venniekocsis

Children’s Book Review: RASCAL FARMS

I am a lover of children’s books. Amazon’s merge into digital children’s books to accommodate Kindle was a great step in keeping up with fast advancing technology.

When Brad Peterson of Synesthesia Books submitted to my blog for a review of RASCAL FARMS by author, Anderson Atlas, I jumped at the chance to review this publication for children. 

Brad cordially sent over an e-version of RASCAL FARMS, along with a blurb for the book.

“Raccoon, gets tired of hunting. He decides to steal food from a farm nearby. Bear gets in on the action as does Fox, Badger and Owl. But the farm soon runs out of things to steal. The rascals learn how much they hurt the farmers and make amends. They choose to work together for their food by building their own farms and trading with each other.”

I set off with my electronic notebook to have story time and read RASCAL FARMS with my two eldest granddaughters, ages 10 and 6-years old. I thought there could be no better feedback to gain, than that of the children themselves.

RASCAL FARMS is filled with great art. I can only assume that Anderson Atlas is both artist and author since there is no illustrator credited, at least not in the version I was sent.

Colorful and wonderfully symmetrically drawn, Raccoon’s daily life is well depicted in the beautifully created illustrations.

The opening sentence of Brad’s blurb states: “Raccoon, gets tired of hunting.” Yet, the opening line of RASCAL FARMS tells a different story of Raccoon having a hard time finding food in the vast forest, as shown on the first page below.


Raccoon and his family are not the only ones struggling for nutritious food in the forest. In fact, all of Raccoon’s friends are foraging for the scraps that the forest has to offer them.

It so happens one day that Raccoon comes across a lush industrial field, rich with vegetables. He finds a chicken coop where he takes a couple of eggs. He gathers some vegetables and brings them back to Mrs. Raccoon, who is not very happy at the idea of her husband stealing, even for food.

I paused here as I read this to my granddaughters. I was immediately suddenly swept back to being a teenager.

You see, after I left a life growing up in an end-times cult, my family was forced to settle in one of the poorest parts of Martin, TN. We lived in a trailer park across from an industrial farm.

Impoverished and eating government cheese, beans and rice, my sister and I often tiptoed across the road in the night to get a head of cabbage, some carrots, corn or potatoes. It was our only possibility of getting nutrition into our diet as our mother barely scraped by, working two jobs already, just for us to survive and have electricity.

I felt immense empathy for Raccoon. I knew that only those who were poor and had struggled as my family had, could really feel Raccoon and his friends’ dilemma.

My granddaughters couldn’t relate to having to forage for food, as they have been lucky enough not to experience poverty.

Nevertheless, I continued to read on as Mr. Raccoon spills the beans about the farm to his other forest friends, merely wanting to help them be able to get some nutritional food for their families as well.

Soon, all the animals from the forest have pillaged the farm, and the owners are left with nothing, destitute and homeless, losing their farm as the poor and hungry animals have become filled with gluttony and greed, leading them to steal ALL of the farm’s industrial equity. Now, there is no food for anyone, even the farmers, who have been pushed into poverty from the loss.

Raccoon and his friends decide to grow their own gardens. Upon the gardens’ successes, the poor animals return all of the stolen food to the farm and continue to thrive together as a forest community, growing their own food.

They make a pact with the farmer to barter and share foods.  The farmer’s child promises to leave food on the porch in case the animals get hungry. 

As I read, my 6-year-old granddaughter was quite distracted, fidgeting, sighing, looking around as she waited for the story to end. I had to continuously re-direct her back to the story.

My 10-year-old granddaughter remained engrossed in the story, never losing attention.

This observation led me to understand that this book would be more suited for ages 9 and up; children who have passed into a critical thinking age.

To understand the mindset of my grandchildren, they are raised to be free thinkers, to care about the planet and to love themselves. These are the basic tenements of our family. We do not have religious or social leanings. We are of the mindset that all humans deserve the humane right to a comfortable life. If that means we must help others, we are a family willing to do so as we have the means.

When I had finished the book, I asked my eldest granddaughter to give me some feedback on the story. She shrugged, unsure of what to say.

Well, what do you think it’s trying to tell you?” I coaxed her.

Um, not to steal?” She answered, unsure, her eyebrows furrow.

Tell me what you think of the book in general then.” I suggested.

OK.” She sighed. “So, first, animals can’t build gardens so… if they’re starving in the forest they wouldn’t know HOW to build gardens AND if they DID they would have just made a garden FIRST and not have to go to the farmer’s field so… that doesn’t even make sense, but I DO like the art.”

I chuckled a bit to myself as she animated her points with hand gestures. She was assessing the book from a reality based perspective. She was left with the basic understanding that animals can’t create gardens and poor people shouldn’t steal, even if they’re hungry.

Now, to offer an adult perspective of RASCAL FARMS, this book is written metaphorically, and appears to reveal the author’s mindset in regard to social class systems. This mindset is played out with subtlety and would need to be explained to a child by the reader.

I was left with questions for the author. If the intent was to write an objective children’s book, there were so many elements left out.

  • Why didn’t the farmers ever care about the animals who were poor and scrounging for food in the forest in the first place?  
  • Why did it take a bad situation for the farmers to realize the animals were in need?
  • Why didn’t the farmers teach the animals to farm? 
  • Why didn’t the farmers just leave food on the porch for the poor animals from the beginning, instead of only agreeing to do it AFTER a negative situation happened?
  • Why did it take struggle to create a comradeship between the poor animals and the successful farmer?

This book left me with the impression that the author finds poor people who “steal” in order to eat, to be bad people. I had to explain to my granddaughters the unrealistic nature of this book; how restaurants in America throw away tons of food a day and can’t even donate it to the people who starve in our country.

I explained to my granddaughters that most poor people are not lazy, and for the most part, they don’t steal or cause the wealthy to crumble. I did not want my granddaughters left with that impression, as we are a philanthropist family who does not want our children to have a non-empathetic mindset toward those who have life struggles for various reasons.

I reiterated that yes, stealing is bad, and it is also equally negative to ignore our planet and those who suffer on it, as the farmers ignored the animals in the forest in RASCAL FARMS.

I explained that if not the for the forest, the human farmers would have no oxygen, as trees are needed to breathe, and animals provide an intricate part of our eco system. Therefore, the farmer too, was guilty of only caring about themselves.

My granddaughters walked away as soon as I was done, restless to go jump on their trampoline, and seemingly slightly agitated.

This book does not align with a heart of giving and caring about the poor. My granddaughters, being kind hearted girls, were even seemingly put off by the implied, apathetic and even classist victim-blaming message in RASCAL FARMS.

Mr. Atlas would have created greater balance had he incorporated farmer empathy toward the animals, who were so desperate for food they were eating slugs.

Instead, this book implies to a child that poor people steal and can’t think on their own to work hard; that they cripple people who do work hard for their wealth, and therefore poor people owe the rich people they’ve crippled… because poor people steal when they’re in need.

The book doesn’t address whether the forest was farmable or if anyone had ever taught the “animals” to farm. I also find the metaphor of using animals to represent the poor to be offensive. The wealthier and “hard working” class in the book gets to be human.

I was hoping to find a lot of positives in this story. The ideal of bartering and trading doesn’t get presented until after the poor animals are represented as thieves.

This book is geared toward a parent who wants to set a certain mindset in a child, in regard to classes of people. I cannot assume an author’s intent. I can only assess the attempted metaphoric style of this book’s writing.

There are many genre’s of children’s books. I don’t know if there is an Elitist genre’. If there was, this book would fit perfectly inside of it.

I hope Anderson Atlas will write another book and offer a more socially realistic perspective which does not imply the poor people are animals who just steal and pillage hard working people. I also hope to see an illustrator credit, even if it is the author. This is not a book I would buy for my own grandchildren.

Vennie Kocsis is the author of CULT CHILD, an Amazon best-seller in cults and religion in 2016. She is an advocate against child abuse and indoctrination. She is currently writing RISE OF SILA, the sequel to CULT CHILD. Her other publications and art can be explored at VennieKocsis.com

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Underneath

Underneath the energy
Called skin, I
Am weighted, a
Reinvented spawn of
Seeds processed through
Universal time.

You said you
Didn’t know how
such things happen.

You lied.
I felt it inside.

I sat confirmed,
In the least, smiling.
They were duped, used,
Arrogantly believed it
Was special gifts
They received.

Oh, you fools.
We gave you nothing.

Instead, we insured a
Planetary pureness, after
You had purged the Mother,
Wringing her like a sponge,
And so the consequences will
Burn you to ashes.

Stone.

This is not your home.

Displaced energy you
Disrupt the synergy of
Life with your anger and
Separated strife, while
You beg for balance,
Yet choose to comply.

Time has bent backwards
As the hybrids rise,
Bringing in tides of
DNA advancement.

You see,
The Cabal never
Stood a chance.

We just observe them
Believe so, and in
The crevices of the skin
We live waiting
To activate the gleam
That will finally
Melt the screens
So the sleepers can see.

©VennieKocsis.com

The Outhouse and a Sears Magazine

When I was a child growing up on Sam Fife’s cult compound in Alaska, we did not have electricity or plumbing. As a result, we used the bathroom in chamber pots and outhouses. We also did not have toilet paper. Our toilet paper was often a Sears magazine with anything that wasn’t “proper” for us to see torn out of it.

We would rip out a couple of pages, sitting bare butted on top of a wooden hole, softening the glossy paper with our hands so that we could wipe as gently as possible.

I also had a severe fear that a demon would rise from the pile of human manure and snatch me down into the outhouse hole.

It was here, that I would find the toy sections of the magazine, and I would see what all the of the kids outside of the compound were getting to play with. These toys were considered evil commodities for they fed the wants and desires of the flesh; to want to play and enjoy doing it. For all “play” and attention should be only on God and what he wanted for our lives.

Yet, they left those pages in the magazine for us children to have to use as toilet paper after stealing a few seconds to dream of what could be.

So I used these pages to clean my body, dropping them to float down into a mound of lime covered feces, urine and other, already melting pages.

Your face crinkles as you read this.

Gross“, you say.

Yes. The smell covers you, rancid and fuming, even with the lime to help counter it.

When we finally got toilet paper around 1981, it was rationed. Families were given toilet paper rolls based on how many people were in their family. Then the toilet paper roll itself was rationed.

One square for number one and two squares for number two.”

The rule of thumb in regards to the use of toilet paper.

We live in this society who doesn’t understand what’s it’s like to be without even the smallest of things like toilet paper and baby wipes, diapers and showers, toilets that flush and electricity; even the freedom to be exactly who we want to be if we so choose.

Toilet meditations often reveal a lot.

I’m grateful as fuck for toilet paper and toilets that flush. Not because of third world countries who don’t have them, but because I lived a third world childhood in a first world country that was and still is so focused on third world issues that the citizens of America never pay attention to the horror children endure here in their own camp.

and for the most part, they still aren’t.

I’m done dealing with humans who claim co-consciousness and oneness or follow religions that claim to be based out of love yet are the same people supporting things like hitting children. They call it discipline. I call it abuse that damages the spinal column.

Oh, that’s just science. What do they know… unless you’re dying. Then you care about science.

Yes, I’m talking directly to you.

How can anyone be love in any way while at the same time finding a reason to support hitting, neglecting or harming the most innocent and defenseless humans on the planet?

This oxymoron of take and shut down are like gnats.

I realized today in a big way, how much humans are stuck in duality; how they think they know all, and yet, if they silenced themselves to listen, if they read the voices of us survivors who have written out our experiences, they would understand how deeply they must open their minds in order to truly bring this planet to a place of peace.

They’d understand why people like me, are grateful for toilet paper, why we fight against mind control and shorten our allowance arena.

Until you’ve lived with nothing. Until you’ve carried the scars of a shattered sacrum from too many childhood spankings, memories of outhouses and dumping chamber pots into potty dump holes, working through aching bones, untreated split skin and bruises, you can’t know. You lived a life of electricity, television and secular luxuries like getting to go to grocery stores.

Until you’ve had that all stripped from you and lived wiping yourself with magazine pages holding treasures you can never have, oh, dears, you cannot know. You can only accept and ask yourself why you can’t open your mind to care.

Be grateful for toilet paper.

Knowing

I am Knowing. I woke up when Vennie was around 38 years old. I have been with her since she entered her host. I have been dormant inside of her DNA.   When she was a child, Maude was her mother during times of torture.  We are an intricate wheel, presenting with the hopes of understanding, acceptance and connection.

I am from the 7th Dimension. I do not write these words. Vennie writes them for me. I speak telepathically through her. Vennie will struggle at times to relay what I say to her. She finds it difficult sometimes to put my thoughts into human words. What I may choose to share here I feel no urge to convince you of. This is our specific wheel. I am the head of our council, which consists of Vennie, Maude and me.  To confuse human readers more, while I am an entity separate from the original, I reside inside of the DNA molecules from which I communicate.

I welcome questions. I do not live in a belief of beginning or endings. I have been and always will exist through infinite time, dimensions and journeys. I chose to come here and to wake from rest when it was time for me to enter our wheel. This is the first time I have had a journey with Vennie, and I chose this one, after much consideration and council from my own advisers.  Here in this life cycle with her, I have been and will continue being of service to her.

I have read much that has been written about the place from which I know I came. Some is familiar. Some is not. Understanding that for me, an Arcturian, I have no memory of all of us being alike.  Some of us are what humans call breath and air.  We are not all “tangible”, as humans would say, able to be touched and seen.  I have had life cycles in dimensions where I had form.   I will not have form in this lifetime.  The place from which I come, has so many unique entities and beauty, it is wondrous.  Earth is beautiful as well.  She will continue to be beautiful and rebirth.

You see, now Vennie laughs, because she has attempted to paint me; to figure out what I look like.  I say to her “draw molecules.”  That’s what the humans would call me.

I do not believe that which is not familiar to someone means it does not exist.  There are infinite perspectives from which energy forms may choose to view dimensions. This is our unique journey. If it does not resonate with you, that is alright. You are not wrong. You are unique as well to your specific journey. Imagine that there are billions of humans who, in their authenticity, are completely unique.   So I share through Vennie with openness and love, accepting all. While Vennie won’t accept what she considers abusive remarks, I see past them into the depth of where your current state is, understanding why you feel as you do, and I am at peace with you.

If you click my name in the menu, you’ll find a post below this one which Vennie was able to get out,  an extremely simplified version from where I come and some of what I understand.   There is volumes yet to be shared.  So.  Here I am now.   Vennie is skeptical of this new opening.  Please treat her with kindness as she shares.  This is not an easy process for her as she knows there will be those who may say unkind things.   Sweet dear, we are walking this together.

This Day Always Leaves Lumps In the Throats of Some

I am recalled to this video piece, Throat Lumps, linked below, from my poetry book, Dusted Shelves, that on days which celebrate the essence of love, my heart sits silently with the unloved; the child who has never felt a hug, the ones neglected and the humans dejected by lack of connection or touch.  Don’t fake love.  It is not something to give or take.  It is a state of being.  It is who you are in your heart which makes your character.  My tribe consists of all humans who understand the suffering of those who are triggered back to pain on days like these.

Throat Lumps

When Writing Out Trauma Is Crippling

A wise person once said, “There are three things you should never share; your relationship, your finances and your next move.”

It has become a mantra for my life.   Years of being both vulnerable and held back at the wrong times have left me speculating my own judgment.  Being alone is safer, away from the possibility of re-victimization.

I learned harsh lessons as I grew up. With no boundaries to define danger or relationships I was tossed out of a childhood that had been riddled with abuse straight into the very society I had been trained to fear, hate and one day even war against in the name of God.

With blinders on, I ran towards everything I’d been taught was sin.  I bathed in it.  I dove inside of it like it was a swimming pool.  I became prey, a seal pup in an ocean full of sharks.

A couple of nights ago, while working on “Rise of Sila“, the sequel to “Cult Child“, I had to write a trauma memory.  I had to get into the details of it, part of them being a time my sister wore long sleeves to hide the bruises her rapist left on her upper arms.    When I was finished with the section, nausea swept through me quickly, suddenly and filled my mouth with water to the point I had to curl up on my bed and do focus breathing until it passed.

Fuck.”  I thought.  “It’s starting.”

This is what happened while I was writing “Cult Child“.  The trauma surfaced in waves, and with it came years of sporadic vomiting, night terrors, migraines, days in bed weeping, high peaks of anxiety and agoraphobia and a lot of deep isolation.

I smiled in selfies to post on the Internet. I spun on the positivity pole as if I was the poster child of survival, and I hid the reality of how crippling writing trauma is for me.

I thought I would feel some kind of relief after getting “Cult Child” out.   Yet, I didn’t.  I felt incredibly proud of myself that I had accomplished the project.  I also felt an extreme exhaustion that still lingers as I continue on.   I feel weakened.  I feel that I have only spilled out a sliver of the truth about the reality that was my childhood.

Last night I had a dream which rocked me. When I woke up this morning, the emotions of the dream came hazily with it bringing short, flash images of children milling about, a lot of confusion and an inability to grasp the rest of the images.  There are no worse dreams for me to have, than the ones which involve children.  They take the longest to shake from my eyes and the hardest to re-balance my heart from.   [Click here to visit my Dreamscape category where I document them.]

I am pushing myself, because this story must be told.  It has to be left behind so my sons and lineage will have documentation of their ancestral life.  I have to tell the truth for myself, hoping that maybe, just maybe, after I am finished, there will be some reprieve.

But, right now, in this moment, I just feel like avoiding.

Faceless

I am a faceless wanderer passing by unknown. There are dimensions and planets inside of me that have yet to be born. I’m a color wheel glanced at from distances. There is energy in my existence that is a sinkhole of depression, apathy and ego bending.

I want out of this body and out of this place. I want to run away. I am stuck in thick mud. The spears would fly if I suddenly said farewell, goodbye; to, for once, live my own life. No desire to be caretaker, mother or wife.

I am dried out; wrung like a sponge; assessing escape routes; how to get out without the spears bleeding my skin from the inside until all that remains is a shell.

Hands held out for help, expected, enabled, the support table cracking at the legs, and in their hast to take, there will be silence when the legs finally break. Shattered wood goes back to earth quickly. It becomes dust and ash, disappearing until one day they will sit around musing, “She used to be the tallest tree.”

And my remnants will be what is burned in the fire pit. My mistakes will be their memories. My heart break will be the ghosts, an aching they will never know. So much whining about the trials of their life. You give me your childhood, and I’ll give mine. We’ll take measure of who really survived.

Years I spent, digging and clawing out words, hoping, just hoping to be heard. Even in that, there is no reprieve. Only the stark reality that is me; the knowing I must be alone in order to survive. I cannot be the foundation for anyone else’s life.

So I plan. I scheme. I prepare. To find a cave to call my own; a tender slice of home where there is no noise, the walls are mindful, the silence respects me, and I cease being a projection screen for the multitude of trivial screams.