It’s important to share messages of acceptance with children, but it can be difficult if you don’t take into consideration their level of understanding. What a child can understand is vastly different than an adult. The One Eyed Pug by Deborah Hunt is a cute little story about a pug puppy that has a slightly difficult life waiting for her. She has to go through the anxiety of being separated from her birth parents and then living with a stranger. While she does her best to adapt to her new life, change is right around the corner as her ‘mother’ ends up being unable to care for her and gives her to another family. Our little pug now has to deal with the uncertainty of a new home with new people without understanding why she was given up in the first place. Things seem to start going better for our pug until the introduction of a new friend and the terrible accident that follows close behind.
Using animals as a way to deliver important messages and teach important lessons to children is something that is not easily done, but delivered well in this story. Children seem to be able to listen carefully and understand difficult lessons when taught through an animal that can speak. Hunt uses the story of the pug to show children that change is not always bad. She also teaches them that while bad things may happen, there are good outcomes as well. Our pug has only lived for a short time yet she’s met with various changes and has to face the anxiety of the unknown each time. This story can also teach children compassion. Compassion for those who are different than us and compassion for those who are struggling.
There are several drawings throughout the book which can give the readers a nice interruption to the waves of text. It is important to keep children engaged as well as entertained. The drawings give more information on what the characters look like which helps the readers connect more to the story. The language in the story is very easy for new readers to understand. While this isn’t a first step book, it is definitely suitable for a child who has experience reading books with little pictures. The language might be too young for older readers, even though the message it sends is positive.
Deborah Hunt takes us on a trip to learn compassion and acceptance with The One Eyed Pug. This tale allows children to connect their own feelings of anxiety and uncertainty with things like change to the life of the protagonist, the little pug. It also allows children to see that dogs and other pets have feelings as well, even if we can’t always understand what they’re trying to tell us. Even when our little pug goes through a life changing situation, she comes out strong because she has the support of those who love her around her. This is an important thing for children to understand as well: we are all stronger thanks to the people who support us. This would be a great book for any avid young reader.
Pages: 80 | ISBN: 1945175788
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A World of Wonder is designed to help parents and children build a sense of wonder about the world. I think it does this expertly. What was your inspiration for wanting to create such an engaging kids book?
My co-author and I are long-time educators currently working to bring high-quality, science curricula to primary schools across the country. In primary grades, science instruction often takes a back seat to other subjects and it is our goal to change that by creating resources that integrate science with reading (in this case poetry), writing and mathematics. Young children are natural-born scientists – always inquisitive of the world around them – so we are working to create materials that parents and teachers can use to foster and promote that innate interest. We also want to help parents and teachers inspire children to appreciate, and care for, our world as well as to provide opportunities to engage children in thinking and talking about science.
The art in this book is spectacular. What decisions went into the art direction for this book?
That is an interesting question because we had to think about so many things at the same time! We wanted to include all different types of science; we wanted to include some of those classic poems that many of us grew up with as well as some new ones; and we wanted to include topics that allowed for interesting extension activities that kids would want to come back to over and over again. So we had to weave all of those elements together at same time. We couldn’t just pick the best pictures or just use classic children’s poetry; everything had to work toward the larger goal of building that sense of wonder about the world and be really engaging to kids.
The combined variety of photos and poems are ideal for promoting conversation between parents and children. What poem and photo is your favorite and why?
Thank you – that was certainly our goal! My favorite combination is probably the poem about the eagle – the king of the daytime sky – along with that magnificent image of the eagle fishing – talons extended – above a partially frozen lake. That image is inspiring all by itself, but then the extension activity includes a link to a webcam of an eagle’s nest high in the tree tops above a field, with a stream in the distance. The webcam is always on and you can go back to it often throughout the year to see just about anything – from eggs, to hatchlings, to juvenile eagles just beginning to fly, to Mom and Dad eagle keeping warm through the winter – it’s always fascinating to watch. (It can also a bit graphic at times, so parents need to be careful with very young children.)
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Our science teaching units all use children’s literature as a foundation for the unit and we are in the process of releasing those books now on Amazon and iBooks – both as eBooks and as paperbacks. Several of the books, like When I Grow Up, include spectacular photography similar to this book, while others are fun storybooks. My favorite storybook is When We Were Young, which is a sweet story about Dr. Dolittle’s Pushme-Pullyou and includes really beautiful watercolor illustrations by an illustrator from London. That was a really fun project to work on!
A World of Wonder is a book designed to help children develop a wonder for, and an appreciation of, the world in which we all live. The book combines spectacular images with a variety of poetry and verse…from time-honored and classic to new and sometimes humorous.
This is not the type of book typically read in one session. We encourage readers to come and go as children ask questions about the world. Children can certainly experience the book on their own, but we also encourage parents and teachers to engage with children – ask questions to tease out their understanding of the world and provide guidance where and when it seems appropriate. We also encourage you to follow children’s leads to encourage their interests in our magnificent world.
The authors, both educators and researchers with many years of experience, ensure that each facet of the experience is scientifically and pedagogically appropriate for young children.
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Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone: The Legend in Lake Isa is a fun children’s book that talks about conservation and respecting the wilderness. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this children’s book?
I’ve written somewhat serious books and articles about nature and science previously, but when I’m with the family– we are often goofy. We visited Yellowstone and my son asked me about Lake Isa, which sits atop the continental divide and therefore drains in two different directions. I began crafting and telling the story during our visit there. Our son enjoyed the story and laughed at the character names.
We also had several bear encounters on the trip. I had lived in Alaska, so I was weary of Grizzly bears, but less careful with the black bears. Once I even got out of the car in Yellowstone to get a better look at a bear and cub in the woods. That was not a smart move.
So our story about Howie Tootalot deals with the intoxicating grandeur of wild places like Yellowstone and the care we must use in how we love and appreciate them. I finally suppressed my MFA-serious ego enough to have fun with the story in print. I did publish under the name Lou Jenkins, which I now use for all my children’s work.
This story takes place in Yellowstone National Park and portrays the natural beauty of the land. What draws you to Yellowstone and why do you think it’s perfect for a kids story?
Kids feel the connection to wilderness. I’d written about the connections possible in Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting under my name Amy Lou Jenkins. We all need to foster a connection to natural spaces, because there are so few opportunities to escape the pressures of consumerism. We and our children are bombarded with the notion that we need to buy something new. We are told that we need to consume because we and our possessions are somehow flawed. Instead of purchasing something to fix our problems, nature allows us to experience source. We are natural beings. We can have independent thought while not bombarded with proprietary messages. Studies say that the number one way to build a love for wild places is to take kids to wild places. That’s a strong promise and scientific finding: take kids to wild places and they will build a connection to something real and unadulterated. While a book is second best to visiting Yellowstone, it is another way to make and support that connection.
The art in this book I felt was very creative. What was the art direction like and how did you make the decision on what went into the pictures?
Thank you for noticing that the artwork was not standard. We wanted to support the connection to Yellowstone, so we had actual photographs of the National Park cartoonized. Children who are lucky enough to visit Yellowstone will recognize actual landmarks, animals and plants from the book. Since the main portion of the book took place before the park existed, some of our illustrations came from national archives in the public domain. Children who never visit Yellowstone, will still recognize landmarks in images that are iconic in our culture. Children can begin to build a connection to National treasures such as Old Faithful, Mammoth Springs, The Grand Prismatic Spring, and Lake Isa. We hope that connection is based in fun, awe, and the sense of original identity that is nurtured in wild places.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Thank you for asking. We have just finished the artwork for more paper puppet characters in the Tootalot series. As you know, we include links in the books that allow readers to download and assemble articulated paper puppets. Many children enjoy a hands on experience as a part of play. Children who are not drawn to books, might be able to access the fun and play of reading with a character from the book in their hand. Yet even voracious readers, might extend their own imagination from reading to other play time.
I’m also a Registered Nurse and have worked in community health. I used to tell my children a story about the “magic mark” based on my experience in school nursing. My daughter used to ask me to tell her this story over and over. Many children have differences, and this story is about a girl with a port-wine stain. We include a student in a wheel chair, and work to represent a wide-range of children in this tale with a magical element. At its core, is a cheer for all who learn how to love each other and accept differences. Look for this new book, the third in theTootalot series, by the end of the year.
Why does the water of Isa Lake drain in two different directions? Follow Howie Tootalot to the wild land we now call Yellowstone as he and his new bear friend explore the wild geysers, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and more. Danger surrounds them, yet lessons from the wild and the wilderness itself will save them. Learn the Tootalot family legend. Children may download and assemble their own free puppets—just like the ones in the story. Great fun for reading and play at home or in the car. Howie Tootalot in Yellowstoneis the second in The Tootalots series. Award-winning parenting author, dons a pen name and introduces Howie Tootalot in this fun legend that offers giggles and some important ways to deal with respecting the danger and wildness of natural wonders such as Yellowstone National Park.
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A World of Wonder by Brent A. Ford and Lucy McCullough Hazlehurst is an educational combination of photographs and poetry, designed to be enjoyed by parents and children together. Giving the latter an interest in the world and to act as a starting point for appreciating its wonders. It consists of 41 high-quality, color images of nature and natural phenomena across the globe, each paired with a relevant, short poem – some newly written for the book, and some classics. The interactive copy has links to further information related to each photo.
The first thing that struck me was the quality of the photos, which are expertly-framed, beautiful shots of a range of animals, scenery, and weather across the globe, as well as views from beyond the upper atmosphere. As an adult, I still wonder at many of them, so it must be magical for a child. They evoke multiple emotions – some are dramatic, some cute, some calm – but all are of a suitable nature for young children, as should be expected.
The accompanying poems are apt for the stated age range of 3-8, and grade level K-2; they’re short, accessible and fun to read aloud. Some are humorous, while many are more instructive about the habits of animals or natural processes. They match well with the photos, and explore different aspects of life on Earth.
The combined variety of photos and poems are ideal for promoting conversation of all kinds between parents and children; it’s easy to tell that the authors have experience in education. Not just parents, but teachers could certainly get a lot of use out of this book, too.
It’s not particularly long, and because it’s designed to be picked up and put down, it seems perfect for different attention spans and available periods of time. It could be used at bedtime, or for car journeys.
The amazing choice of photographs enables you to revisit this book many times, so parents can ask different questions to highlight different points and to introduce more complex ideas as their child grows. This flexibility of use would is a huge draw for parents. It would be ideal for guessing games – trying to remember the photo from the poem, or even the poem from the photo. Budding artists could get some great inspiration from it, and it could be a very useful starting point for crafting projects or for guided research about animal habits and habitat.
I appreciate the authors’ aims and the work that they have put into the book in order to achieve them. A World of Wonder truly delivers on the wonder that it promises.
Pages: 88 | ASIN: B072LJWBSZ
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The Perfect Teresa follows a 43 year old woman that has hit rock bottom and is given a 2nd chance at high school by an ancient Aztec deity. What was the inspiration for the setup to this imaginative story?
I think we all have those moments we wish we could go back and re-do for whatever reason, whether it be an embarrassing childhood experience or something you wish you’d done differently as an adult. Of course, none of us can go back and do anything over, at least not without something completely absurd and fantastical happening. That’s really how this story came about. The “what if” question was, “What if there was some way, some kind of cosmic intervention that would allow someone to go back in time and re-do an experience?” And, yes, I’ve thought of what I’d do in a situation like that! So little by little, the pieces began to fall into place, and authors like Christopher Moore and Jenny Lawson really helped me to see that sometimes the most absurd things made the most sense. So, yes, an unemployed Aztec deity sending a woman back in time to do a talent show over again? Makes perfect sense to me!
Authors can often fudge the details in time traveling stories, but I felt that the 80’s was captured perfectly in The Perfect Teresa. What kind of research did you do to get it right or did you pull from experience?
So I guess I’ll date myself and say that a lot of the stuff in this novel is from experience and memory because I did attend high school in the late 80s! It was a fun process to re-discover 1988 New York City, and it involved everything from getting back in touch with childhood friends through Facebook, to doing lots of searches on Google Images and Google Maps. My old buddies really helped me piece together our old neighborhood (like remembering the Susan Terry store on the corner of Ditmars and 31st Street), while Google Maps helped me walk through some old haunts and rediscover old landmarks. The other big part of this process was music. I love music, and in 1988 I was really big into the underground metal scene. So just being able to put these playlists together and listen to these old metal and 80s pop songs really helped me situate the story. You can find a YouTube link to this unofficial soundtrack for the story on my website!
Teresa’s character is intriguing and well developed. She can’t move forward and is trapped in this sad, drunken life where happiness eludes her. What was your inspiration for her character?
Thank you! In some ways, Teresa embodies a lot of the self doubt and self sabotage that I’ve had to overcome throughout my life. But in many ways, her character was inspired by Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, which I think is the one of the great stories about personal redemption through service to others. Like his character, Teresa starts off very unlikeable, very self-centered, and, as you said in your review, unwilling to take accountability for her actions. She’s got a long history of dumb, self-destructive tendencies, and she never wants to acknowledge that this is why her life is in ruins. But I wanted her story to be about self-discovery, and about realizing that her selfish actions have real consequences for others. So like Murray’s character, she has to learn through this new experience that there are things more important than a silly talent show, and that there’s real happiness in providing help and happiness to others. I hope that by the story’s end, we find her journey plausible and redeeming.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on two projects. One is a new time-travel sci-fi series tentatively called Quality Jones and the Time Keepers. But I’ve also started work on the sequel to The Perfect Teresa, titled The Perfect Vicente. I’m hoping to publish one of the other by the end of the year!
Lucky for her, an unemployed Aztec deity applying for Quetzalcoatl’s Trickster Department offers to grant Teresa her wish. He’ll send her back to 1988 to re-do the talent show! Catch? There’s no catch! After all, he’s a fully licensed deity with a Masters in Temporal Displacement Theory and a bachelors in Trickster Sciences and Cosmic Mischief. Besides, a talking coyote can be trusted, right?
For Teresa, it seems like the chance of a lifetime. But she soon finds that changing the past won’t be as easy as she thought, especially without Wikipedia. And that in a desperate effort to make her life better, she might end up making things much, much worse.
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Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone: The Legend in Lake Isa by Lou Jenkins is a fun and engaging children’s book. The reader follows the tale of Howie and his grandmother as they journey to the land that would become Yellowstone National Park. In the park Howie befriends a bear cub named Seymour and adventures ensue.
Jenkins has crafted a creative children’s book. You can make the puppets of Howie and Seymour by downloading them online. This is a creative addition that adds another dimension to an already fun book. Being able to read this story to a child and then create those same characters makes this an activity book as well and extends the time children spend with this book. This along with the message of taking care of Yellowstone is a nice way to subtly provide a conservation starter for children.
There are plenty of artistic and imaginative bits of art in this book that I greatly appreciated even in ebook format. I really enjoyed the pictures, especially those of the various animals that can be found in Yellowstone.
The language that Jenkin’s uses is perfect for a young child’s capabilities. The names are funny and should keep children’s attention. I would be shocked to hear that a child could read through this story without laughing once. With names like “Ma Fanny” for the grandmother or “Seymour Heinie” for the bear cub, I can only smile at the thought of children who would laugh in good natured fun. Jenkin’s is able to capture a child’s innocent humor in this book.
The book’s plot is set up like a tale told by Francis Tootalot about his ancestor Howie. The story itself showcases a lot of animals and different places that are famous in Yellowstone; like the geysers and forests. To children, this kind of meandering plot may not bother them, because Jenkins’ does a great job filling these instances with pretty pictures. In some ways it reminds me of a children’s show on television, which may be where Jenkins’ pulled inspiration from.
The best takeaway from Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone is not only the ecological message that Lou Jenkins’ provides, but the fact that the Tootalot family are part of an ongoing series. There is a lot to enjoy here and I believe any parent can appreciate the message behind the fun.
Pages: 41 | ASIN: B01JZWS63G
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Dining and Driving with Cats – Alice Unplugged by Pat Paterson tells the story of Patterson and his wife, Alice, driving from the Mexican border to Atlanta, Georgia, with their two cats, Munchie and Tuffy. Along the way they use the opportunity to sample as much as they can from their pre-researched food-stops. The book will take you on a journey as they try countless dishes, meet unexpected people and attempt to tame their two beloved cats – who, there is no doubt, are definitely in charge.
While reading the book, Pat and Alice’s Honda Fit feels somewhat like home – you can almost feel yourself squished into the back with the two cats roaming around, as the two of them drive to their next destination. The tone is always kept light, making this an easy read and giving the reader a sense of comfort. While there are many descriptions of the food they eat and the antics of their two cats, the real theme in this novel is storytelling.
Patterson’s goal is to use their long trek to Georgia to tell stories along the way. The stories of the people they meet are interesting to a point, but you do find yourself feeling slightly removed as there is no real tie to them.
The best stories told are the ones about Pat and Alice; how they met and eventually fell in love. Not only does this insight make the reader feel more connected to them, but the stories themselves are sweet and witty and good enough material to be made into a Hollywood romance.
The best thing about the whole book is definitely Alice. I almost want to call her a ‘character’ of the book because that’s what she feels like. Her smarts and determination, coupled with her calm composure and uncanny ability to cajole the cats to bend to her will, makes her seem almost too good to be true. She seems the type of person who, if you were married to them, you would want to write about.
The only down side to the novel is the actual travel aspects. While mildly interesting to start with, it becomes slightly mundane, and all the descriptions of the food they eat becomes repetitive – it can’t all be as delicious as described, surely? However, this may just be because the Alice and Pat stories are so good that it leaves you craving more. The food is unimportant; you just want to hear about Alice and Pat!
Overall this is an enjoyable read, and the way the stories of the couple are intertwined with them visiting familiar places, is expertly done. The cats are sweet and their antics add an entertaining element. This is a great book for storytelling and memories, and will leave you feeling sentimental and warm and fuzzy inside.
Pages: 260 | ASIN: B06XD7XGGH
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Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons is a charming children’s story about a lively puppy and her love of music. Where did the idea for this fun story come from?
I run a music school. My own miniature white Schnauzer, Cassie, gave me the idea by smacking my hands off the piano.
This seems like a very relateable story for anyone that has a pet. Did you put anything from your own life into the story?
Just ideas from my dog, Cassie. I have three sequels based on her that will come out.
The art in the book has an interesting artistic flare. What decisions went into choosing the art direction?
It was all decided by the publishing companies illustrator, Doris Wenzel.
What is the next book that you’re working on and when will it be available?
My first sequel, “Cassie Pup Takes the Cake??” will be out towards fall.
“In this delightful story, Cassie is welcomed to a new home filled with music, but when Mrs. Applebaum doesn’t seem to understand what Cassie is saying, or how talented she is, the happy little dog becomes an unhappy little dog. Fortunately, with a good ear and a kind heart, Mrs. Applebaum finds the perfect solution to Cassie’s problem, proving once again that music is the universal language.”
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In The Paranoid Thief Randolph finds himself thrown into a strange cell after being tried and convicted for an atrocious murder he did not commit. What was the inspiration for the setup of this novel?
At work and as an author, I use computers all the time. Because of the complexity of programming, only those who constantly read up and experiment with programming code can truly understand how to create the world we now live in. But as a writer I can briefly pretend I’m apart of these masters of code. Yet I’d like to be more. So Randolph came into being. A thief and master of code. Still, the start of the book had to introduce Randolph in way the reader could catch his personality and some of his flaws. As for the set up for the first few chapters, I simply considered what would happen if companies took over the global economy.
The Paranoid Thief is told from Randolph’s point of view and we’re often treated with a humorous look at the world through his eyes. How do you find moments of levity in dramatic fantasy novels?
I love action adventure movies. Thus I try to write in a style which is not always serious. For me to do this, I picture myself as the main character and try to see the world I created through his or her eyes.
Randolph and Jill are intriguing and well developed characters. What was your inspiration for them and their relationship?
Although Randolph is purely fictional, I have met people who have a split personally. As I like to throw in surprises, something to make readers think, I thought what would happen if Randolph had no choice but to cope with someone whose personality swings far to the right and left. I’m also a bit of a romantic, thus after some trial-and-error Jill was born.
What is the next book that you’re working on and when will it be available?
My next book is call Braxton Snow P.I. In this book animals are like people, and my main character is an arctic wolf. With luck I hope to have the story out in 2 to 4 months.
“In the year 2050, the United States is owned by corporations. Citizens are mere commodities used to make the already wealthy CEOs richer. Professional hacker and cat burglar RANDOLPH McCANN finds his skills sought after by average people seeking relief from the oppressive corporate system.
Then his newest client—a powerful city official—murders a family and leaves damning evidence aimed at him. As the court’s lethal injection crawls through his veins, Randolph vows eternal vengeance on the man responsible.
He awakens to find he’s been kidnapped from his execution by a corporation that uses death-row criminals to gain political power through theft and assassination. He’s assigned MAJOR JILL WANDER as a partner, a tough ex-military sniper with a dual personality who is also wrongly accused on the public record.
When a job goes south, they join forces off the grid. With Jill’s help, Randolph evades law enforcement and closes in on the man who double-crossed him. And he can clear Jill’s name at the same time—if only he can keep her from killing the wrong people.”
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Vampires: Don’t You Just Hate Them? follows Jonathan, a werewolf, as he struggles with understanding pack behavior while dealing with deadly vampires. What was the inspiration for the setup of this novel and how did that change as you were writing?
Through out time, men are always the aggressor. So I thought what if the males were dieing out leaving the packs predominately female. Now then, what if the females took control of the packs and forced the remaining males over time to become pacifists by nature. Now a story like this could be fun, but I like to try and throw in a twist. Something the readers are not expecting. So I considered what other were animals or other monsters could there be and how would they live. This is where I mixed things up, so I had Jonathan brought up in the human world by his dysfunctional parents, away from the packs. Next was developing his character by living on his own for a few years out in the human world before he meets with a pack female. Now this is where the story can begin, yet it needed something to catch the reader up with Jonathan, so I thought what if he was in a psychiatrist office, talking about his life. By doing so the reader could see and feel his experiences dealing with the supernatural world.
This novel takes a deep look into the mentality of a werewolf pack. What themes did you want to use to develop this werewolf culture?
Given that men have been dominant through out history, I thought it be fun to have a true male learn what it would be like to live in a society where the females are the aggressors and the men subservient.
The novel is action packed and keeps readers turning pages. How do you balance action with character development?
This is always the hard part for me. I love writing action scenes. Whenever I start writing, it always involves an action scene. Yet I know by experience no book or movie can convey emotional involvement without information about the scene, people or background information. Thus once I have an ideal of the main character, I consider all the boring aspects of his or her life and try to write in those that advance the story and character. These are predominately the hardest parts for me to write, yet in doing so I help myself to understand the main character and what he or she would do next.
What was the inspiration for the relationship between Jonathan and his werewolf wife Jasmine?
That’s hard to say. I have a romantic side that wishes to be expressed. Yet conflict is what gives us the ability to learn and adapt. Thus to make a couple viable, I consider their backgrounds and work at scenes which aid the reader to sympathize with the characters.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next works deals with animals who are humanist. The book is call. Braxton Snow P.I. It’s about an artic wolf, private eye, whose last job sends his world spiraling. This story is nearing completion. I’m in hopes of having it out on amazon in 2 to 4 months.
Dr. Haskin, being a human physiatrist, is a bit lacking when it came to knowing were-animal origins. Even so, I had to unload on someone, and as Dr. Himmer’s employed by that Vampire I’d like to kill, there’s no way I was entrusting him to any more of my problems. So gathering up the family, I drove to Dr. Haskin office. After settling Jasmine, Sharlene and the babies, I walked into the inner office where I shook hands with Dr. Haskin.
“To be honest, I am a bit hesitant in relating my story, after all, you humans have an overwhelming tenacity in reconstructing your own history, but I’m in dire need of help.”
“That’s quite understandable Jonathan,” the doctor motioned to a couch. “Trust is the leading problem in our society. And one that must be earned.” I watched as the doctor moved behind his desk and sat. “Now as this is our first session. Why don’t you begin with what you know.”
“Okay, uh, were-animals were created in antiquity by devil worshippers; specifically by an Egyptian priest from Lower Egypt before the lower and upper united.”
“Jonathan, that’s not what I meant. How about starting as to why you’re here.”
“Well that’s simple. I’m here to understand me.”
“Then lay down and we’ll venture into your mind together.”
I was afraid he’d say that. Oh well, here we go.
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