A Good Home, Oma and Opa, Young readers

Oma Paula and ‘The Best Critics’

I never know how much to tell you about the journey that Myrtle is on! (Are you bored yet?)
 
But many of you have hung in with me through the rough times, so I figure you are more than overdue for good news. And right now, some of my ‘goodest’ news is about Myrtle.
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Blog Photo - Myrtle Readers Paula and the grandies
 When Paula de Ronde wrote about Myrtle on Facebook recently, I was delighted.
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“Yesterday I read Myrtle the Purple Turtle with three of my ‘honorary’ grandchildren. Myrtle got three thumbs up, some giggles and big smiles.
“Cynthia Reyes has written a book for parents and friends who love to read and love to read to children.
“We had quite a talk about it and it is a hit.   Zoe, who is only 2, sat through the whole thing and wanted me to go back to certain of the very colourful pages. She was the illustrations critic and by her response they certainly did what they are supposed to do –  engage through colour.

“Dylan Damien (8) and Charlie (6)… talked about ‘friends’  and that ‘it’s OK to be different.’

“I have told many friends about how much I like this book. However, these are the best critics as the story is for them.  I bet this becomes a go-to, cuddle-up book on those long Winter nights.”

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Stefan Steen took the photo above of his wife Stephanie, their 3 children and Paula.

Paula and Stefan go way back to his childhood, when he and her son Damien were close friends.  Sadly, Damien died young, but Stefan remained close to Paula and her husband Bert.

Stefan and Stephanie named their first child for Damien.  Damien was known for giving the greatest hugs, and Paula says she is delighted that the kids have learned to give her “Damien hugs” too. 

They are the grandchildren of her heart, she says.

Today, Paula and Bert are close to all three children, who call them “Oma”, and “Opa” (Dutch for “grandma” and “grandpa”).

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A retired librarian and cultural connoisseur,  Paula has an eye for great stories.  She was the first person outside our family to read the draft of Myrtle, and therefore was its first reviewer.

Blog Photo - Paula and Bert
Photo Credit: Heather Bubb-Clarke
She said this about Myrtle:
“It is a long time since I have been so effusive about a children’s book.  Now we have something other than The Ugly Duckling, et al,  for this age group with a nice dollop of  ‘how to’ for adults facing this dilemma too.
 

“Children will love, relate and respond favourably to the  humour and that light, underlying silliness that is their everyday language.  I was smiling as I read some of the lines, descriptions and Myrtle’s thoughts.

“There are many teaching moments and issues in this book and you present them in such a warm and lovable way.  It is simple but not simplistic, ethical, tackling issues that we so need to tackle today but without being pedantic.”

I respect Paula a lot, so you can imagine how much her critique encouraged not just me, but our whole family.  And now, we’re glad to know that she has read it to her ‘grandchildren’ too.

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Thank you, Paula, Stefan and Stephanie — and special thanks to our young critics!

 

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A Good Home, Arts, Libraries, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, Spirit of the Hills - Arts Group

A Busy Week and Purple Fingernails

Accepting a blogger friend’s challenge, I painted my nails purple to attend the Festival of the Arts in Cobourg, Ontario last weekend.

Blog Photo - Myrtle Purple Nails

Of course, my friend won the challenge hands-down (hands-up?) because in this picture below, she’s also wearing a purple shirt! 

Blog Photo - Myrtle and Mandy and Purple Nails

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I’m a volunteer with the Festival and it was a great success! Painters, photographers, authors, actors, musicians and others shared their talents with enthusiastic audiences.

Blog Photo - Festival Marie-Lynn playing guitar

Blog Photo - Pat Calder Stall at Festival

Blog Photo - Festival Mandy Bing paintings

Blog Photo - Festival Book Fair

Blog Photo - Festival Sharon Ramsay Curtis

Blog Photo - Festival Kim aubrey reading

Blog Photo - SOTH Festival Performers

Blog Photo - SOTH Festival gifts for Chairs
Above 6 photos by Hamlin Grange

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In the photo just above, publisher Jennifer Bogart(right) and I are presenting gifts to Felicity Sidnell Reid (left) and Susan Statham (2nd from right), the hard-working co-chairs of the Festival’s organizing committee.  

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It’s also been a great ‘Myrtle week’.  I dropped into A Different Booklist  – one of Toronto’s best-known book stores. Owners Itah and Miguel introduced me to customers Shay Lin (holding a copy of Myrtle), an international student from China, and Qing, her mother.

Blog Photo - Myrtle and Friends at A Different Booklist

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Earlier, CBC Radio interviewed daughter Lauren and me about Myrtle. Metro Morning host Matt Galloway and his team were terrific. They pre-interviewed us, and, when we arrived, made us welcome. Then they talked us through the journey the interview would take.

Blog Photo - Myrtle Interview by Matt Galloway

They were so kind, I suspected that someone in the team must have read An Honest House, which describes my struggles with PTSD, cognitive difficulties and pain following a car accident. So I asked producer Morgan Passi.

Imagine my delight to discover that this is just the way they operate!

Blog Photo - Myrtle interview by Wei Chen

Next, Lauren and I were skilfully interviewed by the wonderful host of Ontario Morning, Wei Chen. She greeted us warmly, made us feel entirely at home and the interview began. 

Bravo, CBC Radio!

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A few days ago, Seattle’s Allen J. Mears posted on Facebook a photo of his daughters, Megan, 8, and Hailey, 6, with Myrtle. I loved it! Thanks to the Mears family for allowing me to share it here.

Blog Photo - Myrtle with Megan and Hailey

I love  photos of children reading Myrtle, courtesy of kind parents and grandparents.

Blog Photo - Myrtle being read to 2 daughters

In these photos, Ashly Dixon in Wisconsin is reading Myrtle to her daughters Denali, 9, Anika, 6, and son Vincent, 2, while their father Damien takes the photos. 

Blog Photo - Myrtle being read to children by Ashly

Ashly says they all love the book, including the brilliant illustrations and Myrtle’s “message of acceptance and knowing one’s self-worth” .

Thanks, Dixon family. 

And don’t you just love the pyjamas?

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Carl Randall, a veteran marathon runner, did something unusual to spread the word about Myrtle.

Blog Photo - Myrtle and Carl at Brunswick County PL

He and his wife Jackie have brought Myrtle to libraries in various cities — including New York, where he recently ran the marathon.

Blog Photo - Myrtle held by Carl at NYPL 2

Thanks, Carl and Jackie! 

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Finally, Kev Cooper – blogger, book reviewer, author and musician — has made Myrtle “Book of the Month” on his website, Books & Music.  Wow, Kev! Thank you!

Childhood, Mixed-Race Hair, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, Self-Esteem

Guest Post by Erin L. Taylor, Parent and Teacher

Blogger Friends: 

I was moved by this post by Erin L. Taylor on Facebook and wanted you to read it. I asked her permission to share it here. Erin and her family live in Southern Ontario. 

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I’m so honoured to have had the chance to review the book, “Myrtle the Purple Turtle”, by Cynthia Reyes.  As an educator, and mother of young children, I really appreciate when I find a book that speaks to important social issues that our children should be aware of and taught about appropriately.

Having children of mixed race, I want to ensure that they embrace their unique qualities and are proud of who they are and who their parents are.

Blog Photo - Layla reading Myrtle

My daughter Layla has spent many mornings shedding tears over the fact that her hair is dark and curly. She wants straight, blond hair like most of her friends. We try to explain to her that her hair is what makes her unique!

A few months ago a lady came up to me and asked about Layla’s hair. She made comments about how she feels bad for her, for having hair like “that” and how much she must hate her curly hair. I was in complete shock! Not only were her comments inappropriate, but she also said them in front of Layla. These comments were very hurtful to a young child’s developing self esteem.

“Myrtle the Purple Turtle” is a wonderful story about a turtle who is ashamed of her colour. Myrtle was being made fun of for being a purple turtle, not a green turtle. The story takes you on a journey of the feelings Myrtle goes through after being ridiculed. In the end, she has friends that help her come to the realization that she is a beautiful, unique turtle, and should not be ashamed of who she is.

Blog Photo - Layla holding Myrtle

Thank you very much, Erin.

Note to Layla from Cynthia:

Layla, my dear, you are beautiful and unique, as is your gorgeous hair. When I was your age, my hair was big and bushy and not easy to comb. When I got older, my friends envied my thick, shiny hair!  It was beautiful all along, but I didn’t know it when I was little. #loveyourshell.

 

A Good Home, Book Reviews by Children, Children, Children's Books, Myrtle The Purple Turtle

Such Sweet Photos — And Reviews

Meet some sweet young readers of Myrtle the Purple Turtle! 

Blog Photo - Ava and Elias reading Myrtle 2

Above are Elias, almost 5, and Ava, 7, reading the book at their home near Toronto.  Their mother Wendy kindly sent this photo and captions it: “Big Sis reading to Elias. It was picture day at school, hence why Elias has a tie on. :)”

And here’s Ava’s review:

Blog Photo - Ava and Elias reading Myrtle with review

And this is Arianna, at home in Wisconsin. 

Blog Photo - Arianna reading Myrtle 2

Arianna’s grandmother Karen adds this advice for anyone thinking of buying a copy of the book:

“Buy two. One for your bookshelf and one for your local school.”

Great advice.  I’ve also heard from two individuals in the U.S. who told me they each bought an extra copy and gave it to their local library.

A common refrain I hear from adults about Myrtle? It’s this, voiced by Ava and Elias’ mom Wendy:

“Myrtle has such a powerful message and one that Shawn and I try to instil in both our kids. I wish this story was around when I was a kid.”

Thank you, Ava, Elias, Wendy, Shawn, Arianna and Karen!

Please keep sending those photos and reviews from your young relatives and friends, everyone.  I love them!

Myrtle the Purple Turtle is available at:

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK: