Category Archives: Childrens

Welcome Dr. Fran Orenstein

Join me in welcoming Dr. Fran Orenstein to Highlighted Author.

Welcome to Fran’s World. Born on a dark Halloween night in Brooklyn, NY, I started writing as soon as I learned how to form letters. At eight I wrote my first poem in an impassioned response after reading Bambi. At 12 I received my first rejection letter for a short story, and consequently learned a very negative lesson about publishing…the magazine stole my story and published it rewritten under the same title three months later. As a kid I had no power, and I didn’t try to publish again for 40+ years. However, I continued writing, on school newspapers, as a magazine editor/writer, and writing newsletters for various community groups and government agencies for 25 years. During my 22 years with NJ State Government I wrote brochures, legislation, articles, promotional material and papers on violence against women, child care and early education, women and disabilities, sexual harassment, and gender equity, which I presented at local, state, national and international conferences. Gender equity in education became a focal point for me around which I designed my dissertation for a doctoral degree in child and youth studies.

I started writing fiction novels for ‘tweens in the 1990s as I happily watched my career moving to a close, of course at a snail’s pace. The many years I had spent at writing conferences and dealing with agents and editors was an education in itself. There have been ups and downs, promises of publication that never came to fruition, agents who threw up their hands or did nothing, unscrupulous small publishers, and the tragedy of 9/11 that put an end to publishing as it had been. Publishing houses no longer accepted manuscripts in the mail, from fear. The economy went downhill and large publishers gobbled up small publishers, and editors moved or were downsized faster than the Mad Hatter’s tea party guests changed seats.

I finally chose to go with small publishers and now have three for the different books I write. There are five ‘tween (ages 8/9-13/14) books: a mystery series, The Mystery Under Third Base and The Mystery of The Green Goblin; a fantasy series, The Wizard of Balalac and The Gargoyles of Blackthorne; and a stand alone coming-of-age book for girls, Fat Girls From Outer Space (all from Sleepytown Press). Also published are two YA historical romance novels that teens 13 to adult can read: The Calling of the Flute (Sleepytown Press) and The Spice Merchant’s Daughter (Whiskey Creek Press) In the next few months, I expect my first adult woman’s novel, Gaia’s Gift to be released by World Castle Publishing.

In all the years, I have never given up writing poetry. At this time I have enough poems to publish a book, which I hope to do next spring. Individually, my poems have been published in anthologies: Love and Romance, Ethereal Erotica, and Tales of The Supernatural (edited by Deborah Simpson). My poems have won awards from AAUW and The Florida State Poets Association. A number of years ago I published a book of poetry for children ages 3-8, (Five, Six, Pick-up Sticks), which is now out of print, but I hope to republish it at some future date.

My award-winning short stories have also been published in anthologies such as Gallery of Voices (Sleepytown Press), Into the Shadows (out-of-print)
All of my current books are on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com and other on-line bookstores, at select bookstores, and from the publishers.

And….lest you think I am shackled to the computer, when not writing or marketing, I read mysteries, international intrigue, courtroom dramas, horror, and fantasy and sci-fi, do crossword puzzles and crypto-quotes, volunteer, and do something archaic. I actually talk on a real land-line phone to my friends. Yes, Gen Y and Gen X, I can text on my cell phone. I belong to a book club that stretches my taste in books and the Great Books Society that stretches my intellect. I am a Reiki Master, believe in alternative medicine, practice Tai Chi, and have had paranormal experiences. Some of my books have spiritual, metaphysical and paranormal elements.

I am blessed with four grandchildren, who of course are the most fantastic grandchildren on earth. Rachel, 13, my muse and inspiration, has given me storylines and is my biggest fan.

 

Fran was a guest on Red River BlogTalk radio to talk about her featured book, Fat Girls From Outerspace. Listen in…

 

What they’re saying:

“…Ms. Orenstein not only addresses the child weight issues, but we learn a lesson of living together – whatever race or heritage, kids are kids. Period. It is handled beautifully… People don’t know the power of words. Especially to a young person. Fat Girls From Outer Space is for everyone who has ever had something they were self conscious of, or made fun of, and for those who didn’t have those problems to see what words and actions can do.

An imaginative and wonderful book.” — Ellen “Ellen in Atlanta”

 

Fat Girls From Outer Space

Eleven-year-old Frederica Gold, a.k.a. Freddy, is smart, talented and overweight. She hates her name, her body and the school bully. As if that weren’t enough, she is unhappy about her parents’ divorce, excited about turning twelve, and scared about starting intermediate school. Freddy is confused and miserable until she meets two overweight girls, Dolly and Eva. They become instant friends and together form a successful band, Fat Girls From Outer Space. In this coming-of-age story, Freddy, a girl with a less than perfect body, learns to cope with adversity by using her humor, talent, energy, the support of friends and her brother, and a special ‘fat angel’, to earn popularity and self-respect. ‘Tweens will relate to Freddy’s life and cheer as she and her friends resolve the problems in their lives. This is a book about childhood obesity and self-image, bullying, friendship, and emerging adolescence.

 

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Fat Girls From Outer Space
Excerpt from Chapters 1 and 2

Back story: Freddy and her friends are going to the play-offs for their school’s baseball team. She is wearing her big brother, Mike’s tee shirt because nothing else looked good on her. She is in a miserable mood and is afraid of running into Brock Ames and his friends, who bully and tease her.

Nobody said anything for the first couple of minutes. Finally, Jess said, “You’re a grouch today, Freddy.”

Freddy thought about that as they walked down the street toward the ball park. “I just hate myself today, that’s all.”

“Your hair looks great,” Ruthie said, pulling at her own red curls. “Not like this mess.”

“It’s not my hair I’m talking about, Ruthie. Besides I wish my hair was red and curly, not this straight ugly brown.”

Jess shrugged, “So are you going to tell us or what?”

“It’s like a bad body day, that’s all.”
“Oh,” Jess said, nodding. “Well, everybody has those, Freddy. I even saw a zit this morning.”

Ruthie peered at Jess’s face. “Where?”

Jess pointed to her chin.

“I don’t see anything,” Ruthie said.

“Of course not, I covered it with makeup.”

Ruthie looked at Freddy and rolled her eyes, probably thinking about her 4,000 freckles that nothing would cover.

Freddy thought about her figure. What did Jess know about being fat or ugly? She didn’t have a fat, ugly cell in her whole body.  Everything about her was perfect, from her blond hair to her long legs. Freddy sighed and asked, “Every day’s a bad body day, huh?”

“No, I guess not every day,” Jess said.

Freddy nodded. “See what I mean? I have one every day.”

She bet Jess never had to sneak huge sizes into the fitting room, terrified that someone from school would see her. She didn’t turn red from embarrassment and want to die when those stupid sales girls said dumb things like, “It doesn’t come any larger”. The worst was the day that skinny sales girl said to her mom, loud enough for the whole mall to hear, “Maybe she should try the woman’s department.”  Death, it’s Freddy, come and get me, please.

“Our bodies are going to start to change next year,” Ruthie said hopefully.

Freddy raised her eyebrows. “Wow, I can hardly wait. A whole year, or maybe two or three. Or maybe never. You should see my Aunt Carol; she has three chins, with hairs growing out of them. If I have to go through life like her, I’ll kill myself first.”

“Listen, can we just forget our bodies and have some fun?” Jess asked.

“Yeah,” Ruthie said. “Let’s pretend we’re invisible like we did at camp a couple of years ago.”

Jess laughed, “We didn’t speak to anybody. Remember how mad the counselor got because we wouldn’t even look at her?”

Freddy giggled, “I thought she was going to explode by dinner trying to get us to talk to her.”

“We would just float by and stare over everybody’s shoulders,” Ruthie

said.

“Okay, I got the message, sorry to be such a jerk,” Freddy said.

The gremlins, Grumble and Grouch, fluttered around in her head for a couple of blocks, but as they reached the ballpark her eyes danced with excitement.

Kids were streaming in from every direction, squeezing through the gate. This was an important game; the playoff for the County Junior Baseball League title between the Blake school Dragons from Hopsville and their own Leesburg Panthers.  Finally, pushing through the gate, they ran to the home team side of the ball field, scrambled up the bleachers, and plopped down.

“Watch the bench don’t crack,” yelled a voice somewhere behind them.

Freddy’s heart stopped beating. She was dead. She knew without turning around that it was Brock Ames, probably showing off for Brittany and his friends.

“Shut up, jerk,” Jess yelled. “It’s your head that’s cracked.”

Ruthie nudged Jess. “Don’t answer him or he’ll keep doing it. Think invisible.”

Sure enough he yelled, “Look at Fat Freddy and her pals Carrot Top and Messy Jessy.”

Freddy heard giggling. Please God, she begged, let me just disappear, but God wasn’t hanging out at the game today. BrockAmeswas and he was sitting two rows behind them. “Let’s move,” she whispered.

“I’m not budging from these seats,” Jess said between clenched teeth.

Freddy sighed and scrunched down. A loud crack behind them shattered the air.

“Hey, you hear that noise?” Brock yelled.

“Yeah, sounded like wood cracking to me,” Tommy Whitehead said loudly, getting into the act.

Then a deep voice said, “Boys, I suggest you keep your remarks to yourself. You’re starting to annoy me.”

It was Mr. Berns, the soccer coach.Brittanygiggled. Then there was wonderful silence. Freddy wanted to kiss Mr. Berns, if he wasn’t so old. She just wished Brock would find somebody else to pick on. It all started last year, when Brock, leaning over to whisper inBrittany’s ear, walked into an open locker door. Freddy saw it and couldn’t stop giggling. His face turned bright red. “Shut up, fat face,” he shouted.

Maybe in a few years when she became thin and gorgeous like Mike said, Brock would ask her for a date and she’d make him beg. Then she’d make him apologize in front of the whole school for every mean thing he’d ever said about her. Of course, she would turn him down for the date. He’d turn red and slink away.

Freddy giggled. Why did she always have to giggle?

“What’s so funny?” Ruthie asked.

“Nothing,” she said, trying to stop giggling.

Chapter 2

Fat Freddy

It was a tight game, into extra innings, but Freddy didn’t pay a lot of attention. She dreamed, instead. Hundreds of kids are jumping off the stands after the game. Suddenly Brock trips and rolls headfirst down the stairs pulling Brittanywith him. Now Freddy could make a quick getaway. Just as she was about to escape, there was a roar. She jerked and awoke from the fantasy.  Everybody was standing and screaming as Billy Winger hit a double and brought in the winning run. The Leesburg Panthers were the new champions. Freddy figured that by next week there would be a sign at the crossroads courtesy of the Rotary, WELCOME TO LEESBURG, HOME OF THE PANTHERS, BLAKE COUNTY JUNIOR BASEBALL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS.

“That Billy Winger’s so cool,” Jess said dreamily.

“Yeah, but he doesn’t know you’re alive, Jess,” Ruthie said.

Jess gave her a dirty look.

“Well, Billy has Lauren Jasper anyway,” Freddy said.

“Don’t remind me,” Jess said. “Come on, I’m starved.”

They pushed through the crowd, and made their way to the gate. Freddy wanted to get away fast, before Brock could find her again. No such luck.

He was lounging around the gate. Brittany Hughes hung on Brock’s arm with Tommy Whitehead and the rest of their group surrounding them. Freddy pictured a high school football game.Brittany, with her tiny, slim body wearing a blue and gold cheerleader outfit, bright blond curls bouncing, doing handstands in front of a roaring crowd. Freddy leaned over and whispered to Ruthie, “Do you think maybe she’ll gain a lot of weight over the next two years or her hair will fall out?”

Ruthie grimaced. “We would never be so lucky. She’ll probably grow some gorgeous boobs and look like a movie star.”

“What are you two whispering about?” Jess asked.

“Don’t you hate being almost 12?” Freddy asked, without answering Jess. “It’s like nowhere. I mean you’re a kid to everybody, but you’re not really a kid. Know what I mean?”

Ruthie nodded. “I wish I could look in a magic mirror and see myself in three years, I mean with boobs and a waist.”

“I wish it was three years from now, never mind magic mirrors. I’m tired of being a kid,” Jess said.

Freddy glanced toward the gate. Brock hadn’t seen them yet. “Listen, maybe we could wait ‘til they leave?”

“Come on, Freddy. Just walk by and hold your head up.” Jess said.

She started to open her mouth to argue, butBrittanyspotted them and nudged Brock. He leaned over as she whispered in his ear. He smiled and she giggled. Freddy face burned. She looked around for a way back, but the crowd was pushing forward. They were caught, like a salmon pushing upstream back to their spawning grounds. There was no place to hide.

“Well, if it isn’t Fat Freddy and her ugly pals,” Brock said, whileBrittanygiggled. People turned to see what he was talking about, but Freddy just kept her head down and pushed on through the crowd.

Jess wasn’t going to be put off. She turned and said loudly, “You’re such a child, Brock Ames. Why don’t you grow up?”

There was a sudden silence. It was as if every sound in the world turned off at that moment. Freddy’s heart started pounding, and she felt dizzy. Ruthie grabbed her arm. “Let’s get out of here.”

Brock pushedBrittanyaside and came toward them. Just then Lauren and Billy came around the fence and everyone started cheering. Brock narrowed his eyes and hesitated. Then he turned back to get some secondhand glory from Billy’s success.

Freddy closed her eyes and breathed. “God, Jess, what made you do that? Are you crazy?”

Jess shrugged. “I’m sick and tired of him and his big mouth, that’s all. He’s such a jerk.”

“Yeah, well, that jerk practically runs the sixth grade, and since he isn’t moving away in the next three months, he’ll be running seventh grade, too,” Freddy said.

“And we’re not moving away either,” Ruthie added.

“Just think about it,” Freddy said. “We have to spend the next six years in the same schools with him.” Then she turned her face up. “We need a miracle, please?”

Jess said, “Hey, there are all kinds of new kids in the intermediate school, remember? Kids will be coming from McCauliff and Kennedy too.”

“That’s right,” Ruthie said. “Maybe Brock won’t be so big and important anymore. Anyway, there are probably kids in the seventh grade now who run the school and they’ll still be there next year.”

Freddy liked that idea very much.  Maybe they would get their miracle after all. She pictured some hulking eighth grader pushing Brock into the lockers and getting in his face. He wouldn’t look so tough then. She betBrittanywouldn’t be giggling, either.

“You’ve got a smirk on your face, Freddy,” Ruthie said, peering at her.

“Just thinking about what might happen next year, that’s all.”

 

You can learn more about Fran’s World at www.franorenstein.weebly.com 

She can be found on:
Facebook
LinkedIn
Author’s Den
Goodreads
Twitter, but no tweets…technologically challenged *wink*



Welcome Saul Weber

Join me in welcoming Saul Weber to Highlighted Author.

Saul Weber writes fiction as well as non-fiction works and shares what’s needed to make the transition from a non-fiction writer to writing fiction in his article on Author’s Den.  He’s involved in several writing organizations, including Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, Cat Writers of America, and Romance Writers of America.

Welcome, Saul. Please tell us about yourself.

I recently retired from the City of New York after working 33+ years. From June 1995 to June 2006 I wrote over 450 items for my community newspaper. It was during this time, I decided to see if I could write something else, and started to write a paranormal romance novel. I’ve been writing it on/off [mostly off] for the past 7 1/2 years.Along the way my wife, in 2005, suggested I write something for children.

Watching the antics of our two cats gave me the inspiration to write an enchanting storybook about unconditional love and compassion. The story is an exploration of the life lessons common to all of us. While children are quite astute when it comes to learning new things, they also dislike being hit over the head with the lesson, as well as not liking being talked down to; which is why I wrote this story in a casual, personal manner.

“A Lesson My Cat Taught Me” first came out in November 2007 and the contract I had with my publisher ended in March 2010. Given the important lesson(s) my book tries to convey I decided to self-publish it. After completing all the tasks and jumping all the hurdles I needed to do to accomplish this endeavor, my book finally got re-released on October 2, 2010.

I also have two more completed children’s book manuscripts which I would like to get published as soon as I can get the funds I need.  I’m currently working on my fourth manuscript for a children’s book, as well as my first manuscript for Young Adult books. Lastly, I would like to finish writing the paranormal romance I started long ago.  

What they’re saying:

Review by Pet News and Reviews

In his book, A Lesson My Cat Taught Me, author Saul Weber tells the story of how a cat teaches a young girl about tolerance, acceptance, and friendship…  Saul’s book is geared for children ages 4 through 8; parents will enjoy it too. View full review HERE.

And check out his Amazon reviews HERE.

Saul was interviewed on BronxNet on August 22nd and agreed to share that with us. (Interview begins at about the 8:45 mark).
 
 
He was also on BlogTalk radio. (His interview comes on in the second hour of the show).
 

 

A Lesson My Cat Taught Me

 blurb

 In A lesson My Cat Taught Me, Jennifer and her mother find a friendly, abandoned cat. Upon bringing it home, they soon discover that it has only one eye. Jennifer calls the cat Uno, and learns that despite its’ disability, Uno is capable of doing more things than her other cat, Mr. Tickles.

When Hillary, who is in a wheelchair, becomes a classmate, Jennifer sees her as a friend rather than a girl with a disability because of the lesson Uno has taught her.

Excerpt
Jennifer finally had a chance to examine her new cat’s face. When she did, she noticed that her new cat only had one eye. “Mom, our new cat has only one eye!” cried Jennifer.
Don’t cry honey…maybe that’s the reason no one wanted her.”
“Why would someone throw her away?  That’s a terrible thing to do! Why didn’t they take her to a shelter, so she could find a new home?”
“I can’t answer your question, but now it doesn’t matter. She definitely
has a new home with us,” her mother exclaimed.
© COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Saul WeberReproduction of this excerpt is prohibited
 
Get your copy on Amazon.com or CreateSpace  
Want more Saul? Find him on Twitter and Facebook
You can contact him at Send An Email
And join his group on LinkedIn“New Authors Need Marketing Ideas”
 

Giveaway

Saul will be giving away a copy of A Lesson I Learned From My Cat to a lucky commenter! He’ll choose the winner on Oct. 31 (2011). Leave an email address where he may contact you and you might be the one to get the exciting news. If you would rather not post your email, you may post a comment then hop over to the “Contact Us” page and leave your email via the comments/questions form through Highlighted Author.
*Your personal information is never shared with outside sources without express permission by you. By entering your email to participate in this contest, you give permission for Highlighted Author to pass it along to Saul Weber for the purpose of contacting you about winning a copy of his book.*

 

Good Luck Everyone!




Welcome Pamela Bitterman

Join me in welcoming Pamela Bitterman to Highlighted Author.

I had the pleasure of having Pam as a guest in May.  She’s an outstanding individual.  For those who missed her first spotlight, you can find it Here.  She shared why she chose to pen her larger-than-life experiences.

Pam Bitterman is an explorer in every sense of the word.  She has been a mediator, a teacher of maritime history and seamanship at the San Diego Maritime Museum, a devoted mother, and much more.  She shares her amazing experiences in the books she writes: Muzungu, Sailing to the Far Horizon, “When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read”, and there are more to come.

For this feature, Pam chose to share her children’s book, “When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read”.  I’ll let her explain why. : )

First off, Pam, would you tell our readers why you chose to write a children’s book.  The first one you introduced, Muzungu, was about your own experiences.

I think I have always thought that someday I would write books for children. This is the genre that has most stubbornly kept on calling to me. For several years prior to starting our own family, I worked professionally with children. Then, while raising our kids, I was invited into the magical world of stories and poetry for children by my children’s beloved nursery school teacher. It is in fact to her that this children’s book is dedicated. I later became certified in the highly esteemed Junior Great Books program so that I could introduce my children and their public school classmates to carefully chosen examples of the worlds most respected children’s literature. I soon realized that in the process, I was discovering some of the most beautifully crafted and important stories that I had ever come across. Writing for adults can be profound and influential, sure. But writing for children can actually help to shape young minds, to open eyes and hearts, and maybe change the world. As it happened, my first books were nonfictions, born of my own true-life adventures. It is then natural and appropriate that my first children’s book would also be the result of one of those adventures. The same journey that gave birth to Muzungu produced this book as well. I went toAfrica intending to write both books. Neither story ended up being at all what I had initially anticipated. But nothing inKenya was.

What do you hope to accomplish with “When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read”?

Gosh, what do I hope to accomplish with this book? So much!! My hope for this book seems to almost defy reason, especially since experiencing first hand the conditions in which the children of Kenyaare forced to exist. The quality of education, of life in general in the country, is horrendously inadequate. This is made all the more tragic by the fact that for so many of the children of the Dark Continent, an education is at best the only way in which these youngsters can ever hope to broaden their severely crimped horizons. At worst it is truly their one hope for survival. The situation over there is so complicated and corrupt that it is easy to feel helpless in the face of the enormity of the challenge at hand. Yet I find myself able to be cautiously optimistic about the fact that I may have found an inroad, a viable way to really help some desperately at risk youth. I now know and trust good dedicated people on the front lines, in the trenches, inKenya. I can hand over the proceeds from the sale of this book directly to them. And they can see to it that the money goes directly to the needs of the children. This is an uncommon assurance, one that actually might save lives.

This is but one colossal accomplishment I dare to hope for with this book. There is of course another. I’d like to swing for the fences and hope to someday see this little book making a difference here, in our own homes and our own schools. This story is true, it is educational, it is eye opening and as heartwarming as it is heart wrenching. This story can change the way families and children and classrooms and teachers view their own reality. And it can make a difference in as big and wide and grand a scale as we might allow ourselves to imagine. This leap of faith, by the way, is an easy jump for kids. They don’t see the obstacles, only the injustices and the possibilities. It is to that sensibility that this story wishes to speak. As Maya Angelou says, “When we know better, we do better.” That is a hallmark of childhood, isn’t it? And that is something we have to be able to count on.

The main character, Julius, tells this story.  Is he patterned after someone you met while in Kenya?

Julius, the main character and narrator of the story, is a real boy. I met him in Kenya, cared for him, followed his progress, watched over his family, ultimately hugged him good-bye and had to leave him to the organic and inorganic forces of nature that were his life in Kenya. His is the voice of the children there. Through this book, he speaks for them all. He inspired me. With his courage and his dream, I hope he can inspire the world.

What about you?  Do you relate yourself to anyone in this story?

Well, as I said, this story is all true, every bit of it. I was lucky enough to be there then, to live it, and I am here now, compelled to tell it. I can relate to everyone in the story because they were all there with me, and they were all my friends, and we all, together, took care of Julius, and dozens more just like him. But if I had to choose one person to whom I would most wish to relate, it would be Ian. He was one of our son’s best friends growing up, and I was honored to be able to observe him doing a great deal more growing while we were together there inKenya. I relate to the heart of him, and to the good, and to the hope. I also relate to the sadness when he had to turn and leave Julius in his little mud hut in the forest. As I said, I was there too. It was as impossibly hard to abandon the family there, as it was impossibly hard to accept that, at least for that moment in time, we had done all that we could. But today there is this book, and with its message I not only champion the cause for education for Julius and Sara and all the children like them, I champion Ian and every brave and dedicated volunteer who journeys over there to try to help them.

I understand you’re doing something special with the proceeds of this book.

All my proceeds from the sale of this book are promised back to the children who helped me to create it. It is for this reason alone that I would like to shout the merit of this story from the rooftops. If this interview reaches anyone out there who can help further this cause, I am asking! This is not an act of shameless self-promotion. This action represents the casting out of a lifeline to real, actual little boys and girls, just… like… our… own. My vision would be that this book would find it’s way into every school, and be projected on every Promethium or “Smart” Board across the nation. I’ve also made an audio version so the story could easily be made available to an entire classroom or auditorium full of students all at one time. The images in the book are unique. The illustrations are original, one-of-a-kind and extremely telling. And the photographs are mine. There is no other book like this one. There is no other sure-fire way that I know of to maximize exposure and mainline aid to these kids. I promised those children that they would be heard. They trust me, and they wait.

When did you decide to take on this project?  Do you remember what you were doing at that moment?

Many of us do not recall when the pivotal moment occurred that would ultimately lead us down a singularly auspicious path in our lives. I do. I remember precisely when I decided to take on this project. I had already committed to making the months long journey to volunteer with a benevolent group that were running a hospital, mobile medical clinic and orphan feeding program for destitute families in the outlying areas of rural Kenya. When I received the orientation letter that had as a header a poignant picture of a small child with no bowl, waiting patiently to be given her free meal, and read that there was a tiny school situated on the grounds of the program where I would be living, I resolved that I would write one book about the whole of my experiences in Kenya, and a second book, a children’s story, that would be illustrated by the youngsters from that very school. I made this pledge well in advance of my departure, as I had to bring all the materials necessary for creating the drawings with me from America, realizing that likely nothing of the kind would be available anywhere where I was going. This sad fact proved to be truer than I even first imagined.  Of course I had yet to meet my little narrator Julius, and to be given an uncommon window into the desolate world in which he lived. But what a fine, strong protagonist he turned out to be!  I, for one, shall never forget him. I only hope that his incredible story is heard far and wide and that there will arise a booming call to arms, and hands and hearts, from children in bedrooms and classrooms all across America, who will have heard this small boy’s “chant” and will want to help.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

What can I add? A hugely heartfelt thanks to you, Charlene, for giving me the opportunity to share this story!! But I would also like to add, if I may, that there are simple Swahili words with translations throughout the story, and a glossary of those words at the end of the book. There is also a short story describing the Maseno North Sunshine Nursery School. If anyone is in doubt about the books appropriateness for his or her children or their classroom, please take a moment to watch the book trailer. There are also very positive and insightful reviews published in children’s educational magazines that can be accessed through links on my web site. Plus, the book is presently being considered for a few awards. This is a true story, and yes, maybe in some respects it’s a hard truth, but it is a story of hope, and one we needn’t be afraid to teach our children. This is an opportunity to share with our kids an important and truly lovely story, to teach a valuable lesson, to go on an exciting adventure, to open eyes as well as hearts, and finally to help a child to make a charitable donation to a benevolent cause specifically for children just… like… them… all with one simple click of the mouse.

 

“When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read”

Book Trailer

 

 

When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read

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Excerpt

My name is Julius. I am six years old and I have never been to school. I live in Kenya, Africa, with my bibi(grandmother), my dada (sister) Sarah and my kaka (brother) Hezron. Hezron is only three years old, but he is much bigger than I am.

We live in a mud hut on our little shamba (farm) in the forest.

Baba (father) and mama (mother) are gone. They were very sick and they could not get better. Our bibi cares for us but she is old and she cannot see. Sarah protects us. Sarah is eleven years old.

Professor Nancy is a kind bibi with skin and hair the color of cornflowers who comes to our village. She sees the hands and feet of my jamii (family) and says, “You have jiggers. Jiggers are bugs that crawl under the skin and lay eggs. You must come to my mobile clinic and orphan feeding program this weekend.”

I tell her, “When this is over, I will go to school, and I will learn to read.”

Just as the morning sun begins to light the hills of my village, my family and I set out on our long journey. Hezron leads our bibi by the hand.

Sarah carries me. It is far to Professor Nancy’s clinic. The shimmery sun follows us and is floating in the top of the sky when we arrive.

When we get there, we are welcomed onto a wide green field full of watoto (children) playing games, singing songs, standing in line to see the doctors, waiting for a meal.

Mzee (old man) leans over to tickle the laughing watoto who are scrambling up his skinny trunk.

I tell him, “When this is over, I will go to school, and I will learn to read.”

Mzee lifts Hezron and me in his long, stringy arms. He rubs our hands and our feet, and makes a face like he is sucking a sour guava. He pats my hard, round belly and he says, “This whole little family is coming with us today. We are taking them straight to my hospital.” Mzee is a doctor.

Sarah and Hezron lie down to wait with me on the warm grass of the peaceful church grounds. Mzee brings us bowls of ugali (maize and warm water) and gethari (corn and beans). Hezron and I cannot use our fingers to scoop up the food. The jiggers hurt our hands, but we are very hungry. Like the gentle shamba cow, we bend our mouths to our bowls and we lick up every last drop.

Many watoto, bibis and babus (grandfathers) disappear into the church to see the doctors and get medicine.

Before the last wavy gold of the sun is swallowed up by the black shadows of night, Hezron, Sarah and I are carried into a yellow motorcar with a window in the top. I watch purple clouds fly over my head as we bump along.

A young man with wild hair the color of our motorcar, and a smiling face of shiny teeth, wiggles on the slippery seat next to me. He hollers a loud “whoopee!” and lifts me high up toward the sky. I am afraid that I will fly away in the wind, so the man hugs me to his lap and gives me a chapatti (a flat, round soft bread.

To make me happy, he blows in a glove and turns it into a silly balloon with five fat fingers. His name is E-on (Ian).

I tell him, “When this is over, I will go to school, and I will learn to read.”

Our motorcar tumbles down bendy roads through lumpy brown hills sprinkled with trees that look like fluffy hats. Skinny cows and red-feathered chickens flutter as we roar by. Mamas on bare feet smile as we pass. They carry babies tucked in bright scarves on their backs and balance baskets of fruit on their heads. Boys on bicycle taxis carrying grinning passengers swat away the thick orange dust tail that sprays out from under our car’s crunching wheels.

At a high fence, our wheezy motorcar rumbles and rests. Men jump up to open wide gates for us to drive through. Inside is Mzee’s hospital. It looks like a beautiful village.

People dressed in white hurry down paths of smooth stones. Bunches of flowers hug long, clean houses. Tall lobelia trees crawling with chirpy monkeys sway in the breeze.

At the hospital, gentle mamas in crackly dresses give Hezron and me a warm bath. We are fed hard-boiled eggs and biskutis (cookies)!

I tell them, “When this is over, I will go to school, and I will learn to read.”

After they have bundled us in funny blue jackets that come down to our toes, Hezron and I are laid together on one cot.

We are in a lively room of many open windows. Kind mamas and bibis watch over us. There are otherwatoto here.

They smile at Hezron and me. We are happy to be in this place. A soft breeze cuddles us to sleep.

In the morning, our bibi is gone. Before the day’s last light went out, she found her way home to guard her shamba. It is not safe to be outside inKenya after dark.

Sarah is gone too, but I know she will come back. Sarah never leaves us for long. As the roosters’ first crow of a new day was just nudging awake the hospital’s dreaming watoto, Sarah ran the many miles to her school.

Sarah goes to school even when she is sick.

She will go if the rain pours down so hard that it stings her skin.

Sarah goes to school even if there is no food in the shamba for her to eat. She says if you can read, you can be anything you want to be. Going to school will give Sarah the chance to be something wonderful. Someday she could be a teacher like E-on. Sarah might even be a great doctor like Mzee.

I feel sad and scared each time Sarah leaves. But when she comes back, she teaches us the lessons she has learned. Sarah promises us that someday we will be something wonderful too.

 Want more Pamela?  Visit her web site http://pamelasismanbitterman.com/ 

 

 

 

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