Doggone creative

April 04, 2003|by LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

As the proud owner of two Jack Russell terriers, Theresa Franks can never get enough of her dogs' antics.

One day she was listening to the female, ZeeZee, growl. Then she looked at the male, Zeb, who was scratching an itch.

She listened and watched, back and forth, for a few moments.

Growl. Itch. Growl. Itch.


What a perfect name for a dog's language, Franks thought.

She figured it would be fun to write a story about her dogs. It wouldn't be from her perspective, but from theirs. After all, dogs communicate with each other and with humans. We just can't always interpret.

That's one of the reasons she needed a name for their language.

Plus, she thought children would think it is fun.

That's the basis behind "ZZ Dogs," Franks' new book, published under her pen name, T.S. Franks. The targeted publication date is May 15. The book is the first in a planned series of stories telling about Zeb and ZeeZee's adventures.


"I love to read. I think it's really important to spark that in kids," Franks says, who lives in Phoenix. "I wanted to leave something behind for my grandchildren.

"I would always tell them stories at bedtime."

She wrote "ZZ Dogs," which includes a subtle lesson on self-esteem, about two years ago.

The dogs have numerous adventures. When ZeeZee's teasing becomes too much for Zeb, he sets out to prove that he can be fast on long legs - even if those legs belong to someone else. Zeb escapes from the yard through a hole in the fence, crosses the road in front of a truck, enters a pasture and takes a ride on the back of a horse.

"Believe it or not, the stories are true," says Franks, noting that Jack Russell terriers are very good around horses.

Because children seem to relate well to animals, it's the kind of book that delights the imagination and prompts requests for repeat readings.

"I think they really do imagine that they are in the story," Franks says.

And that is one of Franks' goals.

She's holding classroom contests as an incentive for children who write their own stories about animals and draw pictures of animals.

Teachers who are interested may call Franks at 1-877-896-9500, or go to her Web site at

Prizes will include cash, ZZ Dog T-shirts, autographed copies of the book and the opportunity to have writing and artwork published on the Web site, Frank says.

When Franks speaks in classrooms, she takes along ZZ Dog pencils, telling the children the pencils are magic. When the pencils are sharpened, they will magically help a child write a story, she says.

The responses she's received so far have been encouraging, she says.

"If you don't set too many perimeters, it's amazing what you get from these kids," Franks says.

She wishes more parents would turn off the television, put away the video games and sit down and read with their children.

"To actually read and imagine is much more vivid. It works their little brains."

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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