Latest 5 STAR REVIEW!!

If you’ve ever underestimated a flying squirrel,

this book will surely change your mind!” – Realistic Poetry International

A Flying Squirrel with No Limits

There’s A Lesson For Every Story

This fantastic children’s book shares twenty-four fun and valuable adventures of Shelby F. Squirrel, who is the main character. These humorous and imaginative episodes inspire learning and make reading fun and lively for a bright youthful audience who is unafraid to journey with a furry, fast, and flying playful creature!

Firstly, we must note how the stories include important lessons that are excellent for children and young people (especially our children audience who absolutely loved the book!).

This concept is extremely important to consider when writing children’s literature, because in doing so, the reader(s) can successfully benefit from the best of both worlds, which usually involves both intellect and entertainment. Moreover, this is a book in which readers can actively get involved, as most episodes provoke meaningful relevant questions and incite a variety of common core values, morals, & principles distinct to humans, that are identifiable and also relatable to the masses.

We were really surprised to find the that the creative storyline taught us a lot about squirrels, both indirectly and directly. And Shelby’s no ordinary squirrel, nope! He is a nocturnal flying squirrel who has the power to glide high in the sky, and he’s not alone. It is him, his twin sister, Darby, and their mother who takes care of them and does her best to keep them out of trouble.

But Shelby’s adventures are not merely limited to only the forest. The stories of his life are packed with energizing animation and lots of unexpected fun! They cleverly include realistic depictions of emotions, portraying instances of bravery, happiness, curiosity, wonder, love, innocence, happiness, worry, and even fear, like in the story “Shelby In The Dark”.

Now, it’s time for Mother F. Squirrel to teach another lesson, and this time, it’s a flying one! Butwhen she tells Shelby that it is time for him to learn how to fly in the night under the full moon, he is finally forced to confront his hidden fear of ‘ the dark’. Nonetheless, while he is up in the tree resisting the urge to fly, he suddenly comes face-to-face with a Wise Old Owl (with very strange eyes!) who tells Shelby that he can fly and that he can see in the dark. Right after the owl tells him this, he flies, and he does it very well!

It is an exciting moment when this happens and you feel proud for Shelby. The story about his night flying lesson teaches young people to believe in themselves and to be brave when facing fears. It also shows how some people (or creatures, like the wise owl) appear in your life to help you overcome certain problems that seem really big at first, but are actually not so bad once confronted. We were all happy that Shelby met the old wise owl and was finally able to fly in the dark!

Did you know that awesome flying squirrels like Shelby go to school? We sure didn’t before reading this book – and before you gasp in disbelief, it turns out that Shelby isn’t the actual student in this episode. Instead, he ends up right in the middle of some schoolchildren after wandering off to follow the aroma of peanuts. And after eating too many he falls asleep, only to wake up bewildered and lost, distracted by the sound of children’s voices. This is the moment when we realize why the name of this episode is called “Shelby Goes to School”. His wild chase for peanuts had led him straight to a school where he is surrounded by young children. What an adventure!

Luckily, a nice crossing-guard finds him and leads him back to the forest where he is relieved to see his mother and sister again. The key lesson in this story is important to all children: always pay attention to your surroundings and be cautious of wandering too far from home, especially without your parents!

When we read the title “ Shelby Goes Camping”, we thought it was a bit funny since he and his family already lived in the forest. After reading all of the adventures Shelby has had so far, it is safe to say that he will have a lot of fun…or get into a really big mess! And sure enough, a mess it is! He meets a new friend, Marvin F. Mouse, who takes Shelby on a tour, showing him all of the ‘human’ stuff used for camping. Everything is smooth and dandy until the mouse convinces Shelby to enjoy some of the sweet oats from the humans’ food, and when Shelby does, the bag tumbles over, causing humans to walk right over to where they are – but thanks to speed and Shelby’s ability to fly, they make a clean and successful getaway!

Shelby gets into a lot of trouble, as you can see, but is awesomely fun!

Above all, the author cleverly implements key concepts that instill and reiterate traditional core values to help distinguish right from wrong, magnify family and friendship, and explore the depths of fun and adventure. Author Eleanor Lawrie’s collection of Shelby adventures is truly a classic and should be a television series, as it would be very successful! It is a great book for families, children, and even adults, if you enjoy reading animated children’s fiction! Through intense energy and vivid imagination, author Lawrie skillfully illustrates a series of episodes that provide an exceptional reading experience every single time you turn the page; and with refreshing detailed accounts of Shelby’s extraordinary life, you will never grow bored and will easily grow attached to Shelby, his family, and friends!

It is our honor to present this book with a 5 Star rating! Author Eleanor Lawrie knows how to tailor a story just for children.

At Realistic Poetry International, we believe that there is no better way to receive pure honest feedback other than obtaining real thoughts, opinions, and feedback from the actual source, which this book was specifically intended for, children. With that being said, the basis of this review was developed and written with the inclusion of direct feedback and thoughts originating from a small group of children, ages ranging from 8-10 years old.


SHELBY Book # 3, a Snippet


A third book in my SHELBY F SQUIRREL series!!

Here is the first part of Chapter 1:


Sunlight poured into the nest hole as Shelby F. Squirrel reluctantly stirred from a deep sleep. It was the middle of March, trees were still bare, and the snow was fast disappearing. The air was fresh, with a definite feel of Spring just around the corner. He rubbed his eyes and blinked.

Petra was already up, busy tidying the corner where winter supplies were stashed.

“How are you?” Shelby asked as he yawned, always concerned for her. She had told him there would soon be babies in their little home.

“I’m fine, fit as a fiddle!” she answered with a bright smile. Petra felt like the luckiest flying squirrel in the whole world. Unlike other females about to become mothers, her man was still with her. Shelby wanted to be there for her and their babies, and he was looking foward to being a father. He told her it was about time someone changed things. Deserting her was out of the question.                                         

* * * *

“Quick! There’s a call for help from someone,” cried Rosie Robin. She arrived breathless at the nest where Shelby and Petra lived. Suddenly Shelby was wide awake.

“Who? Where?” Petra wanted to know.

Shelby just said, “Let’s go!”

Rosie led the way. At a far edge of the forest, beside a field stubbled with remnants of last year’s corn, they found a pair of flying squirrels they hadn’t met before.

“I’m Red,” said the bigger of the two, “and this is my mate, Sal. We’re missing one of our children!” Red was large for a flying squirrel and his coat had a hint of a reddish tone. His face was pinched with worry.

“She’s lost, we don’t know what happened!” said Sal, who was close to a full-blown panic attack. She was smaller, with typical gray predominating her thick fur. Petra moved closer to Sal to try and calm her, and the two males went a short distance away to talk. Rosie stayed with Petra and Sal, making soft chirpy sounds as she shook her head sadly.

A smaller form snuggled close to his mother. Sal introduced them to her son, Edward . He looked very glum, and Sal explained how much he missed his sister.

Just out of hearing range of the ladies, Shelby said, “Hello, Red, I apologize for not making you and your family welcome! We try to be more friendly than that here.”

“Oh my, don’t worry,” Red replied. “We’ve only been here three days! Let me explain.

“Our two children are almost a year old. Edward has fur like mine but Virginia’s is white! A lot of the animals where we were living weren’t nice to Virginia. They laughed and pointed and played tricks on her. She used to cry herself to sleep every night! Edward couldn’t even cheer her up. Now he blames himself for letting her get lost.

“Everybody we’ve met here has been very kind, and Virginia was beginning to respond. Then yesterday she just disappeared!”

Sal had joined them by now, “We’re so worried and we don’t know where to begin!” she wailed. Petra and Rosie had not managed to calm her at all. They stayed where they were looking at each other with grim expressions, talking softly, trying to find a way to help.

Red told them they had last seen Virginia around noon the day before. She had ventured out on her own, and actually Red and Sal had felt relieved to see her do so. Hiding in the nest wasn’t healthy for a young squirrel. She needed to get out.

But she had never come home, and they had searched and called her name until they were near exhaustion. Asking for help was admitting defeat, but this was their child!

Meet My Daughter, KIRA BRAUN


This is the BIO from Kira’s website:

I grew up in a family full of musicians and artists, and have been a singer ever since I can remember.  My father, William (Bill) Richard Braun went to Opera School and subsequently sang many comprimario roles with the Canadian Opera Company, and his brother Victor was a world-renowned Baritone.   My mother, Eleanor (Braun) Lawrie, was with the Hamilton Philharmonic, and subsequently the Niagara Symphony, as Principal Flute.  How very fortunate, to have such musical roots.     I would be remiss not to mention how much I admire my talented cousins, Russell and Adi Braun…I have big footsteps to follow….  and this feeds my desire to learn as much as I can and to improve more and more each year.

The CCOC was where it all started; I will never forget being part of the 1975 production of “I Pagliacci” with the Canadian Opera Company.  It ignited a passion in me!


My Choral background is steeped in Church Music, from Trinity United Church Choir (Lloyd Bradshaw, Toronto) to The Ridley Singers (Michael Tansley, St. Catharines), St Thomas Anglican Church Choir (David Marsden, St Catharines), Knox Presbyterian Church Choir (Ken Hutton, St Catharines), and most recently, 5 years in The Orpheus Choir of Toronto under the brilliant baton of Robert Cooper.

A high school vocal music class with the wonderful Theresa (Monaghan) Pothier was a terrific learning ground, with two great opportunities to lead our Musicals as Yum-Yum in the Mikado and Nellie in South Pacific.

From there I also participated with Garden City Productions, in “Ragtime to Riches” and “Gershwin First Person” with Tom Inglis and Ross Inglis on duelling pianos.  These two shows were choreographed by the fantastic Diane Nyland-Proctor.


I have sung various Church Solos and weddings and would love to do more of this.  In particular, I aspire to sing Oratorio works, and to become more involved in the Opera community, something that is already happening!

2013 found me preparing for my first operatic lead role, as Frasquita in Toronto City Opera’s February 2014 production of Carmen ~ it was a dream come true!

A lucky event re-introduced me to Peter Krochak, a fantastic pianist who also studied voice with Mrs. Pothier.   We were destined to work together and since 2014 have released 3 CD’s!  We hope you will listen to our ‘Beautiful Memories’, a rendition of Maurice Ravel’s “5 Greek Folksongs”, sung in Greek, and ‘Exult, Rejoice!’ featuring Mozart’s “Exsultate, Jubilate” and 5 selections of Schubert Lieder, including the famous “Gretchen am Spinnrade”, both done in 2014.   In 2015, we were pleased to release (and perform) another CD entitled ‘Of Love and Nature’, a compilation of Art Songs by Faure, Rachmaninoff, and Schubert, this time featuring “The Shepherd on the Rock”, along with Carlos Melendez on Clarinet.

It is such a pleasure to work with Peter, as his beautiful piano accompaniment is always sensitive to timing and so very musical in his interpretation.   Thanks also to Brahm Goldhamer who spent many hours with me preparing ~ as our Artistic Advisor!

In November of 2014 I sang my debut as a soloist in two Cantatas, appearing with Choralis Camerata in St. Catharines.  The works, fittingly chosen for St. Cecilia’s Day, were Britten’s ‘A Ceremony of Carols’ and Bach’s ‘Wachet Auf’.  In 2016, as guest soloist with the same group in Charpentier’s Midnight Mass for Christmas and Rutter’s Gloria, I was also thrilled to sing Mozart’s Alleliua accompanied by strings, in this case an excellent quartet. This fine choir, directed and conducted David Braun (no relation),  performs to full houses and deservedly so!

In February of 2015 I performed my role debut as Oscar in Verdi’s ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ with Opera by Request, and have since also performed the role of Barbarina in ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’, with Toronto Summer Opera Workshop, as well as the role of La Suora Infermiera in ‘Suor Angelica’, with Oshawa Opera.   2016:  I have just completed my first appearance with a full orchestra, with Tryptych Opera and Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra for their fully staged production of Gianni Schicchi, in which I sang the role of Nella.
After an exciting summer of 2016 in which I visited Busseto, Italy with Operavision Academy and had an opportunity to sing for Maestro Richard Bonynge, I am so very thrilled for what is coming next in 2016 and into 2017!

Now What?

I have a need to put a few words here, if for no other reason than to get them out of my brain.

My whole being is in shock after last week, Nov 8. And I’m not even in the USA.

Do we not remember what war, hate, division, and non-acceptance have done to people all through history?

And every bit of it was the result of hate or distrust of another person’s or country’s religion, ethnicity, a fear of anything new or different, coupled with an overall lack of kind, humane love to all creatures.

The other factor is simply that power corrupts. It could be said that a person entering into office intends to be the epitome of goodness and benevolence, but the ego turns all those intentions sour and what takes over is sheer greed, elimination of any possible usurpers, and absolute tyranny.

History repeats itself. It’s a frightening thought right now, and much too close for comfort.

You Mean Little Old Me?


You Mean Little Old Me?

It’s pretty exciting to hear myself say, “I’m an author!” while I hand someone my business card. Can it actually be true? Who gave me such an illustrious title, anyway? Maybe it happened once I printed the cards; in any event it crept up on me. But I like it, it’s new, and it’s fun. I think.

I began writing for pure recreation, and to fill my retirement. It should still be fun!

Now, however, the question has been raised about a writer’s responsibilities, and that has sent my brain into a sort of frenzied overdrive. And dimly, as if emerging through the mist on the edge of a forest, some sobering facts are coming into focus. I do take my writing seriously, and I do take responsibility for what I write! I admit that came as a revelation of sorts, and to describe those duties and obligations throws me another challenge, but it’s one that I wish to embark upon, even if only for my own satisfaction.

One lesson coming home to me more clearly every day is the importance of developing and nurturing a strong support system of other writers, to learn from their vast pool of experience and knowledge. I’ve found a real gold mine in RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB. This group, often seen in social media as #RRBC, has the largest membership, most impressive management and varied activities of any similar groups or organizations I’ve come across to date. This is the website:


Here’s where you can sign up:


As for the responsibilities of authors, the FIRST thought that springs to mind is that a writer must capture the reader’s interest from the first sentence, or at least the first page. SECONDLY, the plot needs to develop with enough speed to stay fascinating, but not so quickly as to lose a poor hapless reader’s grasp of what is happening.

THIRD item, and none of this is necessarily in order of importance, every book has to be believable. That applies even to the wildest fantasy; your readers must be able to feel the possibility of the tale actually happening, somewhere, sometime.

Number FOUR any story with a semblance of normal human existence, whether it be romance or thriller, is better if supported by real facts, even in passing. If you are in London get some fog in there, Big Ben bonging the hour, or taxis.

Also, so FIFTH condition if you’re still counting, would be characters who seem alive, feel real, and have sensible conversations that sound spontaneous and natural. And since reading is a form of entertainment, the added ingredients to present a full picture can include humour, satire, sarcasm, irony and a whole palette of analogies, descriptions, colour and pathos of every kind. Thus we have reached the SIXTH item for our list of responsibilities: paint the picture, tell the story, and never, never let it be a recitation of events that are as dull as dishwater.

SEVEN: If one is writing non-fiction, there is a monumental burden of responsibility. Hours beyond hours of intense digging for truth, facts, or opinions, and then listing a comprehensive bibliography all become necessary if a reader is going to take it seriously. In many cases, writers of non-fiction are very highly educated in the special field they may be writing about, another form of responsibility accepted and acted upon. Non-fiction will never by my forte. I’m far too lazy!

How responsible do I, as a writer of children’s books, have to be? I can’t profess to making a conscious or conscientious choice, but I feel I’ve balanced some nature facts with the whimsy of a child’s imagination (EIGHT). The Wise Old Owl being a mentor and friend to Shelby is one digression. Out there in nature that Owl would simply eat Shelby up for a tidy snack between meals. To defend this far-fetched relationship I argue poetic license (NINE). Where would the fun be without some ideas that defy Mother Nature? Also by portraying such a kindly-uncle figure I hope to reinforce in children the value of seeking and following the good advice and loving support offered by friends, family and teachers (TEN).

I do feel it’s important to include at least one unfriendly confrontation (ELEVEN), so I created a mean crow who bullies Shelby and nearly knocks him off a pole, at a crucial time during a rush for safety while crossing a road. Life isn’t all peaches and cream as Shelby may have hoped.

Another point of responsibility is to have the story take off and arch toward a finale (TWELVE). This happens in each story in my first book, ‘The Complete Adventures of SHELBY F. SQUIRREL and Friends’, a series of separate tales. But at the same time, during the 24 stories there is a larger arch that pulls us along, following Shelby as he stumbles and trips his way through 2 years of learning experiences that leave him considerably more grown up than in Chapter One, ‘SHELBY’S FLYING LESSON’. In my second book, ‘The Great FOREST CAPER’, the arch builds all the way through to a finale in the last chapter.

I would be hugely remiss to omit mention of correct spelling, proper grammar, and precise punctuation. Dreary as it may seem, that’s what makes a good book readable. Oops, THIRTEEN.

Oh, and by the way, this long (and I hope not-too-boring) list is really based on my experiences as a reader. The duties and/or responsibilities required for any job are seldom observed or analyzed by the worker, but are always clear as crystal to the boss and the customers. Maybe we should call this one FOURTEEN for good luck!

Eleanor Lawrie, Sept 27, 2016

September, finally!!


Ahhh, it’s lovely to have fresh air and NO AIR CONDITIONER running!

It’s been a long hot summer, and it’s taken its toll on me. At first I bravely soldiered on and tried mind over matter attitudes. But one can only do that for so long. The mind says eventually, “Who are you trying to fool, you idiot?”

One thing that drives me wild is the noise of the AC in our unit, it’s small and works well enough. But what a racket, just to move the air around a little!!! It’s not the compressor that is making that din, it’s the fan. And we never have it on anything but LOW!

Okay, so scientists can land a rocket ship on the moon and probes on Mars and light years into space, but we can’t produce quiet window units for air conditioning? When one thing is loud other things have to be louder to compensate, thus Buck Martinez is shouting at me from the living room for hours while my guy watches baseball. I think sports announcers should have to pass voice modulation courses before they are hired. I don’t care how much they know about the subject. At least Buck should have to!  Now Alex Trebek, no problem.

So I’ve actually stuck in my earplugs in the daytime a few times just to turn off that constant onslaught of noise. Oh, that’s another thing. A hot water pump in our end of the building is humming so loudly this summer that my Korg tuner registers it. It’s a B Flat, apparently. For the uninitiated, a tuner is built to react to a musical instrument playing at it, and its dial tells you if you’re flat or sharp, while it also tells you the pitch you are playing. So a flute, a violin, oboe, trumpet etc would make the tuner respond. Hmm, how strange there is enough damn sound in my wall to light it up. Hence, earplugs to be able to sleep. The Hearo brand, to be specific.

So while I love this weather, and am so glad the living room is back to normal Buck Martinez levels I’m still bombarded by a constant B Flat coming out of the wall.

Oh well, when the boilers get turned on in October this particular pump gets turned off for the winter. Another great day to look forward to. AAhh, that will be SO lovely!!

(Watercolour painting above was done sitting in the quiet woods, circa 1975 by Yours Truly)



Love this Review!!

Format: Kindle Edition

This is a wonderful and humorous tale about a group of forest animals who mount a charge against the impending human destruction of their forest homes. Led by Shelby F. Squirrel, the anthropomorphic animals devise a series of defenses to derail the planned urban sprawl in their ecosystem. Lessons of teamwork, the place of humans and animals in habitats and communities, and environmental stewardship are all part of this fun and easy read. This story is a good accompaniment to the science/environmental curriculum goals of the human impact on the natural plant and animal communities.

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