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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I’m Confused!

I am so confused! My alarm went off at 6:00 this morning and I bounced up to greet the day. Woke up the Mom Person with my cheery slurp and she grumbled! “Go back to sleep! It’s only 5:00! I explained this to you last night!”

She did ramble on last night something about clocks moving backwards. Some such silly stuff. Clocks can’t go backwards! I don’t understand you humans. She says that she explains this to me every fall, but all I know is what MY clock tells me. Which is — breakfast is at 6:00 and dinner is at 5:00. So will I have to wait for dinner as well? Or will it come early? I’m so confused!

I don’t understand time. I know when things are supposed to happen during my day and I try to be ready for those events. Like breakfast and dinner and going to school and going to the library and going to visit the hospital. I know what days they happen and what times. But sometimes you humans get confused!

We have a great little book by Dan Harper and illustrated by that awesome guy Barry Moser and his daughter Cara. It’s called Telling Time with Big Mama Cat. Big Mama Cat knows how to tell time. And she knows when things are supposed to happen. Her day “begins at 6:00 with a big stretch.” And continues on to breakfast at 7, helping the rest of the family with various activities throughout the day and going to bed at midnight. On each page there is a clock that shows what time it is. And it even has a fold – out clock so that you can move the hands as Big Mama goes through her day.

This is a most fabulous book. That Big Mama Cat is one smart kitty. And as always with Mr Moser, the illustrations are incredible. It hasn’t helped me figure out what’s going on with the clocks today. But I’m hoping things will get worked out before my dinner time. In the meantime, I’m thinking that it’s nap time. I’ll have to go check with the Mom Person and make sure.

I hope you’re on time for all of your events today! And if you have time, you might want to  check out Telling Time with Big Mama Cat!

Paws UP to Barry Moser, Artist

Today I’d like to do a tribute to Barry Moser, artist, illustrator, author. A unique individual. We have quite a few of his books in our home library. And I like reading some of them to kids.

Mr Moser is especially good at capturing feelings.

When I look at the picture on the cover of Grandpa’s Gamble, I can just feel the joy between the man and the little girl. And those kids running down the road in Appalachia have me running along with them.

When I read about the cats, Nick and Nora, I can see what a mischievous little girl those cats have to deal with and the expressions on their faces are priceless! They are really tolerant cats!

That pup in Our New Puppy is one little trouble maker! Poor Rosie!

And that Brer Fox and Brer Raccoon in Jump Again! are down right stinkers.

Mr Moser uses watercolors to create wonderfully realistic worlds. He also does magical things with wood engravings. He has won many awards for his book illustrations and has displays in several museums. He is a most prolific artist and the list of books that he has written or illustrated or contributed to in some way is astounding. From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Moby Dick and the Bible.  You can check out the whole list on his website. And more of his artwork here at R. Michelson Galleries.

I hope that everyone is already familiar with this man’s fine work, but if not I hope that you will consider checking it out! There’s a lot to choose from!