It makes my heart sing when I hear stories of how my book, Brave Nellie, has touched a child’s life. The message to children is new things are scary but if you are willing to try good things can happen.
I have been quietly working to spread Nellie’s message.
In August, I had a successful book signing at the gift shop at the Maine General Medical Center in Augusta, Maine. It was an enjoyable time spent chatting with people who were interested in hearing about Nellie.
From the profit of the sale of Brave Nellie, I donate money to the nonprofit organization that helps care for the stray dogs on the north shore of the Dominican Republic. They are called (The Association of Friends for the Animals of Sosua). I am pleased to say that the first donation from the profit of Brave Nellie was made in June. Another donation will be made by the end of the year.
This organization and group of people do marvelous things to help the stray animals. They work diligently to keep the stray population healthy by providing food, medicine and neutering. AAAS educates Dominicans on how to better treat these lovely animals. Also, there is an adoption program for the dogs. Many of the DR strays have been shipped to Europe, Canada and the US. Judy Liggio, the President of the organization, was instrumental in getting all the necessary paperwork so we could take Nellie back to the states with us.
I donated some books to be sold in the AAAS Thrift Shop. The money earned from the sale of items go to the support of AAAS. Judy wrote a very thoughtful promotion piece about Brave Nellie. Here is part of what she wrote: “Here in the DR, it (Brave Nellie) can be used as a learning tool for language, and more importantly, the story helps children here see the local dogs in a different light. It highlights kindness and bravery as two important characteristics that all children should develop.” It is my hope to make a trip to the DR in 2016, to donate Brave Nellie to various schools along the north shore of the Dominican Republic.
Other books were donated to the Mariposas Montessori School and the Dream Project both located in Cabarete and both schools work to educate children in the Cabarete beach area.
I almost forgot to mention. A friend of mine, here in Cape Elizabeth, has a daughter who is married to a Dominican and lives in Cabrera, which is about an hour drive east of Cabarete. I donated several Brave Nellie books to her school. I hope that Brave Nellie will help the children improve their English skills and learn compassion for stray dogs and the book’s lesson of being brave to try new things.
Other books have been donated to libraries here in Maine. My girlfriend, Michiko, who visited me this summer from Japan took an English version back to Japan with her.
Michiko’s daughter, Natsumi, who is spending a year in Ecuador took a Spanish version of Brave Nellie. with her. Yes, Brave Nellie has been translated and published in Spanish and is available on Amazon as well. The title is “La Valiente Nellie”, should you be looking for it.
You may remember when I lived in Johannesburg, our landlord was the founder and director of the orphanage Hearts of Hope. I donated a Brave Nellie book and went to the orphanage to read to the children. Later they said thank you by having a cute, cute video made of them reciting the verse found throughout the book. “What to do, what to do, all so scary, all so new but I must try each day to be brave and everything will be OK.” I would have loved to share it on my blog but to respect the children, I haven’t.
Recently, work took David back to Johannesburg and I gave him more books to take to Deborah for the orphanage. I am so glad I did because the original book, I had donated, was no longer there. It seems as though one of the little boys, who was about 6 or 7 years old, was adopted and moved to live in the states. Before he left, the staff told him that he could take whatever he wanted from the orphanage as a memento. He took Brave Nellie with him.
While I was writing Brave Nellie, I thought about all the first that children faced. It was my hope that Nellie would inspire children to overcome their fears and face their new challenges bravely. Stories like the little orphan from South Africa or the little boy facing medical test and asking his mother “if he had to be brave like Nellie?” makes my heart skip a beat with joy. I feel as though I accomplished my mission in writing Nellie’s story. I know that as more children hear of Nellie’s story that Nellie will continue to inspire them to be brave when facing new challenges. I look forward to hearing more such stories.
In memory of Nellie, I mailed copies of the book in English and Spanish to Sherry. You will remember that Sherry was Nellie’s “forever mom” and gave Nellie the best life full of love, love, love. I donated the books for the library at Sherry’s middle grade school where she teaches science.
A copy of Brave Nellie and La Valiente Nellie can now be found at the Library of Congress.
In October, I was invited to read Brave Nellie to Ellie Byron’s second grade class. I always enjoy time at schools sharing my book and hopefully inspiring young minds. When I do a reading, I also take along a slide show of photos to show the children where the Dominican Republic is and show actual photos of how the story evolved. I especially enjoy the questions at the end of my presentation and reading of my book!
While I was in the process of writing my book, I saw a young boy, Michael Cohn being interviewed on the Today Show. Along with his mom, Lisa, he has a webpage and youtube channel where he critiques children’s books. I thought that once I was published, I would send my book to him to be critique. The book was sent to Lisa and Michael and we have tried to connect for an interview. The timing just hasn’t been right and I continue to check with them. The last time I wrote, I shared the sad news of Nellie’s passing in September.
Michael was so moved that he posted a review of Brave Nellie on his blog page. Michael enjoyed the story and the message to children. Here is the link if you would like to see it: http://www.bashandlucy.com/2015/09/18/7-yr-old-book-reviewer-says-kids-dog-book-teaches-life-lesson/
If you have children and are looking for good books, I would encourage you to visit Michael’s blog and youtube channel. You will see that much thought, time and effort has been put into sharing books that he enjoys. www.bashandlucy.com The link to their youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/BashAndLucy We are still working on connecting for an interview. Once that happens, I will gladly share it with you.
It was through Michael’s posting that the “Barefoot Librarian”, from Austin, Texas, learned about my book and contacted me. Ms Eve Panzer is a retired librarian who has started her second career of being a book consultant for educators of young children. She asked for me to send her a book to review to see if it would meet her inventory requirements. I was so excited that she expressed an interest in my book! Of course, I sent a copy and you know what? She liked it! She liked it so much that she ordered several books. I am hoping that it will be the beginning of more and more children being introduced to Nellie’s message through Ms. Panzer’s efforts. http://barefootlibrarian.com
Raising Readers is a non-profit book program in Maine that gives books to children from their birth up to the age of five. A set of books are given to the parents and newborn when they leave the hospital. This gift is to encourage them to begin the habit of reading their child. The book program continues when, after each wellness visit, the doctor gives a carefully chosen book to his young patient.
Each year, over 700 books are submitted to be reviewed by the program’s committee. I have submitted Brave Nellie to be considered for the Raising Readers program. I have received notice that it is under review and I will hear by July, 2016 of their decision. Please put “positive thoughts and vibes” to the universe that Brave Nellie will be accepted. I just feel Nellie’s message to be brave and try would help young children overcome the fears they may have with each new situation they face as they grow and develop. http://www.raisingreaders.org
As I write this, my husband and I are facing some major decision and choices concerning the path that our life journey may go. It is possible that I will be spending more time in the states next year. This would give me more of an opportunity to organize readings at schools and libraries and market Brave Nellie. It is exciting and tad scary as we are facing many unknowns. Our situation makes me realize that Nellie’s message is timeless and works for young and old because we are always facing challenging and new situations, regardless of our age.
On that note I will leave you with her message and hopefully, the next time you are faced with a challenge or someone you know is, you can recite:
“What to do, what to do?
All so scary, all so new!
But I must try each day, to be brave
And everything will be OK!” ©