Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Child Observation Notes: “Caitlin I”

(Photo by Vitolda Klein, Unsplash)

The assignment for my children’s literature writing class was to find a child that I did not personally know, observe the child, and to take notes. Trying not to look like some kind of pervert, I sat in the children’s section at Barnes & Noble, chose a little girl who was about 12 years old, and took notes on her appearance, body language, behavior, interactions with others, and anything else that seemed important.

Child Observation Notes

by Dawn Pisturino

There was nothing extraordinary about the young girl sitting on the carpeted floor with her knees bent, an open storybook in her lap. She looked like a typical American teenage girl with her slinky blond hair swept back into a high ponytail, a short-sleeved green tee clinging tightly to small, firm breasts, and white sneakers protruding from the legs of crisp blue jeans.

A small boy with sandy hair who looked about three years old sat on the floor to her right, eagerly listening to the story she was reading. A girl about five years old with light brown curls stood impatiently to her left, energetically bouncing up and down with one finger in her mouth as the girl turned the pages of the book.

The girl, who could have been named Caitlin, smiled brightly as she read to her younger brother and sister. An aura of simple goodness radiated like the points of a shiny white star from her smooth, unblemished face. Her small, impish nose wrinkled up with laughter, and her hazel eyes sparkled with mischief as she pointed her finger at a silly picture. She held up the book so both siblings could get a clearer view.

When the younger boy and girl grew tired of the book, they scampered off. Their mother turned from her conversation with the sales clerk and said something sharp, but Caitlin answered lightly, ” Don’t worry, I’ll take care of them. Nothing will happen.” She followed them around the colorful racks of children’s books, unhurried and untroubled, showing no signs of resentment or frustration at being held responsible for her younger brother and sister.

She was slim and light on her feet, her posture fully erect. She could have been a young dancer or gymnast. With graceful movements, she picked up her younger brother and whirled him around in the air, making him squeal with delight, while his curly-headed sister danced around and begged for a turn.

It was a touching glimpse of family bonding and a rare reminder that happy families do, indeed, exist.

~

The next part of the assignment was to write a short story based on this profile, which I will present in the next post.

Thanks for reading! Writing for children can be fun and rewarding.

Dawn Pisturino

July 8, 2008; May 5, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

28 Comments »

Rite of Passage

(Photo by Gil Ribeiro, Unsplash)

I wrote this for the Binnacle 2008 Ultra-Short Writing Challenge, which asked for a 150-word story:

As the train pulled away from the station, Carrie looked through the window at her father standing lost and forlorn on the wooden platform. “I’ll be back,” she had said, hugging him tightly and kissing him warmly on the cheek. But as the train chugged slowly down the track, she knew in her heart that she would never come back. With tears in her eyes, she waved at him one last time, painfully aware of the worried expression in his tired blue eyes, the stooped shoulders, the crumpled old sweater. Who will take care of him now, she wondered. But as the train moved faster down the track, so did her thoughts, leaping ahead to the eager young man waiting anxiously for her at the end of the line and the new life they would begin together. She closed her eyes, remembering his gentle words of love, and cried. (149 words)

Dawn Pisturino

January 2008; March 29, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

23 Comments »

Microfiction: This One’s for You

Photo by Benjamin Balázs on Unsplash

I wrote this for an Underneath the Juniper Tree writing challenge, August 29, 2011:

I love you, Lizzie Borden . . .

As she crept up the stairs, fondling the wooden axe in her hands . . .

“This one’s for you, Lizzie!”

Dawn Pisturino

March 25, 2022

Copyright 2011-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

12 Comments »

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

A Story of Sibling Rivalry and Bullying Based on a Cuban Folktale

by Dawn Pisturino

A long time ago, Sun and Moon lived in a deep, dark cave on an island in the Caribbean Sea. 

Sun could not bear to live in such claustrophobic quarters. Day and night he paced the floor, grumbling and complaining, until one morning he said to Moon: “Sister, this cave is too small, and our light is too bright. It’s blinding both of us! You’re smaller and weaker than I am. You must leave and find a new home.”

“Me!” Moon retorted, stamping her tiny silver feet. “This cave belongs to both of us. Since you’re so unhappy, you move out!”

Sun said no more. He paced back and forth, wringing his hands until they were raw. Glimpsing his reflection in the mirror he shrieked, “Look what you’ve done to me! My face is breaking out with sunspots!”

“What do I care,” Moon responded. “I’m not leaving, and that’s final.”

Enraged, Sun loomed over Moon, his face growing redder and hotter until bright orange flames shot from his fingers and toes and the ends of his hair.

“Stop it, Sun!” Moon cried, shielding her face with her arms. “You’re scorching me with your hot flares!”

Moon waxed and waned with terror, moaning in pain, until Sun grabbed her silver locks and threw her out of the cave. “And never come back again!” he roared.

Leaning against a banana tree, Moon wept until her full, shiny face shrank to a thin silver crescent.

Air, grieved by Moon’s distress, wrapped the pale, weak maiden in her arms and carried her into the sky above. “You’ll be safe here,” she reassured Moon. “The stars won’t mind sharing a little space with you.”

But Moon, ashamed of her scorched face, hid behind a passing cloud.

The stars welcomed Moon and tried to make friends with her. Gradually, Moon’s scorched face healed, and she peered out from behind the cloud. She revealed more and more of her radiant face until it lit up the sky with soft, silvery light.

Sun burned with jealousy when he heard about his sister’s spacious new home. “I’ll show her!” he fumed; and leaped into the air. 

Blanching with fear, Moon shielded her face from Sun’s blazing wrath and raced across the sky until she disappeared from view.

Sun proudly took her place, filling the sky with so much brilliant fire the stars covered their eyes and ran away.

One evening, feeling bereft, Sun left the sky to search the cave where he and Moon had once lived together. As he approached the entrance, Moon suddenly appeared. Overcome by remorse, Sun pleaded with her to return with him to the sky. “There’s plenty of room for both of us,” he said.

But Moon could not forget her brother’s bad behavior. “I hate you!” she shouted. “You’re nothing but a big bully! I could never live with you again!” And so saying, she leaped into the air, leaving Sun standing all alone at the mouth of the cave.

Dawn Pisturino

2012; March 22, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.      





18 Comments »

The Magical World of Lord Dunsany

The King of Elfland’s Daughter is one of Lord Dunsany’s most popular books. Written in 1924, the book is a clear forerunner of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. I recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy fiction.

Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett (try saying that real fast three times) was an Irish aristocrat who inherited the title of 18th Baron Dunsany in 1899. He lived in Dunsany Castle in County Meath, Northern Ireland and married the daughter of the 7th Earl of Jersey, Lady Beatrice Child-Villiers. The couple had one son who went on to inherit the title and the castle.

A close friend of William Butler Yeats and Rudyard Kipling, Dunsany became a prolific writer, producing a large opus of poetry, plays, short stories, and novels based on Irish folklore and mythology. He was part of the late 19th century “Celtic Revival” started by Yeats. Other influential contemporaries included Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) and Kenneth Grahame (Wind in the Willows).

In America, he was dubbed “America’s Favorite Peer” because his plays were in great demand in New York City. At one point, he allegedly had five plays running simultaneously on Broadway.

Dunsany was a soldier who fought in the Boer War, World War I, and the 1916 Irish uprising. During World War II, he served in the Home Guard.

Although J.R.R. Tolkien is regarded as the father of fantasy fiction, Dunsany’s style and imagination had a profound effect on all the prominent fantasy writers of his day, including Tolkien, Lewis, and H.P. Lovecraft. His influence has extended to modern fantasy writers such as British author Neil Gaiman.

Dunsany’s stories have been described by other writers as magical, ethereal, dream-like, and surreal. Writing in long-hand with a feathered quill pen, his intuitive imagination wandered beyond the boundaries of intellect to produce stories in magical and poetic prose which capture the heart and imagination of discerning readers.

As the world evolved technologically around him, one of Lord Dunsany’s favorite themes was the threat of science to the Other World. He ventured into sci fi with The Last Revolution, which explored what would happen if machines turned against their human inventors (foreshadowing The Terminator).

Lord Dunsany died of appendicitis on October 25, 1957.

A Poem to Lord Dunsany

By Irish Poet Francis Ledwidge

TO LORD DUNSANY

(ON HIS RETURN FROM EAST AFRICA)


For you I knit these lines, and on their ends
Hang little tossing bells to ring you home.
The music is all cracked, and Poesy tends
To richer blooms than mine; but you who roam
Thro’ coloured gardens of the highest muse,
And leave the door ajar sometimes that we
May steal small breathing things of reds and blues
And things of white sucked empty by the bee,
Will listen to this bunch of bells from me.

My cowslips ring you welcome to the land
Your muse brings honour to in many a tongue,
Not only that I long to clasp your hand,
But that you’re missed by poets who have sung
And viewed with doubt the music of their verse
All the long winter, for you love to bring
The true note in and say the wise thing terse,
And show what birds go lame upon a wing,
And where the weeds among the flowers do spring.

(Dunsany Castle, County Meath, Northern Ireland. Photo by Tim Wilson. http://www.dunsany.com)

Dawn Pisturino

March 16, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

10 Comments »

Killer Limericks

(Warwick Davis in Leprechaun, 1993)

KILLERS

A killer rampaging a town,

Ran into a carnival clown.

The clown drew a knife

And took that man’s life,

Then started a spree of his own!

July 16, 2011

~

THE WITCH AND THE BURGLAR

A witch riding home on her broom

Spied a burglar trashing her room.

“I’ll get you for this!” she said with a hiss.

His head was soon found in Khartoum.

July 17, 2011

~

AN UPPITY CAT

A cat who liked veggies and cheese,

Refused to eat mouse canapes.

“I just can’t abide that tough, hairy hide.

I’d rather eat onions and peas!”

July 16, 2011

~

LIZZIE BORDEN

When Lizzie got awfully mad,

She hacked up her stepmom and dad.

The ax at her feet, she giggled and bleat,

“Why am I so terribly bad!”

September 26, 2011

~

The Sorcerer from Beijing

A sorcerer born in Beijing,

Found a magical jade dragon ring.

It breathed out green smoke,

Transforming that bloke

To a blood-thirsty cannibal king!

July 14, 2011

~

LIZZIE BORDEN II

When Lizzie got awfully mad,

She hacked up her stepmom and Dad.

Amazed by the mess, she had to confess:

“What a rip-roaring party we had!”

September 27, 2011

~

The Sorcerer from Beijing II

A sorcerer born in Beijing,

Found a magical jade dragon ring.

It breathed out green fire, burning all his attire

Except for one shoe and stocking!

July 7, 2011

~

The Man in Galloway Bay II

A man lost in Galloway Bay,

Cried out in a very loud bray,

“I’m lost in the sea, someone please rescue me!

I’ve been swimming for more than a day!”

July 7, 2011

~

The Old Man from Brazil II

There was an old man from Brazil,

Who ate ‘til he made himself ill.

He gave up the ghost, said good-bye to his host,

And flew home to his house on the hill.

July 7, 2011

~

A Nasty Old Gnome

A nasty old gnome name o’ Bill

Liked to puncture old teeth with a drill.

He gathered some bones from the graveyard he owns,

But that skeleton wouldn’t sit still!

February 5, 2012

~

The Man in Galloway Bay III

A man lost in Galloway Bay,

Cried out in a very loud bray,

“I’m lost in the sea,

Someone please rescue me!

The fishermen think I’m filet!”

July 7, 2011

~

St. Patrick’s Day is coming!

All limericks by:

Dawn Pisturino

March 10, 2022

Copyright 2011-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

30 Comments »

Ophelia is Dead – a Poem

(“Ophelia” by John Everett Millais)

Ophelia is Dead

by Dawn Pisturino

Dead! Ophelia is dead!

Her hair bound with daisies,

Gold locks floating free,

She drowned in the river,

Cursing me.

She told me I was ugly,

She pulled my frizzy hair,

She teased me by the water,

And I pushed her there.

Dead! Ophelia is dead!

And I really don’t care.

Dawn Pisturino

February 1, 2012; March 3, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

22 Comments »

Creepy Spider Limericks

(Photo from National Geographic)

SPIDERS

A girl who ate spiders for lunch,

Found shiny black widows to munch.

The poison contained in their bodies remained,

Giving that girl quite a punch!

July 12, 2011

~

SPIDER CIDER

A girl who liked spiders inside her,

Washed them down with a very fine cider.

“Two parts cyanide makes them slither and slide,”

She wrote to her secret confider.

July 13, 2011

~

SPIDERS II

A girl who liked spiders to eat,

Found poisonous spiders a treat.

Their sweet-tasting nectar

Began to infect her,

Turning her into dead meat!

July 13, 2011

All limericks by:

Dawn Pisturino

March 2, 2022

Copyright 2011-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

30 Comments »

The Sleeping Beauty – a Poem

(Artwork by John Collier, 1921)

The Sleeping Beauty

Dedicated to my daughter, Ariel Pisturino

Lying there in sweet repose,

Lips as red as any rose,

The Sleeping Beauty rests her head

Upon a gold and velvet bed;

Golden tresses fair displayed

Around the shoulders softly laid,

Be-decked in sequined, jeweled dress,

Her slender hands across her breast.

Fair Maid! — What evil cast you here

To sleep a full one hundred year

Until a Prince with noble pride

Into the castle court should ride

And climb the steeply winding stair

To find a maid with golden hair

Lying on a couch asleep,

Lost in dreaming long and deep,

And drop upon the tender lips

A kiss so pure the magic slips.

And, lo! — the eyelids flutter wide

And see a vision at her side:

A handsome Prince so near and nigh,

The maiden cannot help but sigh

And stretch out pleading hands to him

Who kissed her softly on a whim,

And thanking him with grateful smile,

Requests of him to stay a while.

The Prince proves better than a guest

And presses her against his breast;

Then carries her, swift as the wind,

Upon his horse across the land

To marble castle rising high

Against the purple morning sky.

And when she curtsies to the King,

The Queen presents her with a ring

And crown of jewels sparkling white —

Gifts of softly glowing light —

That bind her to her Prince’s life:

No more a maid! — but now, his wife!

Dawn Pisturino

April 25, 1987/February 10, 2022

Copyright 1987-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

32 Comments »

The Queen of Hearts – a Poem

(Artwork by Tenniel)

The Queen of Hearts made cherry tarts

On Cupid’s Special Day.

The Knave of Hearts threw out those tarts

And stole the Queen away.

His bow was strong, his arrows sharp,

He drew with deadly force.

His missile pierced the tender heart,

Killing her, of course.

With hungry zeal, he yanked the heart

From Queenie’s bloody chest

And feasted on her royal blood,

Rating it the best!

Dawn Pisturino

December 16, 2011

Copyright 2011-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

24 Comments »

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