Getting to the Vet on Time – Is It Possible? Recycled Sundays.

It’s bad enough when my mailbox is stuffed with bills, requests for donations, and rejection letters, but I really hate it when my cats get more personal mail than I do.

Their veterinarian sends them postcards. At least, they don’t picture domestic cats lazing in the sunshine on southern beaches wearing sunglasses and sipping kittenaid. The postcards picture a cat with his dentures in a glass and a dog with an ice pack on his toothache. It reminds them to brush regularly (in our house that is as often as they crown a new monarch in London) and make an appointment to have their teeth cleaned. I guess I can do without those kinds of postcards. Then again, so can my cats since they can’t see two-dimensional pictures anyway.

Vet day in our house resembles a chase scene from the old Keystone Cops movies. Everyone tears around the place, upsetting things, making spectacular collisions, and accomplishing very little. Because of our three cats – Virgil, Patch and Misty – we must go through this three times a year. We learned the only way to catch Virgil is to offer him food. That cat would put his head under a guillotine for kitty snack.

However, Patch has to be cornered. Everyone must act nonchalant. The cat traveling case should be hidden out of sight. Whoever is chosen to catch the animal must behave as though he is only slightly interested in the cat, just pausing for a quick petting. The more interest is shown, the better Patch hides. Once he is apprehended, he pays us back by dropping hair the way a lizard drops his tale or an octopus shoots ink. I suspect he thinks if he sheds enough hair in one spot, we will be fooled and take that to the vet instead. Too many trips in a row and he’ll be needing treatment for baldness.

Misty is almost impossible to catch. Highly suspicious by nature, we must be doubly sly to fool her. She is not drawn to kitty snacks and could live very well without humans, thank you, as long as she had clean litter.  SHE decides when and where she will be petted and by whom. Catching her requires an ambush which must succeed on the first try or the next 20 minutes will involve slamming doors, moving furniture, Olympic leaping, and bandages – for the human, not the cat. Once captured, stuffing her into the travel case is like trying to put bubbles back into soda pop.

I grew tired of all this nonsense, so when Virgil had an appointment, I caught him 15 minutes early and ignored his yowls of protest from the carrying case. Unfortunately, I had promised my children they could come and, of course, their school bus was late that day. They were met with a barrage of commands. “Respond immediately and cooperate completely or you’ll be left behind.” They unloaded their school stuff and then piled into the back seat. I put Virgil in his cage on the front passenger seat. The clock was ticking. Everyone had their assigned roles. This would be a test of our teamwork.

When I parked the car in front of the veterinarian’s, my son jumped up on the sidewalk and dropped the quarter into the meter as ordered. My daughter locked and slammed the sliding passenger door and then stood back. I jumped out and raced around to get the cat from the front passenger seat. Precise drill corp! We were amazing!



Then, I realized the passenger door was locked. My purse was on the floor with the keys in it. WE had made it on time, but not the cat. He was inside his cat cage, locked inside the car beyond my grasp. Fortunately, our vet still used wire hangers.

First published in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News, Sunday, January 24, 1993

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Three Random Questions Interview with Lauren Isabelle Pierre.


Lauren Isabelle Pierre is a children’s writer, self-taught illustrator, and aspiring comic artist. She began self-publishing her picture books at the age of 15. At the ripe old age of 18, she has a lifetime ahead of her to grow and share.

Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Lauren. I have to say, you slipped under my radar. As a rule, I don’t review books written by such young people. I reviewed your book, Tip and Lulu A Tale of Two Friends in March, 2017 not knowing how young you were when you wrote it. Why did you decide to start publishing so soon?

Lauren Isabelle Pierre: Haha, yeah, sorry about that. I had wanted to be inconspicuous about my age in the past, but eventually I came to realize that the whole novelty of me being a young writer was people KNOWING how old I was. I’m glad it worked out though; your review is one of my favourites! To answer your question, I’ve actually been trying to get published since I was maybe 10 years old? It all started back when I was seven or eight when my dad showed me a news article about an 11 year old girl who wrote a novel about dolphins and published it through That was the spark that eventually ignited my “passion dynamite” for being a published author, if you will. I had a lot of good starts, but usually lost interest. Several years later, when I was 14, my dad approached me with yet another article about a New York native writing YA romance/sci-fi… at 13! She was printing through CreateSpace. That was the push that eventually led me to write/illustrate my first children’s book.

Ferrante: You write from a Christian viewpoint but, at least this book, lends itself well to non-Christian readers as well. I liked the message that kindness is its own reward. Are you consciously making your books available to a wide audience?

Pierre: Absolutely! As they sang in VeggieTales (which I was recently surprised to find out is enjoyed by both Christians and non-Christians alike), “God’s Word is for everyone”. I know that the term “Christian” can turn a lot of people off and get them thinking, “This is just another book about God and all that preachy stuff, I’ll pass,” so I go out of my way to make my stories accessible to a wide readership, all while teaching the values I believe in. That isn’t to say I’m afraid of sharing my faith (my first faith-based children’s book is set to be released next month); but I know how people can be when you “push them.”

Ferrante: I agree. Respecting the beliefs of your readers is important. Although my books are written from a Buddhist viewpoint, there is only one Buddhist word in one of my picture books. (The AMIDA Tree)

Your other two books, Ollie the Opossum: A Tale of Loving Yourself and The Panda that Learned to Ignore use animals as the central characters. Why do you use anthropomorphized animals instead of humans?


Pierre: Well, The Panda that Learned to Ignore was written by my brother Samuel, and his reason for using animals in it was because his favourite animal is the panda. My reason for using anthropomorphic animals characters is so readers focus less on what the characters look like (black, white, etc.) and more on what they’ve done or overcame; I want them to focus on the lesson of the story and internal emotions of the character. Also, they’re a lot of fun to draw and are capable of maintaining plot elements that *normal* human characters can’t (like fly, scale up trees with ease, pick up a scent from far distances, etc.). I think I’ve grown up enough as a writer to start telling stories with a human cast… but we’ll see if there are any more “furry” characters in need of getting their stories told living in my imagination. There will always be a place in my heart for each of them.

Ferrante: You’re self-taught. You’re fortunate enough to be living in a time where the internet provides free instruction on writing and illustrating? What drew you to Mark Crilley’s website? Are there any other sites you would recommend for emerging illustrators?

Pierre: I found Mark Crilley while browsing the Kid’s section of our former cable provider’s pay-per-view channel when I was 11, I think? There were some free how-to-draw videos by him, and I used to wait for when the service put new videos up. Eventually I learned that he was a published comic-creator with a youtube channel, and our “relationship” took off. He “mentored” me for several years until I made a style change from Japanese manga to western animation-styled art.

There are several social networks where artists can be found and followed, like tumblr, twitter, instagram, and deviantART (though I’m personally not a fan of that site due to its name and content that is allowed there). If you’re ready, get an account on one or more of these sites and start sharing your art. I don’t advise getting an account too early in your growth; my parents prevented me from doing so, and I’m glad they did (but don’t tell them I said that). People online can be cruel, and the pressure of being surrounded by artists who are more experienced then you are may hurt your growth as an artist. People also have different opinions on what is considered “art”, so what might be inappropriate to you, will be beautiful to someone else. What I like to do is bookmark the tumblr, twitter, and/or portfolio website of artists I like and “follow” them that way. It’s less distracting, and you get to decide who you want to see, as opposed to getting suggestions from a social media feed.

Ferrante: Do you participate in peer critiques? Do you test your manuscripts on children? Where do you get feedback on your work before publishing?

Pierre: My go-to feedback person is my mom, second are my siblings. Though I’d love to be able to critique with other young authors, the majority of my “peers” that are writers are most likely writing YA novels, so I’d be the odd one out, easy! For the most part, I read up on a lot of resource articles on the best ways to write for children, common mistakes new writers make, and other insightful pieces and pray I’m doing it right. You can imagine my ecstasy when I get a nice review.

Ferrante: Yes, I can. Do you plan on pursuing any formal education in writing or illustrating? What is next for you?

Pierre: As much as I’d love to go to an acclaimed art school and study Illustration and/or Character Design, a $50k tuition for 4 years to study something I’ve proven I can learn on my own would most likely be a very unwise investment (though the Ringling Art Institute in Sarasota, FL is calling to me), especially if it takes a while for my highly-specialized career choice to take off. I’m thinking I might study education or another field I’m interested in at a less-expensive local school and do freelance illustrating/write books on the side, or get a major and art minor and use the major as a backup if my art career doesn’t work out immediately. But this is all speculation. Only time will tell.

IFerrante: I’ve heard how expensive post-secondary education is in the United States. That’s unfortunate but you seem to be finding your own way just fine.

Ferrante: If you could dance, sing, and act perfectly in a Broadway production, which one would you choose?

Pierre: The Lion King, period. It’s one of my favourite Disney movies, and I love the soundtrack. I’m a little short, but I think I’d make a good Adult Nala or Rafiki (who is female in the Broadway version for some reason). I’d also say Annie… but I think I’m too old for that!

Ferrante:  If you could make a fantasy character such as a dragon, a fairy, a mermaid, a wizard, or an elf become real, which one would you choose?

Pierre: I’m torn between choosing a fairy or an elf. I think having a trusty sidekick like Tinkerbell would be fun. But there’s an all-ages webcomic I read called Harpy Gee, about a magic-less elf (named Harpy) who learned to rely on her physical skills to protect herself in a world crawling with monsters. So if she were the elf, I think we’d get along. She could teach me how to kick butt, lol.

Ferrante: Under what circumstances do you say, “this only happens to me!”

Pierre: When I mess up a sketch on paper and look for the “Ctrl + Z” keys on my desk. (Actually, this happens to a lot of digital artists, haha.)

Ferrante: Ah, yes. The blessed “undo.”

Thank you for participating in this interview. Good luck with your career. You’ve certainly got a great start.



The Cat Who Loved to Swim by LeAnne Miller. Illustrated by Linda Manthey. Book Review.

The Cat Who Loved to Swim features a feline, Casper, who is being mocked by his friends for swimming. They tell him that cats don’t behave like that. Then, they each realize they are unique in some way. The goat likes gymnastics. The donkey sings. The monkey plays violin. Casper convinces them to compete in the Big Swimming Show even though they can’t swim. He pulls them on a raft while they display their special talents. The judges award them “most unique”. Casper ends with, “It’s fun and OK when you go your own way!”

This is a great message. Accept your friends as they are. Accept and be proud of your own unique skills.

Unfortunately, the book was written in rhyme, a challenge for any writer. The rhythm is unsteady, the rhyming pattern changes throughout, and some unusual words are used to fit the rhyming, such as “faux-pas”. This makes the book difficult to read aloud smoothly and with expression. Subsequently, it is difficult to maintain a child’s interest.

If you choose to write in rhyme, which is seldom needed, try reading it aloud and tapping to the beat. Then give it to someone who has never seen the book before and ask them to do the same. If either of you are stumbling, the rhyming isn’t working.

The illustrations are noteworthy. I think they are done with computer graphics but they have the feel of cut and paste shapes. With the simplest of pictures, Linda Manthey conveys wonderful charm and emotion.

This book has so much potential but does not truly fulfill it because of the difficulties of writing in rhyme. The story is cute and worthwhile, however. It’s worth taking a look.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

How to Provide Outside Entertainment for Indoor Cats – Recycled Sundays

When we brought our first two cats home from the pound, we were committed to keeping them indoors. I had vivid memories of the black tomcat named Fluffy from my childhood. He would disappear for days and then return looking like he’d escaped the dungeons of the Marquis de Sade. He was slashed, bruised, lost half an ear, blinded in one eye, and often infected. When he meowed on the doorstep, I hesitated, not knowing what grotesque sight would await me.


In addition, he was often ill from something he’d eaten – birds, rats, frogs, or garbage. He’d hack and gasp until finally discharging it under our kitchen table whereupon shrieks of, “I’m not cleaning that up.” would begin.

(I subsequently learned that outdoor cats pickup fleas, parasites and disease as well. I was not going to clean that up from my own cats either.)

One day, I realized it had been weeks since we had seen old Fluffy. We learned he’d been struck by a car and left in a ditch. When our three cats bite the dust, my husband wants the reassurance of verifying it. I’m not sure if this is sentiment or revenge.

When Fluffy was small enough for me to pick up – 1956 (age 3, me not the cat)

Indoor cats share, with outdoor cats, the peculiar instinct to eat whatever strikes their fancy. Our three have ingested elastics, Construx rings, rubber washers, and Barbie doll shoes. Patch chews any pen that has been previously chewed by my husband. Virgil eats anything that once contained food including takeout plastic ketchup packages.

Still, we try to limit what goes into their stomachs and provide them with a healthy lifestyle. We’ve given them opportunity to get outside without risk.

The first year, we tried a harness and leash in the back yard. While Patch was content to watch the butterflies, Misty worked herself into a fevered hysteria. Whenever a crow passed overhead, she raced in the opposite direction, choking herself on the leash and then scrambling and clawing free. I wondered if she viewed Hitchcock’s The Birds before we got her. Shouldn’t the birds be afraid of her?

We decided to try a cat pen. Since this might be worse than the harness and leash, we haphazardly slapped scrap lumber together and wrapped it in chicken wire. The neighbour’s children came to watch. Then the neighbours. The pen turned out larger than we intended causing someone to question whether we’d recently rescued a panther from the pound and failed to tell them. Afterwards, everyone dragged over their lawn chairs and we watched the cats try it out. I guess there’s not a lot of excitement on our street.

We doubted the wretched pen would make it through the winter. This summer, it was four years old. We decided to replace it and do it up right. We planned and measured. We used better lumber. This pen was going to last until the last cat died of old age. We made it a little smaller so I added entertainment. There is a long platform for stretching out in the sun, a cozy corner seat for privacy, a trellis for climbing, a swing for batting or daredevil tricks, a suspension bridge for working out Marine style, and the double thick scratching post. I’m still searching for a plastic tunnel for hiding and crawling.

My son wanted to know why we never built him such a neat playground. Afterwards, we watched the cats try out our three days of work. The neighbours didn’t join us this time. I guess their lives must have more excitement now.

Patch put one foot on the ground, stared around, then the second, paused, then the third. He left the fourth inside the window as a safety anchor until he started to stiffen up. The cats realize there was soft dirt with the old pan used to be. Immediately, to started to dig their way out. Ungrateful wretches! Patch touched the swing and then leapt straight into the air when it moved, frightening all three back into the house for a full 10 minutes.

When they returned, they sat in a row at one end of the pen and stared through the chicken wire as though a parade was passing by. That side had been boarded over before. They’d never seen our patio area. I don’t know what they expected the picnic table to do.

The entrance to the cat pen is through a barred basement window. The cats are just small enough to fit through the bars. We let them come and go during the good weather. Occasionally, they wake us up by fighting under our bedroom window but usually the disruption is from someone else’s cat allowed to wander.

I wonder what they are hissing and yelling through the chicken wire, “Ha, Ha, I’m free to run onto the road, kill the baby birds in your birdhouse, and mess in your owners’ garden.”

To which Patch replies, “Yeah, but you ain’t got a swing,” and Misty adds, “and all the Barbie shoes you could ever eat.”

First published in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News, Sunday, July 25, 1993

New Cinderella Video.

A new video of the story of Cinderella is available on my YouTube site Bonnie Ferrante – Making Reading and Learning Fun. It is made using Legos, Little People, and graphics. After your child watches it, encourage him or her to act out the story using toys or dress up. Here is the script for reference but don’t make the child follow it. Let them tell the story  at their own level.

You are welcome to use the video or script in any non-commercial way. Please give credit to the author.

The Link


Long ago when there was still magic in the world, a young girl named Ella lost first her Mama and then her Papa. Papa had remarried into the Less family, who seemed nice, at the beginning.

Ella did worry, however, about the cruel way they treated animals. You can learn a lot about people by the way they treat animals. Ella fed the birds and rabbits in the winter. She groomed the old mare every day and if she did not have time to ride her. she let her loose to run at will. Ella was kind to the hen. The Less family, however, would kick the hen she was underfoot. They thought it was funny to throw rocks at birds and rabbits. The animals soon learned to hide it from everyone except Ella.

But the Less family did not show how awful they really were until Papa was gone. Papa’s ship sank in a terrible storm in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. All his fortune was on board and so Ella lost her father and all their wealth as well.

Grace, her stepmother, was furious. She had a beautiful old house but no money to spend. She moved Ella to the attic and treated her like the most unfortunate servant on earth. Since Ella’s stepmother bullied her, her two stepsisters Virtue and Mercy Less were even crueller.

Grace: “Sweep the floors and then wash them.”

But as soon as Ella was finished, Virtue walked through with muddy shoes.

Grace: “Do the dishes and clean up the kitchen.”

But as soon as Ella finished, Mercy made a snack leaving breadcrumbs, spilled milk, sticky fingerprints and dirty dishes scattered around the room.

Grace: “Clean up Virtue’s bedroom. Then clean up Mercy’s.”

As soon as Ella finished cleaning Mercy’s room, Virtue’s was already a mess again.

Grace: You did a terrible job of cleaning up the bedroom. What you doing with all your time?

Virtue and Mercy did nothing all day but play with their makeup and their hair, eat, and look through catalogs for stylish new clothes.

Virtue: “Mother,”I want a new gown. Nothing I have is in style anymore.”

Mercy: “Mother, I want new shoes. Nothing I have is in style anymore.”

So Grace would sell something from Ella’s home, an heirloom clock, a silver plate, or a brooch from Ella’s mother’s jewelry box. It broke Ella’s heart to see all her family things being sold away but if she said anything, Grace would lock her in the attic and not allow her to eat for a day.

Ella did not want more things to be sold, but  when her toes were peeking through her shoes, she said, “Grace, could I have some new shoes? Mine are worn out.”

Grace: “Do you think money grows on trees? If I hadn’t been foolish enough to marry your father, I wouldn’t have to be living in squalor. If you want shoes, buy them yourself.”

Ella: “But I have no money.”

Grace: “Well, I guess I’ll have to sell something then.”

Ella cringed. She didn’t want anything else sold away but she really needed shoes.

One day she came back from working in the garden. Ella saw two men carrying her bed away.

Ella: “Grace, where are they going with my bed?”

Grace opened her hand and took out a few coins. She gave them to Ella. “That’s more than enough for shoes. Don’t ask me for any more money for at least a year.”

Ella: “But what will I do without a bed? It’s freezing in the attic.”

Grace: “I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”

So Ella slept in front of the fireplace in the kitchen. Every morning she woke with ashes on her skin as well as burn marks on her dress.

When she brought breakfast to her family, Grace said, “You’re filthy. Your dress is full of holes. It’s a good thing I’m not wasting any more money on you since can’t even take care of what you have.”

Ella: “I can’t help it. The cinders pop out of the fireplace and spread all over.”

Virtue: “Poor cinder girl.”

Mercy: “Poor Cinder Ella.”

Mercy and Virtue: “Cinder Ella. Cinderella.”

That was her name from that moment on but Cinderella didn’t care. One day a message came from the palace. Grace shouted for her daughters, “Listen to this. All unmarried women and their chaperones are invited to come to the palace tomorrow night for a grand ball. The Prince is of marrying age and hopes to meet his future bride.”

(Virtue and Mercy squeal with delight.)

Virtue: “What will we wear?”

Mercy: “Everything we have is out of date.”

Grace: “I have a surprise I have been keeping from you just in case something like this happened. I have enough fabric for three beautiful dresses. Cinderella. You’re going to have to sew quickly and get three dresses ready by tomorrow.”

Cinderella: “Of course, Grace. I will sew us the prettiest dresses the prince will ever see.”

Grace: “Us? You’re not getting any of this fabric. I’ve already spent a fortune on you.”

Cinderella: “But you said three beautiful dresses.”

Grace: “One for Virtue, one for Mercy, and one for me, their chaperone.”

Cinderella: “What will I wear?”

Grace: “That is your problem. I told you I wasn’t going to spend any more money on you. Now go set up the sewing machine. The girls and I will decide what kind of dresses we want you to make.”

Cinderella nodded, trying not to cry. When she left, Virtue and Mercy turned to their mother.

Virtue: “You’re not going to let her go in rags, are you? She’ll embarrass us.”

Grace: “I don’t think you have to worry about that. She’s too proud to show up at the palace looking like a beggar.”

Mercy: “I’ll get the catalogs so we can pick designs for our dresses.”

Cinderella sewed three beautiful dresses. She worked all night and most of the next day. Just before supper, she finished the dresses and gave them to Grace and her stepsisters. They squealed with delight and went off to fix their hair and makeup. Cinderella went to the attic and took her mother’s dress out of the trunk.

Cinderella: “Perhaps I can make this dress a little more stylish.”

But instead of sewing, fell asleep at the table. An owl appeared at the window. He hooted and hooted again, but poor exhausted Cinderella did not awake

The bird flew away and then returned. One by one, rabbits, birds, the hen, and even the house cat made their way through the window or up the back stairs to the attic. They took the dress and did their best to make it into something beautiful. Love is a special magic that makes exceptional things possible.

Cinderella woke just as her stepsisters and stepmother  were preparing to leave.  “Oh no. I fell asleep.”

She rubbed her tired eyes and looked up at the lovely dress her animal friends had sewn.  “What? How did that happen?”

Virtue: “Hurry up, Mercy.”

Cinderella dressed quickly. She rushed down the stairs just as her family was about to leave.

Cinderella: “Wait for me.”

They turned and their eyes narrowed.

Grace: “Where did you get that dress?”

Cinderella: “It was my mother’s.”

Virtue: “That’s why it looks so old fashioned.”

Mercy: “The lace is ridiculous.”

Grace: “Girls, Perhaps you could help her fix it.”

Virtue and Mercy step forward and tore Cinderella’s dress into rags.

Grace: “Oh, how unfortunate. That didn’t help at all. Well, let’s go ladies.”


Cinderella ran through the house, out the back door, and into the garden. She sat down on a bench and cried. Her animal friends crept around her. Cinderella wiped her eyes.

Cinderella: “Who wants to go on a silly old ball anyway? It would be filled with mean and snobbish women. I’m much better off here with my animal friends.”

Fairy: “Are you sure you don’t want to go?”

Cinderella: “Who are you?”

Fairy: “I am your fairy godmother. You probably don’t remember your mother but she wasn’t an ordinary woman. She was my half-sister. She made me promise not to spoil you with magic but I think she would agree that this is a special moment.”

Cinderella: “What do you mean?”

Fairy: “I mean, it’s time for you to go to the ball. Now listen carefully. Get the pumpkin from the garden and bring it here.”

Cinderella did not understand but she did what she was asked. The fairy godmother turned the pumpkin into a beautiful coach.

Fairy: “Now we need a horse. Your mare is a little too old and small to pull such a heavy coach. I wonder if any of your animal friends would volunteer.”


Cinderella: “Thank you.”

(The fairy godmother changes the cat into a beautiful white horse.)

Fairy: “You need a driver and a footman.”

(Two rabbits hop up and the fairy godmother uses her magic.)

Fairy: “All right my dear, off you go.”

Cinderella: “But what about my dress?”

Fairy: “That was your mother’s, wasn’t it? However did it get so ragged?”

Cinderella: “My stepsisters tore it to pieces when they saw me in it.”

Fairy: “If you don’t mind, I’d like to give you a brand-new one.”

Cinderella: “That would be wonderful.”

(Changes dress.)

Fairy: “Now off you go but there is a limit to my magic. When the clock strikes midnight, everything will turn back to the way it was. Make sure you leave before then.”

Cinderella: “I will, I will, thank you so much. I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me.”

Fairy: “All right, dear, time to go. I want you to get as much fun as you can out of tonight.”

(Cinderella travels to the ball.)

The Prince was bored. He had met all the ladies at the ball and none of them interested him. Then a new lady walked in.

(Cinderella and the Prince look at each other. He walks toward her. They dance.)


Prince: “So, Princess, tell me about yourself.”

Cinderella: “I’m not a princess. I’m just an ordinary girl.”

Prince: “What do ordinary girls like to do for fun?”

Cinderella: “I’m afraid I don’t have much time for fun. My parents died, I have to take care of my stepmother and stepsisters. The house is a lot of work. But I don’t mind. They would be lost without me. They really don’t know how to do anything for themselves.”

Prince: “Beautiful, kind, hard-working, and skilled. You certainly aren’t like the other ladies I’ve danced with. Not ordinary in my world.”

The Prince danced with Cinderella for the rest of the night. One by one the ladies realized he had lost interest in anyone else.

(Clock strikes 12.)

Cinderella: “Midnight! I didn’t realize it was so late. I have to leave.

Prince: “Wait. I didn’t even ask your name. I thought we had more time.”

As Cinderella raced out the doors she lost one of her glass slippers. The Prince picked it up and looked at it thoughtfully.

Cinderella made it home just in time. Soon after her stepmother and stepsisters arrived.

Grace: What a ridiculous waste of time.

Virtue: He didn’t even dance with any other girls once the Princess arrived.

Mercy: Did you notice how much she looked like Cinderella?

All three women stared at Cinderella who could not keep the big smile off her face.

Grace: Shouldn’t you be in bed by now? And why are you still wearing that ridiculous dress?”

Cinderella:” Good night everyone. Have sweet dreams. I know I will.”

The next day there was banging on the door.

Cinderella: I will get it.

Grace looked out the window. “No, Mercy you get the door. Cinderella, come with me.”

She locked Cinderella in the attic.

Cinderella: “Why are you doing this?”

Grace: Be absolutely quiet or I will leave you locked up here for a week.”

Grace hung the key on a nail beside the door. Downstairs, the prince and his servant entered.

Servant: Under the command of His Royal Highness, Prince Thomas, every single girl in the kingdom must try on this glass slipper.

Virtue: Isn’t that the shoe the lady wore who danced with the prince last night?

Grace (entering): Of course it is. Now put on your shoe Virtue.

Virtue: Oh, oh, of course.

(She tries and fails.)

Grace: Silly me, that was Mercy’s shoe. Put it on my beautiful daughter.

(She tries and fails.)

Neither could fit the shoe.

Servant: Are there any other single ladies?

Grace: Well, there’s me. I’m an unfortunate widow. I could try it on.

Prince: That won’t be necessary.

Upstairs, the cat leaped for the key. He shoved it under the door.  Cinderella unlocked it and ran down the stairs.

Cinderella: Wait, please, wait.

Prince: I thought you said there were no more single ladies.

Grace: She’s just a worthless servant.

Prince: She looks very familiar.

He took the slipper from the servant and put it on Cinderella. Her fairy godmother appeared and gave her back her beautiful dress.

Prince: It is you.

Cinderella: My name is Cinderella. This was my father’s home.

Cinderella told the prince everything about her step-family.

She and the Prince became engaged. They wanted to get to know each other so they set the wedding date for a year ahead.

Prince: During this year, you and your daughters will be Cinderella’s servants. You will keep the house clean, including her room. You will feed her and do everything she asks. I will send a dressmaker to makes clothes for her and her alone. Grace Less, you will move out of her parents’ bedroom and Cinderella will move in. You will sleep in the attic. If, on our wedding day, a year from now, Cinderella tells me that any of you made her unhappy in any way, I will put burning hot iron shoes on your feet and make you walk through town. Do you understand?

Lesses: Yes, Your Highness.

At the end of the year, Cinderella’s stepsister’s helped her put on her wedding dress. Grace refused to come to the wedding.

Mercy: I want to say I’m sorry for the way we treated you. I know now how awful we were.

Virtue: We acted just like our mother and didn’t think about you at all. I’m sorry too.

Cinderella: All is forgiven. Now, try to have some fun today. There are lots of single men coming to the wedding.

The wedding was beautiful. Cinderella threw the bouquet and Snow White caught it. The cake was delicious. And her stepsisters made new friends.

Cinderella and the prince lived happily ever after.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Milton the Christmas Moose by Steve and Jean Goodwin. Illustrated by Loanna Philippou. Book Review.

This book was written to teach children the importance of kindness, inclusion, forgiveness, and the spirit of Christmas. Milton has one antler smaller than the other and one leg shorter than the other. Like Rudolph, he is teased and excluded by his species. However he makes friends with all the other animals, helps them as much as possible, and encourages them to help each other. Because of this, Rudolph comes to visit him and brings him to see Santa. Santa grants him a wish. Milton wishes to be green with red antlers to remind people to keep Christmas in their hearts 365 days a year. This triggers a realization in the other moose who treat him differently from then on.
This book is obviously written for very young children, those who still believe in Santa and Rudolph. However it is a little long and challenging for children of this age. Parents could read it to them and explain some of the words and concepts.
Throughout the story we see that small kindnesses make a big difference in animal’s lives. This book lends itself well to discussions on how children can help others and make the world a better place through their small achievements.
I thought the new colour choice of red and green was a little weak as a catalyst for change by the other moose. Rudolph is accepted by the other reindeer because of his monumental achievement of saving Christmas and being exactly what Santa needed when the others were unable to help him. I felt this story needed a little more umph for the turning point. I was hoping for something new but it seem to be basically an echo of the Rudolph story.
The illustrations are cute, wonky watercolors. They are colourful and cheerful, however the illustration of Santa Claus was a little jarring and out of place.
At the end of the book it tells the reader to check out the Christmas song on a website. When you go there, this song is for purchase only and I couldn’t figure out a way to hear any of it.
A sweet, heart-warming book that encourages good values but doesn’t have the impact of Rudolph.

Surf’s Up! Rebecca Heller is Hitting the Waves – Three Random Questions Interview

Rebecca  Heller is the quintessential surfer girl. The bio on her website begins “Rebecca Heller is a Los Angeles-based high school counselor. She like totally lives in the Valley with her surfer husband and precocious daughter. She occasionally ditches school to go surfing.” She even has long blonde hair.

Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Rebecca. It’s not surprising that your first book, published in 2005, was Surf Like a Girl. How old were you when you started surfing?

Rebecca Heller: In 2001, I moved from New York City to Los Angeles, within the month I had taken my first surf lesson and have been in the water ever since. I was 28 at the time—an old lady by surfing standards, but you are never too old to learn!

Ferrante: The book includes practical information on surfing, such as how to ride the waves and safety, but it also includes etiquette and what to wear. Basically, it explains the whole package of the surfer girl persona. Was this based on personal experience or observation?

Heller: Definitely personal experience. When I was learning, I was asking a million questions. There were very few books and this was in the early internet days and there was just very little information out there. Especially for girls.

Ferrante: Skater Girl is in a similar style. It includes the basics and advanced techniques with step by step instruction. When did you start skateboarding? Do you still participate?

Heller: I skated a bit as a kid and got back on a board around the same time as I started surfing. The two activities have a lot in common. My skateboarding skills are nowhere near my surf skills so I co-authored Skater Girl with an expert, Patty Segovia, who runs the All Girl Skate Jam.

Ferrante: Are these two books mostly read by young people beginning the sports or the sports audience? How do you prepare yourself to write for that particular readership?

Heller: When I wrote Surf Like a Girl, I was in a way writing for myself when I was a beginner. It’s funny, my voice just skews towards a young audience. It is no surprise that I continued writing for young people. I also work with young people as a high school college counselor. It is definitely my comfort zone!

Ferrante: Kids must  think you’re the coolest counselor ever.

Your publishing company is called “Like a Girl” press. I assume you are poking fun at the denigrating saying “she throws/runs/etc. like a girl.” Would you tell us about your mandate to empower girls?

Heller: Absolutely. I have never once in my life thought there was something boys could do that girls could not. (Okay, maybe peeing standing up, but otherwise…) I feel passionately about empowering women to do whatever they set their mind to, whether that is athletic, academic, or creative.  For me, “Like a Girl” translates to “Like a Badass!”

Ferrante: You have a fiction book, Gilbert and Louis Rule the Universe for middle grade readers. Why did you choose that age level and that topic?

Heller: : Gilbert and Louis Rule the Universe had been in my heart for a long time. It is a semi-autobiographical story about me and my best friend in middle school. (We really did call ourselves Gilbert and Louis)  As the saying goes, “God writes poor fiction.” So I had to give it structure. I love Jane Austin and the plotline of Pride and Prejudice fit with my story and gave it a stronger narrative.

Ferrante: You also have two picture books, Falling Rock and your latest book Elephants. Why did you change from chapter books to this style?

Heller: The sweet spot for Falling Rock is second grade. I wrote Falling Rock over 18 years ago, and my mother did the artwork.  The story was based on a tale my camp counselor once told us about how Falling Rock was a Native American and wherever he was spotted they put up a sign with his name. Once my daughter was born I pulled out the story, dusted it off, rewrote it, re-photographed the artwork, and created the book. 

I have been reading tons of picture books with my daughter and I am absolutely in love with them. I have always been drawn to visuals (I was an Art History major in college and my mother is an artist), so I love the combination of a good story and great artwork. I also love animals and feel very strongly about animals in the wild being conserved and protected.

Ferrante: The illustrations are wonderful? How did you connect with Susie Mason? Did you collaborate or did you just hand over the words to her?

Heller: I found Suzie on the internet while searching for illustrators. I had a very strong vision for the book. If you ask anyone who knows me they know I have a real sense of what I like and don’t like. I saw Suzie’s work online and was like “this is it.” I sent her an email asking if she wanted to illustrate Elephants and happily she said yes. She is based in the U.K. so we have never met in person, but we collaborated on it greatly. She brought a lot of wonderful ideas to the table that made it better than I had even imagined, and all the time we stayed true to my initial vision. She is amazing.

Ferrante: Part of the proceeds from Elephants goes toward the Amboseli Trust for Elephants ( Why did you choose that particular charity out of all the elephant charities?

Heller: The Amboseli Trust for Elephants aligns perfectly with my goals of elephant conservation and protection as they are a non-profit organization that aims to ensure the long-term conservation and welfare of Africa’s elephants. I was turned onto ATE by Colleen Kinzley, Director of Animal Care, Conservation, and Research at the Oakland Zoo, who helped me fact check Elephants. The Amboseli Trust for Elephants is also the legal entity that administers the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, the longest-running study of wild elephants in the world. Since 1972, they have followed the lives of the Amboseli elephants; the results of their research has profoundly altered the way we think about, conserve, and manage elephant populations. They are doing fantastic work.

Ferrante: Are you working on another book? Would you like to share?

Heller: Yes! Suzie Mason and I are currently working on a series that feature threatened or endangered animals. The next up is an animal that is close to my heart, Dolphins! We are also working on books on Polar Bears and Whales.

Ferrante: Now for your three random questions:

If you were a natural disaster, what would you be, and why?

Heller: As a surfer girl, I would have to say a tsunami.

Ferrante: As a teenager, who was your idol?

Heller: Hmm, I am not sure I had one. I would say though that my idol since childhood and still has to be Eloise from the Kay Thompson series.

Ferrante: Is there a childhood keepsakes that you treasure or wish you had saved?

Heller: I am rather sentimental although also a minimalist, which is a tough combination. Two of my favorites are Skinny Bunny (a stuffed rabbit that looks exactly like the name implies), that is now in my daughter’s room, and my “Becca Books” a series of books my aunt made for me that feature photographs of me and my family along with fantastical stories that my aunt created.

Ferrante: It’s wonderful when we can pass on something precious from childhood to our own children. Thank you for answering my questions. Best of luck with your animal picture books in the works. I hope all your waves are perfect.

Social media links

Twitter: @rebeccaheller

Instagram: @rebecca.heller

Facebook: rebeccaheller.549

Elephants was reviewed on this blog.

Click  on the covers for the information and buy links.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Damned If I Do and Damned If I Don’t

I understand why so many bloggers are refusing to review indie books. You get tired of this kind of stuff. I think I’ll be taking a break soon. It’s hard to be energetic and positive when I get this kind of hate. I’m not sure where she’s reviewed me but I think revenge reviewers should be outted. (I didn’t even review her for cripes sake.) This is what happened. I see why bloggers burn out.

From: Alma Hammond (I won’t post her email)
Sent: September 10, 2017 8:45 AM
Subject: New Picture Book to Review

Hi Bonnie,

I popped by your website on a google search and was impressed by your blog of picture books.  I published a picture book a couple months ago that I would love to have you review on your site.  The book, in .pdf form is attached, along with a marketing piece I use to sell the books to stores (currently carried in 8 stores in the USA).

Let me know if you could be interested.


Alma R. Hammond


On Sun, Sep 10, 2017 at 6:52 PM, B.Ferrante <> wrote:

Hi Alma,

There is a lot I liked about the book but I felt the ending was a bit of a let-down. It was a little too passive. I’ll pass on this book but keep me in mind for the next.




Thanks B.  I left a review of Amida as well.  After reading it ( I bought it) I thought, what makes you an expert?  You have no talent in writing children’s books, so unoriginal and stupid frankly.

Little Mouse’s Sweet Treat by Shana Hollowell. Illustrated by Jennifer finch. Book Review.

This children’s picture book uses patterning in the text. Each page features a little mouse looking for a sweet treat something like this:

Hi Bear.

Do you have something sweet and yummy?

Why yes, said bear. A handful of honey.

Eek! said the mouse.

Honey is sticky and runny.

Sorry, said the  bear.

You should ask the bunny.

The mouse asks a bear, bunny, dog, cat, bird, pony, cow, and finally his mommy for a sweet . Luckily his mother has baked cookies for him.

The rhyming is a little forced in spots but holds up fairly well throughout. There are  no quotation marks.

Children will be intrigued by the reasons the mouse does not want any of the other animals’ snacks. Clover is too lucky, pie is too dry, milk looks like silk, a seed is not what he needs, hay is bland, and he passes on the grass.

Jennifer Finche’s illustrations are done in watercolour with a life-like style. The little mouse is endearing and expressive. The pony appears to be galloping right off the page and the Siamese cat holds us with his eyes.

This is a simple story to read to toddlers or for early readers to read aloud. It would be fun to continue the pattern with other animals. (It’s harder than it looks so you don’t have to make it all rhyme.) For example.

Hi Giraffe.

Do you have something sweet for me?

Why yes, said Giraffe. Leaves from the tree.

Eek! said the mouse.

Leave are bitter as tea.

Sorry, said the  bear.

You should ask the bee.

It would also be a lot of fun to act out the story and end it with baking cookies together.

Buy link


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Canadian Obvious – Recycled Sundays

A regular feature heard over a local radio channel is a quickie magazine excerpt type show called Canadian Living. Occasionally,  the host has interesting information or valuable tips to pass on. But more often than not I feel the show should be called Canadian Boring.

I wonder if the hostess doesn’t just take notes while she’s shopping, compiling the sales person’s comments until she has a three minute spot. She’ll talk about walking, cleaning your teeth, drinking water, anything. Although her information can be helpful, such as new research on sunscreen, she is an expert on the obvious. I’ve decided to save her a little trouble. I’ve lined up a few topics along her general style.

Screwdrivers – how do you decide which screwdriver to use on which screw. Plastic or wood, which kind of handle gives the best grip? Right to tight, left to lose, but how do we get the darn thing started?

Parking – Should your automobile face into the garage or out of the garage? The dangers of shutting the automatic garage door before shutting off the automobile engine. What exactly does that big black spot on the garage floor mean?

Salad dressing – Should the bottle be shaken up before it is put on the table or before it is poured? Should the dressing be shaken horizontally or vertically, or should it be swirled?

Atishoo – Tissues versus handkerchiefs. Balancing the environmental impact, germ control, convenience, expense, and the yukkies.

Boiling water – kettle or pot? Copper or cast-iron? And where does the micro-wave fit in?

Breathing – How deep? How often? Expanding the tummy versus the chest. The great tragedy of mouth breathers.

Just to get her off on the right track, I’ll do a sample show:

This is Canadian Boring with Very Monotonous. Today’s show: 87% of Canadians are reading impaired. I’ll explain right after this.

Insert a commercial for tires that will keep the audience’s attention better than the main feature.

Recent studies have shown that 87% of Canadian adults do not know how to read a book properly. In one study, researchers (who are too unimportant to recognize here) found that 12% read the last page of a novel before reading the complete text. In another study, researchers (whose names escape me at the moment) learned that 32% turn the pages from the bottom thereby risking leaf injury. The same researchers also learned at 36% read with improper lighting.

The man at the  bus depot also informed me that a huge percent use proper bookmarks, from chewing gum wrappers to nose rings. And a shocking 22% never finish the book! That’s good news for writers to write better beginnings than endings. Other benefits include less wear and tear on books and used bookstores and more books being started. I’ll be back after this to tell you about tomorrow’s show.

Insert commercial for radio station contest in a feeble attempt to offset any decline an interest caused by Canadian Boring show.

Before you roll over in bed and adjust the blankets, some issues to consider tomorrow. For Canadian Boring, I’m Very Monotonous.

In the midst of an information explosion where the public is inundated with more scientific fact, world news, and environmental controversy and they could possibly handle, perhaps there is a place for Canadian Boring. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to spend a few minutes a day listening to advice we can handle. It’s harmless to actually feel competent on occasion. Here’s one more Canadian Boring tip. It takes fewer muscles to smile than frown. Catch you next week.

Chronicle-Journal/Times-News Regional Newspapers

April 25, 1993

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages