Thursday, July 28, 2016

Treasured Childhood Books

Junior Classics Children's Books

My parents entered me in the Junior Classics Book Club when I was about 11 years old. Every month I would get a new classic in the mail. I absolutely loved it. 


My all-time favorite book was Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. I read it 7 times. My hero was Allen Breck, the Scot who saved David Balfour from his slavery on a ship after his uncle had him kidnapped to keep David from claiming his inheritance.
Through this story I learned about the Scots and Scotland, and began my love for the bagpipes, great coats, and swords. Later, I had a great coat and changed the plastic buttons to silver ones like Allen Breck’s famous silver buttons he gave to David to show his kinsman in order to gain their trust and help the lad. I was completely mesmerized by this story. 

I also loved the other classics I read in these Junior Classics collection like all of Louisa May Alcott’s stories, Tom Sawyer, Freckles (a wonderful story about an orphan who had lost his hand), and so many others I hold dear to my heart.

I remember when the remake of Little Woman came out with Wynonna Ryder as the central character, Jo. Oh gosh, even though I was a middle-aged woman, I couldn’t wait to see it. I thought they did a great job of capturing the original essence of that classic story.

I was introduced to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I wanted to become the famous detective and solve mysterious cases. I ran around the house and yard in Pop’s old trench coat with my magnifying glass and bubble pipe pretending to solve mysteries. What great fun I had.

I never hear my great-niece mention reading classic children’s books. The books she reads are new to me. Have classics fallen to the wayside? Did any of you with children encourage classic children’s stories, or are there “new classics” surfacing now? In any case, books filled my childhood with excitement and wonder and I’m so grateful I had those cherished books.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My Friend Mr. Book Bag

I know some of you who are teachers are dreading the end of summer vacation and the beginning of the school year, but for me, it brings back childhood memories. Don’t get me wrong, I was not one of those kids who looked forward to it or had visions of creating that robot who would do my bidding and impress the teacher. I was a shy kid who felt overwhelmed by the idea of going to school where all those kids were and where the expectation that I would be the next Einstein loomed over my head like a dark shadow.

Skeeter was my best friend, and as long as she was in my class, I might actually make it through the first grade. Besides Skeeter, I had my protective book bag. Honest to Pete, I loved that thing. Not only was it good to put my Dick and Jane book in and my papers of accomplishment like the picture of the plumb I correctly colored purple, notwithstanding my wonderful array of school supplies, but it also contained my magical mementos. I had my ball and jacks, a deck of worn out Old Maid cards (kind of a chauvinistic game in today’s politically correct world I guess), and things that belonged to my parents so I could feel they were there to protect me. I kept a button from my mom’s dress and one of my dad’s ties. You can never be too safe.

Everything would have been okay except I carried that protective book bag with me everywhere I went. When I say everywhere, I mean exactly that—to the restroom, the cafeteria, and even to recess. My teacher thought my obsession with my book bag might be detrimental to my mental wellbeing and sent home a note to my parents asking them to discourage me from traveling constantly with my shield and friend Mr. Book Bag.

Now this may surprise some of you, but my parents were different—different in their beliefs about raising children and their philosophies about what children needed. My father sent back a note to my teacher in which he flatly refused to insist on me giving up my book bag. He told her I needed that book bag to feel secure and that he felt I would eventually stop dragging it around once I felt safe and comfortable in the class. I never felt as validated as I did that day when my dad stuck up for me.

Eventually, I did stop taking that book bag with me all over the place. After all, I had my best friend Skeet. What’s a book bag compared to a best friend? Naturally, a note went home about that, too, but that’s another story for another time. So, the lesson I learned about love and feeling loved is sometimes it’s not enough to hear the words “I love you”, sometimes you can only know how much a person loves you by their actions and how they support the unique person they know you to be.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Just Released: Memories of Maple Street: Pawprints on My Heart

Have you ever had a pet that left indelible pawprints—or hoofprints—on your heart? Pets we’ve rescued—that rescued us, as well—and animals that maybe weren’t so much “pets” as “acquaintances” who’ve taught us a thing or two…

The third edition of our successful series, Memories From Maple Street, U.S.A.—Pawprints On My Heart, is chock full of stories about special pets we’ve had. These tales evoke loving memories of days gone by when these animals played a huge part in our lives—either as pets we had as children, or as adults.

Wayfaring Stranger/ My contribution
Imagine my surprise when my mother picked me up at school and told me about the strange, furry creature who came to our house.

Anatole France once said, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” This collection of true animal stories will serve to prove him right!

Includes authors Gayle M. Irwin, Ann Swann, Carol Huff, Sarah J. McNeal, Charlie Steel, C.J. Samuels, Jim Landwehr, Cher’ley Grogg, Beverly Wells, Gil McDonald, Meg Mims, Tina Holt, Tanya Hanson, Cheryl Pierson, and L.D.B. Taylor.
Buy Links: Kindle    Paperback