My Life With Gracie…Time For Vacation!

Time For Vacation
In the last year, we have posted 150 times! And 100 of those have been story posts! (The others have been just general information and special posts like our “Family Photo Friday” and “Gracie’s Summer Reading List.”) That is a lot of posts!

The girls and I will be taking a short vacation for a week or two. It will be their first vacation ever, and they are all particularly excited. We may end up at the beach, but then again, we may just stay home and play in a backyard wading pool! You seriously will not believe how difficult it is to find inflatable beach toys small enough for chickens! Flip flops are easy. Pool toys, not so easy. Then there is the whole issue of swimsuits for the beach! (That backyard plastic pool is looking a lot easier!)

We will be back from time to time, particularly with “Gracie’s Summer Reading List” posts. Poolside reading while dipping our feet and toes in the water sounds like a perfect kind of vacation.

I will also be working on our next book which I hope will be ready by late fall. It’s an expanded version of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” The time away on vacation will give me an opportunity to really work on the story and the illustrations.

You may remember how one of the key characters, The Bottle Cap Lady, has a yard full of Christmas decorations which she has collected over the years. We are talking about a lot of Christmas decorations, and that will be a lot of drawing! I really do enjoy drawing Pearl. She lets me use bright and outrageous colors and props and costumes. While she may often be silly, she truly has a heart of gold.

If you’ve started following “My Life With Gracie” after those posts were shared last December, you can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Pearl will still be the main character along with The Bottle Cap Lady, and you can be sure Pearl will still be her own unique self as she has always been.

Those two posts were two of the most read and most liked from all of last year. At the time, several people had told me, “John, you need to turn this into a book.” It wasn’t until Pearl died in the spring of this year, that things began to come together for this book. Because Pearl felt such great heartbreak, I knew that she would be the only one who would be able to reach The Bottle Cap Lady and help others who have had to deal with tragedy and loss.

Not to give to much of the plot away though, but here is a brief summary of this book which I’m hoping will be an inspiration to many people.

“How To Explain Christmas To Chickens”

Pearl loves being a chicken, and she loves being a comedian. Her natural curiosity leads her to explore her neighborhood. When she secretly visits The Bottle Cap Lady, she learns about Christmas in a most unusual and unforgettable way. Pearl discovers there is a Christmas gift that only she can give, but will she?

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Gracie’s Summer Reading List…“We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” by Ryan T. Higgins

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

When I think about the time spent reading our last book, A Wrinkle In Time, to my chickens, I believe I’ve spent just as much time reading and rereading this short picture book to them. I don’t mind though because this book is delightful. It makes me say, “I wish I had written that!”

Penelope is a young dinosaur who goes to school for the first time. She is a Tyrannosaurus Rex, known as great hunters. All of my chickens could relate to that because they are all excellent worm and bug hunters. They could not relate to school because even though we live only three blocks from an elementary school, chickens are not allowed to be students.

“Penelope is a very fortunate girl to be able to go to school. I like how she has problems just like everyone else. It’s nice how she has her own bedroom. Sometimes I wonder what that would be like. She looks really cute in her pink overalls too.” – Gracie

“I liked Penelope’s teacher. She was very accepting and fair towards Penelope, even when she ate all of her classmates. Oops! I probably shouldn’t have said that. I don’t want to give the story away. Walter was hilarious! Oops! There I go again!” – Bessie

“I would really like to have a backpack just like Penelope’s. It has ponies on it. Who doesn’t like ponies? But seriously, I can really understand how hard she tried to fit in and stay out of trouble. I would be her friend for sure. – Pearl

“One of my favorite parts was when Penelope got to do finger painting with her class. I would like to do that even though I don’t have fingers. Is there such a thing as feather painting? She had a hard time making friends even though she was the biggest in her class. I thought that was interesting because I had a hard time making friends too and I’m the smallest.” – Emily

“To be honest, I thought this was a deeply philosophical book which challenged my moral beliefs. It made me ponder the possibility of being the only chicken in a classroom filled with worms. Would my teacher tell me, ‘We don’t eat our classmates’? And if so, what would I do? Penelope definitely faced a real dilemma.” – Amelia

“We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” is suitable for ages 3 to  5, but there are plenty of chuckles for every age group. This picture book  is available through Barnes and Noble. The regular price is $17.99, however Barnes & Noble is offering it for less. Summertime discount codes offer additional savings.

Just so you know, “My Life With Gracie” isn’t getting anything from sharing this book with you. We don’t collect anything if you click the link here. Some websites work that way, but for us, it’s about reading. Children (and chickens) need to read and be read to, whether it’s what we write or not!

Family Photo Friday!

Today’s “Family Photo Friday” is definitely different from the usual. In the past, I think the most you’ve seen of me has been my jeans and shoes. That is because “My Life With Gracie” is supposed to be about Gracie and my other chickens, not about me.

This photo is what you might call an “author photo,” like one you might see on the back cover of a book. It just seemed like the thing to do since this website is now a year old.

Some of the books I’ve read about being an author and being published have said you need to use an author photo somewhere in your book because your readers will want to know how you look. It’s supposed to make readers feel more connected to you.

As you may be able to tell, I didn’t feel quite comfortable with the whole idea, and so two of my “writing muses” have joined me in this photo. I did have a more serious looking photo that I was considering as a possibility, but this is the one Gracie chose. (She is making sure that I don’t look too serious by tickling my cheek.)

She thought it might be best to have a photo taken right in our own backyard under the camellias because it is a special place…

…where chickens dance ballet and dream of flying to the moon and back…

…where we can think deeper thoughts than what we may be accustomed to thinking about life and love and what it all means…

…where we can innocently hope and believe it will all make sense one day, and even if it doesn’t, we still have love for each other, and that is more than enough.

People are not so different from chickens or each other really. We are all here for one purpose…to give. The only difference might be in what we choose to give. We choose to give love from our hearts.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!