Gifts from Miss Missy’s School

January 3, 2023

The Season of Gift Giving is drawing to a close, but here at Miss Missy’s School we’ll continue to give the gift of family reading all year long. What better time than the quiet days of January to snuggle up with family, friends, and a good book? What follows are nine gifts from last December that we want to share again. Hope you enjoy!

Miss Missy’s School Book I: A Pack of Farm Dogs Starts a School by Marica Bernstein.

Illustrated by Caroline Cooper. Old Schoolhouse Road Publishing, 2021.

Dear Readers, and Their Grownups,

This Christmastime and Holiday Season, all of us at Miss Missy’s School would love to give you the gift of family reading.

Our gifts to you will be sneak-peeks of chapters from Miss Missy’s School: A Pack of Farm Dogs Starts a School. Of course, we can’t give you the entire book, but we can share with you excerpts from almost all of the chapters, so that you can get to know Missy and her lovable pack–including Tiger the Cat–and see where the story is going.

All the sneak-peek gifts will have links to a downloadable PDF file, so if you don’t want to look at a screen during family reading time, you can print the chapter excerpts.

Click on ‘blog post’ to read the whole post online; ‘PDF’ to download and print the whole post. Full Preview of first three chapters (including front matter) here. Miss Missy’s School Book I: A Pack of Farm Dogs Starts a School is on sale at Amazon! Support you local independent booksellers at Indie Bound.

About our ‘Gifts to Readers’ & The Back Cover Description
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Dear Children and Their Grownups,

Two of my people have created a book just for you—readers who long for a story of a different sort. In our tale there are no dragons for heroes to slay, or worlds for wizards to save. It’s simply the story of how my pack and I came to realize we needed a school for all the animals on our farm who wanted to learn and teach from those great books of knowledge passed down to us through… Oh, sorry! Marica says I run on sometimes. Back to our story. Mighty were the challenges we faced! It’s not easy starting a school. But in the end, teamwork, perseverance, and creative thinking paid off.

I know you’ll love our story! We are an entertaining pack, and with our people, an endearing family. But I must warn you. Though Marica wants you to make new friends and enjoy our little adventures, she also wants you to learn a few things. You may have never heard of some of these, so she explains them along the way.

I wish I could tell you more, but I must get back to that lesson plan for The Jungle Book. It’s not writing itself, you know. See you inside!



Chapter I: Rescue
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THE STORM HAD PASSED but the wind was still howling ferociously when Marica opened the door to let Rocky and Missy out for their evening patrol around Farther Along Farm.

“RUFF!! RUFF!! RUFF!! RRRUUUUUUFFF!!” Rocky had found something amiss in the front yard.

“What is it? What is it, Dear Friend? Ruff!” Missy barked her best and deepest dog bark.

“RRRRRRRRRuff!” growled Rocky.

“Who goes there? Show your face! Name yourself,” ordered Missy.

“It’s j-j-jest me and m-m-my little one. P-p-please don’t hurt us.”

“RUFF!” shouted Rocky

“Show your face,” commanded Missy.

At that, out from the shadows and into the light from high atop the pole stepped a poor scrawny little fox hound, shaking and crouching over her pup. She begged, “Please, please. C-c-can me and my son crawl under your porch? Little Tommy is so wet and I’m afraid he’ll c-c-catch his death if I cain’t get him outta the wind,” she shivered and chattered. “J-j-jest for the night. Won’t ask for nothin’ more. B-b-be on our way first thing. Please, please?”

“Oh my! Good Lord! Rocky! Go get Marica. Quick!” KEEP READING

Chapter II: What’s Happening?
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“How are they, Marica?” Missy whispered.

“Well, I don’t see anything too awfully bad— though I wouldn’t be surprised if they had worms. I think we can nurse them back to good health.”

“I’m prrretty sure you are corrrect,” purred Tiger softly. “You saved me from my prrrevious prrrecarious prrredicament.” And each in his or her own way quietly recalled Tiger’s previous precarious predicament.

Their reflections were cut short by Bebe’s arrival on the scene.

“What’s happening? I know something’s happening! I know it. I know it. We heard a commotion last night. What’s going on? What? What? What? Tell! Tell! Tell!KEEP READING

Chapter X: Zero-one-two-three
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“HEY BEBE!” hollered Jordan coming out of the little cottage. “Go get two sticks, girl. We’ll play stick for a few minutes. Go get two sticks!”

“Yea! Yea! Okay! Okay! Two sticks are on the way!” sang Bebe as she ran off to fetch two sticks from under the old oak tree.

“Here’s a stick! Here’s a stick!” she said as she ran off to get another. “Here’s a stick! Here’s a stick!” she said as she dropped another stick at Jordan’s feet and turned to run off again.

“Hey! Where are you going?” Jordan called after her.

“You said to get two sticks! Two sticks! I’m getting two sticks!” Bebe yelled as she ran off and came back with another.

“Bebe…?” Jordan was puzzled. KEEP READING

Chapter XI: Questions, Questions, Questions

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IT WAS A VERY pleasant afternoon, a bit chilly but nice. The people had finished their Saturday chores, including putting the shutters on the porch windows. The Big Dogs— including Tiger the Cat— had finished theirs, too. They all gathered on the porch to relax before Saturday Supper.

Bebe and Tommy— no one called him “Little” anymore!— were nowhere to be seen. They were down by the watershed of the lake examining the beavers’ lodge. Bebe would rather have gone swimming, but Tommy wanted to make some careful observations. Bebe figured she could find some new sticks the beavers had chiseled, so she went along.

Noticing their notable absence, Marica took the opportunity to ask how Tommy was.

“Grew like a weed this summer, Ma’am!” Aubrey answered. “And wearing me plumb out, to tell the truth. I can hardly do a thing without him asking me question after question. ‘How does Mr. John’s swivel chair work, Mommy?’ And ‘Why does Caroline plant cabbages in the fall?’ And ‘How do beavers build a lodge?’ It’s exhausting. I jest don’t know the answers to all of his questions. What was it he insisted you teach him the other day, Gil?”

“The Greek alphabet,” Gilbert said with a smile. “That blew me away! He’s so inquisitive.”

“Tell me about it!” Caroline agreed. READ MORE

Chapter XIII: Recess? Never Heard of It

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AS YOU CAN IMAGINE, Bebe was none too keen on the idea of a school. “I don’t want to go to school,” she cried. “School’s no fun! School takes all the fun out of learning. I don’t want to go to school,” she stomped her paw. “Why do we have to have a school anyway? I can learn things on my own. I don’t need a dumb school to learn things. I can count, you know— zero-one-two. I don’t…”

“Ruff?!? Ruff!?!” asked Rock.

Of course I know what a school is!” Bebe said getting more and more agitated. “I’ve heard of them. I’ve seen pictures. They’re horrible,” she moaned. Here Bebe dramatically threw herself on the floor and began flailing around on her back wailing, “I know what they are. They are horrible places! I don’t want to go to school! Please, pleeease, please don’t make me go. Please, don’t make me!”


Chapter XII: It’s Parliamentary, Sir

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“WELL, WOULD YOU look at this! Hey John! Come and look at this!” Marica shouted as she opened the door to the shuttered back porch. “Look, John! It’s a meeting of the canine minds— the ca-minds!” she said pointing at the gathering of the Big Dogs— including Tiger the Cat— who were situated among piles of books and other reference materials.

“Oh Marica, please,” said Missy looking up from her iDevice to peer over the top of her reading glasses. “Using trite rhetorical devices like malapropisms to score cheap laughs is really beneath you, Marica. And not funny. Not funny at all.”


Missy said malapropism meaning to accidentally (or purposefully) misuse a similar sounding word for the one you meant to say, and she got it exactly right!

“Ca-minds. I like that,” John laughed. “I might use that.”

“Sheeze,” said Missy shaking her head.

“What are y’all doing anyway?” asked Marica.

“We’re starting a school, Ma’am!” blurted out Aubrey excitedly.

“A school!?!” said both Marica and John at the same time.


“Yes! A school! It’s so exciting, isn’t it!” Missy exclaimed. “Come on over and have a seat and we will tell you all about it.” KEEP READING

Epilogue: Old Things & Ways Explained

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This is the first paragraph in

Epilogue: Old Things & Ways Explained

Some Old Things & Ways are curious. Others are much more serious. One involves an ancient myth, another, a more recent hypothesis. Whether curious or serious, ancient or recent, Marica explains the Old Things & Ways in Miss Missy’s School in a way you will understand. If you want to learn even more about a topic, you can look it up in an encyclopedia, go to your library, or search online. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, email Marica at She’d be happy to help you learn more!

This is how the entry on parliamentary procedure begins:

Parliamentary Procedure (Chapter XII: It’s Parliamentary, Sir, pgs. 65-66)

Have you ever been with a group of people and you couldn’t get a word in edgewise? Maybe you were planning a birthday party for a friend in the neighborhood but the new kid on the block wouldn’t stop talking. Maybe your family was talking about where to go on vacation and your little sister, who reminds you a lot of Bebe, wouldn’t keep quiet, so you tried talking louder and louder and everyone ended up yelling. Or maybe a grownup leader was asking where you wanted to sell cookies and all the kids said in front of the zoo but she chose the art museum. (Not that there’s anything wrong with art museums!)

If you’ve had these problems, you can imagine what it’s like when a larger group of people need to get together to discuss a serious problem or question, or just have an orderly meeting at which everyone can contribute, and each person gets a fair and equal vote… KEEP READING

Chapter XIV: We Was Robbed!

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Happily, Aubrey and Gilbert were welcomed into their little woodland friends’ homes. … [T]o each group in turn they explained the idea of a school, answered many questions, and invited each group to send representatives to the Mass Meeting.

The last community Aubrey and Gilbert needed to contact was that of the turkeys. For the most part, Aubrey got along fine with the turkeys. Gil, on the other hand… For their part, the turkeys didn’t make the best neighbors. … Aubrey and Gilbert were going into fairly hostile territory but in the spirit of fairness and inclusion, they had to do it.

They thought it best that Aubrey do the talking.

“Good morning!” Aubrey called out cheerfully to the flock of turkeys in a corner of the hidden flower pasture. “Mr. Turkey,” she addressed the large gobbler presiding over the group, “I wonder if I may have a moment of your time?”

“I’m busy,” Mr. Turkey said rather gruffly without even looking up.

“Oh! To be sure, sir, I’ll only take a minute or two.”

“Okay. What d’ ya want?” he asked.

Aubrey took a deep breath. “Well, sir, we would like to invite you and representatives of your flock to a Mass Meeting to discuss the establishment of a school for animals in these parts.”

“A school?” Mr. Turkey looked up and glared at Gilbert out of the corners of his eyes. “Why would we want to go to school?”

Here Aubrey briefly recited the benefits of learning, ending with (as Marica had suggested), “and the presence of Great American Turkeys at our humble little school would be an honor beyond compare, Mr. Turkey.”

“You gonna teach history at this school of yours?” Mr. Turkey asked, spreading his great beautifully colored wings in a display of bravado.

This was enough to make Gilbert’s fur stand on end and necessitated that he deploy all of the temperance he could muster. Aubrey caught her breath but tried to remain calm.

“Well, not me personally,” she answered. “But we certainly will study history.”

“American history?” Mr. Turkey asked with more than a bit of disdain. “You gonna teach American history to these animals?”

“Why of course, sir! American history is a wonderful subject. Every animal should know American history,” Aubrey casually asserted.

“You think so, do you? American history ain’t what it’s cracked up to be. We was robbed, I tell ya.” Mr. Turkey’s bristles were bristling. KEEP READING

XXI: The Big Day!

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AS SOON AS JOHN turned on the kitchen lights Bebe came bounding through the back door with Tommy at her heels.

“Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!” shouted Bebe.

“Merry Christmas, Mr. John,” shouted Tommy.

“Merry Christmas to you, too!” John smiled and scratched them behind their ears.

“Did Santa come? Did I get a present? Did I? Did I?” Bebe was running around the kitchen table in circles and jumping up and down and chasing her tail and she slipped on the floor and fell right into the table leg!

“Owww,” she said rubbing her head.

“Bebe! Are you okay?”

“Owww. I’m okay,” Bebe said a little less exuberantly.

“C’mon. Let’s go turn on the tree lights and you can take a peek while I start a fire in the fireplace,” John said.

“Wow!” said Bebe and Tommy at the same time.

“It’s beautiful,” said Bebe quietly.

The Christmas tree that Jordan and John had chopped down, and that Caroline and Marica had decorated, was beautiful. So beautiful that Bebe forgot all about the presents. (Or maybe that bonk on her head made her forget.)

“Look at the star,” she whispered to Tommy, and they sat down, side by side, and looked up at the star on the top of the tree and didn’t say anything at all for a long, long time. KEEP READING

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