Saturday, November 28, 2015

What Is A Family?

Lots of people, including me, were able to spend Thanksgiving with their families. But what, exactly is a family?

I looked up the word in my college dictionary which was published in the early 1950s, and found seven possible definitions.

Gone are the days when typical families consisted of a husband, a wife, and their offspring. Of course grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and all of those people's own families were considered part of an extended family then, too. That was a bit complicated.

But now so many people divorce, remarry, or have children by various partners, with or without legally marrying, it can be even more difficult to keep all he relationships straight.

My own family is so extended with cousins' cousins and in-laws of in-laws my husband gave up trying to keep the relationships straight and coined the term, step-neighbor-in-law, to refer to all of them.

But I consider all those who participate in family gatherings and holiday celebrations year after year to be my family even if they are step-neighbors-in-law, and I love seeing them at those events. It doesn't matter if we're legally or biologically related or not. I love them and consider them my family.

What does the word, family, mean to you?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks

Of course most people in the USA and many in other places will be thinking about all the things they have to be thankful for because of the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow.

In many places autumn is the time of year when harvests have been completed and people are preparing for the Winter months, so this is a logical time of the year to appreciate all the good things we have.

But we have a lot to be thankful for all year round.

Many of us take for granted basic things like adequate food, water, clothing, medical care, and homes even though we know a lot of other people don't have those. We may also take for granted our family, friends, good health, and the ability to walk, talk, see, and hear if we have those.

A few years ago I began keeping a blessing journal. Every night just before going to bed I list things I'm grateful for from that day. I originally promised myself I'd write at least three things every night, but I've always had many more than that to list, even without adding the basics.

I'm usually write that I'm grateful for contact with people I care about, beautiful things I've seen, and things I've accomplished, to name only a few.

It only takes a few minutes, but thinking about my blessings before going to bed helps me keep a positive attitude and sleep well.

Instead of only giving thanks at Thanksgiving I do it all year round.

Would you like to try keeping a blessing journal?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tec Stuff

Back in the 1970s a friend offered a class on how to use computers. I went and we dealt with cassette tapes connected to his computer and dozens of strange letters and symbols that I knew I'd never be able to remember. The simplest by far began with http://.

Then the tapes became flattened into floppy discs and most of the long lines of letters, symbols, and numbers were shortened into simple ones.

In the early 1980s I got my first computer. It was a Macintosh with a big box-like thing that connected to a keyboard and screen. I also got my first floppy disc and was sure I'd never have enough material to fill it.

Well, things have changed quite a bit since then. Technology keeps changing and new technological things are being created all the time.

Now I'm constantly on the internet and get hundreds of messages every day. I couldn't have imagined that thirty years ago.

This weekend I'll be trying yet another new thing. I'm participating in a Facebook party. I'd never even heard of those until one of my publishers announced she was having one.

I hope people I know will sign up as guests and join me. I'll be telling about my book and holding drawings for prizes Monday evening for 15 minutes sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. Pacific time. Other authors will also participate and the publisher offers a prize of publication for someone who sends in a 100 word synopsis of a manuscript during the party.

Here's the link:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Little Lonnie Long Ears

Anyone who knows me knows I care a lot about people with Special Needs and other differences that make it difficult for them to be accepted.

Little Lonnie Long Ears is a picture book about a bunny who was different from the others and shunned as a result.

Lonnie had such long ears they would trip him and make him fall when he tried to do usual rabbit things like play with other bunnies. The extra long ears also made him look different.

Because of his long ears all the bunnies teased him and he had no friends. None of the other animals would accept him, either.

But one kind bunny named Chrisinda not only accepted Lonnie, she helped him figure out a way to make his long ears into an advantage instead of a disadvantage.

Because of her help, the other bunnies did accept him.

I hope this book, with cute illustrations by KC Snider, will help young kids learn to accept people who are different from themselves. And I hope it will encourage kids who have differences themselves to realize those can be used in positive ways.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Books

I rarely mention the books I've written in my blog because I don't want to badger people with self promotion. But the holiday season is here, so I thought I'd mention my books for kids just this once in case anyone wants to order them online or request them from local bookstores to give to kids.

Secret Service Saint is especially good for Christmas because it's based on historical information about Saint Nicholas. I didn't mention the secret good deed that saint is actually supposed to have done because tossing dowry money down the chimney to save girls from prostitution when their father died isn't a suitable subject for children. Instead I made up other secret good deeds for Nicolas to do and it's a surprise at the end that he becomes known as Santa Claus.

Signs of Trouble is about kids who get separated from their Special Education class on a field trip and use what they've learned about safety rules and signs to get reunited. It includes educational information about safety, signs, and special needs at the end.

Slime & All is an early chapter book at Second Grade reading level about a giant talking worm who wants a friend and the boy who helps him. It's sort of an allegory about accepting people who are different.

The Peril of the Sinister Scientist is an amusing middle grade novel about a boy who thinks he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin. He needs to know "What would Jesus do?" in middle school and escape the scientist who is pursuing him.

A Shadow of Fear is another Christian book for middle grade kids. It's about a boy who wants to prove he's mature enough so his parents will let him go to camp, but he must face his worst fears to help a friend with Special Needs. This book is not available in bookstores, but can be ordered from Amazon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gatsby's Grand Adventures Book 3

I've reviewed books in this series before and, as with the others, I appreciate how Barbara Cairns helps young kids appreciate classical art while enjoying an amusing story.

Gatsby is a cat who lives in an art museum. At night while his human, Miss Anabelle, is asleep he can jump into paintings and interact with them.

This time he enters Thomas Gainsboroughs' picture, Girl With Pigs.

But the characters in the picture move around while Gatsby is there. He exits the painting, but it doesn't look at all as it did before.

What can Gatsby do?

It takes him two more trips into the painting to get the girl and pigs back into their original positions. Fortunately no humans enter the room where that art is displayed until he gets it fixed.

I think kids will enjoy this book while learning about art at the same time.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Raising Rufus

Here's another book for kids with a creative concept.

Raising Rufus by David Fulk is about a boy who finds a dinosaur egg that hatches. The boy, Martin, tries to keep the dinosaur as a pet.

The situation in which he finds the frozen egg is believable and readers will accept the possibility that it could thaw and hatch.

But feeding and hiding Rufus, a fast-growing tyrannosaurus rex, isn't easy. And the man setting up a  carnival nearby makes the future of Rufus even more endangered.

Even with help from his friend, Audrey, can Martin save the gigantic creature he has come to love?

Middle grade readers will love this book.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Here's another blog post about cute picture book for kids. The title of this book is BonBon and the author is Barbara Bockman.

I remember reading books about toys or pets that wanted to be adopted by a child when I was a kid, and this book has a similar theme. The main character, BonBon, is a stuffed poodle in a second hand toy store.

But this book is different from those others because it takes place in Paris, France and includes information about that city. While the information is educational, it's included subtly and won't distract kids from the story at all.

BonBon, like the other toys in the Twice-Loved toy shop longs to be loved by a kid, but so do all the other toys. And BonBon gets hidden behind the others in the window display so children passing by can't even see him.

And then ...  well, I don't want to spoil the story by giving away the amazing series of things that lead to BonBon getting his wish, but I will say what happens is original and creative.

And it's all shown clearly in the illustrations by Eugene Ruble.