Some ‘Joyful Trouble’ from South Africa, with puppy love…

Patricia Furstenberg






Born in Romania, living in South Africa, Patricia Furstenberg is the author of ‘Joyful Trouble’. ‘Joyful Trouble’ is a children’s book about a dog in World War II.  However, readers have stated that this heart-warming tale appeals to all ages and would make a great film.

The clear blue sky made an appearance on the day that Patricia Furstenberg arrived in the UK.  Patricia arrived in Heathrow after a ten-hour flight from Johannesburg.  Patricia was smiling and was easily recognisable amongst the crowds of people by the notebook she was holding, with papers of various sizes sticking out of it and by her brown handbag which I recognised from my Handbag Gallery. She was not fazed by her long wait for the luggage in the airport and the tiresome queues.   Instead, like a true writer, she was absorbed with her sense of place and the setting.

It took us about four hours to travel to South Wales but we chatted all the way.  Patricia spoke of her family, pets and ambitions.  It felt as if I had known Patricia for a very long time:  communicating by Twitter is great but meeting people face to face is even better.

As we crossed the Severn Bridge, the clouds hovered on the horizon.  I stopped off at my favourite butchers, in Newport, to buy some of their gorgeous spicy South African sausages. A South African friend introduced me to these sausages. I hoped that Patricia would like them. On returning to my house, I organised a large pot of coffee and we started to chat. As we chatted, the neighbour’s dogs barked at Patricia as if they knew that she would be a great friend.  Then, I cooked the sausages and served with a mustard sauce and a large salad of lettuce, melons, cucumber and herbs. This was served with some fresh whole meal bread that my husband had prepared. We drank a sweet, white Romanian wine.

Jessie:  This is a delicious Romanian wine. Do you know anything about the wine?

Patricia: Lacrima lui Ovidiu, Ovidiu’s Teardrop, is probably named so after the Latin poet Ovidius exiled in the city of Tomis at the Black Sea, now part of Romania, for reasons of „carmen et error” (poetry and error). He died while still in exile. This wine always brings back good memories of my study years and the friends I had back in Romania. It tastes of dried and fresh fruits and has a strong oak taste. It was the House wine of the Romanian Royal House.

We continued to sip the cool wine and I asked Patricia about her book.

Jessie:  I love the title of your book, ‘Joyful Trouble’ and the picture of the dog.  What is the book about?  Can you capture the essence of the book in two sentences?

Patricia sat back, wiped the condensation from her glass of wine and began to explain.

Patricia: When a Great Dane arrives at a Navy base nobody expects him to win everybody’s hearts, although breaking some human rules along the way; he is named Joyful Trouble.

We hear all about this gentle giant’s adventures by listening to Grandpa’s stories, the one in charge with Joyful Trouble during WWII, as he tells them to his grandchildren, thoughtful Ana, age 9, and always hungry and busy Tommy, age 5

Jessie:  As the title suggests, the book sounds like fun.  What did the reviewers say about the book?

Patricia placed the wine glass on the table and retrieved some reviews.

“Being a dog person myself, I absolutely loved this book. I laughed with this book and shed a tear or two as well. Overall this was a quick and very delightful read. Even though this book is tagged as a children’s book, I would recommend it to all.

“Well written! In an age where we often struggle to get children to read this is a wonderful book!”

“A book that feels like a movie. A book written for all the senses: tactile information, kinaesthetic, auditory….a strong auctorial voice explains every situation, making it possible for the reader to live it as a film.”

Your readers can find out by themselves as Joyful Trouble is on a FREE special today and tomorrow (2nd and 3rd of September).

Jessie:  I haven’t read the book.  Can you read an extract that will tempt me?

“I couldn’t believe my eyes. And all the time I said to myself: this is not a dream, this is not a dream. For I have heard my Commander’s voice from behind this door just seconds before.”

Jessie: Tell me a little more about this extract.  What is happening?

Patricia: *laughs* This is one of my favourite parts in the book.  As humans, we often assume we know exactly what to expect based on our perceptions. But hearing can often be deceiving. I think that animals and dogs in particular have this amazing advantage over us, because their smell is so much more developed than ours. Did you know that digs have 50 times more olfactory receptors in their noses than we have and that the part of their brain responsible for analysing smells is 40 times bigger than ours?

To return to Joyful Trouble, at this moment in Grandad’s story we find out more about his youth and about how he felt as a fresh Ordinary Seaman in the Royal Navy. He is proud of his bell bottom trousers, white shirt and flat bottomed blue hat and eager to help and prove himself. So when he is summoned by his Commander-in-Chief he makes sure his uniform is spotless and presents himself without delay. He is nervous, about to knock at the Commander’s door; he braves himself, knows he did nothing wrong. He hears his Commander’s voice inviting him inside but when he opens the door and steps inside the Commander’s small office (we are inside a WWII war ship here, no space for Oval Offices) – what he sees behind his Commander’s desk is not the man he expects. And it isn’t another Officer either; actually, what he sees siting at the Commander’s desk, straight up on the Commander’s seat isn’t a human being. To find out what was it, simply download Joyful Trouble.

Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?

Patricia: Do you know that feeling you get when looking back on your children’s toddler years or on your pet’s time as a puppy? Children are big now; they have their own lives and dreams and don’t seem to need you all that much. Surely not to hold your hand or seek your body for comfort. Your dog might even take over your favourite chair at times, forcing you to seek comfort elsewhere as you have a sudden flashback of this clumsy puppy fitting perfectly in your lap, while still leaving space for a book and a coffee mug

I felt just like that, suddenly missing my characters, realizing that they are big now and ready to go out into the world on their own; they don’t need me anymore

I wished I could have spent more time with them, when they were just emerging in the corners of my mind. My heart ached, missing already the busy, loving Tommy, always hungry and ready to fetch and share a bite to eat, anything that would fit in his small hand. Loving his trusting nature, “ask and you shall receive” was his motto

My warmest thoughts follow Ana, so mature, on her way to becoming a Young Lady. So protective towards her little brother, so thoughtful and caring towards Grandad. I wish her a life of happiness and I hope that her tender, loving heart won’t know any ache, for she does care about anything and everything alive under the sun

And Grandad; I was happy for him, it is a great gift being able to share your life stories the way he did, in a fun and loving way, as much joy in giving as in receiving them. He is a great storyteller and I was grateful for him lending me his voice

And, of course, Joyful Trouble. How amazing and unselfish must a dog be to search all of his life for that one special person? Never loosing hope, sharing love and laughter along the way, day after day. I felt happy for him, knowing that he was appreciated and loved in return for just being himself.

Jessie: Who would you like to read your book and why?  This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family.

Patricia: I would like my book to be read by children and adults alike; by people seeking a story to uplift them or to amuse them. I would like it to be enjoyed as a bedtime story and shared by parents and children, or grandparents and grandchildren because it is a book filled with love, love and appreciation between generations as well as for animals. And I would like my book to be read by boys and girls in a bookshop, by themselves; choosing it for the dog on its cover, paging through it at first, then reading a bit, and a bit more, until they have to find out how it ends. And so they lose themselves in its pages, laughing with Tommy and cheering for Joyful Trouble.

Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?

Patricia: Joyful Trouble is a cheerful, heart-warming story based on true facts that is sure to brighten up your day. It is an easy read with lively dialogue, touching on the meaningful relationship between dogs and humans, but also between grandchildren and their grandfathers. It is a look at life through a child’s eyes, but also through those of a dog.

Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Patricia: “The right friend will come; have faith and wait.”

It is from a series of three children’s stories in rhymes based on true, unusual friendships between animals. They will be published later in 2017 on Amazon.

Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?

Patricia: As an Indie Author, my biggest challenge is finding time to write. There is so much else to do, book related, but away from the writing desk! From promoting my other two books to being active on social media; from writing my Sunday column for owned by lovely fellow author Susan Day to coming up with fresh ideas for articles on literature for the South African Huffington Post. I love doing Guest Posts and I thoroughly enjoyed promoting Joyful Trouble when it came out, just in time for the 2017 Kindle Storyteller! I found the world of Book Reviewers and Book Bloggers wonderful and extremely supportive, I am truly grateful to each and every one of them; yet finding the time to write those guest articles was a challenge.

I wish I would have known all this when my first book, Happy Friends, came out in 2016.

I mostly wish I could duplicate myself or need no sleep at all; then I could finally put on paper all the other ideas buzzing in my head!

I am ever so grateful to my alarm clock and my hubby for making sure we have a never-ending supply of coffee!

Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?

Patricia: Write every day and have a writing routine. If you work on a big project, set yourself a daily target, word count wise, and don’t get up until you’ve reached it. Push yourself; no one else will do it for you.

Finish that first draft.

Be organised, especially if you work with other people. And be supportive of those who help you.

Read a lot.

As long as you love what you are doing it will never, ever feel like a chore.

Jessie:  Tell me a little about your new book.

Patricia:  My new book is called “Puppy:12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles”.  It is about a puppy’s first year. It is filled with findings, wiggles and bursts of laughter. I thought it would unique to explore what goes through a puppy’s mind during his first days in a new home.  It is aimed at children between the ages of three and six.

Jessie: Sounds like great fun!  Can you read out an extract?


“I love new mornings

In my new home.

Each day I get something,

Today I’m getting a name.


Yesterday it was lots of cuddles

And a tea party too.

I got to sit on my bottom

And drink milk from a tiny cup.”

Jessie:  It is so sweet!  I can imagine children learning the words and reading them again and again.

Patricia:  Yes, it’s an auditory feast for children, a fun read-aloud for parents, and a treat for dog-lovers, young and old.

Jessie: I feel honoured that you have decided to launch the book at the same time as this interview.  It is a privilege to be able to present the reveal of your front cover.  I am impressed with the way that you have overseen your entire book, including the illustrations – you are very dedicated to your writing. 

Puppy:12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles” is available for pre-order right now from Amazon, for £0.99.

Thank you so much, Jessie! You made me feel at home and I have thoroughly enjoyed your company and our chat.

More about Patricia…

Patricia is always spinning out a tale or thinking about one and they are mostly about animals, as she believes that each animal has a voice and a story to tell, if only we stop to listen. When she is not writing Patricia loves to spend time with her husband, their two children and dogs, baking, playing cards or enjoying a movie and popcorn together. One day, when she will be big and her dreams will come true, Patricia will most probably have a contract with a reputable publishing house that will take a huge load off her shoulders and she will, finally, be writing her dream book based on the plot she already worked out; a historical novel set in medieval Romania, her home country.

I am sure that Patricia’s books will give hours and hours of fun to children around the globe.  The theme is timeless and these books will become an important part of childhood experiences.  It is great to read books that entertain and educate.  I’m sure that generations of parents will thank Patricia for her work, you can find out more on her author website and via social media – links below. 

The best of luck to Patricia with her new book, “Puppy:12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles”.

Website: Alluring Creations,

Twitter: @PatFurstenberg,




Please see all my interviews at My Guests and my blog at

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.

Author Website:

Huffington Post SA






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


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:

Huffington Post SA



Please see all my reviews at Books In Handbag and my blog at