The Tale of Charlie the Toad

Reviewed by David F. Rooney

The Tale of Charlie The Toad by author Mieke Blommestein is a lovely and beautifully illustrated soft-cover book for young boys and girls.
This slim volume, the second in a series of books written by Blommestein and illustrated by Calif artist Diane Perruzzi, features a toad named Charlie whose vivid fantasy life fails to cure him of the blues. Fortunately he meets a helpful grasshopper who helps him learn a valuable lesson about life and love.
Like its predecessor, 2009’s successful The Tale of Miss Spider Who Spun Her Web, there is a gentle lesson for children contained in its pages.

The Tale of Miss Spider Who Spun Her Web

Reviewed by Issues magazine, February-March 2010

While this is a book for young children, the author told me that the message contained therein is for young and old, so it is one for you to enjoy reading to the little ones in your life.
Spiritual healer and teacher Mieke Blommestein, who lives in B.C, began channeling in 1982; in 2000 her spirit guide Emanuel came to her, and the story in this book is the first of many that he told to her. The first illustration is of a monk sitting in a garden, holding a book for three children to see- this is Emanuel, who invites Mieke into his garden so that he may share with her his stories.
I won’t spoil the story line for you by giving too much detail, but can tell you that it is about Miss Spider who learns that she can indeed choose between the voices in her head, and opts for the one that is full of love and kindness, rather than the loud and angry one. The text is simple, easy for youngsters to understand, yet conveys the message of love and harmony so well. The illustrations were provided by Diane Perruzzi, a free-lance illustrator who has taken her artistic ability seriously since the age of ten. Her painted work perfectly illustrates the story, and she uses lots of soft pastel watercolors to give plenty of visual interest to children who cannot yet follow the written words.

The Tale of Miss Spider Who Spun Her Web

Reviewed by Suzanne Lieurance

At first glance, this delightful beautiful book from first time children’s book author Mieke Blommestein appears to be about a spider’s next meal. But, when read more carefully, it is actually a story about love.

One morning Miss Spider sets out to spin a beautiful web. She wants it to be perfect. But when she is finished, she is not satisfied. The web is far from perfect. Still, it is the best she can do.
Later, a nice juicy bug gets stuck in Miss Spider’s web and begs to be released. This calls for a decision. Should Miss Spider let the terrified bug go? Or should she simply eat him? As Miss Spider is considering all this, she discovers she has two voices in her head. One voice is loud and angry. It tells her to eat the juicy bug who has been unlucky enough to get stuck in her web.
But the other voice is soft, loving and kind. It says to Miss Spider, “Just let it go!”
Which voice should Miss Spider listen to?
She crawls back to the edge of her web to think about it. As she makes herself comfortable, she spots a beautiful butterfly. The butterfly asks her, “Problems, Miss Spider?”
“You bet I have problems,” the spider says. And she proceeds to tell the butterfly about the juicy little bug and the two voices in her head.
The wise butterfly advises Miss Spider to consider how following each of the voices will make her feel, and this is where even the youngest of readers will understand that this story is not really about Miss Spider’s next meal, it’s really all about love. For each of us has two voices in our head from time to time. One voice is loud and angry. And if we listen to it and do what it encourages us to do, we end up feeling worried and in pain. The other voice is kind and loving. And when we follow it, we have more happiness and love in our life.

What’s interesting about this message of love, written in the context of Miss Spider and her next meal, is that the story can lead to all sorts of interesting discussions about nature, love, survival, and even personal responsibility for the things we eat. Children can learn to recognize when their own angry voices are trying to take control and cause them to do things they will not feel good about doing. They can learn techniques to help them heed their kind, loving voices instead.
Children and adults alike will enjoy the charming illustrations in this book, including the heart-shaped holes in Miss Spider’s web and all the cute little items that end up in it somehow.
This inspiring tale will help anyone learn the true meaning of love.