Children's Books
by Frances Dinkins Strong

Picture of Frances, Lucky, and two children

When Frances was nine years old, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, commonly called tunnel vision. Thankfully for her, it has been a very gradual loss of vision. She taught elementary and pre-school for 14 years.

The photo at the right shows Frances taking children for a ride on her beloved horse, Lucky. Her book, A Lucky Pair, tells of how Lucky helped her cope with difficult times.

drawing of foal

The picture at the left is Fella, the horse she raised from a foal. He was born when Frances was a child. She drew this picture before her eye condition interfered with her artistic abilities.

Her third book, Beth's Fella, is about Fella and her many experiences during the 33 years of his life as she coped with tunnel vision. She had moments of despair with the handicap, but didn’t let it keep her from having a wonderful life. Lucky and Fella were very important parts of her life.
Photo of Fella and Frances' son

Frances' son is riding Fella in the picture to the right. Fella was 24 years old when the picture was taken.

That same year, Fella met Lucky. It is quite interesting that Frances rode Fella with Lucky and his owner 12 years before she bought Lucky. He was named Beau when his owner and her friends visited the farm and rode on the wide dirt roads. Enjoy a highlight of that visit in the excerpt, "The Posse Cats," from her book, Beth's Fella.

Later, Beau's owner became ill and had to sell him. Several years passed and Beau fell into the hands of a man who neglected him. When Frances bought Beau, she named him Lucky. With her constant care, Lucky restored his strength and handsome looks. Lucky inspired her to write her first book, A Lucky Pair.

Beth's Fella and A Lucky Pair present opportunities to teach about visual impairment and to improve reading vocabulary. Beth's Fella begins when Beth (actually Frances) was a child in 1955, and it has many details about farm life at that time.

Her book, Sally and Grandma, shows the loving relationship with a grandmother and her young granddaughter as the child finds ways to enjoy and help her blind grandmother. It helps children understand the abilities and perceptions of a blind grandmother through senses of hearing, smelling, and touch.

Pat, the Cat and The Adventures of Michael Henry, the Mouse developed from stories she made up to entertain her grandchildren.

About the Author     Author Visits     Contact     Book Excerpts     Order
Lesson Plans for Beth's Fella and A Lucky Pair     Reviews     Suggestions for Creative Writing    
Writer's Division of The NFB    JAWS
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About the Author

Frances D. Strong has a degree in elementary education with a minor in art from Columbia College in Columbia, SC. During college, her tunnel vision interfered with very few activities although driving a car was not an option. Now she often uses a seeing eye cane.

She and her husband live on her parents' farm near Sumter, SC. They have three adult children and three grandchildren. Twice a day, she ventures out to the barn to tend to her daughter's retired horse which is named Sir in her book, Beth's Fella.

Frances retired from teaching because of her eyesight. Then Fella died at age 33. Her third book, Beth's Fella is his story. Soon after Fella died, her beloved father passed away. Poppa is a major figure in Beth's Fella. Frances became depressed.

Her life was uplifted when she rescued an old Tennessee walking horse from neglect. For seven years, they were close friends.

After Lucky's death, she wrote his story: A Lucky Pair.

Her second book, Pat the Cat, is for her first grandchild.

She has written other books, poems, and church plays for children.

Frances belongs to the Writers' Division of the National Federation of the Blind.

Send an email to request information about school visits. She will read it with the help of her computer program, JAWS (job access with speech). This enables Frances to continue writing by using this wonderful screen reading program.

The @ sign is missing from the email address on this site to help avoid spam. Copy and paste the email address.

Replace the word, AT, with @ sign.   Phone: 803 - 469 - 0307

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from Beth's Fella, from A Lucky Pair, from Pat, the Cat, from Sally and Grandma from The Adventures of Mikey, the Mouse

Click on book cover to order Beth's Fella

     Beth's Fella
Written by Frances Dinkins Strong
Illustrated by Kay Payne
Grades 3-5 +

© Frances D. Strong 2002 All rights reserved. Thanks for not copying any part of this book.
Published by Learning Abilities Books.
Order Paperback for $9.95 Amazon or
$6.97 check, purchase order and $6.97 PayPal.

For lessons using this book, see Guidelines, Background, and Questions.
Table of Contents: 1 Bright Beginnings; 2 Sisters; 3 Two to Train; 4 Special Places; 5 The Lost Calf; 6 Blackie; 7 The Hero; 8 The Savannah; 9 Nellie;10 The Monster from the Deep; 11 Visitors; 12 Beth and the Children; 13 The Posse Cats; 14 Fella, Sir, and Prince; 15 A Gallant Ending; Photos of People and Pets in the Story

Beth, mare, and foal Excerpt from Chapter 1, A Bright Beginning

The South Carolina April morning was perfect. The sun’s rays sparkled on the damp dew-filled grass. Beth searched the wooded area with her eyes to the west but saw nothing. Slowly her eyes moved to the south across the wide open pasture but she saw no movement.

She turned her face to the east. She blinked several times, pushed up her glasses, and wiped her eyes. The bright sunlight made it difficult for her to see. There it was! She saw a most glorious sight! Queenie was walking with her little foal bouncing along behind her. God seemed to paint that picture just for Beth.

Beth squatted down beside Duchess and tearfully said, "I can’t believe it. He’s so perfect." Duchess barked as Beth hugged her collie for a moment.

A Few Highlights

Experience the excitement when Beth first sees her newborn foal and the precious moment when she touches him for the first time.

Watch Beth and her sister as they train their young horses. Enjoy the ride down the country lanes. Visit the beautiful millpond. Join the girls as they discover their secret garden. Laugh at the sight of a horse rolling over in the huge mud puddle. Be surprised by who wins the race. Share the sadness when Beth’s dog dies. Beth marries and has three children who learn to ride on Fella. Read how Fella brightens the life of a handicapped boy.

Follow the development of Beth's tunnel vision from mild to severe. Understand concepts of poor periferal vision and night blindness. Notice subtle ways to help people with handicaps.

Fella and Beau The family didn’t realize Queenie was pregnant when they bought her. They knew nothing about Fella’s sire, and they assumed he was a three gaited horse. At age 24, he surprised them when a group of women named The Posse Cats brought their horses to the farm. They enjoyed the smooth gaits of their Tennessee walking horses on the wide dirt roads. The excerpt begins after Beth's friend, Peggy has arrived with her horse, Pal, to ride with Beth and The Posse Cats.

Excerpt from Chapter 13, The Posse Cats

The Posse Cats began going at the nice running walk. Fella and Pal cantered which was faster than the walking horses' favorite gait. Peggy pulled her horse back to a trot. Beth didn’t like to trot so she tried a slow canter but Fella was so excited he wanted to run. As she held him back, surprisingly, Fella developed a gait he had never done before.

Beth looked back and said, “Peggy! Look at Fella. I do believe he’s racking like a five gaited horse!”

Peggy’s face lit up and she said, “Wow! I think you’re right!”

Beth continued to hold him back and at the same time nudge him on. He kept on racking. Fella’s gait was just the same speed as his visitors. Beth loved this gait because it was easy in the saddle, too.

Beth leaned over and said to her horse, “Fella, you’re the best. I can’t believe you are really racking. You are amazing!”

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Click on book cover to order A Lucky Pair

     A Lucky Pair
Written by Frances Dinkins Strong
Illustrated by Mattie Dinkins Roscoe
K - 3

© Frances D. Strong 2002 All rights reserved. Thanks for not copying any part of this book.
Published by Learning Abilities Books.

Order Paperback for $6.49 Amazon or
$4.54 check, purchase order and $4.54 at PayPal.

This book has the honor of being recorded by The SC State Library Talking Book Services for People with Disabilities.

A Lucky Pair is based on facts except that the heroine is a young person.
The story is told by the Tennessee walking horse, Lucky.

Table of Contents: 1 Neglected; 2 Tryouts; 3 The Best Gift; 4 The Vet's Visit; 5 Lost; 6 Friends; 7 The Good Life

picture Lucky in a cluttered barnyard Chapter 1. Neglected

It was a terribly cold winter day. I stood there helplessly bracing against the bone-chilling wind as it cut through my frail body. Surely, I thought it was going to be another miserable day. When Mr. Jones approached me with a halter, I noticed two people had arrived.

.   .   .

This is how the story begins. Lucky is rescued by a visually impaired girl, Amy. Learn how Lucky wins her heart. See how Amy almost misses the chance to buy Lucky. In spite of the best medical attention, Lucky becomes blind in one eye. Enjoy how Lucky and Amy meet each other's needs.

Lucky in the pale moonlight Feel the excitement as Lucky becomes lost. He is caught in a web of vines. Experience the warm reunion and the experiences of other children with Lucky.
Relax as they are blessed by the good life.

Here is how the last chapter ends. picture of Lucky grazing

I must have been napping and didn't hear Amy call us for breakfast. When I did hear her, she was coming out in the pasture using her seeing eye cane.

"Lucky, where are you?" she called. "Even with my dark glasses, I can't see well in this bright sunlight."

She turned and walked back towards the barn. When I came up behind her, she was mumbling something about me. Then I nudged her on the back.

"Oh!" Amy jumped around. "There you are!" She laughed.

I waited for her to grab a handful of my mane as we walked side by side to the barn.

Moments like these were special times for both of us. I had many years of bliss on the farm with Amy. I know we gave each other that extra spark in life. Every day could be faced with bright anticipation. We were truly a lucky pair.

Read lesson plan about visual impairment for A Lucky Pair.

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Click on the cover to order Pat, the Cat

      Pat, the Cat
Written by Frances Dinkins Strong Illustrated by Linda Lee
Pre-K - 3

© Frances D. Strong 2003 All rights reserved.
Thanks for not copying any part of this book.
Published by Learning Abilities Books.

Order Paperback for $6.49 Amazon or
$4.54 check, purchase order and $4.54 at PayPal.

Frances loves cats. She currently has several of them.
This tale of fun and forgiveness is for her first grandchild, Laura.

Pat looking out the window This is how the book begins.

There once was a cat. His name was Pat.
Every day at the window, he sat and sat.
He wanted to see all he could see
What was beyond the old oak tree.

squirrel and blue jay

Perhaps a noisy jay would fly by;
Or he'd spy a rainbow high in the sky.
Out on a limb was a squirrel with a nut,
Chattering, chattering who knows what.

The book continues with its soothing rhythm and bright pictures as Pat sees different things and chats with outdoor creatures. Later, this scene takes place.

Pat jumping away from frog All of a sudden on the window screen,
A treefrog landed, all legs and green.
Startled! Pat bumped a flower pot;
The one the mother liked a lot.

Find out what happens when the flower pot breaks.

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Sally and Grandma

cover for Sally and Grandma
Grade 2 - 5
Regular Price $7.49, now Sale Price at PayPal $5.24, or with order form $5.24


Sally and Grandma

Written by
Frances Dinkins Strong

Illustrated by
Kay Payne

© Frances D. Strong 2010

Sally making cookies
from Chapter 1: Sally Visits Grandma
     Using a spatula, Sally scooped up the cookies and slid them into a paper-lined tin container.
     "I love making cookies for Grandma. Umm, they smell so good. It's been a long time since we‘ve seen grandma, right Mom"
     "Yes," Carol answered. "This will be the first time visiting her since she moved into Rose Haven Retirement Home. Now we can celebrate Mother’s Day with her when we see her today."
. . .
     Grandma opened the door wide. With one hand holding her cane and the other arm out ready for an embrace, she said, "Come here, you two. Give me a hug."
     "Happy Mother’s Day!" Carol exclaimed.
     As the three embraced, Sally held the picked flowers out away from the group hug. "Guess what I have for you, Grandma." This time she brought the flowers around and held them close to Grandma’s face.
     "Honeysuckle!" Grandma exclaimed. "I know that sweet aroma anywhere. Oh, that brings back memories."
     Carol said, "Tell us of a special memory about honeysuckle."
the family with the new computer
from Chapter 4: Grandma's Gift
     Grandma was breathless, "Oh, I don't know what to say. I think I'm too old to learn this computer language. I haven’t typed since I was in college."
     Sally chirped, "No you are not too old. If I can do it you can too. I will help you learn how to send emails. This is going to be so much fun!"
. . .
     Carol squeezed her mother's shoulder gently and said, "It is not that hard. It just takes time. I know Sally will be a big help to you. Thomas told me that with the JAWS software you can have the Bible read to you through the Internet. And I bet you’ll enjoy listening to the local newspaper where you can find the weather, the head lines, special events and even the obituaries."
     Grandma’s mouth formed an o as she said, "O-o-oh."
     Excitedly Carol said, "Mother, I just thought of something else. Now you can write down the stories of when you were young."
     Grandma almost had tears as she said, "Yes, I always did want to do that. This is all so overwhelming."
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covers books of 3 Mikey books The Adventures of Michael Henry, the Mouse
Written by Frances D. Strong
Illustrated by Kay Payne
Copyright 2012

Children easily identify with the main character. This set of books is ideal for reading aloud. Each book has several titled sections allowing for convenient breaks. The stories lend themselves to discussion, story telling, and vocabulary development. Memory and sequencing can be practiced by copying the pictures on the back of each book, cutting them out, and letting children put them in the correct order. Reminiscent of Beatrix Potter, these story books have more text than pictures.

Frances dedicates these books to her grandchildren who gave her the love of story-telling. Her wish is that they keep on listening, reading, writing and telling their stories. The books developed from bedtime stories she told them. Mikey (Michael Henry) keeps getting into trouble. Some adventures are accidental. Others are of his own doing. There are lessons for Mikey to learn but he must experience fright, friendship, loss of a loved one, anticipation, frustration and joy before he can find peace.

A boy is introduced in the story as a baby whose crumbs of cereal on the floor are appreciated by Mikey after the family has gone to sleep. The boy is woven in and out of the three books until he becomes an elementary school aged child. Mikey escapes from a trash can, a trash truck; rides a school bus; encounters several people, cats, dogs, rabbits, a horse, a rooster and other creatures. The summaries below are just the highlights of the story line without details about the many adventures.

Book 1 begins: My name is Michael Henry. I am a gray mouse who lives in a shoe box. I like my little house. It is cozy with things I’ve collected like bits of soft tissue paper....

Summary Book 1
Mikey meets outdoor mouse Mikey must escape from the house when the family buys a cat. Adjustment to outdoor life is helped by Misty, the mouse. He longs for crumbs from the table and he slips into the house. When he is discovered by people, he escapes in a trash can which is thrown into a truck. He quickly jumps out and tumbles down the road. He is greeted by his friend, Misty, who says, "My poor little friend. Mikey, are you all right? Come with me, I'll take care of you." For a long time, he never desires to go into the big house again.
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Summary Book 2
Mikey gets into trash can Although he loves being with Misty, he longs for human food. He slips into the trash can which was left outside beside the steps. As he enjoys treats, someone picks up the can and dumps him into the garbage truck. He jumps off far from home. Mikey goes to a house where a girl talks about going to school on the bus. He remembers seeing his boy come home on a school bus. Mikey sneaks into the girl's book bag and onto the school bus. He sees his boy on the bus. He hides all day on the bus then he hides in his boy's book bag for the ride home. He tells his dear friend, Misty, "Don't worry. I don't want to ever leave you again. This is my home to stay."
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Summary Book 3
Mikey with his family     Mikey hides from rooster     Mikey in tree house
Misty announces, "We're going to be a family soon." Mikey enjoys caring for his little family. When the people clean out the tool shed where the mice live, he searches for a new home for himself and his family. On a farm, he hides from a rooster. He finds a home in the tree house which his boy and his friends use. They leave delightful treats such as M&M's and peanuts on the floor for Mikey and his family.
Book 3 ends with: "It was pleasant to hear the raindrops begin to fall on the rooftop. I knew that everything would be all right now. At last I was a contented, happy, little gray mouse."
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Frances was still using the handicapped access features on her old Mac computer when she wrote her books: A Lucky Pair and Pat, the Cat. After publication, she found it increasingly difficult to read text on the computer. Now the JAWS program reads material on her computer.

Frances and her teacher Through membership in The National Federation of the Blind, she learned about Neil Towery's ministry which he calls Recovering Sight. He teaches students to use a computer program: Job Access With Speech (JAWS). This is offered through his church, the Church of the Holy Comforter.

The picture is courtesy of "The Item" in Sumter, SC. It was used in a newspaper article written by Bobby Baker. It shows Frances and Neil as she uses the computer. Notice, the monitor turned off. She hears the computer read what would be on the screen. When she types, it checks spelling along the way. She uses keyboard commands rather than a mouse. Any command which can be given with the mouse can also be given with the keyboard.

Neil has choroideremia, a genetic eye disorder which he first noticed as a teenager. At age 31, he had to give up driving. For 30 years, he has been blind. He began this ministry in January of 2004. It has been a blessing to the teacher and to his students. He uses this scripture as his motto.The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind.... - Luke 4:18. He feels that computer technology is a partial fulfillment of this scripture.

Frances was Neil's second student. JAWS has opened a new world for her increasing her confidence and her ability to communicate. The program has a scanner which she uses for reading anything which is typed: a newspaper, a bill, etc. She can surf the Internet. She sends and reads emails independently. She enjoys hearing from people who have read her books and who have visited her website. The following link opens a new window. Learn more about JAWS.

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Writer's Division of the National Federation of the Blind
by Lori Stayer, Editor of "Slate & Style"

The Writers' Division began in 1982 at an NFB national convention when it seemed that writers needed a place to hang their hats while other divisions met. Writing is one area where the playing field is leveled for blind writers, as one can submit one's work by mail and need never meet the publisher, or even mention one is blind. But members of the Writers' Division feel no need to hide their blindness, and indeed use the magazine, "Slate & Style" as a jumping off point to write about blindness and educate the sighted public.

Blind writers take a slightly different approach to writing, but that difference is covered in the adaptations used to make computers talk, or in writing in Braille, or on tape. Those with some vision use Zoom text to make the print larger so it is visible. Whatever method is used, one of the key problems for blind writers is being able to read back what they have written so that revision or proofing is possible. Programs like WindowEyes and JAWS make the text audible. While no program is perfect, these certainly go a long way to making computers accessible. For many years, Mac computers had some handicapped access features. Now these are on most computers but they don't have all of the features of WindowEyes or JAWS.

Several of our writers have gone on to publish books, including Eugene van Wyck, a physical therapist, who wrote My Precious Spine & I: a Self Care Manual for You and Your Spine (ISBN #1-8945530-6-3). Gene wrote to me to thank me for the resources printed in "Slate & Style" which helped him find a publisher. Reviewing books isn't the focus of "Slate & Style." Getting them written and published is the focus. "Slate & Style" is available in large print, Braille, email, and cassette.

To subscribe to "Slate & Style," contact Lori Stayer, Editor. To avoid spam, the address has xxx between Lori and Stay.
Delete the x's in the address. If you send an email to Lori, be sure to put "Slate & Style," in the Subject Box. A new window opens for reading more about The Writer's Division of the National Federation of the Blind. Another new window opens for local chapter and division contact information for the NFB. Visit State and Local Organizations.

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