Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “children”

A Wee Christmas Story


I’m taking up Susanna Leonard Hill‘s challenge of writing a children’s holiday story. It must be about a holiday treat and it must not exceed 250 (that is a challenge). From what I understand the prizes are an array of writer delights–critiques, writing courses, book bundles, references and resource books. How could I not be tempted!

This story is based on an actual recipe handed down to me from my German grandmother, my Oma. We always called it her Christmas cookie recipe, but I have since learned it is a type of shortbread. I might be convinced to post the recipe (if I can find where it’s been tucked away in my recipe books). I’ll be anticipating whether my story made the finalist list…

OMA’S SECRET INGREDIENT
 by
Pam Webb

(207 words)

“What makes your Christmas cookies taste so good, Oma? Do you use a secret ingredient?” 

Oma laughed. “I use nothing but what you see here in my kitchen,” Then, as if a thought had tickled her, she smiled just ever so. “Actually, Engelin, I do use a secret ingredient. You guess what it is.”  

Greta looked at all the different spices and canisters in Oma’s kitchen, wondering which ingredient it could be that made the cookies ever so delicious. 

The next day, after Christmas Eve dinner, Greta brought out the dessert tray. Glancing at Oma, Greta saw the happiness reflected on her grandmother’s face as she watched everyone enjoy the baked treats. Realizing then what the secret ingredient was, Greta selected a heart cookie from the dessert plate. She quietly made her way over to Oma, presenting it to her. “I know what the secret ingredient is,” she whispered.

 Oma whispered back, “Is this so?”

“Mmhmm,” Greta nodded. “It doesn’t come from any of your spice jars. And I know you put it in all you do, not just cookies,” she added, giving her grandmother a measured hug of love.

“Yes, my little angel, love makes everything taste that much better.”

Shortbread Cookies, the ultimate melt in your mouth cookie.Traditional or brown sugar. Your new Christmas Shortbread recipe.
These cookies disappear fast!

Do you have a special Christmas recipe handed down from a special relative?

An Invitation


The journey began with a thought tickle, “If visiting with my granddaughter is this much fun when she’s a baby, what will our future someday visits be like?”

That tickle grew into a smile of ideas: “Someday we will—“

Which eventually became a story-

Which eventually became polished enough to catch the eye of a publisher-

Who believed enough to coach the manuscript into a book that is laugh out loud delightful, at least those who have read the story seem to think.

Someday will be here in April 2020!

And in four months my debut picture book , Someday We Will: A Book for Grandparents and Grandchildren will arrive.

Laughter is contagious and I am inviting you to share in the joy of my first published book by being part of my launch team. For now, all that is required is to go to Amazon and place Someday on your wish list. No purchase obligation required. This simply indicates Someday is an anticipated book. And, yes, of course, you can certainly buy it when it goes on sale April 7th.

You can also tag Someday We Will “want to read” on Goodreads which boosts up anticipated reading status.

I am excited about this book as it fills in the overlooked niche of anticipating that visit grandparents and grandchildren look forward to so much.

Someday—Someday a book will be published with my name on the cover—and that someday is almost here!

Thanks for cheering me on this journey, and as copies become available I will have giveaways—stay tuned…

For now, I look forward to getting the word out and I appreciate your support.

Ta dah and Surprise


Well, you might be wondering where Cricket Muse has hopped off to and who is this “Pam Webb.”

No worries.

Cricket Muse is still here, yet I have fulfilled the promise I made to myself that once I became published–not as magazine byline, not as part of an anthology, but as an author through a mainstream publisher–I would upgrade to a domain with my true name.

Here I am: Pam Webb

The published title in question will be available April 2020, which seems a long way off, yet my publisher is revving up the publicity wagon and I best jump on.

This publicity thing is tough on a gregarious hermit like myself–hence hiding out as Cricket Muse for the past seven or so years. A promise is a promise.

So–here is the newly designed blog, and I hope you will keep visiting. Check out my About page and Published Writing to get a bit more about Pam Webb. As for Cricket Muse? She’s still there. It’s difficult to keep a cricket from being a-mused with life.

The book. Right, the book. How the book came to be is a blog post coming up. I do want to thank Andrew DeYoung of Beaming Books who believed in the story, and Wendy Leach who provided the lighthearted illustrations. It’s been a wonderful experience. Thanks to all who have helped get this idea out of the drawer where it had been hiding and up on the shelves.

Image result for someday we will pam webb

You can check out the title in a couple of different places:

Amazon

Goodreads

As for the blog format? Cricket is nudging me to keep up my regular posts of Why We Say, Word Nerds, Bard Bits, and other miscellaneous thoughts about life. Those crickets-tccch-such chirpy little things…

POM: April 10


There are a handful of contemporary poets whose poems resonate with me long after I’m done reading their words. Naomi Shihab Nye is one such poet.

The Rider

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him...




POM: April 9


Why does the night so frighten children? I’m still not so keen about night–sometimes it seems so long until the darkness fades into the warmth of day. I found this poem and it absolutely captures the discomfort sometimes felt during those long nights of childhood fears.

 

Kyrie

At times my life suddenly opens its eyes in the dark.
A feeling of masses of people pushing blindly
through the streets, excitedly, toward some miracle,
while I remain here and no one sees me.

It is like the child who falls asleep in terror
listening to the heavy thumps of his heart.
For a long, long time till morning puts his light in the locks
and the doors of darkness open.

—Tomas Tranströmer

 

POM: April 2


An extended metaphor of personal significance.

To a Daughter Leaving Home

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving
goodbye.

—Linda Pastan

 

NPM: #28–a classroom poem


This poem is for all you teachers out there, and yes, to you students as well. We ask a question, and know our students know the answer, but there is such a reluctance to share the knowledge, unless you are the student who always has the willingness. What about the others? This poem helps to unravel the mystery of the reluctant hand.

The Hand

“Take a chance…” image: galleryhip.com

 

NPM: #15–Longfellow’s Children


“The Children’s Hour” was first published in the September 1860 edition of The Atlantic Monthly.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was probably one of the first poets encountered as a child. Who hasn’t encountered his “Song of Hiawatha?” He is well known for many poems, and one of my favorites is his tribute to his children. I can imagine his little “banditti” sneaking up on him and him gathering them up all shrieks and giggles.

The Children’s Hour

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 18071882
Between the dark and the daylight,
   When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
   That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
   The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
   And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
   Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
   And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
   Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
   To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
   A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
   They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
   O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
   They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
   Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
   In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
   Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
   Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
   And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
   In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
   Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
   And moulder in dust away!

Clowning Around as a Kid


I feel fortunate to have grown up in the golden age of television. Walter Cronkite fathered us through the news. Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore broke ground for weekly family shows, Carol Burnett entertained us, and Captain Kangaroo and other grown ups clowning around got me giggling.

Here are some of the TV babysitters I remembered. For that’s what they did while Mom did what she had to do around the house.

Captain Kangaroo

It was like having a trusted grandfather telling me delightful stories… image: Wikipedia

The show ran for nearly thirty years, from 1955 to 1984. I don’t remember much except Mr. Greenjeans and something about ping pong balls and a moose.

Soupy Sales

I have since learned Soupy Sales was a bit of a bad boy, always pushing those censor buttons. But, hey, as a kid, did I know this? I remember lots of pies and Fang.

Those were the national shows I remember. I was fortunate enough to have had  several local talented hosts to kept me amused. If you grew up in the Greater Northwest area you might remember:

Wunda Wunda

She was calm and reassuring and she did indeed add a bit of learning to every show.

Stan Boreson

Memories of a guy playing the accordion, a catchy theme song, and a basset hound.

Brakeman Bill

Trains. I mainly remember trains and his sidekick donkey. Oh, here’s a fun fact. Brakeman Bill was invited to my wedding reception. I’m still not sure how and why I would have known him. My mom invited a lot of people. My brother was ecstatic having been a Brakeman Bill Booster when a youngster.

My personal favorite…

JP Patches

I was not just a fan. I was a Patches Pal. image: jppatches.com

 

Did I say this was my favorite show? I still get girlish gigglish when I think how I stood in line with all the other kiddos to meet my favorite clown. I even have a photo of me with my morning/afternoon icon (yes, I got doses in the morning and afternoon–two hours of fun everyday!) As you can see JP collected buttons. I remember my last visitation as a preteen and standing in line to shyly hand him a button for his coat collection. I felt a little embarrassed since I was a bit older than the other kids there. But a dedicated fan is a dedicated fan.

The show’s format featured Gertrude, a loud obnoxious “woman,” as in the Shakespearean sense, who was JP’s girlfriend (the Gertrude actor actually played a total of about 18 roles). Even though JP lived at the dump he had class. He had great rapport with the TV audience and owned an ICU television set. He would tune in and personally wish that viewer a happy birthday. I remember wishing my birthday would be called out. Never happened *sniff* He also had a villainous counterhero on the show named Boris S. Wart, whose sole goal was to takeover the show. I believe he did once. Boris tried appearing with JP once; however, some overzealous Patches Pals beat him up. Honestly, I was not part of that particular Patches Pack. Other memorable non-human characters: Tikey Turkey, Griswald, Grandpa Tik Tok, Esmerelda. Even if you did not grow up in the Puget Sound (I’ll try not to feel sorry for you) I’ll let you partake in Patches fun by clicking to the best ever website I spent most of my Saturday morning watching bits and clips of my childhood.

So–what great children’s programming did you grow up with?

 

Graphically and Comically Speaking


Confession: I am a reformed annoying little sister. One of my annoying habits involved sneaking into my brother’s room and get into his stuff. When he wasn’t looking, I crept into his room and stole furtive sneak reads of his comic book collection. He fussed quite loudly whenever he caught me, but I couldn’t resist. What little girl could resist feasting on Disney comics, for those were my brother’s faves. He mainly bought Uncle Scrooge along with those mini-comic books (comics are actually magazines not books, if you think about it).

Uncle Scrooge made sense to me as a kid–I saw through his skinflinty ways and saw a softie. Image: wikipedia

My comic passion ignited I am hooked and remember summer afternoons binging on comic book reads with friends in our backyard. Years pass and my brother graduates and I move on from Disney to Peanuts to Archie and the gang. Flash forward and I’m in college and I’m still reading cartoons, although they are now sophisticated commentary: Doonesbury.
From Doonesbury I easily switched to Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes and Zits. I introduced my own kiddos to the joy of comics, buying the big treasury collections which I read as well. They didn’t bat an eye about their mother reading a Better or for Worse collection with her own bowl of cereal in the morning.

Cereal and comics–best times. Image: stockfreeimages.com

Oh yeah, in high school my research paper was “What’s So Funny About the Comics?” I wrote about the history of the comics from their beginnings clear up to modern-day offerings. I prefer Snoopy over Garfield any day.
This weekend my youngest progeny visited for his monthly Mom Meal. I dragged him along on errands, one of which being the library. Besides picking up a couple of movies we picked up some books. Actually that’s an understatement. We staggered out of the library with mixture of graphic novels (Beowulf rocks), Herge Tin Tins, Marvel Encyclopedias, Batman, Zombie stuff, and DMZ. About twenty books. My son, who is all grown up, living on his own, and is a responsible adult, holed up on the couch the rest of the afternoon and feasted on his found treasures.

Forget surfing the Internet–surf through a comic book instead! Image: slj.com

I’m okay with that. I’d be a bit of a hypocrite if I was, wouldn’t I? Reading comic books didn’t warp my mind, didn’t ruin my kiddos to read “real” books and I’m quite glad to see them legitimized and sitting on their own shelf in the library.
Anyone else still reading the comics page? I only wish I could manage to do so without feeling so silly to see how Luann is doing these days when I’m in the staff room.

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