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My Sunflowers

My Sunflowers is a book written by Tuula Pere and illustrated by Catty Flores. Targeted towards children, the story circles around headstrong Millie, a girl who enjoys gardening but is not fond of her parents’ preference towards growing vegetables for their own sustenance instead of cultivating flowers and other plants. She is particularly drawn to sunflowers and, after getting seedlings from a friendly vendor, takes on a secret endeavor to grow the flowers hidden from her parents, who do not believe she should be trusted with gardening activities by herself.

The beautifully written book My Sunflowers is a quick but meaningful read. Millie is an independent girl who does not stop at the hurdles imposed on her, and one whom young female readers will be able to look up to. Her strong personality and refusal to let others tell her what she is capable of will draw in the attention of children that often want to prove they can do things that adults feel they are still too young for. Millie doesn’t let the doubts of others stop her from doing what she knows she can do.

This is an illustrated children’s book about independence, problem-solving, and standing up for what you want in life. Millie’s determined attitude and dedication to her flowers, when her parents had no faith in her abilities, shows great inner strength for believing in herself. To add to the story’s emotional words, Flores’ artwork does not let its readers down; the drawings are remarkable, with cold and warm contrasting tones in a noteworthy palette. Together this is a story that will bring forth emotions of pride and perseverance.

My Sunflowers is an engaging picture book for children to learn about inner strength, problem-solving, and how hard work pays off. Teachers and families will find the message in this book positive and encouraging and children will enjoy the motivational story and artwork.

Pages: 36 | ASIN : B09K6KYPSW

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Diversity and Inclusion, Seeking Acceptance

Tuula Pere Author Interview

The Only Blue Crow follows a lone blue crow that wants nothing more than to be included. What was the inspiration for your story?

I love birds! I often observe their lives, how they find a spouse, make a nest, and defend their space and their little ones. What intrigues me most are their songs! In this book, the blue crow misses many of these elements as he is too alone and feels miserable.

I’m a person with two opposite sides. I feel very happy and comfortable to be connected to other people and enjoy their company, but I also need a lot of private space and time. I have noticed that a balance of these spheres is vital to me.

Like many people, the crow in my book has too much loneliness. He has difficulties in finding his place and trusted friends. He also lacks the confidence of being what he is and compares himself to others to be accepted.

I have met many “lonely crows” in real life, and I’d like to encourage them! I would like to send my greetings to a special little boy whose mother I was talking to some years ago. She was worried about how her son would be accepted at school as he had a physical difference compared to the others. Until then, he had been happy with it, but now he was going to another environment with all new people and had already started to think more about it.

This discussion with that mother is still in my heart. With books like The Only Blue Crow, I try to make children and adults think about and express acceptance and empathy every day. It can make a big difference in many lives.

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

Catty Flores is a wonderful artist and illustrator. We have been working together for many years. We communicate well, and we trust in each other’s professional skills. I am the author, and she wakes my stories alive in pictures!

Our first project together – ”The Survival Stories Series”– was published six years ago. She lived in New Zealand at that time, but the distance didn’t prevent us from working closely together. Modern technology and connections are amazing in connecting people!

Since then, we have made many other books – even series – together. It has always been smooth and positive. We have worked with many sensitive subjects like poverty, loneliness, illness. Welcome home, Pearl, from a series talking about the family life of a disabled child, was chosen even for to latest international IBBY collection of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities, and they included the whole series in their exhibition.

We share a similar understanding with Catty about both the every day “tragedies” and the happy highlights. The message is: there is always a way, and there is always somebody to be by our side! There is a positive and fun way of encouraging children in our “Little Fears Series” and “I did it! Series”, which is important to both of us.

It’s always a pleasure for me to see Catty’s ideas for a new story and start developing the book together with her. I also admire her flexibility and ability to find new ways and styles for various stories.

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

The Only Blue Crow is a book of diversity and inclusion, seeking acceptance and connection to others. It’s also a book of finding the strength in yourself, trusting your own wings, and discovering the world!

I feel strongly connected to the lonely blue crow in his search for happiness. My crow is a symbol of many ways of being different from others. I hope it gives comfort and encouragement for children and adults who suffer from discrimination or are left out for any reason.

In real life, many significant issues in society can cause problems – poverty, culture, religion, gender, to name a few. But even more, minor everyday things can start the difficulties – such as differences in a person’s looks, thoughts, taste, and behavior. It’s essential to understand that these experiences of being included or left out are very individual and personal. They are often secrets, and the others do not notice that something is wrong. Still, they can affect a person’s whole life!

My message is simple. We are individuals, and we should be accepted as individuals! But we also need the others around us. Tolerance and acceptance are crucial to making life happier for everybody.

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

I’m always working simultaneously with several books. Stories are developing in my head, and texts are edited, translated, and illustrated by artists all the time. I love all the steps but working with the illustrator has a unique creative touch! ​

I just received the finished illustrations from Catty Flores for Noise All Over, which is the next book in my “Little Fears Series” this spring. And now, she has just started working with The Giant Legs, probably published before summer, too. These are books about various troubling situations that children meet, sometimes without the others noticing it. My message is that parents, relatives, teachers, and other adults close to children, can do a lot by listening and giving space to children. The little ones have deep feelings under the surface, too. After solving the minor problems and fears, life will be easier all along!

Another of my trusted illustrators, Andrea Alemanno, has just finished illustrating The Stone Garden, which has a unique atmosphere and mysterious visual interpretation. He could surprise me again, although we have worked together many years, too. I love layers of history and the present day, memories and plans, fantasy, and real life. The Stone Garden captures this all in Andrea Alemanno’s pictures.

There is no end to it when I talk about my following books! I am pleased to be inspired repeatedly and find fresh ways to express significant issues – even the most delicate ones – together with other artists. I have had a lot of time to think and write during these special times – suitable for an author! I’m glad to show the newest results soon and hope to meet readers in person again.

Author Links: Facebook | Website

There’s a blue crow who doesn’t know anyone like him. At times he feels terribly lonely.
“Luckily in my home valley there are blue flowers, blue butterflies and a blue sky,” he ponders. The blue crow feels even sadder when the new neighbors, black crows, mock him.
On the advice of a wise owl, the bird embarks on a journey across the sea. There are plenty of things to see. Will there also be other blue birds, and perhaps even another blue crow?

The Only Blue Crow

A lone blue crow wants nothing more than to have friends. He tries to make friends with a flock of black crows and they do nothing but make fun of him. Discouraged, the blue crow sets off to find things that make him happy. When bluebells fail to lighten his mood, a wise owl calls him over. The owl tells him he should set out on a journey, that the world is large and perhaps he will find another blue crow on his search. So off the crow flies, hoping to find a reason to be happy and even some new friends.

The Only Blue Crow by Tuula Pere is a picture book that tackles the topics of loneliness, depression, and self-worth through the life of a blue crow. This crow is different from all the other birds he encounters and struggles with the reality that it seems no one will accept him for who he is. In the world today, this message is important as depression and fear of being different are impacting children at younger ages than ever. This thought-provoking story will guide young readers in realizing that different is not wrong or bad. The message of going out and finding those that appreciate you and not staying where you are unwanted is a powerful one.

Illustrator Catty Flores does an amazing job showing the emotions of the blue crow in her artwork. Children will be engaged with the whimsical watercolor style. The illustrations add depth to the story as young readers will be able to see the emotions on the blue crow even if they do not understand the words being used to describe his loneliness.

The Only Blue Crow is an inspirational read for young children. Teachers and parents will find this picture book is a great resource for introducing the tough topics of loneliness and inclusion.

Pages: 48 | ISBN : 9523573101

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