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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The Perfect Christmas

Well, The Great Thanksgiving Feast of 2014 has come and gone. I hope that yours was PERFECT. Lots of PERFECT turkey and carrots and sweet potatoes and pumpkin. Lots of PERFECT fun with your family and friends. Maybe a PERFECT game of tennis? or football? Full tummies and smiles on faces. PERFECT?

Well, as I said – that’s all come and gone. It’s history. It’s now time for —-

IMG_1850The Perfect Christmas
by Eileen Spinelli
illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi
published by Christy Ottaviano Books with Henry Holt and Co. in 2011

suitable for ALL ages!

Themes – Christmas, family, traditions

It begins –
Abigail Archer’s family
is perfect as can be.
They drive into the countryside
To chop down their Christmas tree.

Back around that PERFECT Thanksgiving time, I reviewed another book by Ms Spinelli titled The PERFECT Thanksgiving! You can check out that post by clicking on that title – right there! And guess what?! Ms Spinelli herself actually read my review! Wag my tail!!!! And she thought that I might ought to read the companion book – The Perfect Christmas! Of course I needed to do that very thing!! So she had her publisher send me my very own copy of The Perfect Christmas! Now isn’t that PERFECT?! What a nice lady, right?! I think that she deserves a standing ovation! I’m standing! How bout you?!

Well, ok, now, back to the book!

The Perfect Christmas brings us the same families that we met in The Perfect Thanksgiving. The Archer family is still Martha Stewart PERFECT. Candles on the mantel and bowls full of silver balls! The narrator’s family is still eclectically PERFECT with macaroni reindeer and dented fruitcake tins! Abigail’s family enjoys PERFECT Christmas treats and sweets – they even have a poodle that eats on a PERFECT Christmas mat! While the narrator’s Christmas cookies would “bounce to Mexico”

IMG_1852Each family has their own unique style and traditions. And each family has their own version of a PERFECT Christmas! This little book shows, in a big way, that what makes Christmas PERFECT is the love that is shared with family and friends. That’s what it’s all about! A PERFECT Christmas book to share!!

My family is very much like the narrator’s family. A bit crazy. But PERFECT in all the ways that matter to them – and me! It’s a BIG family and they like to party and have a good time. They always have a theme for their get-togethers. They dress up and have appropriate food and gifts. I just wag my tail and laugh. My favorite part is the cookie bake. I get to help with clean-up! I love being a janitor!

IMG_1833What kind of traditions does your family have? Do you have a “real” tree that smells like the woods? Or do you have one that comes out of a box? Do you have fancy decorations that all match like Martha Stewart? Or do you have homemade macaroni reindeer? Do you sing Christmas songs? Do you go to church? Maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas at all!

If you are inclined to make your own PERFECT Christmas Cookies, HERE is Martha Stewart’s recipe!

And HERE is a link to some fantastic ornaments that you can make with the kids!

Whatever and However you celebrate – I hope it’s PERFECT in every way!

Whatever you might be doing this time of year
I wish you GREAT JOY!

JOYYour JOYful friend
Rhythm
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Happy Easter!!

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It’s Easter! What does Easter mean to you?  Around here, for the humans that I live with, it means Church and Family and Easter Egg Hunts. I like the egg hunts. I’m very good at finding yummy eggs. But for me, Easter is Springtime. It means the sweet smell of bluebonnets and the pungent aroma of skunks. Ummmmmm! It means soft, green grass to munch and roll in. It means hearing birds singing in the mornings. It usually means rain which means mud puddles and water in the river. I like Easter.

I’ve got some books to share with you. My favorite Easter ones that the Mom Person reads to me every year.

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Max’s Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells was published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 1989. I love Rosemary Wells and I love stories about bunnies and I especially love Max!  He is a particularly funny bunny. In this book he wants that chocolate chicken, but he has to find Easter eggs first and the one who finds the most gets the chicken. His sister Ruby is finding lots of eggs while Max gets distracted by mud puddles and acorns. Who will get the chicken? You must read it and find out!!

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A Surprise for Easter by Pete Bowman was published by Aladdin Books in 1992. It is a fascinating book. It’s called a revolving book. On each page is a round picture with a little tab. And if you pull the tab around the circle, the picture changes! Magic! It’s a cute story about an enormous egg that Mother Hen laid. All the other animals decide to decorate it for the fair. And they do a beautiful job! There is a big surprise at the end that you will have to read for yourself!

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The Golden Egg Book is a Little Golden Book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Lilian Obligado. It was published by Western Publishing Co. in 1975. It was originally published in 1947! This cute little bunny finds an egg. But he doesn’t know what’s inside. He imagines all kinds of things. Then he does all kinds of things to try to get whatever it is out. He shakes it and jumps on it and rolls it down a hill and throws rocks at it. What will come out?! And how long must he wait?! You must read it and find out!

IMG_1417I hope you have a bountiful Easter full of everything that is special to you. Church, Family, egg hunts, bunnies, baskets and JOY! Easter is all about JOY!!

Deck the Halls and Claude the Dog

What exactly does that mean anyway? Deck the Halls! I don’t really know. I do know that the Mom Person was crazy busy today with all things Christmassy. She and the Big Guy With the Treats are going on a big trip to California to visit the little Princesses. I don’t get to go on this trip but she promises to send me postcards. And maybe a little beach sand.

So there was lots of packing and wrapping of presents today. Paper and bows and cards and toys everywhere. We dogs got mainly lost in all the chaos. Eventually she decided to take a break and play a little tennis.

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This is my very favorite pink tennis ball. I love this ball with all my heart. It only comes out sometimes. And it brings me great joy!

I also got to play with my new Rabbit Buddy. I guess I’m really a pretty lucky dog. I have quite a few good toys to choose from. Balls and squeaky things and tug things. I have several nice beds to choose from and blankets to sleep with. Life here at the 7 Acre Wood is pretty good.

After we played for awhile the Mom Person read one of our Christmas books. Claude the Dog, A Christmas Story, by Dick Gackenbach.

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It’s a cute little book that we like to read to the little kids at school. It has nice big, simple pictures and nice, big simple words that are easy to read.  It’s a nice, simple story that the kids seem to like. Claude is a big, happy, Bassett Hound looking dog who gets some good Christmas presents from his boy. A nice blanket, a nice pillow and a little rubber mouse. Claude’s friend, Bummer – who doesn’t seem to have a real home –  comes to visit and when Claude hears that Bummer has no Christmas gifts — no blankets or pillows or little mice, Claude gives all his treasures to his friend. He says that Bummer needs them more than he does and anyway his best present is at home. And he runs home to his boy who loves Claude with all his heart!

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I mostly like this book a lot. It’s all about the real spirit of Christmas. Giving, sharing, loving. Being with family. What I don’t like is poor Bummer’s name! Surely Mr. Gackenbach could have come up with a better name for this little guy!

Giving, sharing, loving. It’s so simple!

I hope that you have a Christmas full of all these things! Joy to you and to the world!

For your musical pleasure I give you The Muppet Chickens and Joy to the World!

And The You Tube Animals doing Deck the Halls