Thanksgiving is only a week away! Check this blog every Wednesday thru December 18th for great ideas for your favorite reader. Need a deal on e-books for a Christmas e-reader? Starting Nov. 27th e-books will be offered at least a 50% discount.
Here are some terrific reads for the young folks.
David Nicoll’s Series of Bean are great picture books for the youngest readers.
Bean is available in print and as an e-book at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/BEAN-at-FAIR-David-Nicoll-ebook/dp/B00AQFZZAO/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385005791&sr=1-9&keywords=Bean+at+the+Fair (e-book $3.99)
Contact links for David.
And of course BEANS website – https://beaneverywhere.com/
Rachel and Sammy have a series of books that teach the little ones about the nature around them. Author Jannifer Powelson and the illustrators at Kalpart have put together an unforgettable picture book that belongs in every child’s first library.
Check out Janifer’s new website for a look at other Rachel and Sammy adventures.
“Real Dogs Don’t Whisper” is coauthored by Mr. Magoo
and his owner Kelly Preston. This ones for competent readers who want a fun read.
Kelly and Mr. Magoo are available on Amazon.com and Barnsandnoble.com. Check Kelly’s web page for special offer and excerpts: http://realdogsdontwhisper.com/
All of these authors have either been guest bloggers on this page, have been featured, or interviewed. Check out the interviews and blog archives to learn more about each of these talented Authors. Please comment if you found this post helpful.
My contribution to this post is the first Backyard Horse Tale in the series. “Sox 2nd Edition” is the winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards Silver Seal of Excellence. Sox tale is Family Friendly. (Reader ages 8 to 108) Chapters 1 & 2
A New World
It had been a long voyage, eleven months exactly, getting to here from there. My assigned quarters were comfortable, and all my needs had been seen to, but I could not wait to explore the new world. Maybe I had cabin fever, I was becoming very uncomfortable, and my traveling capsule seemed to have shrunk. At the beginning of my voyage there had been plenty of room for me to move around, but now I felt restrained. Close to my final destination, I began to have doubts that I would make a successful landing. My environmental suit had just sprung a huge leak, and it collapsed around me.
I put my foot through the escape hatch, and I encountered icy air. The blast of frigid air changed my mind about putting my footprints on this planet, and I decided to stay inside where I was warm and safe. I tried to pull my foot back in, but an unknown force was pushing on my backside as it guided me toward the escape hatch. Help! My left foot dangled out there, and the pressure from behind was getting stronger, but my right foot was stuck. I struggled to move it in line with my left leg, but it didn’t want to cooperate. FinallyI succeeded in placing my legs in a good position to land. I stretched my neck, put my nose between my front legs, and that was when I tumbled out onto the hard prickly surface of an alien environment. The hard landing did not tear the collapsed suit from my face, and I was too tired to struggle with it.
It had been hard work getting into this strange new world. Exhaustion had taken the edge off of my long awaited arrival, and breathing in this atmosphere was proving to be impossible. A soft nickering sound from my mother reassured me, but her voice sounded different in this new world. At first I thought I heard other voices nicker a welcome, but their voices too were fading. My head was spinningand I began feeling very weak. Part of my protective suit was now blocking any air supply. The lifeline that had attached me to my mother had broken when I fell to earth. The remains of the umbilical cord that provided nourishment and oxygen during my long journey dangled from my tummy.
An alien sound tickled my ears, a whisper. There is the foal; it is lying against the stall door. Open the door carefully, Bill, and pull the placenta away from the baby’s nostrils, so that it can breathe.
Strong appendages gently removed the covering from my nose, and I took my first deep breath; relief flooded through me. While I tried to recharge from my near death experience, I heard a grunt; it was my mother. She had been resting in the deep straw too. She was very tired and weak after helping me into this world. Soon she rose to her feet and came close to me. Mom began pushing me to stand up too. She nuzzled and encouraged me, “Come on, son, on your feet.” Easy for her to say, she was already an old pro at standing, but I was having trouble untangling my long gangly legs. Instinct and constant encouragement from Mom made me try again. I gathered my back legs under me and shoved.
“OOPS! Not quite so hard, son.” Mother cautioned me, as I tumbled onto my side. “It would probably help, son, to uncross your front legs first. Try again.” Three tries later, I succeeded. The effort was sure worth it! Mom guided me back along her large warm body, until I found her fresh sup ply of sweet milk. It warmed my bellyand it made me feel stronger.
I plopped down for a nap once my tummy was full, and that was when the front wall opened. A chilly gust of cold air ushered strange two-legged creatures into my world. The two of them came in through an opening that had appeared in the wall, as if by magic. I tried to get a good look at them, but everything was fuzzy. The larger of the creatures knelt down beside me, and it started to rub me with a soft cloth. I couldn’t see it, but I recognized its smell. This alien had pulled the covering from my nose, when I first arrived. Some of my fear concerning this invasion was lessening. This creature had helped me, and the vigorous rubbing felt wonderful. The smaller biped was busy drying my mom with a big soft rag, and it was talking to her, nonstop.
You are such a good mother, Sandy. I heard it say.
Big news flash, I thought. I might be new colt on the block, but I had already figured that out. I could feel its eyes, like twin laser beams, as it turned to look at me, and I had the feeling it knew what I was thinking. Then the smaller creature moved closer to me, and was staring intently at me. The larger creature stopped rubbing my damp body to question the other alien. What’s wrong, Mom?
Look, Bill, Sandy’s little bay colt has socks on his hind legs.
I recognized the sound of its voice, though it was different outside my traveling capsule. Many months I listened to that voice as it talked to my mother. Not that I understood its language, but Mom did. She did a bang up job of translating for me. Horses are born understanding one another; it is part of our survival skills. The alien’s language was more difficult, a lot of it sounded like static. For instance, I was not sure what socks were, and I felt nothing on my back legs except the prickly straw that Mom had explained was our bedding. The smaller alien squatted down next to the larger one that had saved my life. It talked to me in a soft voice that reassured me, and it stroked my neck. I was really getting into all the attention.
Hey! Something isn’t right! A large cold wet spot on my belly that included the remainder of my broken umbilical cord gave me a chill. Whatever the cold wet stuff was it began to sting me there.
The two- legged creatures left through the opening in the wall, and my momma came over to nuzzle me.
“The burning will go away soon, son. It is only medicine,” she assured me.
I wasn’t so sure about that, but it turned out Momma was right.
I was feeling better, when the two aliens returned. I scrambled to my mother’s side. I was not sure if these creatures had caused the pain on my navel, but instinct told me to get up and seek the protection of my mother. I peeked from behind Momma as they picked up the torn remnants of the traveling suit that I had worn, and removed it.
Momma explained, “Our confined area is called a stall, and the warm glow overhead is a heat lamp, to keep you warm in the cold night air.”
I wondered whatnight was, but I was too tired to try and figure it out, or ask any more questions. I yawned, I stretched my long legs out, and fell asleep next to my mother, under the warm glow.
A loud chorus of whinnies woke me. I blinked my eyes trying to focus on my surroundings. The world seemed brighter than when I had gone to sleep. Then BANG! A noise startled me, and I scrambled to my feet. I moved as fast as my long shaky legs could carry me, scampering to my mother’s side.
She told me, “There is nothing to fear, son, it is feeding time, and one of the other horses just got excited and kicked the wall of its stall.” The strange two-leg creatures came back into our stall. They put something called bran mash in Mom’s corner feeder. She seemed very interested in it, but all I wanted was to nurse.
The alien creature called Bill filled, what mom had told me was a bucket, with water. It also told us that we could go outdoors as soon as the vet checked us.
In between bites of her food Mom attempted to explain what a “vet”, or veterinarian was, and what “outdoors” was. It didn’t mean much to me. I felt frisky and scampered around my mother while she was occupied with the contents in her feeder and browsed through her hay. My legs were working better now, so I tried to dash from one side of our stall to the other.
They were back! The ones my mother called “humans.” Another human had entered with them, and he was looking my mother over. Aha! I realized this new human was the veterinarian that my mother had told me about. Mom did not mind his inspection of her, and she nickered to me, “Don’t worry, son. Everything is as it should be.” She sounded so confident and calm. I was just beginning to relax when the small alien from last night and the vet turned their attention to me. My attempt to evade them proved futile. I hid behind my mother, but they cornered me.
The vet looked in my eyes, listened to my heartbeat, and checked some very personal parts of my body. They spent a lot of time discussing my right front leg. The colt has a contracted tendon, was the vet’s diagnosis. Mom paid close attention to their conversation, and when they left our stall she tried to explain it to me. “The vet believes that because you were such a large colt, that your leg position had been cramped as you developed inside me.”
“Is that why my right leg isn’t straight like the other one, Mom?” “Yes, son. That is the reason that you were having so much trouble untangling your legs last night. It is pretty hard to stand with your right leg crossed over your left. That was probably the way that you compensated for the lack of space toward the end of your journey.”
“Is this a bad thing, Momma?” “Only time will tell, son.” “Well, I have to tell you that I was happy to see the backside of him!” Mom just laughed at my comment, but I wondered how often he would invade our privacy. I quickly forgot about the vet, and any worry about my leg, when the small human returned, and started taking the other horses out of their stalls. I could sense their excitement, and I could feel the anticipation building within my mother.
Close behind Mom, I stepped from the stall—where I had been born—into the aisle of the barn for the first time, and then out through the big door. I swear, it was like being born again! I looked around at this big bright new world, and filled my lungs with fresh “outdoor” air.
“This is called the front paddock, son, and it is a safe place. There is nothing here to hurt you,” Mom said. I didn’t answer. I was too busy gawking at everything. The other horses whinnied a greeting, and Mom whinnied back to them, “Good morning, guys! Great day, isn’t it?”
“Is that the new arrival that woke us in the middle of the night?” one of the other horses asked.
“Yes. Everyone, this is my new son,” Mom answered proudly. I strained to see in the direction of their voices, and tried to focus my eyes, but they were just blurry shapes to me. Several fences separated us. Momma saw my confusion and explained. “The others are in the back paddock. The work arena takes up that large space separating our paddock from the back one.”
All of the new sights, sounds, and information were too much for me. I blocked out everything except for my basic needs. I was hungry for some more milk, and soon I was ready for a nap. Most of my first day was spent nursing, exploring my surroundings, trying out my legs, and sleeping in the sunshine.
The world became clearer to me on the second day, and I was starting to get a handle on my long legs. They weren’t as wobbly, nor did they get tangled as much as they had yesterday. Before bedding down for the night Mom quizzed me.
“What did you learn today, son?”
“The variety among the humans surprises me. I was not able to see them very well on the night that I was born, and things were fuzzy yesterday.”
This question and answer session was to become a ritual at the end of each day. My rescuer was taller than the other being that I encountered on my first night. On the evening of that first quiz I discovered that they were mother and son, just like Mom and me. Bill towered over his mother, Katie. Maybe someday I will be bigger than my momma too.
My forth day on this new world, I was stretched out taking a snooze in the sunshine. I was minding my own business when I nearly got frightened out of my young life! I had been lulled to sleep by the rhythmic sound of my mom munching grass. At first I thought I was still asleep and having a bad dream as I stared at the strange sight. It just goes to show that you never know what is going to pop up to scare the wits out of you. The few humans that I had met since my first day had been quiet, moved slowly, and they made an effort to reassure me.
Awake now, I knew this was no dream! I panicked, scrambled up next to my mom, and blinked my eyes. The three-board fence that surrounded our paddock had come to life! Small humans were invading our sanctuary. They stuck out along the front part of the fence line that ran parallel to the road. These scary little creatures continued around the corner and lined up along the side fence that ran next to the drive- way. And they were all pointing at ME!
A line of pine trees that cast dark shadows and harbored various furry little creatures that scurried about beneath them was the most frightening place in my world, until that moment. Mom told me yesterday, or maybe the day before, that the long eared creatures were rabbitsand they had made a nest under the low hanging branches.
“But what are the ones with the bushy tails that zip up to the top of the trees and back down, Mom?”
“The larger bushy tailed animals are squirrels, the smaller ones with the stripe down their backs are chipmunks. They both like to run and play in the trees, son.”
I still wasn’t sure that I liked the idea of all those strange creatures lurking around, but I made a beeline for those tall pines and their dark scary shadows. It was as far away as I could get from the strange, small humans protruding from two sides of our enclosure. I would have run all the way to the back fence line, but I couldn’t leave Mom to face the threat alone. She was so busy eating grass that she didn’t notice the invasion.
I mustered up all the courage that my four days of life would allow, and charged up to my mother to warn her. I bumped her head and nipped her neck to get her attention, but she wouldn’t budge. So I said, “Run, Momma! We are in danger!”
But she still didn’t stop grazing??? She lifted her head to stare at the scary sight, but she didn’t turn and run???
Instead, she just nuzzled me. “You are so brave to come warn me, son.” She went on to say, “What you’re worried about isn’t a danger. Those little humans are called ‘children.’ And just like you, they’re small because they are still young.”
“But what is that scary loud screeching noise they’re making, Mom?”
Mom giggled at that. “The squealing sound is their way of expressing the joy that they feel at the sight of a new foal … you, honey.”
Now I was intrigued and feeling a little braver. And I had to admit that being the center of attention appealed to me. I pranced up close to the front fence where the smallest children stood. I tossed my head and arched my neck, and then I snorted at them. They squealed even louder, jumped up and down, and smacked their hands together, over and over, real fast. OK! On second thought, their reaction was a little too scary for me, so I hightailed it back to Mom.
She laughed and said, “They must really like your performance, to clap and cheer so loudly.”
It is not that I didn’t believe Mom; I just wanted to test her theory. I approached the children at a slow walk. I got closer to them this time. I snorted and turned quickly in the opposite direction, and took off at a run. The children’s excited cheering and enthusiastic clapping felt encouraging, so I ran a little faster. Yes! It felt good! I let loose a couple of little hops, kicking out my hind legs.
Mom praised my little maneuvers. “Nice crow hops, Son.” Wow! Mom was suddenly running alongside me.
“I’ll race you, Mom!” She was amused by my challenge. “You will have to grow a lot more, and get better with your legs before you can race with me.” She laughed, and paced herself along with me for a couple of laps around the paddock.
That night I dreamt of growing big, and racing my mother across a large field without any fences to stop us.
I looked forward to learning something new each day. I discovered that I loved to run; I learned to stop smoothly without getting my legs tangled, and to quickly turn around. I perfected my crow hopping style. And believe it or not, I learned how to rear up on my hind legs. That was the most fun of all. I would paw at the air and practice acting fierce, much to the delight of the children in my neighborhood fan club.
Mom would accompany me to the front fence where she would let the children pet her muzzle or stroke her neck. Not this kid! I wasn’t ready to trust my nose to them, yet.
I found out that I could charm these humans, and it was easy to get my way. Most members of my human family were easy to win over; all I had to do was nicker at them, prick my ears forward, and look cute. The exception was Katie. Cute didn’t impress her, and she was a big pain in the buttocks about good manners.
Before I continue my tale, let me tell you about my human family. Bill, my young rescuer, was named the same as his father, but Mom calls his dad “Slim.” Father and son look much alike, and both are tall. Now that they have shed their winter head coverings, I can see that they both have dark brown wavy hair. Bill, who Mom says is twenty-six in human years, is heavier than his dad, and his eyes are the same blue-green as Katie’s. Slim has brown eyes, almost as dark as mine. Patty is Bill’s sister, and she is a couple of inches short of her brother and father’s height. Patty is three human years younger than Bill. In addition to her duties as Bill and Patty’s mother, Katie is also the barn boss, and a lot shorter than the rest of the family. She doesn’t tower above me, like some kind of predator. She often squats down to reduce her minimal height when she senses I am distressed, and talks to me in a soothing tone. She is in the habit of scratching my withers, rubbing my back and neck, and talking to me, while my mom is busy eating breakfast. I have to admit I’ve begun to look forward to the back scratching routine; in fact I really enjoy it.
My curious nature got the better of me, and I used my teeth to pull off Katie’s ball cap. She scolded me for that, but before she put it back on, just as I supposed her hair had intriguing curls of light brown. I had observed little wispy curls peeking from beneath the cap for a while now, and I just had to know.
The youngest addition to my human family is Emma. She lives next door with her grandmother; and like me, Emma is small. She is only eleven in human years. Her hair is red gold, almost the color of my mother’s glossy coat. It is usually braided down her back, or tied in a ponytail that is almost as long as my own little tail. When I asked Mom about Emma’s strange little spots, she explained, “Those sprinkles on her nose are called ‘freckles.”
I really liked my littlest human, and she was always happy to see me. I don’t know why, but I had an odd feeling that there was something special about Emma.
Small Town U.S.A.
“Don’t complain to your mother, Emma. She should not be worry- ing about us. Keep your e-mail to her happy.” That was the lecture that Grandma gave me along with a birthday card and a pink diary. “Write your thoughts and complaints in your diary. Save them until your mother is safely home.” “If I write down the thoughts in my head, the page will burst into flames!” I didn’t continue to argue, but rolled my eyes and let out an audible sigh.
Life sure changed for me three years ago, when my parents split, and Mom had to work full time. Mom had been unable to get a good paying job that would allow us to remain at home, and so she joined the Army. Mom and I moved close to the base. That was a big change, but at least there were other kids who lived near us, or on the base. My world crashed when she was deployed to Iraq, and I came to live with my grandmother.
I had been raised in the glow of streetlights, and was used to the color of flashing neon signs. Getting used to this backwoods place is a challenge. My ears are used to the hum of traffic and the voices of other apartment dwellers. It is hard for me to believe that Mom grew up here; it is so nowhere! Grandma’s home is on the outskirts of a small town. It is really different here. There are no sidewalks or streetlights, and at night it is so quiet that you can hear the frogs and crickets. It is really creepy. I am sure that my new diary was just another one of Grandma’s ploys to keep me busy.
September 20 Dear Diary, School sucks! Grandma makes me dress like a nerd, and the other kids
laugh at me. I just don’t fit in here, and there is not one person to talk to who understands what it is like to have their mom so far away.
E-mail from Mom always makes me feel better, and I know that for now, she is OK.
October 23 Dear Diary, Today I turned eleven. Mom always told me that the trees turned colorful
in October just to celebrate my birthday. She sent me a gift card this year, and I tried to be positive when I e-mailed to thank her.
I get scared whenever Grandma turns on the evening news, and they show what is going on in Iraq. I always look for Mom, but then I am glad I don’t find her when they show the shooting. I pray every night that she is safe, and that she will be home soon.
November 30 Dear Diary, Thanksgiving is overand I am back in school. We watched a news program
that showed some of the soldiers being served Thanksgiving dinners. Later, Mom told me that she too had turkey, and even some pumpkin pie. Grandma called my dad a “big turkey.” I guess what upset Grandma was that I have been living with her since August, and this is the first time that he has shown up. He told me that he wanted to make sure I was doing well, but he didn’t talk to me much. He sure ate a lot of turkey and stuffing, so did his new wife and their twins.
I took Grandma’s advice, and did not mention Dad’s surprise visit here when I spoke to Mom. Instead, I told her about my new reading tutor.
December 29 Dear Diary. I could not stop thanking Mom for my new guitar. I know that I sounded
goofy. I just kept saying, thank you, thank you, thank you, repeating it over and over. I love my new guitar, but I still like to play her old one. Its strap is frayedand it is too big for me, but playing it always makes me feel closer to her. Maybe we can play together when she returns.
The cookies that Grandma and I made got to Mom, along with the rest of the presents that we sent her. Christmas cookies are a popular treat, and Mom shared hers with the other soldiers.
I strummed the notes of “Silent Night” for Mom in front of the videocam that Gram got us for Christmas. It has always been her favorite Christmas song, and it was real neat that I didn’t make too many mistakes.
January 15 Dear Diary, School started again, right after the huge snowstorm that came with the
New Year. I thought that I was doing OK in school, but the guidance counselor doesn’t think so. She says that I have a problem paying attention. I wonder how easy it would be for her to concentrate, if she had a parent in a war zone. The counselor told me that I probably have Attention Deficit Disorder. She wanted to have me tested, until Grandma gave her an earful.
January 30 Dear Diary, When Grandma got the official notice from school that they wanted me
tested, she marched up there and demanded to meet with the guidance counselor. Grandma informed the counselor that I have a mild case of dyslexia. Thanks to Gram, I now have a math tutor along with my reading tutor! There goes any chance of fitting in with the rest of the kids!
I guess that it was kind of funny, the way that my grandma went up to the school to confront the guidance counselor.
“I bet that she barked orders there too.” I made that bet while talking to my mother; she laughed, and told me, “Grandma can put most drill sergeants to shame.”
March 29 Dear Diary, Sorry, that I have not had time to complain to you lately. School and the two
tutors keep me pretty busy. Sometimes it gets hard to squeeze in time to e-mail Mom. It takes me a longtime to organize my thoughts, and then put them in the e-mail. Spell check sure helps a lot!
Guess what? The neighbor’s horse had a baby! It is so cute and so tiny com- pared to the other horses. I told Mom and Grandma that I never thought of horses as babies. I promised to e-mail Mom a photo as soon as I can get a shot. The baby hides behind its mother and peeks out at me. The weather is kind of warm for the end of March, so the baby horse is out every day.
April 30 Dear Diary, I don’t want Mom to know how scared I am, or how much I worry about
her. She reassured me that she was not near the bombing that was reported on the TV, but I don’t think that she would tell me if she had been. I always tell her that I love her, and I ask her to be careful.
I am glad that I have some interesting things to tell Mom. I talk about the baby horse, or school, or the mess that I made trying to color Easter eggs. Gram didn’t mind the mess, and though I hate to admit it, the egg coloring was kind of fun.
I started a scrapbook today with the photo that I sent Mom of the baby horse and his mother. He is not hiding behind her anymore. He races around and snorts at the kids who hang over the fence. His mother is friendly, and she will let me pet her, but the baby keeps out of reach. The little guy sure has a tem per! I hope he makes out better than I do when I let my temper get out of control.
I hope you enjoyed this peek at Sox tale. Here are some links where you can purchase this award winning book:
Barns and Noble:
Book Website: With shopping cart & 10% discount on pg 2. http://www.backyardhorsetales.com
Author Website: http://talesbyjackie.com
Sox video book trailer is on the author website or on YouTube: http://youtu.be/ZDGRfxDzOvs
Want an autograph for your online purchases? Write your dedication in your request:
Next Wednesday we will feature Young Adult, and middle school books.