December 2023
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Submitted by Suellen (Oliver) Campbell (ACS)

Mariah's Gift book by Suellen (Oliver) Campbell frontMariah's Gift back coverA short note to announce the publishing of my children’s book, “Mariah’s Gift.”

After 30 years as a pre-school teacher, I retired 2 years ago and began writing the book I had had in mind for 10 years.

“Mariah’s Gift” is about a young coyote who investigates her desert world for the first time. Along the way she makes friends who have been given particular gifts specific for their life in the desert, and by the end of the day Mariah discovers the special gift she was given by the Loving Spirit.

It was written with 5-10 year-olds in mind, and particularly my grandchildren, but I have had adults also find meaning and joy from the message in Mariah’s Gift.



  • Suellen O Campbell

    Thank you, Bob for putting this in the Saigon Kids this month. I am still amazed at the people who have read my book and comment on its positive message. It was a labor of love, a longtime in coming.
    P.S. Amazon has the best prices. I recommend the paperback version for pricing.

    • My pleasure Suellen — Teaching stories are always a good thing! My grand mother was full blooded Apache Indian. When I was a child she told me many Apache teaching stories. The *Desert Spirit* is very powerful – 🙂 . By the way, the coyote is viewed as a *trickster* by the desert Indians.

      I hope you sell a million copies and get on the best sellers list soonest.


      • Suellen O Campbell

        What a lovely gift of teaching stories your grandmother gave you. Did you ever write them down? I would be interested in reading them. What a heritage legacy from her.
        While teaching I collected quite a few Native tales that I enjoyed sharing with my class each year. Many of them were trickster tales from the Southwest, South American and Africa. For some reason the children always loved these tales the best of all. I think the satisfaction of knowing the trickster was at the receiving end of some bit of revenge at the end of the story was reassuring to them. Tales of Anasi the Spider, Coyote Steals the Blanket, and Papagayo were some of my favorites.
        Would love to sell million copies just to get this message into the hands of as many children as possible, however, I decided the distribution was more important than the money and signed a contract whereby I was able to keep the price reasonable and I will receive very little from “Mariah’s Gift.”
        Thanks for the encouragement and mention of my book.
        Hope this is a great week for you!

        • Suellen – An Apache bedtime story just for you — 🙂

          The Origin of Fire

          Long, long ago, animals and trees talked with each other, but there was no fire at that time.

          Fox was most clever and he tried to think of a way to create fire for the world. One day, he decided to visit the Geese, te-tl, whose cry he wished to learn how to imitate. They promised to teach him if he would fly with them. So they contrived a way to attach wings to Fox, but cautioned him never to open his eyes while flying.

          Whenever the Geese arose in flight, Fox also flew along with them to practice their cry. On one such adventure, darkness descended suddenly as they flew over the village of the fireflies, ko-na-tcic-a. In midflight, the glare from the flickering fireflies caused Fox to forget and he opened his eyes –instantly his wings collapsed! His fall was uncontrollable. He landed within the walled area of the firefly village, where a fire constantly burned in the center.

          Two kind fireflies came to see fallen Fox, who gave each one a necklace of juniper berries, katl-te-i-tse.

          Fox hoped to persuade the two fireflies to tell him where he could find a way over the wall to the outside. They led him to a cedar tree, which they explained would bend down upon command and catapult him over the wall if he so desired.

          That evening, Fox found the spring where fireflies obtained their water. There also, he discovered coloured earth, which when mixed with water made paint. He decided to give himself a coat of white. Upon returning to the village, Fox suggested to the fireflies, “Let’s have a festival where we can dance and I will produce the music.”

          They all agreed that would be fun and helped to gather wood to build up a greater fire. Secretly, Fox tied a piece of cedar bark to his tail. Then he made a drum, probably the first one ever constructed, and beat it vigorously with a stick for the dancing fireflies. Gradually, he moved closer and closer to the fire.

          Fox pretended to tire from beating the drum. He gave it to some fireflies who wanted to help make the music. Fox quickly thrust his tail into the fire, lighting the bark, and exclaimed, “It is too warm here for me, I must find a cooler place.”

          Straight to the cedar tree Fox ran, calling, “Bend down to me, my cedar tree, bend down!”

          Down bent the cedar tree for Fox to catch hold, then up it carried him far over the wall. On and on he ran, with the fireflies in pursuit.

          As Fox ran along, brush and wood on either side of his path were ignited from the sparks dropping from the burning bark tied to his tail.

          Fox finally tired and gave the burning bark to Hawk, i-tsarl-tsu-i, who carried it to brown Crane, tsi-nes-tso-l. He flew far southward, scattering fire sparks everywhere. This is how fire first spread over the earth.

          Fireflies continued chasing Fox all the way to his burrow and declared, “Forever after, Fox, your punishment for stealing our fire will be that you can never make use of it for yourself.”

          For the Apache nation, this too was the beginning of fire for them. Soon they learned to use it for cooking their food and to keep themselves warm in cold weather.

          When we see the fireflies at night we are reminded of the origins of fire and how Fox brought it to us.

  • Barbara L. Parker AKA Bootsie

    Go girl!

  • Dear Suellen, Best of luck with it! I’m also doing a book. I’ve always thought We Saigon Kids, due to our unique experiences, have a few special insights of our own the homies need to learn! Have you ever been back?
    Chalmers Wood, [Saigon Kid ’58-’59 /Special Forces)=’68-’69, /Teacher/Pvt Diplomat = ’99,& ’06. Will go again after book’s done]
    You might enjoy my short story “Ben’s Breakfast”, scroll down here:

  • Suellen O Campbell

    Dear Chip,
    My husband and I recently took an Asian cruise and had just one day in Saigon. What a wonder! The old mixed with the new was certainly memorable for me. Much was very familiar and much more was astounding. The 2 hour ride from the cruise terminal was filled with country shops, lotus ponds, rice fields and temples, and then the excitement of reaching the city with its skyscrapers, bridges and freeways. Wow! Glad I had researched before we took our cruise or I might still be in a culture shock of the reverse nature.
    Best of luck with your book. Saigon Kids continue to amaze and inspire me.

  • Hi Suellen, Chip from 40 Phung kao Quan, Saigon, ’58-’59. Hope all is well with you and family. You might enjoy my first pod cast, spooky, and much about the Grateful Dead.

    youtube: ” cryptobeast #19 ”

    Enjoy, and please get in contact.
    Chalmers Wood

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