Robert Drake

Robert Drake

The Boy, The Boat And The Beast
by Samantha M. Clark

by Carl Hiaasen

Royal Sweets: Sugar Secrets
by Helen Perelman (Series)

If This Were A Story
by Beth Turley

Goodnight Moon
by Margaret Wise Brown (Picture Book)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle (Picture Book)

My original family was my mother, my father, my grandmother and my brother Tommy. They all died many years ago. Since then, I have been lucky enough to build a framily: a combination of friends and family who fill my life with love and care.

If you think about the faces you see when you think of the word “family,” I bet there is a great mix of people among those faces. They have different ages, sizes, colors, genders…but all are part of that mind picture of “family.” One of my favorite quotes about family comes from a TV show (of course). On “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” the character Mary Richards describes her co-workers as her family. She says: “What is family anyway? It’s the people who make you feel less alone and really loved.” Think of the people who make you feel really loved and safe and secure. That is what family feels like.

My mother’s family came together because a ferry sailed across the Hudson River in upstate New York. My grandfather’s family lived in Newburgh. My grandmother’s family lived across the river in Beacon. Without that ferry running between the two cities, I might not be here today! They met working together in a hat factory. My own parents came together because my mother worked as a secretary with my father’s sister, and while he was in North Africa and Italy during World War II, they started writing to each other. A few years ago my cousin Maureen found a letter my father wrote to his sister (Maureen’s grandmother) during the war. He mentions my mother, calling her “Millie’s friend.” Seeing that letter connected me with my own past in a very special way.

This time of year when families get together to celebrate holidays is a wonderful time to make memories. Ask questions of your relatives about their lives. You’ll be surprised what you might learn! My cousin Rosemary says her first set of skis came from my mother. She became a ski instructor when she grew up. I do not remember my mother ever skiing or showing any interest in skiing, but Rosemary’s memory of her is tied to that sport.

This time leading to the winter holidays is when families gather. This month on Kids Corner we are celebrating family in all the ways it comes together.

I have a confession. Before October 22, 2018, I had never actually watched the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” That didn’t stop me from praising it on Kids Corner, based on the wonderful things I have heard about it. It certainly had been recommended by both kids and adults! For years the Kids Corner staff (especially Eric Schuman) has been telling me what a great Halloween movie this stop-action musical animated tale is. And yet, I had never sat down and watched the entire movie…a very short movie, I must say.


This may be the greatest Halloween movie I have ever seen!! NOTE: I think “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is probably best for kids over the age of 7, although your mileage may vary. Eric Schuman first watched this movie when he was 5, and he did just fine.

This is the tale of Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween Town. After he finishes leading his town’s annual celebration of yucky horrible things for Halloween, Jack becomes fascinated with Christmas Town. Christmas Town is as bright and colorful as Halloween Town is dark and creepy. Jack loves everything about Christmas and the person he calls “Sandy Claws.” He takes a very scientific approach to figuring out Christmas, including kidnapping an important Christmas figure!!

This movie is wonderful!!! It looks beautiful. The characters and situations are original and imaginative. There is a bad guy who looks and sounds really bad, but has great style while he does. The songs are a great match for the story. The whole thing is just creepy enough for enjoyable Halloween entertainment, but not enough to give you nightmares very easily. And you can watch it all over again in a couple of months for Christmas!!

During Halloween Season 2018, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” can be seen on the big screen in local theaters. Some towns make showing this movie an annual event! Check your local movie listings. The story of Halloween Town continues in the 2004 videogame “The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge.”

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

Although Alzheimer’s Disease receives a lot of media attention, its counterpart in animals is relatively unknown. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) in dogs and cats is likened to dementia seen in people. Studies have shown that there are many similarities between the anatomical brain changes in older pets and people.  

Understanding the changes that pets undergo is important because many of the behaviors that occur with CDS can be frustrating for pet parents. Knowing that the pet is not at fault will help families to be more patient and sympathetic. If veterinarians fail to discuss the symptoms of CDS with pet parents, the associated problems may be ignored and merely attributed to “old age.” If recognized in the early stages, treatment options are available to slow the progression of decline.

The primary symptoms of CDS are represented by the acronym DISH (Disorientation, Interaction declines, Sleep-wake disturbances, Housetraining lapses).  Both cats and dogs can develop CDS.


·         Aimlessly wanders

·         Gets stuck in corners, behind furniture

·         Stares into space

·         Fails to recognize familiar people

·         Appears lost or confused in house or yard

·         Seems to forget reason for going outside (to pee and poop)

Interaction declines:

·         Seeks less attention

·         Fails to greet family when they return home

·         Decreased interest in petting

·         Less interaction with other household pets

·         Decreased interest in food/play

Sleep-wake disturbances:

·         Sleeping more in a 24 hour day

·         Sleeping less, restless at night

·         Wandering/pacing throughout day

·         Housetraining

·         Peeing and pooping indoors

·         Decrease or loss of signaling to go out

·         Going outside, then returns and eliminates in house

·         Pees and/or poops in view of family


Although CDS cannot be cured, there are measures that pet owners can take to help their geriatric dogs and cats.   Medications to boost dopamine levels in dogs have been shown to be helpful.  For both dogs and cats, antioxidant and neuroprotective agents can be used.   It is important to avoid environmental changes that can exacerbate pets’ confusion and anxiety.   Try to keep regimented schedules for pets.  Provide a safe and comfortable area that allows easy access to litter boxes and food and water.    

Most importantly, be patient with your pet.  It is easy to become frustrated by your pet’s personality changes and accidents in the house.   Bear in mind that they are not at fault and continue to provide them with love and support.

If you notice changes suggestive of CDS in your pet, seek your veterinarian’s advice.   A physical exam and tests can help to rule out other underlying problems.   Your veterinarian can also make specific recommendations to help your pet cope with CDS.


Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is a holiday that is meant to be fun whether you are 8 or 80.   Although we may enjoy being frightened by ghosts and goblins during this holiday season, dogs and cats do not share this sentiment.   Halloween poses many dangers to pets.  The two main concerns involve pets becoming lost or injured and toxicity from sweets.   The following tips should help ensure a fun and safe holiday:

·         Be sure that all candy, especially chocolate is kept safely out of reach.  Chocolate is toxic to pets and can cause hyperactivity and seizures.

  • Candies containing the artificial sweetener, xylitol, can be deadly to dogs.
  • While pumpkins and gourds are not toxic to dogs, if large amounts or pieces are consumed, serious stomach and intestinal upset can occur.
  • Electric cords and candles pose the risk of burns and fires.  
  • If wearing a costume is stressful for your pet, please avoid inflicting this humiliation.
  • If your pet does not mind wearing a costume, make sure there are no parts that will constrict blood flow or breathing.   Avoid a costume that can impair the pet’s vision or hearing.
  • Keep all pets confined before visitors arrive.   An open door can be an invitation for a frightened pet to escape.  Confinement will also prevent nervous dogs from biting costumed visitors.
  • NEVER leave pets in the yard on Halloween.
  • To avoid lost pets, be sure they are wearing proper identification tags and maintain current microchip information.




Every year we set aside a show to host the Kids Corner Candy Carnival - a chance for kids to tell us what they most want (and least want) on Halloween in their trick-or-treat bag. Listen below as kids share their favorite candies - and the ones they will happily hand over to mom or dad! 

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