Treasuring Poetry – Meet author and poet Yvette M. Calleiro and a review

Today, I am delighted to introduce you to poet and author, Yvette M. Calleiro. I have read and enjoyed a few of Yvette’s lovely books and I am also a fan of her poetry.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

This is such a difficult question because I’m quite critical of my poems, most likely because many of them come from deep within my soul and scrutinize aspects of my mind and heart which have spent a long time being hidden. One of my favorites is “The Battle Within.”

The Battle Within

I am brave.

I am strong.

I am confident.

My reflection tells me so

Every morning and every night.

I believe her

Until at some point in the day

My inner voice awakens

And slithers through the slopes of my cerebral cortex,

Seeking a soft space to enter

And inseminate her vitriol.

Her termites gnaw

At the foundation of my strength

Until it shatters into splinters

And crumbles them to dust.

She pours gasoline to fuel the fire.

The flames scorch the blanket

That tries to shield me from

The stream of searing scenarios

Of what ifs and maybes and if onlys.

Her berating mantra

Batters against my brain,

Bullying me into accepting

Her truth as mine,

But I refuse to accept her broken record.

I refuse to let her have control.

She is not me

No matter how convincing she can be.

She lives in the darkest recesses of my mind,

And I have the power to prevent her

From gaining more ground.

I breathe deeply

Once

Twice

In

Out

Inhale peace

Exhale fear

I gently shut the doors

So her access disappears

For now.

She will try again,

But I’ll be ready

For I am brave.

I am strong.

I am confident.

Another poem that I’ve written that stands out to me is “Be In The Moment.”

Be In The Moment

BE

Such a tiny little word.

If you look too quickly,

You might miss it.

But, oh, what power it has!

Its life-sustaining energy

Stills chaos in an instant.

IN just being,

Allow your breath to calm the mind.

Slow down.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Notice.

Feel.

Let go.

THE beauty of life

Begins and ends with one breath.

Calm the mind.

Still the worries, anxieties, and negative thoughts.

Awaken your senses.

Feel the earth beneath you,

The wind caressing your hair,

The sun warming your skin.

Hear the birds serenading the world,

The laughter of a child,

The rustle of the trees’ leaves.

Smell the sea salt as waves crash upon the shore,

The freshly cut lawn on a dewy morning,

The percolating coffee.

See the puffy, white clouds as they lazily stroll by,

The precious poodle pulling excitedly on his chain

On his quest to mark a new territory,

The elderly woman tenderly caring for her roses.

MOMENT by moment,

Pause, breathe, and cherish

The precious life you are given.

Just be. Be in the moment.

What inspired you to write these poems?

I developed an anxiety order about a decade ago. It took me a long time to learn to manage it, and it is something that I actively attend to every day. My anxiety manifests through negative ruminating thoughts, and for a long time, they completely drained me of my strength and energy. Through many types of therapy, I have learned to regain control of those moments. I have setbacks every now and then, but more often than not, I prevail. “The Battle Within” depicts that struggle but also reminds me of my true inner strength.

Mindfulness and meditation are huge parts of my life. They are two tools that have helped bring me peace in my anxious world. I wanted to create a poem that emulated the calmness that comes when meditating, and “Be In The Moment” is what emerged from my mind.

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

I’ve written poetry since I was 12 years old. Back then, they were silly, rhyming poems. I have since evolved as a poet  and continue to enhance my craft. For years, I only wrote free verse, but I’ve recently been learning about syllabic poetry through Colleen Chesebro’s #Tanka Tuesday challenges. Ultimately, I hope to publish a book of poems that encompass my life’s journey into poetry.

What is your favourite poem?

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Why do you like this poem?

This poem has always resonated with me. It speaks of choices that must be made and of accepting the consequences of those choices. Making decisions has always been difficult for me. I overthink the options and wonder about the options I don’t choose. This poem reminds me to embrace my choice and move forward. I also love using the poem in my classroom with my students. The conversations are always so rich and meaningful.

My love for poetry made its way into my newest novel, HYPE. One of the characters, Gaby, uses her poems to express her deepest, darkest emotions and secrets. Here is one of her poems:

A Lit Candle

For years, I was the beautiful centerpiece,

The elegant, most prized decoration of the home.

I was bright and cheery, tall and elegant.

Everyone always stopped to admire my beauty,

To comment on how special I was.

Until one day, someone thought

It would be a great idea to light a match

And see how well I could withstand the heat.

I could smell the rancid sulfur

As the matchstick caught fire.

It was then that I discovered what true fear felt like.

The sensation of the intense heat

Violating my wick

Was too much to endure.

I screamed and crackled

As the fire invaded my wick.

I cried tears of wax

As the blaze melted my beauty away.

I wished there was some way to stop it,

To keep it from taking away

All that was pure and perfect about me.

I wanted someone,

Anyone,

To blow out the flame,

To save what was left of my beauty,

But no one could hear me.

No one was even paying attention

To my withering loveliness.

I cried and cried

Until there was no wax left to cry with,

And when all my beauty was gone,

The flame finally burned out

And I was discarded.

No longer did anyone admire me.

No longer did anyone care.

I was alone,

Abandoned,

Dead.

Thank you, Yvette, for being a lovely guest.

My review of Hype

What Amazon says

Cici’s junior year in high school is going to be the best year ever. Popular co-captain of the varsity cheerleading team, she’s dating the starting quarterback. Even her jealous co-captain’s attempts to steal her boyfriend can’t curb her enthusiasm.

When her mom moves in with her fiancé, a handsome, wealthy man, only one small detail threatens Cici’s perfect life. The school’s social pariah is about to become her stepsister, and Cici wants nothing to do with her.

Everything changes when someone Cici cares about throws her life into a tailspin, and the one person Cici couldn’t stand becomes her only ally.

Warning: This story contains scenes of sexual assault.

My review

Hype was a most interesting read for me. I grew up and attended school in South Africa and my experience was very different from the life of a school girl described in this book. I couldn’t help thinking that the strict rules I grew up with were helpful in preventing some of the prejudices towards other people, based on their appearance and behaviour, that were described in this book. We wore school uniforms, had to tie our hair back and wore no makeup. We most certainly did not demonstrate affection towards the opposite sex during school hours. It was an excellent insight into school life in America.

Cici is a popular cheerleader and her boyfriend, Ryan, is on the football team and is also popular. He is voted Homecoming King which demonstrates his place on the schoolboy social ladder. Cici is an interesting character as she is totally self absorbed and selfish in many ways, but she is devoted to her mother and wants the best for her. This love is exploited by a predator to keep her quiet when she is sexually assaulted later in the story. Despite her giddiness and obsession with maintaining her social position at school, Cici is naïve and innocent. This aspect of her character is demonstrated a few times in the book.

When Cici’s mother, a successful lawyer who works long hours, decides to marry a man she met six months previously, Cici discovers that one of the most uncool girls in the school, a Goth the students call Grub, will become her step-sister. Cici is most displeased abut this situation and doesn’t want Grub raining on her parade. Cici, however, comes to realise that bad things can happen in life and these events can shape a person and cause them to exhibit certain behaviours in self defense. Cici comes to appreciate Grub when her own life spins out of control.

This book tackles the difficult subject of schoolgirl rape and I felt those scenes were well handled and appropriate for a YA audience. The horror of the situation was conveyed without the author going into to much detail. Sub themes are not to judge someone by their appearance, and not to trust people you don’t know really well. The book also covers the type of counselling and student support that is available in the American school system which was interesting.

I enjoyed this book and it is well written and and has good flow.

Purchase Hype by Yvette M. Calleiro

Amazon US

Yvette M. Calleiro Amazon Author Page

About Yvette M. Calleiro

Yvette M. Calleiro is the author of the Chronicles of the Diasodz fantasy series, HYPE, and two short stories. As a heavily addicted reader of both young adult and adult novels, she spends most of her time pseudo-living in paranormal worlds with her fictional friends (and boyfriends).

When she’s living among real people, she is a middle school Reading and Language Arts teacher. She’s been sharing her love of literature with her students for over twenty years. Besides writing about the various characters that whisper (and sometimes scream) in her head, she enjoys traveling, watching movies, spending quality time with family and friends, and enjoying the beauty of the ocean.

Yvette lives in Miami, Florida, with her incredible son who has embraced her love for paranormal and adventurous stories. She also shares her space with an assortment of crazy saltwater animals in her 300-gallon tank.

Twitter

Blog

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms – Setting learning goals with your child

Just like adults, children benefit by setting learning goals for the year or even the term. Goals give all of us something positive and definite to work towards and we feel a sense of achievement when we meet our goals.

At the beginning of the school year, parents should sit down with their child and plan some goals for the year. This goal setting process should include identifying the specific areas the child needs to work on and the setting of realistic and achievable goals in order to measure progress in those areas. If your child is struggling with maths, for example, there is no point in setting a goal of achieving a distinction in the first term of the new school year. A reasonable goal would be an increase of 5% for each term, which will allow the child to improve his/her understanding of the subject and gradually build on their successes. By setting achievable goals your child will be motivated to work towards them. Unrealistic goals are demotivating and set the child up for failure.

It is also better to set goals that are unrelated to specific grades and performance measures as this destresses the goal setting process for your child. Goals that shift your child’s learning objectives and focus from passing tests and exams to a greater understanding of the topic and appreciation of the value of the subject matter result in a better attitude towards learning. In this way, a child that dislikes a particular subject because of anxiety issues can learn to enjoy the learning process involved in tackling the subject and learning material. A positive attitude makes all the difference to a successful learning outcome.

Parents need to be sensitive when discussing areas of academic weakness with their child and ensure they do not compare one child in a family unfavourably to another. Children are all different and have their own talents which may differ dramatically. It undermines a child’s self confidence if they feel their performance is being measured against that of a sibling. Comparing children can also make them both feel that their parents love is conditional on good grades and academic performance thereby increasing anxiety and stress even in strong academics.

Goal setting should always focus on the future and not reflect negatively on the past. If the child has had a bad term and failed a subject, the goal should set out positive steps to improve performance and not focus on a bad result that can’t be changed. Ask your child how they can use the learning experience of the difficult test or exam to do better next time.

Goals don’t have to be academic in nature. A child that is exceptionally shy can set goals to try and participate more in class activities and discussions. A child that is not sporty can set a goal to play a non-competitive sport for a term. After all, learning is not only about academics, it is also about learning to be a good citizen and contributing positively to society.

What do you think? Have you ever set goals with your child? Let me know in the comments.

This morning, I came across an excellent post by Bella from Thoughts ‘n Life blog about goal setting. It offers some good advice which you can read here: https://thoughtsnlifeblog.com/2022/05/09/setting-the-right-priorities/

Thinking about goals setting and keeping children focused and positive brought to mind this song from the movie Annie:

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Treasuring Poetry: Meet poet and author, Chris, Hall and a review of Following the Green Rabbit

Today, I am delighted to host poet and author, Chris Hall. Like me, Chris is UK born and South Africa is her adopted country. We both love the bushveld and many of Chris’ poems and books reflect this love.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

Call of the Maiden is a poem I wrote in response to a call for submissions to a poetry anthology by the wonderful poet and all-round creative, Tara Caribou. I was delighted when this, and another four of my poems, were accepted to be published alongside a whole host of amazing poets and artists in Creation and the Cosmos, edited and published in 2021 by Tara’s micro-publishing company, Raw Earth Ink.

Call of the Maiden

The breeze-caressed veld sways

sending dry waves to break on a distant shore

whirlwind dust-devils dance over bare earth

rising up to be scorched into stillness.

Evening swells across the veld

and the thorn tree’s shadow

reaches out with tendril fingers

to caress the smudge-blue foothills.

As daylight fades, the breeze quickens

and the new maiden emerges

standing on the threshold of the distant kopje

in that powerful place between hearth and wilderness.

She turns and kneels at the young man’s side

offering herself to him.

Limbs entwine and under the eyes of the ancestors

they become one.

Darkness closes in and the great African she-moon rises

pin-prick stars stab the violet-thick night

and now the once-maiden cries out

her triumphant ululation echoing across the empty veld.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

The poem was inspired by the timeless feeling of being in wild, unspoiled places, and by what I’ve learned about the lives and myths of the ancient people who first trod the earth in the south-western corner of Africa where I now live. In composing the verses, my aim was to capture the atmosphere of the ancient and still-persisting African landscape, embodied in a timeless act between two people; the power wielded by a young woman on the cusp of womanhood and her celebration of the wonder of creation.

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

I’ve been planning to put together a collection of my poems since mid-way through last year. I started reviewing my poems, and began revising and rewriting some of them with the idea of publishing the book to coincide with World Poetry Day on 21st March this year. However, ‘real life’ crowded in, and so many things slipped towards the end of last year that there was no way I was going to meet that deadline.

But now I’ve been consumed by the urge to begin another novel set in the same landscape as Call of the Maiden, and I’ve already started my new story, which takes up from where my most recent novel, Spirit of the Shell Man, left off.

Maybe my poetry collection will make it out for WPD 2023, but in the meantime, I’ll continue to start my week limbering up with Sadje’s weekly What Do You See photo prompts!

What is your favourite poem?

This was such a difficult decision and I’ve really agonised about this. In the end, I decided to reach back to my Liverpool roots with this poem by Roger McGough, a sound Scouse stalwart, and one of the leading lights of performance poetry, influenced by the popular music culture of 1960s Liverpool. I wonder if anyone remembers the song ‘Lily the Pink’ by The Scaffold, the band Roger was in with Paul McCartney’s much less well-known brother?

Let me die a youngman’s death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death

When I’m 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party

Or when I’m 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber’s chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides

Or when I’m 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one Let me die a youngman’s death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
‘what a nice way to go’ death

Why do you like this poem?

I love the wit of Roger McGough’s words. His clever use of language has always made me smile, and I’ve always loved the sentiment behind this particular, and now very famous, poem. When I first read it in my early twenties, death seemed distant, but now later in life, having seen close up the sad decline of old age, the words really resonate.

I love the poem’s rebellious energy and its defiant attitude, the images it conjures up: the red sports car, the barber’s chair and the gangsters with their Tommy guns, and then there’s the reference to the Cavern Club where The Beatles famously first performed (although that was before a little before my time). The way Roger runs words together seemed quite anarchic at the time. How poetry has moved on!

The poem comes from a poetry anthology, The Mersey Sound, which included work by Liverpool poets, Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten. I acquired my copy in the early 1980s from the radical News From Nowhere book shop in Liverpool during my moody, student days. I have a vivid memory of sitting in the park in front of St Georges’ Hall, turning its pages and discovering this poem for the first time.

The collection made poetry accessible to a wider audience; me included. It also laid the foundations for performance poets like John Cooper Clarke and Benjamin Zephaniah, both of whom I was fortunate to see perform.

Finally, it reminds me of ‘The Dead Good Poets Society’ a group of poets and their supporters who met in The Third Room in the basement of the famous Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. I enjoyed going to the once weekly open mic nights but I never had the courage to participate. Had I stayed in Liverpool, I wouldn’t hesitate now!

Thank you, Chris, for being a wonderful guest. I love your choices of poems!

Following the Green Rabbit: A fantastical adventure

What Amazon says

Chasing through Bluebell Woods after a strange green-furred rabbit, 12-year-old Bryony and Bethany, her eight year old sister, inexplicably end up in the olden times. Life in the village where they find themselves is hard under the wicked lord of the manor. The two girls are thrown into a desperate struggle in which the evil lord will stop at nothing to hold onto his power over the village.

Soon everyone’s hopes are pinned on Bryony and her new companions, Toby, who is under a severe warning for humiliating the disliked village pastor, and Tommy, who mysteriously arrived in the village one day and can’t or won’t speak. Together, they set out on a mission to bring help from a higher authority, but their journey is beset with difficulties. Will they be in time to save their friends from the hangman’s noose? 

A thrilling story for listeners aged 10 and above, and for anyone who enjoys losing themselves in a fantastical adventure!

My review

Chris Hall is a skilled writer and this book holds all the charm of classic children’s books like The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett and The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. It is also aimed at the same target age group of 9 to 16 years old. That being said, an adult will also enjoy this lively and entertaining story about two young girls, aged 12 and 8, and their tutor, who go back in time and end up befriending the villagers from an earlier century who are labouring under the tyrannical rule of Lord Childecott. Fortunately for the children, they become separated from their tutor as soon as they arrive in the earlier time and are spared being arrested and imprisoned along with Mr Eyre. The girls, Bryony and Bethany, are taken under the wing of Toby, the younger brother of the village apothecary, and who, having being identified as a trouble maker, is on the run from Lord Childecott’s henchmen.

Bryony and Bethany, together with their new friends, must formulate a plan to rescue Mr Eyre and save the village from destruction at the hands of the despot.

I enjoyed the characterisation of Bryony who is a sensible young woman, and able to protect her younger sister and make sensible decisions involving not only herself and her sibling, but also other characters whose impulsive behaviours could put them in danger. As the story progresses, Bryony comes more into her own and uses her education and intellect to help solve problems and make plans. Bethany is more of a side character due to her young age.

Toby is a determined and resourceful young man, albeit a little hotheaded. He is guided by Bryony and makes the right choices despite his temper flaring on more than one occasion.

Mr Eyre is every child’s dream tutor. I can’t help wondering whether he isn’t a manifestation of the author’s idea of the perfect teacher based on less happy experiences with her own teachers. He is fun loving and eager to impart learning through proactive experience, but he is also able to maintain discipline and retain the respect of his two young charges. The historical knowledge Mr Eyre manages to impart to Bryony is instrumental in the successful resolution of the troubles faced by the village.

This is a delightful story, imaginative and interesting with a solid and well research historical flavour. I would recommend it to adults and children you enjoy tales filled with mystery and delight.

Purchase Following the Green Rabbit

Amazon

About Chris Hall

Chris describes herself as a compulsive story-teller, cat slave and hen keeper. Originally from the UK, she now resides in the Western Cape of South Africa.

Her most recent novels, ‘Song of the Sea Goddess’ and it’s sequel, ‘Spirit of the Shell Man’ were inspired by the charm and beauty of her adopted country where, in Chris’s vivid imagination, myth and reality collide on the southern shores of Africa.

Other novels:

‘You’ll Never Walk Alone – Thrills and Spills in 1980s Liverpool’

‘Following the Green Rabbit – a fantastical adventure’

‘The Silver Locket’ (published under pen name, Holly Atkins)

‘Song of the Sea Goddess’ and ‘Following the Green Rabbit’ are also available as audiobooks.

A selection of her poetry is included in ‘Creation and the Cosmos – a poetic anthology’, published by Raw Earth Ink in 2021.

She has also published a tiny taster of her work in a short story collection, ‘A Sextet of Shorts’.

More of her short fiction has appeared in ‘Adler’s Writing’ and ‘One Minute Wit’. Her work also appears in the ‘Writing My City’ anthology, published in Cape Town in 2019.

Visit Chris’s website at http://www.lunas-online.com to read her short fiction, fan fiction, mini-series, poetry and more.

Find Chris Hall

Amazon Author page

Bookbub

WordPress blog

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms – Sir Chocolate Saves Easter #SirChocolateStory #Childrensfiction

Easter is around the corner and it is a time for spending time with family. If you are Christian, it is also an important religious holiday. I thought it would be nice to share a Sir Chocolate story with you today. It’s called Sir Chocolate Saves Easter and you can download it as a PDF here: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/free-story-sir-chocolate-saves-easter/

Fun Easter activity

Painting Easter eggs with food colouring is great fun. I used the white candy coated ‘hens’ eggs for this activity and liquid food colouring. Be careful to use aprons as the food colouring stains. Here are the Easter eggs some of the children in my Sunday School painted a few years ago.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Treasuring Poetry: Meet poet and author Abbie Taylor

Today, I am delighted to introduce poet and author, Abbie Taylor, to discuss her favourite poems and poetry in general.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

“The Bedroom” is one of those red herring poems that makes you think it’s about one thing, then turns out to be about another. It illustrates how much my late husband Bill depended on me after suffering two strokes that paralyzed his left side. It’s my favorite because even today, almost ten years after his passing, I’m amazed that I was able to meet his needs for six years after his strokes, despite my limited vision. Here’s the poem:

The Bedroom

At three in the morning,

I’m mildly aroused

by the gentle touch of his hand.

He only has one good arm and leg

but still knows how to please me.

As he strokes me,

and I breathe the scent of his sweat,

I purr with anticipation.

The mood is shattered

when he whispers, “I need to pee.”

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

Every night, after I brought Bill home from the skilled nursing facility, where he recuperated after his strokes, he woke me at least once, sometimes more than once, during the night, because he needed assistance to sit on the side of the bed and use a urinal. He was never demanding during this time. He gently woke me by rubbing my back and shoulders. Once I was fully awake, he said, I need to pee.” After he heard me read the poem during a public event, when he woke me, he would say, “What does your poem say I have to do?” Eventually, he was able to use the urinal in bed without sitting up first. So, all I had to do was get up and empty the urinal periodically, which made life a lot easier.

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

I don’t have any definite plans. I’ve put together several collections but haven’t had much time to do anything with them. I imagine I’ll eventually publish them.

What is your favourite poem?

I’m assuming you want to know about my favorite poem by another author. Well, that would be “The Lanyard” by Billy Collins. Here it is, along with a link to a video of him reading it.

The Lanyard

BY BILLY COLLINS

The other day I was ricocheting slowly

off the blue walls of this room,

moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,

from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,

when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary

where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist

could send one into the past more suddenly—

a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp

by a deep Adirondack lake

learning how to braid long thin plastic strips

into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard

or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,

but that did not keep me from crossing

strand over strand again and again

until I had made a boxy

red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,

and I gave her a lanyard.

She nursed me in many a sick room,

lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,

laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,

and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,

and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.

Here are thousands of meals, she said,

and here is clothing and a good education.

And here is your lanyard, I replied,

which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,

strong legs, bones and teeth,

and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,

and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.

And here, I wish to say to her now,

is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,

but the rueful admission that when she took

the two-tone lanyard from my hand,

I was as sure as a boy could be

that this useless, worthless thing I wove

out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Why do you like this poem?

In a humorous way, it emphasizes the idea that our mothers do so much for us but we feel we don’t do enough for them.

About Abbie Taylor

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of three novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where, for six years, she cared for her totally blind  late husband who was partially paralyzed by two strokes soon after they were married. Before that, she worked for fifteen years as a music therapist in nursing homes and other senior facilities. During that time, she also facilitated a support group for blind and visually impaired adults, taught Braille, and served on the advisory board to a state trust fund providing adaptive equipment to blind and visually impaired children and adults.

Contact Abbie Taylor

Website: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Blog: https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Abbies-Corner-of-the-World-988391584616528/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Abbie-Johnson-Taylor/e/B00GDM1BWK/#nav-tophttp://

My review of The Red Dress by Abbie Taylor

The Red Dress is a lovely novel about a woman, Eve Sawyer, who has become a best selling author and has a devoted husband and three children, but who has never been able to move on from an unfortunate incident in her younger years when, in a fit of embarrassed irritation, she gave away the red dress that her mother had made for her to wear to her prom. Although Eve was goaded by her selfish roommate, Charlene, into giving her the dress, her mother has never forgiven her for this transgression and it has impacted heavily on their relationship. Her mother is now suffering from dementia and is being cared for in a home for the elderly, but she still remembers that Eve gave away this dress and holds it against Eve.

Eve wore the dress to her prom and she associated the dress with bad memories as her date had disappeared with her best friend, Adele, and she had found them in a compromising position in the back of his father’s car. Eve cuts Adele out of her life and has not contacted her in many years, even though Adele had returned to their home town to raise her son, conceived on the night of the prom.

The story starts with Eve receiving a Facebook request to connect with her old roommate, Charlene. She accepts the request, although she had doubts because she didn’t like Charlene. Before long, her daughter, Ashley, is in touch with Charlene’s daughter, Brenda, and the situation is irreversible. Eve is having her own problems with overwork and issues with her older daughter, Julie, who feels neglected as a result. Her husband is also irritated with her because he feels she favours their younger daughter and son and is harsh with Julie.

This is a story that tackles the themes of working mothers, unresolved grudges and situations from the past, raising teenage children, forgiveness, terminal illness, and death. The author does a good job of sharing Eve’s frustration at her mother and older daughter, irritation at Charlene for the trouble she has caused her, and hurt at Adele’s betrayal of their friendship.

Eve has to confront her negative emotions to resolve these lingering troublesome relationship issues from her past and move on with her future.

I enjoyed the character of Eve and found her to be realistic and relatable. Her situation vividly establishes the difficulties that can result from unsettled emotional problems from the past and juggling work and motherhood.

I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to readers of family dramas.

What Amazon says

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again. Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

Purchase The Red Dress

Amazon US

My review of How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver (Poetry)

How to Build a Better Mousetrap is a memorable book of poetry which covers two distinct time periods in the author’s life.

Part 1: On Being a Family Caregiver, revolves around the poet’s role as caregiver to her husband following his having two strokes, a year apart, and becoming partially paralysed.

The second section section of the book comprises of Part 2: Recollections, Part 3: Reflections and Part 4: In the End which describes through the medium of freestyle poetry, the various states of the poet’s life from her early childhood through to her old age. There is little mention throughout the book of the author’s visual impairment, but I am aware of it as I have previously read an anthology, Understanding edited by Stevie Turner, that disclosed this information.

The poetry in this book is compelling and quite fascinating in its honesty as the poet ventures to express feelings and emotions that many people might seek to hide. It is refreshing to read expressions of helplessness and even the occasional anger and resentment towards a set of circumstances that have so drastically and unexpectedly impacted on the poet’s life. These emotions are overwhelmed by the poet’s clear devotion and love for her partner.

These verses from three different poems in this collection illustrate this internal conflict:

“In the beginning, you knew all about me
which buttons to push,
how to hook me up,
install programs, fix problems.

Now, you hesitate,
push the wrong buttons.
When I don’t give you the desired response,
you beat my keyboard, proclaim I don’t work.”
From Before and After

“I open my eyes,
gaze upon his sweet sleeping face,
long to hold, kiss him,
caress his hair, his cheek.”
from Awakening

“I’ll never tell you you’re stupid
when you forget something or don’t understand.
I’ll never tell you you’re lazy
when you sit at the kitchen table in your wheelchair
while I fix dinner, clean up.
I’ll never tell you you’re a baby
when I must do most things for you.”
from Things I’ll Never Tell You

What Amazon says

In January of 2006, Abbie Johnson Taylors husband suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. After months of therapy in a nursing facility, he returned home in September of that year. Although he still had little use of his left arm and leg, it was hoped that through outpatient therapy, he would eventually walk again. In January of 2007, he suffered a second stroke that wasnt as severe, but it was enough to impact his recovery. In August of that year, his therapy was discontinued because he showed no progress. He has never walked since.

The first five poems tell the story of how Taylor found her husband when he suffered his first stroke, detail events in the first few months afterward, and describe Taylor and her husbands reactions. The rest of the poems in the first part were inspired by Taylors experiences while caring for her husband. Covering such topics as dressing, feeding, toileting, their relationship, and his computer, they often provide a humorous outlook. Some poems are from the husbands point of view. Poems in the next two parts cover childhood memories and other topics. The last section of poems was inspired by Taylors fifteen years of experience as a registered music therapist in a nursing home before marrying her husband.

Purchase How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Amazon US

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing bookworms – Audio books that teach children about music

Peter and the Wolf

Picture credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_and_the_Wolf

When I was a little girl in the pre-preparatory school, one of my favourite music lessons was when our teacher played the audio book of Peter and the Wolf. I loved the story about Peter who needed to protect his pets from a hungry wolf. Most of all, I loved the sounds of the musical instruments that accompanied the story. Each character in the story has its own musical instrument and each sound is perfectly suited to the character. Our teacher used this story to teach us about the different musical instruments, which family of instrument it belonged to, and the sound it made.

Peter is played by the violin (string instrument family), the bird is played by the flute (woodwind family), the duck is played by the oboe (woodwind family), the cat is played by the clarinet (woodwind family), the grandfather is played by the bassoon (woodwind family), the wolf is played by the French horn (brass family), and the hunters are played by the timpani (percussion family). I have never forgotten the names, sound, or family of any of these instruments. In fact, I loved the cat (clarinet) so much, I literally forced Greg to play this instrument for two years. I took advantage of his devotion to me and the fact he always liked to please me. I came to realise this wasn’t fair of me and allowed him to give it up in grade 6. Greg never took to the clarinet.

The purposes of Peter and the Wolf, created by Sergei Prokofiev, are as follows:

  1. the teach children how to identify a variety of musical instruments, instrument families and instrumental themes;
  2. the demonstrate how music can convey different emotions; and
  3. to extend a story through the use of movement, story sequencing, and musical art.

Peter and the Wolf is approximately 30 minutes long and you can listen to it here:

Sparky’s Magic Piano

My parents noticed my enthusiasm for music and my Dad bought me a Sparky record when I was about 9 years old. I listened to this record over and over again.

There were four stories on the record, as follows:

  1. Sparky and the Talking Train;
  2. Sparky’s Magic Piano;
  3. Sparky’s Magic Eco; and
  4. Sparky’s Magic Baton.

Of these four, two had a strong musical theme, namely, Sparky’s Magic Piano and Sparky’s Magic Baton.

In Sparky’s Magic Piano, the most famous of the Sparky stories, Sparky is a young boy who does not like practicing the piano. One day, when he is frustrated with practicing, the piano talks to Sparky and tells him he will show him how wonderful it is to play the piano well. Sparky then proceeds to amaze his mother and piano teacher, and then the larger world with his amazing piano playing.

Wikipedia says that these are the piano works which appear in Sparky’s Magic Piano in the order in which they appear in the story:

You can listen to the version of Sparky’s Magic Piano I loved here:

Do you know either of these stories? Let me know in the comments.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet and artist, Smitha Vishwanath

Which of your own poems is your favorite?

There are quite a few poems I like – some for the flow, some for the imagery and some for the memories they bring back with them, there’s one poem that has stood the test of time. It’s a poem I penned when my girls were one and three respectively. Seventeen years later, the girls have grown – each into young ladies with a distinct personality, but it’s beautiful how the description of them in the poem still holds true. It’s special because this poem is one thing that the girls agree about.

Tender Moments

I sneak silently into the room
A quick peak I take of my budding blooms
Their breathing soft – rises and falls, a melodious rhapsody
To the soothing sound of a Spanish symphony

Their countenance silken smooth; serene
Tugs my heart, an enticing scene
Each distinctly different, yet subtly the same
Contrasting as night and day; asleep, they look- Oh! So tame


Their striking silhouette, in the mellow moonlit night
Slightly stirring, they curl; enraptured I gaze at the sight
One’s creamy-white skin peeps from the warm woollen quilt above
And the other’s little chocolaty toe pushes its way from below


One, strong and athletic; the other, dainty and petite
Poles apart in every way; a miracle I behold, a divine treat

The window slightly ajar, lets in the wintry wind
Blowing their untied tresses over their satiny skin; I lean


O’er their tender frames, and sweep the bouncy, brown curls away 
And the silk-smooth strands of the other, as in deep slumber they lay

Both unique, both special, both a part of me
Peas in a Pod, they are and shall forever be

What inspired you to write this poem?

I had walked into the children’s room one night, sometime in 2008; the girls were asleep. The curtains were drawn, and the moonlight cast a soft glow on them. I looked at them and I scribbled a version of the poem in my diary. However, it was only later, in 2017, that I reworked on the poem and published it on my blog for the NaPoWriMo prompt, ‘Write a poem that explicitly incorporates alliteration,’ on 12th April.

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

I co-authored a poetry book ‘Roads- A Journey with Verses’ which was published in 2018. My poems have been published in various journals since then, but I haven’t got to publishing a solo book as yet. I’d like to do that, but I have a lot of starting trouble, and so, it’s taken me longer than I expected, to do it. Hopefully, I can do it this year.

What is your favorite poem?

It’s difficult to choose a favorite. I have quite a few that never fail to speak to me. However, if I have to choose it will be Emily Dickinson’s ‘Hope is a thing with feathers’ (copied from the poetry foundation)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

Why do you like this poem?

No matter how many times I read it I can not help being in awe of the choice of words, the simplicity and most importantly, how easily and perfectly ‘hope’ is described. Every line in the poem is a gem and anyone who has ever experienced ‘hope’ will vouch for it.

Roads: A journey with verses

ROADS : A Journey with Verses by [Vandana Bhasin, Smitha Vishwanath]

What Amazon says

“Roads” is a poetic rendezvous that takes the reader on a panoramic journey, making one pause, ponder and celebrate life.

The book is a light, alluring read that instantly strikes a chord and elevates one’s spirits. A trove of 60 poems, it is quilled with beads of nine virtues: Courage, Wisdom, Serenity, Love, Hope, Strength, Joy, Compassion and Gratitude. The verses encapsulate life’s ebbs and flows while prompting the reader to enjoy its simple pleasures.

“Roads” is a book that you would want to keep on your bedside, for a quiet read before retiring for the night or for the morning wisdom to seize the day. With poems revolving around emotions that each of us experiences, “Roads” very easily develops a personal connect with the reader that is defiantly refreshing.

“Roads” is a journey with verses. Take it on yours.

My review

Roads: A Journey With Verses is a beautiful book of mainly freestyle poetry written by Smitha Vishwanath and Vandana Bhasin. I have read and enjoyed a lot of poetry on Smitha’s blog in the past, but this was my first introduction to Vandana’s poetry.

I thought this was a wonderful combination of work by two talented poets and I enjoyed the different styles of writing by the two contributors. Smitha writes delicately beautiful poems in which her messages are subtly shrouded as if within a loving cocoon of words. Vandana’s writing is more strident and forthright, but I enjoyed her style equally and her strong messages for women’s rights moved me greatly.

This book is divided into sections as follows: Courage, Wisdom, Serenity; Love, Strength, Compassion and Joy, Hope, Gratitude. Each section is divided into subsections setting out an arrange of delightful poems in each subcategory. Each subsection is introduced with a short introductory verse which conveys its meaning for the poets and each poem is introduced with a paragraph setting out the the meaning and purpose of the specific poem to the writer. I really enjoyed reading about the inspiration and meaning behind each poem.

A selection of my favourite verses from this book are as follows:

From the sub-section Strength –

Believe in yourself by Vandana Bhasin

“They’ll laugh at you, and even ridicule you

They’ll even endeavor to enervate your spirits

But let the force of their dissuasion empower your faith

and the sound of their derision echo your beliefs

Believe in yourself, even when none believes in you.”

From the sub-section Compassion –

Help! She’s calling by Smitha Vishwanath

“Her eyes shone a tear, her lips quivered with

fear; down her face ran a scar, like a spear.

Her leg bruised, her hand bleeding, she felt a

shooting pain.”

From the sub-section Joy –

Tender moments by Smitha Vishwanath

“Their countenance silken smooth; serene

Tugs my heart, an enticing scene

Distinctly different, yet subtly the same –

Contrasting as night and day; asleep, they look

– Oh! So tame

Their striking silhouette, in the mellow moonlit night

Slightly stirring, they curl; enraptured, I gaze at the sight

One’s creamy-white skin peeps form the warm woolen quilt above

And the other’s little chocolaty toe pushes its way from below

One, strong and athletic; the other, dainty and petite

Pole apart in every way; a miracle I behold, a divine treat.

From the sub-section Hope –

Wings of freedom by Vandana Bhasin

“Wings of freedom are all I need

I want to live and not just breathe

I want to fly high like a bird

I want to dream big, not chase the world”

Purchase Roads: A Journey with verse

Amazon US

About Smitha Vishwanath

Smitha Vishwanath is your quintessential ‘bored banker’ turned writer. After a rewarding career in Banking in the Middle East where she worked for leading banks in senior positions, she quit and moved to India in July 2018 with her husband who had been transferred to the country on an International assignment. Therein began her writing journey.

‘Roads’ is the first book she has co-authored. Having lived and studied in different countries and different states within India and worked with different cultures, Smitha understands that ‘change’ and ‘ups and downs’ are very much a part of life. It is this experience that reflects in her poems and her writing which are filled with positivity, acceptance and willingness to change for the better.

She also writes regularly through her blog : https://lifeateacher.wordpress.com

Smitha’s art

Smitha is also a wonderful painter. I wrote a blog post about one of her painting that I have hanging in my bedroom here: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2021/07/10/a-new-painting/

You can find more of Smitha’s artwork here: https://www.spacesbysmithav.com/

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms – Letting Go!

I’m going to start today’s post with a short, hopefully amusing, story about my taking my oldest son to get his university access card last week. By way of background, the relevant entrance for this task is on a busy street with no parking. The area is also not a good one, so hanging about on the street in front of the entrance is not particularly appealing. Another thing to note is there have been a spate of kidnappings of older teens and young men recently in South Africa.

“I think that Greg should go on his own to fetch his University card,” I say to Terence. “He won’t want his mother with him. I will embarrass him.”

“No,” Terence says with authority, “Parents go with.”

Hmmm, I think. You attended this university thirty years ago, things might have changed.

There is no arguing with this man who is over the moon that his son has achieved a scholarship to study a BSc Computer Science at “his” university. Thirty years has disappeared in a trice and Terence is back in full University mode. You’d think he was going and not Greg.

At 8.30am on the appointed morning, a determined Terence drops Greg and I off on the street in front of the entrance, waves cheerfully, and heads off to work, which is fortunately close by.

We go to security. Greg calls a number and is granted access. I call the same number and am not allowed in. I notice a few other parents outside the security gate.

“You just go on your own,” I say. “I’ll wait for you here.”

Off Greg goes and I am stuck standing on the street in this undesirable area. There are two security guards and a few other waiting mom’s so I don’t panic. One lady is very nice and makes conversation while we wait.

Ten minutes later, Greg texts me: I don’t know where to go.

I message back: Come back to the gate and the security guard will tell you where to go. I saw her telling another boy.

Greg does not come back to the gate. There is complete cyber silence

Another ten minutes pass and he texts: I’ve found it and I’m waiting in the queue.

Happiness! He’s doing this on his own [as he should] and I’m confident we’ve come early and he won’t take long. I feel an idiot waiting outside the barred gate like an unwelcome guest. Other arriving students stare at me suspiciously.

The time drags. One hour passes and my back is aching. I don’t like standing here on the street. I feel agitated. I text Greg: How much longer?

He replies: I’m getting on a bus and going somewhere else.

I text him: where are you going?

He replies: I don’t know.

Complete cyber silence.

I text him – no reply.

I call him – no reply.

I decide he has been enticed into a bus by kidnappers and is on his way to Nigeria to be forced into male prostitution.

I have a panic attack and call him six times.

No reply.

I phone Terence at work and tell him our son has potentially been kidnapped.

Terence knows me. He doesn’t say anything. He gets into his white car and charges to the rescue.

Terence arrives and I jump into the car and burst into tears.

Greg sends a text: I’m getting my card.

I tell Terence that the kidnappers are responding to messages on Greg’s phone so they can throw us off the scent and cross the border.

Terence is undecided: Should he take me to the closest mental institution or try to find Greg.

Greg texts: I’m finished. Can you fetch me from Alpha Campus.

***

It was very funny. Afterwards. Of course, I broke a major rule of “letting your child go.” Stay in the moment rather than imagining the worse-case scenario. Catch yourself if you are catastrophizing a situation.

Letting go is more about letting go of our own fears and anxieties as parents. It is adjusting to the idea that you are no longer in control of your child and they are now making their own choices and decisions. It also means they are responsible for any fallout from those decisions.

I blame my anxiety about my children on their collective 32 operations, chronic health problems, and the two home invasions I have been involved in. I have trust and anxiety issues, but I still need to get a grip and accept that my son is now an adult. Even Michael, needs some freedom and to be given wings.

Some other advice to parents who struggle to let go is as follows:

  1. Stop trying to raise a “happy” child. Accept that making decisions and choices is going to result in mistakes and the resultant misery these bring. People need these experiences to grow and learn.
  2. Empower your child over time by giving them some power of less important decisions as they get older. If they refuse to study for an important test, let them fail. You can’t shelter your child from all the difficulties in life and they need to learn to prioritize.
  3. Set boundaries and follow through on punishments if your child fails to comply. If you tell him/her to be home by 10pm and he gets home at 11pm, ground him. He needs to learn about consequences for actions.
  4. Have respect for your child and his/her ability to handle situations as they grow up. Have faith in the values and ethics you have instilled in them.

Did you struggle to let go when it come to your children? Let me know in the comments.

To round this post off, I am sharing a poem I wrote about letting go. It is included in my book, Behind Closed Doors.

He walks away by Robbie Cheadle

From the first day

he took a tentative step

on uncertain chubby legs

attached to adventurous feet

he moved away from her

embracing with enthusiasm

the mysterious outside world

She watched over him tenderly

as he learned about life

discovered the joy of friendship

and the heartbreak of loss

embarked on his academic journey

exploiting his strengths and

overcoming his weaknesses

and during all this time

mom was always enough

her smile healed all wounds

her kiss cured all pain

but she knew in her heart

that this investment of hers

was ultimately for another

a nameless faceless other

who would eventually take her place

she was preparing him to leave

and find his place in this world

His independence draws ever closer

her smile no longer enough

as he jostles for position

in the heartless world of men

her kiss no longer wanted

as he seeks the lips of the other

It’s heart wrenching to let go

knowing he must suffer pain

before he finds his enduring love

encounter setbacks and loss

before success and satisfaction

but it’s the duty of a mother

to set her son loose

to fly alone

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Treasuring Poetry 2022 – Robbie Cheadle discusses the War Poets

The poet I was hoping to feature today, Walt Page, has been unwell and was unable to participate. I decided that I would share a beautiful poem of Walt’s today called Sometimes When it Rains. Walt told me I was the inspiration for this poem and I love it.

Sometimes when it rains

Sometimes when it rains
she loves to go walking
snuggled inside
her warm rain jacket

Walking in the rain
is a sanctuary for her
a time when she can
create her poetry

it is her time alone
to be inspired
she loves being with her family
and she loves creating her poetry

those of us who follow her poetry
are blessed with her friendship
we know she is probably out walking
and we look forward to her new poems

~The Tennessee Poet~
©Walt Page 2020 All Rights Reserved

Walt is currently on a sabbatical from writing poetry, but he has years of wonderful poetry available to readers of his blog here: https://waltswritingsonlife.wordpress.com/

For the past 14 months, I have been deeply down a WW1 hole, reading book after book about this devastating and world-changing war.

My interest in books about WW1 is due partly to my general fascination with war and partly as research for my work in progress, The Soldier and the Radium Girl, a novel set in the USA and France from 1917 to October 1939.

My interest in war poetry was sparked by Sally Cronin from Smorgasbord Blog Magazine who shares poems by the war poets during the week leading up to Remembrance Day.

This year, Sally shared poems by two specific war poets which interested me so much, I read up about them and subsequently read one of each of their works.

Siegfried Sassoon

Sassoon photographed in 1915 by George Charles Beresford

This is what Wikipedia says about Siegfried Sassoon:

Siegfried Loraine Sassoon CBE MC (8 September 1886 – 1 September 1967) was an English war poet, writer, and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of the trenches and satirised the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon’s view, were responsible for a jingoism-fuelled war. Sassoon became a focal point for dissent within the armed forces when he made a lone protest against the continuation of the war in his “Soldier’s Declaration” of 1917, culminating in his admission to a military psychiatric hospital; this resulted in his forming a friendship with Wilfred Owen, who was greatly influenced by him. Sassoon later won acclaim for his prose work, notably his three-volume fictionalised autobiography, collectively known as the “Sherston trilogy”.”

Siegfried Sassoon features as a main character in Regeneration by Pat Barkers. I had just finished this book when I read Sally’s post about him: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/11/11/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-poetry-rewind-in-remembrance-the-war-poets-siegfried-loraine-sassoon-cbe-mc-by-sally-cronin/

You can read my review of Regeneration here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4354087186

I elected to read The War Poems by Siegfried Sassoon available from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0571202659/

The War Poems

Over the past few years, I have read the odd poem by Siegfried Sassoon and found them to be very moving. These poetic encounters were usually on Poppy Day when the world commemorates both WW1 and WW2. Although I had a high level appreciation of this war and knew about trenches and a little of the horror, I had never studied WW1 or read much about it outside of these Poppy Day poems.

Over the course of the last 14 months, I have been extensively researching WW1 and have read a number of books detailing life for both the soldiers in France and for the civilian populations at home. My research has covered the British, French, South African, and American perspectives of WW1. These books, which included All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway, Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, and Regeneration by Pat Barker, really opened my eyes about the dreadful conditions in the trenches, the filth, the rats, the dead bodies, and the fear, as well as the heartbreak of losing a generation of young men. As a result of all this reading and my immersement in life during this time of worldwide conflict, my appreciation and understanding of Sassoon’s war poetry grow and I decided to read it all.

Reading this book was an excellent investment of my time and energy. Siegried Sassoon’s words are powerful and hard-hitting, striking right to the core of the war time experiences of these young men – their hopes and dreams dying around them along with their friends and leaders. This is a book that all youngers should read, after being given some context to WW1, so that this time can be remembered and timeous steps taken to prevent a re-occurrence at any future date. Remembering history and the mistakes of mankind, are best weapons against complacency.

The poem that moved me the most in this collection was The death-bed. You can listen to me reading it here: 

Vera Brittain

Brittain shortly after World War I

What Wikipedia says about Vera Brittain:

Vera Mary Brittain (29 December 1893 – 29 March 1970) was an English Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse, writer, feminist, socialist[1] and pacifist. Her best-selling 1933 memoir Testament of Youth recounted her experiences during the First World War and the beginning of her journey towards pacifism.”

You can read more about Vera Brittain here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Brittain

I recently read Vera’s memoir Testament of Youth and posted by review to Roberta Writes here: https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com/2022/01/19/roberta-writes-book-review-testament-of-youth-by-vera-brittain/

In conclusion

Finally, I am sharing one of my poems about a different kind of silent war. One that can still be contained and prevented from destroying our planet through carbon emissions and overuse of plastic if we reign it in. A compromise can be reached between profits and sustainability.

The Corporate Giant

It rears upwards

into the blue sky,

a monstrosity

of reflective glass, and

shiny stainless steel

towering over

the ant-sized people

who scurry about

in its imposing shadow.

***

An emotionless giant

it is bereft of a soul,

It feeds on small businesses

corner cafes, fruit and nut shops

independent butcheries, bakeries,

confectionaries and cake shops.

Even book sellers and

small stationers

are swallowed whole

disappearing into the gaping maw

of the corporate giant.

***

It shreds and ingests

taking the sustenance it seeks

spitting out the bones

independence and individuality

creativity and the unique

mere entrails, unwanted and discarded.

***

It stamps on difference

in its pursuit of profits

imperfections and blemishes

an unacceptable blight

on a perfect track record.

***

What remains will finally

emerge as a mirror

reflecting the sameness

uniformity and consistency

it holds so dear.

***

Providing its market

with the conformity

and rigidness

that has taken over

and turned the world grey.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms: Books to help children cope with change

Welcome to the first post of 2022 in the Growing Bookworms series.

A lot of people and children face change at the beginning of a new calendar year. In the Southern Hemisphere, children change grades and sometimes schools. Parents often change jobs and this can trigger changes to homes, schools, cities, and even countries.

Adults are better equipped to cope with change because they have more experience of life than children. Adults have already transitioned from junior school to high school and then often on to a tertiary education institution. Most adults have looked for, and gained, employment and have moved from their parents home to their own dwelling. Some adults have moved jobs and homes numerous times. As a result of the many life changes most adults have faced, they have learned strategies to help them cope with the anxieties and concerns that arise from major life changes.

Children often have not faced big changes in their lives before and can be frightened and intimidated by anticipated changes to their routines and friendships. Most children thrive on predictability and repetition.

Reading books to children about child characters who have faced and successfully managed big life changes can be reassuring and give some context to change. Books can also be conversation starters for children and enable them to verbalise their worries and anxieties.

The following three books are popular chapter books for children that centre around successful adaption to change.

The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden :illustrated Edition by [Frances Hodgson Burnett]

What Amazon says

When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.

The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary’s only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. With the help of two unexpected companions, Mary discovers a way in—and becomes determined to bring the garden back to life.

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Garden-Frances-Hodgson-Burnett-ebook/dp/B09Q3QQ4NQ

A short extract relevant to change:

“When she opened her eyes in the morning it was because a young housemaid had come into her room to light the fire and was kneeling on the hearth-rug raking out the cinders noisily. Mary lay and watched her for a few moments and then began to look about the room. She had never seen a room at all like it and thought it curious and gloomy. The walls were covered with tapestry with a forest scene embroidered on it. There were fantastically dressed people under the trees and in the distance there was a glimpse of the turrets of a castle. There were hunters and horses and dogs and ladies. Mary felt as if she were in the forest with them. Out of a deep window she could see a great climbing stretch of land which seemed to have no trees on it, and to look rather like an endless, dull, purplish sea.

“What is that?” she said, pointing out of the window.

Martha, the young housemaid, who had just risen to her feet, looked and pointed also. “That there?” she said.

“Yes.”

“That’s th’ moor,” with a good-natured grin. “Does tha’ like it?”

“No,” answered Mary. “I hate it.”

“That’s because tha’rt not used to it,” Martha said, going back to her hearth. “Tha’ thinks it’s too big an’ bare now. But tha’ will like it.”

“Do you?” inquired Mary.

“Aye, that I do,” answered Martha, cheerfully polishing away at the grate. “I just love it. It’s none bare. It’s covered wi’ growin’ things as smells sweet. It’s fair lovely in spring an’ summer when th’ gorse an’ broom an’ heather’s in flower. It smells o’ honey an’ there’s such a lot o’ fresh air—an’ th’ sky looks so high an’ th’ bees an’ skylarks makes such a nice noise hummin’ an’ singin’. Eh! I wouldn’t live away from th’ moor for anythin’.”

Mary listened to her with a grave, puzzled expression. The native servants she had been used to in India were not in the least like this. They were obsequious and servile and did not presume to talk to their masters as if they were their equals. They made salaams and called them “protector of the poor” and names of that sort. Indian servants were commanded to do things, not asked. It was not the custom to say “please” and “thank you” and Mary had always slapped her Ayah in the face when she was angry. She wondered a little what this girl would do if one slapped her in the face. She was a round, rosy, good-natured-looking creature, but she had a sturdy way which made Mistress Mary wonder if she might not even slap back—if the person who slapped her was only a little girl.”

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

The Railway Children Illustrated by [E. Nesbit]

What Goodreads says

In this much-loved children’s classic first published in 1906, the comfortable lives of three well-mannered siblings are greatly altered when, one evening, two men arrive at the house and take their father away. With the family’s fortunes considerably reduced in his absence, the children and their mother are forced to live in a simple country cottage near a railway station. There the young trio—Roberta, Peter, and young Phyllis—befriend the porter and station master.

The youngsters’ days are filled with adventure and excitement, including their successful attempt to avert a horrible train disaster; but the mysterious disappearance of their father continues to haunt them.

The solution to that painful puzzle and many other details and events of the children’s lives come to vivid life in this perennial favorite, a story that has captivated generations of readers and, more recently, delighted television and movie audiences. In this inexpensive, unabridged edition, it will charm a whole new audience of young readers with its warmth and appeal.

Amazon Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09Q3GZSRF

A short extract relevant to change:

This is a short reading of a paragraph pertinent to change in this delightful children’s book:

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie (Little House, #3)

What Amazon says

The adventures continue for Laura Ingalls and her family as they leave their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin and set out for the big skies of the Kansas Territory. They travel for many days in their covered wagon until they find the best spot to build their house. Soon they are planting and plowing, hunting wild ducks and turkeys, and gathering grass for their cows. Just when they begin to feel settled, they are caught in the middle of a dangerous conflict.

The nine Little House books are inspired by Laura’s own childhood and have been cherished by generations of readers as both a unique glimpse into America’s frontier history and as heartwarming, unforgettable stories.

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Little-House-Prairie-Ingalls-Wilder-ebook/dp/B01C2LYEOC

Reading of Chapter 1 of Little House on the Prairie by Jennie

Jennie has been teaching pre-school for over thirty years. You can find her blog here: https://jenniefitzkee.com/2022/01/08/the-morning-after-the-snow-memories-of-a-classic-childrens-book/

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.