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Learning About Australia’s Unique Wildlife

Anna Finch Author Interview

Hide and Seek Alphabet: With Australian Animals teaches children about the animals native to Australia while learning the alphabet. What inspired you to write a story about this topic?

I was inspired to write this when I noticed that a lot of the alphabet concept books, even ones with Australian animals, only write the letter, name of the animal and put a picture of it. I wanted to do something that was more interesting and engaging for young children. Australia has some unique wildlife with unique sounds like the lyrebird which is known for mimicking sounds like a car alarm and whistling or the kookaburra with its cackling laugh. I hope children will enjoy learning about Australia’s unique wildlife as much as I do.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator A.P. Gil?

Brilliant. A.P. Gil is an amazing artist to work with. They were very thorough and meticulous. We were both very clear about the expectations for the project, from both sides. I gave them a copy of the manuscript, reference images for each animal and some information about their habitat. My only request for the illustrations was that it needed be in a slight suitable for children, the animals needed to be recognisable as the real animal and on the ‘hide and seek’ pages the animals needed to be partially hidden. I gave them the creative freedom to design illustrations based on their interpretation of the manuscript. As part of this they would create sketches with different layouts for each animal as well as colour studies unique for each set of pages. We would regularly talk via Upwork to review any necessary changes that needed to be made and what to expect over the course of the week.  

What educational aspects were important for you to include in this children’s book?

As part of my teaching, I had done courses on improving spelling by explicitly teaching phonics or sounds that are represented by the graphemes or letter groupings. I had seen the benefits and positive impact of it on student learning with secondary students. I knew that when phonics are introduced at a younger age it is much more effective, especially with repeated exposure. This book allows teachers and parents to begin doing this. I structured the lines in the story using alliteration for each letter of the alphabet to help reinforce their exposure to the phonics or sounds of the letters.

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

I’m currently heading into the pre-order and ARC stage of my next picture book Mellie the Mermaid Is NOT Scared Of ANYTHING. It isn’t on any platforms yet as I’m currently creating an ebook. I’m also currently editing and publishing companion activity books for Hide and Seek Alphabet: With Australian Animals including a handwriting workbook and a colouring book with Australian animals. These activity books will be officially released in 2023, with those who follow me on Facebook (in certain regions) able to purchase of these books early directly from me this December. Mellie the Mermaid Is NOT Scared Of ANYTHING will be coming out on Friday 10th of March 2023.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Let’s go on an adventure through Australia. Hidden in the water and in the trees, or among the leaves, what will you find?
Australian animals are hiding from your eyes. What do they look like? What sounds do they make?
From A-Z, can you find the Australian animals with me?

Hide and Seek Alphabet: With Australian Animals

Hide and Seek Alphabet: With Australian Animals is a highly engaging children’s book that educates as well as it entertains. I’ve come across many alphabet books that use generic words, but Anna Finch adds yet another layer of education to her book with the focus on animals specifically from Australia. Some of the names of the animals were hard to pronounce but children will love seeing the exotic animals, especially in the beautiful artwork that illustrator A.P. Gil has created.

There are multiple levels of engagement to this wonderful children’s book. The book goes through the alphabet one letter at a time. With each letter we learn about an animal whose name starts with the letter, we learn a fact about that animal, and we learn sounds that it makes. Children will mostly love how the book invites them to find the animal on the page, and they’ll also enjoy making the different noises that accompany each animal. All of this together makes for an engaging lesson that any parent or teacher can use to ensure their kids are focused on the subject.

Hide and Seek Alphabet: With Australian Animals is an entertaining and educational children’s book. This is a perfect fit for any kindergarten or preparatory class. I highly recommend this book to any parent who is struggling to keep their child focused as there is plenty of fun activities built into this book.

Pages: 58 | ASIN: B0BHLH35BM

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The Decision to Rebel

Anna Finch Author Interview

Voiceless: A Mermaid’s Tale follows a mermaid princess who wants to change the way her people treat women and is willing to risk everything to do so. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I was actually listening to ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ on repeat when I come up the idea for Voiceless. While I was listening to the song, I thought about the terrible deal that the mermaid makes. In the original tale, the mermaid literally loses her tongue and every step she takes causes her extreme pain because she instantly ‘fell in love’ with a human prince. Even in the Disney version, the mermaid accepts a terrible deal in return for legs and she doesn’t think about the consequences or why the Sea Witch wants her to take the deal. I wanted to create a character that was more than a damsel in distress, more than a mermaid, that instantly fell in love with a prince, without even knowing him. I wanted Moriah to be in control of her own life, to make her own choices, good, bad or questionable, to get what she wants.

Princess Moriah discovers her voice when she realizes that not all women are treated as her people are. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

One of the ideals behind the development of Moriah’s character is that people are a product of their environment as well as the people surrounding them. While Moriah does have an inkling that something isn’t quite right in Zoara-Bela, she can’t really articulate what the issue is or why she feels that way in the beginning, because that world and its rules are all she knows. If someone is told all their life that their word, their life, their decision is of less value than someone else’s, then it is very hard to not get stuck in that mentality. I wanted to explore through Moriah development as a character what might happen to a person if they are exposed to a completely different environment, to people with completely different values and beliefs.

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

It was important to explore the idea of standing up for what you believe in, to fight for what is right, even if everyone around tells you can’t or shouldn’t, even if the world tells you to be silent. I really wanted to explore how this act of standing up for your rights, fighting against a government that is harming its people, has consequences. The decision to rebel against the king, to push for change, is a serious decision to make for Moriah. Participating in any form of rebellion against a government, especially a fascist government, can be deadly even to those that play no part in the rebellion themselves. I wanted to show that despite the danger; it is important that people don’t stay silent on the injustices that they face because change only happens if people talk about it or protest the treatment. If people are silent, or if no one brings attention to it, then no will know about it.

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

I am currently working on two illustrated picture books for 3 to 5-year-olds. One of the picture books is a Hide and Seek Alphabet book with Australian Animals. I am intending to release this book on the 21st of October. It should be available for pre-order on various platforms at the end of September. The second picture book will be coming out in early 2023. I am also currently working on a stand-alone sequel to Voiceless, following the journey of a different protagonist. This is currently in the first draft stage; however, I would like to release this in late 2023.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

WINNER OF FIREBIRD JULY 2022 AWARD IN THE MYTHOLOGY CATEGORY.
“Well-rounded coming of age story”—Outstanding Creator Award Nomination Review
“Intriguing”—Reader’s Favorite
“Bold”—Reader’s Favorite
Love.
Choice.
Freedom.
All things a mermaid shouldn’t feel or want. A mermaid is expected to be demure, to respect their betters and do what they are told. But most of all, mermaids should be seen and not heard.
Princess Moriah, a maiden of the sea, living under the cruel reign of her grandfather, King Abaddon, is expected to be the same. Beautiful, cold and voiceless, like a marble statue in her own home.
Only her father thought differently. Only Moriah’s father had ever asked her about her interests. He was the only one who ever gave her a choice until her visit to the human world. Like all mermaids, Moriah is required to undergo her rite of passage on her 16th birthday to visit the human world. It’s only when she meets the kind, gentle Michael that she questions the cruelty and coldness of her reality.
Longing for the freedom that she and her people have never known, she must risk everything to bring about the revolution she desires. If Moriah is caught, nothing will protect her from King Abaddon’s wrath, not even her father, who always obeyed her grandfather’s every order.
For her people. For her family. She will risk everything, do anything, to achieve her goals.
Freedom, like magic, always comes at a price, and she is willing to pay.

Voiceless: A Mermaid’s Tale

Like all merfolk, sixteen-year-old Moriah suffers the consequences of a curse bestowed by goddess Gaea. Living in a crumbling Zoara-Bela with little hope for the future, Moriah sprouts legs to observe the human realm. She encounters handsome, dark-eyed Michael Adams. Moriah feels connected to Michael and is happier than ever with him. However, when Michael intercedes in a domestic dispute, he is thrown into the ocean. Moriah dives after him and saves his life with a healing song. Yet, as she retreats into the ocean, there is a yearning in her heart. How can they possibly be together when their two worlds are so irrevocably different?

Voiceless by Anna Finch contains some imaginative scenes in this riveting fantasy novel. For example, I adored the scene in chapter five when Moriah explored the human world and asked people questions about everyday objects. Moriah’s excitement and charming naivete about everything is incredibly engaging and fun for the reader. However, this captivating exploration also helps to develop the distinction between humans and merfolk. I found this contrast incredibly important because it adds to Moriah’s sense of desperation as she tries to come to a solution.

This is a creative young adult fantasy novel, but I felt like much of the story is told to readers rather than shown. The prologue provides a lot of helpful information in this way. It provides the reader with basic information that’s necessary to understand the plot without descriptive and figurative language or dialogue.

The romance between Moriah and Michael is compelling and emotional. After Moriah returns to the sea, I was left wanting to see more of Michael as I thought his character was intriguing. As Moriah works with the sea witch, we move on from her romantic motivations and discover more depth to her character and the story that I think readers will find absorbing.

Voiceless: A Mermaid’s Tale is an enchanting coming-of-age young adult fantasy novel that has a sprightly protagonist and a fun storyline that fans of teen romance will find fresh and entertaining.

Pages: 326 | ASIN: B08HWZ4YJG

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