In our books, dogs give loyalty and love to children. They teach them about courage and finding non-violent ways to stop violent invaders. Our books are fantasy adventures grounded in reality. They offer hope. They take place long, long ago when dogs first came to planet earth to help people.
First Book provides access to new books for children in need.
..."Every study shows that there’s nothing more valuable than turning a child into a reader at an early age. They enter school with greater knowledge and vocabularies; they do better not just on reading tests, but on math tests. They have the foundation they need to succeed — in school and in life...
Children from low-income neighborhoods are the most vulnerable. 80 percent of the preschools and after school programs serving children in need do not have a single book for the children they serve. In some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country there is only one book available for every 300 children.
First Book, the organization I lead, is committed to helping the 30 million American children living in low-income neighborhoods become success stories. We work with local educators and community leaders across the country to supply them with new, high-quality books. They understand the needs of the children and families in their community, and First Book provides them with the books and educational resources they need..."
The above remarks were part of the response by Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book, in respone to President O'Bama's State Of the Union Speech regarding the importance of investing in high quality early education. To date, First Book has distributed more than 100 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada.
Amidst the marketing noise that accompanied the movie version of the Hobbit, came this paean to the rewards of readng the Hobbit
The Hobbit is A tale that begs to be read out loud
by Mark Guarino, Printers Row, Chicago Tribune 12212012
..."The magical lure of "The Hobbit" is that, despite its continued stature as a fantasy classic, it remains decidedly old-fashioned. Tolkien was a classics scholar intent on creating an adventure tale that incorporated elements of epic Norse and Anglo-Saxon legends — "Beowulf," "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and others. But while the archaic prose of those works continues to weigh down English lit majors as much as their hardbacks of "The Norton Anthology of English Literature," "The Hobbit" is immensely readable, especially out loud and to another person hungry to hear a story.
Tolkien meant it that way. The narrative voice in "The Hobbit" is similar to that of other children's literature of his day: A.A. Milne's "Winnie the Pooh" stories, J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan" and George MacDonald's "The Princess and the Goblin." But Tolkien pushed his narrator one step further by fashioning him as a kind of gentle intruder to the reader's inner circle. Starting with the novel's opening paragraphs, Tolkien's narrator speaks directly to us, pausing to ask questions we might ask — "What is a hobbit? I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us." Then he is off, making the unfamiliar perfectly recognizable, so much so that a hobbit hole sounds like a place we might want to retire to someday..."
Note: The illustration is by Tolkien --- Link: Guarino
Compromising or changing a story for the purpose of wider distribution and bigger sales in the world of children's books, and movies made from children's books, continues unabated -- a practice that extends as far back as the brothers Grimm.
A current example: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” broke a December box-officed record by collecting $84.8 million over its debut weekend. However, the integrity of the movie has been questioned by reviewers and educators. Here is an example: Laura Hudson in Wired...here's an excerpt from her review:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Failure
"The core misstep of The Hobbit is the confusion of form over content – it conflates the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with its shape, and attempts to make a simulacrum out of very different materials. The Hobbit is a fine story, a good story, but a much humbler one than the Lord of the Rings series by several measures. Making the former into the latter is a sort of reverse turducken: trying to hide something big inside of something small, with predictably disastrous results.
One of the most powerful ideas in Lord of the Rings was how its hero defied expectations of scale; even though Frodo was small and unassuming compared to his flashier, taller companions, those qualities didn’t disqualify him from being a hero – they made him the hero. He inspired us because he never needed to pretend to be any bigger than he was.
Putting a hobbit on a rack and stretching him to the size of a giant doesn’t make him a better hero. It doesn’t make this a better movie. If anything, it fails precisely because it runs counter to the spirit of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – the one that said size alone did not determine worth, and that being small was sometimes the very thing that made you great."
link: Laura Hudson
Therapy dogs are quite extraordinary in their ability to make life better for people...they help people of all ages overcome fear and loneliness...they stimulate healing...they open the door to reading... and much more.
Therapy Dogs United has an excellent video that takes you into the wonderful world of therapy dogs in action. Here is the link: Unconditional Love
"As a child's faith in fantasy begins to erode, anxieties about the consequences of growing up, leaving childhood behind, and losing the healing powers of the imagination demand new problem solving skills."
-- Maria Tartar, Enchanted Hunters,the power of stories in childhood
What Did Kids Read Before Hans Christian Andersen?
Homer, among other things...By Brian Palmer
This article by Brian Palmer takes the reader on a fascinating overview of what kids were reading from
the early days of Western civilization in classical Greece, to England in the mid 18th century.
1914 illustration of "Thumbelina" from an English translation of
Hans Christian Anderson's tales Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Here's are excerpts:
..."Epic poems, religious literature, romances, and Aesop. Scholars argue over when children's literature—that is, books written exclusively for and read exclusively by children—came into existence. But it's largely a debate over definitions. Even in ancient times, certain types of stories were considered appropriate for children. Archaeologists have unearthed a children's version of the labors of Hercules from the third century written in simple language with large, spaced-out text and color pictures of the lions and the mythical hero. Greek and Roman teachers selected passages from Homer or Virgil that were learner-friendly. And there was always Aesop"...
..."Children's literature—that is, books printed specifically for children or for parents to read to children—may not have existed in English until the 1740s, when John Newbery launched his publishing business. A Little Pretty Pocket Book, which, according to some, was the first true piece of dedicated children's literature, was an enormous success."
I continue to be amazed by therapy dogs. The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote based on information shared with me by several therapy dog owners: Julie Hauck, Otto Kittrel, Barb Babikian, Carol and Bob Varney, Susan Purser, and Karen Sorensen; the diversity of their dog breeds speaks to the wonderful qualities found in all dogs. The title link (above) will take you to Paw Nation where the complete article was published. The excerpt below is about Karen and Star.Thanks to all therapy dog owners for the wonderful work you do
"How can a dog walking into a room change the lives of the people who are there? It happens all the time. For the old and infirm, the eyes light up and a smile may cross their face. For the dying, it is a moment of connection with a world they are leaving. For a child, a door opens to the world of reading, a world of imagination and information, a world of possibilities.
The Human-Canine Connection – The Therapy Reading Dog Those who have witnessed therapy dogs interacting with people testify to the positiveeffects created by the human-canine connection.Parents are amazed and grateful when their child opens up to reading after spending time with Star, a rescued Labrador in the Paws for Tales library program. Star's owner, Karen Sorenson, has started several of these programs for children, kindergarten to fourth grade, in and around Warrick County, Indiana. Even reluctant readers will come around after spending time with Star. Like many therapy dog teams, Karen and Star visit other venues where the human-canine connection is beneficial, volunteering at St. Mary's Hospital, Deaconess Hospice, and in the Evansville Literacy Center, where Karen works as a tutor..Note:the photo is of Karen, Star, and their friend, Emily; the classroom photo at the top is of teacher Julie Hauck's Pages for Preston reading program.
From Elizabeth Bird NYPL
New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon is pleased to announce our next event on Saturday, March 2nd at 2:00 p.m.
Librarians, teachers, bookstores -- order our books directly from Ingram...professional discount, of course. For sample chapters of all books in the Planet Of The Dogs series, click: SampleChapters
Therapy reading dog owners, librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs...
Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you free reader copies from the Planet of the Dogs Series.
Read Dog Books to Dogs....Ask any therapy reading dog: "Do you like it when the the kids read dog books to you?"
For sample chapters of Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, click here: Sample Chapters
"It was a cold, dark night when the howling dogs awakened Prince Ukko from his sleep. It was a sound he had never heard before, and caused a cold feeling of fear to move through his body. After a few minutes the howling stopped, but now Prince Ukk was unable to sleep."
Deanna is responsible for our relationship and contract with China's Beijing Chongxian Books Co. (they will publish our book series in mainland China). The Frankfurt Book Fair is enormous with expectations of 7,500 exhibitors from 110 countries. One can imagine getting lost or being overwhelmed. However, Deanna has years of experience in establishing relationships and schedules full days of meetings in advance. She also speaks German and is a dog lover. Her beloved dog, Izzy, is on the right.
Influence of Bookstores and Libraries Eroding for Children
What's Going On Here? Is YA still YA? Are children loosing direct book experience? These are major changes...
"A study by Bowker has found that among children, there has been a marked decline in bookstore and library influence as a source of recommendation and acquisition, and that many purchases are instead migrating online to vendors like Amazon. The study had some surprises: most notably 84% of YA books were purchased by consumers 18 or older – and a full 35% of YA books were bought by consumers aged 18-29. In all areas of media use with the exception of video games, girls outpaced boys, both in terms of behavior and in their willingness to engage in discussion." MORE
Video winner-Dogs in a delightful music video drive to the pound and adopt humans: DogsHelpHumans (Endorsing the virtues of adoption and Petfinder )
Note:the photo above is of one of the stars of the video.
Scholastic will be publishing seven all-new covers on its U.S. paperbacks this September to mark the 15-year anniversary of the debut of Harry Potter. Here is the the first one, created by Kazu Kibuishi, for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
By the Dawn's Early Light..
- 80 percent of the pre-schools and after school programs serving children in need do not have a single book for the children they serve.
- In some of the lowest-income neighborhoods in the country there is only one book available for every 300 children.
This disturbing information comes from First Book.
It's no secret that classic fairy tales aren't the bright and happy stories Disney would have you believe. (The way the Brothers Grimm tell Cinderella, one of her stepsisters resorts to cutting off her own toe to fit into Ella's dainty glass slippers.) Now, rather than skipping over the bleaker elements at bedtime -- or just hoping kids can handle rather dark ideas -- parents are chucking fairy tales altogether, says a new study conducted by British TV channel, Watch...
There has been a move toward seeing fairy tales as an adult, or at any rate, a young adult dark sort of genre," children's author Diane Purkiss told the BBC. "In the past, fairy tales were told by adults to adults, in William Shakespeare's time. It's only in the Victorian era that they've become moral children's tales and it looks like we're going back to the inception of fairy stories now with a more adult take on them."
Here is a Link to read all of this report: EmmaGray...
The illustration is by by Arthur Rackham, celebrated in his time as one of the leading lights in the "Golden Age" of British Book illustration -- 1900 to World War One.
Parade of Misfits, aptly named, is an introduction -- an open door -- for dog lovers to the world of
CA Wulff, author, passionate animal advocate, and dog lover. Living in a cabin in the woods with an ever changing melange of rescued canines and other critters, Wulff experienced a catharsis through her dogs. This book, propelled by humor and adventures, is a prelude to her full blown memoir, Circling the Waggins. The cover of the book is a true forecast of world of Wulff you will find inside.
All of Wulff's books, including Born Without a Tail and How to Change the World in Thirty Seconds are available on Amazon.
Here are excerpts from John Woestendiak's enthusiastic and insightful review of CA Wulff's How to Change the World in Thirty Seconds as seen on his outstanding website, ohmidog.
Wulff, who speaks from experience, shows how something as big and untenable as the Internet can, with relative ease, be used to make life better for individual dogs, and the species as a whole.
How to navigate the Internet, with an eye towards helping dogs, is clearly and concisely explained in Wulff’s handbook, which should be required reading for animal shelters, rescue organizations and anyone else interested in doing something more about the problems than complain."
Here is the link to read more of the review: ChangeTheWorld
The World of Illiustration for Children's books...
Never Abandon Imagination, a blog I found when I was exploring early illustrations for the Hobbit and the fairy tales of the brothers Grimm, was created by Tony DiTerlizzi, award witnning creator of the Spiderwick Chronicles (among other outstanding illustrated children's books). I was linked to his delightful site by the Hobbit book cover (left- courtesy of the Tolkien Estate) created by Tolkien himself.
To enter a world of illustrations by many extraordinary artists, visit Books That Inspire, on Tony's website. Here is the Link: Imagination
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, Shall We?
Here's an excerpt from insightful and diverse posts by NL Houser on this unique website for dog lovers...
"...Thomas Dobush, one of the international renowned Monks of New Skete, once said, “Learning the value of silence is learning to listen to, instead of screaming at, reality.” Dogs was what he was referring to in the book, How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend. I bring the Monks of New Skete up because they are known for their published books on superb dog training techniques, a 1978 first edition. If anybody knows anything about dogs, it would be them.
“When it comes to communication with a dog, most cues are non-verbal. The message is in a look in the eyes, in the body language. In a puppy, the language is even more subtle. Clear reactive moments from a dog to its master are fleeting. This is why a visual training tool is so valuable. Viewing a professional trainer working dynamically with a dog can be far more enlightening than the most articulate description in words. As they say; a picture can be worth a thousand of them”
However, training begins as a young puppy. And according to the monks, the best place for a young puppy at night is on the floor at the bottom of your bed. The worst thing to do is isolate them at a young age in an area by themselves — the porch, the utility room, or outside in a run. Fold an old blanket or sheet up and place it on the floor for them where you can hear them..." Here's a link to read all of this article: Sleeping Dogs Note:The dog in the photo is our family puppy, Cece.
" Read it Forward for World Read Aloud Day by reading aloud and giving the gift of story in any way you can. Read It Forward on March 6, on behalf of the 793 million people who cannot yet read."...from Lit World
Video for World Read Aloud Day: Read
You know of a local situation where a dog is in trouble...hurt, abused, abandoned...What do should you do? What are your options? You want to be helpful, but this is all new to you... For answers, examples, true stories and more, visit Sunbear Squad...Let the experience of compassionate dog lovers guide you.
"Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful -- Ann Landers"