Gatsby’s Grand Adventures

Book 4 in the Gatsby’s Grand Adventures series by Barbara Cairns is as creative as the earlier books in the series.
They’re all about a cat who has the magical ability to jump into famous paintings in the art gallery where he lives.
In this story Gatsby entersVincent Van Gogh’s First Steps.
But the cat disturbs the people in the story and when he returns to the present time they’re frozen in different positions. The famous painting has been ruined!
Gatsby manages to get back again, but causes even more disruption before returning to the present. And it’s almost time for Miss Annabelle, who owns the art gallery, to wake up and see the ruined picture.
Of course Gatsby manages to get everyone back in place just in time.
This is a fun story, and kids who read it or hear it read as a bedtime story will learn about a famous work of art. Maybe they’ll even dream about having an adventure like Gatsby’s.
Eugene Ruble did an amazing job of incorporating pictures that look like Van Gogh’s work into his own illustrations.


Years ago I got into a discussion on the internet about the worst natural disasters and everyone preferred the ones where they lived. Those who had hurricanes said they knew when they were coming and could prepare. those with tornadoes said they only hit narrow strips. People with earthquakes said the bygones rarely happen. I think forest fires are the worst. You can’t predict them, they cover large areas, and happen often. But many are caused by people, so they may not be natural disasters.

This year we’ve had more disasters than I’ve ever seen so close together. Gigantic hurricanes, earthquakes, and forest fires are constantly in the news. And we’re also dealing with economic problems and rumors of war, possibly with atomic bombs.

But all the terrible things that have happened have also showed people caring for each other. Brave people have rescued others, many have opened their homes, and huge numbers of people have made donations.

No matter how bad things get We can remember there are more good people than bad ones in the world and be grateful for everything we have.

Black Beauty

I had just finished First Grade when my father died. Of course I cried.
A few months later my grandfather came to live with us so my mother could take a full time job and support us.
By the end of first grade I was one of several kids in my class who were reading at Fifth Grade level. so our Second Grade teacher got us readers for that age group.
I think it was about February when I was home from school because of a cold or flu. Although we didn’t have homework in grade school back then, for some reason I’d brought the reader home with me. The last part of the book was the novel, Black Beauty, so I read it.
When I came o the ending where the horse died I began crying and cried for hours.
Of course I didn’t realize it then, but I was really grieving for my father. I had finally understood that death was permanent.
About 16 years ago I was teaching in a church preschool and asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up.
One little girl said she wanted to be God.
When I told her that wasn’t possible she started to cry and couldn’t stop. We had to call her mother to come and get her.
The next day the mother told me the child had explained wanted to be God because when her father had been killed months earlier someone had told her God had decided it was time for him to die. The little girl wanted to become God so she could make sure no other child’s father ever died.
She was actually experiencing the same kind of delayed grief I’d felt for my own father when I read Black Beauty.
Now I understand that if a young kid looses a loved one, it may be months before the permanence of death hits them and they may grieve more then than when the death occurs.

Plastics and Synthetics

I may have mentioned before how, when my parents gave me a toy boat made of plastic to play with in the bathtub all their grown-up visitors wanted to see it. That material had been developed during WWII and most people had never seen plastic before.
And back when I was a young kid the only synthetic fabrics were rayon and nylon.
Today synthetics are everywhere.
In case anyone reading this doesn’t know, I’m a writer and have a creative imagination so I’m always thinking “What if…..?”
What if all synthetics were to suddenly disappear?
Cars and other vehicles, appliances, and electronic devices would fall apart.
A lot of furniture would collapse.
Even parts of buildings would be gone.
Print would disappear from many books, and those books would fall apart.
Lots of people would be walking around naked because the fabric their clothes were made of would disappear.
Most insulation would be gone, so any electricity still being generated would start millions of fires.
Okay, maybe my mother was right when she used to say I had too much imagination. 😉


A few days ago I attended a high school reunion.
Since we’re all now in our seventies, we don’t look much like we did way back then, but it was great to see each other again, wrinkles and all.
Most of us had lost touch with each other after we graduated, but had reconnected at previous reunions, or through the internet. The internet is a wonderful way to keep in touch.
However there’s nothing quite like seeing each other face to face in real life. People who share some of the same memories are sort of like an extended family.
As we used to sing in Girl Scouts back when I was a kid, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver, but the other, gold.”
Do you have any golden friends?


My birthday is in October and I’ve been thinking of an interesting coincidence.
When I was born, and when my brother was born a couple of years later, my mother had the same room and the same roommate in the hospital both times.
That isn’t quite as amazing as it sounds.
My mother had worked in the hospital gift shop and her roommate was the wife of a doctor who worked there, so they were both given the best room.
And back then people who had babies usually stayed in the hospital for about a week, so the two women might not have had their babies on the same day.
Still, it’s unlikely that they’d both be there at the same time.
I have no idea what that other woman’s name was, but I wish I could find out.


Now that Fall is officially here we can expect lots of bright Autumn colors on trees and falling leaves.

Colors have always been important to me. I have very good color vision and always get 100% on those color vision tests with pictures made up of little dots.

If I were ever to loose my color vision that would seem tragic, because I enjoy colors so much.

I recently read a scientific article about a man who was treated with proton beam radiation for an eye tumor and dreamed in color for several days afterward.

He wasn’t color-blind and could see colors normally when he was awake, but, except for the few days after the radiation, dreamed in black and white.

But how could he not have always dreamed in color? I always have and assumed everyone else did the same.

I wonder if radiation to a certain part of the brain might make people who are colorblind able to see colors while they are awake.

Do you dream in color or in black and white?

Blog Problems

For many years I blogged twice a week with and only missed one post when my computer was out for repairs.

But a few months ago I had serious problems and couldn’t access my own blog or contact tech support. They sent things to a g-mail account I couldn’t figure out how to add to my Mac.

Finally I gave up and switched to a WordPress blog. I signed up for a contract that will last for years.

I seldom got comments on my old blog, but shared my posts on Facebook where I got plenty of comments. Of course I still share my posts on Facebook.

But now I’m getting LOTS of spam messages on my WordPress blog. I delete them all, but doing that takes time.

Do any of you with WordPress blogs get a lot of spam?

The Wizard of Dark Street

I loved this book and so will kids who read it.

It combines several genres of popular middle grade fiction into one exciting story.

Oona, the protagonist, is a detective like the heroines in many other popular books since Nancy Drew.

But she also has magic powers and lives in a world that may remind readers of fantasy books like those about Harry Potter.

However, her world is different from those in other fantasy books since it’s halfway between New York City and the world of Faerie.

The story is exciting because the stakes are high. And the conflicts and relationships between characters are something all young readers will identify with.

Shawn Thomas Odyssey is one of the most creative authors who’s books I’ve ever read and I can’t wait to read the sequel to The Wizard of Dark Street.

Natural Disasters

Many years ago, when I first joined the internet, I was in a group that got into a discussion about natural disasters.

Someone had asked what others thought were the worst kind.

To my surprise, everyone preferred the ones where they lived!

People who lived where there are hurricanes said they’d rather have those because they always knew when they were coming and had plenty of time to prepare.

Members who lived where tornadoes happen said they preferred them because they only hit a narrow strip.

Those who lived in earthquake country (as I did back then) said they liked those best because the big ones were many decades apart.

I now think forest fires are the worst because you can’t predict or shelter from them, they happen frequently, and cover large areas. But the majority of forest fires aren’t exactly “natural” disasters since they’re caused by humans.

And right now, I think a lot of people who live in hurricane country would prefer to live where those don’t happen.

What kind of natural disasters do you think are the worst?