Tag Archives: children

Exclusive Book Cover Reveal!

Today, The Furever Home Friends is revealing the cover for their new book, Just Me, Wrigley! See the cover below!

Wrigley loves to dance. She can shake her tail all over the animal shelter. But for some people, Wrigley’s rhythm isn’t enough. Wrigley is a mutt; she doesn’t know what breed she is. While others come to the shelter looking for schnauzers, labs, and Dalmatians, Wrigley wonders when it will be her turn. Can Wrigley find the confidence to stay true to herself and dance her way into a forever home?

Like with all Furever Home Friends books, 10% of this book’s profits will benefit no-kill animal shelters!

Just Me, Wrigley is currently available for preorder on fureverhomefriends.com, and will officially release on Amazon on Saturday, August 11!

What do you think of the cover? Let me know in the comments below!

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Alice’s Magic Garden Book Review

Alice’s Magic Garden by Henry Herz introduces readers to Alice long before she ever went to Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass.  Alice is miserable living in a stuffy, grey boarding house.  The food is terrible and none of the girls like her.

One day, Alice finds a secret garden hidden on the grounds of the boarding house.  She delights in tending to the garden every day.  Little does she know that her small acts of kindness are about to change her life in big and colorful ways.

This book is a magically fun read, especially for those who are already in love with Lewis Carroll’s cast of creative characters.  I enjoyed getting to see Alice’s character blossom, much like her enchanted garden.  Once mild and meek, she emerges as a bold and confident young lady.

I also liked seeing the White Rabbit and Caterpillar take on a more serious and mindful role.  Instead of being absent minded and silly, they are totally present in the moment and even show signs of being thoughtful and caring instead of cantankerous.  To me, this gives the characters more depth as well as a more prominent purpose for being in the story.

Natalie Hoopes’ illustrations are stunning.  I love how the illustrations have a Wizard of Oz feel to them.  Before Alice finds the garden, her world is black, white, and grey.  After continuously tending the garden, only her world bursts into color.  This is a great visualization of how her world is to change even further once she finds the Rabbit’s hole.

I love Hoopes’ artistic style.  She puts so much detail into every page.  Her color palate is remarkable.  The cool blues coupled with the pink and purple pastels really pop against the lush greenery of the garden.

Readers of all ages will delight in this magical prequel.  Children will especially be captivated by the gorgeous illustrations and hilarious characters.  Parents will also enjoy hunting for literary Easter eggs from Carroll’s original classic hidden throughout the book.

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Sterling, Best Dog Ever Book Review

Sterling, Best Dog Ever by Aidan Cassie follows the adventures of one very confused Dachshund.  Sterling hasn’t had very good luck in finding a forever home.  His owners seem to always lose interest, sending him back to the streets.

One night, Sterling notices a sign at the Butlery Cutlery Company.  Their utensils are being shipped to “all the best homes.”  He decides to hide in one of the boxes where he waits to be delivered to his perfect home.

The Gilberts are surprised to see the pup inside their box of forks.  Yet, Sterling has a plan.  He won’t just be any fork; he’s going to be the best fork ever!  But when his plan starts to unravel, will he find the courage to be what the family really needs?

I absolutely adore this book!  This is definitely one of my favorite picture books of all time.  Sterling’s character is beyond adorable.  He reminds me of my own dachshund, Hope.  Young and old alike will relate to his struggle of feeling like he needs to be something other than himself.

This story is full of emotion and heart.  I loved watching Sterling’s silly antics, yet my heart broke when he kept trying to be what he thought everyone wanted.  I definitely shed tears at the end.

The character of the little girl reminds me of myself.  I noticed that her bedroom wall is covered in dog posters and drawings.  She also has numerous stuffed dogs tucked away under her night stand.  I can totally relate to her passion for pooches (especially dachshunds).

I also love that this story sheds light on the importance of animal adoption.  As the proud pet parent to five rescue dogs, I know that many of them have a story similar to Sterling’s.  They were loved for a time, yet dumped when the owners became “bored” with them.  This book would be a great addition to the humane education curriculum at animal shelters and rescue groups across the country.

Cassie’s illustrations are truly stunning.  Sterling’s expressions are priceless.  I was in love with his character the moment I saw the book cover.  I also love the spotlight illustrations at the beginning of the book that show Sterling trying to imitate numerous items.  My favorite was the curling iron (my husband favored the jackhammer).

This book is a fantastic read for animal lovers of all ages.  Readers will cheer Sterling on in his quest to find his true purpose.  I hope to see more books featuring the best dog ever.

 

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Wolf in the Snow Book Review

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell, follows one little girl on her journey home from school. A blizzard is suddenly upon her. She does her best to move in the direction of her house, but is blinded by the snow.

At the same time, a young wolf pup is having difficulty keeping up with his pack. They are much older than he is and are used to the harsh weather. The pup struggles to keep his feet moving as the snow continues to pile up around him.

Suddenly, the girl and pup meet. She can see that he is scared and lonely. Picking him up, the girl attempts to send him on his way, but the snow has become too deep. The pup simply sinks.

The girl is now faced with a difficult dilemma. Should she help reunite the pup with his pack or continue her treacherous trek home?

This is one of my all-time favorite children’s books! Being a nearly wordless picture book, this story relies heavily on illustrations. Cordell knocks it out of the park with stunning hand drawn images that will leave the reader speechless.

Each turn of the page conveys strong emotions. Empathy, fear, and courage are on display in Cordell’s story. Children will delight at the detailed illustrations and will fall in love with the characters.

This is a wonderful book for readers of all ages. I could definitely see this being used for humane education classes at local shelters and rescue groups.

 

Wolf

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Pitiful Parenting

One Friday night, my husband attempted to take me out to a peaceful dinner.  We had both been having a terrible week and I was looking forward to relaxing together.  My stomach growled as we pulled into the Arby’s parking lot.

 

We found a cozy both near the center of the restaurant.  As we waited for our food, we began to have a discussion about our jobs.  Suddenly, a little boy screamed, “DADDY!”  I turned around to look.  Sure enough, there were two young boys ( I would say ages 6 and 8) sitting with their father.  He was apparently oblivious to his son’s shouting.  Matt smiled at me and resumed the conversation.

 

Once again, the boy began to yell for his “daddy” and then whine when his other brother received the attention he was so desperately seeking.  I kept turning around and giving the older boy “the look.”  I had hoped that he would nudge his brother and get him to quiet down since his dad didn’t seem to care that his child was disturbing other patrons.  Of course, the boy couldn’t care less.  They continued to hoot and holler.

 

What happened next absolutely enraged me.  The screamer (as I have dubbed him), yelled “Daddy, what are they going to do with that thing they’re taking out of my neck?”  Seriously?  I suppose the dad was trying to ignore his son’s inappropriate question, however, this made the boy shout it two more times.  He then followed up his performance with, “When are they taking it out?  Will I be able to see it?  How are they going to take it out?”

 

I almost jumped out of my seat and reprimanded the boy myself.  Who teaches their child to behave this way?  Why would you ever just sit in silence while your child screams and proceeds to discuss medical procedures in a restaurant?  If I would have acted like that when I was little, my mom would have immediately whisked me out of the restaurant, given me a spanking in the parking lot and taken me straight home where I would receive another spanking and be sent to my room.  The dad and his sons FINALLY left, laughing and smiling.

 

Unless a child has a mental or behavioral disorder, how he/she acts is a direct reflection of his/her parents.  And when parents allow unacceptable behavior to go unpunished, they are simply creating a monster that everyone will have to deal with.

 

Not long after they left, a woman came in with her daughter (she looked to be about 5 years old).  The mother placed their order and then sat down in the booth next to ours.  She quietly instructed her daughter to remain seated while she went up to get their drinks, napkins, etc.  The little girl sat quietly in her seat while peeking over the divider at us.

 

When the mom returned with the food, she began talking with her daughter about their summer plans.  The girl conversed with her in an “inside” voice and never shouted.  In fact, I could barely even hear her.  She was a perfect little angel and ate her food without any fuss (even though she thought the Arby’s sauce looked suspicious).

 

When Matt and I finished eating, I saw the mom at the condiment counter.  I complimented her daughter’s wonderful behavior and the mother’s fantastic parenting skills.  While I felt awkward for doing so, the mother seemed quite flattered.  She didn’t realize how much her daughter’s peaceful demeanor had changed the tone of our tense evening.

 

The parenting skills between this mother and the a fore mentioned father are like night and day.  The boys kept fighting for their father’s attention by screaming and he did nothing about it.  But, this little girl followed her mother’s instructions to the letter and still exhibited a delightful personality.  Please understand that I do not want any child to behave like a robot.  I am simply saying that parents need to take their role seriously and expect their children to behave and follow their rules.

 

I have also come to find that children are also the product of their environment (i.e. how they are raised).  I will be honest, not everyone is cut out to be a parent.  Such as the people in this next scenario.

 

On Saturday morning, one of my friends posted a harrowing story on Facebook.  She had gone to the local Shop n’ Save to complete her weekend grocery shopping.  When she got out of her car, she noticed a baby locked all alone in the vehicle next to hers.  Aside from being this being a bad idea in general, it was also very hot outside, in the upper 80’s.

 

Outraged, she marched straight up to the customer service desk and began to explain the situation.  Little did she know that the baby’s parents were behind her.  They began to scream at her to “mind her own f-ing business.”  Which they followed up with “We were only going to be gone a minute.”  And guess what was so important that they both had to leave their baby for?  Alcohol.  Yep, they were buying beer.

 

I was so proud of my friend for standing up to the so-called “parents.”  She yelled right back that one of them needed to stay in the vehicle with the baby.  She also informed them that it is too hot for the child to be locked up like that.

 

I shudder to think that things like this actually happen.  What would possess you to leave anything alive locked up in a hot vehicle?  Don’t even get me started on people that do this to pets!  And aren’t people worried about their child being abducted by some creep?  I never let my dogs out of my sight even when they are in our fenced in yard.  How could you just think that leaving your baby alone is a good idea? 

 

My fears are further confirmed by another story that appeared on a local news channel.  A woman was getting married and she wanted to include her baby in the big day.  So, she tied the baby to the train of her gown and the baby was drug behind her all the way down the aisle. 

 

I seriously wish that DCFS would swoop in and take these children away from these careless human beings.  And if women find themselves “unexpectedly” pregnant and feel that the baby will “cramp their style,” I pray that they will make the wise decision and place the baby up for adoption.  A friend of the family adopted her second son from such a situation.  That little boy is getting more love than he knows what to do with.  He is leading a much better life that he ever would have with his teen “parents.”

 

I realize that raising a human child is hard, however, it can be done.  My parents both worked full time jobs and still managed to teach me right from wrong and shower me with love and affection.  Matt’s mother even took on the role of teacher by homeschooling both him and his sister.

 

As a society, we need to stand together and speak up when we see parents neglecting or creating harmful situations for their children.  Remaining silent only perpetuates the endangerment that plagues too many of America’s children.

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Demented Disney

WARNING:  Contains graphic content and the plot of Disney’s “The Lone Ranger” will be revealed.

My husband and I were so excited to see the preview for “Disney’s The Lone Ranger.”  Matt remembered watching the television show as a kid and I have always been fond of westerns.  Unfortunately, we were unable to make it to the theater in time to see it on the big screen.

We patiently watched the Red Box app to for the movie to become available.  As soon as it was, we quickly rented a copy.  With freshly baked pizza in our laps, we sat on our living room floor and prepared to laugh our socks off.

Instead, we were completely horrified.  The movie was not an adventure/comedy.  What we saw was a very dark side of the Disney empire (Star Wars pun implied).

At the very beginning of the film, we meet Dan Reid, the ranger of the small town of Colby, Texas.  He is awaiting the arrival of a train that contains a certain outlaw (Butch Cavendish) who is to be hanged by his hands.  We soon learn that Cavendish is also chained to none other than Tonto.

John Reid (Dan’s younger brother) is a lawyer returning home to visit his family.  He too, is on the same train.  While looking out his window, he sees the shadow of a man walking on top of the train.  The man turns out to be Tonto who is chasing the now escaped Cavendish.

John jumps atop the train and follows Tonto.  Together, they end up taking out several of  Cavendish’s posse members, but manage to be foiled by Cavendish himself.

The pair are finally rescued by Dan Reid.  John insists on accompanying Dan into Comanche Territory to make sure that justice prevails.  While Dan fears for his younger brother, he makes him an honorary Texas Ranger and agrees to let him join the party.

Due to the double crossing of one of their own posse members, the rangers are ambushed in valley.  Cavendish comes upon Dan, who is quickly dying from multiple bullet wounds.  John (who is lying beside him) comes to in time to see Cavendish rip out Dan’s heart and eat it!

I wanted to turn the DVD off right then and there.  What kind of demented script writing is that?  Not to mention that while this “feeding” is taking place, we are treated with seeing one of the posse members throw up.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, we then get to see Cavendish’s blood soaked hand accept a napkin and daintily wipe his mouth afterward.

How could Disney have come to this?  I understand that the film has a rating of PG-13, but even at my age of 29, I was not ready for the pure gore that filled this movie.  And didn’t Walt Disney build his empire on wholesome family filmsClassic fairy tales with memorable characters and musical numbers?  This was more akin to something from “Carrie.”

But, the darkness didn’t stop there. While John and Tonto continue to pursue Cavendish and his men, they attempt to follow a horse into the desert.  The horse literally drops dead.  To make matters worse, Tonto goes up and kicks, yes, kicks the horse to make sure it is no more.  That’s a fantastic way to show children how to treat animals.  And the sad part is, I think that was supposed to be the comic relief.

In addition, John and Tonto have to go to a whore house to enlist the help of the owner, Red.  So, now Disney is doing horror films and soft porn?  I was truly appalled.  Plus, Red has had her own run in with Cavendish.  He ate her leg!  In its place, she now has a custom built leg that contains a gun that fires out of her high heel shoe.

Honestly, I don’t know what the script writers were thinking, but I’m pretty sure that a certain plant was involved.  The plot was absolutely non-existent.  None of the characters were memorable.  And the movie was 149 minutes too long.

What I would like to know is what were the big wigs at Disney thinking?  I’m sure that Walt is spinning in his cryogenic encasement.  This is not the type of film that he would want to add to his legacy.

Some may say that the Disney corporation was simply trying to “branch out.”  But, I think that we, as Americans, have come to trust the Disney name.  If Matt and I had any human children and they had requested to see the movie, we would have let them go without hesitation.  Some of my fondest childhood memories have been seeing Disney films in the theater.  And having seen several episodes of “The Lone Ranger” black and white T.V. series, who would think that there was anything to worry about?

It is hard to believe that this is the same corporation that brought us “Frozen.”  I think that Disney has really crossed the line with this film and the overall interpretation of “The Lone Ranger.”  Perhaps the Disney team should follow the motto of:  “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

 

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Terrifying Tests

I can remember being a senior in high school and taking a tour of the local community college with my fellow classmates.  After the tour, we had to take the COMPASS placement test.  I was totally confused.  I thought that the ACT was the big test that determined your academic future.  As it turns out, I was wrong.

This test consisted of English and Math questions.  I was terrified.  While English has always been my strong suit, math has not.  When the test was over, I had a horrible feeling.  Sure enough, I had aced the English, but did not do very well with the math.

Therefore, the college stated that I needed to begin in the Basic Algebra class.  Wait a minute.  I had already taken algebra in high school and passed with an “A.”  In fact, (not to brag, but make a point), I was a straight “A” student.  I had taken several Advanced Placement classes, which included all of my English courses since Freshmen year and a History course my Junior year.  Algebra is algebra.  Pie is still going to equal 3.14.  Why, then, do I have to start at the beginning of the math sequence based on this one-time test?  Why did all of my hard work in high school not count for anything?

What breaks my heart is that I see this same pattern with many new students.  I cannot understand why a college thinks that your entire academic future should be determined by a single test.  This creates a tremendous amount of pressure on the student.  I myself, felt sick to my stomach and was continually sweating during the test.  And this does not bode well for clear and level thinking. 

Not to mention the fact that some of the programs that the students wish to enter in to do not even require math.  Why should they be tested on something that they will not need?  Granted, everyone should know how to add and subtract and certainly how to read.  But, further than that, a student’s course load should focus on courses NEEDED for the program.  I think that some colleges use the test in order to boost numbers in Math and English classes.  Let’s face it, if you don’t have to take an English or Math course, you won’t!  I cannot think of a single classmate that said, “Man, I hope I get to take tons of math classes in college!”

I feel that more people would enroll in college if the courses they were told to take truly pertained to their program.  However, imposing these tests makes that dream next to impossible.  I remember feeling the same way during the ACT.  And guess what?  That magical number did not affect my life AT ALL.  The number was not used to get me into college, was not good for a scholarship and had absolutely no bearing on the jobs that I was hired to.  So, why force students to take these tests?

In more recent legislation, states are tying school funding along with a teacher’s potential raise to overall class scores on standardized tests.  How crazy is that?  Now, you are placing the teacher’s financial future on the line with a single test.  Seriously?  No matter how amazing a teacher is, he/she cannot truly prepare you for such a monstrosity.  I have since learned that children in the third grade even have geometry on their test.  Geometry!  That is a subject that I struggled with in my early 20’s!  Granted, I do believe that the teacher’s ability should be evaluated.  Children should learn how to read and perform basic math functions.  But to push for subjects such as geometry and even Spanish?  That is simply pushing the envelope too far.

No wonder some children fear school!  They are made to believe that it is a scary place filled with tests that will destroy their future if they do not give perfect answers.  I am here to state that this myth is simply not true.  Every child learns at a different rate.  They should not have information crammed into their heads weeks before the ISAT (or any other state mandated test) in hopes that better scores will be achieved.

I truly believe that a student’s academic progress should be judged by the overall grade that he/she receives in the class.  Not the score that they receive from one test.  Why should one test undo all of the student’s hard work that has been achieved over the course of their academic career?  That would be like going on one date with someone and then having the person say, “So, are we getting married, or what?”

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