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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Blackie’s Adventures’ by Wade Gilley: An Ideal First Book for Children That Adults Will Treasure, Too

Posted by kinchendavid on July 16, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Blackie’s Adventures’ by Wade Gilley: An Ideal First Book for Children That Adults Will Treasure, Too

Reviewed By David M. Kinchen

Hinton, WV  – Wade Gilley’s “Blackie’s Adventures” (Avant Garde Publishing, $6.99, 26 pages, with wonderful illustrations by Michael Mayne) is about Wade and Nanna Gilley’s cat Blackie, as well as Tom Cat, Bearbie, Cookie and Billy Joe the pony.

Gilley (president of Marshall University in the 1990s) lives in northern Virginia, but he grew up Fries, a planned mill town south of Wytheville, VA, near Galax. Like Hinton, Fries is on the New River.

From an earlier book by Gilley, I learned a lot about Fries, which was named after its founder, Col. Francis Henry Fries. The locals joked that it was pronounced “Fries” in the summer and “Freeze” in the winter (actually it’s pronounced “freeze” year round).

“Blackie’s Adventures” will appeal to just about anyone who’s ever been owned by a pet – no human ever owns a dog or cat or pony – and is a perfect read-aloud book. We need many more of those in this digital era!

It’s a book that will be treasured by every boy and girl who receives it as a gift and I’m guessing that every adult who buys it will end up buying extra copies for friends and family. It’s that kind of book…and this is from a person who treasures books and reading.

Gilley, who wrote a memoir in 2002 called “Before Sister…In Hilltown”, says “Blackie’s Adventures” is available from http://www.amazon.com, http://www.barnesandnoble.com and other sources. (Note: On July 6, 2006, I found it on Amazon, but not on Barnes and Noble. Three other books by Gilley were on the Barnes and Noble web site). For more information, call (703) 638-7191.

From the title page: “Blackie became an important member of the Gilley family. He watched the house. He entertained the family. In turn, they loved him. He became Blackie Gilley and this is his story and the stories of the family’s other pets…Bearbie, Tom Cat, Cookie and Billy Joe.”

I’m willing to be that anyone who reads this book and admires the vivid illustrations by Michael Mayne will find his or her eyes getting moist as they remember their own wonderful pets…(Peach, Beauty, Mickey, Arfie – and all the others…we miss you all).


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