||Shirley Cheng (www.ShirleyCheng.com)
The wings spread wide, but freedom they cannot find. Open your heart and never let your imagination be confined.
The tales and poems held between the pages of Dance with Your Heart are filled with inspirations, lessons, and magic. Most of the stories take no more than a few minutes to read, and yet they allow the reader to discover and visit worlds never before visited. Inch alongside a tiny snail as she goes through a journey of self-discovery in The Gift of Uniqueness, and learn that cooperation is the key to working successfully, yielding desirable fruits in the story, The Raging Sun and Rain. The poems range from thought-provoking to inspirational; their language is simple yet lyrical, and they are written with sincerity, clarity, and that rarest commodity: wisdom.
Be prepared to be touched, taught, and tickled by these stories and poems. Dance with your heart; it takes only a free spirit and an open consciousness. Feel the full spectrum of emotions emitted by the words within. Be ready to laugh, to weep; and when you close the book for the last time, you will do so a changed person, so prepare yourself to take flight.
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Excerpt of Dance with Your Heart: Tales and Poems That the Heart Tells
Written and published by Shirley Cheng
Seeking the Truth
There was once a land far, far away inhabited by brightly colored plants and animals. All of the land's creatures roamed about in harmony. Dragonflies of red, blue, and green flittered together with the colorful butterflies. Creatures, never before seen by any human, resided in tall trees, wide plains of tall grasses, and vast blue oceans that stretched endlessly. Indeed, it was a realm of great wonders. It seemed as though rainbows floated down upon the valleys, taking up permanent residence there. All of the creations, from the tiniest molecule of air to the largest stars, seemed merry with their radiant colors. Luminous sunrays accentuated the entire domain, creating a blinding crystalline palace. Such was the dwelling place of never before known beings, beings ever so delicate and mystical, like blowing winds. These creatures, swifter than the swiftest hummingbird, cleverer than the sliest fox, flew, danced, and strolled about freely. They, the size of lilacs, varied in colors, ranging from glittering red to sparkling blue. They came out during the day, working and frolicking; they came out during the night, making mischief with one another. Since mankind had never seen these creatures, no names had been given to them. But here, they shall be known as Tinklets.
"Lilia, where are you?" called one of these small beings, flying about in search of her. Using her little hand to shield her eyes from the blazing sun, this red-haired Tinklet searched the horizon.
"Has she gone away again?" asked an elderly Tinklet, squinting to see off in the distance.
"Yes, Elfon, we cannot find her," answered the red Tinklet.
"Well, then have a search party, Annalie," he ordered. "We'll have to find her. Prince Samorus wants to take her hand in marriage." He then opened his transparent wings and flew away, circling the treetops until he was out of sight. Annalie sighed. How was she going to assemble a search party? She wished that Lilia had not gone off like that, without telling anyone where she was going. But she knew that Lilia would not go far. She always had her own secret, secluded hiding places in which to think. Lilia loved to think. She wanted to probe all truths. And Annalie was correct: Lilia was humming a mellow tune as she hid inside a hollow tree.
"Does this prince love me with all his true heart? Is his love as honest as the twinkling stars above? Is it as ardent as the blazing sun? Will his love endure through time?" She asked these questions, wishing for answers. "I must find out. I shall not marry anyone whose love is untrue. He must not love me only for my beauty. He must not love me only for my powers."
Copyright © 2004 by Shirley Cheng
All rights reserved.
Reviews by Malcolm R. Campbell, Campbell Editorial Services
The enchanting tales and poems in this book dance on the page. They are well written and exuberant. With a gentle touch, they inspire and teach profound life lessons in the manner of mythic tales and fables. After stories such as "The Greedy Cat" and "The Dishonest Fox" bring a knowing smile to your face, they will delight your children and grandchildren through multiple readings.
Each of these delicate, well-written little stories reads like a folk tale or a fable. They remind me of the stories my parents read to me when I was young, for they are filled with exuberant writing and exciting characters and a gentle life's lesson at the end. Cheng, a survivor of severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, spent the first eleven years of her life in wheelchairs, hospitals and pain. She lost her sight in the 10th grade. However, if these stories are a fair indicator of the author behind the words in this book--and I think that they are--Cheng sees quite well without her eyes and has a remarkable spirit.
Review by Christina Francine for Reviewers Bookwatch on Midwest Book Review
Looking for a gentle read with purity of heart and soul? 'Dance with Your Heart' will humble and remind readers of their blessings. There are twenty-three short stories and thirty-four poems offering lessons, mindful thoughts, and whimsical tales and myths of magical once-upon-a-times. Many adults will recognize the lessons, but will appreciate the reminders. Provides great life-lesson profiles children can relate to. Perfect for those seeking quick, clear, and uncomplicated tales.
The author, young Shirley Cheng's personal story is amazing enough. She's a survivor of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed at eleven months old. She dealt with constant pain growing up, went in and out of hospitals, and lost her eyes sight when she was in tenth grade. She will soon be receiving eye-surgery, and hopes it will be successful, for she'd like to earn science doctorates at Harvard University. Through her extraordinary passion and strength she's conquered overwhelming obstacles. Among other things, she's authored three books by the age of twenty-one.
One of my favorite stories from this book is entitled, 'Smell the Roses.' It's about a doctor who learns a valuable lesson through an unexpected and surprising source. The ending brings the whole tale into perspective with a crystal clear lesson.
One of my favorite poems is entitled, 'Dance with Your Heart.' Ironically it's also the book's title. The poem's message brings to light that although life contains worries and pain, it is good to concentrate on and remember its delights too. The poem reminds readers to pay attention to their heart's desires, and to dance; to fly.
Cheng's graceful storytelling and poetry not only is a pleasure, but awe-inspiring, as her wisdom and understanding at such a young age is profound. Her resounding words are of encouragement and of good. She believes happiness begins in the heart and that readers should allow themselves the freedom to dance with their heart. A luminous read.
Review by Tara Rogan
It's impossible not to feel inspired and moved when reading DANCE WITH YOUR HEART - a collection of tales and poems by a young author by the name of Shirley Cheng. To say that this young woman has overcome adversity is a staggering understatement.
Cheng was diagnosed with severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis before she reached her first birthday, and also lost her eyesight at seventeen. Nevertheless, she has never let that affect her goals or aspirations.
DANCE WITH YOUR HEART is a delightful mix of both poetry and prose, which are meant to stir the soul, produce laughter, and even teach us a thing or two about life. Most of the tales are simple on the outside, but evoke a moral that is cleverly woven to make readers smile after each one. 'The Greedy Cat' is a distinctive story that reads like a fable, yet contains a message at the end that is both crafty and clever.
Each of these anecdotes imitates life and are exceedingly fun to read. The poems are also heartfelt, and many of them echo Cheng's life as well as the tribulations she has faced to get where she is now. All of these pieces have a positive spin, which is where we really see where Cheng's greatest strength truly comes from-- her attitude.
DANCE WITH YOUR HEART is a perfect read for any gender and at any age. Cheng shares her life and her dreams with the world, asking everyone to stop and smell the roses.
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