Dr Niamh On The Plum Tree

Childhood Imagination Sows Seeds of Future Brilliance

Meet Word-Shark Karen S. Elliott

“Every Child is Entitled to Innocence was presented to me as my first official project as an Editor at Plum Tree Books. I am thrilled this collection was chosen as our first published book.

I read all the stories. I edited only a few – I felt that some of these stories should appear “as written.” Raw. Basic. Heartfelt.

My Every Child story, “Dust a Pale Face,” has nothing to do with my childhood, though it has everything to do with it. My story is about my ancestors in the Pennsylvania coal mines. A life I never knew but a life I think about every day. Without my ancestors, I would not be here.

Personally I feel humbled. Frightened. Horrified. Amazed. Inspired by this project.

My childhood was incredibly good: a pink bike with tassels on Christmas morning, a puppy when the neighbor’s dog gave birth, and a pony in the backyard for my 8th birthday. A loving mother and her loving sister raised me and my two brothers after dear-old-dad took off, right after my first birthday.

We enjoyed Ella Fitzgerald, Jimmy Darren, and big bands, and I learned the jitter-bug and the box step; we had tuna casserole with peas (ick) and meatloaf and spaghetti with perfect meatballs; we had jig-saw puzzles and crossword puzzles; we owned an encyclopedia, atlases, and numerous dictionaries that were open all the time on the dining room table.

And we always had Mom inside the front door when we got home from grade school.

I am amazed and horrified at the stories I read (and was tasked to edit) for the Every Child anthology. Because my childhood was so exceedingly good, I had a difficult time reading all the sad stories in the Every Child collection.

Every Child is Entitled to Innocence How could this happen to children - innocent babies? These sad stories made me even more grateful for my wonderful childhood.

How could this happen to children – innocent babies? These sad stories made me even more grateful for my wonderful childhood.”

About Karen…

Karen S Elliott was raised by a mother who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in a day. Their favorite expression was, ‘Look it up!’ Karen is the Executive Editor and Co-Founder of Plum Tree Books.

Contact: http://www.TheWordShark.com

Haven’t downloaded the book yet? It’s under $4 here. Proceeds benefit Child Helpline International.


About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books. www.drniamhchildrensbooks.com

7 comments on “Meet Word-Shark Karen S. Elliott

  1. Wendy Reis
    March 9, 2012

    My own blog is not with WordPress so I cannot “like” this, but I do love it! Karen is amazing, and Plum Tree is the best decision I have ever made.


  2. I agree the stories are raw. I’m like you Karen, a happy, good and safe childhood. I believe every child should be entitled to a safe childhood, but The story from Lily O’Brien shows that is not always the case. I’m enjoying the anthology and reading it in small doses to digest each story.


    • Wendy Reis
      March 9, 2012

      Oh, Stacy, I agree with reading it in small doses. I have had to do the same thing. The blood chilling thing is realizing that these lives were not lived in small doses. It makes me quite angry.


      • ontheplumtree
        March 9, 2012

        Indeed Wendy! And I have to say, childhood can make or break you. But it is always with you, threaded through everything you do and later become, despite forgiveness and self-understanding. When something traumatic rips into the fabric of childhood, a child no longer takes it for granted that everything will be alight, that they deserve love, that they count for something, that they will wake up tomorrow. These feelings are among the many with which a damaged child must daily wrestle. When innocence is lost, it is a terrible thing, a crime against the soul. It makes it all the more precious, poignant and beautiful when it is witnessed and must be within the scope of adults to protect and nurture.


  3. karenselliott
    March 9, 2012

    Thank you for the comments everybody. I am proud to be part of this project, and pleased that we are helping Child Helpline International.


  4. I reviewed this amazing anthology on Amazon.com. The impact of juxtaposing happy memories with brutal ones made the effect both powerful and chilling — also more bearable than it might have been with undiluted sadness.

    Unlike other works that attempt to shine a spotlight on the dark corner of child abuse, I found the voices of those children who had been abandoned or abused or both to be inspiring in their clear determination to rise above their awful memories.

    Karen S. Elliott’s “Dust a Pale Face” was a poignant picture of the life of a young boy whose destiny is to work in the coal mines to ensure his family’s survival after an accident kills his father.

    I was fascinated that in at least two of the stories (“At Last Night’s Tea” by Harry Leslie Smith and “A Different Kind of Love Affair” by JB Johnston), the authors credit books and reading with providing a means of escape into worlds they could never visit except in their imaginations.

    Everyone involved in this work should be extremely proud.


  5. echowood628
    March 20, 2012

    thank you karen for ‘all ‘ that you do by reaching out to others…i am in awe of your love of life and i look forward to reading “dust a pale face”…i am well aware of how many children had their childhood taken away from them…i wish for the words to express all that i am feeling…but then again that is why everyone is here…

    there’s nothing in life more worthwhile than sharing our feelings…

    thank you karen for all that you are,



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This entry was posted on March 3, 2012 by in Special Projects and tagged .
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