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Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms

Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms is part of a series by Gloria D. Gonsalves. In this series, Gonsalves weaves together a whimsical kingdom of royalty, guards, and an army made up entirely of personified mushrooms. Gonsalves follows the mushrooms as they discover a human baby in the forest of their kingdom. In true foster-parent fashion, the mushrooms make sacrifices to care for the lost child. The community of mushrooms rallies to take care of young Tiara. Gonsalves does a good job of introducing each type of mushroom and their specific jobs much like she did in Lamellia: The Wicked Queen.

When so many characters or character types are introduced at once, I think it is important to give a thorough explanation of who they are. Gonsalves does that in the first few pages. Having this as an introduction lets readers know they can always flip back to that section for reference if needed. This book focuses more on the king than the queen of the kingdom of Lamellia. It gives a little more backstory and insight into the king’s young life growing up. He is described as a sort of monster-like figure when he was young, but grew into a king and adopted a new name to go with his new role. I like that he didn’t look the part, but grew to be a wise and kind king. This emphasizes how unimportant outward appearances can be.

The book is generally an easy read with a few challenging words throughout the pages. I think the book would be good for young readers, but I would suggest some slight parental guidance for especially young readers. There is mention of a mushroom’s inclination to poison the baby. Also, there is talk of humans being mean to mushrooms, picking them and throwing them away, and cooking them to death. This might be a little scary for young readers.

Young readers will enjoy the brightly colored illustrations that seem to be hand drawn and painted. They will enjoy the imaginary world of Lamellia with mushrooms walking about and talking. They will also appreciate the fairy tale-like happy ending of the book. Having read The Wicked Queen, I did spot quite a few discrepancies between the stories. It seems more of a retelling of the same story than a new part of the story. I’m not sure which came first in the series, but the story-line of the baby in the story is quite a bit different than in The Wicked Queen. I’d think this might be a prequel and the queen’s sinister influence might come after except for  the “happily ever after” part of the story at the end. It was a much less happy fate for the baby in the other book. This book had a much lighter mood than the other part of the series.

I think this is a book that kids will enjoy reading. I like the characters and the story-line. I’d like to see a different scenario with these characters in the future, or the progression of baby Tiara’s life.

Pages: 38 | ISBN: 1524634972

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Lamellia: The Wicked Queen

Lamellia: The Wicked Queen is part of a children’s book series by author, Gloria D. Gonsalves. The story is set in the whimsical mushroom kingdom of Lamellia. King Polipoli and Queen Nobilia rule over the land and employ several other types of mushrooms that make up their army. The queen seems to have everything that she could ever want, but there is one thing she longs for; a baby. When she’s sad, the queen sings a song that would puts a damper on the mood of the entire kingdom. Black clouds hang over the colorful kingdom washing it out with dark shadows. All of the mushrooms’ moods seemed to mimic the queen’s. They become depressed and withdrawn when their queen is suffering.

The author does a good job of introducing the kingdom and the types of mushrooms in the first pages of the story. I found myself flipping back to reference things there. It seems that everyone had a job to do. Most of those jobs consisted of combating enemies or keeping them at bay. In this way, the story feels very much like the fairy tales we grew up with. The king, the queen, their court, and their protectors are all present like in the classics.

Magically, a human baby appears in the kingdom. Everyone, including the king, falls in love with this precious baby and care for and dote on her from the instant she is found. She is showered by adoration with everyone except one mushroom. The queen tries to keep decorum in front of the others, but something sinister is afoot. With that, another classic element of an evil queen is introduced.

What’s a book without conflict? Not all is sunshine and roses in the kingdom of Lamellia. The author introduces conflict through Nobilia’s demons. However, the book seems to leave an open path toward redemption. If Nobilia accepts the baby, everything could change. Readers will find these elements reminiscent of Disney movies they’ve seen.

I think the book is well-written and easy to read. With parental guidance, I think young readers will be able to handle this book. It does have some dark parts, so I don’t know if I’d suggest it for independent reading for very small children. Some guards die, and the queen poisons the baby. These elements can be a bit scary for little ones. I do think children will enjoy the beautiful, painted illustrations. It is also short enough for a young reader to tackle without getting overwhelmed.

Overall, it is well-written and has a nice flow. Gonsalves has woven together a beautiful kingdom of characters while leaving room for flaws. I’d like to see how the story of the wicked queen progresses.

Pages: 36 | ASIN: B079K7NCQQ

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The Missing Reindeer

The Missing Reindeer by [Smith, Zeke]

The Missing Reindeer is a short, illustrated children’s Christmas storybook about a little boy named Sammy. The story follows Sammy who lives with his tribe in Northern Scandinavia where they herd reindeer. When the Reindeer go missing, things seem dire for Sammy and his tribe, and so he decides to make a winter’s wish to Santa Claus. This is a cute little Christmas story about being thankful for what you have and those around you.

The book is a little less than twenty pages long, and each page has only a few sentences of text one it, making it a quick read. It is a perfect story to read to small children around Christmas time as it explores a little of the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia, while also being a sweet Christmas story that has hope and thankfulness. The illustrations of the book are pretty and vibrant. I liked the art style of the book which was a little water-color inspired cartoon drawings. I thought that the backgrounds and animals were particularly beautiful. There were a few of the pages where the people in the illustrations seemed a little out of place with the scene or what the text was describing, but overall it worked together nicely.

Christmas stories are always a fun addition to have to read to your children during the winter, and I appreciated that the setting and plot worked together to give this story some originality. Overall The Missing Reindeer by author Zeke Smith is a sweet children’s Christmas tale that shows endearing heart, and lovely illustrations, a perfect combo for a wonderful children’s book.

Pages: 20 | ASIN: B0794V1ZP8

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Jai the Albino Cow: Jai Ng’Ombe Zeruzeru – Trailer

Can an albino cow possess abilities to be admired by other cows?

Anjait (Jai) is Ankole cow who lived with her family in Kole Hills. Jai suffers from albinism. Other cows thought she was cursed. One day, Jai shocked other cows for doing something that no other cow did before. She also surprised them with a magical skill.

What is it that Jai did as the first ever cow? Will her actions and skill help bring love and respect to albino cows?

Get your copy now to find out the answers and reveal to your children the importance of showing kindness and respect to everyone, even if they look different.

Je, ngombe zeruzeru anaweza kuwa na uwezo wa kustaajabiwa na ngombe wengine?

Anjait (Jai) alikuwa ni ngombe wa kitutsi anayeishi na familia yake kwenye vilima vya Kole. Jai alikuwa ni zeruzeru. Ngombe wengine walifikiri ana laana. Siku moja aliwashangaza ngombe wenzie kwa kufanya kitu kwa mara ya kwanza. Aliwapa mshangao zaidi kwa uwezo wake wa kimiujiza.

Ni kitu gani alifanya Jai kama ngombe wa kwanza? Je matendo na uwezo wake yanaweza leta upendo na heshima kwa ngombe zeruzeru?

Jipatie nakala yako ili kupata majibu na uwafundishe watoto wako umuhimu wa kuonyesha upendo na heshima kwa kila mtu, hata kama mwonekano wao ni tofauti.

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Lillee Can Be

Lillee Can Be by [Joseph, Adam Zebediah]
Adam Zebediah Joseph’s Lillee Can Be delivers a sugary sweet children’s book with a punchy, poetic pace and solid sense of cohesion overall. The book focuses on the school and extracurricular lives of two young twins in an unspecified setting, making it an allegory of sorts. Specifically, the twins provide a totally relatable dynamic for any reader with a sibling, as the book directly confronts feelings of inferiority, unequal recognition, and other relevant issues that many children experience.

Likewise, the author is perfectly on trend with the wave of subtle social justice and advocacy messages within children’s and young adult literature currently. For example, Joseph boldly tackles sexism, gender identity, equal pay, and other concepts beyond merely familial themes, yet he does it with humility, honesty, and ease, without any preachy or condescending tones. Although the male character is unnamed, the female character (or mini SHE-RO!) offers an affirmative, fun, feisty, and feminist protagonist for readers to emulate. Lillee, the main character, demonstrates resilience and displays fearless fortitude as she faces gender boundaries and revolutions about our world, social norms, and cultural mores in this vibrant but also bold, bubbly book.

As far as the pros and cons, I love that the book perceptively resonates with girl power. I also applaud how his writing cleverly employs a rhythmical quality that makes you want to sing or rap each page aloud-of course with a fist pump, too! I further appreciate the teachable lessons in this book beyond character education and tolerance, since Adam Zebediah Joseph also cites many careers for young children to pursue. Occupational terms in this book and illustrations make it suitable for a teacher, counselor, parent, or family member and embed superb context clues for the definitions. However, I was a bit dismayed that the male twin character remained nameless throughout the entire piece. This anonymity seemed to counter the equity themes that this book so adamantly advocated. While I also liked the pictures, I wanted a bit more multicultural depictions to truly illuminate the themes that book defends: equality, respect, inclusion, etc.

In sum, this book provides a mirror for young readers to assess not only themselves and their personal relationships around them, but also a path for sociopolitical awareness. Read it yourself to see if a fairy godmother emerges or if other lessons enlighten these characters as they grow and mature. The author shows empathy and wisdom to tackle themes with such poise and poetic power!

Pages: 50 | ASIN: B07F7XCTLV

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Imaginative Creation

Kate Robinson & Joe DiBuduo Author Interview

Kate Robinson & Joe DiBuduo Author Interview

The Contest and Other Stories is a collection of inspiring stories that got me to think and reflect. What was the inspiration behind this collection?

JD: I originally wanted to create a coffee table art book with all paintings connected to a framing story.

KR: Around 2007 or 2008, Joe started bringing these quirky short stories inspired by paintings to the critique group in Prescott, Arizona that we both belonged to.

In February 2011, he shared his draft and invited me to assist with the project as a co-author. We continued to work on polishing the stories and the connecting novella together. In our bios, we say that he has the vivid imagination and I have the word-whacking polish, but the truth is, we both contributed to the imaginative creation and to the nuts and bolts polishing and editing. We multiplied our mind-power by working together!

Joe DiBuduo

Joe DiBuduo

What were some themes you find yourself exploring in your short stories?

JD: The relationships artists have with drinking, higher consciousness, and insanity.

KR: As Joe says, some of the stories explore the artists’ lives directly in the genres of magical realism, dark fantasy, horror, the paranormal, and alternate history, or as a fabulous motif. The other stories were developed using a painting as a prompt, but have no relation to the artist or their work. Those stories explore life challenges and transitions such as birth, death, falling in love, relationships, family life, and work, also through the medium of various fantasy genres. The connecting novella explores the archetypal overbearing father who insists that his only son follow in his footsteps, while the son rebels to make his unique contribution to arts and literature.

What is the collaboration like between the two of you?

JD: Long distance.

KR: By the time Joe and I started working together on this project, he lived in Arizona and I had landed in California. So we shared thoughts and drafts for The Contest and Other Stories via email.

Will you be putting together another collection of short stories?

JD: We’ve been working on solo projects lately. I completed a connected short story collection in 2016 titled Story Time Karaoke @ The Chicagoua Cafe.

KR: I’ve been working on stories inspired by dreams and a novella created entirely from a series of dreams, with a working title of Loop: Life is But a Dream.

As for other joint projects, Joe and I just published a humorous dystopian sci-fi novelette, Space Race: Robot Rebellion in the Future Wild West (Tootie-Do Press, 2018). We also have a YA story, Thirteen, published in an anthology called 31 Nights of Halloween (Rainstorm Press, 2011). Neither of these stories fit the theme of The Contest, so we searched for other alternatives for publication.

Author Links: Amazon | KR Website | JD WebsiteGoodReads

The Contest and Other Stories by [DiBuduo, Joe, Robinson, Kate]Inspired by the works of international artists, this collection contains nineteen spellbinding Young Adult – New Adult magical realist, paranormal, slipstream, alternate history, and fabulist tales linked by a novella: Peter John Rizzo, a 1960 graduate of Yale University’s journalism program, inherits a floundering art magazine from his uncle, John Rizzo, with the provision that he must increase the circulation or forfeit all assets to creditors. Peter Rizzo, Pete’s father, is a banker who scorns careers in the Arts and Humanities, and is jealous of his late brother’s influence upon his wife and son. Classic Art Expose’s devoted but unorthodox editorial assistant, Jason, and two university interns, sisters Shirley and Evie, help Pete start a monthly short story contest with artwork prompts, hoping to expand and save the business. As the four friends publish the winning (and sometimes disturbing) stories over the following eighteen months, Pete battles his father’s attempts to ruin his business and his reputation, and in the process, discovers a sordid family secret. What else could possibly go astray?

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Phoenix the Brave Bird – Trailer

It does not matter what your eyes see, just believe.

After the evil came to the woods and destroyed all that was beautiful and good, his hope was the only clue that Phoenix had when he went out for the unknown help to restore it.

That hope was the magical power of love and friendship, which made Phoenix find whom he was looking for, and although the solution seemed to be simple, the degree of conviction inside of him had the final word.

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Frolicking Friends

Frolicking Friends by [Welsh, Karen Leis]

Frolicking Friends by Karen Leis Welsh is the story of a little boy who goes on a search for all of his animal friends. All of the animals have disappeared and he can’t find them anywhere. He searches high and low for mostly creepy, crawly creatures. The book is simple and whimsical and best suited for early readers. This book reminded me of Dr. Seuss books with sentences that are short and sweet with a repetitive rhyming style accompanied by cartoonish illustrations.

This would be a great book for parents or teachers to read with children, pointing out things in the pictures as you read. This is a helpful teaching aid in matching words with pictures. All too often my students struggle with words and feel overwhelmed or discouraged. This book would be a relief from that, and would be a useful building block for harder stories. It would be a good base level to work from.

Kids will enjoy the somewhat exaggerated, adventurous style of the illustrations. I didn’t notice until I flipped back through the book a second time that there were some subtle hints in the pictures. The sky is gradually clouding up in the backgrounds of the pages. With minimal words, the illustrations play a big part. I like that the lines of the illustrations are a little rough around the edges. Crooked, imperfect lines add to the whimsical nature of the book.

I work in an elementary school, and can totally see it being a hit in our Pre-K and Kindergarten classes. Repetition and rhyming are good for building confidence in very young beginning readers. It’s sing-song style will have little readers reciting the entire book in no time.Buy Now From Amazon.com

Pages: 44 | ASIN: B0792XDRYJ

 

Imaginative Solutions

Yossi Lapid Author Interview

Yossi Lapid Author Interview

Christmas with Snowman Paul is a heartwarming story showing empathy and helping others. What were some important themes you wanted to capture in this book?

I wanted my story to resonate with themes that address the true meaning of the holiday season such as friendship, inclusion, and family. The appeal of these values is in many ways near universal. My hope was that the story will raise questions such as: What does it mean to be a best friend? How does it feel to be excluded on a major holiday? Should we try harder to come up with imaginative solutions to problems of exclusion which seem, at first sight, insoluble? At the same time, I tried to address these themes with a fresh perspective and in a gentle, engaging and humorous way.

Ultimately, this is a simple story that encourages children of all ages to be sensitive to the needs of those who feel lonely and have no one to celebrate with.

The illustrations in this book are fantastic and serve to compliment the story. What was the art collaboration like with Joanna Pasek?

Collaborating with Joanna Pasek has been sheer joy from the very beginning. What I admire most in Joanna’s work is her unmatched ability to capture the emotional core of our key characters. The dog, for instance, is a key character that did not appear in my original text and was entirely Joanna’s creation. As an author, I always know that Joanna will find the best ways to match the narrative with compelling images which do not only illustrate the stories but also compliment them in new exciting ways. This holds true even in cases where text requires her to perform very difficult, and sometimes seemingly impossible, illustrations. Click this link http://bit.ly/2ARLuE7 to see Joanna’s magic in action.

The story is told in rhyme. Do you find kids learn language easier with rhymes?

Most definitely! Rhyme is one of the most effective ways to install the love of reading at an early age. It helps keep attention, enhance retention and enrich vocabularies. Children love rhymes because they are musical and amusing and because they help them anticipate what is coming next. The timeless appeal of nursery rhymes, for instance, can be explained by these attributes. The instinct to rhyme was with me from a very early age but, I think, it comes naturally to most children.

What is the next Snowman Paul story you have in the works?

First, I would like to encourage Snowman Paul friends to check out the other nine volumes already published in the Snowman Paul series (https://author.amazon.com/books). But there are many other new adventures in store for Snowman Paul some of which are already written and eagerly awaiting their turn to be published. In addition, Joanna and I are just about to come out with a new picture books series titled “Yara, the Jungle Girl”. If you like Snowman Paul, you are likely to fall in love with Yara!

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

Christmas with Snowman Paul by [Lapid, Yossi]

Join Snowman Paul on this heart-warming and humorous Christmas Eve adventure! 

What would you do if your beloved snowman told you that he feels sad about being left out in the cold while you and your entire family are celebrating a joyous Christmas Eve inside? Can Dan figure out a way to make Snowman Paul’s Christmas just as unique as his? Read this heartwarming and humorous Christmas story to find out 

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Something Spectacular

B.C.R. Fegan Author Interview

B.C.R. Fegan Author Interview

The Day that A Ran Away is an adorably witty story about the letters of the alphabet deciding not to show up. Do you write your stories with children in mind first, or parents and teachers?

I always write my stories to be enjoyed by children first. Even though the book has a primary purpose of teaching the alphabet to children, I wanted it to be fun – something they would enjoy reading.

This is a very cute idea, how did this idea develop and change as you were developing the story?

I really began the story with the idea of making a simple concept picture book into something more of an adventure. Thankfully the first few lines of the book came together quite quickly which made the presentation of the alphabet a bit more straightforward. Essentially, Jet is caught by his teacher without his homework – something that students are prone to do at some point of their school life. However Jet’s excuse is quite imaginative as he talks about each letter’s frustrating escape.

It may sound strange, but with the trajectory of the story in place, the story actually flowed quite well. In the end there weren’t any major changes required. I know – bit of a boring story!

The art, as always, is very good. What was the art direction you wanted in this book?

I think my biggest priority was having all the scenes linked together as Jet walks to school. So each page connects with the last and foreshadows the one to come. In addition, I wanted each character to be made up of a color that begins with its respective letter (ever heard of Xanadu Gray), and for there to be a number of objects in the illustration that begins with the same letter for children to find.

Overall, I described each scene to Lenny and she turned them into something spectacular. She even added a few of her own Easter eggs which was fantastic! I’m very lucky to have an illustrator that not only understands my thinking, but knows my entire approach.

I loved how each letter has its own look and feel. Was this something that you brainstormed with Lenny Wen or did you already have ideas for each letter?

I agree, the letters came out looking great! No, all credit belongs to Lenny for the look and personalities of each letter. The only direction I had in this respect was the color of each letter and the basic anthropomorphic requirement. Lenny came back with the idea of giving each letter a connection to something children could identify (i.e. ‘A’ being an astronaut), as well as an emotion (‘arrogant’).

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

The Day That A Ran Away by [Fegan, B.C.R.]Master Jet has forgotten to complete his homework… or has he? Jet’s teacher is surprised to find that instead of the alphabet, his page is completely blank. Jet tries to explain that it really isn’t his fault. After all, how can he help it, if none of his letters want to stay on the page!

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