Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Color of Love

Once upon a time neighbors swapped stories and traded pictures over the backyard fence. Today, even rural neighbors with special news to share are worldly enough to turn to the internet, where they can reach a much wider audience. The children's book "Little Pink Pup" grew from a series of pictures posted on the world wide web by JoHanna Kerby, a farm family mom from West Virginia whose children raise all sorts of critters for 4-H and FFA projects. The Kerby's pet dachshund Tink was truly a mother hen at heart, having delivered a pup of her own and  fostering several others. At the same time, twelve piglets were born to a sow out in the barn. Seeing the runt of the litter with no chance to feed, the Kerbys literally took matters into their own hands, bringing the premature porker into their home and right to Tink, who didn't bat an eye at finding a little pink pup posted at her belly. "She licked him and fed him and tucked him in close. She made him feel right at home." The brown puppies were equally nonchalant regarding the rosy newcomer at their side, eating and sleeping and cuddling and playing with him as if it were the most natural thing in the world. And what about nature versus nurture? Pink totally took to sleeping on soft comfy blankets and running around the house. He even preferred puppy chow over regular pig "cuisine". But at bath time, Pink showed his true colors, squealing and kicking up a respectable fuss. Otherwise, Pink never threw his weight around, but sheer size dictated his relocation back to the barn; however his beloved doggy bed went with him (no word on whether the other pigs clamored for a PetSmart bedroom makeover). "Little Pink Pup" presents full paged photos that any mother would be proud of, and any animal lover will delight in.

Saluting the Dogs of War

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fear of Flying, Doggy Style


Sid is a dog, yet not unlike a lot of kids (and grownups for that matter). One minute he finds himself inexplicably, deliciously, flying high. He's literally on top of the world! But when he tries to share this incredible experience with others, they quickly bring him back down to earth, and the landing is not gentle.


The confusion and sadness of having a spirit that soars and then being confined by the small imaginations of those of  little faith is beautifully explored through British children's author Jez Alborough's lofty and lush illustrations and simple, rhyming verse that begs the question: even if logic instructs you to believe otherwise, is it wrong to let yourself go where your spirit moves you? Should you defy the confines of conventional wisdom, moral judgement, tradition, or other limitations? 


When I first read through this story, I felt like I myself was flying, because Alborough so aptly described what it feels like to be a little bit different, and to feel a bit cursed by that fact. I love reading the story aloud, not only to children, but to the grownups who accompany them to story time, and to watch their faces react to the premise and the question contained: do dogs fly? why? and more importantly, why not?

Alborough describes his inspiration as a children's writer on his website, http://www.JezAlborough.com: "In children’s books I have been inspired by Dr Suess (although I never saw his books as a child). I think the Grinch Who Stole Christmas is probably my favourite. Dr Suess took this art form to a whole new place, he is to picture books what Jimi Hendrix was to the electric guitar."