Category Archives: Frenchie Series

TENDER TUESDAYS

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MEET INSPIRATION

AN APOLOGY TO MY FOLLOWERS: I know this isn’t Tender Tuesday or Wacky Wednesday, and not even Theatrical Thursday… Please accept my apology for publishing this on Freaky Friday! (I’ve been a little busy….)

Many of you may not be aware that I’m in process of publishing my first Picture Book! I waited for months to have the carefully chosen publishers respond to my query and tell me how anxious they were to get the project to print. I dreamt of bidding wars over my manuscripts- seriously! You’re shaking your head right now, thinking another disillusioned novice gets a dose of reality. Not exactly! I have had some experience with publishing in a former segment of my life and after retiring from my full-on career as an IB principal- threw myself into writing 3 humorous Middle Grade novels (the Frenchie Series). (I’m being cheeky here and pointing out that they’re listed in the blog roll to the right of this post with links to Amazon and Red Tuque Books- just in case you’d like to check them out… ha!)

I was in a BIG rush to break into the book publishing world at that point and just couldn’t wait around for publishers to acknowledge receipt of my manuscript (MEANING: those that would even consider glancing at an unsolicited manuscript). That’s right, I never looked too hard for a literary agent. I figured I had researched enough and through my amazing educational career with literacy, knew which publishers would be ideal for my books. Well, wasn’t that a bit of a shock when they didn’t immediately call, upon receipt of my query packets, to offer a contract?

At that point, I thought I could make it work on my own, so I published with CreateSpace (self-publishers associated with Amazon). Let’s just say, I’m not sure anyone actually found my novels, even though they promised great distribution, if authors did all the right things. I totally worked diligently, booking readings, setting up a website, blog , twitter accounts, and Pinterest boards. I put my ebooks out on Smashwords, as well as Kindle, so that it would be available on all e-reader platforms. I found a Canadian Distributor (Red Tuque Books) and purchased ads for catalogues and literary newspapers, etc. I set up tables at X’mas and summer markets, and the list goes on…

What was the lesson learned from all that effort? THE BOOK BUSINESS is a difficult one to break into (near impossible, in fact, no matter how many webinars you watch, How To books you buy, subscriptions you have to Writers Digest, Book Baby, Canadian Children’s Book Center, etc.). However, in spite of all that, I still had to listen to my inner voice that was saying, “Hey Mary, do you think you’re a writer?” The answer is YES! And I had one particular story going through my mind, ever since I started sailing the Pacific North-West in my late 40’s on our TwoCan Catalina sailboat. I knew I had to publish it, and as I wrote this picture book, at the core of the inspiration were the delightful cartoons that were created and published monthly by Pacific Yachting Magazine’s COCKPIT CONFESSIONS’ cartoonist. Each vignette for this repetitive language picture book, had to have an amusing twist that would engage children, as well as parents and grandparents, and the entire boating community. The day I set up a meeting with Dave Alavoine in Starbucks in North Vancouver, was a day I’ll never forget.

Dave and I gave each other hints for how we’d recognize one another. (I had already been on the web looking at his past shows of his political cartoons, so I assumed I had a bit of an advantage.) But no, he was the one who figured out it was me- could it have been the meeting agendas laid out or the stack of my Frenchie novels, that gave me away? I chuckle to myself when I reminisce about that first meeting. I left it feeling like I was walking on air. He was such a lovely man and could visualize what I was looking for in the cartoons as we went through the text (which laid the context) and the action and dialogue I envisioned for each of the 23 images. Although, he was already committed to another book deal (Learn to Sail the Hard Way) and, of course, had monthly commitments with Pacific Yachting Magazine, he agreed to collaborate with me on OUR project, WHO’S the CAPTAIN?

This is the image that will be used on the cover of our book (I thought you might just like to have a sneak preview …)

Cover_004In my next installment I’ll explore more of the “tender moments” that transpired between Dave and Mary in their collaboration process of this awesome picture book that is on its way to becoming a reality! The core element to the success of this project has been INSPIRATION!

I know many of you who read my TENDER TUESDAYS have inspirational stories of you own. I would be so grateful if you would click on LEAVE a COMMENT below this post and leave your story. I promise to respond to all comments that are left. It enriches our experience, when one shares their thoughts with us. Please do!

 

 

AUTHOR VOICE

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(Catalogue Article Submission to Red Tuque Books)

 WRITING with VOICE

by Mary Laudien

During my career as an educator/principal, I was innovative in structuring and implementing Writers’ Workshop in West Vancouver schools. The success that the students experienced by taking risks and realizing their potential as writers was brought home years later, when one of my earlier Grade One classes held a Grade 12 graduation party with their parents, and invited my former teaching partner and I to attend. The families wanted to acknowledge that they recognized how their confident children/learners had been so successfully launched in their school careers and were all anticipating exciting post secondary plans for their future. Writers’ Workshop was a powerful tool to bring parent involvement into the classroom as the students were immersed with excellent models through published authors and illustrators, and even their teacher! That’s right! I first started writing stories for my students (and parents), just to model that I loved writing, as well, and was excited to be a risk-taker!

What became a self-knowledge piece for these young writers was VOICE. Through examining the styles of  writers/illustrators, they recognized the patterns that authors use in structuring picture books (eg., cumulative, problem-solving, rhyme and rhythm, chronological, etc.). As well, after studying published picture books through Author Studies, a new story could be introduced and the students were able to identify who wrote the book, based on the VOICE of the writer. This became something that the students strove to develop in their own early writing attempts. When sharing their own published books on Author Podium days, they took pride when a peer acknowledged their success in writing with VOICE.

Now that I publish my own middle grade novels (The Frenchie Series), picture books (Who’s the Captain?), and blog posts, I feel gratified when a reader comments that my writing has a distinct VOICE. This is when I know that my personal style is coming through my work. Authors all have it. And you can find your VOICE, as well!

As just one final tip, if you want to hear your personal VOICE in your writing, you need to constantly do the Author Mumble. This means read your writing aloud, so that you can hear it. You’ll discover a lot about your style and voice through the dialogue flow that you’ve created and the personality traits of your characters.

You might care to know what words I’d use to describe my personal voice. They include: tender, cheeky, amusing with a bit of attitude, and personal.

As you check out my site: FUN HAPPENS-KIDLIT & BLOGS with ATTITUDE, I’d appreciate it if you left me a comment or two pertaining to VOICE.  Don’t hesitate to go back into the  archives (on side panel) as there are numerous examples of cheekiness- I promise!!  Thanks for dropping in.

 

AUTHORS in BLOOM BLOG HOP

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5th Annual Authors in Bloom Blog Hop

Thursday April 7th – Saturday 16th 2016

10 Days of Giveaways-Gardening Tips-Recipes-and More!

Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015

 Plus a GRAND PRIZE you’ll be digging to win!

The 5th Annual AUTHORS in BLOOM is finally here!  I’m so excited to welcome you to FUN HAPPENS! As you realize, not all authors are particularly great gardeners or cooks, but we do our best to leave you a little something… My recipe is simple and delicious. It’s a raspberry pie that when heated and served with a scoop of ice cream, makes for a yummy ending to a lovely dinner.

FRESH RASPBERRY PIE (from Thrifty’s Fresh Summer Magazine)

Prep Time 20 minutes (You like it already, right?)

raspberry pie

YUMMY!

Cooking Time: 50-55 minutes

Makes: 1 pie (8 servings)

  • 6 cups fresh raspberries (from you garden if you’re a gardener…ha!)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (makes the raspberries taste tart, not sweet)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tenderflake, deep-dish, double -crust pie shell
  • 1 tsp.granulated sugar

Set the oven rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 425 degrees F. Place the raspberries, sugar, flour, and lemon juice in a bowl and toss to combine (Don’t worry if you crush some of the berries). Let stand for 15 minutes. Brush the bottom pie shell all over with some of the beaten egg to provide a seal between the filling and the crust. (I NEVER knew to do this before…) Spoon and spread the berries into the pie shell and top with the butter pieces.  Brush the edges of the pie with beaten egg. Set on the top crust and crimp the edges to seal. Brush the top of the pie with remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with 1 tsp. granulated sugar. Cut a small hole in the center of the pie to allow steam to escape.  Bake the pie for 10 minutes. reduce the heat to 250 degrees F and bake until golden brown, about 35- 40 minutes more.

This is a picture of my gardening skills from one of my archived blogs entitled, GONE BOY! (May 18, 2015)   (Now you  know why I’m leaving you a recipe, instead of a gardening tip!)                                                               

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WHY, OH WHY ? Where’s the GREEN?!

AUTHOR SITE GIVE-AWAY

Frenchie Tee-SHIRT

YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT…

Everyone (from the USA and Canada)  visiting  FUN HAPPENS! throughout the 10 day blog hop, has the opportunity to enter my Author Site Giveaway.  I love everything FRENCH!  I’m gaga over French bulldogs! I’m proud of my middle grade FRENCHIE SERIES ! And I love Banana Republic summer tee-shirts; especially the ones with an adorable Frenchie on the front.  That’s right, enter the giveaway draw (a $35. value) by doing 2 things:     1. leave a comment below with your email address (so I can contact you if your name is drawn for the giveaway) and, 2. refer FUN HAPPENS! to someone else that you believe would enjoy my site and participating in the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop. The link is: https://www.twocandobooks.wordpress.com                    

GRAND PRIZE ENTRY

Now that you’ve found my blog, #33 on the link list of  authors (found below for your convenience) and have left your comment with an email for my author giveaway, you can keep moving through all the other author sites.  Feel free to visit www.diannevenetta.com/events/ each time you’re ready to visit your next author site, as well. Grand prize entrants will be entered via a rafflecopter giveaway widget, available on the initial (Dianne Venetta’s site) and final landing page of this hop, located on BloominThyme.  All entries (and actions) will be verified to deem winners.  The grand prize is an ereader of your choice (up to $200 value). A second prize is a $25. gift card of the winner’s choice of ebook retailer.  Good Luck! And thanks so much for your visit!

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SCHOLASTIC SURVEY: WHAT TWEENS WANT IN BOOKS

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Nanoose Library X'mas Sale

Nanoose Library X’mas Sale

It’s that shopping time of year when you’re looking for some fun, engaging reads for your TWEEN-aged (9-12 year old) kids or grand kids to enjoy over the holiday season. SCHOLASTIC has a report coming out in the new year, but they released a chart recently that summarized their findings.  This is what kids aged 6-17 said they want from the books they read:

1.  MAKE ME LAUGH      (70%)

2. LET ME USE MY IMAGINATION        (54%)

3. TELL ME A MADE-UP STORY        (48%)

4.  HAVE CHARACTERS I WISH I COULD BE LIKE BECAUSE THEY’RE SMART, STRONG, OR BRAVE        (43%)

5.  TEACH ME SOMETHING NEW          (43%)

6.  HAVE A MYSTERY OR PROBLEM SOLVE          (41%)

Kids (9-11) want books that have a mystery or a problem to solve.

Kids (12-14) want books with smart, strong or brave characters.

This is useful information for parents, grandparents, and teacher librarians that continue to promote the reading habit with their tweens and young teens, after the primary years. As the author of the Frenchie Series, I felt validated knowing that my three Middle Grade novels fit the criteria for what TWEENS are looking for when choosing books that will entertain and hook them in. This age group can relate to Ethan, the main character, who would do ANYTHING to own a French bulldog. These contemporary fiction novels have tweens chuckling aloud as they join Ethan in his misadventures and schemes through his nightly Frenchie’s Best Friend (FBF) blog followers who are as “gaga” over Frenchies, as he is!

The Frenchie Series is a timely read for the holiday season for all TWEENS (aged9-12).  If your tweens are reading eBooks- you may want to check out the Kindle Countdown Deal on Amazon for Bk. #1 – Frenchie’s Best Friend- Follow the Blog (the ebook has been reduced from $2.99 to$0.99 from Dec. 12th-Dec.19th) .Paperbacks are also available at all Amazon sites:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0053HQ0AO

FBF without Spine

The Kindle Countdown Deal on Amazon for Bk. #2Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog (the eBook has reduced from  $2.99 to $0.99) from Dec. 19th to Dec. 26th):

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007BG2ETG

Frenchie X2 Cover

Bk. #3 of the Frenchie Series: Frenchie Diva- Follow the Blog is available in Kindle eBook and paperback format from all Amazon sites:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GXIW57E

14549732_Frenchie Diva Cover JPG( 4341595 ) copy

Anyone wishing to purchase the paperback series in Canada can order directly from my Canadian Distributor: http://www/redtuquebooks.ca

HAPPY HOLIDAY READING with your TWEENS!

Knowing your TWEEN’S reading preferences, as you do, are you in agreement with the Scholastic survey summary?  I’d love to hear your opinions or those of your children/grandchildren/ or students.  Please leave me a note in the comment section.  And if you should take advantage of the Kindle Countdown Deals and purchase the Frenchie Series, please do leave a short review comment on Amazon for other readers to find.  I’d love to hear whether you agree with me that the series meets the criteria of what tweens are looking for in the books they choose!

 

“WE DAY” INSPIRATION

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Yesterday, October 22nd, WE DAY was celebrated at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Youth from all over the province earned the right to attend and celebrate their actions towards changing the world.

It caused me to pause and reminisce to five years ago, as a principal accompanying some of West Bay’s Grade 6& 7 leaders to the first WE DAY in Vancouver. It was a powerful experience to hear from world leaders and ethical change agents immersed in making a difference in their communities and the world. Marc and Craig Kielburger (the co-founders of Free The Children) compelled the audience to become engaged activists with an awareness of global issues and the compassion to build a better world. The WE DAY experience inspires youth to develop the confidence and social skills required to be part of the ME TO WE GENERATION. Craig Kielburger introduced and had a conversation with the Dalai Lama that day. The Dalai Lama explained his beliefs in this way, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” It was a message that united all of the religious beliefs of audience members. Human kindness is a concept and virtue of which any age group can relate. The Dalai Lama’s goal has been to “raise the next generation to be calm and confident, compassionate, peaceful and kind, and engaged with each other and their studies to make the world a better place.” (Vancouver Sun, Oct. 18th, p. A8)

Having that experience with WE DAY and nurturing the International Baccalaureate’s Mission Statement as our compass, West Bay students had confidence – building experiences, raising funds for a school and well in Liberia, sponsoring a book drive to fill the library, and much more.

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

Upon retiring, I have written three novels in a tween Frenchie Series. In Book #2, Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog, the adolescent main character, Ethan, gets involved in a fundraising scheme by joining a school leadership team. Ethan doesn’t see himself as a leader, much less someone who could bring about positive changes to make a difference. The novel is a humorous story about a boy growing up and becoming more confident and self-aware. The series is humorous, while it deals with the teenage angst that youth go through at this stage. This is a short Pet Blog excerpt from Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog:

Frenchie X2 Cover

Blog: Fundraising King!

I can’t stop grinning. The Doggie Boutique Day was my idea and it turned out to be a really good one. Not only did the whole thing actually go off without any major glitches (meaning no one got scalded making tofu dogs or bitten while washing dogs), and if my Doggie Wash Station is any indication, I think we’ll have cleared thousands today. And that feels GOOD! It isn’t just about the cash; it’s about making the money to help those disadvantaged kids in Liberia. I can’t get over how great I feel about being part of the solution.

My Mom couldn’t stop talking about the event when she returned home with the puppies. She was blown away by the organization and variety of goods and services that the school provided. The thing that impressed her most was that the kids at our school had done it all and that they had followed through and participated selflessly on a Saturday. The fact that her son was the brainchild of the initiative just made her ecstatic. She’s been on the phone for two hours straight calling all our relatives to brag about her son- me Ethan. Can you believe it? Now that makes me feel like a winner! (The problem is that this will be short-lived, once I have the nerve to present her with my report card. That’s why I intend to milk this for awhile.)

And what of the puppies? What was the highlight of their day? Well, Pierre’s been tearing around the house costumed as Elvis in a gold sequined suit with a cape flying behind him. And Sissy is wearing a pink beret (that stays on her head at an angle with elastic) and a tight tiger-skin fake fur jacket. I think the costumes may be a little much, but they’ll look cute on Halloween at the Doggie Park. I’m surprised that they love their outfits. It never occurred to me that they would enjoy wearing them, but Pierre won’t stand still long enough to get his off; I think he likes the cape flying as he races through the house. And Sissy, she actually gave me a baby growl when I dared to take her beret off her head. Too funny!

Mom picked up this pink leather halter thing with lots of bling all over it. She keeps calling it Sissy’s bra… I personally think it looks ridiculous and let me tell you…. Sissy is not excited about putting the thing on. She refuses to lift her front paws so that Mom can slide it up and fasten it. I don’t blame her, why would a puppy want to wear a bra? What’s gotten into my mom? What was she thinking?

Too much excitement for one day, I’m beat and just want to crawl into bed and dream about our big success.

High on Himself New Papa,
Frenchie’s Best Friend

Whenever I present readings and author workshops to classes in Grades 4-7, my visits become a school fundraiser. They receive 25% of all book sales to donate to their favorite charity or their local SPCA. It is another way to raise funds to give back to one’s community.
If you are an educator or parent, interested inspiring your tweens to become kind, confident global citizens, these novels may be right for them.
To purchase the paperbacks of Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog in Canada for your tween or school, go to:
http://www.redtuquebooks.ca/publishers/books/distribution/180

Amazon for  paperback and/or ebook:
US:  http://www.twocandobooks.com/out.php?a=B007BG2ETG&l=us&s=a
If you would like to follow up with an author visit at your school or library, leave an email contact in the comments section below. I live on Vancouver Island and am in the Portland, Oregon area often. I would love to hear back from you regarding your leadership efforts and successes to help make a difference in our world. Did any of my readers attend the ME to WE Day in Vancouver yesterday? What was your experience? Please do tell me about it!

OKANAGAN TWEENS READ

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PeachfestKiddieParade

Okanagan TWEENS are readers. The  THE CHILDREN’S PARADE at PEACH FEST  this summer highlighted the array of wonderful, rich stories and novels that Canadian authors have currently published. This picture of TWEENS sharing my 3 Frenchie novels in the KIDS PARADE, made me realize that there are so many Middle Grade readers (ages 9-13) who don’t even know that these titles are available in paperback or ebook format. Red Tuque Books distribute the paperbacks of the three novels in the series in Canada. Just click on: http://www.redtuquebooks.ca

Amazon Stores/Book Links

You only have to click on the country you live and you will have access to Kindle formats or paperback of Frenchie Diva (Book #3) If you want Book #1 and #2- just search for them: Frenchie’s Best Friend– Follow the Blog & Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog

Australia   https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00GXIW57E

Japan    https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00GXIW57E

Germany   https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00GXIW57E

Mexico     https://www.amazon.com.mx/dp/B00GXIW57E

Italy   https://www.amazon.it/dp/B00GXIW57E

UK    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00GXIW57E

Canada   https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00GXIW57E

Spain   https://www.amazon.es/dp/B00GXIW57E

India     https://www.amazon.in/dp/B00GXIW57E

Brazil   https://www.amazon.com.br/dp/B00GXIW57E

France  https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B00GXIW57E

USA   http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GXIW57E

If you would like to order Book #1 or Book #2 in any other ebook format, go to: https://www.smashwords.com

 What do readers say about the Frenchie Series?

One Mom recently wrote: “My daughter has been ploughing through books this summer and discovered your Frenchie ‘s Best Friend novel. She has been reading it to her brother and they are both laughing their way through. I have banned any more pets that poop or have fur in our house. So my kids are liking the book and all the angles to getting a pet.”

One TWEEN wrote: “During the presentation at Okanagan Elementary, I learned Mary Laudien is a very inspiring writer; her books are humorous, smart, creative, and satisfying. Right now I am reading the third book of the series, Frenchie Diva. So far this book is amazingly entertaining, and very relatable.

The book reminds me of when I had a basset hound back in England, called Wellington, for first time (in my life) I saw snow, same for Wellington. It only snowed about an inch but, to me it was like a miracle, and same for my dog! The things he did in it were hilarious, and it was a great experience.”

 One teacher wrote: “I had such fun reading about Ethan’s full-speed-ahead plans for getting his French Bulldog! I loved his crafty ways of dealing with the adults in his life, and his mad-cap solutions to his spa troubles.

The ending totally snuck up on me and finishes this great story beautifully. A fun read for middle year students.”

 Colleen Ruttan (Young Adult Fantasy Writer):YOUNG TEEN ETHAN Larimour sets out with his eccentric grandmother to train one of his two Frenchie puppies for a career in film. A story which well captures the angst of being a young teen – not to mention all of the work involved in owning two mischievous Frenchie puppies! – This book would entertain readers in the 9-12 age bracket.”

My challenge to you is to check out the Frenchie series in whatever part of the world you live and in whatever format you prefer to read. The novels make affordable gifts (about the same price as a birthday card) and appeal to everyone mentioned below:

  • tweens (ages 9-13)
  • librarians
  • teachers
  • parents
  • grandparents
  • pet lovers

 Send the GIFT of READING to all those that you care about. And please, leave a comment on this blog site (http://www.twocandobooks.wordpress.com) after reading the Frenchie Series. I love to receive feedback on the novels, it helps me grow as a writer. So leave your comments… the GOOD, the BAD … and the UGLY!

Dog Friendly Travel Ideas

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Summer holidays are fast approaching and we all seek great ideas for traveling with our families (human kids and fur kids, alike). What you may not know is that http://www.themetrip.com/-dog-friendly.html is a site that offers Travel Tips for everyone, including FUR KIDS.  In fact, the site is so popular that Lorraine Hawley has published a book jammed pack with great ideas for the entire family: Product Details

Explore theme-style activities and adventures. “Themetrips,” are activity ideas that you can use to create your own memorable and interactive family fun while at home or on vacation.

Check out her recent Dog Friendly Post, as there is an AWESOME  SURPRISE!  Frenchie’s Best Friend- Follow the Blog is recommended  (BK. #1 of the Frenchie Series) with suggestions for what makes this novel a perfect vacation read for tweens. Check it out at http://www.themetrip.com/-dog-friendly.html .

Read Tank’s (Lorraine’s fur kid) perspective on the fun read about the 13 year old tween who will do anything to own a French bulldog puppy.  Follow Ethan’s blog posts (FBF- Frenchie’s Best Friend) of daily misadventures, as he attempts to deceive his overworked, single mom by setting a secret scheme in motion to own a Frenchie puppy. Get ready for lots of laughs!

Happy vacationing with your pet-loving tweens! The novels are easily downloaded to Kindle from Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007BG2ETG FBF

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0053HQ0AOFrenchie X2 Cover

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GXIW57E 14549732_Frenchie Diva Cover JPG( 4341595 ) copy

 

 

 

 

Let me know what you think of Theme Trip and Tank’s page recommending  Frenchie’s Best Friend- Follow the Blog.  Will you take this series along on your summer travels or send it along with your grandchildren, nieces, nephews or family friends? Please leave a comment, I absolutely love to hear from YOU!