Shadow of the Moon follows Special Agent Trakes and Detective Meeker who are sent to a shocking crime scene where a faceless man sparks the beginning of a thrilling investigation. What interested you the most about writing this novel?
This is, at its core, a werewolf story and we all know the werewolf can be extremely violent. I started the story with the vicious crime to establish that part of the werewolf character. A few years ago, I read a novel and I was really disappointed by how the werewolves were described. The story bothered me and I kept thinking, “I can write a better story than that.” Shadow of the Moon is the result of that process and I hope I accomplished what I set out to do. I wanted to tell a story that held true to the idea of the werewolf being a top of the line predator, but I also wanted the wolf to be caring for the family and have a deeper character than is usually portrayed.
This story provides a lot of really great lore and information about werewolves. What kind of research did you do for this book?
Thank heavens for the internet. I did several searches in an effort to build as complete a history for the animal as I could. I wanted the reader to have a little fun and wonder if they just might be out there.
The story takes place in New York. Why choose this place and time for the setting of the story?
Special Agent Trakes is a throwback to the “G-men” of the 30’s and 40’s. She cares nothing about political ramifications and only focuses on getting the “bad guy.” I wanted her to be placed in a situation where she was handicapped and had to develop other strengths. I also wanted the contrast between the city and the country, where the Lloyds live. I wanted Trakes, who is tough and sure of herself to be off-balance.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
“Shadow” will be a trilogy at minimum and book two, “Reflection of the Moon,” is planned to be out early next spring.
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Adjusting to change is never easy—even if you’re a cat! In Lucy Meets the Family, Rolynda Tassan’s second book in the Lucy’s Tale series, Ben brings Lucy, a little gray cat, home. Nervous, Lucy meets her new family: a cat, Addy, and two dogs, Sissy and Pippin. When Ben leaves, Lucy tries to make herself at home, but she does everything wrong! She makes a mess of the litter box, gets into food that doesn’t belong to her, and annoys Pippin by sleeping on her bed. Will Lucy ever feel like part of the family?
Dedicated to families who open their homes to animals from the shelter, Lucy Meets the Family is a great way to teach young children how to prepare to bring a new pet home, especially if they have other pets at home already. Like Lucy, a new pet will feel anxiety at her surroundings and make mistakes as she tries to find her way around her home. Readers will learn to anticipate what they can do to prepare their other pets for a new family member. Addy, Sissy, and Pippin already have their own spaces and understand the rules, so they need time to adjust to another animal. On a more practical level, Lucy Meets the Family shows readers what an owner will need to purchase before bringing home a new pet.
For young children just learning to read, Lucy Meets the Family is good practice. The words are simple, and some lines of text are repetitive. The pictures in the book are colorful and have the feel of being hand sketched with watercolor paints. However, the illustrations directly reflect the story and focus on Ben, his pets, and the purchased items for Lucy. Tassan weaves a heartwarming tale about furry friends with tails that animal lovers will enjoy.
Pages: 30 | ASIN: 0998331821
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Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth KS 150th Birthday, written by S. Jackson and A. Raymond, is a tale of animal friends who are preparing for a very special birthday- the 150th celebration of their town. The animals gather round whilst Big Whitey takes a trip down history lane where he tells his friends about the importance of Ellsworth and how the town was first established. Prepare to be thrown into a wild world of cowboys, railroaders, and sheriffs as you learn the fortunes and misfortunes the town has endured to finally reach its 150th birthday. After the history lesson, the animals then begin the celebrations and re-enactments, songs, and poems will entertain them all.
Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth KS 150th Birthday is a very special children’s book that delves into the history of Fort Ellsworth in an exciting celebration with animals, cowboys, and Indians.
Legendary historical characters of Ellsworth come together in lessons on cattle pens, dusty trails and important landmarks. Authors S. Jackson and A.Raymond are able to beautifully paint a picture of the wild west through incorporating animals and history in a playful and engaging story. The storytellers are dogs and squirrels which give the book an animal twist- something which will be sure to spark the imagination of all children. The animals towards the end of the story throw a fabulous re-enactment of history and will encourage children to consider their own town’s history and how they too could get involved with historical celebrations of their town.
Travel through time as Big Whitey takes you on a history lesson that begins in the 1800’s and finishes in the present day. The once wild cow town starts with Indians and Cowboys that made homes out of bluffs and built their town through supplying to the military. I loved reading the small excerpts of cowboy slang which gave the story more authenticity and character.
I enjoyed how the story had a taste of the old and the new twisted together for a fun-loving plot line. One moment you were in the wild wild west and the next you were taking selfies with animals which are sure to delight both children and adults alike. Even though it is a children’s story, the plot line contains depth and interesting information about life in the old west that will entertain both children and adults. It’s a fun and light-hearted way to explore history and has the perfect mix of education and entertainment.
The illustrations throughout the story were bright and colorful and will be sure to grab the attention of all children as they eagerly learn about the town’s history. I particularly enjoyed the animals dressed up in cowboy outfits and old saloon style dresses and how they rode the buggy. The illustrations will only serve to ignite the imagination of the children reading the story and compliment the history lesson perfectly.
I would recommend this for children who enjoy stories about cowboys and animals.
Pages: 39 | ASIN: B072TPMDRH
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The One Eyed Pug is a cute chapter book that helps kids deal with change and uncertainty. What was your inspiration for this lovely story?
Although this story is a work of fiction it’s actually based on the life and experiences of my lovely little pug and the incorrigible Chewy.
Do you have pets of your own? Were you able to use anything from your own experiences in life?
A good portion of this story is based on actual events that occurred with my pug and Boston terrier and was influenced by my experience as an animal lover and life long pet owner. Although I don’t proclaim to be on the level of the “dog whisperer” I do believe our pets communicate with us and if we are open to this possibility we come to understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and that the relationship is reciprocal so eventually our pets also understand our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
I think this book did a great job of keeping kids interested and engaged. What do you find is the most challenging part about kids books?
I believe the most challenging part about writing kids books is learning how to show and not tell and utilize appropriate verbiage and action words. Also, learning how to develop content that is age appropriate knowing that reading level is individualized and that stories should be versatile and lend themselves to different types of readers ranging from reading aloud, early readers, independent readers, and even adult readers. The illustrations also play an important role in helping the reader to develop a greater connection with the characters. Determining the placement and type of illustrations was also a bit challenging and I worked very closely with my illustrator throughout the process. Since this was based on a true story I was also able to share actual photographs that certainly helped my talented illustrator to accurately depict the characters, especially the lovely little pug and Chewy, the Boston terrier.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
This has certainly been a banner year for me and I am thrilled to share that my picture book entitled “Same Inside Different Outside” is being released by Waldorf Publishers on September 15, 2017.
Currently, I’m working on another chapter book about the lovely little pug and Chewy, the Boston Terrier. The clue to what this next book will be about is at the end of “The One Eyed Pug”.
The One-Eyed Pug is based on a true story. Children and adults will fall in love with the lovely little pug, and eventually come to love the incorrigible Chewy, too! In this story, a little pug keeps hoping she will find her forever home but every time she thinks she has found it she has to move, or is adopted by a new family. Finally, she is adopted by the Barker family and believes she has finally found her forever home. Everything is perfect until the terrible horrible thing happens; a new puppy named Chewy comes to live with the family and makes the little pug’s life miserable. Then one day when the two puppies are playing and finally getting along Chewy accidently scratches the pug’s eye and she has to go to the hospital. What will happen the little pug? What will happen to Chewy? You will find out when you read this truly intriguing tale.
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It’s important to share messages of acceptance with children, but it can be difficult if you don’t take into consideration their level of understanding. What a child can understand is vastly different than an adult. The One Eyed Pug by Deborah Hunt is a cute little story about a pug puppy that has a slightly difficult life waiting for her. She has to go through the anxiety of being separated from her birth parents and then living with a stranger. While she does her best to adapt to her new life, change is right around the corner as her ‘mother’ ends up being unable to care for her and gives her to another family. Our little pug now has to deal with the uncertainty of a new home with new people without understanding why she was given up in the first place. Things seem to start going better for our pug until the introduction of a new friend and the terrible accident that follows close behind.
Using animals as a way to deliver important messages and teach important lessons to children is something that is not easily done, but delivered well in this story. Children seem to be able to listen carefully and understand difficult lessons when taught through an animal that can speak. Hunt uses the story of the pug to show children that change is not always bad. She also teaches them that while bad things may happen, there are good outcomes as well. Our pug has only lived for a short time yet she’s met with various changes and has to face the anxiety of the unknown each time. This story can also teach children compassion. Compassion for those who are different than us and compassion for those who are struggling.
There are several drawings throughout the book which can give the readers a nice interruption to the waves of text. It is important to keep children engaged as well as entertained. The drawings give more information on what the characters look like which helps the readers connect more to the story. The language in the story is very easy for new readers to understand. While this isn’t a first step book, it is definitely suitable for a child who has experience reading books with little pictures. The language might be too young for older readers, even though the message it sends is positive.
Deborah Hunt takes us on a trip to learn compassion and acceptance with The One Eyed Pug. This tale allows children to connect their own feelings of anxiety and uncertainty with things like change to the life of the protagonist, the little pug. It also allows children to see that dogs and other pets have feelings as well, even if we can’t always understand what they’re trying to tell us. Even when our little pug goes through a life changing situation, she comes out strong because she has the support of those who love her around her. This is an important thing for children to understand as well: we are all stronger thanks to the people who support us. This would be a great book for any avid young reader.
Pages: 80 | ISBN: 1945175788
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A World of Wonder is designed to help parents and children build a sense of wonder about the world. I think it does this expertly. What was your inspiration for wanting to create such an engaging kids book?
My co-author and I are long-time educators currently working to bring high-quality, science curricula to primary schools across the country. In primary grades, science instruction often takes a back seat to other subjects and it is our goal to change that by creating resources that integrate science with reading (in this case poetry), writing and mathematics. Young children are natural-born scientists – always inquisitive of the world around them – so we are working to create materials that parents and teachers can use to foster and promote that innate interest. We also want to help parents and teachers inspire children to appreciate, and care for, our world as well as to provide opportunities to engage children in thinking and talking about science.
The art in this book is spectacular. What decisions went into the art direction for this book?
That is an interesting question because we had to think about so many things at the same time! We wanted to include all different types of science; we wanted to include some of those classic poems that many of us grew up with as well as some new ones; and we wanted to include topics that allowed for interesting extension activities that kids would want to come back to over and over again. So we had to weave all of those elements together at same time. We couldn’t just pick the best pictures or just use classic children’s poetry; everything had to work toward the larger goal of building that sense of wonder about the world and be really engaging to kids.
The combined variety of photos and poems are ideal for promoting conversation between parents and children. What poem and photo is your favorite and why?
Thank you – that was certainly our goal! My favorite combination is probably the poem about the eagle – the king of the daytime sky – along with that magnificent image of the eagle fishing – talons extended – above a partially frozen lake. That image is inspiring all by itself, but then the extension activity includes a link to a webcam of an eagle’s nest high in the tree tops above a field, with a stream in the distance. The webcam is always on and you can go back to it often throughout the year to see just about anything – from eggs, to hatchlings, to juvenile eagles just beginning to fly, to Mom and Dad eagle keeping warm through the winter – it’s always fascinating to watch. (It can also a bit graphic at times, so parents need to be careful with very young children.)
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Our science teaching units all use children’s literature as a foundation for the unit and we are in the process of releasing those books now on Amazon and iBooks – both as eBooks and as paperbacks. Several of the books, like When I Grow Up, include spectacular photography similar to this book, while others are fun storybooks. My favorite storybook is When We Were Young, which is a sweet story about Dr. Dolittle’s Pushme-Pullyou and includes really beautiful watercolor illustrations by an illustrator from London. That was a really fun project to work on!
A World of Wonder is a book designed to help children develop a wonder for, and an appreciation of, the world in which we all live. The book combines spectacular images with a variety of poetry and verse…from time-honored and classic to new and sometimes humorous.
This is not the type of book typically read in one session. We encourage readers to come and go as children ask questions about the world. Children can certainly experience the book on their own, but we also encourage parents and teachers to engage with children – ask questions to tease out their understanding of the world and provide guidance where and when it seems appropriate. We also encourage you to follow children’s leads to encourage their interests in our magnificent world.
The authors, both educators and researchers with many years of experience, ensure that each facet of the experience is scientifically and pedagogically appropriate for young children.
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Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone: The Legend in Lake Isa is a fun children’s book that talks about conservation and respecting the wilderness. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this children’s book?
I’ve written somewhat serious books and articles about nature and science previously, but when I’m with the family– we are often goofy. We visited Yellowstone and my son asked me about Lake Isa, which sits atop the continental divide and therefore drains in two different directions. I began crafting and telling the story during our visit there. Our son enjoyed the story and laughed at the character names.
We also had several bear encounters on the trip. I had lived in Alaska, so I was weary of Grizzly bears, but less careful with the black bears. Once I even got out of the car in Yellowstone to get a better look at a bear and cub in the woods. That was not a smart move.
So our story about Howie Tootalot deals with the intoxicating grandeur of wild places like Yellowstone and the care we must use in how we love and appreciate them. I finally suppressed my MFA-serious ego enough to have fun with the story in print. I did publish under the name Lou Jenkins, which I now use for all my children’s work.
This story takes place in Yellowstone National Park and portrays the natural beauty of the land. What draws you to Yellowstone and why do you think it’s perfect for a kids story?
Kids feel the connection to wilderness. I’d written about the connections possible in Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting under my name Amy Lou Jenkins. We all need to foster a connection to natural spaces, because there are so few opportunities to escape the pressures of consumerism. We and our children are bombarded with the notion that we need to buy something new. We are told that we need to consume because we and our possessions are somehow flawed. Instead of purchasing something to fix our problems, nature allows us to experience source. We are natural beings. We can have independent thought while not bombarded with proprietary messages. Studies say that the number one way to build a love for wild places is to take kids to wild places. That’s a strong promise and scientific finding: take kids to wild places and they will build a connection to something real and unadulterated. While a book is second best to visiting Yellowstone, it is another way to make and support that connection.
The art in this book I felt was very creative. What was the art direction like and how did you make the decision on what went into the pictures?
Thank you for noticing that the artwork was not standard. We wanted to support the connection to Yellowstone, so we had actual photographs of the National Park cartoonized. Children who are lucky enough to visit Yellowstone will recognize actual landmarks, animals and plants from the book. Since the main portion of the book took place before the park existed, some of our illustrations came from national archives in the public domain. Children who never visit Yellowstone, will still recognize landmarks in images that are iconic in our culture. Children can begin to build a connection to National treasures such as Old Faithful, Mammoth Springs, The Grand Prismatic Spring, and Lake Isa. We hope that connection is based in fun, awe, and the sense of original identity that is nurtured in wild places.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Thank you for asking. We have just finished the artwork for more paper puppet characters in the Tootalot series. As you know, we include links in the books that allow readers to download and assemble articulated paper puppets. Many children enjoy a hands on experience as a part of play. Children who are not drawn to books, might be able to access the fun and play of reading with a character from the book in their hand. Yet even voracious readers, might extend their own imagination from reading to other play time.
I’m also a Registered Nurse and have worked in community health. I used to tell my children a story about the “magic mark” based on my experience in school nursing. My daughter used to ask me to tell her this story over and over. Many children have differences, and this story is about a girl with a port-wine stain. We include a student in a wheel chair, and work to represent a wide-range of children in this tale with a magical element. At its core, is a cheer for all who learn how to love each other and accept differences. Look for this new book, the third in theTootalot series, by the end of the year.
Why does the water of Isa Lake drain in two different directions? Follow Howie Tootalot to the wild land we now call Yellowstone as he and his new bear friend explore the wild geysers, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and more. Danger surrounds them, yet lessons from the wild and the wilderness itself will save them. Learn the Tootalot family legend. Children may download and assemble their own free puppets—just like the ones in the story. Great fun for reading and play at home or in the car. Howie Tootalot in Yellowstoneis the second in The Tootalots series. Award-winning parenting author, dons a pen name and introduces Howie Tootalot in this fun legend that offers giggles and some important ways to deal with respecting the danger and wildness of natural wonders such as Yellowstone National Park.
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A World of Wonder by Brent A. Ford and Lucy McCullough Hazlehurst is an educational combination of photographs and poetry, designed to be enjoyed by parents and children together. Giving the latter an interest in the world and to act as a starting point for appreciating its wonders. It consists of 41 high-quality, color images of nature and natural phenomena across the globe, each paired with a relevant, short poem – some newly written for the book, and some classics. The interactive copy has links to further information related to each photo.
The first thing that struck me was the quality of the photos, which are expertly-framed, beautiful shots of a range of animals, scenery, and weather across the globe, as well as views from beyond the upper atmosphere. As an adult, I still wonder at many of them, so it must be magical for a child. They evoke multiple emotions – some are dramatic, some cute, some calm – but all are of a suitable nature for young children, as should be expected.
The accompanying poems are apt for the stated age range of 3-8, and grade level K-2; they’re short, accessible and fun to read aloud. Some are humorous, while many are more instructive about the habits of animals or natural processes. They match well with the photos, and explore different aspects of life on Earth.
The combined variety of photos and poems are ideal for promoting conversation of all kinds between parents and children; it’s easy to tell that the authors have experience in education. Not just parents, but teachers could certainly get a lot of use out of this book, too.
It’s not particularly long, and because it’s designed to be picked up and put down, it seems perfect for different attention spans and available periods of time. It could be used at bedtime, or for car journeys.
The amazing choice of photographs enables you to revisit this book many times, so parents can ask different questions to highlight different points and to introduce more complex ideas as their child grows. This flexibility of use would is a huge draw for parents. It would be ideal for guessing games – trying to remember the photo from the poem, or even the poem from the photo. Budding artists could get some great inspiration from it, and it could be a very useful starting point for crafting projects or for guided research about animal habits and habitat.
I appreciate the authors’ aims and the work that they have put into the book in order to achieve them. A World of Wonder truly delivers on the wonder that it promises.
Pages: 88 | ASIN: B072LJWBSZ
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The Perfect Teresa follows a 43 year old woman that has hit rock bottom and is given a 2nd chance at high school by an ancient Aztec deity. What was the inspiration for the setup to this imaginative story?
I think we all have those moments we wish we could go back and re-do for whatever reason, whether it be an embarrassing childhood experience or something you wish you’d done differently as an adult. Of course, none of us can go back and do anything over, at least not without something completely absurd and fantastical happening. That’s really how this story came about. The “what if” question was, “What if there was some way, some kind of cosmic intervention that would allow someone to go back in time and re-do an experience?” And, yes, I’ve thought of what I’d do in a situation like that! So little by little, the pieces began to fall into place, and authors like Christopher Moore and Jenny Lawson really helped me to see that sometimes the most absurd things made the most sense. So, yes, an unemployed Aztec deity sending a woman back in time to do a talent show over again? Makes perfect sense to me!
Authors can often fudge the details in time traveling stories, but I felt that the 80’s was captured perfectly in The Perfect Teresa. What kind of research did you do to get it right or did you pull from experience?
So I guess I’ll date myself and say that a lot of the stuff in this novel is from experience and memory because I did attend high school in the late 80s! It was a fun process to re-discover 1988 New York City, and it involved everything from getting back in touch with childhood friends through Facebook, to doing lots of searches on Google Images and Google Maps. My old buddies really helped me piece together our old neighborhood (like remembering the Susan Terry store on the corner of Ditmars and 31st Street), while Google Maps helped me walk through some old haunts and rediscover old landmarks. The other big part of this process was music. I love music, and in 1988 I was really big into the underground metal scene. So just being able to put these playlists together and listen to these old metal and 80s pop songs really helped me situate the story. You can find a YouTube link to this unofficial soundtrack for the story on my website!
Teresa’s character is intriguing and well developed. She can’t move forward and is trapped in this sad, drunken life where happiness eludes her. What was your inspiration for her character?
Thank you! In some ways, Teresa embodies a lot of the self doubt and self sabotage that I’ve had to overcome throughout my life. But in many ways, her character was inspired by Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, which I think is the one of the great stories about personal redemption through service to others. Like his character, Teresa starts off very unlikeable, very self-centered, and, as you said in your review, unwilling to take accountability for her actions. She’s got a long history of dumb, self-destructive tendencies, and she never wants to acknowledge that this is why her life is in ruins. But I wanted her story to be about self-discovery, and about realizing that her selfish actions have real consequences for others. So like Murray’s character, she has to learn through this new experience that there are things more important than a silly talent show, and that there’s real happiness in providing help and happiness to others. I hope that by the story’s end, we find her journey plausible and redeeming.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on two projects. One is a new time-travel sci-fi series tentatively called Quality Jones and the Time Keepers. But I’ve also started work on the sequel to The Perfect Teresa, titled The Perfect Vicente. I’m hoping to publish one of the other by the end of the year!
Lucky for her, an unemployed Aztec deity applying for Quetzalcoatl’s Trickster Department offers to grant Teresa her wish. He’ll send her back to 1988 to re-do the talent show! Catch? There’s no catch! After all, he’s a fully licensed deity with a Masters in Temporal Displacement Theory and a bachelors in Trickster Sciences and Cosmic Mischief. Besides, a talking coyote can be trusted, right?
For Teresa, it seems like the chance of a lifetime. But she soon finds that changing the past won’t be as easy as she thought, especially without Wikipedia. And that in a desperate effort to make her life better, she might end up making things much, much worse.
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Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone: The Legend in Lake Isa by Lou Jenkins is a fun and engaging children’s book. The reader follows the tale of Howie and his grandmother as they journey to the land that would become Yellowstone National Park. In the park Howie befriends a bear cub named Seymour and adventures ensue.
Jenkins has crafted a creative children’s book. You can make the puppets of Howie and Seymour by downloading them online. This is a creative addition that adds another dimension to an already fun book. Being able to read this story to a child and then create those same characters makes this an activity book as well and extends the time children spend with this book. This along with the message of taking care of Yellowstone is a nice way to subtly provide a conservation starter for children.
There are plenty of artistic and imaginative bits of art in this book that I greatly appreciated even in ebook format. I really enjoyed the pictures, especially those of the various animals that can be found in Yellowstone.
The language that Jenkin’s uses is perfect for a young child’s capabilities. The names are funny and should keep children’s attention. I would be shocked to hear that a child could read through this story without laughing once. With names like “Ma Fanny” for the grandmother or “Seymour Heinie” for the bear cub, I can only smile at the thought of children who would laugh in good natured fun. Jenkin’s is able to capture a child’s innocent humor in this book.
The book’s plot is set up like a tale told by Francis Tootalot about his ancestor Howie. The story itself showcases a lot of animals and different places that are famous in Yellowstone; like the geysers and forests. To children, this kind of meandering plot may not bother them, because Jenkins’ does a great job filling these instances with pretty pictures. In some ways it reminds me of a children’s show on television, which may be where Jenkins’ pulled inspiration from.
The best takeaway from Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone is not only the ecological message that Lou Jenkins’ provides, but the fact that the Tootalot family are part of an ongoing series. There is a lot to enjoy here and I believe any parent can appreciate the message behind the fun.
Pages: 41 | ASIN: B01JZWS63G
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