- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 17, 2004

SKANEATELES, N.Y. - Linda Slifka tried her whole life to be a writer, but it was an emotional near-tragedy involving her young niece that finally got her published.

Mrs. Slifka released her first book, “Where’s My Puppy?” earlier this month, about seven months after 5-year-old Brittany Fish was abducted while riding a scooter to visit a friend two blocks away.

“I would never have written anything like this if it wasn’t for what happened,” Mrs. Slifka said. “I’m just sorry it took something like this. But now we are turning something extremely positive out of something so tragic.”

Brittany survived her April abduction. She was found the next day at an abandoned warehouse about seven miles from her Syracuse home, bound with duct tape and hidden under a tarpaulin. Police still are looking for her kidnapper.

After Brittany’s return, Mrs. Slifka sat down with a pen and paper and wrote down what she felt.

“I’ve always written from the heart. I’m very sensitive and emotional. This hit so close to home; I couldn’t help but be inspired to write about this,” Mrs. Slifka said.

Targeted to 2- to 7-year-olds, “Where’s My Puppy?” is about a boy named Jack who loses his dog, Scruffy. After a long, frantic search, Jack finds his pet with the help of neighbors, family, friends and police.

In the end, Jack asks his parents: “If I get lost, would everyone be as worried about me, as they were about Scruffy?” Their answer: “Even more worried … because we love you very much.” Jack responds: “I wouldn’t want everyone to worry like that again.”

Publisher Dan Brown of Outland Books said it was how Mrs. Slifka treated the story that engaged him.

“Instead of ‘Do this because Mommy said so,’ or, ‘Do this because bad people might get you,’ Linda uses empathy to teach children about playing safely and the consequences if they don’t. They see for themselves how people hurt when someone or something they love is missing. It’s a powerful message,” he said.

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