Real or Make-Believe?

Pelicans Real Or Make -Believe?


Real or Make-Believe?   Fact or Fiction?  These are questions we all ponder daily.  And, now, with so much technology widely available, it is even more difficult to determine.

In our books, we put real and make-believe side-by-side.  Our books contain photos of scenes from the Pacific Ocean coast.  These scenes are placed throughout our books, next to, and interspersed with, our cartoon characters and settings.  And, when people, both adults and children, tell me what they like about the books, they almost always tell me about the real photos that go along with the stories.

Why Do I Include Photos of Real Scenes?

These photos inside our stories give parents or teachers and children a great catalyst for discussions of Real or Make-believe, and a lot of other things.

Real Photos Increase Understanding.

They help the reader understand the story.  For instance, when I talk about the ten little pelicans in a line, and then include a photo of real pelicans flying in a line, not just the cartoon ones, it adds to comprehension.  And, the next time someone is at the coast and sees that, it enriches and expands that comprehension and knowledge.

brown pelicansBrown Pelicans



Another example of adding to understanding of the story was the young pelicans’ experience with By-The-Wind-Sailors, which get blown up on shore from time to time. One grandmother wrote to me that they had seen those before, but didn’t know what they were.  After reading our book, Pelly and Melly — Best Friends, her granddaughter told her that if they see those again, they would know!  Hurrah!  I love that!



Real Photos Encourage The Reader To Be Observers

One of my goals is to encourage people to observe what is around them and learn about the natural world. I have had people who have never seen pelicans, or paid attention to them.  After seeing the photos of real pelicans in our books, they sometimes tell me about when they saw them and their behaviors.  People start to notice!  Great! Maybe they will start to see many more beautiful animals, too.

Real Photos Add To The Fun!

When the reader suddenly sees a real scene in the midst of a imagined story, it adds to the fun.  When I am out reading the stories to children, I almost always get a child saying, with surprise,  “That’s a real pelican!”  (And, on the other hand, there are always those who will ask if the large, green puppet I take with me is real.  It reinforces my belief that talking to children about what is Real or Make-Believe is kind of important.)

Pelly The Pelican

Real Photos Show The World To Children

And, there is a reason, dear to my heart, to put real photos in my books.  They give children a glimpse of the world by the ocean, both natural and people constructed.  Some of us live close enough to the ocean and are able to go there often.  Many cannot.  I feel good about children having something  in their hands and in their homes that shows a part of our coastal world.  Something they can look at as long as they want, not just fleetingly on a T.V. program.  I guess this comes from always having access, as a young child, to National Geographic Magazines, encyclopedias, animal books, and all the books we could carry from our library visits.

Is it Real or Make-Believe?  We hope that our books will help adults and children talk about this important concept.

#48 — Real or Make-Believe?

6 thoughts on “#48 — Real or Make-Believe?

  • April 16, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    There is so much wisdom in your work
    Thank you .. sr

    • April 16, 2018 at 4:50 pm

      Why, Thank you! At least age and experience, and a sincere desire to try to make wise choices. ?

  • April 12, 2018 at 6:45 am

    I agree. Real photos stimulate thinking and conversation. I like the mixing of the real and cartoon in your books. It widens the appeal. Thank you! xoA

    • April 12, 2018 at 8:43 am

      Thank you, Annis. And, I could have added, I so enjoy sharing the beauty of places I’ve been. I remember, when the first book was printed, how amazed I was at how good the photos looked in the book. Josten’s has been a great company to print my books.

  • April 11, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    I love the photos in your books, Shirley. I can’t wait to give them to my granddaughter. She’ll be here next month! <3

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