TMW Book Reviews

Life in the Neck: Advent of Christmas by Diane Davies

Storytelling is a delightful way to introduce young children to the wonders of the Christmas spirit and its significance. Children can participate more fully in the festivities when familiar with the customs surrounding this joyous occasion. What better way to prepare for the holidays than to set up the warming home decorations? Join Eli, Elsie, and their animal friends in the third book in the Life in the Neck Series by Diane Davies.

Life in the Neck: Advent of Christmas is a great book to guide children practicing religion. With the help of this book, children can learn about Christmas from a more religious perspective. It expresses the solemn practices of Advent as Eli and Elsie prepare their fort for the upcoming weeks. Curious as they are, Delaney, Rocket, old Coyote, the squirrels, and all other kinds of animals from the Neck watched Eli and his sister as they made the wreath, created from evergreen branches that they’ve collected. Each week, they’d hold their Advent observances on the front porch, each light lit by battery-operated lamps.

This book serves as a token of inspiration for children who love the season of good cheer. Practicing solemnity and devotion, Eli and Elsie actively offer Biblical readings as they light the advent wreath.

Written with meaningful paragraphs, this book leads you through the winter wonders of the Neck using radiant imagery. Good humor is sprinkled throughout the book’s pages as well. The author did a splendid job of showing readers what Life is for Eli and Elsie in the Neck as they celebrate Advent, a time for the preparation of the coming of the baby Jesus into the world. Definitely an easy and worthwhile read for children who love the holidays!

Are you looking for a way to inspire your children towards the spiritual side of Christmas? This book is one way to indulge your kids in the beautiful story of Christmas!

– The Moving Words Review

Official Entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 3, 2022

Book Trailer

About the Author

When I decided to give up my teaching career in 1996, a good friend of mine told me that I should not retire. She said that I had a lot to give and to do yet. She wondered how I could even think about not teaching any longer. About that same time the philosophy statement above began to develop and hold truth for me. I had no intention of quitting. I just wanted and needed to find a new way of learning, growing and doing.

1996 brought many changes to my life; my only child left for college, my Mom passed away, and I no longer had my first grade classroom. I began working for the University of Wisconsin – River Falls as a student teacher coordinator.

I was the liaison between the college and the student’s student teaching placement.

I critiqued lessons that the student’s taught, and generally help them grow into their teaching careers by offering suggestions, ideas and support. Their enthusiasm and fresh new ideas were intriguing and refreshing to me. The job also allowed me to visit different districts, schools and classrooms which I really enjoyed.

In 2004 my life was turned upside down and inside out when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My supervisor at UW-RF finished the semester with my ten students and I checked into the hospital for a double mastectomy and a year full of doctor appointments, hospital stays, and learning to live my life with my new normal of being a cancer survivor.

My writing career then began in earnest as I journaled my way through my 302 days of a breast cancer journey chronicled in From There to Here; A Breast Cancer Journey, my first published book. That began my long history of activism as a survivor-advocate for breast cancer patients. In addition to my work as co-leader of the Hastings Breast Cancer Support Group and co-creator of the Voices of Hope DVD, my extensive experience as a volunteer for American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery program put me in direct contact, as a home visitor, with breast cancer patients in the first days after diagnosis. I was once again teaching but this time my students were women fighting for their lives. I was learning, growing, doing and experiencing inner peace and gratification as I reached out to help make a difference.

After twelve years of my own survivorship, I published Breast Cancer Saved My Life, my second book looking back on the life lessons I had learned through my own journey with the enhanced awareness only time can provide.

As an elementary teacher for twenty-six years, I read thousands of books to hundreds of students and now as a grandmother I’ve read hundreds of books to two children. I’ve always wanted to read my own stories to children so in 2018 I published my first children’s book entitled; Life in the Neck New Friends. It is such a joy to watch the faces light up and to hear the oh’s and awes as my listeners get into the story. New Friends has been recognized by Mom’s Choice Awards at the Gold Level and Eric Hoffer Book Awards as Winner of the Children’s Category in 2019, a little extra bonus for my work.

In January of 2019, I combined my teacher training/experience, cancer survivorship, and award winning writing know-how to give me the expertise to publish Jeannie Ann’s Grandma Has Breast Cancer. Jeannie Ann’s story is intended as a tool to help new breast cancer patients gain confidence in talking with their children regarding their cancer diagnosis. The book is written in the voice of a six year old making it understandable and helpful. Mom’s Choice Awards recognized Jeannie Ann’s story at the Gold Level as well.

Life in the Neck Squirrel Trouble was released in November of 2019 which shares the story of Eli, his log fort, and the squirrels that move in and take over.

So what’s next? Well, I’m not sure. Lots of animals are lining up for spots in the Life in the Neck Series. The eagle, Canada goose, and even the little chipmunks living in our rock walls want a chance at stardom. Margarita Sikorskaia, the Life in the Neck illustrator, is asking what’s next and when as well. I need to continue to sell books to build up my cash reserves to be able to publish another book. Perhaps my dream of signing with a big time publishing house will come true putting me back on track with the series. Only time will tell.

To read more about my growing up days in Old Cottage Grove, check out my blog.