Tag Archives: animals

Good Old Dogs

30 Nov

I’m off to the Good Old Dog Photo Exhibition by Pauline Zonneveld.

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Here’s how she explains the project on her website:

Good Old Dog Project – celebrating the spirit of dogs in their golden years.

Old dogs have a charm and beauty all their own.

It’s the beauty of a life well lived as your companion, friend, playmate and soul mate. Over the years, your stories have entwined and now your bond deserves to be documented in a beautiful portrait.

Dedicated to dogs that are near the end of their lives due to old age or illness, the Good Old Dog Project seeks to capture your senior dog’s special beauty and the lifetime of friendship, comfort, love and sacrifice you have shared. In a photo session that is joyful and playful, we will work together to create a portrait that show off your companion’s unique beauty. Every accommodation is made so that your pet will feel relaxed and comfortable. We can meet at my studio or if you prefer a meaningful location of your choice.

Having had 3 senior dogs and working in rescue, I have come to love and respect senior dogs and the people who care for them. When I do home visits, people always say they want a young dog so they can have more time together. I understand that. I really love the people who change their minds and take someone a little older who will be grateful for a happy end.

So, if you have some time today, between noon and 4, stop by the exhibition. It is located on the east side at

305 SE 3rd Avenue – 4th floor.

All dog lovers are welcome.

Thanksgivukkah

27 Nov

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Thanksgivukkah is a pop-culture portmanteau neologism given to the convergence of the American holiday of Thanksgiving and the first day of the of  Hanukkah on Thursday, November 28, 2013″. That’s the Wikipedia definition. I had to include it because I loved seeing ” portmanteau neologism ” in a sentence.

There is an abundance of holiday books out now. Here are two that encompass the ideals of Thanksgivukkah.

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From the dust jacket: Old Bubba Brayna can’t see or hear very well. When a bear arrives at her door, lured by the smells of her latkes, she thinks it’s the rabbi. They light the menorah, play the dreidel game and eat the latkes. Before he leaves, Bubba Brayna gives the bear the scarf she knit for the rabbi. And then the rabbi shows up! Author Eric Kimmel and illustrator Mike Wohnoutka serve up a great Thanksgivukkah story.

Less traditional is Hanukkah in Alaska by Barbara Brown and illustrated by Stacy Schuett.

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From the dust jacket: Hanukkah in Alaska is unlike anywhere else.Snow piles up over the windows. Daylight is only five hours long. And one girl finds a moose camped out in her backyard, right near her favorite blue swing. She tries everything to lure it away: apples, carrots, even cookies. But it just keeps eating more tree! It’s not until the last night of Hanukkah that a familiar holiday tradition provides the perfect—and surprising—solution.

Have a safe & happy day, however you spend it.

U-G-L-Y this dog’s got an alibi

26 Nov

I’m a sucker for a dog book. Good, bad. I’ll give it a try. I especially like sad  dog stories with a happy ending like you’d see in a Hallmark movie. What a delight it was to pick up Spike: Ugliest Dog in the Universe by Debra Frasier.

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First let me show you the way cool art. Who knew you you do so much with old blue jeans!!!! Here are a few samples of what Frasier can do.

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Having worked on dog rescue for many years, I know there really are people cruel and irresponsible enough to leave their pet tied up and drive off. In fact, before I lived where I do now, I had neighbors who left their dog in the garage. The neighbors on the other side and I broke into the garage to make sure the dog was OK, gave it food and water, etc. Then we closed the door and called the police. The officer who showed up clearly knew we had broken the door and didn’t say a word about it. He was a dog lover, too. But I digress.

Spike gets left behind by an irresponsible person, but is lucky enough to be found by someone who loves him, a boy named Joe. Spike worries about being sent to the pound because Joe’s family doesn’t have a lot of extra money. Spike tries to be clean and quiet. he even asks a cat for advice. There is a happy ending, but Spike doesn’t know that til the very end. Written in Spike’s voice, this book is perfect for any animal lover.

One more thing:

So far this year, we’ve worked on persuasive and personal narratives in writing with the 4th graders. The bak of this book has a nice, kid friendly article entitled  “How I Draw Dogs”. It would be a great intro to the expository writing unit coming soon to a 4th grade class near me.

Read this and you’ll feel better

21 Nov

It is a simple story. Cow meets car. Cow gets car. Cow loses car. You get the picture.

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I mean that literally and figuratively because the text is minimal.

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But what a great read aloud. I can just imagine the kids and I laughing belly laughs. Even though the text is, essentially one word, it’s all about your tone. It is a good book to teach kids about reading with expression and about the effective use of punctuation. Here’s the page that will make you crack up:

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Bet the kids ask you to read that one again. It’s like reading the apple poem in  Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.

I wonder what directions David LaRochelle gave to tho illustrator, Mike Wohnoutka, that helped him create such vivid pictures.

On thing leads to another

18 Oct

In 1983, the year I turned 19, the British new wave band The Fixx released an album called Reach the Beach. 

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This album had a chart topping single entitled “One Thing Leads to Another”. This very singable song has been swirling around my mind in connection with 2 books I wrote about yesterday: Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang. Saints connects, in my mind, to another book and to an event.

First, they connect to The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong by L. Tam Holland.

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The Asian connection is obvious. But both books deal with Asian culture bumping up against Western culture and about family history and connections. Holland’s book is funny and poignant. When Vee Crawford-Wong’s history teacher assigns an essay on his family history, Vee knows he’s in trouble. His parents—Chinese-born dad and Texas-bred Mom—are mysteriously and stubbornly close-lipped about his ancestors. So, he makes it all up and turns in the assignment. And then everything falls apart. After a fistfight, getting cut from the basketball team, offending his best friend, and watching his grades plummet, one thing becomes abundantly clear to Vee: No one understands him! If only he knew where he came from… So Vee does what anyone in his situation would do: He forges a letter from his grandparents in China, asking his father to bring their grandson to visit. Astonishingly, Vee’s father agrees. But in the land of his ancestors, Vee learns that the answers he seeks are closer to home then he could have ever imagined. This is a great debut novel.

The other connection is driven by character. Doctor Won in Saints, is an acupuncturist. Today, my 12-1/2-year-old basset, Fiona,

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had her first acupuncture treatment for arthritis. We tried her on Rimadyl for 2 weeks, but her liver numbers went up, so that wasn’t an alternative. Fiona’s vet, Dr. Karen Davies, suggested other medications, but, knowing she was a veterinary acupuncturist, I asked if we could try that instead of more meds.

Fiona did pretty well. She didn’t object to the  needles, and she stayed pretty still until Dr. Davies came to pull them out. We go again in a week, and once a week for 4 weeks. Dr. Davies says that we should see some improvement by then. If we don’t we probably won’t and can think about another treatment.

Fiona is sleeping right now. She always does after a trip to the vet. Maybe I will take a nap, too.

I hate when that happens!

8 Oct

I’m part way through In Search of Goliathus Hercules  by Jennifer Angus.

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It is due back at the library tomorrow & I can’t renew it because someone else has it on hold. I hate when that happens, especially when I am so enjoying a book.

In 1890, Henri Bell, sent England to stay with his elderly Great Aunt Georgie in America, discovers he can talk to insects. He decides to run away to join a flea circus and embarks on a great adventure that sees him in command of an army of beetles, and then on his way to British Malaya to find the mythical giant insect known as Goliathus Hercules. Along the way, he encounters Professor Young, an entomologist studying insect communication, as well as other explorers and scientists, Malayans, and the evil Mrs. Black.

The book feels old-fashioned, but with a modern sense of pacing. Angus’ illustrations are remarkable.

You can see some of Jennifer Angus’ artwork at The Midnight Garden.

I will return the book on time, but will put it on hold again so I can finish it.

Sketchy Lives

5 Oct

I recently read two sketchy books. Sketchy not for content, but for the style of the illustrations.

The first is Jane, the fox and me written by Fanny Britt and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault.

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The target audience of this book seems to be middle/high school aged girls. Not the traditional demographic of graphic novels.

Helene is the victim of bullies at her school so she dreads an upcoming  school camping trip. The popular girls, who used to be her friends,  tease her about her weight and her lack of friends so Helene’s world is pretty grim and her self-esteem is very low. Helene’s world is illustrated in black and white.

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She begins to believe all of the awful lies the girls spread about her and only takes solace in the book Jane Eyre as she identifies with the main character. Jane’s story is told in full color.

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Going off to camp with her classmates ends up being a transformative experience in which Helene encounters a fox and finally gains a best friend and her world becomes a bit brighter.

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I’m not a huge fan of Shaun Tan, but I really enjoyed learning about his thought process in The Bird King: an artist’s notebook. 

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The book is divided into three sections: untold stories

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book, theater, and film

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drawings from life

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and notebooks.

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These are two really worthwhile books to take a look at.

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