DOG BONE SOUP is not only the title of Bette A. Stevens’s debut novel; it ranks high among the paltry meals that the book’s protagonist, Shawn Daniels, wants to forget. Plodding through mounting snow and battling howling winds, Shawn is ready to leave it all behind—living in poverty, Dad’s drinking, life in foster care, the divorce, the bullies….
Travel with Shawn Daniels through the guts and the glories of life. You’ll find them all in DOG BONE SOUP, a Boomer’s coming-of-age saga. Available now at “YOUR AMAZON”
From the Reviewers
“Dog Bone Soup is the poignant tale of a dysfunctional family struggling to survive in America in the 50s and 60s, when most others were on the crest of a wave. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. But most of all it will make you glad you read it.” ~ Charlie Bray, founder of the Indietribe
“In Dog Bone Soup, Bette Stevens captures the feeling and images of growing up in hardscrabble times perfectly.” ~ John Clark, librarian and author
DOG BONE SOUP
READ Chapter One on Bette’s Blog (if you haven’t already);
and, here’s an EXCERPT from Chapter Two:
WILLIE FINALLY CURLED himself up in a corner near the wood stove, sobbing to Pandy. That stuffed bear was his favorite and it was nearly as big as Willie. I went over and put my arms around them.
“Mum’s coming back for us,” I whispered and I rocked them until Willie fell asleep.
That night, Dad took us boys up to Uncle Hiram’s. The house had electric lights that turned on and off with chains. It even had a flush so you didn’t have to pee in a pot at night. There were lots of rooms, too.
Jamie and Seth had been coming over to our house most every day. Mum tried to get them to learn their A-B-Cs when she was teaching me, but they didn’t want a thing to do with learning. Soon as they’d start fussin’ and cussin’, Mum would tell them to get along home before she washed their mouths out with soap. They’d stick out their tongues and make all kinds of mean looking faces. When Mum got up, they’d take off like a shot, slick as those greased pigs at the fair.
Jamie and Seth had their own room with separate beds. The night we got there, Seth slipped in with Jamie while Willie and I slept together in Seth’s bed. No one came in to kiss us goodnight or listen to our prayers.
“Dear, Lord, please bring Mum home,” I whispered to God as I pulled up the covers and tried to tuck them in like Mum would have done.
A few days later, I hid myself under Seth’s bed soon as Willie followed the boys out to pitch rocks at the chickens. Seth and Jamie were always fighting and saying mean things about Mum. Willie liked to follow the boys around. He’d laugh and poke sticks back at them. He was just a little guy and looked up to those big kids.
I fell asleep under the bed hugging a blanket and didn’t wake up until I heard Dad’s and Uncle Hiram’s boots thumping up the front steps.
“You’ve got to do something about those damned boys, Eddy,” Aunt Hilda said. “I’ve got troubles enough keepin’ up with my own.”
“Listen here, this is Friday night,” Uncle Hiram told Dad. “If I were in your boots, I’d get my sorry ass down to the dance hall and find myself a good woman. One who ain’t high and mighty. One who knows how to have a good time. One who knows how to take care of a man.”
“Don’t worry, Hi-ree. I’ll have the boys out of Hilda’s hair soon as I can, but I’ll have to take time off Monday to get things worked out. I know you need me in the woods with ya, but first things first.”
Dad always called Uncle Hiram “Hi-ree.” Mum said it wasn’t proper English. Dad said it was a nickname. That night, Dad didn’t tell us any stories about him and Uncle Hiram working in the woods like he usually did.
Monday morning after breakfast, Dad packed Willie and me into the Plymouth and took us down to Lebanon. He held onto our hands as the three of us climbed up the steps of a brick building to meet a lady named Mrs. McNair.
Mrs. McNair’s gray hair was pinned up on top of her tiny head and she had huge black eye glasses hanging from a braided string around her neck. They dangled in front of us when she bent down to meet us. “Hum-m-m-m. Why, hello, boys,” she said as she sort of smiled, first at Willie, then at me before she shook her head and checked us over from head to toe.
“This nice lady is going to find a real fine place for you boys to stay for a while,” Dad told us. “Now, you boys be good. Soon as I find me a real job, I’ll get Mum and Annie home. We’ll all be a family again. You’ll see.”
“Now, now, Mr. Daniels. Don’t go making promises to the children that you can’t keep. If you plan to get the boys back, you’re going to have to pay the state for the time they spend in foster care.”
“Don’t you worry about that,” Dad told her.
Dad gave us big hugs and even kissed us before he left. That’s the only time I remember him doing that.
Mrs. McNair took us to a room with a little wooden table that had kid-size chairs around it. There were books, papers and crayons on the table. In the corner, there was a basket filled with toys. Willie headed straight for the trucks and cars and I sat at the table drawing for a while. I drew a picture of Mum. Then I drew one of Mum and me fishing at the brook. I drew one of Mum and Dad and us boys picking blackberries. Annie was sleeping on a blanket and we were all smiling.
Then, I spotted those books. That’s when I wished I could read. Mum said I’d be reading in no time. I sure wished it was no time. I picked up a book with Goldilocks and the Three Bears on the cover and pretended to read it. Mum read us stories every day, so I knew how to pretend read from the pictures.
When Mrs. McNair came back, she told us she had found us a very proper family. “You boys must be on our best behavior. I’ll be stopping by every now and then to see how you’re coming along.”
Mrs. McNair walked us over to a big white house. She opened a fence gate and we walked up to the house. Mum would have loved it. There were flowers everywhere.
Mrs. McNair knocked on the door.
“This is Mrs. Cross,” she told us when a lady opened the door.
“Why come right in. This must be Shawn and Willie.” Mrs. Cross smiled and patted our heads. “I hope you like it here.”
“Oh, I’m sure they’ll love it,” Mrs. McNair professed as she patted our heads too.
“The Cross family has an impeccable reputation. Mrs. Cross is one of our finest foster care mothers,” she patted our heads again before she left Willie and me standing there.
I didn’t want any mother except Mum.
### end of excerpt
About the author
Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).
Bette A. Stevens is the author of award-winning picture book AMAZING MATILDA; home/school resource, The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!; and PURE TRASH, the short story prequel to DOG BONE SOUP.
Find out more about the author and her books right here on “YOUR AMAZON”
- Bette’s WEBSITE/BLOG
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- Author Bette A. Stevens at “YOUR AMAZON”