Happy Book Lover’s Day — Why Lifetime Reading Is Important!

In honor of Book Lover’s Day on August 9th, some writing friends and I are sharing what books mean to us and how we enjoy them. I encourage you to visit their pages as well, listed at the end.

But one cannot talk about the subject of Books without also talking about Reading. Because unless they are being used solely for decoration, and that would be sad, books and reading go hand in hand. Or would it be hand on page?  Either way.

There are so many, many “rules” about writing, most of which I largely ignore. But one that I do believe has merit is that to be a good writer, one must also be a good and avid reader.  Simply put — the more writing one does in practice and the more reading one does in study and research, the better writer one is more likely to become. So, if you want to become a writer, then become a reader and learn to love books!

I have always been a lover of books, consistently reading two or three levels above my grade in school each year. All credit goes to my mother who began reading to me from a time before I can remember and was a continual reading advocate afterward. Unless cooking, gardening, or doing housework, she was never to be seen without a book in her hand. A stellar example, to be sure.

I wrote more about my love of books and what they mean to me in another post if you would like to see what I consider The Five Most Influential Books Guiding My Early Life.

I will never forget how astonished my new sixth-grade teacher was at the beginning of the school year, asking the class what we had read over the previous summer. I had read “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” by Homer, among several others. Skeptical (to say the least), I had to do impromptu book reports on each to convince her.

Later that year, she became another strong encourager of my becoming a writer someday. (My fourth-grade teacher was the first.)  And a lesson on why it is so vitally important to be aware of what we say to impressionable young children. They are likely to take you seriously!


For me, books are Gateways.  Books open doors to adventure, history, information and learning, and to other worlds both real and imagined that we could never hope to visit otherwise. Trust me, the land of Little Red Bear is an amazing place to visit, but one can only hope to travel there thru reading the Little Red Bear stories, as it is with all fiction.

Reading a classic is like having a conversation with an author who may have long since departed, yet the knowledge and wisdom can be passed on forever. When reading the preface and proverbs of Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac” over my early years, I felt as though I was benefiting from kindly, grandfatherly advice.  How much would anyone be willing to pay to attend seminars led by Marcus Aurelias, Lao Tzu, Socrates, Michelangelo, or Henry David Thoreau?  Just to mention only a very few as an example. Books and reading make it possible. Choosing not to read is choosing to ignore and close the door (and mind!) to all of those possibilities.


Mark Twain said that — “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

And that alone is why every child should be read to from the earliest age on. One of the most surprising predictors of success in life was discovered to be a child’s reading ability in primary school. Reading for pleasure, notably fiction, even at early ages, is far more important than imagined. It helps expand and foster imagination.

Encouraging reading and the development of engaged readers is fundamentally important, especially for boys, as there is a significant literacy gap between boys and girls from third grade all the way thru high school graduation. With so many distractions nowadays with sports activities, video games and more for both boys and girls, we all truly need to do everything we can to encourage a love of reading and books for children at the earliest age. Their future depends on it.

As a baby, even though they may have no concept of the meaning of the words, the mother’s or father’s voice is comforting, soothing, and bonding. As a toddler, it encourages and develops a fondness for the books themselves, as well as tightening family bonds. They get used to being around books, while at the same time seeing the reader’s beneficial example of enjoying the experience.  As a child grows, reading both to and with them sets and reinforces the foundation for a lifelong love of reading and education. Not to mention some of the highest quality time together.

Few things are as important as reading to a child and encouragement to keep them reading, to become avid learners. As we all should do to continue vitalizing and expanding our minds as we age. Daily cognitive stimulation (like reading) may help keep dementia away.


What do books mean to you? What are your all-time favorite books?  Please feel free to share in the comments, along with your own reading experiences.

Thanks always for visiting and reading with us!

As you can probably guess, my story character friend Little Red Bear and I are all about encouraging not only young readers but readers of every age. That is one of the main reasons why everything included in the “Short Works & Free Reads” tab at the top of the page here, is well — all Free.  And no ads running to lag and slow down the experience.  It’s doing what we can do.

What can you do to encourage your children, grandchildren, and others to pick up a book and enjoy a good read?  Books are excellent and thoughtful gifts when the holiday season rolls around.

But, why wait for the holidays? Give someone a book today, just for the sheer joy of it. We never know which book may provide a life-changing experience or motivation for someone.

And they would have you to thank for it. That’s pretty cool, yes?   — Jim  (and Red!)  🤠 🐻


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy → Opting for Millstones or Milestones — “The Desiderata” 

(And if a new visitor — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


I invite you to visit with my #Gr8Blogs Writer Friends listed here for their book-loving thoughts and information, and to share yours in the Comments, as well.

Children’s Author Cat Michaels on “Cat’s Corner”

KidLit Blog by Children’s Author Rosie Russell

Author Rebecca Lyndsey

Fantasy Author Auden Johnson

Author Sandra Bennett’s “Story Chair” Blog


“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.” – Roald Dahl

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

         “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”          – Groucho Marx


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  Schools,  Classrooms, and Local Libraries,  and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy. 

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to cover sites fees, registrations and operating costs while continuing this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone.

We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” — Neil Gaiman


 

 

Pausing To Savor A Special Moment — “Yeah, That’s Good!”

As a writer, occasionally you sit back, read what you have just written on the page, and declare — “Yeah, that’s good.”  It is at those infrequent and exceptional moments when you feel that you are doing what you are intended to be doing — writing.

So it was yesterday morning with the second collection of Little Red Bear’s adventure stories, “The Second Holler Over!”

With the next collection of short stories well more than halfway completed, a new inspiration came to me stepping out of my morning shower. It was so strong and compelling that a planned breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast was scratched in favor of a dry bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal to munch on in order to set to work immediately, not to lose the revelation.

Initial thoughts were quickly added to the end of the second story, already written.  Then they were refined, edited, refined, and edited again. Over and over thru the morning.  My normal process of writing, editing as I go.

When finished hours later just in time for lunch, I re-read what I feel are the twelve most well-crafted and impactful paragraphs I have ever written. Twelve short paragraphs linking two adversaries, establishing an ominous tone, and underpinning all subsequent themed action to follow in the ensuing stories and coming books.

Admittedly not one to be easily impressed, I myself felt the impact of the new addition on the stories and was moved. Where the sudden inspiration for the addition to something that was already “finished” came from, heaven only knows. Literally, perhaps.

And after years of progressive study, reading and examining the works of others, writing, editing, more writing, more editing, rewrite work and more, it suddenly occurs to you over a lunchtime fruit smoothie a few minutes later that your writing ability, just maybe, has taken another small step forward to being truly proficient at what you do.  And, yeah — that’s good.

If you are interested in what the twelve paragraphs were, you will need to wait until “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!” is available in the fall. They will be the closing paragraphs of the second story, entitled “The Great Bramble Scramble.” I hope you are moved by them, too.

If new to Little Red Bear and his adventure stories, right now in the midst of summer reading season while even the leaves on trees seem to be melting on some days, it would be a good time for catching up with all the prior action, since the short stories run in sequence.  “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” is available in both Print and eBook versions on Amazon. The book will also be available in a Large Print version soon, as requested by numerous senior fans of Little Red Bear.


By this time, a few may be thinking “this guy is a bit full of himself.”  But to conclude that would be to miss the real point.

Whether our main activity and focus be on career, child-rearing, hobby pursuit, or personal passion like my writing is for me, often as we go along it can seem like we ourselves are Sisyphus reincarnate,  doomed to repeatedly push a huge boulder  up a steep hill, endlessly for eternity, only to have it roll back to the bottom each time, never progressing or making a difference. The view on life’s treadmill can become monotonous and seem unchanging.

It is beneficial to be aware and recognize special moments when they present themselves, to press the “Pause” button, step off and realize that we have done something out of the ordinary, above and beyond expectations.  To savor the accomplishment and personally acknowledge that yes indeed, we are making progress on our journey, however small it may be. A step forward is however measured, a step forward nonetheless.

And then, purpose reaffirmed and heartened a bit, we get back at it with a refreshed energy and spirit to move forward another step. And then another.

Pause occasionally, to savor a special moment.


Thanks for visiting with us! We never know what very special surprise or revelation may be awaiting us as we begin each new day.

We hope that whatever your passion and pursuit in life, that you may also experience such uplifting and reaffirming moments.  So that you too, can say — “Yeah, that’s good.”

What can you do to help someone find a happy moment today? Share your smile or a kind gesture? Or an unexpected flower, perhaps?

A simple act of kindness has the power to be life-altering for someone. That is pretty special in itself, don’t you think?  — Jim  (and Red!)


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy → “Finding A Purpose Driven Life — What Would You Do If . . . . . . ?” 

(And if a new visitor — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” – Orson Scott

“If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.” – Wally Lamb


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

      “People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’  I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those        people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”       –  R.L. Stine


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


                  “I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it.” – Chinua Achebe


 

Welcome to Summer! (Or Perhaps Not?) — The “Ready, Set, Jump into Summer Blog Hop”

As the old song says — “In the good old Summertime!”  Welcome to summer in our part of the world. What are you looking forward to the most, or not looking forward to at all, perhaps?

Sunscreen and sun-splashed trips to the beach, or sunburns and hot sands burning your toes?  Long saved for and anticipated family vacations, or high utility and air-conditioning bills tightening the budget?  Hiking and camping, spending time with Mother Nature, or exasperating battles repelling endless mosquito incursions and sorties?

What is your approach and take on the Season of Summer? As with most things in life, there is more than one way to look at things, with our views and determinations changing depending on our outlooks.

Some of my writer friends and I are sharing our thoughts and plans for the coming summer season in our C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y Jumping into Summer Blog Hop.” I invite you to read on here, share your thoughts on summer in the comments, and then visit my friends’ sites for more fun and information!


For me, summer is a mixed bag nowadays. As a youngster, summer was looked forward to with eager anticipation second only to Christmas.  Summer vacation!  Summer camp, hikes, and outings with the Boy Scouts! Day-long trips and exploring on bicycles!  Ball games to play and the St. Louis Cardinals to watch with my father!  Gardens to plant and harvest!  Fly fishing trips! Rope swings into the Big River!  Picnics in the parks! Wiffle ball games and backyard barbeques! Family car trips and visits to my uncles’ farms!  Summer was the most wonderful time of year, with the exception of Santa Claus, of course.

Nevertheless, standing in the shadow of seventy now and with infrequent visits from Mr. Claus, it seems that with each passing year the day-to-day combination of high heat and humidity typical of Midwest St. Louis area summers combine to make summertime a struggle to get thru, with near-daily afternoon headaches and fatigue. In a total reversal, summer has become my least favorite season by far. It wasn’t a close race.

But, as you know if a prior visitor here, I tend to be a “look for the good in every situation” kind of guy. If all one looks for in life are the negatives, it can pretty much be assured that negatives will be all that is found. It is always only up to us if we choose to be happy or not in any set of circumstances.  I choose to be happy, regardless of the thermometer, heat index, and dew points.

Each season of the year presents its own special attractions and beauty, and though not my favorite season, summer is no exception.

I still love early morning walks listening to songbirds in the neighborhood. Fresh, earthy smells in the air with the twinkling sparkle of dew on grass and leaves. Sunrise — my favorite time of day.

And after-dinner strolls watching children play as the sun sets. Flickering fireflies emerge, and flowers perfume the evening air. Keeping an eye out for fairies emerging from woodland homes, favoring the nocturnal hours, as they do.  Listening for owls and the chorus of whip-poor-wills and tree frogs in the evenings.

So while not my favorite time of year, summertime is perhaps the most magical for the senses, allowing all of our senses to actively engage in and experience the world around us and play. Life is good. Even in summer.


Looking further on the bright side, then, my heat and humidity issues with the summer season have made the anticipation of Autumn, my very favorite time of year, even grander!  While some days may be a struggle as summer lingers on into August, the work of planning, preparing, and getting things in order for fall and the coming holiday season keep me very busy and moving forward with a growing excitement each summer day.

Avoiding the sun (a personal headache trigger ranking right up there with an exhausted two-year-old in a long grocery line) provides me with a great deal of time spent indoors during the day to write more adventure stories with my writing friend and partner Little Red Bear (the imaginary bear who lives in my head), create more items for my Etsy Shoppe, and to practice and elevate my guitar playing skills.

So even if I don’t necessarily enjoy sunny days and hot summer weather outdoors as much anymore, there are still positives to be found in the summer season.

Here is how I will be approaching summer this year —


Surpassed only by my writing muse awakening me at 4 a.m. in the mornings with new character, story, and writing inspirations, my very best Little Red Bear story ideas always come to me while creating things, working with my hands. And I have missed that.

After down-sizing and a mid-summer move last year, followed by a significant arm injury in the fall while setting up my new kitchen, I am finally able once again and getting around to unpacking artwork supplies and setting up a new work area to create more teddy bears, old-fashioned rag dolls, jewelry, and other items for the coming fall and holiday seasons.

With so many folks inquiring each week as to when new items will be available again and rediscovering forgotten materials and old pattern friends unpacking now, I am truly eager to get back to work making things!

Watch for my online Etsy Shoppe re-opening soon with new creations for Autumn and the Holiday Season. I am very excited to be able to create new things once again for others to enjoy!

And what better time to get back to my handwork than while staying cool and indoors out of the summer sun? To paraphrase an old expression — if life gives you summer heat, humidity, and sunshine, make teddy bears!


Always reading and studying to learn more and more about the wonders of Mother Nature for my Little Red Bear stories, I have begun research on trees, plants, and other flora and their importance to not only the environment but also their influence on our personal mood, health, and creativity.

The study of biophilia suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Looking back on our own evolution, it is a very natural thing as the very survival of humans over the ages depended on a very intimate connection to the natural world.

The therapeutic Japanese practice of “Shinrin-yoku” — “Forest Bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”  is the art and science of how trees can promote health and happiness.

As many seem to disconnect more and more from nature over recent years with subsequent societal impacts, Little Red Bear and I have begun work on another new writing project — “Walking With Trees”, for a targeted 2020 Spring/Summer release.

As with all of Little Red Bear’s adventures, the story will be intended to be Entertaining, Informative, and Educational, inspiring youngsters and oldsters alike to reconnect with trees and the natural world around us.

Accordingly, a great deal of research needs to be done before we get into the storytelling aspects because we take responsibility for accuracy and detail in everything we present very seriously here.


On the musical front, after playing and teaching guitar for over fifty years, I have recently begun writing and creating some of my own original music with the intention of eventually recording and creating my own CD at some point. Not for public release, of course. No pretentions or ambitions of stardom here, merely something for family and friends. Somewhat a mixture of Latin/Smooth Jazz/Ambient Fusion.

Another indoor activity and way to stretch creative muscles for the benefit of not only myself but also hopefully others along the way.

Thru the support of patrons helping to offset the cost of maintaining these pages free of advertisements for everyone, Little Red Bear and I are able to regularly donate our books to local libraries, schools, and senior centers. Additionally, I am being asked to perform and entertain with my guitars at senior centers, so perhaps another way to share musical enjoyment with others.

After a time away from active playing while raising family, I have caught up with a good bit of the new technology, gear, and equipment available. And still learning.

But can an aging guitarist elevate to yet another level of recording and performing in public again, too?  Going to give it “the old college try” as they say, so — we’ll see.

Playing around with “Drop D” and “Open C” tunings on an acoustic guitar at present. So stay tuned. (Pun intended — sorry, couldn’t resist.)


And of course, Little Red Bear and I are at the same time hard at work finishing the next collection of Red’s short story adventures — “The Second Holler Over!”

Returning characters, new characters, old themes, new themes, old hazards, new hazards. And a creative new format. Watch for new story features, character interviews, and background information here on the Writing Pages in the coming weeks leading up to the book release later this year!

By the way — if you are looking for some relaxing and entertaining summer reading, now would be a great time to catch up with the first collection of Red’s adventure stories — “The First Holler!” —  if you have not yet met Little Red Bear, Cinnamon Charlie, and their other friends.

Characters and themes build from one story to another in a sequential fashion, so it’s best to start at the beginning. But that simply makes sense, doesn’t it?

And it’s the only way to do it when dealing with irksome weasels roaming the backwoods, you know.

The “Little Red Bear Stories” and a “Free Preview” are available on Amazon.


That is my approach and what summer will be about here — reading and researching, a return to handwork and creating new items for the holiday season, writing and playing new music, and finishing the next collection of Little Red Bear stories.

So, headaches and heat issues aside,  I truly am excited about the arrival of summer, after all. There are so many wonderful opportunities and things to do that do not involve slathering on layers of sunscreen or swatting away mosquitoes!

How about you?  What are your plans for the coming Season of Summer?  Do you look forward to participating in traditional summer activities, or perhaps, like me, find other ways to productively and positively enjoy the season?  Do you enjoy or dread summer’s imminent approach?  Please feel free to share in the comments.


And if you are not a “summer person”, that’s okay. Neither am I. It is easy to feel left out, excluded, and sad when all of the television commercials depict delightful summer beach scenes, or family and neighbors talk excitedly about summer boating weekends and vacations.  Reaching for the aspirin bottle, we listen politely while secretly wishing the temperature was 65F and not 95F. Everyone dances to their own tune, and likely as not, when we are happily donning overcoats and snow boots in winter, our summer-loving friends are longing for the days of summer. That’s how it is.

Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder for summertime sufferers is as real as Seasonal Affective Disorder for those brought down in the throes of winter, it just doesn’t get as much publicity yet.  If so affected, I encourage you to search for groups on Facebook and other sites to know you are not unique or alone in shunning the summer sunshine. Frequently, merely knowing that we are not the only one in the world disdaining a bright summer day helps. Check it out if this applies to you because you’re not alone.

Summertime is after all, simply “time”, and it is always up to us on how we spend it, being happy or being miserable. It is always our choice, independent of what is going on around us or “outside”.

Take responsibility for and change your own outlook on the world, and watch the world around you change!

Happiness is an “inside” job, more literally for some of us in the summertime perhaps, and Little Red Bear and I find that “Happy” always passes the time more quickly and is much more enjoyable! Summertime not excluded.


Thanks always for visiting and spending part of your day with us!  Will you share your smile to help brighten someone’s life today?  In a non-glaring, “no sunscreen needed” brightening sort of way, of course.

Wishing you and yours a delightful summer season however you may wish to spend it!  Be happy!  — Jim  (and Red!)


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy → “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart” and “Happy Hummer Season! Welcoming, Helping, and Attracting Hummingbirds In Your Neighborhood.” 

(And if a new visitor — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


I invite you to visit with my writer friends for more summer thoughts, inspirations, and smiles to see what they have in mind for the coming summer!

Children’s Author Cat Michaels on “Cat’s Corner”

KidLit Blog by Children’s Author Rosie Russell

Author Rebecca Lyndsey

Author Julie Gorges on the “Baby Boomer Bliss Blog”

Children’s Author Sandra Bennett

Children’s Author Carmela Dutra

Fantasy Author Auden Johnson

Fantasy Author Mackenzie Flhor


“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” – Maud Hart Lovelace

                    “One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.”                     – Henry David Thoreau


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

       “Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me, those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


                   “Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” – Sam Keen


 

 

 

 

The Five Most Influential Books Guiding My Early Life

In honor of Book Lover’s Day on August 9th,  it seemed like a good time to talk about books and some of what they have meant to me over the years.



My reading adventures began at a very early age. Diagnosed with a bone disease at age two and going on crutches and then into a wheelchair for several years at age three, my mother took it upon herself to develop a love of books and reading with me, starting at a time earlier than I can remember. By the time I entered school, I was already reading several levels ahead of classmates.

Looking back, I readily recall five books that not only changed my life, but also continue to influence the interests, choices, and decisions I make today.  And that is why I am such a staunch supporter of children’s literacy, advocating reading to children from the earliest age, helping them to get started reading, and then continuing reading with them well after they are reading on their own to show continued interest and guidance.


          “Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.”  – George Bernard Shaw


The five books most instrumental in guiding my life were –

  • “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper. I do not know how many (hundreds?) of times this story was read to me and later by me over the years, but the lesson for a young boy in a wheelchair was clear – “Never give up and you can make it over the mountain, too!”
  • “The Legends of Davy Crockett” put out by Walt Disney. Looking back, the story may have been sanitized a bit by Disney, but the examples were clear, and what better early hero for a young boy growing up in the 1950s than Davy Crockett. His motto became a guide thru later life – “Be always sure you’re right – then go ahead.”
  • “Hammond’s Nature Encyclopedia of America” from 1960. This large book, ordered thru the mail by my Mother, complete with 320 original painting illustrations became my introduction and foundation for the study of the natural world, with detailed pictures and information on everything from minerals and rocks to every classification of animal, geography, trees and plants, climate and more. It was the largest book I had ever seen. I lived with this book in my lap, studying all the wonders of nature, forming a life-long interest and passion.
  • “The Boy Scout Handbook” – This book became my constant study guide for years thru the Boy Scouts, ultimately reaching the rank of Eagle Scout. Thru this book and the scouts, I learned independence, leadership, and a way of life built on character and service to others, while also greatly advancing my interests in the natural world, the wilderness, and conservation.
  • “Two Years Before the Mast” – A memoir written by the American author Richard Henry Dana Jr. and published in 1840, captivated my imagination like no other book I had read before. By this time, I had already read “Moby Dick”, “Tom Sawyer”, and “Huckleberry Finn”, all beloved classics, especially those and others by Mark Twain, my favorite storytelling author. But I was familiar with all those stories before reading the books. “Two Years Before the Mast”, recalling a two-year sea voyage from Boston to California on a merchant ship starting in 1834, was a fresh story and greatly impressed upon me how powerful and fun storytelling could be.

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” – Marcel Proust


That is why I love books and developing a life-long love of reading with children. Books have quite simply and profoundly impacted and changed my life.  An old saying goes — “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  I believe the same about books.

I can see clearly now how these five books have worked together, each contributing their parts, to both form the foundation and heavily influence my “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories, combining nature and conservation themes with good old-fashioned family and Boy Scout values, with white-knuckled fun and adventurous storytelling to keep it interesting. Mark Twain helps a lot, too.



So – Happy Book Lover’s Day!  I encourage you to make a nice cup of tea (or beverage of choice) and sit down with a good book today.  And if there is a little one around, grab them up for a reading session, too. If open to suggestions, check out “The Adventures of Little Red Bear!”  Just sayin’.

Thanks as always for reading and visiting with us!

Be the reason someone smiles and reads a good book today!  — Jim (and Red!)  🤠 🐻


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy → “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart”.

(And if a new visitor — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


“So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky.” — William James

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”     — Jacqueline Kennedy


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

     “Wear the old coat and buy the new book.” — Austin Phelps


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“The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I haven’t read.” — Abraham Lincoln


 

 

International Book Giving Day — Why Reading Is So Important!

February 14th is not only Valentines Day, but also International Book Giving Day!  As such, I have partnered with some wonderful author friends from around the world to give away some copies of our books, hoping to inspire you to do the same.

Give a book you enjoy or one that you think may benefit someone — to a child, a loved one, family member(s), neighbor, or friend.  Donate some new or gently used books to your local library, to a local school, civic group, or to a local hospital.  Leave a copy of a book in the waiting room of a doctor’s or dentist’s office, or at a homeless shelter.  There are many ways to help spread the love of reading.

“Why is reading so important?” some ask.  With help from the folks at WhytoRead.com, let’s count the ways . . . . . . .

  1. Reading Helps to Develop Verbal Abilities. Readers tend to have a larger vocabulary and more ways of expressing themselves, while also helping to avoid acting out or remedies of violence.
  2. Reading Improves Focus and Concentration. Sitting down with a book requires longer periods of focus and concentration, developing attention spans.
  3. Readers Tend to Enjoy the Arts and Work to Improve the World. Readers are more likely to visit museums, attend concerts and the like, and are more likely to volunteer and to do charity work.
  4. Reading Improves Imagination. Reading about new worlds and peoples and having to create the images from the written words in one’s mind as opposed to merely viewing on a screen, develops creative and imaginative abilities.
  5. Reading Makes You Smarter. Having books available at home has been strongly linked to improved academic performance.  It’s all about learning.
  6. Reading Makes One Interesting and Attractive. The knowledge base and exposure to the world acquired thru reading allows one to hold their own and meaningfully contribute to conversations, as opposed to slinking off not to embarrass oneself.
  7. Reading Reduces Stress. In a study performed at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex, test subjects only needed to read silently to themselves for six minutes to slow down their heart rate and ease muscle tension.
  8. Reading Improves Your Memory.  As opposed to listening to a tape or lecture, reading provides the opportunity to pause for reflection and critical thinking, which also serves to improve memory retention capabilities.
  9. Reading Gives Us The Opportunity to Discover and Create Ourselves.  Being exposed to others’ lives, situations, feelings, opinions and perspectives allows each of us to examine our own life in the light of new knowledge and experience, learn life skills, and to develop who we really are and seek to be.
  10. Reading is Entertainment. Reading is fun, pure and simple. With due respect to all of the above, reading is also wonderfully Entertaining, allowing us to explore new worlds, escape for a mental vacation, and to be absorbed and immersed in a story or adventure for hours and hours. And to revisit as often as we like at no extra charge.  Take “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” for example. Where else can one go on the planet to a place where the animals and humans interact as equals and share hair-raising adventures, while learning about the natural world, kindness and positivity at the same time?

So, that is why reading is truly important.  We have joined together to give away a selection of both Print and eReader books.  Our book giveaway runs now thru February 15th.  The more actions completed, the better chance of winning a free book for yourself.  Simply tap on the link below to get started.

Tap Here To Enter Our Books Giveaway!

Terms and Conditions: There is NO purchase necessary to enter or win. Winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget within 48 hours and notified by email once the giveaway ends. The winners will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner(s) do not respond within 72 hours, a new winner(s) will be chosen. This giveaway is open to all who live in and outside of the US. However, as there are several sponsors of this giveaway who live both domestic and international. Print books are available only for domestic country of author origin; ebooks offered outside author’s country of origin at their discretion.

Tap Here To Enter Our Books Giveaway!

 

Thanks always for visiting!  Please join my friends and me in supporting literacy and reading on International Book Giving Day.  The world will be better for it! — Jim (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

Little Red Bear Answers Reader Questions — “Where is McNickle’s?”

More reader questions for Little Red Bear!   Here we go with another one . . . . . .

Reader Question from Road Trip Rick in Disoriented, Oregon – “Dear Little Red Bear —  I’m really hungry for some old-fashioned pickles and pork rinds so planning a road trip on Sunday, but can’t seem to find “McNickle’s Famous Pickles & Pork Rinds” country store where you do book signings, anywhere on a map. And my GPS is no help at all.  Where is it and will you be there on Sunday for a book signing when I get there?” 

Answer— That is a very good question, Rick!  And it’s not surprising that you can’t find McNickle’s Famous Pickles & Pork Rinds on a map or in the GPS doohickeys, because it seems to be one of those kind of places that a person can’t find unless they know where it is to begin with.

The best thing to remember is that it is on Shady Holler Road, just west of Knob Lick. The country store is located about half a mile past Turner’s red barn, and across from the split pin oak tree if you’re unfamiliar with the area.  If you find yourself sitting in front of the Post Office in Curly Pine, chances are you most likely missed the barn and went too far.  That old red barn sits back from the road a bit, behind the row of hedge apples, so you need to keep a sharp eye peeled and be on the lookout for it, especially during the summer when the trees have their leaves.  And if that’s the case and you’re staring at a mailbox, we find it best to just go back and start over from where you left and try again.

But, Ethel McNickle is adamant that the store remains closed on Sundays, so you might want to plan a Saturday trip.  As for the book signing, Ethel assures me that she will have a number of pre-signed books on hand for you when you get there.  But don’t look for me.  Summer Saturdays are for fishing, not sitting inside talking.  If you want to talk about the book, just mosey on down to Perch Lake. Don’t worry, I usually bring along a few extra fishing poles for visitors if you forget yours.  Out-of-towners dropping by to talk and fish seem to turn up quite often ever since the book went out last year.  And if you don’t like fishing, that’s not a problem, either. We can always use another hand or two cleaning ’em.   Hope that answers your questions, Rick.  Drive safe. — Little Red Bear

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Please keep those questions and letters coming, don’t be bashful.  We’ll get to them as best we can here for you.  And if it’s really urgent, just smear a little honey on the envelope seal.  Red will be sure to get to that one first!

Happy reading, and thanks as always for stopping by!  And remember folks, life is simpler when you plow around the stump.   – Jim (and Red!)

LRB Ad- With a Fishing Pole

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

So You Want To Be A Writer — Dreaming of Chickens . . . .

So, you want to be a writer, you say.  It’s a neat life living in your imagination, you say.   Seems like a fun hobby.  Thoughts to share with the world.  You want to work in your pajamas.  Wake up dreaming about exotic locales and people, you say.

Cool.  But just so you know, this particular writer woke up in the wee hours this morning dreaming he was sleeping outside in a muddy pen in the rain, with chickens and a wet, smelly and cranky fox.  Blow the image for you?

Yeah, someday I may have to try my hand at writing a rich and sensuous romance novel to wake up dreaming about sharing a bottle of wine with someone special on a Riviera beach or in a street-side Paris cafe.  Luscious cheese, a warm croissant and enchanting conversation.  Or a refreshing sea breeze in the air with laughing gulls greeting the sunrise.

Aaahh – who am I kidding?  We both know that’ll never happen and the someone special in the dream would just be another frickin’ chicken anyway.  I have to go.  Need to write about the chickens and add them to the stories before I forget just how dreadfully bad that fox truly smelled.  But yeah — I am writing all that down in my pajamas.  So there’s that.   At 3 a.m.

The muse sends ideas.  I have no control over what they are or when they arrive.  And that’s the writer’s life.

Thanks as always for visiting! — Jim   (and Red!)

Careful What You Dream Of . . . .

Careful What You Dream Of . . . .

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

 

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Determined To Be ‘Sound Investment’

In order to cover all bases for his fans, Little Red Bear had an official Cost/Benefit analysis of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” performed by his trusted accountant and financial advisor, Angus McNutt, senior partner of the firm “McNutt and McGillicutty CCC” ( Country Crop Counters) over in Slippery Slide, and the results of the study are in.

For the paperback, at 64,254 words, the reader receives over 4,961 words per dollar invested. For the Kindle and eReader version, a reader receives over 21,781 words per dollar. And of course, the book is Free for anyone with Kindle Unlimited. Taking into account that all words used are original text in copyrighted format with the Library of Congress, it is quite clearly a bargain at any price.

In addition, bearing in mind the fact that words enrich the brain and lessons learned about nature, life, kindness and simply having fun remain with a person forever, it was clear that any of the versions far exceed any value received in television and other forms of entertainment, where “any benefit potentially received is fleeting and transitory”, as Mr. McNutt stated in his report.

It should be noted that the Preface, Frontispiece, Dedication, Artwork and such were not included in Mr. McNutt’s calculations, which would have the effect of making the Cost:Benefit ratio even higher for a reader.

It was Angus McNutt’s conclusion then that “’The Adventures of Little Red Bear’ short story collection is both a wise and sound long-term financial investment.”  Just in case anyone was on the fence concerning issues of that sort before investing in the book.

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Short Story Collections on Amazon.  Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Storytelling and Fun for both the Young and the Young-at-Heart. Positive Themes of Friendship, Kindness, Helping Others and Mother Nature.  With a healthy dash of oldfangled, belly laugh humor and fun.

Join us for an Adventure in the Beautiful Ozarks Mountain Country, and stop by for some biscuits and honey! —  Jim   (and Red!)

Angus McNutt, of "McNutt and McGillicutty Country Crop Counters"

Angus McNutt, of “McNutt and McGillicutty CCC”

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

Little Red Bear Answers Reader Questions — “Cushaw What?”

More reader questions for Little Red Bear!   Here we go with another one . . . . . .

Reader Question from Doubting Thomas in Bristly Barbs, South Dakota – “Dear Little Red Bear —  I enjoyed your adventures very much and realize they are listed under fiction, but tell the truth for once . . . you’re making all of this stuff up, aren’t you?  A ‘Cushaw Pie’ mentioned in “The Storm” story?!?  I have never heard of a cushaw anything and I have heard of a lot.  So be honest.  You and that writer guy Jim are just pulling our legs on that one, right?”

Answer— That is a very good question, Thomas!  And we are happy that you took notice and the time to write us about it.  As you pointed out, the stories are listed under the ‘Fiction’ category, but that’s only because when Little Red Bear was having all of his adventures, people video taping everything and taking selfies had not really come into fashion yet, so having no photographic record Amazon made us list them as fiction, even though every one really, truly did happen just as they are written.  Word for word.  More or less.

Now, to the Cushaw Pie concern.  Yes, Thomas, there really is such a thing as a Cushaw Pie made from a Cushaw Squash.  Maybe it would help for you to think of it as a Pumpkin with a different name.  And shape.  And color.  With stripes.   But the rest is very similar.

A Cushaw Pie is made from a Cushaw Squash, an heirloom crookneck squash, and is a Southern Appalachian tradition.  The cushaw is sometimes referred to as a “Tennessee Sweet Potato.”  It does very well when grown, is resistant to pesky vine borers, and because it hails from the Caribbean tends to grow well in hot, dry climates.  The inner flesh is light yellowish, with a mild, sweet flavor.

You have probably seen them used in autumn decorations, along with pumpkins, hay bales, scarecrows and such, but just didn’t know the name.  And while so many folks use them for Autumn, Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations, few realize that they are not only edible but make up into a fantastic pie.  Just like a pumpkin.

Here is a Cushaw Pie recipe to get you started the next time you see one, along with some links to some more cushaw recipes on our Pinterest Boards — Cushaw Pie Recipe, Kentucky Proud Cushaw Pie Recipe,  Best Cushaw Pie Recipe, Cushaw Squash Soup Recipe, Cranberry Cushaw Bread.

Cushaw Pie Recipe, via Kentucky Proud

Cushaw Pie Recipe, via Kentucky Proud

Hope that answers your question about the Cushaw Pie in “The Storm” story, Thomas.   As you can see, it is a real thing.   Happy reading and cooking, and thanks for writing in and being such an involved fan of Little Red Bear!

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Please keep those questions and letters coming. We’ll get to them as best we can here for you.  Happy reading, and thanks as always for stopping by!  And remember folks, cushaws can be pretty heavy, but it don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge. – Jim (and Red!)

Cushaw Squash with Pumpkin Decoration

Cushaw Squash with Pumpkin Decoration

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

Little Red Bear Answers Reader Questions – “Hummingbird Spit! What Could Be Better?”

Little Red Bear and I have received another reader question we thought it may be good to respond to for everyone.  Well, a question and a comment really, and good information to pass along.

Reader Question from S. F. on holiday at an undisclosed beach resort in the U. K. –“Dear Little Red Bear — Holiday reading, sunshine, and fresh sea air – what could be better?Thanks for translating Red, got plenty of buzzards’ breath but all out of catfish whiskers and the hummingbirds are being most uncooperative.”

Answer— For the benefit of those who have not read “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” yet, or may have unwisely skipped over the “Introduction”, what S. F. is referring to is that to save readers the difficulty and hassles of needing to translate all the different spoken animal languages and dialects back and forth as they read, Little Red Bear and I worked tirelessly to translate everything for you.  Bears speaking to birds and rabbits, turtles speaking to bears, humans speaking to bears and foxes, weasels yammering on, etc.  The pig is a different matter, and you will need to read for yourself to see what that is all about.

Information on the translation process was explained in the Introduction, along with many other things, and S. K. is referring to a few of the translation ingredients in her comment.  And it points to why we decided to go ahead and take care of the translations issue for readers ahead of time.  We didn’t charge extra for it.  Little Red Bear just felt it a nice to thing to do for folks.

In response to S. K. then — “Holiday reading, sunshine, and fresh sea air – what could be better?”  We can’t think right off of any better thing than being on holiday at the beach reading Little Red Bear stories, so you have us stumped with that one.  And yes, we have found the hummingbirds to be problematic and difficult to work with at times, as it seems the later it gets into summer the more of a sugar high they are on, causing some predictably spiky attitudes.  We are impressed with your having gathered sufficient quantities of the buzzard’s breath though, as that is where the translation process breaks down for many folks, unwilling to approach a turkey buzzard that closely.  Little Red Bear sends a big paw pat on the back for that one!

As for the other, we could mail some dried catfish whiskers over for you, but find that fresh whiskers work much better and produce a clearer translation in the end.  And since we have it all translated for you ahead of time anyway, we won’t bother to send any dried whiskers over to save you the mailing expense.

So, sorry we were stumped by that question, but want to thank you for writing in to let us know all that translation time and effort is helping readers out after all.

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So, a big thanks to S. F. for the comments!  Remember folks, please keep those questions and letters coming. We’ll get to them as best we can here for you.  Happy reading, and thanks as always for stopping by! And remember folks, the best sermons are lived, not preached.  God bless, y’all.  – Jim (and Red!)

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

Little Red Bear Answers Reader Questions — “Angry Weasels! What To Do?”

Little Red Bear and I are getting more and more questions from readers.  So here’s another one, hoping to provide useful and life-saving information by sharing for all.

Reader Question from K. C. in Shriveled Branches, California – “Dear Little Red Bear — What should I do if confronted by an angry weasel?”

Answer— Another great question, because this seems to come up more often than most folks think.  The problem is, weasels are just not big on negotiating, so trying to reason with them or attempting to discover the source of their anger is largely a waste of time, as most just wake up angry in the morning right off the start, and their mood seems to follow on downhill from there.

We recommend telling the weasel a really funny joke, and hope it dies laughing.  It seemed to work very well for the Roger Rabbit folks.  If you’re not particularly funny, then we recommend running away as fast as you can, because the longer you stand in front of the weasel the hungrier it’s going to get while the time passes.  If you have wings, use them.  Because we haven’t found the weasel yet that can fly more than two laps around the feedlot.

Weasels are never easy to deal with, because even when they tell you  they’re going to behave and be your friend, they most likely ain’t.  So take whatever a weasel says with a grain of salt.  Or two.   Good luck with ’em, and we’ll keep y’all in our thoughts. — Little Red Bear

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A big thanks to K.C. for the question!  Remember folks, keep those questions and letters coming. We’ll get to them as best we can here for you.  Happy reading, and thanks as always for stopping by!   And remember folks, an angry weasel is considerably faster than a John Deere Tractor.  Best to try and stay on their good side.  If you can find one.  – Jim (and Red!)

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

Little Red Bear Answers Reader Questions — “Reading Safety Advisory!”

“Letters.  We get letters.  We get lots and lots of letters.”

Little Red Bear and I have been receiving a number of questions from readers the past few weeks regarding “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection, and after we talked about it while sitting around the campfire the other night with Albuquerque, Aunt Ivy and some of the others, Little Red Bear and I decided it might be a good idea to share some of the questions and answers with everyone.   Here is the first one, what Red thought might be the most important question we have received so far.

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Reader Question from S. R. in Jolly River Falls, MN – “Dear Little Red Bear — Is there a time when it is not safe or prudent to read “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories?”

Answer— That is a very good question!  And it so happens, something we have looked into.  From the beginning, we figured in all honesty, that we most likely wouldn’t be generating a New York Times Bestseller list of readers, so should try to protect and insure the safety of those we do accumulate along the way, being probably few in number.  So as it turns out, we did research this very topic before we released the book on Amazon.

Here are the times and situations we determined as most unsafe or imprudent to read the stories, so accordingly are issuing the following Public Safety Advisory.  A few instances we determined were—

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General Advisories

Do Not Read “The Adventures of Little Red Bear”

When operating a motor vehicle, aircraft or heavy machinery.

While swimming in a swamp with alligators.

While snorkeling with sharks.

While at work with a supervisor possessing questionable tastes in literature.

While in the bathtub or hot tub if reading on a laptop plugged into an electrical socket.

In a lightning storm if standing alone in an open area.

While skydiving if the main parachute has failed to deploy.

While riding a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The mules perfectly know the way of course, but in this one instance we feel you really should not miss the once in a lifetime views of the Canyon. Read later at basecamp.

While shaving with a straight razor.

When wandering unaccompanied by armed escort in lion country.

While cooking over an open flame. (This caution applies to the paperback version, only.)

While performing roofing or window washing work above the sixth floor of a building.

While surveying a buffalo herd. (It’s not really unsafe, per se. It’s just that bison have not made it into the stories yet and are still a little miffed about it. Just don’t let them see what you are reading and it should be okay.  And of course, never roller skate in a buffalo herd whether you’re reading the book or not, but you most likely knew that one already.)

Industry Specific Advisories

For Medical Professionals- do not read while performing or assisting in major surgeries and/or dental work.

For Baseball Players- do not read while batting or catching. Field position players may safely read during the lull in between pitches. Umpiring crews, as well.  Reading the adventures while in the dugout and bullpen is highly recommended for all to relieve tedium.  Reading the adventures is also highly recommended to pass the time for soccer goalies.

Reading Exemptions

Members of Congress are exempted from reading “The Adventures of Little Red Bear”.  While there is certainly a lot which could be learned from the stories for them, it is generally agreed that they just have too much meaningful work to do at this time to risk being distracted by fun and common sense.

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We hope this helped answer your important safety question regarding the reading of Red’s adventures.  In most other instances, we have determined that it is both safe and prudent to read “The Adventures of Little Red Bear.”  Indeed, highly recommended for clean family fun and reading entertainment!  Thanks for the question S. R., and we’re hoping you enjoy the stories.  Please remember to scrape your boots off before coming back inside from an adventure!  We don’t want to be hearing about dirty floors from irate mothers.   So please scrape your boots.  Especially after a visit to Farmer Turner’s.

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Remember folks, keep those questions and letters coming. We’ll get to them as best we can here for you.  Happy reading, and thanks as always for stopping by! And remember folks, every path has a few puddles in life.  The sun will be back out soon enough to dry you off and help you on your way again.   – Jim (and Red!)

Dog- Reading 4 Pug

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.