The Three Little Pigs are Rescued

I have a new video for kids. This original version of the Three Little Pigs helps children develop compassion for animals. It is told using Legos, K’nex, illustration and graphics.

I’ve learned a  lot making this rather long feature composed of 356 frames. About 100 are partial repeats in one way or another. I have ideas for several others but I’m going to take some time to focus on book reviews and writing/illustrating and other projects. I’m also going to do some research on making videos, a bit late in the game but better late than never.

 

Please consider leaving a thumbs up, a comment, and subscribing if you want to know when my next one appears.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

  

Click on the cover to buy the book.

Can You Invent This Please? Recycled Sundays.

7110720687_21527da463_z

Photo by Shane McGraw

Don’t you think the rate of useless inventions has outstripped the useful? When was the last time you really needed a skinny musician doll wavered when you placed it in front of a stereo speaker? Can you believe people are still buying lava lamps and fuzzy dice? I really think we would have a solution to the garbage problem if we just banned novelty shops. But, perhaps I am just bitter. There are too many things I need that haven’t been invented yet.

I need water-resistant pen and paper for writing in the shower because as soon as I get out, I’ve forgotten what I meant to do. How about a bathroom door that won’t open until the child has washed his hands? Or an alarm that rings when a child tries to leave the building without making his bed. Both my daughter and I could use a tiny colander for sterilizing pierced earring studs. Perhaps then we wouldn’t spend so many hours on our hands and knees playing find the microscopic piece. How about self composting toys to avoid overloading the landfill sites in my kids’ rooms? Bedrooms should be designed with slanting floors so that balls and toys with wheels all roll safely to one end.

Wouldn’t we all benefit from twist tops that didn’t require the wearing of oven mitts to prevent the need for stitches? How about childproof bottles that parents didn’t have to ask the kids to open? Or travel shampoo bottles that did not leak all over the contents of your luggage?

Let’s have some serious government grants to perfect a lie detector admissible in court. Imagine the money we’d save on lawyers and court costs as well as incarcerating innocents. There would be a lot fewer crimes if the guilty were proven guilty and sent directly to jail instead of allowed to pass, “go.”

How about suspended animation booths for hospital emergency waiting rooms? We wouldn’t get served any quicker but at least the time would past without every second seeming like an eternity.

Someone without children obviously invented Daylight Saving Time and then decided to begin it before summer vacation. That way the kids could be absolutely wrung out from lack of sleep while coping with the emotional ups and downs of the end of school.

A genuinely nasty person invented high top runners, with laces, for small boys. He probably also designed handheld (meaning small enough to be easily misplaced) video games with alarms that sound at three in the morning.

An inventor who wasn’t making his quota must’ve come up with the useless instructions I find in my bathroom. A phrase on the suctioned bathmat reads, “This side down.” No kidding. Could you imagine someone sticking the suction cups to the bottom of their feet and hopping around the tub? Obviously, he did.

How about a bottle of round, orange vitamins? Inside is a white paper square stuffed with absorbent cotton. On it is printed, “Do not eat this.” If people are that stupid hadn’t they better right this warning on paper plates, Styrofoam cups, swizzle sticks, straws and plastic wrap? Or maybe someone should invent edible substitutes for all these things. Of course that would put the person who writes warnings out of work.

December 9, 1990.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Are Awards Worth It?

swag

Hello Fellow Writer,

I am researching writing awards for a future blog post. I would really appreciate if you took a few minutes to answer nine multiple choice questions. Once the information is analysed, I will be sharing the data on social media. I hope that this will help you, me, and other writers spend our hard-earned money in the most effective way.

There will be a code at the end of the survey that you may use to enter for a swag draw consisting of a tote bag, drink sleeve, child’s picture book, all ages humor book, T-shirt and mouse pad. Email the code to b.ferrante@tbaytel.net.

Here’s the link. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/H5VWDFR

Can You Hear Me Now? Recycled Sundays.

ytkzqyete

Some people have a strange need to humiliate themselves. A favoured method is to buy an item for display that is so tasteless, it leaves your guests speechless. One obvious example is the purchase of cow patty clocks. Honest. People actually spend their hard-earned green stuff to buy a sun-baked pile of brown stuff inlaid with a clock face. The larger the better. What can one say?

“I’d like to see the milker that dropped that one!”

The higher-priced ticking manure piles have mushrooms and weeds. I suppose one should expect to pay a little extra for natural embellishments. I mean, doesn’t a mushroom show the superior fertility of your chosen timepiece?

Maybe the idea is to humiliate the guests. After all their years of reading Miss Manners, perhaps attending Toast Masters meetings, these guests suddenly find themselves unable to say a single polite sentence.

What about the “Kiss a Pig” elections? Candidates in the U. S. actually run against each other for the humiliation of kissing a pig. Not a porcelain pig. A living, breathing, runny nosed, stinky swine. On the lips. In public. They don’t even get to choose the pig. It isn’t humiliating enough to let the entire world know that they are desperate enough to compete for Porky’s; three of the contestants will have to face the public embarrassment of losing. Imagine. “I wasn’t desirable enough to win a kiss from a pig.”

I’d heard of hog-calling contests and thought the participants were skirting public humiliation. While the pig-kissing elections definitely outrank them in weirdness, the husband-calling competition outdoes them all. Wives at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield actually compete against each other while bellowing for their spouses. Now you may think this is more humiliating for the men involved, what with their names being shrieked across the fairgrounds. Not so. You see, the women get to dress for the occasion.

aiqkayeim

The featured competitor in the newspaper, Paula Tyler, was wearing a frumpy cotton house dress, curlers and a bonnet that looked like the tinfoil on a self-contained popper package minus the wire handle. She also utilized props: an iron board, iron, and a pair of man’s trousers. As I examined this photograph, I realized the woman was not only humiliating herself for a few laughs, but every woman who ever wore curlers while she ironed and yelled for her husband.

Not that it isn’t a necessary art for many wives. I mean when you finally have the iron hot enough and the steam hissing, you don’t want to leave the tense of the door or pick up the baby. Why is it that the husband can’t hear pounding guest or a wailing tot anyway? No wonder these women have to stretch the vocal cords. Their husbands are probably one of those men with selective hearing. You know the type. They can hear the opening notes from The National for rooms away but can’t hear the kid with his head stuck in the banister.

On second thought, maybe it is the husband who is being humiliated by this contest. Perhaps this is a not-so-subtle way of saying, “I know the real you, and now so does everyone else.”

 

Published Sunday, September 2, 1990 in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Swamp weed, again! Parenting a Picky Eater. Recycled Sundays.

rcd4rlxc9

Children alter the contents of a refrigerator more than marriage, low-calorie diets, or self-improvement classes. They may not do the grocery shopping, but 9/10 of the list will be parents’ desperate ideas for edibles the child might be induced to eat.

Cave Daddy had it easy. He simply clubbed the sabertooth rabbit, carried it home, and handed it over to Cave Mommy who skinned and cooked it open-pit fire style. Cave Baby either aided or starved. The first time Cave Daddy, in an effort to improve his family’s diet according to the Neanderthal Food Guide, brought home a swamp weed, Cave Baby spoke his first word, “Yuck!”

Urban parents can forget bean sprouts and avocado, even for themselves. There is no room beside the currently favourite fruit, apples and only apples. For two full years this will be the only unprocessed food the child will eat, switching overnight two pears, only pears, I hate apples.

There are no ice cubes in the freezer since space is taken by Current Cartoon Remake microwavable dinners. These are most often used after the parent has spent hours cooking from scratch. The child will recognize that the twenty piece casserole contains parsley, which he decided yesterday was worse than swamp weed, and announce, “Yuck!” This is also true when the home-cooked meal has exactly the same meat, vegetable and dessert as the microwavable dinner. If parents could learn how to add that specialized cardboard flavour, they’d have a chance. Children will eat cereal that sparkles, comes in the shape of stars, letters, doughnuts, or hockey sticks, makes noise and contains a prize package guaranteed to cause a minor tidal wave when it falls into the milk filled bowl. Granola doesn’t qualify because it has “weird stuff in it.”

Parents learn to save empty margarine containers and stock up on plasticwear. At least two thirds of the refrigerator space will be taken up with leftovers, as in “You’re not having another cookie until you eat your noodles, bacon and eggs, pancakes, soup, steak, or vegetables.” The child will reply, “I don’t like noodles anymore. The bacon is too greasy. The eggs are dried out. The pancakes have raisins and I wanted chocolate chips. The steak is too fatty. The vegetables taste like swamp weed.” In stubborn persistence, (far simpler with a microwave than an open-pit cave fire but just as futile) the parents will continually reheat the leftovers until they have reached the texture and flavour of drywall.

Pity the poor parents who express delight when the child likes a new food outside the home. Just because the child ate chili in a restaurant, doesn’t mean he’ll eat homemade chili.

“Too tomatoey,” he’ll say.

“Of course it’s tomatoey,” Urban Mommy foolishly response. “Chili is made with tomatoes.”

“Yeah, but these are the wrong tomatoes.”

“They’re from our garden,” interjects Urban Daddy. “You helped pick them. Everybody’s Chili has tomatoes.”

“I only like tomatoes when you can’t tell they’re tomatoes,” the child will respond firmly.

Childcare experts (few of whom I’m sure actually live with children) say parents should learn their child’s preferences. Right. They hate macaroni and cheese casseroles, but love it packaged. They prefer chili without beans, lasagna without onions, and pizza with cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella. Any of this can be reversed at the stroke of midnight. In which case, the parents put the newly rejected food in the refrigerator in a container knowing it will be eaten the same day that the children claim to be receiving too much allowance.

Published Sunday, February 16, 1992 in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News.

Parents please note: this was written before the risk of putting hot food, and especially microwaving, in plastic became public knowledge. Please use glass containers in your microwave.

P.S. This same picky eater, now an adult, has become an advocate for plant-based healthy eating. He’d have no problem eating parsley, tomatoes, or even swamp weed now.

            

Click on the cover for more information or to buy the book.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

How to Get Robbed. Recycled Sundays.

key

Having grown up in a twelve street town, I wasn’t prepared for life in the city, complete with burglars.

When my husband and I moved into our first single-family dwelling we stupidly considered ourselves at no risk. The house was older than our combined ages. We owned a rusty Chevette and wore clothes from the bargain bin. Surely no one would consider robbing our home worth the risk of incarceration. There hasn’t been such naïveté since Wendy trusted Tinkerbell.

My husband, infant daughter and I lived in a 2 1/2 story home. The bedroom ceilings were sloped. We adopted a permanent stoop after repeatedly dashing our skulls in Wile E. Coyote style. In summer, the upper half of the home retained heat like a kiln. We ran fans in our room and the baby’s, as well as the furnace vent. Every night we propped up the windows with the removable screen and then shouted good night over the whirling machinery.

One sultry evening my husband and I stared at a mountain of dishes and engaged in dueling excuses.

“The baby has been so colicky today, I’m just exhausted,” I said.

“It was so hot today, I shouldn’t have done all that yard work,” responded my husband.

“She didn’t sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time. I couldn’t get anything done,” I said.

“Those cinder blocks must’ve weighed a ton,” he said.

“I’ve got such a headache,” I said.

“I’ve got such a backache,” he said.

“It sure is hot,” I said.

“Really hot,” he agreed.

We left the dirtiest dishes to soak and stacked the rest on the counter. Suddenly, my husband noticed two teenagers in our backyard. He hammered on the window and thumbed toward exit. The boys scrambled over the fence and disappeared.

“What do you suppose they’re up to?” I asked.

“Probably raiding the garden,” said my husband.

Now I suspect they had bigger thefts on their minds than wormy carrots. But we will never know for sure who visited us at 3 AM. My husband had just placed the baby back in her crib after a diaper change, when he heard a faint crash. With all the fan noise he couldn’t tell the direction. He switched on the hall light and went down to the landing. All was quiet.

The next morning I couldn’t find his lunch pail among the mountain of dirty dishes. Then I noticed the screen was gone from the window and his small portable saltshaker was in its place. After investigating, we discovered the lunch pail, thermos, two potted plants, and four dishes on the backyard lawn. A prickle went down my spine.

Someone had piled our cinder blocks against the wall creating makeshift stairs, climbed on top, and then tried to climb through the kitchen window. There they encountered the stacks of dirty dishes. They tried to remove them in order to get onto the onside counter. The crash my husband heard must have been the window accidentally falling shot and trapping the saltshaker. Switching on the light had scared them off.

Our newest home is comfortable, but hardly a burglar’s paradise like the last. I suspect a thief who gained entry would be easily caught. We would be bound to hear him rolling on the floor with laughter over our $50 third-hand stereo with eight track tape deck.

Nevertheless, we’ve installed double dead bolt locks on the doors and bars on the basement windows. There are bright lights on all the exterior walls of the yard are easily viewed by the neighbours. Unfortunately there’s nothing I can buy to protect me from a recurrence of stupidity.

One evening I switched on the outside lights, checked the windows and doors, and went to sleep in my quiet bedroom feeling confident and safe. The next morning, as my husband headed out the door to work, we heard rattling. The burglars had missed their best opportunity. There, in the front doorknob, hung my house keys.

July 7, 1991

Click the book cover for details.

          

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Mirror, Mirror, Smashed to Pieces

actor-snowqueen2

What if there was a magic mirror that showed only your ugliness when you looked into it? What if that mirror was smashed on a mountain top and a million slivers drifted on the wind down into the villages? So begins the story of the Snow Queen.

scene2-23

In the traditional fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, the Snow Queen plays a minor but important role. Without her kidnapping of Kay, Gerda would have no one to  rescue.

Much more importantly, her character inspired the creation of C.S. Lewis’s evil queen who terrifies the beings in Narnia throughout several books.

scene11-40fix

As a tribute to the Lego Batman movie, I’ve created an 11 minute video on a simplified and slightly altered version of the traditional Snow Queen story. It’s taking much longer than I expected, but I should be posting it on you tube quite soon. Have you ever tried costuming Duplo characters? Their bulky little bodies proved to be quite challenging. I’ve posted a few pics to give you an idea of  what I’m doing. A big problem with Legos is how few female characters there are.

I’m using the experimental method, no training or books, so I’ve had to redo and redo and redo. But, I’ve learned a lot and have ideas for improvement. (Unfortunately, the projected backdrop didn’t work but I have a different method to try next time.)

If you haven’t checked out my youtube site, here’s what it says on my “About” page.

“Welcome parents, teachers, and kids to my safe youtube site. Kids can listen to a book being read or a story being told, learn about words and numbers, and sing along. Adults can watch a book trailer and find new active ways to teach your children using inexpensive materials, active learning, and the outdoors.”

https://www.youtube.com/user/Bonnie0904

Click on the picture to buy little people.
**********

Click on the cover to buy the book.

        

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Do You Have to Suffer to Be Beautiful? – Recycled Sundays

dcrm8ogri

“You have to suffer to be beautiful,” was drilled into my head as a child. I wouldn’t have minded the suffering, if the beauty was forthcoming.

When I was little, every spring I got a haircut and perm. The old permanents burned like Mount Saint Helen, though no one believed my discomfort. Now there are gentle concoctions for delicate scalps to prevent burned skin. I no longer have to look like a nuclear fallout victim in exchange for curls.

I was a long, skinny kid – all elbows and knees. I resembled a Q-tip with my new hairdo, until I moved. Then I changed to a walking stick with a dandelion stuck to her head.

I never had much luck with hairdressers. In high school I begged, borrowed and babysat to earn enough money to get my hair done for the prom. I browsed through racks and racks of magazines with glamorous models (whose hair was teased, braided, sculptured, curled, coiled and bobbed) to find just the right style. Triumphantly, I marched to the hairdresser’s with my clipping in hand. She’d nodded and said, “Yes, I could do something close to that.” We differed on the meaning of close.

I sat patiently through the procedure.

Washing: whereupon I arched my neck backward in a position guaranteed to make an executioner drool and me walk like Igor for at least a week.

Towel drying: here the hairdresser aired her bottled frustrations by rattling my brains.

Combing: due to the excellent towel drying, my hair was now knotted like the Griswold strings of Christmas lights. Periodically, the hairdresser paused to clean the clumps of yanked hair from her comb and occasionally empty the overflowing trash.

Wrapping: the hairdresser used little pricks to anchor the rod to my scalp, stopping just short of driving the plastic sticks into my skull, not that I could tell the difference. Here she gave a Cruella DeVille smile asked, “Comfortable?” As comfortable as a frog mating with a hedgehog.

Drying: I was parked under a loud whirling dome in search of stacks of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Love Story, and Glamour, all of which were filled with teenage models wearing perfect hair. They subdued me into submission even when dehydration caused my nails to split and my tongue to curl up like a taco chip.

Styling: Unlike today’s stylist, who generally works with the patron and uses a curling iron, the hairdresser unrolled all the curlers and stared at the result like a village witch reading the tossed bones. She back combed and pinned and sprayed until she created a hairdo suitable for a woman 20 years my elder who wore red nail polish and tight fake leopard pants. When I protested, she announced, “Your hair’s too (choose one) fine/long/short/straight for the style you picked. This is beautiful.” It must have been, I certainly suffered for it.

No matter what style I brought in, I always left with the same style – a combination of bouffant and pinned, stiff waves which reminded me of the bride of Frankenstein. I rushed home, yanked out all the pins, cried a great deal, and telephoned my sister to fix my hair or I would stretch out on the tracks waiting for the next train through town.

My sister used to help me color my hair as well. My father refused to allow bleach, so our options were limited. We learned that brown hair with auburn tints cannot be dyed blonde without bleaching first. Mix these colors and you get a particularly this vivid shade of Halloween orange.

Eventually, the hair gods smiled on me. I finally have the hairdresser I can trust. My sister learned all about color mixing and the tricks of the trade and opened her own shop. Now I can go anytime, ask her to do what I want, and emerge with a style recognizably resembling the picture. It’s a bit of a hassle though, especially in winter. Her shop is 70 km from where I live. Oh well, I couldn’t expect to be beautiful if I didn’t suffer at least a little.

September 1, 1991.

                    

Click on the book cover for more information.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

We Make the World With Our Minds – Interview

 

It feels like Christmas when I was a kid. I finally ordered a computer project, which I’ve wanted for a couple of years. It’s arriving today. The prices have dropped considerably. My head is buzzing with all the things I could do with it.

I’ve always “squeezed the juice out” of experiences and interests but I’ve become a bit obsessive. I don’t know if it’s aging, Parkinson’s, or the freedom of retirement. My husband coaxed me to bed at 4:00. I was making Lego structures to go with a video I want to make.

Now I’m waiting for the door bell to ring. Thankfully, it’s being delivered by Canada Post. Purolator just dumps packages on the back step and doesn’t even ring the doorbell. Not great when it’s below freezing.

So, I’ll have one more “craft/interest/compulsion” making a mess of my sewing room for a while.

Fortunately, I can buy more building blocks under the guise of providing activities for my granddaughter when I babysit. 😉

hurrah1

Today I’m putting the shoe on the other foot and sharing an interview I did on Kasper’s blog Hunters of Reloria through the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network. The interview is below the sample of my book, Leya.

http://fsfnet.com/2016/09/09/kasper-interviews-author-bonnie-ferrante/