“An Instant Classic”

Vincent Bruni’s Uplifting Book, The TearDrop Garden

Vincent Bruni sits in his home in Windham and reflects on his long-established career in the entertainment and arts.

He lives on Jordan Bay, and right outside the doorway to his home is a spectacular view of Sebago Lake. On a good day, you can see Mount Washington.

It’s the perfect place to make art or write a book, and Vincent has done both, and then some.

Vincent, 79, has had an eclectic mix of jobs in his lifetime. Growing up in Portland’s Munjoy Hill, he was a lifeguard, and he made sandwiches at the original Amato’s on India Street. Later, he became a barber, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. For many years he was an entertainment booker, scheduling live bands at venues all over the state

“I saw more nightlife than most people see in 10 lifetimes,” he said. “You can’t even imagine what I’ve seen.”

He was also a member of the popular High Ryder Golden Oldies Show, performing vocals and drums, and he is currently a member of the band Second Time Around.

But these are just some aspects of his remarkable career, and it is now important to also consider the carving and writing parts. Vincent began in 1992 carving a wall sculpture of a carousel horse from basswood. He worked from a sketch he did of a horse because he thought it looked cool, but over time, as the sculpture came to life in magnificent detail, it was more than something that just “looked cool.” The majestic horse sculpture took nearly eight years to complete. It is displayed proudly in Vincent’s home, as is a painted version of the carousel horse made from resin poured into a rubber mold.

The carousel horse, with its beautiful and unique winged saddle and magical stardust moon trim, became StarDuster, an integral part of the story in his book The TearDrop Garden, which he began in 1997 and finished in 2019.

 “The TearDrop Garden, said Vincent, is “a fantasy based in reality.”

“It’s a children’s book for adults. It brings out the child that lies dormant in every adult,” said Vincent.

The Teardrop Garden is set in 1955. Though much of the story takes place in the mythical Maine village of CobbleHollow, there are references to real places in Portland that ground the story and that will be familiar to local readers.

In The TearDrop Garden, an old man, a carousel, a little boy, and his dog help angels put into action a plan through which pet owners and their beloved animal friends will always be together—not even death will be able to separate them.

“I’ve seen so many people lose animals and then fall apart,” said Vincent. “This book gives people a lift. It gives them hope.”

Vincent’s late dog, Panda.

“Animals are always there for you. They don’t judge. All they want to do is love you.”

Reading the 110-page book is like listening to a storyteller. The book doesn’t preach, but instead, captures the readers interest through the two main characters—an old man and a small boy who are believable and who have endearing connections with their animals. The book is made further intriguing by a special carousel horse that appears to be magical and by appealing angels who speak to the old man.

The TearDrop Garden includes a foreword written by Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals President Marilyn Goodreau and Chief Executive Officer Meris Bickford. The two describe the book as an “instant classic” that adults will want to share with their children and grandchildren. As their foreword states,

“Part fairy tale, part folklore, wholly engaging, The TearDrop Garden will speak to anyone who has ever truly loved an animal. Vincent Bruni’s charming story of StarDuster, and its role in reuniting people with their beloved animals who have died, is at once personal and universal. Its themes [are] love, loyalty, and loss.”  Transcending the particular plot, these themes, “have the ability to make a believer out of anyone who opens themselves to the deeper meaning of this simple story of a good man with a great heart.”

Vincent wrote the book to help him through the loss of his beloved boxer named Panda, who died from heart failure at the age of 12. Panda is also the name of the boxer in his book. Panda was Vincent’s best friend and helped him through a rough marriage, he said. “That dog was my saving grace,” he said. “Animals are always there for you. They don’t judge. All they want to do is love you.”

Animals hold a special place in the hearts of pet owners, and mourning the loss of a fur friend, feathered friend, or scaly friend isn’t easy. Writing The Teardrop Garden gave Vincent some solace when he lost Panda, and he believes it can help others who have lost a pet as well.

Note:  The book may be purchased at Longfellow Books in Portland and through the website, www.theteardropgarden.com. Poster-sized images of the cover, drawn and colored by artist Perry Clark, are also available at the website.

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