Monday, July 26, 2021

Trailer for my book & Goodreads Giveaway

Today marks one year since my book was published!  I am offering a Giveaway on Goodreads for 25 copies of my book.  I am so happy with the awards I have won for this book and the way it has been received by my friends and family. This is my way of celebrating!

I am working on my next book now.  It will be about my life as a teacher.

Click on the link to see the trailer for my book.

Book Trailer

Click on this link to enter the Giveaway!  

Goodreads Giveaway

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Sixth Grade Embarrassment

I was a real dream in my faded-blue organza.  My hair brushed back from my face and artificial flowers propped on top of my head and held in place with a plethora of bobby pins. My cute little white gloves are a dead giveaway that this photo was taken in the 50s.  

My mom took the photo after she dressed me like a Barbie doll to go to my sixth grade chorus concert.  I didn't want to wear that dress, but my mom insisted.  She bought it on sale.  No wonder.  It scratched my skin, and I was itching like crazy. Anyone who tried it on would have put it back on the rack.  But I didn't get to try it on.  And I would have NEVER chosen this dress to wear to my concert, but my mom didn't allow me to go along on her shopping trips.  I was at home taking care of my two sisters, a two year old toddler and a newborn of two months, when she bought it.  

My step-father drove me to the school that night and let me out in front of the building. I walked in behind the families of my classmates. Backstage I met questions and stares by the other singers. I remember us singing all the songs from Oklahoma. Whenever I pass a cornfield in the countryside I still think about the corn "as high as an elephant's eye," but over the years the memory that sticks with me most is the overwhelming embarrassment of being over-dressed.  I was twelve.  It was all about my feelings. Not my mother's. 

Now as an adult, I think about how my mother must have had such fun on that shopping trip...buying more scratchy organza to wrap around my shoulders like a princess attending a grand ball, gloves, and a little satin purse for me to carry. I don't remember the jewelry, but it appears to be some type of pearl necklace probably from Woolworth's. No thought went into what was appropriate to wear to a sixth grade chorus concert.  She never went to a school concert, PTA meeting, or any school event.  So how would she know?  

It could have been worse.  At least I didn't have to wear long gloves.  

#achildisapoemyoulearnbyheart   #fairyfortbooks

Sunday, November 8, 2020

A Child is a Poem You Learn by Heart

I think I was about 4 years old in the photo on the cover of my book.  I am seen standing close to my mom, clinging to her.  At that time, I was not living with my mom.  I was living with a family she found by posting an advertisement in the newspaper for someone to take care of me.  This photo was probably taken on a visit.  I know that because of the location.  The photo was taken in my aunt's yard.  There are other photos taken on the same day that show me with my cousins.  I don't specifically remember the taking of the photo, but I remember those visits with my cousins and our adventures playing in the yard and in the little patch of woods across the street from their house.  

We played our childhood games, tag, hide-and-seek, Mother-May-I, or jump rope, whether the temperature was sweltering hot or whether it was so cold our hands turned pink. When it rained we splashed in the puddles and made mud pies. We gathered sticks and built what we called houses, forts, or castles. Then we walked together to the dime store where we bought penny candy. That was a treat that we didn't get every day, and we really enjoyed it when we were lucky enough to have a nickel or a dime to buy candy.  When it was time for us to come inside, we always bargained for just a few more minutes.  We were reluctant to leave that exhilarating feeling of freedom running and playing in the woods.  My cousins were my siblings on those visiting days and the outdoors became our world where imagination ruled the day.  

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Book Magic: A Fairy Tale for Reading and Writing Teachers

Long ago in far away land, there was a young maiden named Lucinda who toiled night and day.  She washed dishes, scrubbed floors, and cared for her siblings.  She wanted more than anything to leave her village for a distant land where she had heard there were wise people who could teach her about the world.  Her parents would not agree for her to go and said that she must stay at home and help them.  It was her duty to do so.  Her father was a poor woodcutter.  He made his living from the forest.  Her mother took in laundry to make money from the wealthiest people in the village.  

Her parents told her that girls had no need of education.  There was much to do. It was not possible to allow her to leave home for such a frivolous reason.

One day in the village square, she met a young man who said he was going to that far away land to make his fortune.  One night while everyone slept, Lucinda crept into the darkness and met the young man.  Together they stole away into the night and walked miles and miles until they reached the land where they could start a new life.  

Lucinda got a job working for the wise men at the University.  They spent their days and nights reading and learning.  They explored all the knowledge that the world had to offer.  Although Lucinda was scrubbing, cooking, and sewing for them.  She was curious and asked many questions.   Soon they came to love her passion for learning.  They began to teach her.  She absorbed their lessons one by one.  They discovered that her real talent was in teaching their lessons to others in ways they could understand.  Some say she taught them in a magical way that made learning fun, and it once she taught them a lesson, they were not likely to forget.

Word reached the King that this young woman had special teaching talents.  Perhaps she even had magical powers.  The King invited her to visit the royal palace where he made her an offer.  She would be the perfect governess for the royal family.  He would give her a handsome salary, and she would live in the castle.  She would have all that she needed to teach the royal children.

But Lucinda told the King she would do this only on one condition.  He would have to allow her to teach all the children of the land.   

“But how will you do that?” asked the King.  “You cannot be everywhere at once.”  

Lucinda said, “It’s magic.  I will train others to go forth and spread the love of learning throughout the land.”    

And she did.  One by one she spread her magic methods for teaching children to read and to write, to question and to learn.  And those teachers who learned from her taught many children who grew to be passionate about learning as well.   Soon all the children who lived in the land were not just literate people, but thinkers as well.  And they were teaching their parents.

One day the King brought Lucinda into the royal hall to question her.
“Lucinda,” he began, “I am so pleased with the progress you have made with the children.  But I just have to ask you, what is your magic?”

Lucinda laughed and said, “It’s simple, your majesty, I just allow my students to think for themselves.  I allow them to choose their books and what they want to write.  I allow them to talk and question.  I help them to develop curiosity.  I allow them to respond to what they learn.  I teach them to write and play with words.”

The King was shocked.  “You allow them to choose?  You allow them to talk about the books and write about them?  Play with words?  How do you know that they are really reading the books?  Maybe they are cheating!  Are you teaching our children to cheat?!”

Lucinda stared at the King in disbelief.  Then she realized that he was the one person in the land whom she had not taught.  He had not been exposed to her magic.  

“If you please, your Majesty, I would like to explain.”

“Go on,” said the King.

“Children don’t cheat when they are allowed choice.  If they choose a book they don’t enjoy, they are allowed to put it back and choose another.”   She paused to let that sink in.

“Go on,” said the King.

She continued, “They are allowed…. And even encouraged to write letters to each other about their books.  They are allowed to talk about their books.”

The King was baffled.  “And all this talking and writing?  That helps them learn….?  That is your magic? ”

Lucinda smiled, it seems that the King was catching on.  He was learning.

“One thing more, your majesty,” Lucinda began, “I read and write with them.”

The King was perplexed.  “But shouldn’t you be making sure they are reading?  And writing?”

“Modeling behavior we want to encourage is a very wise decision, your majesty.”

The King smiled.  “What else can I do?  Is there anything else you need?  I think I like your magic.”

Lucinda shared her ideas with the King for making the entire country a better place.  Soon books were abundant and available to all.  The King set aside a time every day for all his loyal subjects to stop what they were doing and read.  Paper and writing instruments were provided to all citizens.  The entire country was reading and writing.  

All because of Lucinda and her magic methods.  

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Where I'm From...

In January, I started researching my family roots.  I have become so consumed with my search that I have not taken the time to do any writing or art work for months.   Those projects have been set aside. 

I have tried unsuccessfully to find a way to share the best of what I have found in my ancestry with my Georgia cousins.  We have a Family Reunion coming up in a week!   I spent most of the past two days trying to print what I have found.  I have finally decided that it is just about impossible to share that way because the family tree is like a real tree.  It branches out in all directions.  It is not linear.  And it's not about charts and names.  It's about real people with amazing stories.    

Native American Ancestry?

I cannot find any evidence of Native American ancestry and my DNA sample seems to match what I am finding in my search....100% European ancestry.   

This is a good way to get started:  sharing a photo of my paternal grandmother, Selma Swift, with three of her children. Closest to her are Howard and Agnes with Gladys standing behind her.  All three of these children have led long and productive lives, and they are still living.  I look forward to seeing them next week.    

This photo seems to support the story that Granny was of Cherokee Indian ancestry.  Doesn't she look like a proud Cherokee woman???   Many of my cousins and I have believed that we had that ancestry and though it is disappointing (and surprising) to think that we have been given the wrong information, the science proves that this is not true.  I don't have Cherokee DNA, but I have found many proud and intelligent people who are my ancestors.  We have ancestors who have touched the history of the world, so much more than I would have ever guessed and I can't wait to share all of that with them.

As an exercise in my Writing Group, I wrote this little poem from my perspective of growing up in the 50's.  Now that I have begun to research my roots, I realize that I am so much more than what is expressed in this poem.   I have much to share.  So hold on to your hats!  My Cawthon family is amazing!  And my Fairy Fort has now been stretched across an ocean and across many generations.

Where I'm From

 Paulette Whitehurst

 I am from Hand-Me-Downs and Making-Do,
from clotheslines filled with
cotton sheets and terrycloth towels
billowing against a cerulean sky.
From toddlers splashing in silvery galvanized
tubs filled with water from a green garden hose.

I am from front-porch-sitting beside
multicolored flower beds of zinnias,
marigolds, and roses with names
like “First Love” and “Climbing Mermaid;”
From neighbors who borrowed a cup of sugar or
the use of the avocado green telephone on the kitchen wall.

I am from buttermilk-and-cornbread on Saturday nights;
From plates piled high on Sunday
with fried chicken, speckled butter beans, and red ripe
tomatoes picked from backyard vines, from sugar cured
ham decorated with pineapple slices and cherries;
Better Crocker cakes with whipped icing.

I am from flowery wallpapered rooms with overstuffed sofas
and lamplight under fringed shades. I am from
country-music- harmonizing with albums on the Hi Fi;
Late night black-and-white movies with smiling dancers cavorting
Across the screen; sweeping soundtracks that picked me up
And transported me to a place of beauty. And possibility.