The Adventures of Thelma Thistle and Her Friends
The author, Joyce Crawford grew up in the little southern town of Hawthorne, Florida in the 1950's. She was blessed by having three generations of loving family nearby. One of her happiest memories was living next door to her great Uncle Delbert in a sweet little white house with green trim located just across the overpass. The author remembers southern charms of cows grazing in orange groves just across the back fence, a bird dog named Major who took every opportunity to jump in the back of the pick-up-truck if Uncle Delbert happened to go near the shed, mocking birds singing happily in ancient magnolia trees, and the sweetest memory of all, grandma and grandpa's house in the middle of a pecan grove. One less than happy memory was hearing yelps of pain from her older brother when he stepped on a prickly pear while mowing the yard (mowing in protest I might add). How a prickly pear morphed into a sweet little thistle named Thelma is unknown. The author's first inspiration came from her first grade teacher, a novice teacher named Miss Seltzer. There was an on-going competition among the first-grade girls to see who could run fastest back to the classroom after lunch. The two winners received the coveted nap-time space under the teacher's desk. The rainbow-colored petty coats were not the only inspiration Miss Seltzer unknowingly bestowed. It was a teacher's love of the children and love of teaching that left the biggest impression on this little first-grade girl. “Thelma” was thirty years in the making. The inspiration for “Thelma” came by way of the 1988 comedy movie, “The Funny Farm”, staring Chevy Chase. The author jotted down her initial thoughts but those pages lingered in a box for thirty years next to her son's first pair of shoes. Once retired, the author again picked up pen to paper and “Thelma” was finally born.
Joyce Crawford, one of the newest children's authors presents the children's chapter book series, The Adventures of Thelma Thistle and Her Friends. These books hope to share stories of adventure, science that some children might never experience otherwise. The stories, told through the eyes and activities of a a group of animal friends: Thelma, a little flower; Beetle, an insect, Bunny, Adam Mouse, Rudy Raccoon and a bird, Cory Crow.
Book One begins Thelma's adventures in which she struggles with self-esteem, anger, fear and jealousy. An less obvious struggle for Thelma is one which some boys and girls also share: being immobile. Beetle and Bunny struggle with feelings of being left out and forgotten by a friend, and then forgiveness.
Book Two introduces Cory Crow and Adam Mouse. Cory Crow has no problem with self-esteem or of a lack of knowledge he is more than willing to impart. But he must struggle with being called names, being the victim of suspicion and ridicule. Adam Mouse, struggles silently with being small and timid.
Book Three introduces Rudy Raccoon and a cameo appearance by Chippy Bat. When the friends meet Rudy Raccoon, Bunny is suspicious of him. She thinks that because he "wears a mask" he must be a thief. Thelma and Bunny must learn not to rely on first impressions and stereotypes, and to apologize.
Book Four is appropriately dubbed, "The Birthday Book." In the story, the five little friends watch as Molly, the little girl next door enjoys a birthday party. Thelma's dreams of having a birthday party of her own are dashed when mother tells her that "thistles do not have birthday parties." He friends see Thelma's pain and empathize. Together they evaluate the situation, develop a plan and with teamwork reach their goal of surprising Thelma with a birthday party.
When asked if she plans to write more books, Mrs. Crawford replied,
"There is so much I have in my heart that I want children to know: Things they might never see or experience.
As long as there are children to learn, there will be books to write."