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The Gracie Press Newsletter - Gifts Wrapped In Friendships

The Gracie Press Newsletter - Gifts Wrapped In Friendships
Next week, our first book in the Once Through A Garden Gate series will be available! What a long journey this has been, but well-worth it for all we have learned.
Yes, PeeP! is a catchy little title. Yes, it is about adorable chickens growing up and having fun adventures. Yes, there is a full-page illustration for every chapter. Yes, you can learn some interesting words in the Chicken language that might come in handy one day. But why should anyone read this book?
Perhaps one of the best reasons to read this book is for none of those reasons. It is an opportunity to think about and make sense of the world and the part of life we call friendships.
As the back cover says…“Life often sends the gifts we most need wrapped in friendships.”

Back Cover for “PeeP!”
Back Cover for “PeeP!”
This Book Is About Kinds Of Friendships
Gracie has three major friendships with other chickens in PeeP! Here is how Gracie described two of those friendships just before Lefty had to move out to the country.
Somehow, Gracie knew Leftie would be leaving soon. Maybe Lefty had told her. Maybe she had guessed from the way I was acting.
“Wherever you take him, be sure it is a place where there is hope,” she said. “Everyone needs hope.”
“He turned out to be a good friend to you, didn’t he?”
“With Bessie, it had been so easy to become friends. It was something I never had to think about. It just happened. But with Lefty, it was different. He had made fun of me. He had teased me. He was the last one I ever thought would be my friend, but when we danced together that first day in front of everyone, we started to slowly become friends. What we both enjoyed connected our hearts.”
It took time for Gracie’s heart to mend after Lefty and the others moved out to the country, leaving only Bessie and herself. Finally, they were able to ask for new friends. But life did not give them the friends they wanted (They wanted more friends like Lefty and the others). Life gave them Blanche and Pearl. Blanche was fine, but there has never been a chicken like Pearl. Gracie’s friendship with Pearl was a different kind of friendship. It was based on a decision.
But Gracie had asked for new friends who would not move away, and life had given us Blanche and Pearl. Gracie had decided in her heart to be Pearl’s friend. No matter what Pearl did or didn’t do and whether she ever fit in or not, Gracie was going to be her friend. 
What Gracie did not realize was that Life had given her the friends she needed. Pearl would turn out to be an important friend who helps Gracie achieve something she could not have achieved otherwise.
This Book Asks But Does Not Answer “Why?”
Even though one entire section is titled “BuH-HuB?” which means “Why?” in the Chicken language, it does not answer that question. “Why?” is often the most difficult question to answer.
Only Gracie and Bessie remained. Although they never said it to me, I knew both were wondering if one of them would be the next to go.
From time to time, they would have quiet conversations together. The only word I ever heard them say clearly was “BuH-HuB?” Whenever I came over to join them, they always seemed to find something to do somewhere else.
Their questions were likely the same as mine. Why does life give us the gift of friends who will one day leave us? Why didn’t anyone warn us that taking someone into our hearts is risky? There did not seem to be any answers.
And the narrator does not give them any answers to “Why?” They will figure it out for themselves using their own “chicken wisdom.”
Why This Book Does Not Answer “Why?”
What follows is true, but it is not in PeeP! Nevertheless, this definitely influenced the story during rewriting.
For twenty years, I taught elementary school in an inner city system. Being a city with a naval base and next to several other large cities, the population was transient. But one year in the 1980’s, something different happened.
There was a new boy in my class who joined us a few weeks into September after the school year had already started. He was a fine-looking boy and very well-mannered. He was also very sociable. Although new, he fit right in with the other boys and was always chosen first when we played kickball at recess. Several girls secretly had crushes on him too.
We had a Halloween party that year at the end of the week. He brought Hawaiian Punch which came in big cans back then, not plastic jugs like now. And he also brought an opener for the two big Hawaiian Punch cans. (Just so you know, Hawaiian Punch was hugely popular back then, and everyone wanted some.) We all had a great time with lots of “Happy Trick Or Treat” wishes.
When I got to school the next Monday, the secretary in the office called me aside and told me that he would not be coming back. His father, an angry man who took his anger out on his family, had found where the boy and his mother had been living, and they had to leave in the middle of the night with only what they could carry. There was no way we at the school could reach them. No way we could help them.
But you don’t tell things like that to young children. You can only say that their friend had a family emergency and had to leave. You don’t say they left for fear of being hurt.
There are so many “Why?” questions in that one boy’s story that may never be answered. It was a very rare occurrence all of those many years ago, but times have changed.
Some of his friends in class told me about how they were handling the sadness they felt. Their words are incorporated into what you will read in a turning point near the end of PeeP! The only real difference is that Gracie and Bessie will say those words.
Hopefully during the short time he spent with us, we were “the gifts wrapped in friendships” that he needed the most during an all-too-short resting period in his young life.
I still have the can opener he left.
Story Helps Us Make Sense Of The World
Until Next Time…
A huge “Welcome!” to everyone who has recently signed up for our newsletter. We appreciate the trust you have placed in us, and we will do our best to make this a worthwhile newsletter for you. 
Thanks so much for reading!
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