Category Archives: Middle Grade

Welcome, John S. McFarland!

We’re excited to welcome John S. McFarland to the Highlighted Author. As writer of historical and arts-related subjects, he’s been widely published in magazines and has appeared on television and radio. He also is a frequent visitor of elementary schools and performs readings for first through third graders. In addition, his book is taught as a chapter book in several school districts. Enjoy the feature!

–Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom

51FehFT4q6LA little boy lost in the woods is saved by a sasquatch mom suffering from empty-nest syndrome…Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom, is a richly illustrated, slightly ironic young reader novel in the best tradition of Roald Dahl. It is funny, poignant, wry and character-driven, as well as quickly-plotted and suspenseful.

Evan Nestor Bettancourt, is a small-for-his-age eight year old slow to realize he is not a little kid anymore. He is imaginative, curious, and warily fascinated by the monsters in his story books. He is also particularly selfish and spoiled. His father, a high school biology teacher in a mountain town in northern California, encourages his son to see the practical, scientific side of life, and not worry about the fanciful creatures which live in his imagination. On a family outing, Evan Nestor is lost in the woods, and just as he starts to wonder if he will ever see his parents again, he meets one of those creatures: Annette, a sasquatch mom curious about the odd ways of humans, and missing her own child who has grown up and gone off on his own.

Pursued by a sweets-loving cryptozoologist who wants to reveal Annette’s existence to the world, and a hungry mountain lion, the unlikely pair make their way to a spot where Annette knows Evan Nestor will be safely found by his own kind. What they learn about sharing, empathy, and each other along the way, prepares them for many adventures to come.

Available now on AMAZON.



When Evan Nestor opened his eyes, for a moment he couldn’t remember where he was. Damp, moss-covered rocks overhung him, and he was shivering. His clothes, his hair and skin felt damp, too, and his fingers and the tip of his nose hurt from the cold.

He remembered he was lost.

“Mom and Dad?” he said quietly. No answer. “Mom and Dad?” More loudly this time, but still no answer.

He felt the fear pain in his stomach that he sometimes felt when he thought he heard a monster in his closet or outside his window at night. He thought he might cry. He crawled a little closer to the edge of the rock overhang that was protecting him. It was on a steep hillside, and he was overlooking a small valley filled with pine and spruce trees, and a carpet of ferns.

The ground was covered with loose, rich-smelling dirt and it felt almost like a soft cushion to Evan Nestor. As he crawled forward, his hand touched something hard in the dirt. His fingers closed around the object. It was gold-colored and light, like plastic. Evan Nestor looked at the object. It was a tube of lipstick like he had seen on his mother’s makeup tray in the bathroom. He smiled. There was something familiar in this, and comforting. Evan Nestor suddenly reached into his shirt pocket. His big red button was still there. He removed it and looked at it respectfully. He was glad he had not lost it. Evan Nestor put the lipstick back on the ground. He ran his fingers through the dirt again. He felt another object, but larger than the lipstick. He pulled it out of the dirt. It was a pink hand mirror with blue flowers painted on it. There was a little crack in the glass at the bottom edge, but otherwise the mirror was in good condition for being covered in dirt.

A lipstick. A hand mirror. These were things that belonged not to a kid or a dad, but more to a mom. Evan Nestor’s own mom had things like this. She had her share of bicycling equipment and skiing equipment, and even woodworking tools, for she was better at fixing things than Dad was. Still, mirrors and lipsticks were mom things. Evan Nestor wondered how these mom things had come to be here. He smiled again.

He looked above himself along the rock wall. There was a sort of shelf in the stone above him, and he could see something long and white sticking out beyond the edge of the shelf. Evan Nestor stood. The object was a hair brush. But, there were many other things on the rock shelf, too. There was a plastic dinosaur, a ball and jacks, a pocket knife, an adjustable wrench and screwdriver, a coupon for $1 off a fish plate at Ahab’s Fish and Chips, and a Decepto-Bot action figure from the planet Mendacitron 4.

Evan Nestor was amazed at all these things being collected together out in the woods. Who could have done it? He picked up the Decepto-Bot from the other things and sat on the ground to think about it.

A rustle of twigs on the ground down the hillside startled Evan Nestor. He slowly crept, on his hands and knees, backward and further into the rock overhang. In a few moments, he saw a little gray mound of fur pop up above the lower edge of the rock opening. Some animal was creeping up the hillside. Suddenly, two pointed ears could be seen, then a shiny black snout. It was a gray fox. The fox stopped abruptly when it saw Evan Nestor back in the shadows. Evan Nestor smiled, not knowing if he should be afraid or not. The foxes ears quickly pricked up and it looked first to its left, then to its right. In a moment, Evan Nestor realized he could hear a very low and steady growl. He took his red button from his pocket and clasped it between both hands.

In an instant, the fox seemed to see something that startled it, and it ran off. The low, growling sound continued and grew louder. Instead of a furry gray mound at the rim of the overhang, Evan Nestor now saw a dull, yellow one. The mound grew into a muscular back, a strong neck, and a wide, round head set with terrible, yellow eyes. It was a mountain lion!

The stab of fear shot through Evan Nestor’s stomach again. There were tears in his eyes, and he wanted to close them, but he could not. The lion’s eyes looked deeply into Evan Nestor’s, and he found he could not look away. The lion crept up closer to the overhang. Then suddenly, from somewhere above, an arm reached down and grabbed the lion by the skin of its shoulders, as if it were a kitten. But, it was like no arm Evan Nestor had ever seen before: it was huge and covered with long, black hair, and its wrist and forearm were as big around as one of his father’s legs…at least.

The great cat lifted off the ground with a puzzled expression on its face. In another second, it was tossed down the hillside with an indignant hiss, and Evan Nestor heard it crash into some brush somewhere far below. There was no other sound for many minutes, and Evan Nestor did not move. Whatever had saved him must have gone. Slowly and very quietly, he crawled toward the front of the overhang.

He could see now that it was a bright and sunny day. He noticed the sounds of birds singing, which he hadn’t noticed before, and a little breeze was stirring through the valley. As Evan Nestor neared the front of the overhang he noticed the edge of something just to the right of the opening. It looked like the edge of a huge foot standing still on the moss. It was like a person’s foot, but so much bigger that Evan Nestor could hardly imagine it. And it was covered with long, black hair.

The foot didn’t move. Evan Nestor crept out a little further. His fear filled his stomach and head, but his curiosity was even stronger. Could this be a monster? Could this be a nice monster who had deliberately saved him? The enormous foot was attached to a thick leg the size of a tree trunk, bulging with muscles, and also hair-covered. The creature still did not move, but stood facing away from Evan Nestor, as if it were looking down the hillside where it had flung the mountain lion.

Finally, Evan Nestor poked his head entirely out from under the rock overhang, and saw the great creature standing there. It was a giant, taller even than Mom when she sits on Dad’s shoulders in their Neptune’s Envy above ground swimming pool in the summer: taller than the guttering on their house. It was a mountain of muscle and black hair. Its arms hung low, nearly to its knees, and its back was wider than Evan Nestor’s mattress. A true giant. Could it be a real monster?

Evan Nestor gasped when he realized the creature was slowly turning toward him. He had no place to run. Before he could move, the great face was looking at him. The mouth was wide and thin-lipped and opened a little, showing several white, flat teeth. The eyebrow ridges were heavy like a gorilla’s, and the top of the head was pointed.  And sitting on the broad, flat nose was a pair of heart-shaped, bright pink sunglasses.

About John

71MGE45KGaL._UX250_John S. McFarland’s first novel, The Black Garden was published in 2010 to universal praise. His work has appeared in The Twilight Zone Magazine, Eldritch Tales, National Lampoon, River Styx, Tornado Alley, and in the anthology, A Treasury of American Horror Stories. He has written extensively on historical and arts-related subjects and has been a guest lecturer in fiction at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a lifelong Bigfoot enthusiast, and Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom is his first novel for young readers.

Connect with John

John S. McFarland Goodreads Author Page

Annette the Mom Website

Annette’s Facebook Page

Welcome Natasha Yim

Join me in welcoming Natasha Yim to Highlighted Author.

Natasha is a Northern California children’s book author, freelance writer, and playwright. Her first picture book, Otto’s Rainy Day, was published by Charlesbridge Publishing, and her picture book biography, Cixi, The Dragon Empress, was released by Goosebottom Books in October 2011. Sacajawea of the Shoshone, the amazing story of the Native American teenager who traveled the west with Lewis and Clark hit the bookshelves in October 2012. She has also published non-fiction articles in the children’s magazines, Highlights for Children, Appleseeds, and Faces, and for adults in local and regional publications such as Mendocino Arts, Vibrant Life, and UnchARTed magazines. Her ten-minute plays have been produced and performed in venues around Northern California–Ukiah, Santa Rosa, Guerneville—as well as in Los Angeles, and Sydney and Brisbane, Australia.

Born Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, she grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong. She came to California in 1979 to attend Dominican College (now University) where she graduated with a B.A. in English Literature with a Writing Emphasis and a M.S. in Counseling Psychology. As a Social Worker, she worked primarily with emotionally disadvantaged children in group home and foster home settings, and with Child Protective Services. Since 2000, she has been busy raising three children and working on her writing.  She’s on tour with her new release, Sacajawea of the Shoshone, and I’m proud that she has made Highlighted Author part of her world wide web travels.


Welcome, Natasha, when did you decide to be an author?  Do you remember how old you were?  The moment? (tell us about it)

When I was in 7th grade, an English teacher gave us a creative writing assignment in which we had to create an island, illustrate it with made-up lakes, rivers, mountains, towns etc., and write a story about it. It was so much fun, I’ve been hooked on writing stories ever since. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 11, and used to journal daily and write poems and short stories in my teens, but I didn’t get serious about my writing until after college.

What genre do you most enjoy writing?  Reading?  Why?

I enjoy writing for children. I’ve published mostly picture books, but I also like writing for an older audience and have some middle grade/young adult projects in the works. At one point, I thought that I would try my hand at an adult novel at some point, but I’ve discovered that I actually have no interest at this time in writing for adults. There’s a certain awe and wonder that children exhibit when you put a good book in their hands or read them a story they really connect with that’s not only refreshing and delightful, but very rewarding to an author. Most adults will read a book they like once then pass it on, but kids will ask for a favorite book to be read over and over again. My reading tastes are a little eclectic. I like to read anything from the classics (Jane Austen is still a big favorite of mine, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Lucy Montgomery) to contemporary writers like John Irving and David Sedaris. I tend to favor humorous books and am a great fan of Louise Rennison’s The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Young Adult series. I’ve also been reading a lot of Young Adult and middle grade novels lately because that’s the genre I’m currently interested in writing and also because my daughter is reading those books so I’m trying to find out what she’s reading.

You’ve been very busy with your appearances at schools and organizations.  What’s it like to share your books and skills with others?  Please tell us about it.

When I had my first reading/book signing for my picture book Otto’s Rainy Day at a local bookstore twelve years ago, I was petrified! In a debilitating way. I asked my brother-in-law to read the book! But Practice makes Perfect, so the more I do presentations, workshops and appearances, the more comfortable I am in front of an audience, and now I don’t really get that nervous anymore. Believe me, it took a lot of pushing myself to get up in front of people and to grab any opportunity for speaking engagements to get me over the hump! Sometimes you have to jump blindly into the fray, because the only way to get over that fear of public speaking is to do as much of it as possible. The key is preparation. The more prepared I am, the less nervous I get. I used to be terrified of doing school visits too, and in the beginning, I’d much rather go to a school five different times to visit individual classrooms than to do one huge assembly in front of 300 kids. I did my first assembly in Spring of this year, and have done several since then, and now I really enjoy them and school visits in general because you get to connect with the kids who are your audience. They have such openness, tremendous curiosity and they LOVE meeting authors. We have a certain rock-star status with kids that’s really fun. At events, I try to focus more on connecting with the audience than on the nuts and bolts of my presentation and this helps to alleviate the anxiety. I’m a people person and I like the give and take of interaction. I’ve also discovered Power Point which takes a lot of the stress out of appearances because you can do really fun visual things on a screen which then takes the focus off you as the speaker. Kids love to see pictures of my family and pets and old pictures of me as a kid. It brings the author down to their level—hey, we were kids once too and we have normal families just like them. They also love it when I show all the editorial mark-ups I get on manuscripts, just like when a teacher corrects their homework. It makes them realize that writing is hard work and stories don’t just appear in book form as they see it at the bookstore. I also enjoy sharing my journey and process as a writer with other writers at workshops and conferences. We all had to start somewhere and I like to encourage other writers to keep trying and not give up in the face of rejection because we’ve all had to go through it. One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Bach, the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.

Would you share the radio interview  with the Stories for Children show on the World of Ink Network that you appeared on so that we can listen in?

My picture book biography Cixi, The Dragon Empress, which was released in Oct. 2011, is part of Goosebottom Books’ six-book series The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames. Each book in the series is written by a different author. Gretchen Maurer, the author of another dastardly dame Mary Tudor, Bloody Mary is a friend of mine. We live in the same town and have been in the same writing group for years so we decided to join forces and share the costs for our blog tour with World of Ink which occurred during the month of November 2011. As part of the blog tour package, we were interviewed on the Stories for Children network on blogtalk radio which aired on November 14, 2011.

Listen to internet radio with WorldOfInkNetwork on Blog Talk Radio


Who do you find to be your greatest supporter?  Why?

Other writers. I’ve been a part of two writing groups, have attended countless writer’s conferences and workshops, am a regular participant in the Green Gulch writer’s retreat, and have networked with many writers over the years at these events. Large as it is, the children’s book writing community is very close knit. Everyone is extremely supportive of each other. I think mainly because we all have struggled to get our foot in the door and to get noticed by an editor or agent, we know how hard it is and how much work it takes, so there is a lot of encouragement and support and “don’t give ups”. It takes another writer to know what you’re going through as a writer in terms of rejections, revisions, writer’s block, mediocre sales, poor turnout at book readings or signings and other literary disasters.

Where do you get your inspiration for your books?

Inspiration can strike anytime, anywhere. The idea for my first book Otto’s Rainy Day came to me while I was staring out of the window at the rain. I have another project I’m working on that was inspired by a friend’s son’s love of dance and theatre. In recent years, I’ve been  more interested in tapping into my cultural roots and have focused more attention in including multi-cultural elements into my work. The topic of Cixi, The Dragon Empress was already selected in that the publisher selected the six dames they wanted to feature, but the authors got to choose the dame they wanted to write about, and I chose her because she was Chinese and I was interested in Chinese culture and history. I currently have two middle grade/young adult novels I’m working on that have female Chinese protagonists. One’s a contemporary Chinese American girl and the other is a historical fiction set in China.

Being a busy mother, what does your writing schedule look like? 

I try to get up at 5 every morning and write till 7 when my kids have to get up for school. I used to allow for Sundays as my sleep-in day, but my kids sleep in on weekends, so now I still keep to the 5 am schedule when I can as I can usually squeeze a little more writing time in. I also try to get a few hours of writing in while they’re in school, while trying to weave in workouts at the gym, grocery shopping etc. and volunteer time at my kids’ school. There is just never enough time in the day!

Tell us about your featured book.

Sacajawea of the Shoshone, which has just been released in October, will be a new addition to Goosebottom Books’ first series The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses. It’s the biography of Sacajawea, the Native American girl who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition of the American West. She’s an amazing woman with a fascinating story and I’m so lucky to be able to write about her.

Now, don’t be shy with this one.  I’d like you to share some tidbits of praise for it. 

Since it’s just been released, I don’t have any reviews yet (please feel free to write one) but librarians and teachers have expressed a lot of interest in it.

However, here is what people have said about my last book Cixi, The Dragon Empress:

It is a wonderful read and an evocative story that most kids will be able to sink their teeth into. It is a sad and inspiring story at the same time. But it has a depth that is rarely found in a children’s picture book.”—BlogCritics, Irene Roth

“Natasha Yim has done an excellent job of putting together this factual book. The history and behind the scenes look at a woman who crumbled an empire will have young readers turning the pages and looking up the history for themselves.”—Good Reads, Kristi Bernard


Would you share an excerpt with us?


Sacajawea of the Shoshone


Clouds of dust swirled across the plains, kicked up by galloping horses. Screams shattered the autumn air. Arrows arced in the crisp blue sky, sprung from Shoshone bows, but they were no match for the Hidatsa warriors’ guns. Through the smoke of musket fire, Sacajawea saw men fall. Her heart thudded against her chest. She raced over brush and brambles, the berries she had been picking scattering around her feet. If she could cross the river, she might be able to get away. One minute, her legs churned against the swift current, the next, a pair of muscular arms scooped her up, carrying Sacajawea far away from her tribe and family—and into history.


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In November, seven months after Sacajawea set off from Fort Mandan, she finally heard the roar and crash of ocean waves. She felt their force as they rocked the boats at the mouth of the Columbia River. The Pacific Ocean was near! But these powerful waves made it impossible to get any closer to the sea along their water route. They had to camp inland a few miles away. As winter was approaching, and deep snow in the Rocky Mountains would make it impossible to cross back over, they decided to wait till spring to head back east. They built a fort in a protected grove of pine trees, and sheltered there through the damp, gloomy days.

One day, a local tribe brought the Corps blubber from a whale that had washed up on the beach. Lewis and Clark thought it was delicious, and formed a small group to see the “Big Fish” and get some more blubber. Sacajawea wasn’t included. As you can imagine, she was really upset. She had come such a long way, and she still hadn’t seen the “Big Water.” She wanted to see the “Big Fish” too! The Captains finally agreed, and Sacajawea made the five day trek with Pomp to the Pacific.

There are no records of Sacajawea’s reaction, but it must have taken her breath away to see the wide expanse of water stretching for miles to the horizon, and to finally breathe the salt-laced air. The sight of that immense whale, the largest animal any of them had ever seen, must also have struck her with awe and wonder.



Thank you so much, Natasha, for being with us today.  It was wonderful having you.

Thank you, Charlene, for hosting me. It was a pleasure!


Get your copy now at Amazon!


Here’s where you can find Natasha:















Welcome Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Join me in welcoming Dr. Barbara Becker Hostein to Highlighted Author.


Writing as a Positive Psychologist: First a Case Book, Then Fiction for Girls and I am Still Not Finished!  By: Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, Positive Psychologist

It is always interesting to learn about the writer behind the book.  For example, I was delighted to find out that the passionate woman behind the memoir I am currently reading, Silver Pages on the Lawn, is well into her 90’s!  Somehow, that reassures me about my own aging.  I was also delighted to find out that the mystery book I just read and loved, The First Rule of Ten, is written by a therapist, like myself.  But more about that at the end of my story.

I am delighted to share my story as an author with you.  Of course it began before many of the details I will now share.  It began way back when my mother told her dreams every morning, and my dad spoke eloquently every day, about all items, large and small.  It began when I bought the Girl Scout Diary in Reed’s Department Store for myself when I was 9, with the small lock and key.  And it probably began even further back when my mother told me fantastic stories about herself and Melvin, the kid who teased her with exaggerated truths, who lived next door.  But I’m going to take an author’s privilege and leap ahead to my grown-up days of writing as a professional psychologist.  What follows now is part of a paper I gave at the Norwalk Community College Writer’s Conference several years ago:


The famous novelist, Proust stated, “The real voyage for discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but having new eyes.” In the 1990’s as a psychologist, I sought new landscapes, and was blessed instead with new eyes to see past the disease model, to the world of human potential that was right in front of me all the time.   I had been researching, via case study methods, women outside of my practice to see how women handle childhood messages carried inside them, such as, “you’re dumb but beautiful” or “Make sure you get married before your beauty fades.”  These are discouraging, judgmental messages, if they are not spoken, still ’heard’ clear as a bell.  All the women I interviewed concurred with the above premise, giving me many personal examples.  However, they had more to teach me.  They showed me their strengths, capacities to grow and change, and what most amazed me, their capacities for happiness.  These capacities were far beyond what the clinician usually discovers when she is looking through a lens that is primarily sensitive to pathology.

With my new ‘eyes’ I became certain that women, and I am sure most men, have greater capacities to restore themselves and enjoy themselves, than previously documented.  I also realized we are not given enough signals in our society to help us feel positive about ourselves, or to recognize what makes us happy.  We are not taught how to hold on to positive feelings, or how to bring them back and again and again.

My work appeared to be cut out for me.  With my new awareness of what was right about my clients, rather than what was wrong, I was excitedly looking anew at the treatment room.  I began to examine how we interact with our clients, how we set the stage for change, how we interview for information, how we teach our clients to view their past behaviors, how we listen and how we encourage a sense of well-being.  I developed techniques for all of the above that could be used as a positive overlay for psychologists, regardless of their formal training and orientation.  For example, when interviewing a new client, one can easily build in questions that encourage the client to talk about their earlier talents, strengths, lost potential and resilience.  All of these treatment changes in questioning, listening and processing with the client took shape as The Enchanted Self, a Positive Therapy.

Soon, I realized I had a case book in the making.  THE ENCHANTED SELF, a Positive Therapy, was published in 1997. The book, utilizing case studies, personal insights from my own life, reader exercises and even poetry, allows the reader to explore positive aspects of herself.  If she is a therapist, she also learns how to make long overdue corrections in the treatment room.  Many readers, therapists, and lay people, have thanked me for the positive paradigm shift I had so clearly outlined in the book.  One psychiatrist from Sweden wrote to me that she had waited for years for someone to finally have the courage to make this long overdue correction in therapeutic model.


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Let’s move ahead to the publication of THE TRUTH (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything).

How in the world as a psychologist and a writer, did I end up with my 4th book being fiction, designed for girls, tweens, teens, moms and women, and how does it dove-tail with THE ENCHANTED SELF, a Positive Therapy.  (You may find my other books on Amazon and my website:

Let’s look at a poem in THE ENCHANTED SELF on page169, “Come my friend, my nurturer, my shadow, my knowledge of how whole I can be.”  Who is that friend?  Many years of practicing as a psychologist, have convinced me that, that nurturer, that shadow is our earlier selves.  Often it is that self which existed inside ourselves between the ages of 8 and 12.  We know that for many girls, 8-12 is a period of soaring, when girls feel competent and so sure of themselves.

If you know girls that age, you know how talented they are.   They can and do everything.  They also often have special private times, keeping diaries, or sharing intimate thoughts with best girlfriends.  However, the teenage years do not always encourage or keep girls thriving emotionally and intellectually.  The social and hormonal pressures of growing up block the earlier talents and potential.  Adolescent years can be very hard on girls and many a woman finds herself no longer in touch with her earlier talents, strengths, potential, or what makes her happy.

I began to realize that my next psychological assignment was to bring the girl inside of ourselves back to life.

I began to develop a companionship with the 10-11 year old inside myself.  I began to realize that as an adult woman that I was disappointing her.  I was not as confident or daring as I had promised myself I would be.  Some of my poor decisions had restricted and limited the scope of my potential and opportunities.  The girl I had been had known that the world could be her oyster.  She wasn’t much afraid of anything and also had a lot of inner wisdom.  She was resilient and determined.  She had faith in me-the adult she would become someday.

Suddenly, getting to know myself as a child again was serious psychological business.  It is somewhat painful to realize that one has shortchanged herself.  Yet better to realize it now!

Then I began to think, how could I write a book that will just spark everyone?  If you are a woman, it will make you want to dance with yourself and with your inner 11 year old and make her energies a part of yourself again.  If you are a mom, you will see your child in a much more profound light.  You will want to help her hold on to her wisdom, wit, sense of competency and self-esteem. If you are a kid or a tween, you will feel understood and connected to this fictional girl.  After all, she is like you.  She thinks about many of the things you think about and she makes promises about what she will be like when she grows up, just like you do.

So the character came alive.  I felt a fictional diary was the way to go.  The girl, as many fictional characters do, helped me write the book.  She shared her frustrations and her competencies, and she even managed to solve a little around how she could hold on to the best of herself as she grew up.  How she solved the mystery is so endearing, but I can’t give it away because I want you to read the book.

She has a crush.  Haven’t most of us had crushes?  I have clients and women in those workshops as young as 5 years old, having crushes.  And she says, “I am in love…I thought I would fall in love when I was much older, maybe 15 or 16 and she explains how she felt when Paul walked into the classroom, my heart felt like it turned over in my body, my pulse started to race and I couldn’t concentrate.  I felt excited like I had a big secret….”

She also has secrets.  She wants to know more about growing up.  She wants to ask her mother questions like, “When will I need a bra?” but she can’t.  “Whenever I try, she looks away and starts to fidget with her fingers.  I never get the answers to my questions.  Doesn’t she know how confused I am? How, I am supposed to ready to get older, if she can’t tell her everything she needs to know and she talks about her parents.  Angelina is so lucky because she talks to her mother, Mrs. Allen.”

She asks, “Why do grown-ups fight over stupid things?  I don’t get it.  Before you know it, everyone’s mood is bad and the day is ruined….”

Yes, the girl sees so much and knows so much.  And didn’t we all at 10 or 11?  And wouldn’t it be great to hold on to the energy and confidence that can go with that stage of life?  So that we all can live lives of integrity where we would keep similar promises to what the girl makes: “I’ll travel a lot.  I won’t look away when my kids ask me tough questions.  I’ll answer truthfully.  I won’t swear.  I won’t get into silly fights with my husband.  I’ll have fun with my kids and laugh a lot.  I’ll remember ME!  And that’s the truth.”

So you see, I’ve come full circle with both books as a positive psychologist.  I’m right back to the essence of the person.  It turns out that the book; THE TRUTH (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) is another way of teaching The Enchanted Self.  When we come home to the ‘truth’ for ourselves then we are an Enchanted Self.  We are happy; we have purpose.  Our lives have meaning.  We don’t disappoint ourselves.  Whether you prefer the casebook or the fictional diary, it doesn’t matter.  Just come home to yourself!

And by the way, that is exactly what I am still in the process of doing.  Going back to the mystery book mentioned in the beginning, by Dr. Gay Hendricks, my latest fiction writing has turned another corner.  Like Dr. Hendricks, I have moved the essence of the material I teach into a new setting.  This time a fictional novel that takes place here and in Jerusalem.  Actually what happened was a plot began to form and before I could send it away, I found myself sketching out a romance, mystery novel with a spiritual component.  Natalie and Maggie came to life as the major characters, along with Chaya Sarah, the mystery woman.  Soon I was up again late at night writing page after page of NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM, A Novel of Romance, Suspense and Spiritual Awakening.  The book will be out on Amazon and Kindle by June of 2012.  You can wet your appetite at


Listen in on her interview with Welcome Changes Radio

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein ~ Download | Welcome Changes Radio  


THE TRUTH (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything)


To all the wonderful mothers, aunts, grandmothers, teachers, and friends of “The Girl,” who just read this book:

As a positive psychologist and a woman, it has been a pleasure for me to bring The Truth, I’m A Girl, I’m Smart and I Know Everything! to your girl. I hope “The Girl” was fun and meaningful to your youngster. I hope you also had a chance to read the book, and to have your mind and heart opened by “The Girl.”

I am here for all of you! I would love to come to your child’s school to speak to the children and/or to the PTA about issues raised in the book. I would also be delighted to come to your book club, women’s club or other organization to discuss our journeys from girlhood to womanhood in meaningful, fun, and inspiring ways.

And don’t forget the virtual world. I would also be happy to visit your child’s school and/or your book club or woman’s group via speaker phone, teleconferencing, and/or video cam.

Let’s keep the discussion going. Remember, we were once all little princesses. We all had a sense of “The Truth” and of our power and talents. My dream is that we all pass on “The Truth.” Our little princesses will thank us! And the little princess inside of each of us will glow knowing that we ourselves are courageous enough never to forget!

Please contact me at [email protected] or 732-571-1200. Please come and visit me at and

And of course, I am available to you for workshops, retreats, virtual classes, speaking engagements, and radio and television appearances.


 Truth for Girls book trailer



THE TRUTH: I’m a Girl, I’m Smart and I Know Everything


“All grownups were children first. (But few of them remember it).”

“Grownups never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for children to provide explanations over and over again.”

From “The Little Prince”



© Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, The Enchanted Self, Excerpts from The Truth: I’m a Girl, I’m Smart and I Know Everything



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