Best Behavior McKittrick’s Series on Civility Good for Parents and Children
This is one of a series of stories about civility.
BY KATE SMITH
“Boomer and Halley found each other — and a wonderful new home and family in the small Southern town of Shady Pines” reads the last sentence in Mary Jane McKittrick’s first book, “Lost and Found,” one of her children’s books in a series on civility.
Boomer and Halley’s literary world is charmingly conventional — a Mayberry-esque town of the 1950s, with Betty White and Ward Cleaver look-alikes as parents. Their cleverly taught morals are also inspired by the past, rather than by current times.
“The important basic fundamentals of good character — we’ve lost them,” McKittrick says.
Good manners seem common only when paired with soda fountains, Rosa Parks’ seat and the introduction of color TV.
McKittrick’s revival of a past era’s manners is displayed by her characters, Boomerang, the Australian shepherd, and Halley’s Comet, that silver streak of a cat.
“I’ve learned a lot of life lessons myself by rehabilitating animals with quiet consistent care, changing their behavior by changing mine,” McKittrick says. “How many kids are out there whose parents don’t implement that? I’m not one to give parenting advice or lectures; I’m not at all a parenting expert. I just give what I know to be taught by the animals [in my books].”
“Ripened” in Southern California, but currently settled with her cats and horses in Pinehurst, McKittrick has acquired a unique style.
Theater and speech communication degrees from the University of Southern California construct her books as an active art and convincing dialogue, while their small Southerly town is nostalgic of — guess where — our county.
Inspiration at her horse farm and “healing and starting anew” in Pinehurst led her to the creation of Boomer and Halley’s world.
The animals are irresistible, knowingly nudging McKittrick through her renewal, and readers through the redemption of lost morals.
Kindness, obedience to parents, respect of property, and the importance of family are some of the civility topics voiced by the poster characters.
While civility for adults is preached by politicians, their loudspeakers filled with morality for personal gain, McKittrick opts for simple common sense.
Her books are a “tool for the parent to impose their own values” a one-size-fits-all glove fibered with courtesy.
McKittrick is drafting her fourth book around long-term military deployment’s effect on families, and the recovery of a child’s bemoaned silence in fear of Daddy’s safety.
“The Hollywood animators that I have spoken to have told me to cut the parents [out of all my books],” she says. “They don’t get it. The parents are integral to the solution. Teamwork and respect are columns of the books, as well as society. We’re understanding that the medal is not the goal; that the result is only produced by connection, not confrontation.”
McKittrick writes to all, to communities as well as to children.
“It’s a small microcosm lesson,” she says. “You get taught as a kid to clean up your room, later the kitchen, and someday you’ll be cleaning up an oil spill off the Gulf.”
For more information, and to purchase the books, visit www.boomerandhalley.com.
Kate Smith is a newsroom intern at The Pilot.
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