What’s Ashley Reading?: How Stella Learned to Talk

How Stella Learned to Talk by Christina Hunger

First line: “Bye, Stella,” I said while I ate breakfast at the dining table.

Summary: Speech-language pathologist, Christina Hunger, had recently received her degree. She was nearly done with her first year working with children with speech therapy when she decided to try something new. Her and her boyfriend, Jake, brought home an 8 week old puppy named Stella. As they were working on training, Christina wanted to see if some of the same techniques she used with children would work to teach Stella to communicate. By introducing programed buttons with words that would be important in Stella’s life she was able to communicate her needs, wants and feelings to Christina and Jake.

My Thoughts: I was first introduced to Stella and Christina about a year ago. My sister had seen one of the interviews Christina did where she discussed using buttons (AAC device) to train her dog, Stella, to talk about her wants and needs. I instantly followed her on Instagram. I love to see new videos of Stella talking. It is amazing how much she can express with these buttons.

I loved the first story Christina shares about one of her clients. She showed how using devices can help a child who is struggling with language can still get their thoughts known by people around them. I found the idea fascinating. Christina laid out the book chronologically showing Stella’s progress, any setbacks, and gives advice at the end of each chapter on how to try this at home.

I cannot wait to try this with my puppy, Dudley. He already knows how to use a bell to tell us when he needs to go outside. And he already seems to understand lots of words. I have the buttons already in my Amazon wishlist for when I can bring him home and start working on his language skills.

FYI: Check out @hunger4words on Instagram for videos of Christina and Stella.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Gwendy’s Button Box

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

First line: There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs.

Summary: Gwendy is a twelve year old girl from the town of Castle Rock. One day while running up the stairs to Castle View she is stopped by a gentleman in a black hat. During their conversation he gives her a box. The box has buttons. Some are harmless but others are not. He tells her that the box is her responsibility and to keep it secret. As the years go by Gwendy notices changes in herself and the world she lives in. Is it the box? And what price does she have to pay for its gifts?

My Thoughts: I had no idea what I was getting in to when I started this book. It seemed to walk the line between a sweet little story and a nightmare. I listened to the audiobook while cross stitching on a Sunday morning. I was completely engrossed in the story. I even gasped and set my stitching down at several points so that I could focus on the story.

When Gwendy first gets the box it appears to be a dream come true. The box spits out silver dollars and chocolates that suppress cravings. Everything in her life starts going better. What’s not to like? But when she starts getting curious about the other buttons I knew something bad was coming. Books like this show how great of a writer Stephen King truly is. He can mix the genres and write an excellent story in less than 200 pages.

FYI: There is a sequel written by the co-author called Gwendy’s Magic Feather.