Finding Mr. Quigley’s Keys

Today I’m grateful to all of the friends of Mr. Quigley’s Keys who are reaching out to let me know how the book has landed on their hearts. I was so excited to meet my cousin’s son on a recent trip home and we had a BLAST trying to find the camouflaged keys together. It healed my heart hearing him giggle as he showed me that he’d found each of the keys.

I got to check in on him in his bed after he was tucked in and loved how he had the book under the covers in the dark, looking again to make sure he found them all.

I’m also grateful to have been a recent guest on Thrive O’Clock with Mel and Rachelle!

We talked about the book a bit, but I also got to break out the ukulele to accompany Mel’s serenade to Rachelle for her birthday, and my husband jumped on for the Rapid Fire at the end. Such a fun opportunity!

Life continues to be fragile yet beautiful. Our baby brother, the last of five siblings, passed away from a heart attack in late August, so we have had some painful days. Mark was a big fan of Mr. Quigley’s Keys, and the fact that he passed away at the same age as Don Pittman, the unsung hero in our book, is not lost on me; 53 is just way too young. I blogged about him and my last three weeks {here}. His work family at Clear Channel Outdoor sprinkled these digital billboards over the skies of Milwaukee in his memory; the competitors asked if they could also run the boards, to honor him on the day of his funeral. So comforting. Here’s our last sibling picture with our Dad and his wife. Seeing the billboard on our way to church felt like a sign.

So hard to imagine life without our baby brother, but we press on and carry on his legacy of connection and love now that he has passed the baton. In the words of Ram Dass, we are all just here walking one another home.

I’ve also done an author visit up in IL recently; what a gift to talk with budding authors and read my book to them!

Have YOU found all of Mr. Quigley’s Keys yet?

Mom’s Choice Gold Award Recipient

We are grateful and proud to announce that Mr. Quigley’s Keys has been selected as a Mom’s Choice Gold Award Recipient. Such exciting news for us!

I’ve gone back to school now, but I’ve also been busily sharing our story’s backstory. In case you missed it, I was blessed to join Maria Dismondy on her podcast last week. She is such a beautiful ray of sunshine in our world; I hope you’ll be able to tune in and maybe even leave her a review.

I’m also super happy with how my classroom came together; here’s an SEL display designed to uplift, encourage and support, in both languages, of course.

And our Peace Corner is ready for when my learners need to PAZ (see what I did there?). I’m not certain how much my 8th-grade amigos will use this area, but it’s complete with breathing exercises, fidgets, essential oil options and more for if and when they want to press PAZ.

Happy new {school} year; I have a feeling that the BEST is yet to come!

Mr. Quigley’s Keys On The Radio

Feeling so SO grateful to The Lisa Show at BYU Radio for giving me some air time to share the story behind our story. What a joy it was to talk about our journey from a seed sown to the published product.

Readers of all ages are enjoying lap-top time with Mr. Quigley’s Keys. This toddler in WI loved searching for the camouflaged keys with my beautiful sister, Debra. Aren’t they adorable?

And I’m super excited for this week’s event at the Friendswood Library; if you’re in the area, join us this Thursday at 3 pm CST.

Finally, a can-doer quote I recently came across; happy August.

Key Feedback

Happy August! Today, some pictures and feedback as Mr. Quigley’s Keys makes its trek into the hands and hearts of its readers everywhere. Read our backstory {here}.

First up from WA via Twitter, a key leader’s kind words about Keys.

Leona’s mom says that she’s loving the ASL section and practicing it up in WI.

And down under, Lis from Ripple Kindness Project posted this beautiful review.

Finally, back home in TX, the hardback displayed next to the flag that the book’s inspiration, Don Pittman, was given for his service in the Korean war.

Where in the world are YOU reading Mr. Quigley’s Keys, dear reader?

Back-To-School Book SELections

First things first; thank you, Barbie and Betty, for posting those promising practices about teaching empathy on our previous post. You BOTH have a book coming your way since I decided to match my publisher’s gift. Reach out to me at bgruener5 (at) gmail.com with your postal address and I’ll pop those into our next shipment. Congrats and happy reading.

Speaking of reading, I curated a Back-to-School SEL calendar around school-themed books that can help you foster a caring climate and classroom community with your learners of all ages. Click {here} for your freebie download.

What are YOUR key read-alouds as you help your learners transition back to school, get acquainted with one another, make those compassionate connections, and settle in to a new school year?

The KEY To Connecting By Heart

What an exciting month June has been as Mr. Quigley’s Keys jingles its way into the hearts and souls of so many readers. I’m told that it is especially popular with Grandparents who are reading it to their grandchildren; people from all over are sending me these precious shots to show me how much fun they’re having reading together, finding the camouflaged keys and learning some American Sign Language.

It made my heart skip a beat to see the book in the Back-to-School display at our local Barnes & Noble earlier this week, even though we did end up locking the keys in the car and waiting for two hours for the storm to pass to get a locksmith out. Talk about a KEY opportunity to connect with my husband over how silly we feel about aging sometimes!

Perhaps the happiest my heart has been is in this magical empathy moment, when I put a copy of our book in the hands of my friend Jennifer Quigley, whose father inspired this special story.

He will always hold the key to her heart, so watching her slowly turn the pages and sink into his story was truly beyond anything that words can capture or describe. I just savored every second and pray we made her family proud as we worked with intention to keep his legacy alive.

I’ve also beamed at hearing what our young readers think about the book.

THIS fifth-grade imitation of one of my favorite illustrations really makes me smile.

As you read the book with your loved ones, look on every page for examples of the twelve keys to connection: Where do you see gratitude or gentleness? Empathy or joy? How about work ethic, creativity or self-control? Perseverance or peace? Which trait do you see that could be painted on the key behind his knee in the mural?

So much goodness and love as our book makes its trek around the world. And I’m grateful! If you’ve read the book and would like to share your feedback, we’d love your comments on this page and/or over at Amazon. It’s always helpful to prospective readers to hear from other friends what they thought about the book and how they’ll use it to help sharpen SEL skills for our future.

Oh, and the KEY to connecting by heart? I’m convinced that it’s empathy.

And love, of course.