A Novel Idea (To Elizabeth With Love)

Short Story Sunday is on vacation today. Today, rather than a new short story, I’m giving you the first few pages of a novel. There are no Vampires, no Ghosts, no Werewolves. Nothing paranormal or Gothic. I think you’ll like it. One more thing, this is a work in progress.

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Also by Dr. Gregory Atkinson

Letting Go – A Marriage Guide for Beginners

Love and Loss

Love and Respect

Love and Trust

 

Excerpt from “To Elizabeth with Love”

By Dr. Gregory Atkinson

This book was written as a love letter to my wife Elizabeth Hobbs Atkinson. She was brutally tortured and killed by a man who had once been my friend. Her body was never found, but her legacy of love will here.

Liz and I met in the summer while working together at the Olive Branch Youth Christian Summer Camp in Pennsylvania. I was the director that summer and Liz was a counselor. We hit it off immediately with our passion for Christ and quick comfortable friendship.

I first noticed Liz’s bright smile and easy laugh. I couldn’t help notice her beautiful figure and grace as she moved with the children. She was sunshine and I was drawn to her warmth.

Within a week we were inseparable. At the end of the summer I asked Liz to marry me. She was 19 and I was 26, both sure in our love for each other and commitment in Christ.

Marriage is an equal partnership in love and friendship, blessed by God as the perfect union between a man and a woman. When I met Liz I finally met a woman who was my best friend and true equal. She was the one I could finally have that perfect union with.

We were married in November. The next 6 years were filled with such joy and passion I could have never imagined. We also had our share of tragedy with 3 late term miscarriages. Then, just as we had hoped that maybe God would grant us the blessed titles of Mommy and Daddy, the unthinkable happened. Liz was brutally murdered, in a cruel twist of fate by a man who called himself the Killer of Virtue.

According to the police report my darling wife lost enough blood to kill her before she was stuffed into the back of a car. The evidence showed the massive loss of blood didn’t kill her, at least not before she’d put up a valiant struggle for her life. Nobody knows if she died in the killer’s car or was dumped unceremoniously in an unknown location. Nobody knows if she too, like the other five innocent victims, was dressed like a whore and posed as if ready for her next customer, waiting for the police or an innocent jogger or hiker to find her. Traces of clothing soaked with her blood, torn pages from her note book and other artifacts were found in the woods, scattered by animals and weather, but her body was hidden much too well to ever be found.

From the day Liz vanished I prayed for her return and for hope. The day she was pronounced legally dead I lost all hope and thought I too would die. Only my faith in God and the love Liz and I shared kept me from going off into a black abyss of hopelessness and grief.

Not a day went by when we didn’t say, “I love you”. Not a day when by when we didn’t hold hands. Not a night went by when we didn’t completely celebrate our physical passions as man and wife.

Liz was sunshine, a joy to all who met her. She was my anchor. She was my best friend. No man had every loved a woman as I had and still love Liz. No woman ever loved a man as Liz had loved me.

To me marriage was never something I had to do. In fact, it wasn’t something I’d seriously thought about until I met Liz.

After Liz was pronounced dead I was bombarded by the attentions of women, each wanting to be the next Mrs. Gregory Atkinson. These women proclaimed they wanted to rescue me from my heartbreak. Most of them wanted to take advantage of my situation and cash in on my grief. Most had the false hope that they could comfort me. Each thought she could be a replacement for my lost wife, like a new puppy or a shiny new car.

These women, who lined up to tempt me with home cooking, sex and sympathy, only coveted what Elizabeth had. My disgust in them grew but I also pitied them in their ignorance of real love and the real meaning of marriage. To them I was a possession to be had, the big catch, a great opportunity. I would be the man who would make their lives complete.

I didn’t need a wife. I needed Liz. I needed her laugh, her understanding, her touch and her love.

The misguided woman who pursued me saw Liz as dead. I would never see her as dead, only in another place until one day I would see her again.

Perhaps one day I will marry again. I know Liz wouldn’t want me to be alone, but another wife could never replace Liz. It will be different next time, God willing, if it is God’s will for me to marry again.

My comfort came from my faith and my knowledge that Liz is in a better place.

“Son of a bitch.” I put down my glass of wine and threw the book across the room.

I’m surprised the bastard hasn’t been struck by lightning. What a crock of crap and lies. Any poetic justice of my situation had gone down the drain at that moment. Greg is walking and talking and writing bestselling books about me and about our marriage…and I’m still dead…saved by a serial killer, no less. God save me and have mercy on my soul and on that abusive lying son of a bitch Gregory Atkinson. May he rot in Hell. But he did get his wish. I am in a better place. A much much better place.

Chapter One

All of us Hobbs kids were exceptional liars, well except my brother Jordan who was a liar by default by his refusal to tell either lies or the truth. There were seven of us. Jordan was the youngest and had no discernable personality or identifying character traits except for his unusual refusal to talk, unless it was to speak about his love of the Lord and his belief that our brother Steve, now diseased, would soon come back as an avenging angel.

The rest of us were quite talkative and also could quote scripture as fluently as we could lie.

Once upon a time, the fashionable and pious Belinda George met the successful, and widowed young father Douglas Hobbs. Like Hitler and Mussolini they created their own empire complete with an army of children to worship the ground they walked on and do their bidding unflinching and loyal. Actually my mother always envisioned herself as Maria Von Trapp and us as the singing wunderkind, but more on that later.

The eldest Hobbs child, David was a serious and brilliant boy. His mother was our father’s first wife Barbara Vanderhook, a quiet mouse like woman who hung herself from the upstairs banister when David was five. She left a note saying that she could never love her strange cold son. Part two of the note stated that she loved her husband (my father) too much even knowing that he saw her as a failure.

We didn’t see much of David growing up as his mother’s will left us enough money to be shipped off to an exclusive prep school 2 hours from our home.

In the meantime mother started to pop out her own large brood of children. First came Mark Douglas Hobbs, the favorite and most aggressive. A year later the twins Bradley George and Katherine Belinda arrived. Bradley was almost as aggressive as Mark but had a soft manipulative side including charm, which he used at every opportunity to his advantage. The sensitive, pretty and evil Kathy spent her childhood trying to be our mother’s favorite. Unfortunately for Kathy, Belinda’s only favorite was Belinda.

Eighteen months after the birth of the twins, one cold January morning Stephen Allen Hobbs came into the world singing out songs of justice until the day he died. Elizabeth Ann Hobbs came along ten months later in October. After my arrival the lines were drawn and it was the real twins vs. the almost twins (or as my politically incorrect mother called us the Irish Twins). Brad and Kathy were classic bullies in every sense of the word, worshiping their leader Mark. Where Steve and I lacked in mean brute force we made up in cunning and deception.

Another two years passed in the Hobbs household when Jordan Emmanuel Hobbs arrived. Unlike the rest of us he was quiet and uncharacteristically passive in nature. In contrast to the physical prowess of his elder siblings Jordan was flabby and sedate. He could sit for hours while the rest of us ran, jumped and tumbled like we were training for the Olympic Ultimate Fighting Club.

Jordan and David were both odd in the opinion of the five middle children. They were quiet and passive; behaviors we couldn’t understand. To his credit David had a mean cynical streak that we greatly admired. As for the middle five children, we were sly and aggressive, qualities needed to survive in our good Christian home.

Mother (as Belinda insisted we call her) was delighted in the status that seven children brought her, but what she gained in status she lacked in maternal instinct. The seven Hobbs children were alternately ignored, neglected and both physically and psychologically tortured by our mother.

Our father demanded perfection; perfect behavior, superior grades, perfect musical pitch and a house that would put any military ideals to shame, and a complete devotion to God and the study of the bible. Of course there were consequences if we did not live up to his standards. Like mother, our father also believed in quick, harsh physical punishment to all infractions of his code of conduct. Luckily for us we rarely saw the workaholic bastard. Our dear father was having a long-term affair with his assistant, a lovely passive/aggressive girl named Pam who would do just about anything to please her boss.

Food was always a big thing in the Hobbs house hold. Not that anyone cooked, because they didn’t. It was the lack of food that kept the growing brood of Hobbs children hungry and always on the prowl. Mother didn’t cook, so while we were young she used her charms to get good spirited women from our church to come help her out with the babies. There were so many of us toddlers, five children under the age of 6 plus a baby, that nobody could resist the lovely young mother in need.

But as we grew older and started school things changed dramatically. We were no longer cute and more of a hassle. Nobody cared if you had a lot of older kids. We ceased to be cute or interesting to Belinda. This was not the way she wanted to spend her time.

Not being one to spend money on anyone other than herself, our mother had a schedule of pot luck dinners at our church she’d take us to at least 4 nights a week. We’d bring a couple of loves of French bread and a grocery bag of empty containers. In turn we’d come home with cakes, cookies, pasta, salads, casseroles, fried chicken and whatever other leftovers from the groaning church tables that would feed us the remaining 3 days. The rest of the time we foraged from our almost bare cabinets and from the homes of friends. Our lunches came from the school cafeteria so we always knew we’d be fed at least once a day during the week. Unlike the other kids, we never complained about the quality of school meals.

By the time Mark was 10 we were also cooking for ourselves. Let me take a step back. My parents never ate with us. Once Mark turned 9 they went out almost every night for dinner or brought dinner for two in and ate it in the formal dining room without the distractions of the children.

The kitchen would be stocked with mac-n-cheese mix, cans of soup, eggs, bacon, frozen pizza and other easy to fix and cheap items. That didn’t last long. One morning after Kathy got mad at me for calling her a “stupid butt picking rat” she threw a skillet containing about a half pound of bacon and several cups of flaming hot grease at me. With that little prank all hot meals ended.

I wound up with a stay in the hospital and a skin graph to my left thigh. Kathy, who neglected to use a hot pad on the cast iron skillet, burned off most of her fingerprints. My dear sister claimed I’d threatened her, causing the accident, and of course no adult believed me. Steve and Jordan stayed quite after threats of death from Mark, Brad and Kathy. After that all cooking, including use of the microwave was banned from our home.

While in the hospital recovering from my burns I was told to pray to God for forgiveness for being such a willful and sinful child. A child psychologist was sent in to talk to me. I lay in my bed quietly not daring to tell anyone about my fear of what God, Belinda or my siblings might do to me. No eight year old had ever given a better performance, spinning lies about a happy home and idyllic childhood. Later the minister from our church asked me if I’d ever been abused or mistreated at home. Of course I lied to him too. I’d always liked Reverend Johnson and didn’t want him to think badly of me.

During the stay in the hospital I lost the ability to cry. I don’t know if it was the ability or just the desire. Why cry at all? It never did me any good. Nobody ever comforted me, except Steve and it only scared Jordan. Or it could have been result of being told that I should be feeling both the fear of the fires of Hell and the love of God for saving my skinny little 8-year-old ass from burning to death from a flaming shower of bacon grease. I could feel pain both emotionally and physically – pain that had me wishing I would die on the spot, but I could no longer cry. I’d already learned to hide pain and emotional distress as a means of survival so it wasn’t that big of a deal, at least to me. Over the years it became creepy and disconcerting to others.

On those few occasions I did feel the need for tears or any other show of emotion or distress it manifested itself into violent stomach cramps and vomiting. I never figured it out and like everything else in my short life; I just accepted things as they were.

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More to come…

Let me know what you think.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

MT

A Christmas Journey

gabriel

A Christmas Journey

People don’t know who or what we are. We’ve kept it that way for centuries, as stories and myths over ride any sense of reality in the minds of men.

In December of 1877 tragedy came into our lives. My best friend Isabelle fell under the spell of rogue Vampires and almost killed my brother Max’s best friend, who was the son of my parent’s closest regular human friends. You see, for those of you who are new here, we’re Vampires. As part of the Modern Vampire movement, we go by the rule that nobody is ever turned into a Vampire without consent.

Anyway, scandal was the only word for it. Theodore Kings, my brother’s 26 year old friend was not only the smartest and most handsome regular human any of us had ever met, he was also a kind man who was engaged to be married in February. Isabella decided she wanted the handsome Teddy for herself. We almost lost Teddy, as in death. Not the death one has when turning into a Vampire, but forever death. And when my father did manage to save our beloved friend, dear Teddy was horrified at what he had become…he was horrified at what we all were…but that is another story for another time.

My parents were upset at the prospect of Isabella or any of her rogue friends contacting my brother Valentine or me so we were to be sent away for a few months to keep us out of trouble. The plan was to send us to New York to say with my Grandmama Lola for Christmas. I was 16 and Val was 17 and the prospect of the big city was more exciting than anything we’d ever experienced. Plus it helped us get our minds off of Isabella and Teddy. Most of all it got us away from the eyes of our parents.

Yet, Val and I were also angry that my parents had so little trust in us that they thought it necessary to ship us off clear across the country. After all, we were practically adults. In fact, in most circles at that time we would have been considered adults who could get employment, get married or live independently.

My father’s friend Nathaniel Chase agreed to take Val and I from California to New York City on the train. Nathaniel had his own private luxury car so nobody thought there would be any problems. Nathaniel was the very image of the sophisticated and charming Modern Vampire. He was also cunning and dangerous in his own ways – enough to take care of two over active Vampire teens. What trouble could a couple of teens get into when watched over by a 400 year old Vampire?

On the first night Val and I explored the train. There were dining cars, first class, second class, other private luxury cars and all sorts of interesting people. Nathaniel was busy with “business.” Unfortunately that didn’t last for long. He was scolding us for getting too friendly with people, running, sticking our heads out the window and laughing too loud. That was just the short list.

On the second night he caught Val in an embrace with an attractive woman from San Francisco. That didn’t go over too well either. Val used the excuse he was just being a Vampire. Nathaniel knew better.

On the third night there was a party in another private car in which there were plates full of beautiful treats. I had my first eclaire. It was huge – the size of a man’s hand. That with a stomach full of warm blood (from a handsome 19 year old who claimed to be the son of a famous minister), a bottle of sparkling pink wine (which I wasn’t supposed to have) and sugar (which makes Vampires absolutely ill) had me throwing up most of the night.

By the time we got to our first stay over in Chicago, Nathaniel Chase was ready to lock the both of us up for good. But he didn’t.

We stayed in a large new mansion built after the great fire of 1871. It was there for Vampires of our rank. Val and I were in heaven. Off of the train with Nathaniel gone most of the time!

Nathaniel had given us a full set of rules and warnings. Bite only on the wrist, not the neck. Don’t go into questionable parts of town (he supplied coordinates.) Do not talk to Vampires you don’t know. Don’t be turned by a pretty face. Watch for Vampire Hunters. Stay close to the house. Shop, have fun, act normal. Under no circumstance let anyone suspect you are different. Don’t act like children.

Val and I did all that and more. We were the perfect little citizens. At parties everyone commented on how charming young well-mannered people we were. I’m sure that warmed the cold heart of the old Vampire Nathaniel Chase.

On our fourth day in Chicago Val and I were walking along at dusk when we heard a great commotion coming from a warehouse. And you would be right if you guessed we were in a part of town we shouldn’t have been in.

Inside of the building a large group of men were standing in an impromptu arena yelling and cheering. We thought it might be a boxing match until we realized it was a dog fight. Beasts of all sizes had been brought in to tear each other apart. We could smell the blood and the fear in the dogs. We could also smell the excitement and blood lust in the men who watched the fights. I held Val’s arm, utterly appalled by what I saw. Ears were torn off, bowels were torn open and dogs howled and whimpered in pain.

Then just as I thought I’d seen enough a large man held something out to five growling dogs.

“I present you Lucifer. Tonight you will see before your very eyes these dogs devour the devil.” And he held up a black kitten of about 5 months who cried with pitiful mews of fear. My cold blood boiled.

Hiking up my skirts I climbed the ropes around the arena and entered the ring. I yelled at the man to put down the cat. He laughed. Then I growled at him showing my fangs. In horror the man lashed out striking me across the face. His large ring made a gash across my cheek. Val jumped the ropes and came to my rescue. Knocking them man down he was about to tear his arm off when someone grabbed us up by our collars and threw both of us out into the snow.

Nathaniel Chase and two other Vampires stood there looking at us in disgust. We could hear the commotion inside of the warehouse grow louder.

Nathaniel pulled me to him and yanked me into a waiting carriage. “You could have had us all killed.” His coat smelled slightly of patchouli and roses. I saw a long light brown hair against the black of his jacket. He’d been visiting a woman. I should have known.

“You were with a woman weren’t you?” I glared at him with the triumph of someone too stupid to know what I was saying.

His eyes lit up with a fire and he pulled me around in front of his face holding both of my arms like vices.  “It isn’t just small animals that they kill. They kill what they do not know or understand. They kill what they fear. They kill anything they see as evil.”

“But they’re evil themselves,” I stammered back, unable to move or remove myself from his glare.

“No, it is their world, so be it if it is ruled by ignorance and superstition. You must NEVER show yourself for what you are. Never. So help me God Juliette, if you ever do anything like this again I will make sure you will spend the rest of your days drinking rancid blood out of a gourd, in a dungeon so deep you’ll forget there are stars in the sky.”

He let me go and turned to my brother. “As for you Valentine. I have no words to express my disappointment in you.”

One of the other Vampires, an elegant looking man called Joseph pulled a small black kitten out of his coat pocket and handed it to me. “I believe this is yours. Do not forget the price you paid for his freedom.”

All the way back Nathaniel lectured us on responsibility and stupidity. When we returned to the house he Vanished into the study with the two men. We were told to go to our rooms and stay there until midnight.

I lay on my bed and cried my heart out. Val came in and sat quietly next to me. We were utter failures.

When the large clock at the end of the hall struck midnight we left the room and went in search of Nathaniel Chase.

On the balcony he stood cradling the sleeping kitten in his arms. He quietly sang to himself in Welsh the old song “All Through the Night.”

All the stars’ twinkles say

All through the night

“This is the way to the realm of glory,”

All through the night.

Darkness is another light

That exposes true beauty

The Heavenly family in peace

All through the night.

 

“You have Lucifer,” I said stroking the purring kitten under his chin.

Nathaniel gave me a rare smile. “His name is Gabrielle now. He’ll go where I go. Do you know who Gabrielle was.”

“I believe an arch angel,” said Val.

“He was a messenger. So it this little beast in my arms, brought to us in order to teach the two of you humility. But also to teach me what good hearts you have. Compassion is a rare and wonderful thing. It can also be a danger if you react in fear and by letting your heart lead the way.” He held up a hand knowing what I was going to say. “Your heart and the feelings of your heart are important. But you must be smart. You must not be like your friend Isabelle who turned a man into a Vampire, almost killing him and committing his soul to Hell. She claimed it was romantic but it was cruel and selfish.” He handed me the cat now called Gabriel. “Take care of this cat until we get to your Grandmama’s, then he is mine. And Juliette, remember that we are like dark angels who inhabit the night. No matter how much good we may do we are still to be feared by those who are not our kind.”

Gabrielle lived for another 22 years and went everywhere with Nathaniel Chase.

Val and I got to our Grandmama Lola’s house in New York City by Christmas Eve night.

Nathaniel Chase still doesn’t have much confidence in me. I made mistakes with my heart over the years, as did Val. But we learned that we must keep our hearts to ourselves and take action with our brains and with conviction and with deliberate action.

A few weeks ago I visited Nathaniel, along with my brother Val and my husband Teddy. He still looked the same as he did in 1877. He still has a black cat. The current one is named Michael. They’re all named after angels. Small dark angels of hope and love.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas from all of the Vampires and their cats.~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

 

 

 

 

 

 flurish

 

 

All Throught the Night (Welsh)

Holl amrantau’r sêr ddywedant

Ar hyd y nos

“Dyma’r ffordd i fro gogoniant,”

Ar hyd y nos.

Golau arall yw tywyllwch

I arddangos gwir brydferthwch

Teulu’r nefoedd mewn tawelwch

Ar hyd y nos.

O mor siriol, gwena seren

Ar hyd y nos

I oleuo’i chwaer ddaearen

Ar hyd y nos.

Nos yw henaint pan ddaw cystudd

Ond i harddu dyn a’i hwyrddydd

Rhown ein golau gwan i’n gilydd

Ar hyd y nos.

kitten

 

A Halloween Tail

In Appreciation of Rex the Dog

Consider the dog…

Rex was a small dog of the largest order. He had the courage of a lion, the voice of an opera star and the heart of a lover.

Rex was a real son of a bitch too. He’d stare anyone down. Take on large dogs five times his size with gusto – always being the one to draw the most blood.

Rex’s owner took him everywhere. Rex went to business meetings, poker games, and all manner of business. Where his man went Rex followed tail in the air, head high, quick feet. Rex loved parties where ladies would come in big pretty skirts and scoop him up in their arms and hug him. They’d talk in high baby like voices to him that he liked a lot. It would get him all excited, so much in fact that he wanted to jump and bark. They’d throw him balls and kiss him when he returned.

Later they’d want to kiss his master as well, but it rarely went past a kiss. When it did Rex would stand guard at the door, just in case.

Rex watched for the watchers of the night. These were the people who smelled more like predators than most folks. They were always good to Rex – better than most, but Rex knew to watch. He’d watch them because according to the rules of the dog one has to watch one’s back for larger dogs. The predators weren’t larger but they were more dangerous. But like some of the big dogs, Rex loved them. He saw them protect his master from harm that his master couldn’t see. There were evil forces that only dogs and other predators can see. His master and most people were not predators.

“One can love without complete trust if one is being protected.” Or at least that is what Rex made himself believe.

Rex had been with his master since he was a teen. Now his master was 25. He was a successful man, about to be married, on the edge of greatness. But Rex knew it was time to go to where all good dogs go.

Nights grew colder and fall came. Rex had a hard time walking. He was 14 years old. Not a young dog anymore. Then one night he curled on the foot of his master’s bed and fell asleep forever.

The next night his master, still devastated by the loss of his small and noble companion heard a quiet knock on his door. It tapped out a rhythm not unlike a popular song at the time. He went to the door and there stood a beautiful girl. He knew her. He knew her father and well-respected family. She looked so lovely with her blonde bottle curls and paisley shawl around her milky white shoulders. She wore a ball gown of pink and cream. What was she doing there?

He told her she needed to leave, it wasn’t proper for a girl of her age, and standing,  to be out alone at a man’s house,  but she talked her way in. The man should have lived a long life and joined his faithful dog Rex in Heaven. Instead he discovered the girl, and the two friends who had come with her were predators – some of the very ones who had fed Rex treats and thrown him balls.

Rex’s Master, to this day says that night he went to Hell. Dragged down by rogue Vampires. Rex would have warned him, or at least he thought.

He has had many dogs since then, but he’ll always remember Rex, the dog with more charm and spunk than 100 dogs put together.

That has been a favorite story for the Vampire kids for a long time. For Rex went away and the next day was Halloween night, the night his master unwillingly became a Vampire. 

My kids have often sadly commented that we can’t turn our dogs into vampires so that they can be with us longer.

Note: A dog turned into a vampire would not be a Werewolf Dog. We all know that. Werewolves and their dogs are an entirely different matter. Can you imagine a Werewolf Mini Doxie? But back to the subject at hand…

In case you think you’ve seen this before…you have. The story of Rex was first published here October 2012.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Blue Blood – Science Story from NPR (I’m sharing my inner Friday Vampire Geek)

I know this one is a little off subject, but maybe not…

I love science. I’m a vampire so of course I love science as much as I love art. It’s a given.

I found this great story on the NPR (National Public Radio) web site about horseshoe crabs. They have BLUE blood. Check it out.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/05/31/154095868/what-the-vampire-said-to-the-horseshoe-crab-your-blood-is-blue

“How do horseshoe crabs come to have blue blood? The phrase traditionally means blood which flows in the veins of old and aristocratic families, and horseshoe crabs are certainly old (they lived with dinosaurs), and, in their way, aristocrats. But they don’t have veins. Their blood kind of sloshes around in their bodies carrying oxygen to various organs, as our blood does.

Our blood is red because we use hemoglobin to move oxygen around. Hemoglobin has iron in it, which gives off a reddish hue. (Think of rust.) Horseshoe crabs use a copper-based molecule called hemocyanin to distribute oxygen. In nature, copper turns things blue or blue-green. So that’s why their blood is blue; it’s copper-based.”

Enjoy! Happy Friday and may all of your days include discovery and wonder!

~ Juliette

 

 

 

Children’s Books – My Favorites – In memory of Maurice Sendak

In memory of Maurice Sendak, a writer and illustrator who has inspired me for so many years, I thought I’d share some of my favorite books for children.

When I was a child there were a lot of books with pretty pictures, but it has been in the past 50 years that the children’s book industry has blossomed into something truly magical and inspiring for both children and adults.

I’ll put links to Amazon and other sites on here, but I found out about most of these books by word of mouth or GOING TO MY LOCAL LIBRARY. Libraries ROCK – I urge you to GO to your local library and take advantage of all of the useful services they provide.

Sammy the Seal by Sid Hoff

We found an old copy of this at our local library sale. What a find! Sammy the seal decides to go to school but finds it isn’t really the best place for him to be. Sounds simple but it will surprise you. This is an old fashioned read but so much fun. You can’t help but adore Sammy!

http://www.amazon.com/Sammy-Seal-Can-Read-Book/dp/0064442705

Halloween Pie by Michael O. Tunnell and Kevin O’Malley

You HAVE to read this one out loud and do ALL of the voices.

The scent of Old Witch’s scrumptious Halloween pie lures Vampire and Ghoul, Ghost and Banshee, Zombie and Skeleton, from their lairs for a midnight feast. This wonderful read-aloud romp, full of spooky sounds and midnight magic is sure to be a Halloween favorite.

http://www.amazon.com/Halloween-Pie-Michael-O-Tunnell/dp/B00006F7JK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336491026&sr=1-1

One Witch by Laura Leuck

Absolutely charming. I will never tire of this wonderful book. One witch, on a hill, had an empty pot to fill. So what does that one witch do? She goes around to visit all her fiendish friends, naturally; two cats, three scarecrows, four goblins, five vampires, six mummies, seven owls, eight ghosts, nine skeletons, and ten werewolves.

At every stop they contribute ghoulishly tasty ingredients until the witch has enough to make a properly gruesome stew for her party. Then, of course, she must send out her invitations; to the ten werewolves, nine skeletons, eight ghosts, seven owls, six mummies…

http://www.amazon.com/One-Witch-Laura-Leuck/dp/0802777295/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336491243&sr=1-12

Each Peach Pear Plum by Allen Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg

 A dear friend of mine gave me this book when my daughter was born. I can’t even count how many times we read this. I’ll never give my copy away!

“Each Peach Pear Plum. I spy Tom Thumb!” In this engaging, interactive book for the very young, familiar nursery-rhyme characters such as Mother Hubbard and Baby Bunting sneak their way into the gentle drawings. Even young children who might not know all the fairy-tale stars can find them lurking in the cupboard, on the stairs, or deep in the woods. In the happy finale, the whole cast meets up for plum pie in the sun, where the little one on your lap will gleefully find everyone. http://www.amazon.com/Each-Peach-Pear-Picture-Puffins/dp/014050639X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336491325&sr=1-1

Go, Dog. Go! By p.d. Eastman

All I can say is that this book is one of the most perfect and brilliant books ever written. It has it all: fast cars, parties, adventure, gambling, romance, sports and more. If you haven’t read Go, Dog. Go! you’ve been sleeping way too long in your coffin. Time to wake up and read the book.

http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Read-Myself-Beginner-Books/dp/0394900200/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336491364&sr=1-1

Oz Series

JOHN R. NEILL (Illustrator), L. FRANK BAUM (Author)

Most people don’t know that after the first book “The Wizard of Oz” there were more. 14 OZ books written by L. Frank Baum and many more written by other writers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Oz_books

While I like the first book – I love the rest, especially Dorothy and the Wizard In Oz and The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

Oz is a land where girls rule. Dorothy, Glanda, Ozma and other strong girls take charge!

When the series continues after the first book and (John R. Neill takes over the illustation) the entire tone of the books changes. Dorothy is transformed from a chubby frumpy farm girl who longs for home, to a dynamic, sharp, stylish girl who is almost like a hip young Hillary Clinton.  Oz becomes a place where you’ll meet talking cats with an attitude, where anything can come to life and there is a surprise around every corner.

Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak

My favorite book by Maurice Sendak is Outside Over There. It is not only one of the most beautiful books ever written, but one of the most touching and magical books I’ve ever read. It is a story of Ida who is watching her baby sister, but not so well, because her baby sister is kidnapped by goblins. Of course Ida must go on a quest to rescue her sister. It is a story as only Maurice Sendak can tell though his wonderful words and illustrations.

Some people believe the movie Labyrinth was based on this book.

http://www.amazon.com/Outside-Over-There-Caldecott-Collection/dp/0064431851/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336491556&sr=1-1

The next two books are by Daniel Pinkwater – a brilliant storyteller. If you haven’t heard of him look him up on the NPR web site (NPR.org) he is often on Saturday mornings reading Children’s Books.

Irving and Mukuk: Two bad Bears by Daniel Pinkwater and Illustrated by Jill Pinkwater

This is one of those spit milk out of your nose pee your pants funny books.  Jill Pinkwater’s illustrations are too much FUN and perfect for this story!

http://www.amazon.com/Irving-Muktuk-Two-Bears-Story/dp/0618354042/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336491637&sr=1-1

Wolf Christmas by Daniel Pinkwater and Illustrated by Jill Pinkwater

A touching Christmas story about a group of wolves who become curious about the human celebration of Christmas.  My favorite Christmas Story.

Daniel Pinkwater reading “Wolf Christmas”: http://www.npr.org/2010/12/25/132324290/Daniel-Pinkwater-Reads-Wolf-Christmas

http://www.amazon.com/Wolf-Christmas-Daniel-Manus-Pinkwater/dp/0761450300/ref=sr_1_86?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336491751&sr=1-86

 The House on East 88th Street by Benard Waver

A fun book that will make you wish you have Lyle the crocodile living with you. A charming book about the Pimm family and the unexpected bonus they find when they move into the house on East 88th Street!

The best gift (aside from common sense) you can give your child is the gift of reading and story telling.   I’ll be posting more reviews and/or announcements (3-4 times a month) for YA and Children’s books.

Please feel free to let me know if you have any favorites you’d like to post or an author you’d like to feature (especially indie authors). If you are an author of YA or kids’ books, and if I feel you’d make a good fit for this blog, I’d love to help you get the word out about  your work! That goes for illustrators too!

~ Juliette