Latke, the Lucky Dog

I’m a pretty lucky dog. I have a nice home and a lovable family that I live with. I have several nice, comfy beds and lots of toys to choose from. I get fed pretty regularly with plenty of snacks to go along with meals. I have a fine job where I get to visit with lots of great folks. Life is pretty good, I’d say.

I hear that some dogs are not so lucky. Some dogs don’t have nice homes and families. I’ve never come across one of these dogs, but I hear the stories. One of the books I received in the mail recently is about a lucky dog who didn’t have a home, but then found one!! This book was sent to me from Ms Sue Heavenrich. You might want to visit her at her blog home HERE. It’s a pretty nice place to visit!

IMG_2279Latke, the Lucky Dog
by Ellen Fischer
illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
published by Kar-Ben Publishing in 2014

 Latke is a shelter dog, which means he lives in a kennel with lots of other dogs – all waiting for someone to come visit and decide that “THIS pup is the one for ME”!!! For Latke, that day came in December when a family walked in looking for a present for Hanukkah. I don’t know anything about Hanukkah. It’s a holiday celebrated by Jewish people. But according to this book, it is “an eight-day Festival of Lights that celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the mighty armies of the Syrian King Antiochus.” That’s a lot of history for another day, I think. Anyway, this family wanted to celebrate by getting a dog for their home. And a medium-sized, brown dog was just what they were looking for. They named him Latke because he was the color of a fried latke. And what is a latke I ask?! a latke is a fried potato pancake! Yummmmmmm!

IMG_2281So, little brown Latke goes home with his new family. But now he has to learn all the rules of his new home! It’s very hard and he makes lots of mistakes. And gets into quite a bit of trouble. But LUCKY for him, he has been chosen by a forgiving and patient family. He begins to learn the rules and finds that having a home and a family is GREAT! He really is a LUCKY dog!!

This was a cute, informative tale. We learned about some Jewish history and traditions. We talked about shelter dogs. Some of my readers have dogs who came from shelters. We talked about house rules and dog training and caring for dogs. Wow! Lots of talk generated by this little book!!!

Thanks Ms Heavenrich for your generous heart!

Here are some LUCKY dogs! My dreams —

I hope you find some luck in your days this week!
Your lucky friend
Rhythm
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The Legend of Dust Bunnies

I LOVE my mail lady!!! Sometime before Christmas she brought me a slew of mail!! And some of that mail was books!! She must really like me. But the books weren’t really from the mail lady. She was the go-between. The books came from friends far and wide. Well, I don’t think the friends are particularly wide. Anyway, I received The Legend of Dust Bunnies from Ms Michelle Eastman. Annie’s Special Day and Edmund Pickle Chin from Ms Clara Bowman-Jahn. And Latke, the Lucky Dog from Ms Sue Heavenrich. Aren’t I the lucky dog?!!

IMG_2307We put all of these fine books in my school book bag this week and shared them with my friends at school. Now, I’ll share them with you!

Today I’ll tell you about the Dust Bunnies!! We happen to have quite a colony of these critters at our house! I thought I knew all about those Bunnies!

IMG_2285The Legend of Dust Bunnies
by Michelle R. Eastman
illustrated by Kevin Richter
published by Byway Press in 2014

My readers learn about “blurbs” in their reading classes. The blurb on the back of this book reads –
Join the Dust Fairies on their messy nighttime adventures, and discover how one misfit fairy uses his talent to create something legendary. His story will have families looking at dust bunnies in a new light and may actually give kids an excuse NOT to clean their rooms.

My readers were sure ready to find that excuse!!

It begins –
The Legend of Dust Bunnies
began long ago,
in a house just like this one,
and here’s how it goes ….

Well, let me tell you! This tale is enlightening! Did you know that in the dark of night, little fairies fly into your house and scatter dust and crumbs and grime all over?! I knew it wasn’t me!! They seem to have a grand ole time flitting around your house spreading stuff for vacuum cleaners to scarf up!

IMG_2282But what about those Dust Bunnies? Well, according to this legend, there once was a Dust Fairy named Artie who didn’t like spreading the crumbs around. He liked to collect hair and fur and lint instead. The other Fairies made fun of him. He was kind of like the Rudolph the Reindeer whose friends wouldn’t let him join in any games. So Artie decided to gather all his fiber goodies and make his very own friend. And – Voila! – a Dust Bunny was born!

IMG_2286Now all the other fairies were really impressed with Artie’s little bunny. So, of course, they all had to have one as well! And now ALL Dust Fairies carry around their little bunnies while they’re spreading their grime! And sometimes Dust Bunnies get left behind. 😦 I guess those Dust Fairies aren’t too careful with their treasures. So, if you happen to find any Dust Bunnies around your house, you need to treat them with care! A Dust Fairy will be looking for it, and I don’t know what that Fairy would do if she couldn’t find her Bunny!

My readers liked this book a lot. First, we talked about what a Legend is. We had quite a discussion about that one. Is a legend true? The same thing as a myth? Fiction? or Non-fiction? We decided that a legend is a story that can’t be proven to be true, but is usually accepted as being true. We accept this legend as being true!! The pictures are pretty cool – bright and colorful. Those fairies are a bit wild looking! The tale is told in Rhyme – and I always like some Rhythm in my stories. And we are all going to be on the lookout for Dust Bunnies now!!

My Mom Person made a Bunny once. Not out of my hair that she collected, but from goat hair that she collected. She got a whole big pile of that goat hair (I think it’s called mohair). (We once had a goat named Mo. I guess his hair really was Mohair.) Then she washed that stuff and combed it and spun it on her spinning wheel and made some yarn out of it. And knitted it into a bunny!

IMG_5822I think that Artie used a little more magic than My Mom Person. There weren’t any spinning wheels mentioned in this story.

You can visit Ms Eastman at her website HERE and find out more about the Dust Bunnies.

The next time you pull out that vacuum cleaner – STOP! and THINK! about what might be under your bed – or couch —

And use that vacuum on your dog instead!

Your furry, hairy, vacuum loving friend
Rhythm
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That Summer

There’s a word that I’ve been hearing a lot lately. A bad word. Cancer. It seems to be everywhere. There are two young people in our small town who are fighting courageous battles right now. I’m hearing of lots of prayer requests and prayer circles – sending lots of  loving energy into the world. My cousin, Romeo, has cancer. All of my special humans are having discussions about the best way to deal with this. And just today I found out that another canine friend has left us for the land of eternal tennis balls. Cancer. I suppose that everyone everywhere has a story to tell about Cancer. I have a book to share. A sad book, but a hopeful, uplifting kind of sad.

IMG_2287That Summer
by Tony Johnson
illustrated by Barry Moser
published by Harcourt, Inc. in 2002

Theme – cancer, grief, family, quilts

A fiction book suitable for 1st grade and up

It begins –
That summer began like always,
with hoots and shouts, all of us running
into the sun,
freed from school,
over the porch,
over the lawn,
down the hollows,
Joey and I ran
like there was no tomorrow.

For these two brothers, the summer begins like every other summer – fun in the sun!!! But soon they are faced with Joey getting sick. And then, too soon, they are faced with Joey dying. “What do you do when ….. your heart hurts with grieving?” You cry and you dream walk. And you start to cherish every moment.

The boys’ Gram starts a quilt. And Joey decides to make one, too. A quilt that will piece together all the things that he loves. An owl, a fishing pole, a lightening bug, a baseball glove. Throughout the summer, the two brothers and the family and their friends, find ways to capture JOY. Ways to cheat that bad word – Cancer. That word is never actually mentioned in the book. But at one point Joey loses his hair and his brother shaves his own head. The youngsters in our town who are doing their best to cheat Cancer are dealing with those kinds of things too.

IMG_2290In the end, Joey does die. He leaves behind some bursting hearts. But also a quilt – stitched with love.

My readers had a bit of a hard time with this book. Some of them know the kids at school with cancer and the story was a little too close for them. But it opened some avenues for talk – and that’s a good thing. It’s a beautifully poetic book with some incredible, emotion-filled illustrations by Mr Moser.

In my younger days I visited a Children’s Hospital. There were lots of youngsters there fighting their personal battles with cancer and other illnesses. I sooo admired those kids and their families. They are all heroes in my book.

You can find out more about Cancer issues HERE at the American Cancer Society website.
And there are some good links and resources at Kids Cancer Network HERE.

You might want to participate in a local Relay for Life event. You can get more information about that HERE.

HERE is a fun idea for a friendship quilt wall display. And another fun Quilt idea HERE at Teach Preschool.

And for some info about canine Cancer check out 2 Million Dogs HERE. A few years ago, a young man had a dog with cancer and he decided to go on a walk to generate awareness for canine cancer. So he and his 2 Great Pyrenees dogs went on a journey from Austin, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts. And that journey has blossomed into a HUGE deal!!

And now after you’ve dried your eyes, you might want to go visit Susanna Hill’s blog where you’ll find a huge list of PERFECT PICTURE BOOKS and lots of resources to go with!

I’ll leave you with a song of hope from Mr Zach Sobiech –

I hope your tomorrows are bright and sunny!
Your ever hopeful and tail waggin’ friend
Rhythm
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Score One for the Sloths

I’m working on my serene attitude this year. Finding my own personal Zen place. Serenity is my goal. I mostly don’t have much problem finding the calm in a storm. My Mom Person calls me the Queen of Serene. But I’m trying to find more of that quiet stuff in my days. We came across a funny little book this week. About sloths. Now, I don’t know much about sloths. They don’t seem to live in my woods. But from what I’ve been told, sloths appear to be oddly serene. As in they seem to be odd creatures who know how to stay calm and tranquil in all situations. So this little book caught my eye on a couple of levels. Serenity and Oddness.

My friend Bruce the Bookshelf Gargoyle, has presented a new challenge for 2015. The Oddity Odyssey. Wherein we are supposed to read Odd books. You can find out more about this Odd Challenge by visiting Bruce on his bookshelf HERE. I have committed to reading 16 or more Odd books so that I might become Audaciously Odd! I am submitting this book as my Odd book # 1.

IMG_2255Score One for the Sloths
by Helen Lester
illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
published by Houghton Mifflin Co. in 2001

It begins –
Ho-dee-hum.
It was another day at Sleepy Valley Sloth School, and all
the sloths were just hanging around.

Which is what sloths do! Right?! This book is hilarious! It made me smile and chuckle and want to take a nap. The little student sloths had lessons in yawning, and snoring, and rolling over. I think that I could excel at this sloth school! Most of the time they slept and were “content in their slothfulness.”

IMG_2256Life was grand at Sleepy Valley Sloth School. Until – a new sloth came to school. A girl sloth named Sparky who was full of vim and vigor! Sparky did not want to sleep all day! She wanted to DO things! Read and play music and build castles! Oh! The other sloths were sooooooo boring! They even put me to sleep!

IMG_2265Then an official from administration came to visit and said that Sleepy Valley Sloth School had done dreadful on all the tests!! He wanted to close the school! But Sparky, the “mover and shaker” came up with a plan to save the school. I won’t give the ending away, but suffice it to say that Sparky saved the day! And the school! And it was all very odd indeed!

Here’s a little video of a real sloth. In the wild – not in school.

Take it slow and easy this week.
Take some time to be mindful of the world around you.
Your napping friend
Rhythm
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Owls

I believe that I have mentioned before that once a month I pay a visit to a magical doctor who eases my sore muscles and arthritis and calms my worries. Dr Bruton has a magical assistant, Sarah. Sarah often talks to me while they are massaging and lasering and sticking needles in me. Sarah of the magical hands. During my last visit, Dr Bruton was waving his blue laser, magical wand around on all the stiff muscles and sore parts and I was just beginning to snooze and dream a bit about some serenity I have been encountering in my woods lately.

IMG_4225Lately, in the middle of the night, I have been hearing some rather loud, gentle Hoooooooing. Off in the woods behind our house. Surprisingly near. The Mom Person says that it comes from Great Horned Owls. I like the sound of these owls. They do sound so very serene. The Mom Person says that they are far from it and are hanging out at our house so as to eat our chickens. I couldn’t say about that. But anyway, I was laying there in that quiet doctor’s office thinking about that HOOOOOOOOOOing and Sarah with the magical hands said, “Owls?” I opened my eye and looked at my Mom Person. Had she been talking about our owls? No. She looked rather quizzically at Ms Sarah and said “What?” and Ms Sarah said, “Rhythm is talking about owls. Have you had owls at your house?” My Mom Person looked at Ms Sarah and looked at me and just shook her head in wonder. I smiled and went back to sleep. Ms Sarah always knows what’s going on. She’s magical.

IMG_2257Owl Moon
by Jane Yolen
illustrated by John Schoenherr
published by Philomel Books in 1987
winner of the 1988 Caldecott Medal

Themes – winter, owls, nature, father/daughter relationships

Suitable for ALL ages, young and old

It begins –
It was late one winter night,
long past my bedtime,
when Pa and I went owling.

This is the book that comes to mind when I listen to our owl in the woods. It’s a rather popular book with my readers and I get to hear it quite often. It’s really a bedtime kind of story. Soft, and dark, and soothing. The narrator is a young girl going “owling” for the first time with her Pa. They tromp through the dark, quiet woods in knee deep snow. I have a hard time imagining that much snow! It’s cold, cold, cold. But a person must be quiet and brave when out owling. And they must make their own heat. The Pa and his daughter walk a long time hoping to see an owl. The Pa stops now and then to call out to the owls — Whoo-whoo-who-who-who-whooooooo. Finally, there is an echoing call — and there is the Great Horned Owl in all its dark glory!

IMG_2259Wow! We don’t have to walk very far to go owling, just out our back door. And we don’t have to tromp through any snow. But we have yet to see an actual owl. I’m happy just to listen and let that Hooooooing lull me to sleep. I think that these Great Horned Owls are rather large. Bigger than the vultures that fly around overhead all the time. A bird that big might be kind of spooky.

But there’s nothing spooky about this book. It is the height of serenity. The words and the pictures work together to entice you to be quiet and calm so the big bird will come. It invites you to savor the natural wonders in the world around us. And it celebrates the bond between a father and his daughter. A glorious book indeed.

Ms Yolen and Mr Schoenherr both took their kids owling. I think that everyone should try some owling! Out in the woods on a full moon night! What fun!!

You can find out more about Great Horned Owls HERE. And this link HERE also has a recording of that Hooo-Hoooing.

This KIDZONE link has some owl worksheets and activities.

Our science classes here at school always dissect owl pellets – the stuff that they throw up. The kids love doing this!

And here is what you might see if you get lucky!

Now be sure and go visit Ms Susanna Hill HERE and see her list of great Perfect Picture Books! It is Perfect Picture Book Friday after all!!!!

Happy Owling!!
Your friend
Rhythm
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Serenity

The new year has begun. I see everyone making resolutions and talking about all the possiblities and hope that this new year has to offer. I don’t know about making resolutions, but I do have high hopes for my new year. This year that has just flown by like a jet plane has been a time of high energy thanks in part to our high-voltage Electra.

DSCN0395

Who ME?

In this coming year, I will be looking for some peace and quiet – some calm and SERENITY. Last year I was looking for SERENDIPITY, and I found it quite often. It’s a wondrous thing. But this year I’m taking that DIP out and looking for the calm in the storm. Electra will be leaving us at the end of February – going off to college at Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida. She has been an amusing entertainment, but she makes me tired just watching her. There will be another pup coming home with the folks. I’m hoping with all my heart that it will come with the name SERENITY.

serenityThe dictionary defines SERENITY as the state of being calm, tranquil. What a lovely state to be in. That’s where I’m headed for the next year. However long that may be.

IMG_2802Mr James Taylor is the king of SERENITY. I often put his music on to calm Ms Electra –

DSCN0130

I hope you are able to enjoy some SERENITY in your new year!
Looking for the calm
Rhythm
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The Start of a New Year

IMG_2242I understand that we are in to a brand new year. 2015. Numbers don’t mean much to my little canine brain. Years, days, weeks, months. Just words to me. I don’t have a good understanding about time. I know that I’m getting older – my body doesn’t seem to want to do things that it used to do. So I guess that means that years are passing by. But I wake up every morning to a new day! Sometimes I wake up from a good nap to a new day! And it’s most always good.

There seems to be a lot of celebration around the start of a new year. Staying awake way past my bedtime to watch balls drop on TV. I’d be happy to see some real balls drop. Drinking champagne and tooting horns. My humans love to celebrate. I guess a brand new year is something to hoot and holler about.

I’m celebrating the start of the new year with a couple of Ashley Wolff books that we happened across recently. All about that word “year.”

IMG_2249A Year of Beasts
by Ashley Wolff
published by E.P. Dutton in 1986

It begins –
In winter, in spring
in summer, and in fall –
in every month of the year
beasts of all kinds
live in the fields and forests
around Ellie and
Peter’s house.

IMG_2250And thus we are lead on a romping wildlife hunt through the months of the year. Each page spread reveals a new animal and a new happening apropos of the season. (apropos! big word for the day!) The text is simple and bold. It’s the pictures that tell the story of a year in the life of Ellie and Peter. And Ms Wolff’s artwork is absolutely JOYFUL!!

Book No. 2 is –

IMG_2245When Lucy Goes Out Walking
A Puppy’s First Year
by Ashley Wolff
published by Christy Ottaviano Books (Henry Holt and Co.) in 2009

It begins –
January
When Lucy goes out walking
In January snows,
She leaves a trail of puppy prints
Everywhere she goes.

IMG_2246This book is particularly apropos for our house because we have just been through a puppy’s first year! In each month of the year little Lucy encounters new and exciting adventures – just like our Electra has! And each month she gets a little bigger – just like our Electra has! And in the book, Lucy is always accompanied by her Best Boy. That’s one thing that Electra has missed out on. She’s had plenty of kids to play with, but no Best One. Me and Walker both had our Best Girl and I wish that she could have been here to help Electra, but alas she is far away and all grown up now. That’s what happens over the years. They come and go and little folks become big folks. And little critters become big critters. And all the new days march on.

You can visit Ms Wolff at her website HERE. Please do! You’ll be glad you did!

So – this is the Start of a New Year, A New Day – Make the most of NOW!

Celebrate your NOWS!
Rhythm
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Artie and Julie

We recently came across a rather unique little book. Two stories in one!

IMG_1944Artie and Julie
by Chih-Yuan Chen
published by Heryin Books in 2008

suitable for ALL ages

themes – friendship

it begins –
Artie was a happy little lion.
Julie was a happy little rabbit.

I love when I find a book with a big surprise inside! This little book is about Artie, a lion, and Julie, a rabbit. It has a cute, smiley cover and we have a rather special Julie in our family so we couldn’t pass this one by! And what a surprise inside! The stories of Artie and Julie are told separately by splitting the pages in half! Artie’s story is on top and Julie’s story is on the bottom. The stories run kind of parallel and intersect at the end. Much like in our recent read – Wonderstruck.

IMG_1946Artie and Julie are happy little babies who must learn important life lessons. Papa Lion hoped that Artie would grow up to be a ferocious lion who would be able to catch his own delicious rabbits. Papa Rabbit hoped that Julie would grow up to be a clever rabbit who could find her own good grass on the grasslands and be able to escape the ferocious lions.

Soon it was time for the two to head out on their own to find their own food in the lush grasslands. But when they encountered each other in a dark wet cave, Lo and Behold! All their lessons went by the wayside and Surprise!! They became instant friends!!!

A lovely, charming, feel good story with a happy ending!! Excellent! And it COULD happen! There are some really unlikely friendships that happen in this world!

I hope your week is filled with love and friends!
Your friend indeed –
Rhythm
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A Gift of Nothing

It’s almost Christmas!!! What will you be finding under your Christmas tree? Exactly what you always wanted? A surprise? Christmas is full of Wonder and Mystery. It’s all a little beyond my small canine brain, but I know that it’s a time of year full of excitement and activity. There is tension in the air all around. Some good and some not so good. The Mom Person always seems to be scurrying around here and there. The house fills with boxes and paper and gifts and cards and all kinds of Christmassy stuff all over the house. We see a lot more of the mail lady, bringing packages and more packages. It all makes my head spin. I want to tell everyone to slow down and chill!! Settle. Like my Mom Person is always saying to Electra. Just settle. Quiet.

I shared a couple of little quiet books with some 2nd graders recently. It was a nice quiet morning listening to happy voices. Both books are by Mr Patrick McDonnell. He, and the characters in these books are quite famous in the funny papers. You might have seen his comic strip – MUTTS. It’s a favorite around here. And Mr McDonnell has created several fabulous picture books as well. I have mentioned a couple of them HERE and HERE.

IMG_1953First book up is
MUTTS
A Shtinky Little Christmas
by Patrick McDonnell

Published by Andrews McMeel in 2012

This is a very small book – as you might can tell from the pictures. My Mom Person has a big thing for little books. This one is written much like a comic strip. It’s a story about the stars of the MUTTS comic strip, Earl – a dog, and his best friend, Mooch – a cat. In this tale, Mooch finds a new friend in the garbage can. A little lost kitty. They decide to call the kitty Shtinky Puddin and they go in search of the owner. When it starts to snow, they all three head back to Mooch’s house. Much mayhem ensues after this. They all get lost in a blizzard and found by SANTA!! Then the owner is found and rewards are rewarded and everyone lives happily ever after!

IMG_1954It’s a heart-pounding tale! With tension and mystery and OH My! what is going to happen?! All in this tiny little book! It’s all about being a good friend and taking care of each other. It’s a lovely tale with a big heart. A Christmas tale of giving and loving.

IMG_1950The 2nd book is
The Gift of Nothing
by Patrick McDonnell
published by Little, Brown and Company in 2005

It’s a special day. It might be Christmas, or a birthday, or Wednesday. We just are told that it’s a special day. And Mooch wants to give his best friend Earl a gift. But Earl already has everything that he needs. What do you get someone who has everything?! That can be a big problem.

IMG_1951Mooch decides that if Earl has everything – Mooch will get him Nothing! And he goes in search of Nothing, which is actually very hard to find! His pursuit is quite hilarious and profound. But eventually he gets a big box and fills it with Nothing and presents the present to Earl. Earl is quite surprised by all his Nothing!! So now they both have Nothing except their friendship. And that is Everything! I don’t think my little readers quite “got” this story, but they thought it was kind of funny and cute. I thought it was brilliant!!

So, you should go check out both of these little books and spend some of your holiday time doing Nothing with your family and friends. Taking some time to be still and quiet.

And here’s a little treat for you – It seems that The Gift of Nothing has been made into a play!! How cool is that! And if you happen to be in New York you can go see it at the Kennedy Center! Right now!!

Here’s a little preview for you –

 

 I hope that you find a bit of Nothing under your tree this Christmas!
Your wishful friend
Rhythm
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