Thursday, December 07, 2006
Kids' books by local authors emphasize relationships
By DAN BARNETT
Local authors have been busy writing children's books and it seems just the right opportunity to let readers know what's available this holiday season.
KHSL-TV weekend anchor Debbie Cobb has published "Gracie's Big Adventure With Augustine the Beaver" ($10.95 in paperback from Laurob Press). The book is available in Chico at local bookstores as well as Bird in Hand and Creative Apple.
Paradise illustrator Steve Ferchaud uses muted earth tones to tell the story. A recent E-R article by Laura Urseny revealed that there is a hidden "G" (presumably for Gracie) in each of Ferchaud's paintings. I went back and looked and found several obvious ones, but a few pages have me stumped. Put it this way. Finding Waldo was easy!
The story begins with young Gracie as she plays in her backyard. In a nearby pond young Augustine the beaver, curious soul, decides to explore the world beyond. The cars and noise and a big dog in the neighborhood give him quite a fright until he sees the swimming pool at Gracie's house and dives right in.
And so Gracie meets Augustine. But what to do with him? At first she tries to hide him "without being noticed by her very nosey brother, Joey." But Joey finds out and now there are two to keep the secret. Mom and Dad seem unaware until, that night, Augustine leaves Gracie's closet to do some more exploring. And that means the pool. This time Gracie's parents hear the big splash.
"Gracie had some explaining to do. She told her parents the truth. ... After a good night's rest, a family meeting was held." What to do with Augustine? "After a big feast prepared just for Augustine, Gracie and Joey carefully loaded him into the red wagon and pulled him all the way back to the pond." Along the way the little wagon and its inhabitant cause quite a stir. Augustine learns a lesson about wandering from home, and Gracie and Joey sleep securely knowing they've done the right thing.
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Relationships are also at the heart of a very different kind of book, "Perry the Pack Rat Finds a Friend" ($15.95 in hardcover from Words of Whimsy Publishing out of Orland), written and illustrated by Mardell E. Alberico. Using funny drawings and bright, primary colors, Alberico tells the tale, so to speak: "Perry the pack rat lived in a nest / which was filled with beautiful things. / He had baubles and bangles, bracelets that jangle / and a lovely assortment of rings."
Perry has lots of stuff, all right: "He had silver and keys, thimbles and cheese / and marbles enough to lend. / He had dice, which were nice, a clock that could talk, / but Perry did not have a friend."
That, of course, is a problem, and Perry hatches a plot to find a friend and offer him lots of loot. But then Perry, on one of his many pack rat trips, finds a mole who (because he is unable to see) has lost the way to his hole in the ground.
Perry helps Sir Mole find the hole and tries to impress him with his baubles -- but the mole doesn't need rings and is not impressed. The two become friends, and Perry learns sometime important. "So now Perry knew, he could see it was true, / friendship is gained through kind deeds."
It's a gentle reminder that's not just kid stuff.
Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 2006 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.