Tuesday’s Promise and Tuesday Takes Me There by Luis Carlos Montalván

Many of you have probably seen my previous post regarding Luis & Tuesday. I’ve now finished the last two books and will have my reviews posted below. I’ve been in contact with Lu Picard at ECAD and found out that every Tuesday, they post updates on their Facebook page regarding Tuesday and what he’s doing now. I was so excited to learn this and I have the link below for those that would like to take a look.

I feel like after reading these books that I’ve been on an adventure with Luis & Tuesday and don’t want it to end. All four of these books are beautiful and I hope that more people will read them. The children’s books are wonderful as well. If you’d like to see my previous posts on Until Tuesday and Tuesday Tucks Me In, you can click HERE. 

Tuesday’s Promise by Luis Carlos Montalván & Ellis Henican

31932889Tuesday’s promise is the final book written about Luis Montalván and his service dog, Tuesday. I recently read the previous book Until Tuesday. One nice thing about this book is that people who haven’t read Until Tuesday can go right into this one as he covers his story again for new readers. I didn’t mind the repetition at all and it never became boring to me.

I found this second book to be even more heartbreaking. I already knew the outcome beforehand, but there was so much more that happened with Luis from the last book until now. Luis, broken by war, became even more courageous and started traveling more and putting himself out there for others who needed him including the wounded, those suffering from PTSD, and others. As he healed even more, he wasn’t 100 percent, but he was changing and learning to live his life in the best way possible, even with the trials and tribulations of his mental illness and injuries. The most heartbreaking part of the book for me was chapter 22, thinking about aging Tuesday. Luis had said more than once that he would outlive Tuesday. Let’s face it, dogs don’t live as long as humans do. It seemed as if he was having a difficult time coping with the thoughts of losing Tuesday and I wonder if this was something he just couldn’t take.

“When it happens, it will feel like a piece of my heart has been ripped out and handed to me. You’re never supposed to see your heart. It’s in your chest. Being handed your own heart is a thoroughly unnatural experience, so vulnerable. But it will be real, and nothing in the world can change it.”

I think about my own dogs who are considered family and the thought of losing them makes me very sad, even though I understand this is part of life. The thought of Luis losing Tuesday is almost unfathomable because Tuesday is the reason Luis was able to live again. He helped him heal and was his best friend for many years. You can feel the emotion and fear Luis is experiencing as the words pour out of him in the book.

As far as the writing and structure, the book is written well just like the first, the added photos were great, and I appreciated the afterward by Ellis Henican. It was, for the most part, told in chronological order this time. I loved the title, and readers will learn about the true meaning of the title as they read on in the book.

If you haven’t read about Luis & Tuesday yet, I suggest you read this book, or read them all. I can’t even express how much this story has touched me. I even enjoyed the children’s books. I’ve spent the last few weeks living and breathing Luis and Tuesday and they’ve been on my mind a lot. It’s a story I’ll never forget. I’m sad that the journey has ended, but I know that Luis is in a better place and I pray that he is at peace.

*Our veterans are important-they need our support, and these service dogs like Tuesday are integral in order for them to carry on with life.*

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Blurb

Luis and Tuesday are winning hearts again. With his captivating New York Times bestseller Until Tuesday, Iraq War veteran Luis Carlos Montalván furthered America’s conversation about the need to care for first responders suffering from the effects of PTSD, especially highlighting the near-miraculous benefit of service dog companionship.

Now, in this spectacular follow-up, Luis and Tuesday rescue a forgotten Tuskegee airman, battle obstinate VA bureaucrats and bring solace for troubled war heroes coast-to-coast. All this, while Luis’ personal battle intensifies; while Tuesday has helped him make immense mental strides, the chronic pain of his injuries threaten to leave him wheelchair-bound. In a grave decision, Luis opts to amputate his leg, and learn how to live with a prosthetic.

As Luis regains his athleticism, 10-year-old Tuesday enters new phase in life; due to his growing age he will soon need to retire. Together, these two friends begin the tender process of welcoming a new puppy into their pack. SINCE TUESDAY is an inspiring story with an unforgettable message about love, service, and teamwork.

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Continue reading “Tuesday’s Promise and Tuesday Takes Me There by Luis Carlos Montalván”

Surviving Straight, Inc. Q & A with Straight Survivor Christine Flannery

I recently read a book by Cyndy Drew Etler titled, The Dead Inside. The book is about Cyndy’s experience with Straight, Inc. I’d never even heard of Straight until I read this book. You can see my original post on The Dead Inside which will soon contain a Q&A with the author and  you can also see the trailer for the documentary/movie on Straight by clicking HERE.

I found this story to be incredibly disturbing and as I began searching online, I found countless cases regarding kids who were abused in this program. These programs at one point were supported by members of government including Nancy Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

After my research I met Christine Flannery, a Cincinnati Straight Survivor who was in the program from 1984-1986. You can read her story on her website by clicking HERE. I was able to speak with Christine about her experience at Straight. You can learn more about Straight and see the Q&A with Christine Flannery below.

What is Straight, Inc?

Straight, Inc. (1976-1993) publicly claimed to rehabilitate teenage drug users by using tough love and Alcoholics Anonymous principles. Straight, Inc. provided NO professional counseling: Straight, Inc.’s “treatment model” relied exclusively on “positive peer pressure” from unprofessional staff (program graduates) and from the teenage clients. Straight, Inc. claimed to have an astronomically high success rate and was supported by both the Reagan and Bush administrations. However, Straight, Inc. did not publicly reveal what many survivors will tell you. imagesi34er5667777zer.jpgThe REAL Straight, Inc. was a facility that used coercive thought reform (aka mind control, brainwashing), public humiliation, sleep & food deprivation, extremely harsh confrontational tactics, kidnapping, isolation and emotional, mental, psychological, verbal and physical abuse to forcibly break us down then remold us in the Straight, Inc. image. Straight, Inc. also operated in secrecy, just like a cult (Straight, Inc. has been listed on at least 2 cult expert websites). No outsiders were ever permitted to know what really went on. Straight’s rules and our fear of harsh punishment prevented us from talking to outsiders or from reporting abuses.- From Christine’s website

Here’s a video that Christine put together regarding Straight, Inc.

As many as 50,000 kids were in the Straight program, Straight, Inc.  is the biggest violator of human rights and civil liberties that this country has ever seen.  There are accounts of food and sleep deprivation, making kids soil their pants, beatings, spitting in kids faces, and marathon sessions where teenagers would be yelled at by many other kids for long periods of time.  Children were forbidden from reading any material including religious books.  Conditions were so deplorable that kids had to be watched 24/7, even as they wiped themselves on the toilet (reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps where Jews were made to defecate publicly like cats and dogs) to make sure they did not commit suicide.   Under such deplorable and humiliating conditions many kids resorted to carving on their bodies with a fingernail, piece of broken chair, or whatever else they could find just as a caged animal gnarls at an open sore. –From the Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network. 

Straight, Inc. was also renamed…

As Christine mentions on her website, Straight, Inc. became Kids Helping Kids, Pathway Family Center, Life, Growing Together, KIDS (of North Jersey, El Paso, etc.), SAFE, Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center (AARC), and others. Even though most of these spin offs have been shut down, there are still similar programs for troubled teens that follow the same tactics as Straight.

In this video below regarding KIDS, which is basically the same program renamed after Straight, you will see how teens that were once in the program themselves became the counselors working with kids that have been brought into the program. These kids themselves are considered the professional staff.

Here’s another one about SAFE, another renamed Straight program. The video is old, but worth watching…

-Part 2-

Continue reading to see the Q&A with Christine Flannery…

 

Continue reading “Surviving Straight, Inc. Q & A with Straight Survivor Christine Flannery”

Luis Carlos Montalván – A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him

Last week I came across a children’s book titled, Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between a Soldier and a Service dog. I was intrigued as I’d never heard this story before. After reading it and falling in love with Tuesday, I had to learn more about him and his owner. I checked out the author’s page on Goodreads and saw that he co-wrote a few other books about Tuesday and couldn’t wait to read them. I just finished reading Until Tuesday and you can read both of my reviews for these books below.

18465502.jpgTuesday Tucks me In is a true story about a service dog and his owner, Luis. The story is told from Tuesday’s point of view as he explains their typical day together in NYC.

“Luis is a disabled veteran. He went to war, and he came back home in so much pain that he couldn’t live a normal life. So I do tasks for him. I even sleep with him which helps control his nightmares.”

Luis has issues like PTSD that cause him to have flashbacks. He doesn’t like crowds or being too close to people and Tuesday has the training to keep him calm and collected. He’s exceptionally smart and senses when Luis is having issues by feeling his heartbeat-he can tell when a panic attack is about to happen. They do everything together and are inseparable. They take care of each other and they even pray together.

I enjoyed the end note from Luis which explains more about service dogs and the organization that trains them. This book will help children understand roles that service dogs play as well as an understanding about people with disabilities. They will also gain insight into the sacrifices that people make for their country. I loved it.

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Until-Tuesday-Book-Cover.jpgI recently read Tuesday Tucks Me In which was the first time I’d heard about Luis and Tuesday. After seeing that he co-wrote more books on Tuesday, I couldn’t wait to read more. Until Tuesday was just the book I was looking for to to gain insight into the relationship he built with Tuesday, his service dog, while learning more about Luis and his experiences in the military and after.

The book begins with Tuesday and describes his training and first few years of his life before he met Luis. He started his training at just 3 days old and spent time in a prisoner puppy training program as well as ECAD. Tuesday made bonds with a few different people that he had to let go. This made him sensitive and he’d developed issues getting close with people.

Luis, a captain in the U.S. Army, had multiple tours in Iraq and received awards including two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, and the Combat Action Badge. During the time he was stationed at a border crossing at Al-Waleed, he was injured after an attack by two men that left him with multiple injuries including a traumatic brain injury. After 17 years of service he finally came back to the U.S., and he had a hard time adapting to civilian life. He was suffering from PTSD, anxiety, flashbacks, you name it.

“This is especially true for PTSD. Most soldiers spend years denying they have it, or being told by loved ones it’s all in their heads. It is in their heads, but it’s a real wound nonetheless. Even if they accept the diagnosis, most veterans assume PTSD is temporary. I’m going to beat this, they say. In a year, I’ll be fine. Everyone knows you don’t grown back a leg that’s been blown off by an IED, but everyone assumes you can heal a brain that’s been scarred. You can’t. You can restore trust. You can reconnect with the world. You can live a full life. But the experience is with you forever.”

He also had a balance disorder that caused him to have horrible migraines as well as vertigo which resulted in easy falling. The trauma and violence of war were still upon him and the future was looking Grimm for Luis until he met a service dog by the name of Tuesday. Little did Luis know, Tuesday would help him live again.

I couldn’t wait for the weekend so I could read this book uninterrupted. I devoured it and it nearly tore my heart out. I was shocked at all Luis had been through and yet, he was still so courageous. He was relentless giving to his country and wanted to stay in Iraq where he felt he was needed. Once back in the U.S., even with the disabilities and troubles he experienced, he went on to obtain a masters degree. Not only that, he was involved in public speaking including appearances all over the place while dealing with grief, anger, anxiety, sorrow and a host of other emotions. I was amazed with his bravery and fell in love with the relationship between Luis and Tuesday. The work that Tuesday put in for Luis is remarkable. He never left his side. It was as if they were healing each other.

Overall, this is one of the best books I’ve read in 2017. It’s written well and kept me engaged from beginning to end. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the pictures in the back. It was nice to see Mary, Rick, Lu Picard (founder and director of ECAD where Tuesday was trained), and some of the pictures of Luis while in Iraq. Luis was someone willing to give everything he had for his country and sacrificed everything.  I’m glad that I read it and I’m reading Tuesday’s Promise next.

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I’m not sure why, but at around 72% of the book I decided to check out his author page again because it seemed like a fairly active page when I’d first looked at it. I wanted to see what he was doing now being that another book was just released in 2017. I happened to notice up at the top by his name that he had passed away in December 2016 at the age of 43. I was shocked and saddened and had to find out why. It turns out that he left Tuesday with some friends and committed suicide. He was found in his hotel room with drugs in his system. I just couldn’t get over the tragedy. I instantly thought of Tuesday. He had to let go of others before, but all I could think about was how bad this must’ve been for him and wonder how he’s doing now. I did read that Tuesday’s being cared for by loved ones.

Luis had Tuesday from 2008 to 2016, the majority of Tuesday’s life.  I pray that after all Luis endured, he is at peace and that Tuesday is able to find some happiness even with the loss of his best friend, Luis. Our veterans are important-they need our support and these service dogs are integral in order for them to carry on with life.

Continue reading “Luis Carlos Montalván – A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him”

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

My review

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The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires is a children’s book about a girl with an imagination and teaches about the importance of never giving up on yourself.

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A girl has a vision of creating something magnificent. She starts building things with her little dog assistant. As she builds one thing after another, she isn’t happy with any of her new creations. They just didn’t come out like she imagined they would. Disgusted, she walks away from all of her creations to take her dog for a walk and finally she realizes that there’s something great about each and every one of them.

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Children will stay engaged with the story while viewing and enjoying the colorful illustrations on a black and white background. The author does an amazing job with teaching children about the emotions that we feel and how sometimes it’s good to take a break and rehash it at a later time. I love the message that it sends and think every child should read it. This is a perfect character building book for schools and even for reading with a child.

I’d like to thank Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for sharing this book with me.

5*****

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Blurb

Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!? But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right.

For the early grades’ exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl’s frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it’s okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn’t just make her magnificent thing — “she tinkers and hammers and measures, she smoothes and wrenches and fiddles, she twists and tweaks and fastens.” These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. –Goodreads

Continue reading “The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires”

This Week’s Children’s Book Favorites

This week I came across some great children’s books and can’t wait to share them with you. You can see all of my reviews below. If you want to add them on Goodreads, just click the cover.

The Bear Report

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This is such a cool book that teaches kids about polar bears in a fun way. It reminded me so much of The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond.

Sophie has to do a book report on polar bears and all she can come up with is that they’re big, mean, and they eat things. After a visit with a real polar bear who takes her on a journey through its habitat, she learns much more.

The illustrations are amazing and the story is engaging and educational.

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The Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up-Close Look at the Art and Science of Snowflakes

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The Secret Life of a Snowflake has to be one of the most beautiful children’s science books I’ve seen. The author, Dr. Kenneth Libbrecht, is a professor of physics and studies crystals. Not only does the book contain many photographs of Dr. Libbrecht’s snowflake finding’s, it also teaches facts about them. Many of these facts I never knew as an adult which makes this a book for everyone. Some of them include:

-Why is snow the color white?
-How are snowflakes made?
-Why are they all so different?
-Why do snowflakes all have 6 branches?

The author even covers the different states of water, clouds, the birth of a snowflake, and provides a pattern for cutting your own paper snowflake.

This is a wonderful book that would be perfect for applying in a science curriculum for kids. If you simply can’t wait to read this book, you can visit his website at www.snowcrystals.com. Here you will find countless photos of close-up snowflakes. Simply Amazing.

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Dormouse Dreams

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Dormouse Dreams is a children’s book about a little dormouse who is hibernating for the winter. There are so many things happening out in the snow. The fox will ski, the chickadees chitter, and the snow piles high, but the little dormouse is fast asleep. He dreams of adventures with his little dormouse friend, but will she ever arrive?

Fairly short sentences and an easy read makes this book perfect for younger readers. It works well as a read aloud book too. We loved the illustrations most.

4-stars Continue reading “This Week’s Children’s Book Favorites”

Carol Buckley’s Elephant Stories

I few months ago I read a book about Tarra the elephant and the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. I recently read two more books by Carol Buckley and one of them covers Tarra’s life before she was sent to the Elephant Sanctuary. The other discusses a different elephant’s journey. You can see my reviews for both books below. If you’d like to see the original post on Tarra and Bella, you can click HERE.

Travels with Tarra by Carol Buckley:

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My review

Carol Buckley is the founder of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. In this book she talks about Tarra, the Asian elephant who was brought to America in 1974. Tarra was purchased to live at a tire store and the owner specifically purchased her in hope of increased sales. It was sad reading just the first page of this book because you start to realize the horror of a baby elephant being torn away from its mother in the wild and the loss of security that Tarra will now experience.

The story takes us through Tarra’s journey and how Carol Buckley meets her for the very first time. She instantly had an interest in Tarra and became a permanent fixture in Tarra’s cage. Carol began studying her and wanted to know everything about her. Children will learn about how Tarra learned how to skate, how Carol begins training her, and how she becomes part of the circus making her famous. Readers will also learn about Tarra’s relationships that she had with other elephants and dogs before her arrival at the Elephant Sanctuary.

The photography in this book is amazing and insightful. I learned so much more about Tarra that I never knew before. She had many  experiences and relationships in her life.  I would recommend this book to anyone who has a love for elephants or just want to know more about Tarra.

This book does have a series of links and information for classroom use.

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Here’s a video of Tarra at the Elephant Sanctuary. She can really make some different sounds!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsHz2v2Bi9U Continue reading “Carol Buckley’s Elephant Stories”

Toby by Margaret Wild

I picked up a few more Margaret Wild books this week. She’s one of my favorite children’s book authors and this one really touched me. I seem to be picking some really emotional children’s books here lately. You can read my review below and see some author information as well.

My Review:

Toby by Margaret Wild is a book about a family dealing with an elderly dog named Toby. The book starts out explaining Toby at the age of fourteen and how he’s been big sister Sara’s dog his whole life. Sara is twelve now and is having a hard time dealing with the fact that old Toby just can’t do what he used to. She’s getting older too and dealing with her own stress at school, etc. It’s hard for her younger brothers to understand her as well. The children wonder why Toby can’t live forever.

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This has to be one of the most emotional children’s books I’ve read this year. The story feels genuine and anybody that’s gone through it can understand how difficult it is to say goodbye. Dogs become family and it’s hard to let them go. This story highlights the dynamics of a family dealing with loss. Each one of them deals with it differently.

stars Continue reading “Toby by Margaret Wild”

What a Waste: Where Does Garbage Go? by Claire Eamer

What a Waste: Where Does Garbage Go? is a book that teaches everything you want or need to know about garbage.

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I’m really amazed at how thorough this book is. There are so many facts even adults can learn here. The reading is probably best for older children as the book is jam-packed full of information. It covers:

-Where garbage goes
-How it’s stored
-Recycling
-Composting
-Statistics
-Smart people with smart ideas
-What we put down the drain including sewer information
-Garbage we create in the growing of crops and manufacturing process
-Problems with plastic and another big one we don’t think about-electronics
-Future plans including turning waste into energy
-Other countries and how they deal with garbage
-Greenhouse gases from trash

The book helps children understand that foods aren’t necessarily bad because of the date on the packaging. I think this is so important because best by/sell by dates and expiration dates mean different things that kids might not understand. The fact that a third of our food is tossed out yearly is alarming!

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This is a book I want to keep on my shelf. Every school should have this available for their students. I could easily see this in a classroom setting spanned out over a 4-week course. It’s just an amazing book…

stars Continue reading “What a Waste: Where Does Garbage Go? by Claire Eamer”

Children’s book Author Margaret Wild

Margaret Wild is one of my favorite children’s authors. I love the stories she writes up for children. Below you’ll find some information about Margaret Wild and learn about some of my favorite books by this author including my reviews. My hope is that every child will get the chance to enjoy some of Margaret Wild’s books.

Margaret Wild grew up in South America and moved to Australia in 1972. She worked as a journalist and a book editor and now writes books. Since then she’s written over 70 books for children. Margaret has also published two novels titled One Night and Jinx which are both books about the troubles and anxieties that teenagers can become overwhelmed with during their school life, in relationships and growing up.

Margaret wrote her first book in 1984 and it’s titled There’s a Sea in my Bedroom. 

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My Review:

David doesn’t like water and is afraid of the sea, but he loves to collect shells. One day he comes across a special conch shell and learns that he can hear the sea when he puts it up to his ear. At home that evening there’s no limit to David’s imagination. Follow along in the story with David and learn how he overcomes his fear of the sea.

I enjoyed looking at the illustrations and seeing how the story unfolds. The story sends a wonderful message to children about how they are capable of conquering their fears.

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4-stars


Here are some of my other favorite children’s book by Margaret Wild: Continue reading “Children’s book Author Margaret Wild”

T4 by Ann Clare Lezotte

I picked up this little book titled T4 by Ann Clare Lezotte at a book sale a while back and finally got a chance to read it. I wanted to see if it was age appropriate for a student as I wasn’t sure of the actual content provided considering the subject matter. T4 is a fiction novel in verse and is based on the truth about the T4 program during WWII.

You can read my review below and see some information about the author as well…

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Blurb: It is 1939. Paula Becker, thirteen years old and deaf, lives with her family in a rural German town. As rumors swirl of disabled children quietly disappearing, a priest comes to her family’s door with an offer to shield Paula from an uncertain fate. When the sanctuary he offers is fleeting, Paula needs to call upon all her strength to stay one step ahead of the Nazis. Continue reading “T4 by Ann Clare Lezotte”