Acts of Friendship, New Book - Myrtle Makes a New Friend, Raising Children

At the Start of the School Year

Parents know how anxious children can be when school begins, and one of a child’s biggest worries is whether they will make friends. 

Lauren and I  heard this when we toured primary and nursery schools with our Myrtle the Purple Turtle books.  When we visit children from 3 to 11 years old, we don’t just read the books to them: we also listen to their experiences.

Some children told us about being left out. No one wanted to play with them, or “be friends”. Some were made fun of, or bullied by others. 

Of course, these things can happen at any time, not just in the first weeks of school. We also know that parents are looking out for their children, themselves anxious about how their child is faring each day.

But there is another thing parents (and other adults who care for children) can do:

Encourage or remind your children to be kind to others, and especially to children who seem to have no friends.

Just as they clearly recalled the painful times they were excluded, the  9, 10 and 11 year old children we met had uplifting stories. They had distinct memories of the  classmates who noticed they were excluded and reached out to them.

Some remembered being told they couldn’t join in a game, but also happily remembered the time they were included. And they cherished their memories of the classmates who simply asked “Do you want to be friends?”

Out in the community, we’ve even met adults in their 80’s who remember those incidents from early childhood.  Some today say they are still marked by those experiences of being excluded or being befriended.

Every child needs to be included and every child can be a friend to another.

The original Myrtle story was written for Lauren, after an incident at her school when she was almost five years old. But if you were to accompany us on a book tour in schools, you would understand why these issues are so present in our thoughts as we write every new book.

We are passionate about Myrtle’s messages of inclusion, kindness and self-esteem because we see the great need for them — and we see it often.

To order, or learn more about the Myrtle books, please visit:

We are also grateful for this award recognizing Myrtle’s relevance to schools:


Myrtle - Purple Dragonfly Book Award





A Good Home, Inspiration

Birthday Thoughts

My birthday took place on Easter Sunday this year, so I started the day with happy hymns and ringing bells.  Alleluia!

It was a lovely day.

Thanks for all the good wishes, everyone!

And huge thanks to my family and friends for loving me — yesterday and every day!


It’s been said that how we live with each other and how we live with the Earth are the defining issues of our time.

I’m going to start with the Earth first.

As I start another year on Planet Earth, I know that Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the Earth. That’s a big concern.

Blog Photo - autumn woods trees in the valley

But my Jamaican ancestors would say: “One-one coco fill basket”. That means all our small efforts can add up to something big.

So I’m making a compact with our planet. I pledge:

To remember that living on Earth is a sacred privilege.

To be more mindful of the impact my daily decisions have on you, Earth.

To remember that I — that each of us — can help preserve and love you in our own small way.

Next: Living with Each Other

As my family and friends know, I did not take kindly to my own mobility problems, caused by a car accident.  I still get upset about it sometimes.

But as I start the next year of my life, a picture  of a girl stays in my mind:  Florence.

Florence, the Ugandan girl who became disabled at age 8, and is now able, for the first time in 4 years, to get around without crawling on the ground. 

Florence got her very own wheelchair — and the gift of mobility — because strangers donated to CanUgan — a small charity run by Canadians and Ugandans together.

If you wish to help others like Florence:

Blog Photo - CanUgan - Florence 1

I’ve also spent the last few weeks supporting a fundraising drive to benefit vulnerable children, adults and pets through #GlobalSussexBabyShower — and rejoicing at every donation.

Thanks to this grassroots online initiative that honours Prince Harry and his wife Duchess Meghan, more children in South Africa now have food each day; more newborns in the US are getting clothes, diapers, food.

Blog Photo - Baby Shower - Wellchild Baby

More seriously ill children in the UK are getting expert care and more unemployed British women are getting help and clothing for their job-hunt.

More adolescent girls in India are getting sanitary pads so they can go to school when having their monthly periods; more girls in Africa are now able to attend school.

Blog Photo - Camfed donations from baby shower

The problems of the world are daunting. Poverty, oppression, racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry loom large. As I start the next year on this beautiful planet, I will try to keep in mind:

One-one coco fill basket. Bit by bit, one by one, each of us can make a difference to another person’s life. And each of us can make a difference to the Earth.