I visited my blog for the first time since April. What can I say… Life throws curve balls. I’ve missed writing my musings to you about my life and, more specifically, my childhood memories I love to tie into my picture book reviews.
To be honest, I wasn’t hit with just one curve ball. If you’ve ever watched to movie, BIG, with Tom Hanks, you’ll remember the scene when Billie gets pelted after gym class with basketballs. Got the visual? That’s what my life felt like.
Here’s a recap from the call I received that brought the bigest curve ball.
“Hi, Leslie, It’s Janet from the Breast Center. The results came in from your biopsy, and I’m very sorry, but it showed cancer.”
For a total of one second, I searched for my voice before spouting out, “Now is a REALLY not a good time for this. You see, my house just sold, my entire life is taped up inside of 114 boxes, I’m moving in a little over a month, and my daughter is in the hospital bacause she almost died from the second COVID shot. Do you understand how BAD the timing is here? I can’t have cancer now.”
To say the diagnosis came at the wrong time would imply a right time exists. There never is a good time for such a thing. About two weeks later, my husband suffered a mild stroke. Stress, by the way, is a terrible thing; the sooner it gets banned the better.
I tried distracting myself while I waited for my surgery date. I scrolled through my Facebook feed and scoffed at a post from a writer, complaining over two agent rejections they recieved in their inbox that day.
Seriously! You’re bummed about two rejections?
I’ll come clean and admit that a month earlier, a couple of rejections on a manuscript would have left me devestated. Cancer is funny in the way it gives life perspective about what is trivial and what is worth a good rant.
Only my family knew about my diagnosis. I thought if I told my friends what I was going through, they would tell me about their friends or family members who received a similar diagnosis, and I didn’t want my head filled with stories that might frighten me more.
As surgery neared, I discovered I needed more support if I was going to get through this. I didn’t expect what came. One by one, friends offered their love, prayers, virtual hugs, and even Reiki healing from afar. The mailcarrier delivered get well cards. Uplifting text messages and virtual greeting cards popped up in my inbox. A bouquet of colorful blooms and a bag of fresh-picked greenbeans arrived at my front door. Over Zoom, one friend offered me the encouragement I needed to face the future with renewed inner strength and a smile. Another friend chatted with me over coffee at the Starbucks in my town from the Starbucks in her town. Friends called to say they were ready to listen if I needed to talk–night or day.
This is the part when my post becomes a Perfect Picture Book Friday Review.
Shortly before surgery, a picture book arrived on my front door step from one of my critique partners and friends. The book, BIG BEAR WAS NOT THE SAME, is about a bear that lives through something scary and has a challenging time recovering when so many things remind him of the traumatic event. The story told of his special friend that promised to be there for Big Bear no matter how far they run, how loud they roar, or how long they sit in silence. Big Bear’s friend knew that traumatic events are a little less scary when friends stay by each other’s side.
Title – Big Bear Was Not The Same
Written by- Joanna Rowland
Illustrated by – John Ledda
Suitable for ages – 4 – 8
Topics/theme – Trauma, Empathy, and Friendship
Little Bear loved the woods and going on adventures with his best friend Big Bear. Their days were full of laughter, exploring new heights, and great fun.
Whenever Little Bear got into sticky situations or scary ones, Big Bear was right by his side to help with his big bear claws, his big bear teeth, and his big bear hugs.
Synopsis from AMAZON – One scary day can change everything . . .
Little Bear loves the woods, his home, and going on adventures with his best friend, Big Bear. Big Bear is so big and strong and brave. He always protects Little Bear and helps him feel safe. Then something scary happens to Big Bear. He’s caught in a forest fire. Even after he escapes and is safe, Little Bear can tell that Big Bear is not the same. He runs, roars, or freezes in fear when ordinary things happen in the woods that remind him of that traumatic day. How can Little Bear’s big, strong, brave friend be so scared now? And how can Little Bear be a good friend?
In Big Bear Was Not the Same, Joanna Rowland, author of the bestelling book The Memory Box, gently introduces young readers to the common feelings of fear, anxiety, and anger that can follow a traumatic event, and shows them how to have empathy and compassion for themselves and for loved ones experiencing the effects of trauma.
Includes backmatter written by a family therapist with information on how to talk about trauma with children.
Why do I like this book? It’s sometimes difficult to know how to be there for someone after they have endured a traumatic event. While some children automatically rush over to their friend’s side to give hugs, other children freeze up, not knowing how to help. This story offers a few perfect ways to comfort a friend in need. No spoilers here. To learn how Little Bear helped his friend, Big Bear, you’ll have to read this wonderful book.
Learn more about Joanna Rowland HERE.
Learn more about John Ledda HERE.
To leave you with good news, surgery is one week behind me, I’m on the mend, and my doctor said the final tests show I am cancer-free.
I hope you’ll visit me next week for another PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY.