“Cat and Crow: An Amazing Friendship,” by Lisa Fleming. Collage Books. 48 pages, illustrated. $14.95.
“The 4-1-1 on Life Skills,” by Michele Sfakianos. Open Pages Publishing. 142 pages. $14.95.
Two Naples area writers have recently published books that are as different as they can be and yet have something in common: the desire to help and instruct “younger” people. One, “Cat and Crow” by Lisa Fleming is definitely what we’d call a “children’s book,” the kind that parents will enjoy reading to their kids and discussing with them. It shows how a powerful friendship can emerge between individuals more likely to be enemies.
“The 4-1-1 on Life Skills” by Michele Sfakianos is a different kind of parenting book. It’s aimed at young adults going out on their own who need advice on coping with the responsibilities and challenges of their independence. It’s filled with how-to guidelines that are too often neglected during the transition from nest-safe adolescence to out-in-the world adulthood.
Ms. Fleming’s book, beautifully illustrated by Anne Marie Dominik-Harris, retells the well-known story of the unusual relationship that developed between two natural enemies – an untamed cat that was taken in by Ann and Wally Collito in North Attleboro, Massachusetts and a crow that lived right outside their home. This couple took the time to document these unusual happenings through photos and videos. Most often, the crow is the protector and provider, sheltering the cat with its wing or bringing it food. Moses the crow and Cassie the cat regularly play together, and the amazed Collitos watch it all on a daily basis over a long period of time.
One day, they see the crow swoop down to stop the cat from stepping in front of a car. On another occasion, Cassie is the protector, scaring a tomcat away from threatening Moses.
Lisa Fleming relates the true-life fable with an elegant simplicity. She also provides newspaper clippings and Collito photos to accompany the narrative, as well as an assortment of interesting facts about these two creatures. “Cat and Crow” is a wonderful entertainment that encourages tolerance and questions cliché thinking about what’s possible in the realm of getting along in spite of differences.
“The 4-1-1 on Life Skills” provides clear and concise tips for young adults going out on their own. Ms. Sfakianos, a registered nurse and life skills expert, knows that the business of health care, home care, cleaning, food preparation, car care, personal financial management, and similar life skills can overwhelm young people. Her book is a starter kit in personal responsibility. It’s down to earth, accessible, and friendly.
Does that child who has left your nest empty know how to prevent pests and bugs? Does he or she have a clue about dealing with the first baby? Can that seemingly grown up person who has depended on you make even the simplest home repairs? What about appropriate behavior in social situations? Michele Sfakianos has practical answers to questions almost too embarrassing to ask.
“The 4-1-1” is a great gift book for the newly independent. It contains great tips for inexperienced parents. In fact, it is valuable for those adults of any age who need a handy resource when they are floundering with life’s everyday problems. Going beyond the everyday, this compendium of common sense provides guidance on being ready for the unexpected in its substantial chapter on disaster preparedness.
If your children (or grandchildren) are very young or very young adults, Lisa Fleming and Michele Sfakianos have sharable wisdom to offer you and them.
Meet Michele Sfakianos in Fort Myers at the Colonial Country Club Fall Festival on Saturday, November 5, from 8:30am-12:30pm.
This review, with a much better title, appears in the October 12, 2011 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly and in the October 13 issue of the Naples edition. See Florida Weekly – Fleming & Sfakianos or pp. 78-79 of the “flip” edition: http://fortmyers.floridaweekly.com/news/2011-10-12/PDF/flip