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Perils of Pauline

March 5, 20084 CommentsPosted in book tour, Seeing Eye dogs, Uncategorized, visiting schools, Writing for Children

Me and Hanni, a.k.a. Pauline, at the end of SAFE & SOUND.Paul Kirk, the principal at Roslyn Road elementary School, was the lucky man who got to introduce us to the student audience at our visit yesterday. During my speech to the kids, I explained the three rules to keep in mind if you happen to see a guide dog with a harness on: don’t pet the dog, don’t feed the dog, and don’t call out the dog’s name.

“Those things can distract a Seeing Eye dog,” I told them. “It’d be like if someone nudged you or kept calling your name wile you were working on your spelling words at school. You wouldn’t be able to concentrate on your work.”

I suggested we come up with a fake name for Hanni. “If you use her fake name to say hi to her, she wont’ notice,” I said. “She’ll think you’re talking to someone else!”

I asked the kids what their principal’s name was. They chorused an answer. “But what’s his first name?” I asked.

Hmmm. Paul wouldn’t work for Hanni. “How about we call her Pauline?”

The kids loved the idea. During the Q & A part of the session, a student asked if Pauline sleeps with me. It was a good question – it gave me a chance to explain that Seeing Eye dogs are not allowed on furniture. “But she sleeps as close as she can to me,” I said. “She lies right next to my bed. If I get up for a glass of water in the night I have to be careful so I don’t step on her.”

Students asked whether or not Pauline likes other dogs, does Pauline ever slip on the ice, what does Pauline do if she comes across a whole in the sidewalk. But then came a question I hadn’t heard before. “Have you ever fallen out of bed?”

“Yes!” I said. It took a second for me to figure out where this question had come from, but suddenly the light bulb went on over my head. “But I fell off the other side – not on Pauline!”

Guide Dogs and Spiders and Wolves — Oh My!

March 3, 20087 CommentsPosted in Beth Finke, guide dogs, Uncategorized, Writing for Children

I know, I know. I already went on and on and on in my last post about our book being reviewed in the School Library Journal. But I can’t help myself! It’s just too cool! The review is available online now, too, at the School Library Journal website.

The icing on the cake? In the online version the listings are alphabetical according to the author’s last name. So there it is, Beth Finke’s book, directly above Jean Craighead George’s new picture book about wolves, “The Wolves Are Back.”

Jean Craighead George is a Newbery winner for “Julie of the Wolves” and a Newbery honor winner for “My Side of the Mountain.” She’s one of the most well known children’s authors of our time.

Last week Hanni was listed with E.B. White’s famous spider. This week, with Jean Craighead George’s famous Wolves. What next? I can’t wait to find out!

Positive Review in School Library Journal

February 28, 2008CommentsPosted in Beth Finke, Braille, Seeing Eye dogs, Uncategorized, Writing for Children

Look at Safe & Sound among the greats!School Library Journal likes us! School Library Journal likes us! School Library Journal likes us! School Library Journal likes us!

What? You’ve never heard of the School Library Journal??? Well, you must not be a school librarian – or a children’s librarian – then. Forty thousand librarians, teachers and children’s book lovers subscribe to the School Library Journal every month. An estimated 100,000 librarians, teachers and children’s book lovers read it.

And when the March issue comes out this Saturday, all those people will be reading about Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound. Know why? Because the March issue of the School library Journal features a POSITIVE REVIEW of our book!

This is extremely exciting news. One reason I decided to write a childrens book about Seeing Eye dogs is so that…well..so that children would read and learn from it. A positive review in School Library Journal will expose Safe & Sound to tens of thousands of school librarians. And then, who knows? tens of thousands might order Safe & Sound for their school libraries. Just think of how many more kids will have access to our book –and learn about blindness, teamwork and just how special Seeing Eye dogs are.
I’m not sure yet if the review will be available online. Even if it is, it won’t be available until Saturday. But shhhh! For you, my loyal blog readers and Seeing Eye dog fans, I will paste a sneak preview of the review right here –my publisher got an advance copy and sent it to me the minute she got the good news. Enjoy – we sure did! Here goes:
BLUE MARLIN REVIEWS – SLJ MARCH, 2008

FINKE, Beth. Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound. illus. by Anthony Alex LeTourneau.
ISBN 978-0-9792918-0-7.
LC 2007003741.

K-Gr 3–“Look at me!” Hanni, a Seeing Eye dog, explains who she is and her responsibilities as she introduces readers to her partner, Beth, who is blind.
Vigilance is stressed throughout the book, and when Hanni talks about “keeping us safe,” readers know that she is speaking as part of a team. Although there is plenty of information about what a Seeing Eye dog does–and does not do–when at work, this is predominantly a story about relationships: Hanni’s relationship with Beth, with other dogs, and with the world at large as she navigates her partner through it. The pictures are painted in oil and have a soft focus. There are two sets of notes at the end–one from the point of view of Hanni, which describes her training as a puppy, and one from Beth, which explains how she became blind and her decision to get a Seeing Eye dog. These are accompanied by black-and-white line drawings that are much more playful in tone than the rest of the book. A list of online resources is appended. The book is also available in braille. An upbeat and inspiring selection to be used along with Glenna Lang’s Looking Out for Sarah (Charlesbridge, 2001).–Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA

Hanni the Dog + Charlotte the Spider = Heroes

February 27, 20084 CommentsPosted in book tour, Seeing Eye dogs, Uncategorized, Writing for Children

Charlotte’s Web book coverLook at Safe & Sound among the greats!Officer Buckle & Gloria book coverThis Saturday Hanni will be honored at a Champaign Public Library program called “Get Inspired! Meet a Hero at Your Library.” The Champaign library will be recommending favorite books about heroes for the next couple months, and “Hanni and Beth: Safe & sound” is one of their three picks for march:
1. Officer Buckle & Gloria
Recommended for preschoolers
by Peggy Rathman

The funny on-stage performances of a police dog, teamed with her new partner, teach kids how to be safe at home, in school, and around town.

2. Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound,
Recommended for grades K to 2
by Beth Finke

How will Beth, who is blind, travel safely to work, to the park, or to a concert? Her good friend and guide dog, Hanni, helps her every day!

3. Charlotte’s Web
Recommended for grades 3 to 5
by E.B. White

A clever spider named Charlotte hatches a plan to save her dearest friend, Wilbur the pig

Hanni has been recognized for her heroism before, but being listed right up there with Charlotte the spider? Now, that’s an honor.

The Champaign Public Library’s calendar is full of hero-themed events for the next couple of months – Hanni is looking forward to her time in the spotlight this Saturday at 2 pm.

Smelling Like a Rose

February 24, 20084 CommentsPosted in book tour, guide dogs, Seeing Eye dogs, Uncategorized

You might remember my “Papa & Me” blog about a presentation I gave at the Oak Park Public Library? A small independent children’s bookstore in Oak Park called Magic Tree was kind enough to bring books to the library for me to sign after my presentation. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a whole lot of takers.

As I put on my coat to leave the library, I could hear Rose, one of the Magic Tree owners, shoving unsold books back into a box. “Sorry we didn’t sell more books!” I called out in her direction. The temperature was one degree – yes, you read that right, one – outside. I hated to have dragged her out on such a cold night for such little reward.

Rose was unfazed. “No problem!” she exclaimed. “Now you can come to our store and do a presentation –we already have a stack of books!”

And so, this afternoon Hanni and I did a presentation at Magic Tree. Rose read “Safe & Sound” aloud, and I explained three rules to keep in mind if you happen to see a guide dog with a harness on: don’t pet the dog, don’t feed the dog, and don’t call out the dog’s name. “Those things can distract a Seeing Eye dog,” I told them. “It’d be like if someone nudged you or kept calling your name wile you were working on your spelling words at school. You wouldn’t be able to concentrate on your work.”

I suggested we come up with a fake name for Hanni. “If you use her fake name to say hi to her, she wont’ notice,” I said. “She’ll think you’re talking to someone else!”

“For today, let’s call the dog ‘Rose,’” I said. “You know, after the lady who invited Hanni and me to Magic Tree.

The kids liked the idea. The bookstore owner liked it, too. Until it came around to question and answer time, that is. There were some of the usual questions – how do you know where your food is on the plate, do you have to pay for a seat when the dog goes on an airplane with you, things like that. But then came the zinger. “How do you pick up Rose’s poop?”

I looked in Rose-the-human’s direction. She was quiet for a second. Then she burst out in laughter. I answered the question, but decided to refer to Hanni as “the dog” rather than “Rose” for this explanation.

It was a great event. When it was over, Rose didn’t pack any leftover books away in boxes. Instead, she asked me to sign them so she could bring them to a presentation she’d be giving to West Forty next month. “It’s an organization of 40 different public school districts in western Cook County,” she explained. “A lot of reading specialists are involved, I give presentations to them about books they might be interested in using with their kids.” She said she is especially pleased when she brings good books to their attention that they might not have heard of otherwise. “Yours is one of them.”