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Weave together the gifted Dalmatian puppy with a gold earring, with the Collins’s children and their adventuresome single mom, and the children’s story, Gypsy – The Refugee (2021), emerges as a rollicking romp, often at breakneck speed. Adding to the momentum are family pets: the cockatoo Tina, the ferret Hardy, and the boa constrictor Frankie; even more pets appear later.

Besides these elements—more than sufficient to create the Collins’s world—others seamlessly evolve: international espionage, the CIA, and the Oval Office. Fast-paced dialogue exemplified by peppery interactions of the mom and children brings this about as they discover Gypsy’s special gift and its helpfulness to those in trouble.   

What’s endearing about this children’s story is its template for the author Patricia Coughlin’s own family, and Gypsy, their loved Dalmatian; it was drawn from their life in the 1980s and embellished by decades of reading spy novels. 

The surprise ending leaves smiles upon readers’ hearts. This is a story about really caring. This oldster found Gypsy – The Refugee fun to read.

Gypsy – The Refugee can be found on Amazon and B and N.

Seems that my long life is like a treasure hunt.

Once I stepped back from significant teachers and took stock of what I found, I began discerning clues about the Sacred in places I ordinarily would not have frequented, specifically my unconscious; its darkness, impenetrable. My loneliness deepened, my discomfort mounted, and questions spliced my resolve. Even more disconcerting were my dreams, like cattle prods urging me forward. With trepidation, one foot scaled that ravine; another trudged through brambles that bloodied my calves. Many dead-ends undermined my resolve to forge ahead, and yet there was no other option. There was always the next clue to discover.

Years passed. This was no child’s game. Annual retreats afforded me respite to consolidate my gains and give thanks to God. But then the struggle began afresh—Still another clue to discover. So what is this treasure that has attracted my being, from earliest memory? Once glimpsed, its allure only compelled more engagement.

Again, I look to the Gospels. Jesus likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a hidden treasure buried in a field (Mt. 13). Someone finds it, reburies it, then thrilled by his discovery, sells all he has and buys this field. He must have it. His life depends upon it.

Like the seeker, I cherish this treasure, tucked away in my depths. Lest I become puffed up by this discovery, the apostle Paul likens my humanness to an earthenware vessel (II Cor. 4:7), ordinary, and in time, cracks apart when no longer needed.

So the treasure hunt continues—My self-emptying also continues.

In most fairy tales Queens are portrayed as all loving or conniving; they evoke strong feelings—admiration or aversion—within the depths of their listeners. However, in The Snow Queen (1844) written by the Danish Hans Christian Anderson, another Queen appears: beautiful, gifted with spells, riddles, mysteries, but ice-cold in her demeanor. She creates havoc in the lives of two children, Gerda and Kai, and gets away with it.

So what to make of this Queen who wields such power? Certainly Hans Christian Anderson would know, firsthand. His queen was the Swedish Songbird of classical opera, Jenny Lind, who twaddled his adoration for her in the 1840s. Friends, only, they would remain, but she still lives in his fairy tale, unapproachable and frigid in her palace.

Unlike other storytellers who fashioned dramas from issues clashing in their unconscious, Anderson drew his from the conscious world, but dressed them up within the classical components of fairy tales: good vs. evil, animals as messengers, disguises, witches, spells, darkness, superhuman tasks, effective synchronizations, death, resolution, and and many more.

However, in The Snow Queen these components hang loosely in this seven-part tale, insufficient to wrest psychic transformation in listeners. What redeems this tale, however, is Gerda’s tearful kiss; it melts Kia’s frozen heart and frees him from the Snow Queen’s evil spell. The children return to their village, much wiser.

Still, Anderson penned some good tales—change-of-heart stories still work.  

Available on Amazon

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