Roo: First of all, we'd like to tell you how glad we are to have you here with us. My mom, Tina, met you back at the Ohio National in November of 2012 and spoke with you then about your wonderful book. She said she knew right away that the kids here would just love Percy and love to hear from you. So tell me a little about Percy. Where did your great idea for this book hatch from? (I couldn't resist!)
Rick: Well, that is a good question Roo. I have always liked chickens and have raised them since I was a small child. One characteristic is that they are not as “laid back” as other animals such as dogs. They can be perfectionist and “peck” at differences in other chickens. Sometimes I see this in people too. We all need to be more understanding about ourselves and celebrate our differences and the differences of others. Basically, we should be smarter than chickens!
Roo: I guess there are those who "peck" in every species,aren't there? In the book Percy struggles with being bullied and feeling like there is something wrong with him. That he isn't "perfect". Can you tell us what made you want to take on this difficult subject?
Rick: Children today are being raised in a very complicated world. There is a lot of uncertainty in this world and children are under pressure. It seems like we are putting a lot of expectations on our children without giving them the help they need to grow up with a confident spirit. Bullying, like Percy experienced, robs children of hope. The understanding that shines through the Percy book is meant to provide hope and understanding for children today. We should begin with ourselves and learn that it is okay not to be perfect. Then we can be more accepting of others imperfections and not have a need to pick on them.
|See my Lucky Foot?|
Rick: Well Roo, after meeting you, I am very inspired by your life. You have a very gentle spirit and I saw how you helped the many children who were in your assembly the other day. I also admire your dedication by spending time with the students as you do each week. Both your lucky foot and your gentle message to the children are admirable. I could see the confidence the children have in you, in their smile.
Roo: Thank you Mr. Rieser! I sure love my friends and I know how much they love me. What advice do you have for our young readers who might be bullied or who might feel different compared to their friends or brothers or sisters?
Rick: Any student who is being bullied needs to tell their teacher and their parents. Being picked on persistently is not normal and no one should have to accept it. And also, realize that being different is okay, in fact it makes you and everyone else special. If you feel bad about being different that is also something that you should share with an adult that you trust.
|Here I am trying to talk chicken with my buddy Kevin.|
Rick: My chickens are always doing something funny. From hiding the eggs they are hatching to chasing each other if one of them has found a worm. I especially like the young chickens as they are growing up and begin “strutting their feathers!”
Roo: I know that you are many things, including a parent, a children's advocate, an author and a chicken keeper. What do you think about the idea of reading to animals to promote relaxation and provide encouragement to children?
Rick: There is a ton of research that proves that animal assisted education is highly effective. Roo, as you know when you are around your students, they are more calm and attentive than in a typical classroom. That means they are learning more with you than perhaps in a standard classroom. Also, some students who have a difficult time keeping focus in class are more likely to learn from you than in a typical classroom. Keep up the good work Roo!
Roo: We'll sure try! Say, what kinds of animals do you have at home?
|Sprinkles the Silkie rooster poses by the Percy book at the event.|
Roo: That's quite a crew! I'm sure you and your daughter love them all. What is your favorite thing about your own animals?
Rick: Animals have their own intelligence that is different than ours. We can learn from that. My dog learns more about our world from what he sniffs that we could by reading 100 books.
Roo: Speaking of books...what was your favorite book as a child?
Rick: The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Roo: Grrreat books! I love writing and I know my little buds do too. Any tips for our young aspiring authors?
Rick: The biggest advice I can give is to start writing. Even sentences, poems or simple paragraphs are a wonderful way to start. If you want to be a writer then start writing and you will be. Don’t worry about being a “perfect writer” just have fun doing it.
Roo: I love those tips! I'd love to ask you this one last silly question. If you were a dog, what kind of dog would you be?
Rick: A Golden Retriever
Roo: Thank you so much Mr. Rieser for coming to our school, sharing your book and letting us meet your feathered friends. I know we all had a great day and I really appreciate you sitting down to answer a few questions for me!
Speaking of Rick Rieser's wonderful book and the event we hosted, check out Tina's post about the event here. Ready for something fun? Me too!
|Our FABULOUS Prizes!|
We are doing a very special giveaway to help share the confidence building message that Percy the Perfectly Imperfect Chicken can inspire! Two Grand Prize Winners will receive an autographed softcover copy of Percy the Perfectly Imperfect Chicken and a Percy Learning Farms T-Shirt. Three additional winners will receive a Percy Learning Farms T-Shirt. (only sizes XS and XL are available)
Follow the link below to enter for your chance to win! The contest ends March 20th and the winners will be announced on March 21st. Good Luck!
What are you waiting for my friends?