Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

A fun new children’s funbook!

It is funny how giddy I feel over this new project!

This is a special funbook edition of the story Winky’s Colours, prepared by the author who is also a teacher and a parent. Apart from the original story about Winky, this funbook is also filled with worksheets, riddles, colouring pages and wordgames, and all the illustrations are black&white. Have fun!

Winky is a little penguin who lives his life with a black&white family in nature filled with black, white and gray. All he dreams of are colours! So one day he decides to leave his home and go on an expedition to find colours. He will meet friends, face life-risking adventure and find more than he expected.
#childrensbook #learning

bit.ly/2Dbivyl

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Rhino Magic

An excerpt from Rhino Magic, my story in Looking into the Abyss:

‘Mummie, mummie, come here quickly! You’ve got to see this!’

Ginger dragged her feet from the kitchen to the living room for the hundredth time that day. There was no gingerly step left in her to justify her name, not after a sleepless night spent trying to get her son’s fever down.

‘What, honey?’

She struggled to sound interested, and failed miserably. Jake was kneeling on the bed and pointing at the TV, his blurred eyes sparkling with excitement, above the gloomy eyebags and thin cheeks.

He used to be so big and strong that they called him their beast. No seven-year-old should have to suffer kidney problems.

‘The man in the show… the documentary… he said the rhino is considered to be the unicorn’s cousin. Unicorn! Can you believe it?’

Thank you for inviting me onto this project, @Paul White.

#love #education #storytelling #quote #charity #books #teaching #story
moon-1982890_1280

41XbyEPKDGL._AC_US327_QL65_

Leave a comment »

Parents’ Alert

shame-799099_1280

Not so long ago, a friend of mine found her son in front of his laptop, in bitter tears and literally afraid for his life. An older boy from his school was sending him threatening and hurtful messages over a social network, on behalf of himself and a bunch of his bullying buddies. Her son was not only afraid to leave the house, but sat there as if paralysed in front of the screen, his fists clenched so firmly that his knuckles were white. No amount of consoling, coaxing or even threatening helped my friend – her son would simply not reveal the real name of his abuser, masked behind a clipart avatar and a fashionably misspelled username. But most mothers whose children are attacked don’t just back out, and very few obstacles manage to slow them down. Single mothers even more so, and my friend is one.

Like a proper lioness, she gave her son a chocolate bar, some cocoa and a pep talk, gently stroked his hair and put him in bed, playing his favourite music really low till he fell asleep. She acted calm before the storm. Then she sat at the desk and opened her son’s profile. A couple of hours later, having done some online detective work she had never deemed herself capable of, she had the bully’s full name and surname, his home address and his private cellphone number. And she hadn’t even broken any laws. The problem with bullies and all criminals is their ego; they are never really ashamed of their actions and always secretly want the whole world to know them for their deeds. So they leave a trail of breadcrumbs one only has to follow. She did exactly that. Looking at her son twitch and sweat in sleep, mumble defensive phrases in his nightmare, and unconsciously cry despite his early teenage years and strong body, she grabbed her cellphone and typed in the bully’s number. Before tapping the call button, she left her son’s room and closed the door behind her.

She phoned the bully. He answered. She introduced herself and then, with all the raging storm she had in her, she spoke her mind, letting the bully know she knew who he was and where he lived, ordering him to stop contacting her son, and threatening what she would do if he didn’t stop. I don’t know exactly what she said, and I guess neither does she any more. Protecting loved ones, especially children, brings out the best and worst in us, and controlling that is usually impossible. The point is – she succeeded. She never spoke to the boy’s parents about this. It turns out she knows from the neighbourhood; they are exactly the behavioural matrix their son so loyally copies. She never told her son what she did. But he is not bullied any more, sleeps well and goes out with his friends, like all happy children should. She is not happy. She is alert.

What would you do? There are so many options for parents in this case, some depending on the laws of your country, some on the culture and tradition you come from, but what it all comes down to is your definitive parental decision. You are the one who chooses to act and faces the results.

cub-1422073_1280

Would you tell your son to ‘take it like a man’ and fight back? Battle a group of bullies, bigger and older than him, all alone and empty-handed? Would you resort to violence yourself, get a gang of thugs and beat the boys’ senseless and their parents as well? Would you go to the press or the Internet and make the story go viral, dragging you and your son through the merciless scrutiny of the public eye, which only seems to feed on the negative and rarely offers any real help or solution? Would you tell your child to talk to friends or call a helpline, washing your hands of the responsibility?

You could choose not to act. Just sit tight, waiting for the whole thing to pass on its own. It seems easier to do anyway. But it isn’t easy, and it won’t pass. Dirt piled up under a rug doesn’t go away, it doesn’t dissolve, and nobody else comes to clean house. Sooner or later, you or your loved ones stumble over it and fall flat on your face. Unresolved bullying only gets worse, spreads to more people, leaves your child out there like an open target, a sitting duck, with an invisible ‘open season’ sign hanging over his head. And your child remains a victim. Or, for better or worse(which do you think?), becomes a bully himself, vindicating his own suffering by tormenting others.

You could do exactly what my friend did – go directly to the source and deal with the bully. You could get lucky, exactly like she did, the word ‘lucky’ used very loosely here, because there is no win-win situation where violence is concerned. She could have been in trouble though. The bully could have told his parents, they could have attacked her, they could have sewed her for contacting their underage son without their knowledge and threatening him. They could even have won in court, depending on who had the money for a slicker lawyer. Her son could have been badly hurt by the bullies for having his mummy come to the rescue. But if you weigh all those options before your parental instinct kicks in, you are probably late already.

You could contact the school authorities. It is their duty, after all, to handle such issues on school premises. They have trained professionals for such situations. It would take time, you would drag your son and his friends through questioning, the bully’s parents would be contacted, and then it would be just like a trial all over again. Or maybe not. Maybe the whole team of adults involved int he problem really would work together in the best interest of all the children, and the bully would get help and stop being a bully, whereas the bullied would relax and heal, and future similar situations would be prevented or, at least, reduced. Well, you never know until you try, right?

What would you do? What do you do?

Leave a comment »

Patches by Kathryn Curzon – my review

What a wonderful, soothing, therapeutic story for children, but also adults, on how to help someone dealing with sadness. A beautifully told narrative about a kind, loving woodland creature who finds someone so sad he or she is practically invisible, and then, bit by bit, day by day, not forcing it but being there… patch by patch, sadness is gone and friendship heals hope. Lovely metaphor with imagery suitable for children. I enjoyed reading this, and I congratulate the author on managing to sustain a picturesque and serene tone, inviting to be read, maybe not out loud, but with a loving whisper. Recommended to all.

This book on Amazon

Leave a comment »

Yahooty Who? – my review

I stumbled upon this cute book in my search and downloaded it based on the very optimistic cover and blurb.

Although primarily driven by beautiful illustrations and a cute little house ‘elf’ Yahooty, the wonderful visual aspect of the story is accompanied successfully with lovely rhyme, which flows smoothly for the most part. The story itself does not contain a traditional plot, but is phrased as suggestive questions for the little readers (or listeners). I enjoyed the playful tone, lots of useful vocabulary which will help expand the children’s own, and the repetitive pattern which will definitely engage the kids.

Yahooty must be in kahootz with parents though, especially regarding certain house cleaning tasks, so a parent might even get the idea to get kids to help with cleaning in hopes of actually meeting Yahooty. Just sayin’;).

Book link

PS: found this on their Twitter:

Leave a comment »

Happy Mother’s Day! Take a nap!

For all the parents out there, especially those who, like my hubbie and me have children who considered sleeping a waste of time, so much so that we dreaded the process of putting them to bed – a comical motherly approach:).

By the way, didn’t you just hate those smug parents who claimed they had so much free time while their kid slept like a log? Free time? Really? What on earth is that?

Free Time

I finally have
A day off from work,
So it’s just the daily routine,
No one goes berserk.

But my heart is pounding
And she feels my fear.
Both she and I know
That nap-time is near.

We’ve done the yummy,
She’s had her bath,
The massage, the cuddling,
The story book path.

Changed the bedsheets this morning,
The music is low.
It’s time to relax
And to dreamland go.

Let’s kiss her cheek
And in her crib she can lie.
I’ll give her the Bambi
And say bye-bye.

She looks at me sternly,
With wide open eyes.
I just know in a second
I’ll be hearing her cries.

So I sit and pretend
I am reading a book,
But I just can’t resist
Taking a look.

She’s quietly hugging
Her bottle of milk
And curling softly
Her fair hair of silk.

And I feel such relief
As I sit in my chair.
Let’s just have some coffee
And breathe some calm air.

She should nap for an hour,
Or more if I’m blessed,
Let’s see what I can do
In that time – unstressed.

I could dust the whole house,
Or at least one room
For you can see my dust for miles
Without any zoom.

But wait! What’s that?
Is she sleeping or not?
Is that moaning I hear?
Is that a problem she’s got?

‘Oh mommy, come back,
You can’t leave me here.
I’m so little, come hug me,
Chase away every fear.’

My drama queen starts
Her anti-nap show.
It will last and last,
This I just know.

‘Mommy is here,
Go back to sleep.
And Bambi is here,
And his dreams are deep.

Here’s a big, big hug
And another kiss, too.
Don’t worry, dear, mommy
Is looking after you.’

A sob and a blink,
And she’s lying again.
Perhaps this time it works
And she reaches her zen.

I’m back in my plan-mode,
Stitching a sock.
The laundry is on now,
And I glance at the clock.

If she sleeps now,
I can just finish lunch,
And some work brought home,
As there’s always a crunch.

And minutes like hours
To me they can seem.
There’s so much to do,
But she just won’t dream.

For she’s back on her feet now
With a loud complaint.
She bangs on her crib fence.
(She might hit her head and faint!)

‘Oh mommy, you’re here!
What’s that over there?’
As her chubby fingers follow
Her smiling stare.

‘It’s a photo of your brother,
Just like every other day.
Now lie down and sleep,
And please, just – stay!’

‘Oh mom, before you go,
Can I just have a hug,
And I promise I’ll sleep
As snug as a bug.’

Her smile is like honey
So I quickly fly back,
And I hug her and kiss her,
And touch the curl on her neck.

And I lay her back gently.
She closes her eyes.
And I go back to work some,
But she soon screams and cries.

‘Bad dream, bad dream!
Hold me some more.
Take me in your arms
And close that door.’

And I curl up with her
On our big family bed,
And I sing to her and pat
Her warm little head.

I almost fall asleep,
Waiting for her to relax,
When she chuckles and wakes
And once again asks:

‘Oh mommy, please tell me,
what’s that in your nose?
And when I poke your eye,
Why’s it red like a rose?

Oh and, by the way, mommy,
Can’t we just read and play?
It’s so boring to lie down
And do nothing all day!’

‘But you must sleep, dear,
so your body can grow.
You’re just a baby,
You need sleep, you know.’

‘But what if I miss stuff
While I’m taking a nap?
Plane sounds or a phone call,
A fly buzz or jingle rap?

It’s so dull here in bed-
Nothing to smash, chew or push!
And you’re no fun either.
And you keep saying shush.’

‘Come to the kitchen with me
and let’s check on our meal!
But then – it IS bedtime!’
‘OK, mum, it’s a deal!’

My back is so sore,
But I carry her there,
Lunch is ready, work can wait,
She’s the one who needs care.

We go back to her crib,
She lies smiling and content,
And she closes her eyes.
(Will I regret and repent?)

I’m almost at the door,
But it’s ‘Mommy, mommy, mommy!’
‘What now???’ ‘A bellybutton –
right here on my tummy!’

After finding mine,
She’s out like a light,
But if I want it to last,
I’ll keep my fingers crossed tight.

Quick! Do I still have time?
Wash my hair, legs need wax,
For when hubbie gets home
He’ll be wanting some sex.

Boy, she’s sleeping – a wonder!!!
Can I still fix son’s shoes?
He messed up the bottoms
When he fell and got bruised.

He’ll be back in ten minutes
From his playtime with a pal!
Hope he doesn’t come screaming
And wakes up my sweet gal!

‘Hey, mom, I am home!
What’s for lunch? Starving here!’
There he is, and so is she-
Wide awake with a sneer!

But OK, I’ve done stuff!
One leg waxed, and hair wet,
Laundry done, work delayed,
But a simple lunch is set.

Kids are chatting and smiling,
Even hubbie is home.
As for me, well, at least-
I made this li’l old poem!

Leave a comment »

Progressing

“What matters most is to wonder and guess, not judge. Judging is final and leaves no room for improvement, communication and progress.”
This is from the book I am writing right now. In fact, the first version has been typed into my laptop and awaiting revisions.
#amwriting #teaching

Leave a comment »

THE DRAGON DREAMER by J. S. Burke – my review

Combining two of my most favourite elements, the ocean and fantasy, has certainly not put this author in an easy spot with me as a reader. My expectations were really high.

The author’s fascination with sealife is obvious, and it is intriguing how she intertwines it with the dragon world. There is so much lovely detail in the descriptions, and almost a science to it. I enjoyed the author’s comparison of the daily rituals of sea and dragon life with the human perspective. In fact, most of the story can be taken as a metaphor to our world, even the environmental issues, conflict and the importance of stories for the growth of a species. Although there are absolutely no human characters in this story (which took some time for me to get used to), all the characters and their relationships are developed well, with lots of love and respect. The weather threats and action sequences are intense, but it is the life described that I particularly enjoyed. This entire world has been created with amazing consistency and attention to detail.

The admirable symbiosys of skills from completely different creatures, shows us how humans should learn, united by a common goal – life on this planet. And how interesting it is that the author has both species celebrate and encourage art, creativity and healing, in contrast to humans! Dreamers they are, truly.

Any child or adult who loves to explore and go on nature adventures, will thoroughly enjoy comparing this fantasy world to nature lessons at school. Teachers could find it useful in dealing with biology, environment, even art. If your child has the heart of a zoologist, oceanologist, artist, and is a fantasy fan, this book might just be perfect for them.

What I especially liked in the story is the strong emphasis on learning and communication – each species can learn from another when willing to communicate.

Here is an interesting quote, one I wish we could implement to human life more often.

“…crowding can lead to fights. Art is good way to channel all that edgy energy.”

Dragon Dreamer

1 Comment »

Another one…

Well, there it is – I have managed to combine my two professional loves, both not really known in my life as big money-makers:) – teaching and writing. Perhaps two minuses can make a plus, huh? Just kidding.

As the note says, this is the rough draft which I will soon be typing into the plan, proofreading and sending off to some beta readers.

As for the teaching method described, it refers to a little mindset I have devised for myself and shared with colleagues. I know it works because it has served me well these last two decades, from the micro to macro lesson planning, and thinking about learning and teaching in general.

Looking forward to revisions and edits, and all the little ‘bloopers’ I probably let slip. Ta-ta for now!

Leave a comment »

Visiting award-winning author Ashley Uzzell with my book Spikes for Hank

It is such a rare privilege to be a guest on a blog with a children’s book. So happy Hank made it:)

Thank you, Ashley Uzzell!

https://wp.me/p6WQKo-cq

By the way, if any of you enjoy wordsearches, this book has its own here: https://thewordsearch.com/puzzle/284113/spikes-for-hank/ and it’s free:)

Leave a comment »