Jellybean’s Closet Is Live!

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Attention all dog lovers!

Attention all dog lovers who dress their fur babies in the latest four-legged fashions.

Jellybean’s Closet, my fourth picture book about my precocious little pup is now live on Amazon!

Jellybean is a little dog…with a BIG closet.

She has outfits for all kinds of weather.

One snowy Friday morning, Jellybean looked in her closet.

“Hmm, what to wear, what to wear?”

“I see a snowsuit that’s perfect for me!”

And so it goes.  Jellybean romps through the days of the week and seasons of the year making sure to choose just the right outfit.  This was a story that just had to be written.  Those who have been following me for a while know that Jellybean…errr…her Mama, is obsessed with doggie apparel.  Our hall closet is a doggie’s fashion dream come true…errr…once again; it may be her Mama’s dream come true.  Fortunately Jellybean is very accommodating and proudly struts around the neighborhood wearing the latest sweater, hoodie, jacket, pajamas, t-shirt, snowsuit…well, I think you get the idea.

This is the perfect book for the young crowd, as it reinforces the days of the week, seasons of the year, and weather-related clothing choices.  My very talented illustrator, Shana Morrow, has outdone herself this time.  The detailed and brightly colored illustrations have brought my simple little story to life.  I can’t thank her enough! Demi Stevens, my publisher extraordinaire, oh how blessed I am to be able to work with you.  Can you believe it?  Book number four!!  It could never happened happened without your support and belief in me.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my book order from Amazon.  Jellybean will certainly have lots of pawtographing to do for friends and family who have already requested copies of the book.  Then of course there are the school visits. We promised our local elementary schools we would return to share Jellybean’s Closet, when it became available.  Oh dear, just what will Jellybean wear for all those school visits? I guess it’s time for me to go.  I’ve got shopping to do.  Spring is just around the corner!

Please click on the links below to check out Jellybean’s Closet, as well as our other stories.

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

 

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

 

What’s In Your Closet?

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Jellybean is a little dog with a BIG closet.  She has outfits for all kinds of weather.  One warm sunny morning, Jellybean looked in her closet.  “Hmm, what to wear, what to wear?” 

And so it goes as I work to prepare the digital file for my latest children’s picture book,   Jellybean’s Closet.  I continue to be blown away by my talented illustrator, Shana Morrow.  This is her fourth venture into storybook land with Jellybean. Her ability to bring my simple little stories to life using watercolor pencils as her chosen medium is beyond amazing!  With an ISBN number set for 2020, Jellybean’s Closet will be available early in the New Year.  There are still files for me to finesse and front and back covers to be created by my wonderful design team, but we are getting close to being ready for publishing.

My last picture book, Sloppy Kisses was released in 2017 and I must admit I am a bit rusty as I work at putting the illustrations in place.  Although each time I sit down at my laptop, it feels a little more familiar as I tweak the placement of the pages, adjust the contrast and brightness and add the text to each page.  I thank the stars above for Demi Stevens at Year of the Book, my publisher and inspiration, who has also become a dear friend.  When I have questions or struggle with confidence issues she responds with “Hello, my amazing one.”  Somehow, that little phrase, or “warm fuzzy” causes me to sit up a little straighter, become a bit more focused, and yes – even believe in myself a little more.

In the meantime, Jellybean’s Closet, is turning out to be a wonderful little story that is just perfect for the young crowd.  The premise of the story is that each day Jellybean goes to her closet so she can decide what to wear  – and yes, she really does have her own closet.  Just like any fashion conscious little pup, she knows to check the weather before she chooses her outfit.  This little story takes Jellybean’s readers through the days of the week, different types of weather, as well as choosing appropriate seasonal apparel.

As we continue to move toward a January release, Jellybean just has to ask, “What’s in your closet?”

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

One Lucky Lady

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What an exciting time!  Back in July, I blogged about my latest children’s picture book endeavor as I prepared for the initial meeting with my illustrator in which we were to discuss my vision for the story.  A week ago I met again with the wonderfully talented Shana Morrow for a sneak peek at the sketches for the book, appropriately titled Jellybean’s Closet.  This simple little story finds Jellybean sitting by her closet every morning with a big decision to make.  “What to wear, what to wear!”  Being an avid weather watcher, Jellybean makes good use of the window in the front door to determine a suitable outfit for the day.  Days of the week, weather and appropriate clothing choices make this a great concept book for young children.  The repetitive pattern promotes immediate engagement in the story.  (Hmmm, perhaps I learned a little something along the way as a kindergarten teacher for twenty years!)  As Shana pulled sketch after sketch out of her folder and shared her thoughts on perspective and placement of items on the page, I could hardly contain myself.  Actually, if you know me, I do most of my dancing on the inside, and let me tell you there was some jitterbug, a little tap, and perhaps a tad of cha-cha going on! I am humbled by Shana’s talent and the way in which she is able to make my vision come to life.  Over the next two months Shana will work her magic with her watercolor pencils to make each illustration jump off the page.  Oh, what a lucky lady I am to have this opportunity to share my stories inspired by the little pup that I love so much.  I am looking forward to a late fall release of Jellybean’s Closet.  I can’t wait to share it with you!

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Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

Jellybean’s Closet – The Book

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Jellybean and I have been enjoying the success of the three children’s picture books I have written since retiring from the public school system.  These books star none other than Jellybean, my own diva dog extraordinaire.  The trilogy highlights Jellybean’s playful and rambunctious personality through simple story lines suitable for the young crowd.  Thirty five years working with children, ages three to six, made it a rather predictable genre for me to choose.  Having a puppy with such a big personality made for some great story lines.   I guess you could say it was a match made in heaven.  Naughty Little Puppy, The Perfect Hiding Place, and Sloppy Kisses are simple, predictable and easy to read books that portray positive messages such as unconditional love, problem solving, and perseverance.

I thought the trilogy was it.  Three is a nice number.  The books bring opportunities for some Amazon sales and many author visits to local schools, libraries and community events.  Sharing my stories and seeing children react with laughter at Jellybean’s antics or by recognizing repetitive patterns in the stories that encourage audience participation, brings more joy than you can imagine.  Having the real life character right in the classroom as the stories are being read is a big deal to young children who are just beginning to understand the concepts of print, characters in the story, parts of a book, and the role that the author and illustrator play in creating the book.  I have truly been blessed to have this opportunity.  Like I said, I was happy with three stories, until one day I was standing in front of Jellybean’s closet and thought, “Oh, this is a story just waiting to happen.”

You’ve heard about Jellybean’s closet in previous blogs.  I should be embarrassed at the amount of doggy apparel that Jellybean’s perfectly organized closet is able to hold.  But I’m not.  I’m happy she is such a good sport when it comes to showcasing the latest canine fashion trends and that I am able to keep her in such adorable doggy attire.  You have to admit she wears it well, right down to the fashionable swimsuit she is modeling in the photo at the top of the blog.  This photo was snapped when Jellybean was taking a break from water play on the deck with her best bud.  I am fortunate that my very talented illustrator is on board as well.  As a matter of fact, I just finished texting lots of pics to her of Jellybean’s infamous closet and the outfits that will be highlighted in the new book appropriately titled, Jellybean’s Closet.  It is such an exciting time!  Over the next months, I will be anxiously awaiting to see Shana’s sketches  as she expertly uses her watercolor pencils to make her drawings come to life!  Children can expect to see Jellybean wearing outfits that are a perfect match for the weather during a week in the life of my precocious little pup.  Goodbye Jellybean’s trilogy! See you soon Jellybean’s quadrilogy, tetralogy, or would it be quartet?  Book number four, here we come!

 

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

The Move

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Moving day has finally arrived.  Just how much stuff will my little diva dog, aka “Jellybean”, need to pack you ask?  You may be sorry you asked, as you know Jellybean is not your ordinary four-legged pal.  Well, here goes…….

  • 49 assorted doggie coats, jackets, sweaters, hoodies
  • 4 holiday dresses
  • 2 ball caps
  • 1 knitted winter hat
  • 1 bomber winter hat
  • 1 pair of doggie snow boots
  • 6 pair of doggie pajamas
  • 54 assorted stuffed, squeaky, and chewy toys
  • 11 bones of various sizes
  • 15 balls: tennis, talking, rope, fill with a treat
  • 5 antlers for chewing
  • 3 doggie beds
  • 7 doggie blankets
  • 2 lamb Pillow Pets
  • 14 leashes with matching collars
  • Backpack filled with items needed for KPets’ visits
    • Pink water bottle
    • Water bowl
    • 2 KPets bandanas
    • Folder with shot records and member information
    • KPets certificate
    • ID badge for handler (that would be me)
    • Treats
    • Small towel
    • Poop bags
    • 3 four-foot leashes to use with martingale collar
  • 3 extra-large bath towels
  • 1 dozen colorful washcloths
  • Doggie shampoo
  • Doggie conditioner
  • Metal comb
  • Brush
  • Grooming spray
  • Waterless bath spray
  • Bag of mini rubber bands
  • 2 dozen assorted hair bows/barrettes
  • Doggie toothbrush
  • Doggie toothpaste
  • Allergy eye drops
  • Extra large crate
  • Bag of large crunchy bones
  • 4 jars of miscellaneous treats
  • 1 bag of dental treats
  • 1 bag of dog food
  • 4 dog water/food bowls
  • Minnie Mouse lunch box
  • Snoopy Lunch box
  • Vera Bradley lunch bag (What can I say?  A girl’s got to look good walking into doggy daycare)
  • Doggie car seat w/harness
  • Book collection:
    • Naughty Little Puppy
    • The Perfect Hiding Place
    • Sloppy Kisses
  • A doggie plaque for the front garden
  • A wall plaque:  Jellybean Queen
  • Framed pictures of the little Diva herself

Wow!  That’s a lot of stuff for a puppy that doesn’t even weigh 20 pounds!  Jellybean is living the good life for sure!  It looks like her Mama might be one of those crazy dog ladies.  And that’s okay, because this is one well-loved little puppy that spreads joy and sloppy kisses wherever she goes!  Into the wagon goes Jellybean with her belongings following close behind.  How exciting it will be to see Jellybean adjust to her new home, exploring all the nooks and crannies and finding her new special sunning spot.

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

the move - 2

The Great Canine Badge Caper

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This weekend Jellybean and I had the opportunity to participate in an event for the local Girl Scout chapter.  We were there as part of KPets, the Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy organization.  This is an organization whose motto is “Touching lives, warming hearts through human and animal interaction.”  At any given event you may see dogs of varying breeds and size, cats, mini horses, rabbits, etc. The five dogs that were in attendance during our 2-hour session were met with enthusiasm as the 200 plus young ladies oohed and ahhed over these four-legged fur babies.  They petted and stroked their fur, shared stories about their own pets, and giggled and smiled at the apparel and accessories chosen for this specific event.  It was refreshing to hear so many of the girls sharing their accomplishments as they spoke about the various badges adorning their sashes.  These young, achievement oriented girls represented their organization well, and are enthusiastic leaders in the making.  On the drive home, I glanced at my tired little puppy and started wondering what sort of badges she would earn in the dog world.  After some serious contemplation, I actually came up with a few:

COMPANIONSHIP BADGE – Jellybean has brought so much light into my world.  She earns this badge for romping into my life and being my rambunctious, fun-loving side kick.

LOYALTY BADGE  – I could not ask for a more loyal four-legged friend.  Jellybean is constantly by my side.  This badge is awarded for her unwavering loyalty.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE BADGE  – Jellybean asks for nothing in return, yet gives so much!  She earns this badge for her big heart and sloppy kisses.

NAPPER BADGE – She earns this badge for leaving no spot unturned to find the very best place to nap.

COLLECTOR BADGE – Jellybean is a collector of many things; toys, sticks, pinecones, treats.  She earns this badge for proudly prancing down the street with her treasure of choice.

CONCEALER BADGE  – Jellybean is a certified concealer.  She earns this particular badge for spending much time and consideration as to the perfect hiding place for her special treats.

BEST DRESSED BADGE – Jellybean is quite the fashion diva with her vast wardrobe and accessories.  Jellybean earns this badge for accommodating me, her over the top pet parent, when it comes to having just the right outfit for any occasion.

TAIL CHASING BADGE – Jellybean earns this badge for her expertise at spinning at a high rate of speed as she pursues her elusive fluffy white tail.

MOON WALK BADGE  – Jellybean has been awarded this badge for having mastered backing up lickety split from behind the couch when she hears the rattle of a snack bag.

NAUGHTY BADGE – This was Jellybean’s very first badge, earned for running away with things that did not belong to her.  She was very quickly deemed a naughty little puppy.

A Klatch of the Four-Legged Kind

 

A klatch is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a gathering characterized usually by informal conversation.”  Therefore, a coffee klatch would involve drinking coffee and chatting.  A sewing klatch would involve sewing and chatting.  It would make sense then when Jellybean meets up with her neighborhood friends it would be considered a wag, sniff and play klatch.  It never gets old watching Jellybean and her four-legged friends meet and greet each other.  It can be compared to a dance, the steps are that choreographed.  Jellybean spots a friend in the distance.  She immediately stops and watches, as she determines exactly which friend she is about to encounter.  Slowly her tail begins to wag, just a bit, to acknowledge she has spotted this four-legged pal.  She takes a few steps forward, then stops, not wanting to appear too “easy.”  Slowly she moves forward as her neighborhood friend approaches from the other direction.  As we get closer, Jellybean can no longer contain herself, and stands on her hind legs, pawing the air as if saying, “Hi there, Sweetie Pie.”  “Hey, it’s me, Gordy!”  “What’s up, Buddy?”  “I see you Sport!”  “Here I come!”  Suddenly, not unlike a nitro funny car, employing all 8000 horsepower when the light goes green, she takes off!  I am by no means a small person, and how this 18 pound dog is able to literally propel me forward is just plain crazy!  We hurry down the street, Jellybean’s tail wagging as she pants and whimpers in her excitement.  Me, I’m just hanging on for dear life! Finally, the klatch commences.  The intense excitement tones down a bit, as these neighborhood friends begin the dance.  Noses twitch and sniff, as tails wag energetically.  They begin to circle each other and sniff all the appropriate details.  After the ritualistic greeting has finished, puppy play time is initiated.  This is where I make the comparison to a coffee klatch.  Their get together is based on friendship and commonalities; things like sniffing, wagging, playing and barking.  They interact with each other; psyching each other out, front legs down on the ground, tushies and tails wagging high in the air, until one pounces.  Soon the real play begins and they race around each other, moving in and out of the leashes with expertise.  Energy spent, they are then content to sit alongside each other while the two-legged variety reach down to pet and praise them.  Just like that the klatch is adjourned.  As if they suddenly remember why they came outside in the first place, these furry friends are now ready to run, army crawl, or play catch your tail as you spin down the street.  At least that’s the direction a walk with Jellybean can take.  Of course, those are stories for another day.  That being said, here’s to a good walk and a good four-legged friend!

Tails of Comfort

The last week has been quite an emotional roller coaster for me; as the elderly lady I have cared for since my retirement four years ago passed on to join her loved ones in heaven.  Through the months, weeks, and days leading up to her passing, I have now come to better understand the process of dying.  The hospice nurses were a timely gift and surely they were angels sent straight from heaven to help the family and caregivers understand what was happening with this dear lady.  I am honored and forever grateful that I was the caregiver with her on the day she received visits from the loved ones who had gone before her.  Throughout the day, the look of wonderment and awe on her face touched me beyond words.  With each visit, her eyes opened wide and she gasped as if shocked to see a departed loved one standing before her.  The smile that spread across her face reflected the joy, wonder, and love she had for that individual.  As she smiled, she reached out, her eyes following them across the room, only to be met with another gasp and smile of recognition as yet another loved one appeared before her.  This went on throughout the day.  I took her hand and asked who was visiting with her that could make her smile so.  Each time, she faintly squeezed my hand, smiled and nodded her head to acknowledge I knew friends and family were among us.  In the afternoon, through my tears I was able to share with her that I too had a visitor.  Upon returning from getting a fresh glass of water for her, I found a feather next to her bedside seat.  I knew immediately that this was a gift from my dear husband, letting me know that he was with me on this day, helping me to accept what was happening and to share in her joy of preparing for her next life.  This is an experience that has surely changed me.

I titled this blog “Tails of Comfort” because of the family dogs that held vigil throughout the process.  Casey, a border collie, was very protective of Mrs. R, even before her life began to fade.  However, throughout her last days, he held vigil at the bottom of her hospital bed, at the very spot where her recliner had provided a clear view of her favorite television shows. Casey kept watch, his head on his front paws, eyes searching for movement, and ears at attention listening for faint sounds coming from underneath the pastel quilt.  Mulligan, on the other hand, only a year old and as spunky and playful as a Golden Retriever puppy can be, searched for every opportunity to occupy the little hassock that had been positioned beside her bed.  In the event a family member or caregiver left her watching post for a moment, Mulligan was quick to claim the spot as his own.  He sat and watched in wonder as this great lady, with a big heart and mischievous personality, now quiet and still, awaited her journey to loved ones that had gone on before her.  Every once in a while he nudged at the quilt, letting her know that he was nearby.

I have always been a bit of a coward when it comes to death and dying, but one thing I know for sure is that I have been profoundly affected by this experience.  It has made me rethink some of the work that my puppy, Jellybean, and I do as members of a therapy dog organization.  I have tended to shy away from elder care, hospital and hospice work.  Perhaps it is time to reconsider, letting go of my own insecurities, and allow my puppy the opportunity to spread joy and love as only a four-legged pup can do.  This would be a wonderful tribute to a wonderful lady who touched my life and others in so many ways.

The Napping Dog

Just how many naps does a three-year-old puppy require?  I think I assumed that as she got a little older, Jellybean wouldn’t nap as much.  However, I have found that is not the case.  Now, let’s be real, we do get up early.  4:30 – 5:00 AM has become the norm for us to roll out of bed and get our day started.  My shower, our thirty minute walk, breakfast for the two of us, Jellybean’s morning primping; brushing of fur and teeth, colorful bow in place, eye drops for allergies, and a morning treat, pretty much lead up to her first nap of the day.  I am heading out the door at 6:00 AM and she is heading to the sofa or her crate to find a cozy spot for napping.  I have noticed when I have the opportunity to spend the day with her, she generally takes about six or eight naps at various times throughout the day.  How does she do it?  She has quite a few favorite places to curl up and relax during the day. Oh, to be so carefree!  Maybe we should take a hint, after all, it’s a dog’s life.  Do you find your fur baby also seeks out many opportunities throughout the day to curl up, stretch out, put all four paws in the air, roll over, and just plain relaxxxxx?

Sloppy Kisses

My third children’s picture book, Sloppy Kisses, captures Jellybean’s journey to becoming a therapy dog.  Although not an easy one, due to Jellybean’s playful and precocious nature, I believe it was written in the stars for her to become a therapy dog. Is it a coincidence that her birthdate just happens to be the same date as my husband’s passing?  I think not.  I truly believe that Dan played a role in sending her to me to help fill the empty abyss of what used to be a heart so content and overflowing with love.  She brings much joy to me with her unconditional love and playful nature.  My husband was a talented, self-employed hair stylist with a big personality, sparkling blue eyes, and a laugh so big that it echoed through the house from his tiny shop.  He loved people!  He loved his customers, and loved making them feel good as he expertly snipped and cut until each style was perfect.  He also loved playing the role of therapist, counselor, psychologist and the like, as together, he and his customers solved the world’s problems.  However, one day a week was set aside to visit the local elder care homes.  Here, he served as barber for the elderly gentlemen who lived in the facilities.  He called them his “Mr. Potato Heads”, as he removed hearing aids, glasses, and other accoutrements before beginning his duties as barber.  After stimulating conversations with some, and quiet conversations with others, he would put them all back together before sending them on their way.  He always came home with such great stories.  The respect he had for these gentlemen was unwavering.  What better ways to honor my husband, than to have Jellybean, my puppy sent straight from heaven, become a therapy dog and provide that same joy to others!

My very talented illustrator, Shana Morrow, has done a wonderful job of capturing Jellybean’s playfulness and sometimes diva-like behaviors throughout the training process.  The story begins with Jellybean attending a Canine Good Citizen class at our local Petco.  At the onset it is quite clear that Jellybean is not quite on program, unlike the rest of her four-legged classmates.  The illustrations in the story depict Jellybean romping through class while the other pups dutifully follow the directions given by the trainer, who, by the way, assured me time and time again that Jellybean would master the skills needed to earn her good citizen award.  I was not so sure, but we kept at it.  Finally, after taking the class for the third time, Jellybean showed the world that she was indeed a Canine Good Citizen!  We moved forward by connecting with a local organization, KPets, that provides therapy services through interactions with pets.  Jellybean successfully mastered the various requirements to become a registered therapy dog.  Woohoo!!!  At this point, my schedule does not allow us to do as much work as I would like, but we do what we can.  We visit local colleges to provide stress relief before finals.  We support York College of Pennsylvania girls’ basketball team by attending all the home games and sharing the love with the many basketball fans.  As my schedule allows, we also attend events at local parks, department stores and elder care facilities.  We also visit schools and libraries so that children can read to the dogs, cats, mini horses, or whatever menagerie of animals happens to be there on that particular day.

Sloppy Kisses is a simple story, geared for the very young crowd, that demonstrates the power of practice and working hard for what you want to achieve.  Sloppy Kisses is available on Amazon.  Simply follow the link:  http://amzn.to/2B78X0Z