Tag Archives: children’s literature

Showing kids how ordinary people can have enormous effects on our world

I Am Gandhi and I Am Sacagawea, by Brad Meltzer. Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. Dial Books for Young Readers. 40 pages. Hardcover $14.99.


These two recent titles add scope and impact to the already substantial “Ordinary People Change the World” series. The series of picture books, which has 2 million copies in print, provides young readers (as well as their parents and grandparents), with laudable heroes. The hook is that as children they were no so exceptional. Another attraction is that Mr. Meltzer has these historical characters tell their own stories. He invents friendly voices for each of them, voices inviting to the children being addressed. 

“I Am Gandhi,” the narrator announces his inauspicious beginnings. Small of stature, the socially backward boy was a poor soccer player and a mediocre student. Early on, he became attracted to the lives of those who had helped others. He was sensitive to the fact many people were desperately poor and consistently treated as unworthy beings. Laws prevented them from improving their lives.

He reveals how his life in South Africa, where Indians were suppressed, led him to be politically active but never violent. He would break laws that were prejudicial, accept the punishment, and exercise his mind to find new paths for successful protest. His paved the way for the Indian Relief act of 1914 and set the pattern for his later activities back India through the Indian National Congress. This political force slowly broke down the shackles of British rule of India. Gandhi’ commitment to nonviolent but unshakeable protest influenced future leaders throughout the world.

“I Am Sacagawea” repeats the formula while providing insights into a very different slice of history. The young Shoshoni Indian tells about her tribe being attacked by another tribe. Captured, she was given to a French Canadian man. At that time, she received her name. She also became pregnant and had a child named Pomp.

This teenager proved her worth as a translator, as someone who understood the terrain that the Lewis and Clark expedition first encountered, and as someone capable of finding food and of rescuing supplies that had fallen off a boat. . . .


To read the entire review, as it appears in the November 22, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the November 23 Naples, Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, and Palm Beach editions, click here:  Florida Weekly – Meltzer’s books for kids

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Naples writer-photographer follows up on award-winning travel book

A (mostly) Kids’ Guide to Sanibel & Captiva Islands and the Fort Myers Coast, by Karen T. Bartlett. Mostly Kids Guides LLC. 80 pages. Oversized paperback $19.95.

Wow is the word for this second entry in Karen T. Bartlett’s Mostly Kids Guides series. And while these dazzling, humorous, and information-packed books are aimed at kids, even a 75-year-old like yours truly can enjoy them. What’s not to like? sancapcovernov2016

An intense color palette, high-energy graphics, and the friendly voice of a caring story-teller combine with a treasure trove of data and plenty of kid friendly attitude.

This book is as thorough as 80 oversized pages can be while keeping the focus on children, their parents, and grandparents. Excitement is everywhere, as are helpful hints. Ms. Bartlett also includes quirky quiz questions to keep readers engaged.

Maps help set the scene, and abundant photographs detail it and stimulate our appetites for exploration.

Manatees, roseate spoonbills, iguanas, loggerhead turtles, bald eagles, and all kinds of regional animal life parade through the books. All the places that offer environmental education (and there are far more than you’d think) are lovingly described. Places that are just plain fun are enumerated with fondness and precision.


Annual festivals, pirate lore, the distinctions of the various beaches, local transportation, Indian mounds, fishing guides, miniature golf, picnic spots – it’s all here.

And there’s more than just what’s indicated in the title. The other barrier islands that protect the Fort Myers coast also receive attention: Cabbage Key, Gasparilla Island, Pine Island, and Cayo Costa are on the itinerary of the imagination. So is the “sand castle capital of the universe,” better known as Fort Myers Beach, with all its vacation attractions. It takes up Estero Island. On another Island is Lovers Key State Park, whose joys Ms. Bartlett sings.

There’s plenty here, as well, about “mainland” Fort Myers.

Can you overuse works like ”fantastic?” Just in case, Karen Bartlett indulges her penchant for coinages such as “sand-sational” and “ginormous.” She’s got a gazillion of them! A kind of laugh-out-loud, raucous music for a child’s ear. Hey, if the kids are laughing, then the adults who are taking them through the wonders of this stretch of Southwest Florida are going to be happy too. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the February 8, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the February 9 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Kids’ Guide to Sanibel & Captiva

You can buy this book online and at many area shops, including: Barnes & Noble – all three stores: Naples, Estero & Fort Myers.


Cottontails Children’s Boutique, Collier County Museum (main)


 Sunshine Booksellers

Lee County

Annette’s Book Nook – Fort Myers Beach, Bailey’s General Store – Sanibel, Edison and Ford Winter Estates – Fort Myers, Gene’s Books – Sanibel, MacIntosh Books & Paper – Sanibel, Nanny’s Childrens Shoppe – Sanibel, The Shell Factory – North Fort Myers, Traders Gulf Coast Grill & Gifts – Sanibel, Tween Waters Inn Island Resort – Captiva, South Seas Island Resort – Captiva



Naples-based publishing company Mostly Kids Guides, LLC took top honors in Salt Lake City this past spring in the IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) Benjamin Franklin Awards. The winning book, earning the Silver award for travel, was “A (mostly) Kids’ Guide to Naples, Marco Island & The Everglades.” It was the only travel book among the top three winners featuring a U.S. destination. The other two winning books featured Paris and Naples, Italy. sticker art interior for mockup

With over 3,000 members, IBPA is the largest publishing trade association in the U.S. The Benjamin Franklin Awards are among the highest honors in the industry.”

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Keep believing, keep pretending, keep practicing

I am Jim Henson, by Brad Meltzer. Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. Dial Books for Young Readers. 40 pages. Hardcover $14.99.

I often realize that it is more difficult to review a short book than a long book. Such is the case with a fine children’s book like the latest in Brad Meltzer’s Ordinary People Change the World series. Earlier titles in the series have include child-friendly biographies of Amelia Earhart, Jackie Robinson, Lucille Ball, and Martin Luther King. These inspirational narratives written for children from 5-8 years old invite youngsters to dream bigger and to pursue their dreams energetically. hensoncover

Florida author Meltzer gives a voice to Jim Henson as if Henson was writing a memoir. He offers characterizing details of Henson’s youth: drawing birds, enjoying family jokes and the laughter they provoked, going to the movies with friends and then re-enacting the movies with their own props and costumes. His grandmother got him involved in art projects.

Early on, Henson had a propensity for creating monsters who were sort of laughable.

He loved performance and a degree of disguise.

What may have seemed like frivolous indulgences were encouraged, allowing Henson to find his way to a notable career in television and movies. One influence was Edgar Bergen, a ventriloquist whose invention Charlie McCarthy seemed human to young Henson.



As a teenager and young adult, Henson had early experiences in local television that set him on the road to universal acclaim. This show was “Sam and Friends,” in which his highly expressive Muppets first came alive. Jim Henson’s imagination was the great gift he continued to develop.

The full flourishing of the Muppets, through “The Muppet Show” and “Sesame Street,” required teamwork: writers, actors, puppet builders, and more. But the key ingredient that allowed imagination to become fully realized was practice.

It’s not enough, Mr. Meltzer tells his readers, to be a dreamer. The practice – the hard work – is as important as the dream. . . .

To read the full review, as it appears in the February 1, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the February 2 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly -I am Jim Henson

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ESCAPE IN TIME: a Holocaust story for young people


Ronit Lowenstein-Malz; Leora Frankel, trans.; Laurie McGaw, illus.

MB Publishing, 2015. 176 pp. $9.99 (pbk)

This intriguing fact-based novel presents a dual narration. An Israeli girl, Nessya, reacts to her grandmother’s experiences in war-torn Hungary by reading a narrative prepared by the grandmother based partly on family letters never sent for fear of the contents falling into Nazi hands.  EscapeInTimeCover

These letters are also read by Nessya.

In 1944, the young Miri Eneman, along with her parents and three older sisters, attempts to flee the persecution of her community’s Jews, already confined to a ghetto. The father, Naftuli, is the story’s hero. His exceptional foresight allows him to see that doing nothing, the stance of his Jewish neighbors, is to end up dead. Carefully and stealthily, he arranges for false documents as well as well-compensated assistance from friendly gentiles.

The family members escape the ghetto and make their way to Budapest, where it seems that they can find greater safety until the Russian forces defeat the Nazis. Naftuli’s schemes are successful, though there are many close calls and much suffering along the way.

Ronit Lowenstein-Malz

Ronit Lowenstein-Malz

Upon Nessya’s questioning, Miri’s youthful perspective, enhanced by the knowledge gained through her adult years, is now tapped.  She releases a lifetime of repressed memories, allowing her granddaughter Nessya to gain a moving and meaningful understanding of the Holocaust without confronting the horrid realities of the death camps.

The characters are crisply differentiated, superb illustrations help us relate to them, and suspense runs high.

First published in Hebrew in 2006, this book is perfect for youngsters twelve and older.

This review appears in the Summer 2015 issue of Jewish Book World (Vol. 33 No. 2) and is reprinted with permission. To see the “original” online edition, click here: Escape in Time: Miri’s Riveting Tale of Her Family’s Survival During World War

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Carrots better than sticks for promoting fitness in children and pets

“Carrots for Charlie,” by Rhonda Brazina and Ida R.Margolis. Illustrated by Virginia C. Mulford. Barringer Publishing. 40 pages. $9.95.

Authors Rhonda Brazina and Ida R. Margolis are educators who are now based in Naples. Like many parents, grandparents, teachers, and healthcare professions, they have become concerned about the growing health crisis among children. Far too many youngsters seem to be trapped in lifestyles that are deficient in exercise and nutrition. However, it’s not an exciting topic, and lectures alone don’t do the job. Parents and others who care need help in adjusting perceptions and behavior.

“Carrots for Charlie” means to get the message across to children in a playful, engaging way. While the book focuses on a dog named Charlie, the authors clearly intend for young readers and listeners to understand that Charlie’s problem is theirs. And guess what? Pets have dietary and exercise needs too.

As the book opens, we meet a young man named Max who has decided to adopt a pet from the local shelter. Max has always made a habit of walking along the Naples beaches and elsewhere. He loves to be outdoors, and he loves to make up and sing songs. Now he has Charlie to accompany him, and Charlie has a ready-made routine that helps to keep him fit. The spaniel enjoys listening to Max sing.

Max’s songs provide youngsters with rhymed packets of information and inspiration. They connect fitness not only with physical well-being but also with the accompanying uplift of mood and attitude. The message: things that are good for you are not difficult and can be fun.

When Max begins giving singing lessons about town, he leaves Charlie behind with the television on and too many unhealthy treats. Before long, Charlie is overweight and sluggish. The neighborhood kids notice this problem, and the alert Max to it.

Soon enough, sweet treats are out and nutritious vegetables and fruits are in. Max learns to disguise the carrots Charlie doesn’t like by flavoring them with healthy yogurt. Charlie’s exercise becomes enhanced when Max takes him to a fitness center designed for dogs and their owners.

Margolis and Brazina

It’s hard to say whether the authors have limited the scope of their message by making Naples, Florida the setting and by being so specific about local places: our dog parks, dog friendly places, the Naples Zoo, and so forth. Perhaps the idea is that such places are everywhere, if one takes the time to look. So are farmer’s markets where fresh vegetables are plentiful.

In any case, this book has a special hook for Neapolitans in love with their community.

The impact of “Carrots for Charlie” is enhanced immeasurably by Virginia C. Mulford’s illustrations. They set just the right friendly and lively tone, while creating attractive settings for the action.

There are several special features that add to the book’s utility. The authors provide a question page that encourages young readers to think back over what they’ve read. A direct address to parents, guardians, and teachers offers additional information about children’s and pets’ fitness issues. Useful resources, including websites, are provided. Perhaps best of all, the book includes a small sampling of simple, healthy recipes.

An accompanying website for the book, providing supplementary materials, will be available soon at:  http://carrotsforcharlie.com

To see this review as it appears in the September 12, 2012 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the September 13 Naples edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Brazina & Margolis


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Two local writers offer sharable wisdom

“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.

Lisa Fleming

 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.

Michele Sfakianos

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


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Little book packs big message about appearances

“I Am Brilliant,” by Jennifer Craig. Insight Strategist. 32 pages. $10.

Jennifer Craig

Child and family therapist Jennifer Craig has penned a delightful book for children (or their parents) that strives to offset the media blitz of debilitating messages about beauty. We’ve all seen the impossibly gorgeous, slender models with the perfect skin and hair used by advertisers of cosmetic products to sell their wares. We’ve all seen the attractive younger models donned in outfits for the ideally-proportioned teen or tween. So have young girls who will never attain the outward appearance that consciously or otherwise registers as their worth indicator – the key to acceptance and popularity. 

Ms. Craig, a licensed mental health practitioner, is out to redirect young people’s understanding of the keys to self-esteem. “I Am Brilliant,” subtitled “Steps to Finding Your Brilliance,” encourages youngsters (primarily girls, though the problem exists for boys as well) to focus on individuality and inner beauty. The young reader might find herself truly being herself – and enjoying being herself – rather than chasing after the accoutrements of fashion and developing unhealthy eating habits in an attempt to copy an impossible and misleading standard.

As well, these readers are likely to better understand how to value others – by looking for the inner beauty and brilliance of those whom they meet.

“I Am Brilliant” is a tiny book with an enormous message. In it, we meet a dog named Sugar who notices that the dogs on television are all smaller than she is, and those very dogs are flattered with attention and opportunity. Sugar thinks she has to shrink to find happiness. Of course, this cannot be. . . .

To read this review in its entirety as it appears in the June 8, 2011 issue of Fort Myers Florida Weekly and June 9 issue of the Naples edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Jennifer Craig pdf

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New Titles by Naples Authors

The following “roundup” was published in the Nov. 26-Dec. 2, 2009 issue of the Naples Florida Weekly.

 Out of the Darkness, by Jaime Rush.  Avon Books.  $6.99.

Out of the Darkness is part two in Jaime Rush’s “Offspring” series, an ambitious sequence of linked paranormal romances. The characters, many introduced in A Perfect Darkness, have various supernatural abilities. One converses with the dead; another can image the future and release the vision in eerie paintings. One can set fires through psychic energy. They are particularly sensitive to one another because they are all part of an extended family: in part biological, in part the result of experiments that have produced or altered them.

Their common goal is to trace their origins, master their special gifts, and discover – perhaps to thwart – the ends for which they were engineered. A rogue government project has brought them into being. Like so many projects of super-patriots, the Offspring were designed to serve the national interest – but something has gone wrong.  They pose a threat to their would-be controllers, and The Offspring themselves have divided into adversarial groups. The controllers strive to exploit the supernatural abilities of The Offspring, conduct further experiments, and destroy those whom they cannot manage.

In Out of the Darkness, Ms. Rush introduces several new characters, while elaborating upon those already established. Rand Brandenburg and Zoe Stoker are forefront, their red-hot romance simmering. Zoe, who owns a tattoo parlor, is a Goth type who has yet to control her special power of telekinesis. Biker Rand is a loner who uses his future-view talent to gamble. The terms of their relationship and the ways in which they fit into the larger Offspring family hold our interest even while we follow their quest to understand their mysterious talents and origins and foil their enemies.

Out of the Darkness is high on action and thrills, featuring otherwise ordinary twenty-something individuals whose struggles to deal with their unusual psychic powers are presented in a convincing manner within a larger conspiracy plot that does not seem so far-fetched at all.

Kroopenpopper: An Everglades Adventure, by Virginia Saalman. Moson Publishing. $15.

Written to entertain children ages 4-8, Virginia Saalman’s book brings a Maryland family to a small Everglades town for summer vacation. The children, Mary and Tommy, are frightened by a large black bear. However, as can only happen in children’s stories, the bear befriends them and leads them on a journey through the swamp to satisfy Mary’s curiosity and find the home of the squirrels. Along the way, they meet several other Everglades denizens, and each decides to join in the quest. In this way, the children (and the readers) learn about the Everglades inhabitants: the deer, the beaver, the panther, the howler monkey (a zoo escapee), the snake, the barred owl, and others. Towards the end, they arrive at the squirrels’ home at the base of a tree, only to encounter a taste of danger.

 Fanciful additions to the expected characters include a giraffe (only because Mary wants to see one) and a night-flying woofing bird – or did they just imagine that scary creature?

The author, who also wrote the well-received Frog Poop and Other Stories, does a fine job of blending entertainment and instruction, these ends supported marvelously by the stunning illustrations supplied by Patti Tedesco Jones. Mrs. Jones, who is legally blind, runs the New Sight Greeting Card Company.

Naples Oldest Tradition: Swamp Buggy Days, by Lila Zuck. Collier County Historical Research Center. $24.95.

This dazzling presentation of Naples’ history is at once a must-have, lavishly illustrated coffee table book and a treasure trove of research. Lila Zuck has turned over every relevant document in local archives, public and private, to fashion a fact-packed narrative of community life.

Ms. Zuck traces, in meticulous detail, the origins and development of the yearly tradition, now sixty years old, by which the Naples community successfully branded itself for the purpose of attracting tourism, having fun, and fostering community solidarity and pride. In so doing, the author weaves together brief anecdotes involving colorful individuals who made important contributions to the town’s prosperity and culture. Through the lens of the Swamp Buggy competitions and parades, readers become more familiar with the doings of those families whose names are recorded on the community’s street signs and public spaces. They become familiar, as well, with the contributions of lesser-known individuals whose talents and efforts have helped fashion the unique blend of ingredients that is Naples.

Swamp Buggy Days is the lively story of how a dynamic, cohesive community invented and re-invented itself, winning a place on the national map of attractive destinations. It’s a book of record and a celebration. And it’s a bargain. See www.collierhistorical.org.

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Dr. Molly Barrow’s Kid-Lit Breakthrough

“Malia & Teacup Awesome African Adventure,” by Dr. Molly Barrow. Illustrations by Erik Pflueger. Barringer Publishing. 325 pages, plus supplementary material for teachers. $14.95

Naples psychologist Molly Barrow is all over the internet. Just “google” her name and you’ll find her web sites, her dynamic blog, and many dozens of references to her appearances and mentions in popular and specialized media. Her column, “Shrink About This,” appears regularly on menstuff.org, and she is frequently quoted by other specialists.  You can listen to her internet radio show. You can read her well-reviewed book, “Matchlines.” You can see her appear as herself in the 2008 film “My Suicide,” which focuses on teenage depression. (The film has been a selection at many major film festivals.)  You can find her article about self-esteem and the Malia and Teacup books in the Spring 2010 issue of the prestigious journal, “Children and Libraries.” MollyBarrowPhd

Dr. Molly Barrow has made her reputation as an expert in improving relationships, whether the arena is couples’ intimacy or the workplace. Now she will add to her audience with what promises to be a major venture into children’s literature. Her “Malia and Teacup” series has just launched its first title: “Awesome African Adventure.” It’s a rollicking read for kids 9 years old and up, as well as their parents and grandparents. The story line is all about adventure; the theme is self-esteem.

To read this review in its entirety, see the October 8-14, 2009 issue of the Naples Florida Weekly. Click  Florida Weekly – Molly Barrow

See also Molly Barrow in Naples Sun Times.

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BOOK BEAT 66 – Wendy Lokken & Heather Drescher

A Book and a Bear Comfort Children of Divorce

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   March 20, 2008

by Philip K. Jason

For the children of divorce, life changes in challenging, dramatic, and often traumatic ways. These children have to process an enormous sense of loss, usually accompanied by guilt. And divorce is not something that happens one day and is over the next; the ramifications are ongoing and complex. Two Neapolitans, Wendy Lokken and Heather Drescher, are part of the team behind a fascinating project that helps children regain a sense of security while navigating this hazardous emotional journey. “You and Me Make Three” is a book that can make a positive difference in the life of any child coping with the disorientation and loss of parents divorcing.

B. B. the Bear is the narrator of the book, a cuddly friend, confidant, and counselor. The idea of B. B. was inspired by Wendy Lokken’s son, Michael, who had learned about “worry dolls” at school and suggested that every child coping with divorce needed a “worry doll,” a source of comfort much like Michael’s own Cozy Bear. Lokken shared this insight with her friend and eventual co-author, Gwendy Mangiamele, who realized that her daughter Mia has fastened upon her own floppy dog named Sheila as an imaginary traveling friend who provided constancy whether at Mom’s home or at and Dad’s.  Lokken and Mangiamele teamed up with author-publisher Edna Cucksey Stephens and illustrator Heather Drescher to develop Caring Creations and launch the book and the comforting toy, B. B. the Bear. 

B. B.’s consoling and supportive language is just right. The observations and suggestions made by this caring companion are accessible to kids, and yet the young readers are not patronized. This friendly bear is convincing when he says that even though Mom and Dad now live in separate homes, both still love their child. The bear is always available to hear the child’s secrets and jokes and to play “let’s pretend” with the child. Also, together they can help Mom with various tasks when visiting her, and help Dad with tasks when over at his place. Homework and personal hygiene need attention at both homes. The young reader is reminded that other kids are also going through the divorce experience.

B. B. assures the child that “it is not your fault” that the parents have decided to divorce, and that when things cannot be worked out it is better for everyone if the parents live apart. The love of each parent is a constant, and the love felt for each parent needs expression. B. B. also encourages the child of divorce to let his or her feelings out – to talk about them both to the parents and, of course, to B. B. Coping with loneliness is also addressed in specific, constructive ways.

The book has a second audience. Each issue in B.B.’s discussion is also recast in a boxed “SMILE Tip for Parents.” These tips, derived from Richard S. Victor’s Victor Smile Foundation, are as valuable to the divorced parents as B. B.’s observations are to the children of divorce. The parents are reminded that the greatest gift they can give the child is the right to love the other parent. Because of the incorporated Smile Tips, “You and Me Make Three” can be read by parent and child together.

“You and Me Make Three” is lavishly produced, and the vivid, energetic illustrations by Heather Drescher work perfectly to establish the mood and tone of the book. It is a book that should be in every grade school library and in the libraries of guidance counselors and professional family therapists as well. But most of all, it needs to be in the hands of the child whose world is threatened by divorce.

The release of this very special book was celebrated on March 12 at the International Kids Network benefit event held at the Naples Ritz Carlton. Upcoming appearances and book signings are Saturday, March 15th, 11am to 1pm at the Naples Borders Bookstore; Saturday, March 22, 11am to 3pm at the Naples Books-A-Million; and Saturday, March 29th at the Naples Barnes and Noble. You can find out more about this brilliant and much-needed book and bear project by visiting the website http://www.bbseries.com.

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy.  A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club.

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