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Paperback Details
  • 10/2017
  • 9781975991326 197599132X
  • 142 pages
  • $19.99
A Yorkie's Tale: Lessons from a Life Well-Lived
David Heaney, author
In this charming spiritual adventure, author and former pastor David L. Heaney uses the adventurous journey of a dog, a rat, and a parrot to impart important truths about the nature of life and the inevitability of death.
 
Niles, an aging Yorkie, has led a pampered life with his two loving owners and knows nothing of death. When his new friend Nathaniel, an inquisitive fruit rat, shares the puzzling tale of a family burying a “sleeping” cat, Niles’s life begins to change. Another neighborhood critter, an eccentric possum called Leach, explains to the two befuddled creatures that the cat wasn’t simply sleeping—it was dead. 
 
Shaken by this revelation, Niles and Nathaniel decide they need to do something meaningful with their lives—but what? They resolve to venture outside Niles’s backyard, and with the help of Poppy, a friendly parrot, and guided by cryptic messages from a cat Niles encounters in his dreams, they begin to seek out answers.
 
Their travels take them from their own neighborhood through a canyon right to the edge of the ocean. Along the way, they encounter and benefit from the wisdom shared by others—the seagulls, dolphins, and a visionary gorilla—about the mysteries of life, and the grace that comes from living “well” unafraid of their own mortality.

Semi Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.75 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: Heaney demonstrates a strong grasp on storytelling for children in a tender tale that explores weighty issues of life, death, and the meaning of existence, as animal characters question how they can best fulfill their individual purposes.

Prose: Heaney’s eloquent writing expertly blends anthropomorphic details into descriptions and dialogue, causing readers to alternately forget and distinctly remember that the leading cast of this novel is comprised of furry and feathered friends.

Originality: Heaney’s middle grade novel is a unique contemporary story that pays tribute to classic works of children's literature through its poignant and sophisticated approach to dealing with questions about death, purpose, and grief.

Character Development: Heaney’s characters are quirky, sympathetic, and wise. With humor and grace, the author gently advocates for building meaningful relationships with our creature companions, our human companions, and the natural world around us.

Date Submitted: May 15, 2018

Reviews
Heaney’s contemplative novel centers on a cast of endearingly self-aware anthropomorphic animals who face significant questions about life’s meaning. Niles, an elderly Yorkshire terrier, leads a carefree life with his human owners (“Mama” and “MAN”)—until he meets fruit rat (not a “common trash rat”) Nathaniel, who has witnessed something troubling: a family burying a cat in the ground. Knowing nothing of death, Niles and Nathaniel are educated on the matter by a knowledgeable possum named Leach. The animals embark on a journey to the sea, along the way encountering animals that impart powerful lessons about living mindfully and making peace with death. Throughout the story, Niles is visited by the spirit of a deceased cat, Deheune, who hints at a greater purpose in life—or perhaps beyond it: “Stay true to your quest now, but these words ne’er dismiss./ The life you were meant for is/ Not this, not this.” Heaney offers wisdom, poetry, and humor in his narrative. His distinctive animal characters—pictured in Tatu’s expressive watercolors—will resonate with middle grade readers. Ages 9–12. (BookLife)
Emerald Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW

 

A story that teaches significant life lessons, as well as warming the heart with something spiritual.

By Piaras on 30 May 2018 (Emerald Book Reviews)

We all like to read them at some stage, and many of us are so influenced by a good story that we adopt life changes to match. True stories and biographies are obviously the most inspirational, but there are also fictional stories that can be just as inspiring. And for me, A Yorkie’s Tale: Lessons from a Life Well-Lived is such a story.

This is an inspiring story that teaches significant life lessons as well as warming the heart with something spiritual. Author David L Heaney weaves an intelligent and noteworthy tale that will easily captivate the reader’s attention from the beginning. The author paints a captivating and adventurous story about life and death in a very vivid and substantial way. In addition, the characters are drawn with great credibility and integrity (albeit of the furry and feathered kind!).

The book description gives a sneak preview: ‘In this charming spiritual adventure, author and former pastor David L. Heaney uses the adventurous journey of a dog, a rat, and a parrot to impart important truths about the nature of life and the inevitability of death.

Niles, an aging Yorkie, has led a pampered life with his two loving owners and knows nothing of death. When his new friend Nathaniel, an inquisitive fruit rat, shares the puzzling tale of a family burying a sleeping cat, Niles’s life begins to really change. Another neighborhood critter, an eccentric possum called Leach, explains to the two befuddled creatures that the cat wasn’t simply sleeping it was dead.

Shaken by this revelation, Niles and Nathaniel decide they need to do something meaningful with their lives but what? They resolve to venture outside Niles s backyard, and with the help of Poppy, a friendly parrot, and guided by cryptic messages from a cat Niles encounters in his dreams, they begin to seek out answers.

Their travels take them from their own neighborhood through a canyon right to the edge of the ocean. Along the way, they encounter and benefit from the wisdom shared by others the seagulls, dolphins, and a visionary gorilla about the mysteries of life, and the grace that comes from living well unafraid of their own mortality.’

Captivating and commendable, this work had me immersed from the beginning. The story flowed from scene to scene with ease, and the author shows exceptional ability when it comes to storytelling. There are plenty of attention-grabbing moments in this page turner that will take the reader on a truly thought-provoking, reflective and inspirational journey!

It’s one of those books that come along occasionally that makes you want to read it non-stop until you get to the end. I’m giving nothing further away here. And this, I hope, will only add to the mystery and enjoyment for the reader.

If this book is anything to go by, I’ll certainly be looking forward to reading more from David L Heaney in the future. It’s a book that’s very difficult to categorize so I would recommend it to all readers who just like a good story! All ages, I think, will enjoy this one. It also has a distinctly cinematic feel to it and I could easily see it being adapted to the Silver Screen. A well-deserved five stars from me.

James Minter Author Blog

Live the Life You’re Supposed to Live

By James Minter, Jan 16 2018 11:15AM

The day I sat down to read this book, quite by chance I observed two entirely unrelated events. One was a TED Talk by Iain McGilchrist, a Fellow at All Souls college, at the University of Oxford: discussing what’s happened to our soul or spirit. And the second, an event on a TV show for pop­star hopefuls. One contestant, a lady in her early thirties, had been driven for as long as she could remember to become a singer. So much so, when she was 9­years­old, she had made up her mind to seek a place at a school specialising in music education. She worked hard and won a scholarship. At the school, she achieved a great deal, but her success was in opera singing when she really wanted to be a pop singer. However, she stuck with opera to please her teacher, her parents, grandparents and other family members. In other words, she lived the life they wanted for her, not the life she was supposed to live. It was only on the death of her younger brother did she realise, in the words of Heaney, “You see, a life doesn’t last forever, and then you become dead.”. At the moment she promised herself to switch from opera to popular music­her lifelong dream­and competing for a place on the TV show was her starting point to start living the life she was supposed to live.

“A Yorkie's Tale” operates on a number of levels – for a child, the beautiful illustrations will engage their young minds as well as the array of diverse characters which populate the story – a rat, an owl, a possum, a parrot and many more – plus it’s a well­written to boot. For the adult reader, woven into the plot are messages we all need to remember. For example, we all live in our own world, but actually, there is a much bigger world out there – we have so much to learn and experience. Equally, it’s not about how we look on the outside, but what’s important is who we are on the inside: our spirit or soul. As Heaney says, “It’s the spirit that puts the light in your eyes and the love in your heart.” This is what McGilchrist explored in his presentation.

Heaney also recognised that leaving the familiar is always uncomfortable but a discomfort which has to be borne to find the life you should be living. This is shown, in the above example, by the hard decision the promising pop star had to make and relay to her family and teacher. But notwithstanding, it’s a complicated world, meaning that what is good for one is not necessarily good for others.

Heaney doesn’t make light of deciding to live the life you’re supposed to. He recognises it’s only the start, and nothing is easy. Our chosen path can lead to uncertainty, to moments of doubt and even regret. Being strong is necessary. “The road you are on, the quest undertaken, immovable obstacles seem placed in your way. Ne’er turnaround now; to learn, you must stay...or the truth you shall miss.”

“A Yorkie’s Tale” is full of great life lessons we all need to absorb or be reminded of. To treasure friendships; the importance of generosity and kindness; take nothing for granted and look for the richness of the world in which we live; joy and contentment can be discovered almost anywhere; and that latter exist as much inside us as outside.

Heaney continues, we should not fear death since our mortality urges our spirit to seek out what our lives mean, and living the life you’re meant to live is about embracing the totality of the life you live.

 

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 10/2017
  • 9781975991326 197599132X
  • 142 pages
  • $19.99

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