Abby Sunshine

Duck Toller

9-26-08 Kenwood

Wow, did those 3rd graders at Kenwood make my day today.  I entered the room as they were cooling off in the late afternoon, lights dimmed, windows open, the fall breeze attempting to cool off the second floor classroom.  Kids were comfortably gathered around the room; some chose to stay at desks, others made themselves at home on the rug.  It felt like a Friday afternoon.  The room was set up in such an inviting manner–I bet the kids feel very good just being in the room.  I joined the teacher on a small couch where she reads to the kids and as I was setting up my stand, those curious people immediately began the discussion.  Some had recalled me being there before (I had read across the hall from them a few weeks ago).  After reading the story, we had such a wonderful dialog, I think I could have talked with them all afternoon!  We brainstormed other animals they could write about and they thought of many fun ideas of what to teach Abby.  What made me feel the happiest, though, was when a student came to me and asked if he could read me his poetry.  At this point, I found another comfortable nook in the classroom where the teacher had purchased an antique set of two theatre chairs–they were so cool and fold up just like in a movie theatre!  Anyway, I sat in one of those chairs and this delightful student opened his tablet and read four pages of his poems to me.  He was awesome, his voice was clear and he read so nicely.  He had been inspired to write from some books with which he had become familiar.  I had many good conversations during my visit.  Upon departure, I came upon some kids I had met at a previous reading.  They remembered Abby Sunshine and greeted me warmly.  I was pleased to have another brief word with a student who had taken me aside to talk about his science fiction writing.  Apparently, the banner is correct, “Kenwood kids are the best!

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9-25-08 Meadowbrook

Well, Abby did her job–and did it well in Renae’s class today.  She was fluffed and looking good.  We arrived and it’s always a hit (or maybe a distraction) to see a dog walk into a classroom.  We were just on time and Abby and I entered to immediate greetings from the 4th graders.  Luckily, Abby has such a calm disposition, that she just hangs with me and is my little buddy!  We gathered with the kids in a reading area where I got to sit on a rocking chair and Abby was beside me.  In this case, it was nice that Renae was there to be an official “dog handler.”  She sat by Abby while I read the book.  The group listened so nicely–commented at good times, laughed in all the right places, etc.  It was fun to read with them.  Since the book is not bound, I used a music stand to hold each spread.  This worked fine.  Afterwards, Renae demonstrated some of Abby’s tricks.  Of course, she performed on cue like any good dog!  We talked briefly in the group, then I gave them a page about “What would you teach Abby?”  and they returned to their desks.  I noticed lots of creative thought–teach her to dance, to turn on the radio, to turn on the TV, and then some!  While they were working, we watched the Abby videos done by the McNaughton sisters (my nieces).  This was fun and you can see these short videos on this site somewhere!  Upon departure, we discussed what animal they might choose if they were going to write about a day in its life.  I passed out photo stickers of Abby and we zipped out the door.  We couldn’t leave without stopping in the office to give Dave, the office dog, a photo sticker of Abby Sunshine!  What’s cool about Meadowbrook is that a dog named Dave works in the office and even has his photo in the yearbook!  He is a very special Golden Retriever.  We’ve had his photo on our refrigerator all summer–each year Renae gets his school picture.  He, too, is a friend of hers.

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9-24-08 The Ragamuffin

The Raggamuffin

The Ragamuffin

Today Abby is running around the yard like a nut.  It’s beautiful and sunny.  It’s very wet and muddy; we just had rain yesterday–quite a bit.  Abby loves to not only run fast while in the back yard, she also likes to take a dip in the pool and then roll in the grass–or in today’s case, Mud.  She has long and lovely duck toller fur, but with these activities–well, it makes for a rather disheveled look.  We have a reading gig tomorrow, too.  It will be for Renae’s 4th grade class at Meadowbrook.  It is the first this year where Abby will be coming along.  She is very fun in class and performs her tricks well; not to mention, she seems to know just what to do to win the hearts of those in class.  Anyway, I’m not so sure she’d be very popular if she goes in looking like a mess.  We will need to brush her.  She is not fond of having her fur brushed.  Unfortunately, she also gets small mats of fur when she plays so wildly–we have our work cut out for us.  She sure looks good–and feels so soft when we are done.

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