The importance of children's books in opening the mind to the door of life and the world of imagination is beyond measure. The importance of a dog in the life of a child is also beyond measure. It was from thoughts like these that the Planet Of The Dogs Series evolved.
Fairy Tales and the Brothers Grimm...
Perhaps I was misled by the Disney version of fairy tales and children's stories, but as my interest and concern for age appropriate labeling of books and movies has grown, I find myself on an educational journey ---an awakening. Much of it has to do with misleading labels in today's marketplace. However, learning about the violence and brutality of children's literature in the past past has been a disturbing revelation.
The world was a different place in late 18th and early 19th century Europe and Germany. Life was hard and childhood for most was filled with work, uncertainty, and, often, fear. Reading and literacy were uncommon and oral tales were part of a long tradition. The Brother's Grimm collected the stories and myths of the time, published them, and promoted them as tales for children.
Maria Tartar, author, scholar, blogger (Breezes from Wonderland) and Harvard Professor(German Studies, Folklore, and Children's Literature) has
written extensively on these matters. I am currently reading, learning from, and fascinated by her book, "Enchanted Hunters,the power of stories in childhood".
Ms Tartar, herself a mother as well as a scholar, has written extensively regarding children's literature and the brothers Grimm in paricular.One of thes was entitled, "The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales."The back cover describes the book in this way: "Murder, mutilation, cannibalism, infanticide, and incest: the darker side of classic fairy tales figures as the subject matter for this intriguing study of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's Nursery and Household Tales... Throughout the book, Tatar skillfully employs the tools not only of a psychoanalyst but also of a folklorist, literary critic, and historian to examine the harsher aspects of these stories. She presents new interpretations of the powerful stories in this worldwide best-selling book..."
My learning curve is accelerating, and I take some comfort in realizing that the issue of age appropriateness and concern for what children read and see in movies and TV, is substantial and growing.
Dogs in the Library..?
PAL (People Animals Love) has been bringing the healing power of dogs to the greater Washington, DC, area for over 30 years. With more that 350 volunteers and their therapy dogs, they enhance the lives of folks in nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals and libraries. Libraries? Of course, through therapy dog reading programs like Paws To Read.
Here's an excerpt from a Washington Post article by Susan Svrulga that explains this wonderful and successful program...
At libraries, children find delight in reading to dogs...
"Sean Sullivan chose a book, sat down on the library rug and explained to Tavish that he was going to read him a mystery about a hidden treasure.
Tavish, never one to turn down a good story, wagged his short red tail and put his head on Sean’s knee.
On the other side of the room, tucked into the back of the children’s section of an Alexandria library, Jonathan Mendez was reading with a Spanish accent to a black Portuguese water dog
named Skipper. A golden retriever was sprawled out in another corner, and a tiny toy poodle sat up, bright-eyed, as a girl read to him about an alligator.
“If you're reading aloud in school to a whole class, you might be nervous,” said Sean, who’s 8. “But the dogs are really here to listen.”
A growing number of libraries and some schools in the region are inviting volunteers to bring their dogs in to help children learn, hoping the pets will calm children who are struggling, excite those who are bored and help kids equate reading with fun.
At the Charles E. Beatley Jr. Central Library in Alexandria on a recent night, there was a waiting list for “Paws to Read,” with children clutching books outside the room hoping to get a turn..."
To read all of this heartening and informative article click here: Paws To Read Note: The top photo is courtesy of PAL; the bottom photo of Emmanuel and his therapy reading dog friend was taken by Tracy Baetz in librarian Ginny Rawls PAL sponsored Paws To Read program.
Welcome to the world of the "new adult."
Beyond Wizards and Vampires, to Sex by Leslie Kaufman
Things are moving fast in the book business as sales of sexy adult books crossover (or crossunder) to create a new niche for young adult (YA) readers as reported in this excerpt from Leslie Kaufman's article...
"Vampire and wizard fans are apparently ready for characters who shed their robes and show a little more skin.
Publishers and authors say they are seeing a spurt in sales of books that fit into the young-adult genre in their length and emotional intensity, but feature slightly older characters and significantly more sex, explicitly detailed.
They’ve labeled this category “new adult” — which some winkingly describe as Harry Potter meets “50 Shades of Grey” — and say it is aimed at 18-to-25-year-olds, the age group right above young adult.
The goal is to retain young readers who have loyally worked their way through series like Harry Potter, “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight,” all of which tread lightly, or not at all, when it comes to sexual encounters. In the “Twilight” books, for instance, readers are kept out of the bedroom when Bella and Edward, the endlessly yearning lead characters, finally consummate their relationship.
Providing more mature material, publishers reason, is a good way to maintain devotion to books among the teenagers who are scooping up young-adult fiction and making it the most popular category in literature, with a crossover readership that is also attracting millions of adults. All while creating a new source of revenue"...
Here's the link to read all of this fascinating article: Leslie Kaufman
Search for Answers... Middle Grade vs Young Adult...four very succesful and respected authors of middle grade books discuss the changes and confusion
in the book world today...what is appropriate content for 10-12 year olds?...how does rape or brutallity affect a middle schooler?... This is an audio presentation of NYPL's outstanding Children's Literary Salon, organized by librarian Elizabeth Bird. The authors are:
Here is the link: Salon
The next Salon, the Alternative Children's Library, will be held on March 23,12-1 PM. For more information, click here: Alternative
How well do you know the Hobbit?...The Christian Science Monitor published an entertaining and challenging quiz for Tolkien fans: The Hobbit’: 40 questions to test your knowledge of Bilbo Baggins and co....Here is the Link: CSM The illustration is by Tolkien
"There was just one small problem. I found it hard to read 50 fairy tales straight through like it was a novel. I found myself reading a couple at night before bed, slowly making my way through the collection. So it took me some time to finish...Nevertheless, if you are as fascinated by fairy tales as I am this is a must read. Pullman provides a wonderful collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with a straightforward and clean style. Plus, he adds some interesting and whimsical comments at the end of each story... Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm is a must read for anyone interested in folklore and fairy tales but it is also a great read for anyone interested in the art of storytelling and its impact on culture, language and the way we see the world. " The illustration is by Arthur Rackham
A Different reaction from the UK...
On the other hand, Fiction Fan asked Who Is The Book For? Here are excerpts..."Pullman’s versions of some of the Grimms’ folk stories are well enough written and his little summaries at the end of each tale give a bit of background to where each story originated and the different versions that have been told in the past. But from the moment I received the book and discovered that, to my amazement, there are no illustrations, I couldn’t help but wonder
who exactly is this book for?...Pullman has deliberately gone back to the unbowdlerised versions of many of the stories and I’m not sure that I’d be happy to be reading some of these to my (mythical) young children. Rapunzel getting pregnant without really understanding what was happening to her? Houses described as being as filthy as ‘pisspots’? Must be for a teenage or adult audience then? But if so, what do these versions add to the ones we all read when we were young? For me, the answer to that question was nothing much, I’m afraid..In the end I came to the conclusion that the book is in fact aimed at a very specific target audience – Pullman fans"... Once again, the illustration is by Arthur Rackham
A new book review of Planet Of The Dogs appeared on Dakota's Den, a website for Dog Lovers written by Caren Gittleman and her dog Dakota..."We will write about funny things, sad things, informative things and so much more!We feature book reviews, product reviews, funny videos. You name it, you will find it here and if it isn’t here now, give us a BARK OUT and tell us what you want to see at email@example.com"
Here is an excerpt from Karen's review of Planet Of The Dogs...
"Looking for a book for the youngsters in your life that sends the message of love, friendship and loyalty? Have you wondered what life was like BEFOREthere were dogs? Where did the first dog
come from? Why did dogs inhabit Earth?
Planet of the Dogs is a delightful fantasy for those in the mid to upper elementary grades as well as their parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents! The story begins in a time long ago before there were dogs on Planet Earth. For a while things were beautiful, people prospered and life was good.Then, as is often the case, where there is good, to have balance in life there must be some bad. Planet Earth was threatened by evil forces. These forces made some people forget how to love.
When Miss Merrie (Queen of the dogs on Planet Dog) heard of the problems on Earth she knew that something had to be done to help them. The first dog arrived and the course of the world changed..." Here is a link to the website and the review: Dakota's Den
The illustraition in from the Planet Of The Dogs book
Read sample chapters of all the books in the Planet Of The Dogs series:
Click here for sample chapters:Books
Librarians, teachers, bookstores...Order Planet The Dogs, Castle in the mis, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale through Ingram with a full professional discount.
Therapy reading dog owners, librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs -- you can
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?"
Old Dog Behavior
When a dog grows old, changes in their behavior often create problems and frustration for their owner. These behavioral changes, especially when accompanied by declining health and fear of loosing the dog, can be very difficult to deal with... Nancy Houser,on Way Cool Dogs, posted an insightful article on dealing with the problem of old dogs. Here is an excerpt...
"As a shelter that deals with old dogs behavior on a constant level, dealing with the problems of old dogs means recognizing a decline in functioning.
Things that we used to accept as normal behavior begin to change drastically: their memory will lesson; they will lose their ability to learn; they will not be as aware as they used to be; more reduced physical abilities; and they will begin to deteriorate in their sight, hearing, and toileting abilities.
Most noticeable is their abnormal sleep patterns. They will sleep all day and become restless at night, kind of like elderly people. There is no set pattern for old dogs behavior, as they will stare at objects for hours, bark at nothing, and begin to wander aimlessly; meanwhile, their ability to keep themselves clean will decrease and their appetite will lesson.
Learned commands from puppyhood days may soon be forgotten, along with habits they have developed over the years. For example, they will not come when called and will loose the ability to remain house-trained..."
Here is the link to read all of this article: Old Dog
Parade of Misfits by CA Wulff...
Parade of Misfits is an introduction 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 the world of Wulff you will find inside.
What age is a young adult?
A very real storm of contoversary surrounds the many of the books by best-selling YA (Young Adult) author, Lauren Myracle...how blatanly graphic should a book for 12-14 year old readers be...perhaps Lauren Myracle is an example of why the majority of YA customers in bookstores are now over 18?...In any case, Here is an excerpt from an insightful article...
ChildHood,Uncensored by Catherine Saint Louis
"LAUREN MYRACLE has been called Satan, a pedophile, and a corrupter of youth, yet her series of books about a trio of Atlanta teenagers, written
entirely in text messages, has sold a total of 1.5 million copies. She has been hailed as this generation’s Judy Blume for her candor, but outraged parents have lobbied to ban her books, which tackle topics like erections, that awkward first bra purchase, and clueless flirting that leads one sophomore to have a hot-tub encounter with a teacher. (Spoiler: her BFFs rescue her in the nick of time.)
....Last year, Ms. Myracle’s so-called Internet girls series — consisting of the titles ”ttyl,” “ttfn,” and “l8r, g8r” (ask a young person to decipher the texting language) — topped the list of challenged and banned books nationwide, according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. (Angela Maycock, its assistant director, estimated that only 20 to 25 percent of challenges to books on school or public library shelves are reported.) Earning such a ranking requires a groundswell of people going to their libraries and declaring, “This is trash,” Ms. Maycock explained..."
Here is the Link to read all of the article: Link: Myracle
I wrote an article on the awesome world of therapy dogs based on information acquired from visitors to this Blog.Clicking on the title (above) will take you to Paw Nation where the complete article was first published. Here's an excerpt:
"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 Dog in the Classroom
Julie Hauck, a third-grade teacher in Sheboygan, Wis., owns a certified therapy reading dog. Five years ago, she created the Pages for Preston program. Preston, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, like all therapy reading dogs, is neither judgmental nor critical, and the children love to gather in a circle and read to him. "The dogs calm us down when we pet them so that we can read better," said Caroline, a student in the class.
The positive results have surprised even Julie. "The children look forward to reading to Preston beyond my expectations. Their excitement translates into motivation. I've seen a marked and continuing improvement in reading skills and their interest in books"...
Note: the photo was taken in the classroom during the Pages with Preston program.
This website is the internet platform for dog lover and animal advocate Cayr Ariel
Wulff. Her passion has resulted in a remarkable and important book, How to Change the Wold in Thirty Seconds...Here is an excerpt from an Amazon review: "This is probably the best "how-to" book I have ever seen. It is written in a very conversational manner while being extremely educational. Along with giving step-by-step instructions on how to use each advocacy tool, Cayr gives some background on each website, organization, and group, and explains how each is set up and how the different helping processes work. She walks you through the necessary steps..." Click the link to Up On The Woof for more information.
Richard Lawson, who was a big fan of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, was very disappointed in the Hobbit movie. In his review in the Atlantic Wire he found serious problems with the look of the movie and the heavy padding of the story. In both cases, he reasoned that the need for big box office was the motivator behind distorting what was originally a classic story for children. Here is an excerpt:
"The Lord of the Rings series succeeded aesthetically because it was such an elegant, painting-like wonder to behold. The textures and palettes all had the look of a particularly vibrant illustrated story book, the kind of immersive vision that exists somewhere between imagination and the real world. For The Hobbit, though, Jackson chose to film at a high frame rate and with Real 3D technology in mind — because 3D movies are doing well these days and, hell, doesn't hurt that the tickets cost more — and the results are frequently hideous...It's the problem of technology over-thinking or over-performing, and it is on startling, gruesome display in The Hobbit. When you're wearing the 3D glasses (and admittedly sitting a little off to the side), this hugely expensive movie looks like it was shot on a handheld digital camera..."
Here is a link to the review:Lawson
What's happening in OZ? According to the review by Manohla Dargis, Oz, the Great and Powerful, is an overwrought jumble of effects that
has strayed from the spirit of L Frank Baum.Here is the lead paragraph..."Can the major studios still make magic? From the looks of “Oz the Great and Powerful,” a dispiriting, infuriating jumble of big money, small ideas and ugly visuals, the answer seems to be no — unless, perhaps, the man behind the curtain is Martin Scorsese or James Cameron. The Walt Disney Company is the studio lurking behind“Oz,” and, as usual, it is banking that it can leverage this 3-D prehistory of the Wizard of Oz (James Franco) for its wonderful world of cross-promotional marketing and ancillary revenue streams. With so much riding on this “Oz” it’s a surprise that the results are so uninspired...
From Pets Blog: Here you will find illustrated dog anatomy/characteristics compared to humans...recommended especially for kids with dogs...link:Dog Anatomy Infographic
Fun and educational
I found this wonderful quotation about "true humanity" on Sunbear Squad an organization dedicated to "transforming animal lovers into animal welfare defenders with knowledge, tools and inspiration."
"We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace."
—Albert Schweitzer, "The Philosophy of Civilization"
"No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does." -- Christopher Morley