MUYL Blog Challenge: The influence of a Good Children’s Book


The prompt for today asks us to write about our favorite book and tell why it is our favorite. Or the other option is to write about a book we’ve written and explain why you might find it interesting.

I was amazed!! Last evening when I read the prompts for today I actually had a favorite book pop into mind. This is not an easy thing since I own (and have read) a lot of books that I absolutely love.

I could write a top ten favorite cookbooks, a top ten favorite creative books, a top ten favorite spiritual books, top ten favorite self help, top ten favorite biographies or memoirs. You get the idea. I will not belabor the point. I may even do this if there’s interest. Quite some time ago, I created a resource page where I talk about some of my favorites…you’ll find that here.

The title that immediately popped into my head is a book that is out of print. Although Amazon does have a few copies if you are interested. I was tempted to pick up one of these copies myself, because I don’t actually have a copy of the original book. My mom does. It’s a book that her Grandfather gave her for Christmas in 1938….everyone called him Pa.

Gabby Gaffer 1

Oh that’s right bet your wondering what the title is. It’s Gabby Gaffer by May Justus. It’s a children’s book with delightful illustrations and a folksy charm. One of the things that makes this book special is adults love reading it and get as much out of it as kids do. They may even get more from reading it. It’s kind of like Winnie the Pooh and the Velveteen Rabbit that way (a couple other of my all-time favorite books..yeah I love children’s books..guess I just have never grown up). When it came time to read these to my own children they were the kind of books that were even more fun and/or poignant to read as an adult than as a kid. I understood so much more and got the more subtle “adult” messages woven into these stories. More than once I would chuckled over the antics of Pooh bear and his friends. It was fun seeing our own all too familiar foibles mirrored in these characters. If we couldn’t see ourselves in the character then we certainly knew someone who acted just like that.

Back to Gabby Gaffer and why it’s a favorite. The book itself is such a delight. I could read and reread it and often do. It teaches without teaching (or preaching or being in your face with the message for that matter).

As a kid, when the furnace went on the blitz (and it often did in that old forest service house), I have fond memories of my two sisters, my brother and I crawling under the bed covers with Mom while she occupied us by reading Gabby Gaffer and other books all day. It was her way of keeping us all warm, cozy, happy, and content. I think she loved having an excuse…to tuck us all in and indulge in her favorite pastime reading books.Gabby Gaffer 2

Then for Christmas ’85, I opened a package from my youngest sister. She had loving taken the original copy of the book and had the book copied in black and white. I believe she used a copy machine. She hand bound the book and covered it with a beautiful print fabric. Then she went back and hand colored each of the pages to resemble the original version of the book. This was before Amazon and the internet. She did attempt to find used copies for each of us, but came up empty handed. So this was her way of keeping the joy of this book (and the memories) alive. Obviously I was deeply touched by her thoughtfulness. I cried tears of joy when I received this gift.Gabby Gaffer 3

Here’s a little snippet from Gabby Gaffer to give you a bit of the flavor of this wonderful book.

“When Gabby Gaffer wasn’t working for somebody or playing with somebody in Unlucky Village, he was walking in the forest by himself. Folks said he went there to throw away his troubles, but if he took any troubles there to throw away, they must have been somebody else’s. for Gabby Gaffer never seemed to claim any for himself.

Everybody said he was the luckiest chap that ever came to the village, and there were those who watched carefully to see if his luck wouldn’t change by and by, but they got small reward to pay them for their patience. Most of the people in the village had sense enough to see that not only was Gabby Gaffer a most unusually lucky chap, but he brought good luck to many other people as well.’

What I didn’t realized until last night was just how much influence this book has had on the writing of my current book Gratitude’s Journey. I’ve incorporated a number of the things I love about Gabby Gaffer in my own book. One similarity is my book is partly a story that teaches without directly teaching. It is the kind of book that children will enjoy and treasure, but it is really intended for the adult reader who is longing to connect with their inner kid. That has been one of the challenges with writing and designing my book. It could be easily be misunderstood. I know there’s a way to solve this…I just haven’t found it yet. Intermingled with the story ….there are also opportunities for the reader to explore their own inner and outer journey through the practice of art journaling aweventures. This book will charm you, inspire you, and give you nine guiding principles that will enrich your life.

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