His dogs play the parts of reindeer, Santa, and all the other characters in the story. And they do a very fine job!!

IMG_5714Every year at Christmas, we read this book to the kindergarteners and pre-schoolers. Those kids LOVE it! You just can’t help but chuckle at that “right jolly old elf”!

I don’t really have any lesson plans for this book. It’s just a fun book to read. I suppose that you could talk about the history of The Night Before Christmas. And I’ll give you a link here. You might also act out the story with the kids as the reindeer and Santa. Or you might have a talk about how you train a dog to do these silly things!

Mr. Wegman and his dogs did quite a few bits for Sesame Street. Here is their take on Rub a Dub Dub.

If you would like to know more about Mr. Wegman here is a video interview with him talking about his work. It’s rather long, but worth the view.

Just remember — William WegmanThe Night Before Christmas. Check it out! You’ll be so glad you did!

And for more awesome Picture Book reviews visit Susanna Hill!

An Ode to Jamie Wyeth, St. Gretta, and St. Alex

The Mom Person went off this weekend to spend some time with one of her Very Special Friends. I didn’t get to go, but it seems that she had a great time. They became friends a very long time ago when they each had a different dog than they have now. The Mom Person had a black Lab — St. Gretta. Kay had a Great Pyrenees that I’m guessing was a saint as well. His name was Alex. And the 4 of them spent a lot of time together visiting hospitals and such, doing Animal Assisted Therapy and doing their part to make the world a little bit better for lots of kids.

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The Mom Person and Kay have a mutual admiration for the Wyeth family of artists. N.C., Andrew, and Jamie. And this weekend Kay gave the Mom Person a treasure of a book that is illustrated by Jamie Wyeth. The book is titled Sammy in the Sky, and is written by Barbara Walsh. It was published in 2011 by Candlewick Press.

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It is a love story between a dog and his girl. “My dad said Sammy was the best hound dog in the whole world. All I knew was that I loved Sammy and Sammy loved me.” But dogs don’t live as long as little girls and when Sammy’s life on earth comes to an end, the girl and her family find a way to celebrate the joy that was Sammy.  This is a BooHoo kind of story. My Mom Person was shedding a lot of tears. Ultimately that’s what loving a dog is all about. Tears of joy, tears of triumph, tears of frustration, tears of sadness. And lots of laughter to go along with the tears. We dogs have pretty strong spirits. The Mom Person still sees St Gretta around sometimes and I know that when I leave this world I really won’t be gone.

For me, this book was all about smiles. Sammy had a great family who loved and cherished him for the dog that he was. And they kept that love strong even after he was gone. What more could a dog ask for?

Death is not a happy topic of conversation, but it is a part of everyone’s life. Ms. Walsh has created a lovely story of a blissful relationship between a girl and a dog. And Mr. Wyeth’s paintings are a perfect fit. Sammy in the Sky is a beautiful celebration of a super dog. It is truly a treasure book. You should check it out.

Sally Gets a Job

Our Perfect Picture Book Friday Pick this week is Sally Gets a Job written and illustrated by Stephen Huneck.

This is a fiction book published in 2008 by Abrams Books for Young Readers. It is suitable for ages 6 and up.

From the 1st page — “There they go, off to work and school. I wish I could go, too. Maybe I should get a job.”

Thus begins Sally’s musings about what would be the perfect job for her. Maybe she could drive a school bus, or be a teacher. Maybe a lifeguard at the beach. Maybe an archeologist or a pro ball player. So many options!

In real life there really are lots of dogs doing very important work. There are guide dogs for visually impaired people, service dogs for people with other needs, search and rescue dogs, drug sniffing dogs, bomb detection dogs, guard dogs, hunting dogs, show dogs.

I myself am a working dog with multiple titles — therapy dog, library dog, reading dog, school dog. And much like Sally, I have often dreamed about other jobs that I could do —

I have been a teacher and library dog, a farm dog, an actor, a rally competitor. It might be fun to be a fire dog. But like Sally in her book, I have found that the best job in the world is —

Taking care of my family!

There are lots of “Sally” books. She’s a very busy dog. She’s one of my very favorite book characters. And her Dad Person who was also her author and illustrator was an incredible artist using hand carved wood blocks. Mr Huneck died in 2010 but his influence on the dog and art worlds is huge. His home in Vermont has become a haven for dogs and their owners. It is called Dog Mountain. And on the mountain is a unique chapel called Dog Chapel. Dog Mountain is open to the public and they often have special events there.

If you were to read this book in your classroom it could open up lots of discussion about jobs that dogs do for people. And then you might talk about what jobs the kids’ dogs do for them. We have these talks a lot when I go to school. And there are probably dog groups of some kind in your area that probably have members that would LOVE to come visit a classroom. Dog people LOVE sharing their dogs!
Some resources that you might look into  —

Therapy Dogs International, Delta Society, Canine Companions for Independence
Guide Dog Users, Search and Rescue Dogs, Police Dogs, American Kennel Club.

So what does your dog do for you? Think on that!

And go check out Sally Gets a Job — and all the other Sally books!
And then check out the other PPBF books at Susanna Hill’s place!

I’m in a Warhol state of mind —

The last few days have been all about Andy Warhol for me. He’s been everywhere! Stalking me or something. Mrs. B, the Super Woman Reading Teacher, shared a book called Uncle Andy’s by Andy Warhol’s nephew James Warhola.

The book was published in 2003 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. It is written and illustrated by James Warhola and is a story about a trip that his family took in 1962 to visit his Uncle Andy in New York City.

James’ father Paul was a junk man. That was his real business. He collected it and sorted it and made interesting things with it. He and his wife, Ann, lived way out in the country with their 7 children and junk all around. A truly glorious life for those kids!

Sometimes they made trips into NYC to visit Paul’s brother Andy who was a famous artist. They took junk to him so that he could make things with it. Uncle Andy lived in a fantastical house with their grandmother, Bubba. Andy was always painting and making important art stuff out of odd things. He had 25 cats, all named Sam! And he went to late night parties and he wore wigs. He had all kinds of wigs and gave the old ones to James’ dad so that the kids could all play with them!

The pictures in this book are fantastical as well. Lots of details that make the Warhola world spring to life. I would have liked to live with them!

From his father and his famous uncle, James learned that “real art knows no boundaries” and that “the most ordinary of everyday things can inspire a work of art.”

What a great thing to learn!

I loved this book! It was funny and inspiring and a very good read!

But I told you that Mr. Warhol has been following me around. This book was not my only encounter with the great artist!

Over the weekend the Mom Person and the Big Guy Who Keeps the Treats went to a museum to see an art exhibit featuring the Wyeths, N. C., Andrew, and Jamie. ( Some more famous artists!) Well, it turns out that Jamie was friends with Mr. Warhol! And at that exhibit was a painting that Mr. Jamie Wyeth had done of Mr. Andy Warhol!

And then when she came home she had this comic strip in her mailbox —

Now is that too crazy or what?!

I don’t know if I care for Mr Warhol’s art or not. It is famous stuff so it must be good. But I think I like his nephew’s art better!

You should check out Uncle Andy’s! I think you will be inspired! And then check out some of James Warhola’s other work as well!