Globe Syndicate

for release December 1, 2000

Another Way

by Melodie Davis

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Need some last minute gift ideas? I say "last minute" not to make you panic, but if you need to order something that is not available at the local discount store or in your favorite local bookstore, well, now is the time. Books are among my favorite Christmas gifts to give-and receive. They are easy to wrap, long lasting, and don't take a lot of room. And of course, I like to support fellow writers. I receive many promotions for various books and items so I have focused these few selections on items for children or parents of children.

The first book "plug" is long overdue. So long overdue, in fact, that the creator, Lydia Caroline Plank, said she has quit actively selling it because she got tired of filling out pesky quarterly tax forms on money she made on the books. She donated a bunch to two locations, who sell or give them away. The children's book and accompanying music cassette is called The Pigeon Lullaby, a lovely lullaby Ms. Plank had learned as a child and sang to many children around the world in the days when she was a teacher. She had dreamed of having it published for more than 30 years, but only collected rejection slips. Finally, Ms. Plank got the lullaby professionally recorded and had the book printed, filled with photographs and illustrations. The lullaby is a wonderfully singable tune and the words talk about how pigeons fly about and return to their lofts to rest and sleep. Ms. Plank makes the book available free, although there is a $5 charge for the cassette. (Call Ms. Plank at 540-564-3458.)

Another resource for smaller children, although a bit older than the lullaby stage, is the Word & Song Bible cassette/CD and book set. The book is available in hardback and softcover for cheaper pricing, and while the age range is approximately 4-10, any child who enjoys Bible stories will appreciate the collection. I mention this one because people -- even church goers -- simply don't hear the Bible stories as much as my parents or even my generation did. The Bible is a body of literature -- no matter how you feel about Christianity -- which shows up in so many references in other literature that it can enrich the education of any youngster (Broadman & Holman Publishers, $34.99, cheaper on

For children, in this case girls, who are a bit older-I recently learned of a mother who reached out to her daughter during the tough adolescent years by writing prayer/poems for her. Celia Straus is a screenwriter who works from her home, and one would think she could avoid the normal pitfalls of being a working mom-of being too busy to really be there for her children. Her daughter said, "Sure, she was around the house, but she was always busy. We didn't discuss important things." Julia was in the seventh grade, and one day after she and her mother had had a particularly tough time, Straus reached out to her daughter through a prayer left on her pillow. It didn't work any immediate miracles, but over time it became a way of establishing a bond of caring with her daughter. One night, when Straus had forgotten to write a poem, her daughter came and asked for one, and so Mom knew that they really did mean something. The first volume, published as Prayers on My Pillow became the impetus for a web site,, where Straus writes personalized poems for kids who write in regarding their problems. From the web site, she has published a second volume called More Prayers on My Pillow (both published by Ballantine Publishing, $18.50).

Not to slight the men: if I had boys I would treasure a dandy little book called Father to Son: Life Lessons on Raising a Boy, by Harry H. Harrison, Jr. It's a quick read, a nice stocking stuffer, with nuggets like "Show him how to eat an Oreo. This is a skill that will serve him his entire life." and "Take him for walks and introduce him to the world of bugs." And finally, "Race him. You'll never forget the day he beats you." (Workman Publishing, $7.95).

Books keep getting more and more expensive and I cringe at the prices of some of these but I guess the real reason I like books is how they connect us with the inner lives of others. Music does it too. These are gifts that enrich our insides-a good bargain in the long run.

Have any special childrenÆs gift ideas? Write to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail:

You can also visit Another Way on the Web at

Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from a number of organizations including the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three growing daughters.

NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 770 words; end material = 105 words

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