Inuksuk shows the Way

Posted in Published Works | No Comments »

Guardians of the North

By Barbra Hesson

Canada’s Arctic has three territories:  the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and on April 1, 1999, the Canadian territory of Nunavut was created. It is the largest territory and has one-fifth of the land in Canada. Nunavut is made up of a mainland and many islands in the Arctic Ocean.   The symbol on the Nunavut flag is the Inuksuk (EE-NOOK-SOOK.)

An Inuksuk is a stone pile arranged in the likeness of a person.  It was first built by the Canadian people of the North called the Inuit.  The Inuit have lived in the areas now called Canada, Alaska, and Greenland for thousands of years.

The word Inuksuk means ‘in the image of man.’  It is an extension of the work Inuk which means ‘a human being.’

Legend has it that they were first built by a young Inuit girl to show her father the way home during a snow storm.

The meaning of each rock formation is different.  In the Artic where there are no trees and few land marks they were used as signs, pointing to a good hunting or fishing spot or used to mark where food was stored.  Some were built to help travelers find a safe trail or identify a family home.

Over time the Inuksuk has become a sign of hope and friendship. In appreciation of Canada’s aboriginal heritage the Inuksuk has become the official symbol for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia.  It has been named ILANAAQ, which is the Inuit word for ‘friend.’

The Inuksuk has become a popular image and can be seen along many highways in Canada.

You can build your own Inuksuk wherever you go.  You can leave it on a beach or near a pathway to show that you have enjoyed your stay and welcome others to come.  Or you can build one at home and put it in your garden or on your desk.

How to build your own Inuksuk:

An Inuksuk can be built any size you wish, using as many or as little pieces, and from any kind of stone.  Look for rocks with flat bottoms and tops as they are the best for stacking.  Experiment by piling your stones into different arrangements.

Step 1.  Start with a base to build your Inuksuk; a larger stone with a level surface.

Step 2. On top of this place two leg stones that are the same in height and flat on the top and bottom.

Step 3.  Place one or more stones across the legs to create the body.

Step  4.  Next a long flat stone twice the width of the body creates the arms.  Or you may use two smaller stones which hang over the edge.

Step 5.   Place a heavier piece on top of the arms.  This adds weight and becomes the shoulders.

Step 6.  Look for a round stone for the head.  It is best if it has a slightly flat bottom.

Inuksuit (plural of Inuksuk) were made to fit perfectly and stand tall over many years.  However if you wish to keep yours sturdy you may use white glue that is suitable for crafts with wood, paper, fabric or ceramics.  You may need a helping hand with this, and remember to let it dry for 24 hours before you move it.

My Puppy’s Journey

Posted in Published Works | 2 Comments »

Published: Highlights for Kids

My Puppy’s Journey

My neighbor called me just hours after the puppies were born.
When I first saw them, I was shocked. All the pups looked nearly the same, like a row of guinea pigs in a pet shop.

Right away I spotted the puppy I wanted. She had a stubby nose,
and her eyelids seemed to be glued shut. Her floppy ears
were pressed against her head. Her little legs dangled out
in every direction. She didn’t have much fur yet.
She was beautiful!

I visited her every chance I had. I was amazed at how much she and
her brothers and sisters had to struggle just to stay alive.

For the first three weeks, the pups depended totally on their
mother. They couldn’t even go to the bathroom. The
mother would gently lick their bellies so that the puppies
could relax and relieve themselves. For their meals, they
would suck milk from their mother.

The thing they needed most was warmth, so they nestled close
to their mother’s body.

The breeder kept track of the puppies’ temperatures. Sometimes
she used a heat lamp or heating pad to give them extra warmth.

When my puppy was almost two weeks old, she opened her eyes to
see her new world. A few days later, she was able to control
her own body heat. The muscles in her legs grew stronger.
So did the muscles in her mouth. As I watched my puppy lapping
milk from a bowl, I longed for the day when I could take
her home.

I longed for the day I could take my puppy home.

My puppy was starting to explore everything around her. When she was excited, she would let out a little yip. I spent
hours watching her chase her own tail and shadow.

one month old, my puppy loved to play with her brothers
and sisters. The breeder said that the pups were learning
how to get along in life. Sometimes they would play too
roughly. Their mother would growl and pull them away, but
she never hurt them.

When the puppies’ teeth came in, their mother would throw
up soft food for them to eat. I thought this was disgusting,
but my neighbor said it is a natural part of animal survival.
The breeder also gave mushy dog food to the pups. This got
them used to food that wasn’t from their mother. They
were being weaned from their mother’s milk.

After five weeks, my puppy’s fur had grown in. I was thrilled
to see how she would perk up her ears and wag her tail when
I talked to her. She had just one more step to finish before
I could take her home. She had to learn how to behave around

It was the breeder’s job to get the pups used to people. One at a time, the breeder would bring out the pups to play with her family, who were firm but kind. This taught the pups that humans, like the pups’ mother, are caring and are also in charge.

Finally, after eight long weeks, I was able to take my puppy home. I had watched her grow from a weak and helpless puppy into
an independent little dog. Now she needed me to teach her right from wrong, to love her, and to protect her. I was glad I had decided to bring her into my life. She would truly be my best friend.

Journey’s End

Posted in Published Works | No Comments »

Journey’s End

By Barbra Hesson

Although this story was not published I wanted to include it after my first  article, “A Puppy’s Journey,” which is about my dog, and the miracle of life.

The subject of an animal dying is a touchy one for children, but it is a part of the journey of life we all take together.

Her official Australian Shepherd, Canadian Kennel Club name was “ChinookRidge Myla Minute.” I can still remember the day we brought her home. Her pug nose sniffed every corner and from day one this tiny puppy tried to herd our family around like we were her sheep.

At six months old she broke her leg when she stepped in a gopher hole. She dragged around a pink cast without missing a beat.

In the summer she would chase the bees that buzzed by her face and past our swatting hands, and bite at the water that escaped from the sprinkler heads.

Her appetite was constant and even the tiniest crumb never made it past her lapping tongue. Though we only gave her dog food, she never stopped her quest for the stuff she saw humans gnawing. One time she jumped on the counter and ate a whole uncooked pizza, and though we knew better, we left two perfectly grilled hamburgers with all the fixings unattended and they were gone in seconds. The weirdest thing she ate was a whole bar of ”soap on a rope.” She did leave the rope.

In the wintertime she jumped through the snow like a jackrabbit, diving head first trying to catch whatever she heard scampering underneath. To my surprise one day she emerged with something black and furry. When I screamed she dropped it and it scurried away.

At Christmas she spread cheer throughout the house carrying discarded wrapping and hiding it in spots for us to find later. Her first taste of paper came when I gave her an envelope to carry from the mailbox. After that she was hooked. With her nose to the ground she would push magazines and flyers around until she could pick them up in her mouth and then she would trot around the house as if to say, “look what I got and you can’t get it.” Her favorite toy became an empty toilet paper roll.

Myla was a true friend in every way. She trusted, and loved no matter how many times she was scolded. She lay at our feet in the evening and sprang up to greet us in the morning.

She never slowed down until she got sick. She was about 84 in dog years when she died. It was hard to see her go, and I told my kids it was okay to cry and miss her. I certainly did.

She had taken us all on a wonderful journey.


Posted in Kids Can Write | No Comments »

The character may be what we care about, but the plot is what makes us care.  It is through ACTION that the story is revealed.

Something has to happen that keeps us interested.  A story isn’t about an ordinary day, week or year.  It is about an EXTRAordinary day, week or year.

A plot (the story) is made up of conflicts (problems).  A character wants something he can’t have because of the problem.  Is it because of what is going on around him? Or is it because he is unable to do it?  You’re the writer, what do you want it to be?

Once you have brought the problem out in the open, the next thing to do is to make the character try and solve it.  But there should be a whole bunch of little problems to solve along the way.  Try the “What If…” route.  For example, what if the character falls and breaks his arm, then what if he has to run away from something, and then what if he finds and old bike to make his getaway…. And so on.  This can produce some great ideas.

boyNever make solving the problem easy.

Think about solving the problem in different ways.  Write them down and see where it takes you.

A good example of some “up” and “downs” is the story of Cinderella.

Her life is miserable, then she is invited to the ball, but she has nothing to wear.  She makes a dress herself, and then the sisters tear it up.  She is given chores to do while everyone goes to the ball, but a Fairy Godmother comes and helps her get there.  She meets the prince and falls in love, but the clock strikes twelve and she has to go.  The Prince searches for her and the shoe fits! Yikes what a roller coaster ride, up and down, up and down.

Every writer works differently.  Some outline the whole story, including all the problems and solutions.  Some create and solve the problems as they go along.

Which one are you?  Try them both.  I bet you will come up with a great roller coaster ride of your own.

Point of View – Who is telling the story?

Posted in Kids Can Write | No Comments »

First Person

When the story is told in first person it is like a camera is in the head of the main character.  The character refers to him/her self as “I” and may talk to the reader as “you.”

You don’t know me, but after hearing my story you will.  It all started when I found the ring.

Pretend you are sitting around the campfire telling a story.  It should feel natural.  Use humor and simply tell what the person is thinking and feeling.

The hard part of first person is describing yourself, what do you look like, what is your name.  You cannot say, my face turned red. You cannot see yourself!  Chocolate icing covered my lips. How do you know without looking in a mirror.  You can use that mirror though in a helpful way.

When I looked in the mirror and saw chocolate all over my lips, I wiped it away with my sleeve. (Yuck!)

Try, My little brother called me Mickey, but I like Mike much better.

or:  “Michael Brown,” shouted Mrs. Tingle, “are you paying attention?”

Also, YOU CANNOT REVEAL WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE THINKING!  You may only describe their actions when they are around the main character.

Third Person

1.  This is how most stories are told.The writer describes the main character, calls him/her by name and can tell the reader what he/she is thinking and feeling.

Karen was tall and thin with brilliant red hair and freckles.  Basketball was her favorite thing, and she loved playing on the school team, but today she was having a horrible game.  She felt like she had never played before.

But cannot say what other characters are thinking and feeling.  The writer can only describe what they look like or what they are doing when the main character is around.

2.     Or, the storyteller can get inside EVERYONE’S head and move around from scene to scene describing what everyone is doing.  This is a little harder as it can become confusing.


Setting – Where Are We?

Posted in Kids Can Write | No Comments »

Without giving your reader a good picture of where your story takes place, it is hard to make your story EXCITING!

But be careful not to slow your story down with tons of information that you don’t need.

Is your place real or from your imagination?  How about a little of both?  It is usually easier to think of a real place, describe it from your memory and then add some different scenery to make your reader want to discover more.

Don’t forget we live in a 3-D world.  When describing your place, what does it smell like? What did supper taste like? What sounds can you hear around you? Is there a radio playing, a CD Player?  What do you see, look in all four directions? What are you feeling as you explore your space?  All of these things can be different depending on what season it is.  To get your reader into the story he wants to feel the heat of summer or hear the howling winter wind.

Charlotte’s Web is one of my favorite stories (the book is much better than the movie!)  Even if you have seen the movie read the book now.  It is filled with wonderful images such as:

When they pulled into the Fair Grounds, they could hear the music and see the Ferris wheel turning in the sky.  They could smell the dust of the racetrack where the sprinkling cart had moistened it; and they could smell hamburgers frying and see balloons aloft.  They could hear sheep blatting in their pens.


What is the weather like?

The next day was rainy and dark.  Rain fell on the roof of the barn and dripped steadily from the eaves.  Rain fell on the barnyard and ran in crooked courses down into the lane where thistles and pigweed grew.  Rain splattered against Mrs. Zuckerman’s kitchen window and came gushing out of the downspout.  Rain fell on the backs of the sheep as they grazed in the meadow. (Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White)

Let us see your story, let us enter into your special place and snoop around with your characters as if we are there!

Who Are You?

Posted in Kids Can Write | No Comments »


When we are writing our stories we want to have characters that the reader can see.

We need to describe how a person looks, (facial features, clothing), on the outside as well as on the inside (personality, how do they react to different situations.) Tell us what they are thinking. The reader needs to be interested in the person and should care about what happens to them.

Interviewing a character is a good idea so that YOU really get to know him/her.  How can the reader know the person if you don’t?  You won’t use all the info in your story but it will help you tell the story about them.

Some sample questions:


Age, Birth date, Place

Height, Weight, color of eyes, color of hair, facial features

Father’s name, brother’s, sister’s, mom’s, pets

Address, house description

Mannerisms:  grooming, speech, voice, favorite phrases


Music, Reading, Movies, Sports, Food

Name of School, favorite subject, teachers names


Good at, Bad at

Now that the reader knows your character and cares about them, they want to see what happens and so this person must somehow change in some way by the end of the story, usually for the better.  A bully finds a friend and learns to share, a sad person finds happiness through friends, a goal is achieved.

Other characters in the story matter too, they must get involved in the main person’s transformation.  You can interview them, but don’t focus on trying to change them.

One thing I have done that has been helpful is to find pictures of what I think my characters look like and put them with their interviews.

Good luck finding and creating your special person.

It’s kind of like being Dr. Frankenstein!  Have Fun!

Frequently Asked Questions

Posted in Kids Can Write | No Comments »

In case you don’t know what this means,  it’s “Frequently Asked Questions.”  When I tell students I’m a writer (aren’t we all!) they ask questions.  So here are some answers.

What is the most important thing I need to do to be a writer?

READ!  The more you read the more you will learn how other people put stories together.  You will probably write something that you like to read, so how will you know what that is….unless you read lots.  There are many story types, these are called genres (you say it like “john-ra.”)  Do you want to write a mystery, a comedy, an action adventure, a sad story, a story about life, or history?  Try them all.    What are you doing now?  YOU”RE READING THIS!  Good luck.

Where do you get your ideas?

Well, mostly from life (and again from reading!).  For my first story I wanted to write something that kids like to read.  Working in a library has its advantages because I noticed that a lot of students took out books on dogs.  But it couldn’t be just any old dog story  So I asked myself, “self, what are you interested in?”    The answer to that was…ANGELS.  So I wrote about a dog who was a guardian angel.

In all my stories I remember things that happened to me growing up.  As part of an answer to the first question I would say the second most important thing in writing is to WRITE!  Keeping a journal is a great idea.  It gets you writing and you can keep all those memories to put in your stories later.

How does a book get published?

A writer sends a copy of the story, which is called a manuscript to a company that publishes books.  If it is a novel you would send the first three chapters, information about yourself, and a list of any books that you used in your research.  If it is a manuscript for a picture book you would send the whole thing.  Unless you are a really good artist you would not send drawings for pictures.  If they decided to make your story into a book to sell they would use one of their illustrators.  Unfortunately there are many many many other people trying to get their stories published so your story would have to be better than a lot of the other stories.  I love to write so much that if they don’t want my story and it comes back, then I reread it  to make sure it doesn’t need any changes, and  I send it out again to a different publishing company.  And so on and so on……. (don’t give up!)

Get Carried Away With Books

Posted in Library Bulletin Boards | 1 Comment »

All Season

Posted in Library Bulletin Boards | 3 Comments »





Find the Label