Eric Seagull, storyteller, landed on my handbag

Introducing the engaging, children’s writer, Caz Greenham and her collection of seafaring adventures.  Who doesn’t love Eric Seagull

Dear readers,

I’m delighted to present an extract from my third children’s book in “The Adventures of Eric Seagull ‘Storyteller’” 3-book-series. ‘The Christmas Circus’. The extract below is taken from one of the many short chapters, making storytelling at bedtime easy.  This gives you a peep inside the magical, fun, seafaring world of Eric Seagull ‘Storyteller’ set in picturesque Brixham Bay. I chose to share ‘The Christmas Circus’ with you today because it’s a seasonal read. A time of friendship and caring at Christmas. And, as we’re already halfway through the month of October (a time I begin my own early Christmas shopping) it would be a great stocking filler for any child. The paperback copy has an eye-catching beautifully illustrated red glossy cover.  A feeling of friendship, and companionship, will be easily recognised in this seasonal read.  Eric Seagull will tell you more about the story

Happy reading,

Caz Greenham

Extract

‘Let’s set the scene, it was Christmas Eve!’ squawked Eric. Eric shuffled from side to side then hopped onto my bag. I think he could smell the gingerbread cookies I had bought from the bakery as a little treat. Caz wagged her finger at Eric and he commenced by setting the scene.

When I received an invitation to The Christmas Circus at Ladybird Cove, the herring gull invited his two friends along. With his tiny best friend and housemate Mouse Herbie, the white mouse, safely aboard his inner feathers and Norman Mail Pigeon following closely behind, they took off from my home (Rock-Face Nest) at St Mary’s Bay in wintry South Devon. After seafaring adventures with Lady Beatrice, Arthur Jellyfish and the Dawn Chorus, I spotted a sign: ‘Christmas Circus This Way’. But the adventurers soon discovered double trouble awaiting them inside The Big Top.

I’ll read you my story.  Eric perched on my handbag and started to tell me the story and it felt as if I was actually in the midst of the adventures.  He remembered every single word beautifully, and Caz was so proud of her little friend. He moved around a little, resisted the temptation to dive into a passer-by’s fish and chips and started to speak…

Extract selected by Eric.
‘You can sleep in the attic room at the top of the winding staircase tonight,’ Eric told Norman. ‘Tis a cosy room and no one should be home alone at this festive time.’

Norman agreed and thanked Eric for his big heartedness.
Norman looked at Herbie. ‘There’s some news that I’ve been meaning to share with you, dear mouse. Your homemade dandelion soup is the talk of Berry Head Park, you know. I look forward to sampling a large bowlful during lunch tomorrow.’

Herbie warmly smiled. ‘There’ll be sweet turnips baked in the oven, baby carrots, and potatoes grown in Eric’s compost. And wait ‘til you taste my best plum pudding.’

Eric Seagull’s long tongue swiped his beak as he listened to his friends chatting about tasty food.

Norman Mail Pigeon landed on the bench and dropped a role of paper.  I removed the red ribbon, opened up the rolled paper and found some reviews of the books.

Ronnie says… ‘I’m delighted to see this author has written a third in this series. I bought the other 2 books already, and have to congratulate the writer on her amazing writing talent and imagination. My grandson has been a follower of Eric Seagull and will love his stocking filler. His eyes will light up when he sees I have been able to obtain an author signed copy, once again. Thank you Caz Greenham. I am looking forward to a 4th in this series real soon. My grandson will be showing off his new Christmas book at school in the New Year, no doubt.’

Louise wrote… ‘After enjoying book 1 and 2, I was excited to hear that book 3 was out! Eric goes on amazing adventures and the author of this book has such a great imagination. The stories are written so well and a nice and easy read, lovely to read to children of very young ages too. Great family books and really enjoy reading about Eric and his exciting adventures.’

About the author
Caz Greenham worked as a secretary for more years than she cares to remember. She’s a mum to grown up daughters, and proud granny to 4 grandchildren aged 2 – 17. She lives in South Devon with her husband and 2 cocker spaniels.

Caz is a great storyteller and says that…
Typing ‘The End’ is a great feeling of relief and achievement. Heavy sighs! However, a sense of loss always follows the finish of all my books! More sighs!

Website: www.cazgreenham.com
Twitter.com/@CazsBooks

A Christmas gift from a bright young star

Today, I am handing over this blog to talented, nine-year-old author, Ella Lopez.

Ella has co-written a book with her mother, Jennifer. C. Lopez, about their experience of home-schooling.  Entitled: ‘Thanks, But I’ll Teach My Own Kid’, the book explores fearless thinking and learning without borders. Their book has been honoured by their local library association, and featured in publications across the USA. Ella has also written her debut novel: ‘Legend of Beams’.

I challenged Ella to take me, and my handbag, on a Christmas adventure.  The young, innovative adventurer imagined a placed for the three of us to meet. Ella created a multicultural, celebratory setting and she is delighted to share it with you.

 

Ella’s Christmas Gift of Creativity

Jennifer, Ella and Jessie were having a good ole chat online about our writings, great books we’ve read and even cultural travels, when suddenly the internet line began to crackle. Their laptop screens went dark, but they could still hear each other faintly…they also heard some sort of bells ringing subtly from inside the screen and a jolly deep laughter- on both ends of the line. Jennifer, stared at the screen in disbelief as a faint image of Jessie grew larger out of the blackness. Suddenly, Jessie popped right out of the computer- and joined us. They were all together now, staring at each other in disbelief. Completely befuddled, they looked around. They heard bells and the sound of jolly laughter. They had all been transported through cyberspace when Ella pressed ‘escape’ on the laptop.

Thistle bushes, vibrant green shamrock plants and Noche Buenas of red adorned the landscape. The land appeared to be the most complex and unique combination of two distinct cultures: Mexico and Wales. It was an exuberant pallet of color, music and culture they witnessed unfold in front of us and beyond. Silvery snowflakes fell continuously, leaving a glistening canopy over the entire landscape.

They heard a faint voice echo beyond the grand red and green plants.

Voice of Christmas: Welcome, Bienvenidos, Croeso! You three have arrived in the land of Nadolexmas. This is the land of celebration where we merge experiences and cultures- a blending so unique and filled with pure beauty. You were transported here because the three of you have an immense appreciation of culture that encourages others to feel it too.  We want you to spread good cheer, and Nadolexmas beautifully blends both your loved cultures :Wales and Mexico. Please, sit down for your first meal.

The voice continued…as if closer now- but still there was no one visible within their sight.

A table and three chairs magically emerged on the landscape. Lights enveloped enormous trees that now surrounded our beautiful table. The table was adorned with a ‘Tapete’, hand woven in every color imaginable. Jennifer and Ella recognized it as from their favorite region of Mexico: Oaxaca. The table was set with gold placemats.  Each place setting had a Christmas cracker and some chocolate dragons dressed in festive costumes.  Tangerines and chocolate coins were also spread generously on the table and many plates of scrumptious plates began to appear.  Feeling grateful for this feast before us, Jessie reached for the plate of laverbread with cockles and bacon. She must have been thinking of  a Welsh breakfast.

Ella and Jennifer looked a little dubious at the green laverbread, but always willing to try new things- they placed some on their plates.  Jessie tried to think of something served by her Spanish sister-in-law then presented some additional prawns, with the shells on, cooked in garlic and chorizo. She was thrilled with the scrumptious holiday dishes she’d dreamt into reality, but was still looking for the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce.

Ella BEAMED with joy and closed her eyes then, thinking of her favorite dishes during Navidad (Christmas) in Mexico. A simple few of her favorites came dancing through the air to the tune of ‘Feliz Navidad’. First was Ponche, filled with bubbly sweet fruits. Then, came Chiles Rellenos filled with rice, meat and cilantro. As the dishes gently settled themselves onto the table, Ella reached immediately across the table for a chocolate dragon.

Ella: Mama look! It’s Beams! It is the dragon in my story.

Jennifer: Ella it sure does look like Beams, but you are forgetting your table manners and also- you know we save the dessert for after the main dishes.

Ella: But Mama, it’s the holiday and a special time with Jess. I’m only going to eat just this one now- in honor of Beams. And I’d like to try some Welsh cakes.

Mama: Well, since there definitely doesn’t appear to be a land where rules apply… I suppose just the one Beams Chocolate can’t hurt.

Ella: Jessie, I think the prawns are my favorite. I didn’t know the Welsh loved Chorizo too. We have that in common! Please…you need to try Los Tamales de maíz, fresa y canela now (corn tamales with strawberries and cinnamon).

Jessie: You bet, Ella! I can’t wait. I love how they’ve been prepared inside of the corn husks and wrapped as if they are a gift. Just beautiful.

Jennifer and Ella: ¡Feliz Navidad Jessie!

Jennifer and Jessie raised their glasses to toast this most magical celebration with Sparkling Pear Juice. Jessie smiled.

Jessie: Nadolig Llawin. Now, we have all wished each other a Merry Christmas.

Ella: We have some gifts to share Jessie and it seems there is no better time than now in this special place. It just feels so Christmas-like here.

Jessie: I agree sweet Ella. Might I ask you to open mine to you- first? You know the gifts we share are never material in nature, and I’m awfully excited to see what you think of yours.

Ella: That is really sweet of you to want me to open mine first Jess. I’m just as excited as you are, to find out what is inside!

Jessie: Great, let me grab it out of my Handbag sweetie. I can’t believe my HANDBAG somehow traveled here with us through Cyberspace- but who am I to question the beauty of this mysterious experience!

Ella examined her gift from Jess. Inside was a red velvet bag. She opened it up and bright light immediately illumined the space around Ella and spreads across her face as she smiled. They were the most vibrant sparkles in all shapes and colors.  Ella stared, speechless.

Jessie: I give you the gift of imagination, sweet Ella.

Ella hugged Jessie tightly.

Ella: ¡Gracias! Actually, I’d like to say, Diolch (thank you in Welsh)! I know this gift will help me tremendously.

Jennifer and Ella: We have something here for you now, Jess.

Jennifer and Ella handed Jess a bag of multi-hued golden silk. She looked at us smiling and then down at the bag in her hands.

Jessie: Oh, my goodness- this will go beautifully with my holiday handbag. It almost looks like pieces of iridescent Abalone! How in the world did you make these Ella and Jen?

Ella: Well, Jessie it’s the gift of continued growth in creativity. I think we had similar thoughts on sharing something with each other that we’d always be able to keep with us. You probably won’t be able to guess what these are- that give you the continued growth in your amazing creativity so let me tell you. . .

They are the scales from a most magical dragon. There’s only one of her kind and they can only be found in the Realm of Castelina, where this growing dragon, Beams lives. As she grows, so does her magic and her iridescent wings shed scales during the growth spurts. They will give you much happiness and encourage your creative side to continue to fly. Here, you can read my new novel: ‘Legend of Beams’.

As Ella spoke, the beautiful shiny scales started to rise up out of Jessie’s handbag.

 

Please see my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Travelling back to my childhood with word magician, Patricia Furstenberg

Patricia Furstenberg is a bestselling children’s author and her work is an absolute joy.  My interactions with her over the last couple of months have been an inspiration.  I was honoured when she asked if I would reveal the covers of her new trio of books.   As an avid reader, I believe that the children’s authors are word magicians and dream weavers.  Once upon a time, children’s stories commenced my lifelong reading journey thus they have a special place in my heart.  Children’s writers inspire the future readers and writers.

I know that Patricia will inspire children aged three to seven years with her trio of stories: ‘The Lion and the Dog’, ‘The Elephant and the Sheep’, ‘The Cheetah and the Dog’.  These stories are simple tales of friendship inspired by true stories from the animal kingdom. Without minding their differences diverse animals become friends, helping and supporting each other. They share food and shelter, they give each other moral support and, of course, they have lots of fun together! It is my pleasure to reveal the covers of these stories here today.  Instantly, the covers present you the promise of a magical world of animals.  Patricia’s stories are popular because they entertain and educate: they can be used as a starting point for discussion with children.  I am sure that adults will enjoy the stories as much as the children.

One is never too old to read a children’s story! I had great fun reading ‘Joyful Trouble’, and realized the depth of what Patricia achieved with her books. I am astounded at how much Patricia writes and wondered what motivates her.  Having interviewed and interacted with this prolific writer of children’s fiction, I invited Patricia to tell me more about her writing.  I wanted to know how she works her magic to get children reading and how she educates through her stories.

Patricia Furstenberg on the magic of animals in children’s stories #Guestpost

Children’s love of stories comes from an innate desire to discover the truth, supported by their confidence that they will succeed in this endeavour because they feel protected in the safety of their lives. I like to think of children’s books as a magic trick. You have the instant surprise and joy, yet in the long run, besides the lingering amazement and awe, there are countless benefits. Reading improves a child’s vocabulary, thus his self-esteem. Reading is linked to EQ (Emotional Intelligence); a high EQ can positively assist a child in a bullying situation. Reading improves child-parent bonding as well as a scholar’s concentration and his academic excellence.

Writing for children is an attractive challenge which I enjoy tremendously. Take a real life situation, add lots of imagination, dress it with metaphors, throw in at least one animal character and sprinkle with humour. Let it rise. Bake it with love and serve it with bright illustrations. It will keep kids entertained for years. And ideas for new kids’ stories are everywhere; tucked away in my memories, like Puppy, my latest book release, or hidden gems in the nature surrounding us like my first book, Happy Friends. The more I write, the more ideas I discover.

Animals are very important in children’s lives. From an emotional level, as they teach youngsters empathy and responsibility, to a more cognitive one. So many life lessons can be taught if we sugar-coat them in a puppy or bunny shape. The same goes for Young Adult books. Think of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, a sheer lesson about the will to live and how our perception of reality changes when beasts are involved, whether they are imaginary or not. Animals always do unexpected and extraordinary things in order to survive and often they become a symbol of our most profound fears and battles; yet animals never judge. My second book, Joyful Trouble, tells the story of a Great Dane enlisted in the Royal Navy during WWII. This dog wins the hearts of all soldiers and residents of Simon’s Town, South Africa, through his sheer loyalty and love. I like to think that Joyful Trouble reached Bestseller status on Amazon UK and US in its category through his likeable personality and uplifting presence.

Sometimes beasts have their own path to follow, as well as dance with Belle. Other times animals succeed in bringing humanity into a story where people act mercilessly. Dumb Witness, Agatha Christie’s thriller, presents a most softened Hercule Poirot solely through his interactions with Bob, the fox terrier that holds the definitive clue. Perhaps reading this crime novel by Dame Christie was one of the turning points in my life. But it wasn’t until much later that I decided to put pen on paper and write children’s books focused on animals. Animals make for such versatile characters. George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where “some animals are more equal than others,” although it is a satire on the Soviet Union under the Communist Party rule is still relevant to the present political scene of many countries around the world.

At times, an animal pops up in a story because of cultural perceptions, such as in Jerome K Jerome’s witty Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog). Other times the animal itself brings the fiction to life, if you think of Dion Leonard’s wonderful Finding Gobi or of my next trio of children’s stories The Lion and the Dog, The Elephant and the Sheep, The Cheetah and the Dog. Some stories ask to be written, others just wait to be discovered, you must just pay attention. And where there is an animal with a history to tell, there are usually more waiting in line. For most beasts live in packs, helping each other. A little bit like the Twitter community J where we follow and support one another, taking strength from numbers.

 

Take a look at one of Patricia’s articles about encouraging boys to read.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/patricia-furstenberg/how-to-get-boys-to-read-in-5-easy-steps_a_22491122/

http://Author.to/PatFurstenberg

Author Website: http://alluringcreations.co.za/wp/

Huffington Post SA http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/author/patricia-furstenberg/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PatFurstenberg

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaFurstenbergAuthor

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patriciafurstenberg

 

 

Please see my review of Joyful Trouble, the interview with Patricia Furstenberg and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Joyful Trouble in my handbag

Joyful Trouble

Patricia Furstenberg

 

 

 

 

I jumped aboard a fast paced, fun story and travelled back to my childhood.  The Great Dane, Joyful Trouble, didn’t need a ticket and neither did I, but I packed plenty of imagination.  Like Ana and Tommy, I sat beside my grandfather and listened to the ‘dog–faring tale’. I snuggled into my armchair: luxuriated in the heart-warming story, packed up my troubles and followed ‘the special dog’ called Joyful Trouble.  I was placed in the ‘middle of the action’ with the ‘very clever dog’.

This charming story of a ‘fine dog’ is based on the true story of ‘Just Nuisance’ – a dog enlisted by the Royal Navy.  Both the real and fictitious adventurers hail from Simon’s Town, in South Africa.  But the spirit of the dog is brought to life by the author’s lively storytelling.  I fell in love with the enthusiastic puppy and wanted to know how he got his name.  I laughed out loud at the scene where the dog sat in the Commander in Chief’s chair.  I applauded the dog when he received his seaman’s cap.

Besides entertaining, the story also educates children about how to deal with difficult situations.  The story shows children that ‘Determination and faith …will always get you through the tough times.’  Joyful Trouble’s friends must ‘work together’ to resolve a problem thus exploring the importance of teamwork to neutralise conflict. Despite his reputation, Joyful Trouble is a good role model as he ‘didn’t like to see people fighting’. As Ana listens, she is comparing the dog to a younger sibling and learning to understand his exuberant behaviour.

Once the story was completed, I thought of the sailors stepping over the dog, and I laughed. Then I remembered that:

‘The little girl laughed and the old man laughed and the stars and the moon and all the stuffed toys at the foot of the bed laughed.’

Children will lose themselves in the story while also learning about key qualities and the cycle of life.  Maybe parents will be forced to pack a picnic, the book and read the story with their children beside a rambling river.  Parents may even be convinced to buy their children a dog…

The story could be narrated to young children or read independently by older children.  The story is ideal to use as a springboard to discuss positive values and to emphasise understanding when dealing with younger siblings.

Patricia Furstenberg is presenting a guest post tomorrow and introducing her trio of new books: ‘The Lion and the Dog’, ‘The Elephant and the Sheep’, ‘The Cheetah and the Dog’.  I am excited to be hosting the cover reveal of these children’s books tomorrow.

More about the author, Patricia Furstenberg

Patricia Furstenberg is the author of the Bestseller Joyful Trouble, Based on the True Story of a Dog Enlisted in the Royal Navy.

Patricia enjoys writing for children because she can take abstract, grown-up concepts and package them in a humorous, child-friendly language and attractive pictures, while adding sensitivity and lots of love. She enjoys writing about animals because she believed that each animal has a story to tell, if we only stop to listen.

Her latest illustrated children’s books are: Puppy: 12 Month of Rhymes and Smiles, The Elephant and the Sheep, The Lion and the Dog, The Cheetah and the Dog.

Patricia lives in sunny South Africa with her husband, children and their dogs.
Author Website: http://alluringcreations.co.za/wp/

Huffington Post SA http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/author/patricia-furstenberg/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PatFurstenberg

 

Please see all my reviews at Books In Handbag and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.