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The Gracie Press Newsletter - A Touch Of Non-Fiction?

The Gracie Press Newsletter - A Touch Of Non-Fiction?
We will soon be sending off our files for a proof copy of The Shoebox.
In the meantime, we thought we would share some special pages with you that we have been working on in our spare time. If they make it into the book, they will be placed at the end, with a long and fancy-sounding name like “Special Pages from The Unabridged Encyclopedic Dictionary of The Chicken Language.”
Below are some sample pages along with some story excerpts to show how they relate to the plot (if you are a new subscriber or just need a memory jogger).
I have mixed feelings about including them in The Showbox. They may not enhance the story and the reading experience at all…or they may enhance it tremendously. I’m just not sure.
See what you think, and let us know, okay?

Pages For Chicken Language Secrets
Pages For General Fun Information
Over time, my ears learned to pick out Gracie’s peeping because when she peeped, the sound always made my heart happy. Whatever “Peep!” meant to a chicken, Gracie always said it with more joy and gratitude than any of the others.
Even with knowing Gracie’s voice, one “Peep!” sounded like every other “Peep!” to me. Before long, all the baby chicks were not only peeping, they were cheeping too. And, of course, those all sounded the same as well.
But I did wonder if there was a difference between “Peep!” and “Cheep!” As silly as it seemed to me at the time, maybe they were real chicken words with different meanings. 
As I learned to focus on only what Gracie said, I noticed her peeps to Bessie were not all the same. One “Peep!” no longer sounded like every other “Peep!” to me. Something was just a little different. The same was true for when she said “Cheep!” This was quite curious, and I was determined to learn more.
“I can help you figure it out if you are not sure how.”
“You are very smart, Lefty. But it makes me feel like I’m taking part in what you enjoy. I can’t do the dancing part like you. I have two left feet.”
Bessie came over to us. She had been listening and looked as if she might cry.
“Is that why you always wear shoes and socks? So no one will see you have two left feet instead of a left foot and a right foot?”
“I guess you could say that.”
“Well, it’s not your fault,” she said. “Things like that happen. You must have just hatched that way. No one should blame you or make fun of you for it. Certainly none of us would.”
   Lefty patted my knee with his wing.
“Don’t feel bad,” he said, trying to console me. “You have two left feet, and I have two Lefty feet.”
And for some reason, we all thought that was the funniest thing we had heard in a very long time.
Those really were some of our happiest days together.
Maybe A Dance Page Or Two
Gracie took a deep breath and asked the question building in her heart. “Will you show me how to dance like the people in the posters?”
“I was waiting for you to ask that question. Songbirds love questions. Those pictures do not move, not even a little. They are like how we birds play The Frozen Statues Game when we see a cat who does not see us. 
“But I will show you how to make the frozen statues. You will have to figure out how to move from one frozen statue to another. I do not know that part, but I will share all I know with you.”
The sunlight danced in The Robin’s eyes as if there was a secret waiting to be told. Then she added, “It is what we songbirds do.”
“I can figure the joining up parts myself,” said Gracie. “I have dancing in my heart.”
“Then that will be the easy part for you, but you must also make The Bigger Scary Thing be no more. That part may not be so easy.”
And Definitely Some Science Pages
After breakfast, they gathered in the play area. The four chickens all sat on the perching board facing the towel-covered pumpkin, and I sat behind it. They were filled with expectation, and I hoped they would not be disappointed.
“Yesterday, our own Bessie laid her first egg,” I began.
Everyone raised their wings in congratulations.
“And even though the pumpkin seeds were bigger than we had expected…”
Everyone nodded in disappointment.
“…Bessie helped me to roast them to perfection!”
Everyone flapped their wings in anticipation.
“She also had a brilliant idea for an invention. An invention that just may change all of our lives.”
Everyone was silent, wondering what it could be.
“It is a television with no sound so it won’t keep anyone awake, and it is fun for people and chickens to watch. Best of all, chickens can make it work and eat it when the show is over!”
The others all looked at Bessie, and she nodded to show that was really what she had said even though she had no idea what was under the big towel.
Everyone edged forward on their perch. Pearl looked as if she would fall forward at any moment.
“Ladies, I present to you The Pumpkin Puppet Theater!”
I whisked off the towel to reveal Bessie’s invention, and everyone clucked with astonishment.
“There is a little chicken in there,” said Gracie. “And look! She is wearing a ballet crown like a princess!”
“Where are the roasted pumpkin seeds?” asked Blanche.
“It’s not time for that part,” I said. “Now watch.”
Behind the stem was a bead tied to a main cord that went through the top of the pumpkin. It was attached to the puppet’s crown. The puppet’s wings and legs had a set of cords attached to another main cord that went through the pumpkin to another bead on the bottom.
As I pulled on the top bead, the chicken puppet began to move. Its wings flapped up and down, and its legs kicked out and in.
Except for Blanche, everyone was delighted beyond words. “Did that chicken eat all of our roasted pumpkin seeds?” she asked. “I thought there were supposed to be roasted pumpkin seeds.”
“Shh!” said Pearl. “What if she did? She is doing a dance for us.”
“And she is smaller than any of us,” added Gracie. “She may need them to grow some more.”
Even Blanche had to agree with that.
Pages Featuring Special Words From The Chicken Language
So What Do You Think?
I can see how some of these pages in black and white added at the end might enhance this book. But I am concerned that they would detract from the story. They really are not necessary to understanding and enjoying the story. They might even take away from the story.
I can also see these pages made into a shorter book (64 pages or less) and completely in color. (I do love color pictures!) It could also include pages for a “Worm Olympics” game board with playing pieces, a “Dancing Chicken Puppet” to make, and a “Celebration Salad” recipe page as activities for readers to do.
With this second alternative, we would have a fiction book and a non-fiction book. That would be like having one book for the heart and one book for the mind. One book might encourage readers to try the other book too.
It’s a tough call for me to make. In the meantime, as readers and parents or grandparents of potential readers, what do you think?
Until Next Time…
This week, we mailed out Third Anniversary notecard gifts to everyone who responded to last week’s newsletter. We fulfilled all of the requests we received, but if you received last week’s newsletter, it’s still not too late to request yours if you haven’t already!
We really do appreciate our fans, and remember sometimes you may need to take a leap of faith, but Gracie is your friend. So hug a chicken, and be what only you can be…yourself! When you do, you can dance your greatest dance!
Thanks so much!
John, Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia
Did you enjoy this issue?
John Spiers (with help from Gracie)

The Gracie Press Newsletter brings you the latest news, stories, illustrations, special offers, and free gifts from Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia. They are the inspiration behind all of the books published under The Gracie Press imprint.

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From A Small Backyard Garden and A Most Wondrous Place in Portsmouth, Virginia