Recently I had read a book by a member of the community that was quite an enjoyable read. Many of you may know the book already, but for those like me who have read it for the first time: here is my first impressions and review.
For what I have come to understand, the author made a point to write the story in such a way that the reader is encouraged to take one, two, or three times to read through and each time draw new connections between the characters and their quest. If you haven’t made it through the book already then I won’t reveal too much information about the story as to do you a disservice. The summary is as follows:
“A fully painted 80 page fantasy storybook about loving parents searching for their son in a dark forest. They are Elysia and Amar, guardians of the mountains and of Sacha. They contain a pure light within them which they have passed on to their son and can only hope it will protect him during his coming of age trials. In Search of Sacha is written and designed for all ages. Young adults as well as children and parents will find something to love from this ethereal fairy tale.” – Manuel Guzman
There are a number or allusions in the text of endeavors in the real world: poisoned water that makes one behave strangely, the spontaneous and ever present nature of evil, the call of the wild, dangers of going into the world as a young man, and many more.
My favorite character is Amar because he’s patient and resilient with his wife, determined on his search, and faithful that they will find their son. All good qualities for a strong male role model to have, and especially for Sacha to emulate as he becomes older. The characters are supposed to be fictional and magical, however they are by no means beyond relation. My favorite part of the book was Lady Ravine’s lair and the still waters, the souls beneath the surface were grasping at their ankles as they hovered right atop the water’s surface, illuminated from a tear of Elysia. The pictures are just phenomenal, and they do a fantastic job of giving the reader the best ideas and illustrations as scenes unfold in the story. Below are some examples in this gallery:
The only downsides to the book come with a hidden upsides. Some pages have much more text than others, which could leave the reader thinking the story line is unbalanced. After introspection, I thought this way due to being spoiled with dozens of detailed, full-page artworks that depict important elements and characters in the story. It seems only natural that the text is denser in different areas for this reason.
The other downside of the book is the unconventional font choice. This one is most prominent, but when one begins to read the book it is apparent why the author may have decided to use such an elegant and airy font. It takes a second, but when one’s eyes get used to reading the font they’re glued to the story! Also, it provides much more room for the reader to view the full-paged artworks (above). Not to mention the text seems handwritten or classical which matches the full page artworks.
In summary, the book has an easy-to-follow, fast moving plot with memorable characters. It’s obvious that the author comes from a theological frame of mind, especially with a quote from the Bible in the final page. This in mind, the story is a gripping fantasy about peril and searching for the dear son of two loving parents. The type of reader I would recommend the book to would be a younger, but mature, crowd for there are elements to the story that could be frightening (much ado to the author with the illustrations). Parents can read this to their pre-teen or gift to their early-teen children.
You can give the book a look on his main website, and check out his other projects. Have a nice read!
Van Allen Bear
The Heedless Woodchopper
For the Children’s Hour
By Van Allen Bear
The wood beyond the eastern peaks shimmers yellow in the autumn months. Lakes stretch long from the top of the valley to the south, and there are tall pines that sway in the warm breeze as their needles slowly drip one by one onto the soft forest floor beneath. The lakes have a healthy stock of trout with rainbow shimmering scales as they breech and munch on the lazy flies skittering on the surface. The skies are watched by eagles, always vigilant and steady as they soar from the valleys to their perches. Faint songs are sung from high boughs of the pines when the wind blows through. The wood harbors countless deer, elk, wolves, rabbits, squirrels, owls, and mice.
There is an interesting story about something that had happened to these woods, and had something to do with a woodchopper, however he wasn’t always called that.
You see, the wood harbors a family, and the head of that family is a man whom one could consider a woodchopper. Though he tries, he doesn’t quite pay enough attention to truly be called a woodsman, nor a chopper. He does fell trees but the man works along at a less-than-reasonable pace. The woods are rife with trees ready for chopping, but his pace surely is slow.
In the height of the spring, the woodchopper goes out from his home quite some distance to find the standing deadwood trees and clear out thickets of the wild brush. One year, on a particularly warm spring, the woodchopper headed out far from the house to a thicket that had suffered a landslide two seasons ago. The land had slid from a ways up the mountain and came to a halt in a rather flat area, off the beaten path. The trees were dead and ready for harvest, but they lay strewn about in new terrain, all bent and bundled together. This was going to be quick work, and the woodchopper made his way down to the fresh ground with only an axe and a bent claw tool. The woodchopper went to work, putting his hat on a protruding low branch, and dug his claw tool in a stump nearby his first tree.
“This is going to be an easy batch,” he thought, “all that I need to do is make a few cuts on these that are already dead and this should be the easiest bundle I’ll ever make.”
Careless, he wants the most firewood with the least amount of effort, so he finds a bigger tree than he has ever chopped before laying there in the pile of warped trunks and branches. Heedless, he goes atop the pile and began hammering away at the trunk. The woodchopper gets part of the way through and his axe loses the edge as it goes dull on the massive trunk of the dead tree. Realizing that he has forgotten his sharpening stones, he has to continue making due with an ever-dulling blade. “bang, bang, bang, bang, skrrraak!” he reeled back and the head of his axe was tumbling around inside the big pile of bundled lumber.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! I brought my worst axe and didn’t even notice!” he shouted to the sky.
Under further inspection of the handle, the woodchopper said, “no wonder it just broke, this is the most brittle axe I’ve got in the shed, I could have sworn that I brought the right one this morning, I must’ve not paid attention…” he said to himself, “what am I suppose to do now? Ah, guess I’ll go home and come back tomorrow…”
On his way off the pile of logs, he looked around to find his claw tool to see if he could drag a smaller log up the hill and have himself at least something to go home with. Around and around he looked and couldn’t find the claw tool, nowhere was it to be found. He reached for his hat on the bough and realized the ribbon had ripped on the inside brim, as it was rubbing against the sharp bark of the pine tree bough that it was resting on. He let out a low grumble and growl, having lost both his axe and claw tool and damaged his hat that day.
As he was climbing up the bank of the new earth towards the beaten path, he slipped with his right foot and slid gently back to the base of the slope. Tired and demoralized, he sat down on a bare log at the bottom. “My,” he thought as he put his head in his hands, “I had traveled so far and gotten so tired, I wish I had brought along a flask of water and a bundle of bread… I think I’ll just rest here a moment and try again to make it up this hill.” He then took a stick and cleaned the mud from under his boots.
Faintly, the woodchopper heard an unseen elk crying in the fields down the slope, and he panned the landscape but couldn’t place where the sound was coming from. Not up, not down, not left not right, and then it stopped. Nearing another clearing, he looked up to the peaks that were jutting above the treeline, then suddenly all at once the woodchopper got caught up in all the sounds and sights of nature. He saw the eastern peaks shimmering green in the springtime, the lakes stretching long from the top of the valley to the south, tall pines swaying in the warm breeze as their needles slowly drip one after another onto the soft forest floor beneath. The woodchopper could get a fair glimpse of the lakes he knew were full of rainbow trout and lazy flies skittering on the surface. He looked out towards the black wings gliding along in the skies as the eagles soared from the valleys to their perches. Faint songs were sung from high boughs of the pines when the wind blew through, and he knew, this world around him was that of no other.
Using the handle of his broken axe as a cane, the woodchopper made his way back up the bank towards the beaten path, and back to his home where he was greeted with a hot bowl of soup and his children reading a fairy-tale in the corner by the fireplace.
“My dear,” he started to his wife, “I’ve broken my axe, this brittle thing. I’ve ripped the inside of my hat, and I’ve gone ahead and lost the claw tool I brought with me. What I hadn’t brought with me was a lunch nor a flask of water… I tell you I’ve been heedlessly rummaging around about these woods too long. Thankyou for dinner, and in the morning I’ll be off with firewood in my return.”
The next morning he remembered his faults of the previous day. With a satchel full of mealtime pastries, broadaxe sharpened with a spare stone, flask slung on his back with water, and son by his side the woodchopper made his way into the warped bundle of trees down the bank.
“Son, take heed of the things you will see. I was here yesterday and made quite a fool of myself. Today you and I will harvest and clear a few piles of wood, and we will do it right, for we are within a living wood, full of elk and deer and eagles and fish and wolves and rabbits and trees and people like us. The woods have what we need, and in return we need to take care of and find a balance between what we take and what we give back.”
He said as he pointed his axe from the top of the slide zone to the base, “We will clear this slide area by the close of the summer, and in the next year it will be another thicket for the rabbits and the wolves and the bugs and the deer while we are warm and cozy all winter long.”
The woodchopper gained his title that day, as he and his son took a good helping of wood away from the warped pile and neatly stacked it under the awning of their humble home. They did this all summer, and as the eastern peaks shimmered yellow in the autumn months the slide zone was left clear for another springtime field for all the rabbits to play and the deer to bounce and the eagles to guard. That unseen elk which cried out to the woodchopper now lays to rest by bushels of berries on a carpet of grasses.
The same for all as time went on.
The Busy, Busy Banker
A Van Allen Bear original children’s story.
An Original By Van Allen Bear, With Special Thanks to Purely Living Papa Bear
In a little town across the hills, there was a busy market and school with kids at play. Busy, busy was this town, everyone was out-and-about for the break of spring. All the parents were having a grand old time, all the moms and all the dads, all but one. This was a man who had a very busy job in a very busy bank. They had so many checks coming in and things to read and stuff to stuff and coins to count! On these notes the people were so hurried and busy that they would accidentally misspell the names and the information to pay one another! This bothered the busy banker very very much, for he had to correct these honest errors while auditing the checks to make sure his friends could go about their business. He knew all the people and all the people knew him, so the busy banker knew exactly what the well-meaning parents meant to write, and there was never an issue. But, oh, this was the busiest time of the year, very busy indeed! There were so, so many things to read and errors to correct, it drove the busy banker sour.
“Bah! These parents keep making mistakes and it’s got me all sour and twisted up! This time of year is always the worst with all these notes going in and out of the bank with all these errors on them! Here’s one,” he picked up a crispy white check, “twenty dollars for a soccer ball? The name is written in such poor handwriting, but I know it’s from Mr. Hemsworth, I’ll have to make it right, after all, the man just bought a soccer ball. Another one,” he said, while lifting up a wadded up blue check, “This is hardly legible! I cannot read the name so well, and it says thirty-four dollars for… for a… pair of… sour cream?! There is no such thing as a pair of sour cream, this just cannot be right. Ah, wait now,” he said as the teller offered a magnifying glass to the check, “a pair of… yes, shoes, alright, soccer shoes it says! My goodness what terrible handwriting, this must be from Mr. Dremmer for his son Scott. Yes, with a trained eye, one can tell this is truly the work of Mr. Dremmer.”
The busy banker kept going on and on about all these checks and accounts and to each one there was a mystery of some kind, something that was missing and that was driving him straight sour! “Oh, how this is so bothersome and everyone might be doing this on purpose to make my day so hard and unenjoyable to the point that I’m straight sour!” he said while he was closing up in his office.
He couldn’t help thinking all evening and all night about all these misspelled accounts. The busy banker’s children were in the yard and asked him to play, but the busy banker was in such a bad mood that he just wouldn’t go, but instead watched them from his thinking chair on the porch.
This continued all week; all week the busy banker woke up sour, went to work and got more sour, and came home all upset and in his head. That Sunday night he said, “surely there must be something to this, it’s busy like this every year, but this year is extra busy! I’m going to catch the next person who gives a check and ask them what has got all this business in town.”
When the morning came, bright and early, the sour busy banker perched by the deposit box and waited for the first check of the day. Not long after 7 a.m. there was Mr. Cotton and his son Rufus to make a bill of transfer.
“Good morning sir, and how can I help you today?” the busy banker asked of the two.
“Hello sir, good day, we are here to make our first payment to Mr. Hemsworth! It’s a meager amount but the man doesn’t ask for much, just enough for supplies and snacks for all the children.” said Mr. Cotton.
“What now, what now you say? That’s quite interesting. I know the man just bought a soccer ball for his family. Why, might I ask, would you be paying him an honest amount? Is there something happening that I’m not aware of?” asked the busy banker.
“Why yes!” said little Rufus, “yes there is a soccer league starting here, all the parents’ kids are getting older and we want to play sports!”
“Good heavens! No one has told me! That’s something alright.” said the busy banker.
“Well, I suspect you’ve been too busy sir,” said Cotton, “here’s the news: Hemsworth is making a large league with teams, and his own children are going to play. His daughter is in the girls’ league and his son in the boys’ league. Isn’t that such a good idea?”
As the day went on, parents were buying shin pads and shoes and a big order of 100 tall blue socks. Of course, there were countless revisions to be made and all sorts of things to read and all kinds of coins to count! My oh my was this banker busy, he was very busy indeed.
That night he came home exhausted and plopped his briefcase on the table and sat in his thinking chair on the porch and watched his children play. They called him to join but he had been so busy that he had just no energy left to do more than spectate. But then, suddenly, he had a wonderful idea, “Children! Come close, I’m going to tell you what: I’ll ask to get you into the soccer league that’s just starting, and I will come watch after work and you will make the afternoons full of games and snacks and practicing with some new friends.”
“Yes dad, that sounds perfect! Thank you!” said his children all together.
The next day the busy banker wrote a perfectly legible, wonderfully crisp check to Mr. Hemsworth for an honest amount. Another parent came into the bank to do the same, and the busy banker was happy to correct the errors on the check, for he knew that it was not for a “nu jerzey,” but instead for a brand-new soccer jersey! It was less busy that day, for there was less of a mystery to what all these misspelled checks were for and to who they were addressed.
Upon the end of the week, the first practice was to begin, and the busy banker’s wife had gotten the children to the fields on time with new jerseys and shin guards and shoes.
The busy banker went to the fields to watch his children practice after work and there he met quite a few new parents that he hadn’t seen before. They were quite nice, and the busy banker recognized them by the names on the checks as they introduced themselves.
“I do apologize, however, I cannot help but comment that your checks are all misspelled when they come to the bank, and it makes us all quite busy.” Said the busy banker to the newly acquainted parents, “It’s quite some trouble, but we at the bank have been able to sort it out with some thinking.”
Embarrassed, the parents told the busy banker that they were busy too, and suspected that they had made some mistakes. They explained they knew how smart and good the busy banker was at fixing their mistakes, and that he was in the bank all day setting things right. They are grateful that the busy banker does such a good job of making sure things are in order so all the parents’ children can play in the new league and Mr. Hemsworth can make a fair wage.
Just as they had finished saying so, Mr. Hemsworth called a break. Coach Hemsworth, and a long friend of the busy banker, asked him to hand out oranges. The busy banker was introduced as the man whose kids are also practicing and who makes sure that the finances are all straightened out so everyone can have their shoes and their jerseys on time. The kids said all together, “thank you!” to the busy banker and he couldn’t help but smile a delighted smile.
From there on, the busy banker found a sense of pride in his corrections, for they relied on him and he was happy to offer his time to help the parents and kids all play soccer and get their expenses in order. No more was the banker so busy and sour, now the banker realized that he was a critical part in helping all the parents in town who were just like him. They weren’t making his life hard on purpose, they were relying on his hard work and diligence for he was the best at writing checks.
From that day on the banker always gets excited for the sporting times of the year. It seems all he needed was a little change of perspective for all his hard work that was keeping him so busy, and he knew it was a duty of his to make sure the town kept busy and happy and playful all summer long.
Children’s Stories Column Announced
Dear Readers, there comes a time at night, before the stars alight, where the children set off to bed,
But before they sleep, and count their sheep, they wish for a story said!
This time aside, from life’s unwind, belongs to them–it’s surely kind.
In this publication there will be select stories fit for children of all ages. Morals can be found within these stories, is why they are selected. Stories play a vital role in the growth and development of children. Of all the rich stories there are in the world, it is of my opinion that the works featured here are for the intent of learning from their lessons and understanding the behaviors of societal life through relatable characters and adventures. The value is here for us all to share, and may one keep in mind that they are inspired by classic tales from the western world.
Note to copyright complaints: The intent of featuring these stories is simple, that they are of utmost value to the readers, their children, and to the generations to come. The stories will be altered and changed, but follow along the age-old and traditional themes and cite the original authors. Please email any copyright complaints and know we wish to have good stories live on.
Van Allen Bear