Monday, April 22, 2013

The Stitcher (Part 1 of 2)

*This story may not be suitable to be read to some children
The Stitcher
By Ryan Slattery
“Once upon a time in a swamp beyond the dark forest there dwelt a monster called the Stitcher. He took the remains of dead animals, cut them to pieces, and stitched them together with other animals to make unusual and grotesque creatures, called ‘Stitches.’ Using a mysterious power, he gave life back to the bodies of the Stitches, releasing them into the forest. Travelers and those unlucky enough to be caught in the forest at night report seeing these terrifying beings in the trees, in the ground, and in the air. The poet has said,

With pincers or claws it tunnels or flies,
With one head or two, and how many eyes?
The forest is dark, a mercy of night,
For sight of a Stitch is worst of all sights.”

                The father closed the book and looked at his child, who grasped his sheets lying in bed.

                “Do the Stitches ever leave the forest?” the child asked.

                His father turned his back to the child and walked to the bookshelf. He slid the thin book between the well-worn covers of other favorite tales, and came back to the bed, lowering down to the boy, looking him closely.

                “The Stitches are just a myth,” the father said. “Now go to sleep.”

                The father’s answer pacified the boy, who turned to his side and closed his eyes. The father left the small room, extinguishing the lantern and closing the door. Pale light poured through the window from the moon. Although the boy believed his father, as he drifted into sleep his imagination conceived of a pig with the head of a dog and wings from an eagle. At first the picture made him laugh a little, but the idea that the animals were once dead emerged in his mind and his imagination grew ever more frightening. He tossed in his bed dreaming of such nightmarish creatures. He opened his eyes to refocus his mind. His saw nothing but the pale light of the moon, except a tiny fuzzy dark shape silhouetted against the light of the open window. As his eyes focused on the shadowy figure he saw flapping wings like that of a bat, but with the body of a frog. It had the claws of crow and the tail of a lizard. Its head was that of a mouse and it began to speak as it came closer.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How to Give Your Child a Giant Brain

The science is in. Frequent reading to your children give them the best chance at developing skills essential to succeed in the information age.

Better success in school is not the best reason to read to your child though. Of the many benefits of reading aloud to children, the personal time spent together must rate highest. Life is about relationships, not test scores. Luckily for the results-oriented parents out there, this is a great way to get the best of both worlds.

About half of children 3 to 5 years old are read to on a daily basis. That's encouraging, but also leaves room for great improvement! Time to take stock: how important is reading to your child to you?

Leave a comment - How important do you think reading to your children is? What are the difficulties in reading to your children?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Daughters of Midnight (Part 2 of 2)

Daughters of Midnight (the Conclusion)
by Ryan Slattery

(Click here for Part 1)
Celeste was in heaven. For the first time in her life, she took a warm leisurely bath with salts and bubbles and perfumes and lotions. As she bathed she pondered what dress to wear when she finished, a pristine white one, long and flowing, or a dark red one, or a midnight black one. When she dried and dressed she sat for an hour brushing her own hair and looking at herself in the mirror. She was beautiful.

She didn’t give a second thought to poor Alessa, and neither did anyone else. Of course, everyone noticed how strangely the princess was acting, but it didn’t really bother anyone. She looked exactly like the Alessa after all. In the past the princess was seen with a book or on her horse, but these days she was trying on dresses, putting on makeup, and flirting with the men of the castle. It was unusual, but not alarming, especially not to the men, who rather enjoyed it. Even the Queen was fooled. The heavenly week passed like a cloud drifting past the sun.

On the seventh day, at midnight, Celeste laid softly in her comfortable bed. She would have went to see Loreena, but it was cold and raining outside. Surely her mother would understand, it just wouldn’t be something a princess should do. As she fell into sleep she dreamed of her mother’s house and her arrival at midnight. “Welcome home, my obedient child,” Loreena said mockingly, “tell me, how have you enjoyed your time in the castle?”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Confessions of a Marathon Drop-out

* This is not a usual fairytale/bedtime story update. Those come on Mondays.
I'm terrible at running. In high school I was always last on long runs. My companions at the back were the smokers. I wasn't overweight, I didn't have bad knees, no asthma and no medical problems. I just plain stunk.

In 2009 I got pudgy. I'm a skinny guy. I always have been and I knew if I got fat on me it would all go to my belly and I would have the pregnant-man-look. I started doing aerobics and lifting weights. I did this for a month before I learned that calories burned during aerobics was nothing compared to calories burned while running. Let's not waste time now, I thought. I got on the couch to 5k program, signed up for a 5k and started climbing that hill.

After my first 5k (I never stopped to walk once!) and then a 10k, I did something stupid. I wanted to push myself. Up the hill! The next step was the half-marathon. I was lucky, from 5k to 10k I had a friend who ran with me each race. We didn't always train together, but we always raced together, that is, until the half-marathon.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Daughters of Midnight (Part 1 of 2)

Daughters of Midnight
by Ryan Slattery

Evil stains in different hues,
Return to white by sin refused,
Never trust a witch’s spell,
A blessing yes, but a curse as well.

Once upon a time in a far off kingdom there was noble King. He loved his wife dearly, but sadly they were unable to have children. The King desperately desired to have a daughter and one night stole off into the night to secretly consult the dark witch, Loreena. As he journeyed the swamp lit a sickly green by the fire of his torch; he then knew he was near. Her house was surrounded by the dead remains of birds, reptiles, and some animals unknown to the King, but he resolved to entreat the witch for a daughter nonetheless. He came to the door and knocked. When Loreena opened the door the King fell to his knees and said, “Dark witch, I am Darius, and although I am the King I come to you on my knees for a favor.”

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lost in the Maze - an Easter Egg Hunt

Lost in the Maze
By Ryan Slattery

Once upon a time there was a wealthy King. His daughter’s birthday was coming up and he asked her what she would like. The girl reminded her father how much she loved puzzles and riddles. The King went off quickly and secretly built the largest hedge maze of all the kingdoms of the Earth. It was so vast that many of the King’s men became lost in it while they were building it!

                On the birthday of his daughter the King held a huge party in her honor. Many of her friends came and they brought gifts of every size, but none as large as the maze of the King. After celebrating and eating cake, it was finally time for the King to reveal the maze to his daughter. He blindfolded her and brought her up to a high balcony. Then he removed the blindfold so that she could see just how big the maze was. The sight was such a surprise to her that she squealed in delight.

                The King brought her down from the balcony and said to the girl and her friends, “There are many entrances, but only one exit. The first to find the prize at the end of the exit will have won the maze-race.”

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Flute of Edellos


The Flute of Edellos
By Ryan Slattery

There was once a wood elf named Edellos. He enjoyed nothing more than making music and dancing. Because he had so much fun he gathered to himself many friends who would sing and dance with him. He was greatly loved and everyone spoke well of him.

One winter’s night the wood elves built a fire and Edellos began to play his flute and dance. The elves cheered and clapped and danced and yelled. This night the clamor from the festival was so great that it carried a distance off to a cave inhabited by Jwar, the violent enemy of the elves. The noise was so pounding that it woke the great bear from his hibernation far earlier than he wanted. He awoke and crashed off angrily to put an end to this horrible interruption.