Blog Archives

The Way of Courage

Mia the small raccoon loves exploring and hunting alongside her mother and brothers. But when the unexpected occurs, Mia finds herself far from home and everything she knew. Thrust into a brand-new environment, and struggling to use her limited knowledge to survive, Mia finds herself in danger as she fights to adapt. Discovering new allies as well as new enemies, Mia and her friends, Coe the handsome raccoon, Henry the badger, and Gallant the crow work together to defend their forest home. Encountering both good and bad from their human neighbors, Mia and her forest community must find a way to protect their futures against a deadly foe.

Raccoons are one of nature’s most endearing creatures. When I was young, my family and I would safely observe these highly intelligent creatures from our own home. The Way of Courage showcases the raccoons propensity for mischief and their ingenuity in navigating situations. The message of protecting the forest environment as shown through the eyes of Mia feels authentic and grounded, while the characterization of the animals weaves a story that is both suspenseful and engaging. I loved the legend of how the raccoon got her mask, and I look forward to the day when leg-hold traps are effectively illegal nationwide. This is an adventure story that has intense moments, but that ends satisfactorily with no loose ends. This educational children’s chapter book also includes notes on safe observation tactics and how to chronicle your own nature findings.

I recommend The Way of Courage by Janet Hallagin for its ability to weave an important message of ecological protection into an interesting and informative narrative. A story of bravery, teamwork, and going the extra mile to protect the world from harm, The Way of Courage is a highly engaging children’s book about heroism, and how even one small raccoon can make a big difference.

Pages: 156 | ASIN: B0056J6WES

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Saving Gigy

There is no connection quite like the pure, heartfelt love between a person and a dog. In this personal memoir, author Iluta Sutra shares the story of her journey to protect Gigy (pronounced “Gigi”), an extraordinary dog. Iluta’s quest is full of ups and downs, as she puts all her time and energy into ensuring the future safety of her best furry friend. But when friendship falters and promises break, can Iluta find the strength, faith, and healing that she needs to continue?

The tale of a girl trying her best to help an adorable cocker spaniel while faced with betrayal, disappointment, and helplessness resonated deeply within my own being. The raw emotions of fear, desolation, grief, and loss are perfectly juxtaposed with faith, love, forgiveness, and healing. Though full of tragedy, this complex journey is also filled with hope.

A veritable call to action, Saving Gigy by Iluta Sutra, a story based on actual events, shows both the good and bad that permeates the world around us, where everyone has a calling and a purpose. This inspirational narrative shares the story of a dog that means everything and shows that even the smallest actions can make a difference on this brutal, fragile planet we call the Earth. And at the end, one question still remains: What will we do to change things?

Saving Gigy is a bold, brilliant tale of a person doing all that they can, and bravely sharing the story of love, joy, fear, and pain surrounding Gigy’s journey is unforgettable and touched the depths of my heart. A story of faith and love in spite of grief and heartbreak, Saving Gigy shows the importance of every person’s actions, no matter how small, in shaping the future of our harsh and beautiful world.

Pages: 182 | ASIN : B09JJ1SVW8

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The Life Of Active Children

Tuula Pere Author Interview

Ava and the Last Bird follows a young girl who watches over a baby bird when it falls from its nest and tries to entertain it. Where did the idea for this book come from and how did it develop over time?

Many real-life events and observations have inspired the story “Ava and the Last Bird.” In my free time in the middle of nature, I watch a lot of birds. They are my favorite animals whose life stages have plenty to follow.

Little birds made their nests on my kitchen window sill a few years ago. Through the window, I could follow their lives up very close, all the way to the chicks hatching and finally leaving the nest. The slowest chick in the nest was much like the last bird in this book. It was very timid and did not dare to fly away until several days after the others.

I have learned over the years that birds are also individuals. They have their own character and habits – unfortunately, their particular dangers and enemies, too.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

There are quite a few things hidden in this bird story. Themes include the interest in observing nature, the need for information, the coexistence of man and animal, and respect for each other. Maybe also the fact that you shouldn’t rush with nature, not even if the active children might feel it challenging to be patient enough.

Ava’s interest in nature and the sincere attempt to help the chick are evident. Even it’s clear – at least for grownup readers – right from the beginning that Ava’s methods are not efficient but rather humorous.

Although it’s evident that nature often needs just peace to take care of its cause without human interference, I wish to encourage children to take an interest and responsibility for nature and wildlife.

The importance of the generation chain is also one of my favorite themes. It appears in this book both in the description of the human family and the life of the birds. Birds and humans take care of and prepare the youngest generation for life and take experience and knowledge forward in the family.

What were some of your inspirations as a writer?

I have already revealed above how nature is a constant source of my enthusiasm. In this story, “Ava and the Last Bird,” there are many of my observations, too.

However, my main inspiration for all books is children. Their way of observing the world is unique. Everything is still so in the beginning; everything is amazing and new. The days are full of surprises. I remember very well that feeling of endless adventure.

It is still easy for me and very pleasant to look at the world through the eyes of a child. I want to take that perspective into account in everything I write. Sometimes I watch events as if standing next to my child reader – rejoicing, being surprised, becoming sad, or feeling scared together.

Alongside that perspective, I also take the experiences of my adult self to the book. A mother’s, grandmother’s, and educator’s perspectives help me understand, support, and help children. In the same way, I have always supported children in my family and around in wider circles.

The biggest inspiration and motivation for my books comes from their impact on children’s lives. If a single cry calms down, hope is maintained, fear is overcome, or enthusiasm for learning something awakens, I’ve been successful and am ready to continue again!

Will there be more Ava and Axel stories? If so, adventures will they be going on next?

So far, three books have been published about Ava and her friend Axel. The books are named after who is at the center of that particular story.

“Axel Washes the Rug” book a small story of Axel’s routine visit to Grandma’s. Admittedly, the situation takes on new dimensions after the blueberry bowl falls on Grandma’s carpet – and the secret repair attempts with detergents and bleaches follow the accident.

In “Axel and Ava as Cat Sitters” book, the children’s efforts to help their neighbor turn into a wild chase after an unsuccessful cat carousel play. Various attempts eventually make the cat escape from the balcony window. As you see, the life of active children is full of surprises!

More of Ava and Axel’s adventures are coming later. I have already finished two other stories: one about baking and one about helping at the marketplace.

It’s easy to imagine that the attempts and ideas of young bakers in the kitchen can lead to an unpredictable outcome. Many small things can go wrong when working as a temporary sales assistant. But it’s fun anyway!

I think small readers can identify well with these situations. It’s good for them to see how others also make mistakes now and then but always happily try again. I think it’s an essential lesson in life – even for adults!

Author Links: Facebook | Website

Axel and Ava

Ava closely watches life in a bird’s nest outside her window. She is eager to help a chick when it falls onto the lawn. Can she teach the little one to sing and fly?

Wondering Is A Fun Place

Karen Patricia Nespoli Author Interview

Gertie Saves the Day is about a groundhog competition to be the next Groundhog Day celebration groundhog. What was the inspiration for your story?

I have always loved Groundhog Day. I always found it fascinating that animals were able to indicate to farmers whether or not they should begin planting their spring crops. As a child I was always hoping for an early spring!

It bothered me that only male groundhogs were selected to celebrate Groundhog Day. I began to wonder what it might be like to have a female groundhog celebrate this special day. What would the selection process look like? How would the selection be made? Wondering is a fun place when writing children’s books.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with the illustrator Daniela Massironi?

The art collaboration process with my illustrator, Daniela Massironi, was amazing. Daniela is a talented illustrator who captured my attention with her portfolio of cute animals with beautiful facial expressions. For me, facial expressions are important when telling a children’s story. We worked together as a team. Daniela first concentrated on the main characters, then she moved on to the page illustrations. Daniela made some great suggestions along the way and was open to my suggestions. It truly was a team effort. I may have written the story, but Daniela’s illustrations made the story come to life!

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

This book began as an introduction to Groundhog Day and as the story grew there were several childhood themes that developed. Competition and disappointment are themes that children can understand and relate to in their own lives. Sharing how Gertie handled her disappointment let’s children know it’s alright to be disappointed and there are different ways to handle disappointment. The book also has themes of friendship, kindness and teamwork. Each of these themes give parents and teachers the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with children.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am writing a series of books for young children about Kindness/Bullying, Sharing, Diversity/Inclusion and Patience. This series should be available late summer, early fall. My next project will be co-authoring a children’s book about acupuncture.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Website

Gertie is determined to win the Groundhog Day Celebration Competition. Jeff may think that she is too short to win the competition, but Gertie is in it to win it! That’s when the fun gets started with more twists and turns than a pretzel.

Gertie Saves the Day is more than a book about Groundhog Day. It is a story that explores the excitement of a special event, competition, disappointment and friendship. It is a book that children will want to read over and over again and will make a wonderful addition to any classroom or home library.

Undercover Kittens

Undercover Kittens: A Kallie Collins Cozy Mystery (A Pet Communicator Cozy Mystery Book 3) by [Lisa Shay]

Doctor Kallie Collins is a veterinarian and truly loves her job. She does, however, possess a talent that makes her an asset to her patients as well as Medford’s law enforcement. Kallie communicates with animals. She is able to hear their thoughts and pick up on any number of clues to their conditions as well as clues that can lead to solving crimes. Her skills are unmatched, and there is no one else around who can do what Kallie does. And then… Evie Branagan shows up in Medford.

Undercover Kittens: A Kallie Collins Cozy Mystery, by Lisa Shay, is the third installment in the Kallie Collins Cozy Mystery series. Main character, Dr. Kallie Collins, prides herself on her ability to communicate easily with the animals she treats in her office. Depending on their willingness to share their thoughts, she is able to diagnose, treat, and prepare owners for their aftercare much more easily. She is alone in this field with her talents until the day she hears that another animal communicator has opened up shop in her little town. Word travels fast, and she soon begins to hear more than she wants about her potential competition.

The premise of Shay’s book is fascinating–a psychic veterinarian who can extract clues from animal witnesses to crimes. From the first chapter, Shay sets the stage and pulls readers into Kallie’s life as both a dedicated veterinarian and an, at times, not-so willing detective. I have to say it is a unique take on the mystery genre and does entertain as much as it engages readers.

This third installment of Shay’s series is a quick read with very few parallel storylines. Readers will be able to get straight to the heart of the matter as the action moves rapidly once the initial crime is committed. Kallie’s personal struggles are a nice addition to the main plot of the book. She is a relatable character with quirks that help readers get to know her and her friend circle quickly. It is worth noting that the cover and title can be somewhat misleading when it comes to the genre of Shay’s books. Both cover and title would lead one to believe that these stories are written with younger readers in mind, and that is simply not the case.

I highly recommend Shay’s series to any animal lover who enjoys a good mystery. Readers who have pets of their own will appreciate the research and detail Shay puts into her books. The cast of memorable characters makes the Kallie Collins Cozy Mystery series a must-read.

Pages: 230 | ASIN: B09NMXZS5N

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Axel and Ava as Cat Sitters

Axel and Ava are so excited to find out their friend Becca just adopted a new cat. They rush over to Becca’s house to meet the new cat. When they arrive, Becca tells them they need to be patient and let the cat come to them when it is ready. She explains how rescue animals are very afraid of people to start till they know they can trust them. Axel and Ava however are impatient. When Becca runs out, they try and force the cat to play and interact with them. Axel ends up getting scratched and the cat runs out the door.

This interesting picture book by Tuula Pere and illustrated by Nyamdorj Lkhaasuren tells not only the story of Axel and Ave with the new cat but gives children a good lesson on how to act and not act around new animals. It highlights the importance first off of adopting an animal from a shelter, and then how to introduce that animal to your friends. The language used is age-appropriate for early elementary and kindergarten children. The concepts are presented in a manner they can relate to, most kids want to play with new animals and often don’t understand that what they do with their own pets is not always okay with a new one. Explaining the consequences of not listening to pet owners and following directions is done in a kind and gentle way as well. Children will follow the antics of Axel and Ave while learning a valuable lesson.

Axel and Ava as Cat Sitters is an educational picture book on the do’s and don’ts of meeting a new animal. The creative artwork adds to the charm of this insightful story. This would be an excellent book to give to a child when getting ready to add a new animal to the family or for a school library.

Pages: 36 | ASIN : B09K4CXW3Z

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Life Lessons For Children

Linda Harkey
Linda Harkey Author Interview

Solitary Toes and Brown-Headed Cowbirds follows a pack of hunting dogs and how they react when a horse is brought to their farm. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for Solitary Toes and Brown-Headed Cowbirds began when we lived in Catoosa, Oklahoma. We had horses and many hunting dogs. The memories of all our animals are what I want to record for the next generation of young readers.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with the illustrator Mike Minick?

Mike Minick is a wonderful illustrator. He is an illustrator and a graphic designer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Mike and I are very compatible. I send Mike my manuscript which he reads and then we talk about his ideas for the illustrations. He makes many sketches, we discuss, and then he lines them up with the text. He will send me colored-in sketches during this process. Then he completes the illustrations with the text and sets it up in book form according to Archway Publishing’s guide lines. Then we send to the publisher. We spend around one hour each week talking with each other until the process is complete.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

  1. Life lessons for children shown through animals—team effort, helping friends, being nice to others, and learning from family members.
  2. Relationships between different kinds of animals.
  3. Learning about nature.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Chatty the Hen Pheasant (Travels With The Pack) – It became available 11/11/2021.

Desert Friends (Travels With The Pack) – I’m sending it to Archway Publishing in a couple of weeks.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Doc is the oldest and wisest of five hunting dogs at the Lazy Dog Hacienda. He’s expected to keep the rest of the pack in line, especially during hunting trips. But things get interesting when the Great One (our hunter) adds a new animal into the mix.

Solitary Toes and Brown-Headed Cowbirds shares a humorous story depicting the relationships between horses, cowbirds, and hunting dogs. Geared toward first through third grade readers, this young reader’s book helps children improve their reading skills while providing knowledge about animals, nature, and life lessons.

Holy Fruit Toots Rosie!

Holy Fruit Toots Rosie! is about a curious dog named Rosie that loves to try new foods, especially foods that are not her dog food. Unfortunately for Rosie, she learns the hard way that she has an allergy to Fruity Toot cereal. The house is soon filled with the smell of fruit toot toots every time Rosie sneezes. After a call to the vet the family learns what to do and spends the day helping Rosie with her fruity toot tooting issue.

Dogs provide families with love, affection, entertainment, and sometimes worries. Thankfully in this picture book written by Christine Logan, Rosie had a mild reaction to eating something she was not supposed to have. Humor permeates this fun story as even the cat is upset by the smell coming from poor Rosie. Children will love the ridiculous images that accompany the hilarious narrative of Rosie passing gas with every activity she does. Children will be laughing all the way through this entertaining story.

Logan does a great job explaining the serious nature of allergies in animals and what to do for them, while infusing humor into the information. At the end of the story the author includes a pictorial checklist of what is safe and not safe for dogs to eat, play with, and what their poop should look like if healthy. Also included is a list of things to look for if you think your pet is sick and a reminder to call the vet if you think they are.

This comical picture book is brought to life through the fantastic illustrations of Gayatri Ray. Their rendition of the fruity toot toots will have readers doing a double take and then laughing at the fruit rings flying out of Rosie. The artwork makes this picture book come to life while allowing Logan to pass on a serious message about pet care.

Holy Fruit Toots Rosie! is an extraordinary and lighthearted picture book that children and toddlers will find entertaining and unforgettable. The important information on taking care of animals that is included is presented in an effective matter that will be remembered by children and adults.

Pages: 38 | ASIN : B09HW541G6

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