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Acceptance And Self-worth

Charlene McIver Author Interview

Nature Study Buddies follows three children who want to study animals in their backyard but need to find a way to help their friend, who is in a wheelchair, participate in the educational adventure. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

My stories have been inspired by the experiences of my late son, Leigh, who used a wheelchair for mobility from a very early age. Each story is designed to shed light on an issue faced by children using wheelchairs, both physically and emotionally. Nature Study Buddies serves as a good example of one aspect children in wheelchairs may find challenging. In this story, Leigh’s friends offer their assistance with the issue at hand (climbing a tree). It is, however, Leigh who discovers that doing things a little differently are more appropriate and rewarding for him.

What was a key message you wanted young readers to learn from this book?

Nature Study Buddies Book 3’s message is acceptance and self-worth and rediscovering alternative ways around a seemingly potential problem for a disabled child.

What is the best way for parents and educators to utilize your book so they get the most out of it?

The underlying message will resonate with children who associate with Leigh, and who may have at some time felt left out while their friends were having fun.

It is my hope that parents and educators will engage in an informative discussion about inclusivity after reading this book.

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

Not sure if there will be a book 4 in Leigh’s Wheelie Adventures series at this stage. However, there may be a sequel to “The Mysterious Pool”, a chapter book for the older reader.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website | YouTube

Leigh’s Wheelie Adventures series continues with Nature Study Buddies, the third book in the series.
Awarded a Bronze Medal in the Moonbeams 2022 Children’s Book Awards for Best Picture Book Series.

Leigh, Tara, and Cosmo decide to study nocturnal animals living in trees for their school project.
However, Leigh is in a wheelchair, so how will he climb a tall tree?
An uplifting story of friendship, fun, and self-awareness.
*QR Code on back cover to watch the full video and read along*

The Star Of This Book Uses A Wheelchair

Author Interview Charlene McIver

Medieval Mashup follows a boy who is struggling with accepting himself and wants to fit in with the cool kids. What was the inspiration for your book?

The inspiration behind this and all my stories is my late son, Leigh. He was born with a physical disability and struggled many times to keep up with his peers from a very early age. The difficult situations Leigh, the character, encounters in these stories are loosley based around Leigh’s child-hood.

Leigh struggles with wanting to be cool and still be himself. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s personality?

Of course, the “real” Leigh, my son. He had a beautiful, shy caring nature and a little cheekiness about him which often surfaced when he was feeling confident. Unfortuantely, his lack of confidence with body image and mobility was always a major concern for him.

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

It was important to highlight some of the issues that children with limited mobility face which other children and adult, may or may not have considered.

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

Book 3 in Leigh’s Wheelie Adventures is currently in production and will again highlight another issue children with special needs may encounter.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Little Parachutes Gold Star Winner 2022
Leigh’s Wheelie Adventure series continues with Medieval Mashup (Book 2).
A special book focusing on the challenges children with different needs face on a daily basis.
Leigh just wants to look brave and strong…
Leigh, Tara, and Cosmo are making costumes for the school’s Medieval Fair. But Leigh is afraid of looking silly and keeps snapping at his friends. Will Leigh overcome his fear of not looking cool and make up with his friends?
Based on the true story of Leigh who was born with a severe physical disability.
A beautifully illustrated story of courage, friendship, and fun.
QR Code on back cover to watch the full video and read along

Medieval Mashup

Medieval Mashup by Charlene McIver is about a boy named Leigh who wants nothing more than to win the school’s Medieval costume contest. Leigh is in a wheelchair and wants to prove that despite his disability, he can be cool, brave, and strong. His friends Cosmo and Tara try to help Leigh come up with ideas, but he doesn’t like any of them. Leigh gets angry with his friends for suggesting silly or impractical ideas for his wheelchair. Eventually, Leigh gets tired of their ideas and rolls outside for a few minutes to collect himself. After taking a break, Leigh realizes he needs to rethink and lets his friends help him come up with a fun costume that is funny and strong.

I love how Cosmo and Tara accept Leigh the way that he is and encourage him to embrace being himself. He is naturally silly, so he should not try and hide that part of himself or change just to fit in with the “cool” kids.

His friends accept his disability and do not treat him as less of a friend because of it. Instead, they try and include him in all their fun ideas, and when he mentions that he can’t do something because of his wheelchair, they problem-solve to come up with a solution that will work. The message to children that they can be creative and find solutions is excellent in a world where many people look for a quick answer.

This well-written picture book is illustrated by Caroline Keys, and is filled with images of inclusion, realistic situations, and expressive characters. As this children’s book focuses on emotions, seeing the characters’ faces so clearly helps young readers understand the feelings that Leigh and his friends are going through.

Medieval Mashup is a heartwarming picture book about inclusion, friendship, and confidence. The children in the story are relatable to young readers and will help them develop their own confidence and see what real friendship looks like.

Pages: 34 | ISBN : 0648417883

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Mysteries and Magic

Charlene McIver
Charlene McIver Author Interview

The Mysterious Pool follows a group of friends who uncover secrets in an hold house that send them on a wild adventure. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

As a child I’ve always loved reading stories on mysteries and magic as most children do, and as did my late son, Leigh. So he is foremost in this adventure with his friends.

I enjoyed how authentic the children felt in your story. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Of course, Leigh relates to my late son and the other characters, Tara and Cosmo are losely based around his real life friends. The persona of the characters are carried over from my picture book series, Leigh’s Wheelie Adventures. Aimed for the younger reader, these little stories carry an important message on how life in a wheelchair can have its challenges.

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

Apart from keeping “The Mysterious Pool” fun, adventureous and enlighting, it carries an important message thoroughout the story – to instil confidence in children, particularly for those with limited mobility. I hope this is achieved after reading the story and they come away with a positive outlook and an appetite to learn more.

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

Book 2 in “Leigh’s Wheelie Adventures” will be out this year (2021). Again it will carry an important message.
There will be three books in this series, each covering different aspects wheelchair users have overcoming a particular problem.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

The Mysterious Pool is an enchanting magical story filled with mystery, fantasy and humor for all children (6-10 years) and for the young at heart.

Join Leigh and his fifth-grade school friends, Tara and Cosmo as they visit a mysterious house in the woods.
What treasures are revealed that will shock and astound them, and inadvertently uncover a hidden family secret?
Leigh doesn’t let his wheelchair hold him back from exploring with his friends, and as the events unfold, he experiences an amazing encounter that will leave him wondering and open his mind to new ideas.

If you love animals, exploring caves and magic, then you’ll love The Mysterious Pool.
A Leigh and Friends Adventure story.

The Mysterious Pool

The Mysterious Pool by [Charlene McIver, Zoe Saunders]

The Mysterious Pool by Charlene McIver is a beautifully illustrated and charismatic children’s book that is sure to be beloved by any child who reads it. The characters are all lively and maintain the silliness and wonder that children often relate to. Furthermore, the inclusion of a disabled character inspired by the author’s son teaches kids to accept everyone and adults will appreciate the memory of such a brave individual. The story begins when Leigh, Tara, and Cosmo find that a previously undisturbed area is being developed which could bring harm to the organisms living there, but one of their ancestors from long ago fashioned an elixir that could save the day if they can decode a mysterious set of symbols and find it.

This is a great book for kids because it is both entertaining and educational. While kids can experience the adventure of the three children as though they are in the middle of the actions, they also learn an important lesson about environmentalism and the importance of a balanced ecosystem. The whole theme of the book relates to human effects on the environment and how kids can learn to respect Mother Earth and their surroundings. The adventure is fast moving and has lots of quirky elements but is not too mature or grotesque for children. It also has a lot of humorous moments to bring a smile or laugh to a kid such as when Cosmo starts barking.

The Mysterious Pool is a wonderful children’s book that captures the literal way children may communicate and the boundlessness of their imagination in the way they see their world. The book is full of both whimsy and pieces of wisdom that children can carry into their further education, and possibly it might spark an interest in them just as it did in the characters of the book. The story is super cute with talking animals and neat illustrations and details such as the pictures of the symbols. This is such an adorable and inspiring book that any child will surely love and I highly recommend it.

Pages: 82 | ASIN: B097DVV1MY

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Using a Wheelchair as a Child

Author Interview
Charlene McIver Author Interview

Squishy Sand follows three friends who go to the beach and run into a problem on the sand and must come up with a creative solution. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration was, of course, my late son Leigh. This little series will be based around the difficulties Leigh encountered using a wheelchair as a child.  

The art in the book is beautiful, cute, and vibrant. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Caroline Keys?

Caroline was a gem to work with, very attentive to my brief and captured Leigh’s image and personality to a tee. She is an amazing artist.

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

Is was important to show how sometimes the smallest things are extremely difficult for others with different needs. And this will also be highlighted in Books 2 and 3.

This is book one in your Leigh’s Wheelie Adventures series. What can readers expect in book two?

As mentioned, Leigh struggled with numerous challenges as a child and Books 2 and 3 will explore individual problems he encountered when using a wheelchair. Problems, some may not consider or recognize as difficult. Hopefully, these little books will shed light on these issues.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Website

Leigh and his friends would love to go to the beach. However, Leigh uses a wheelchair and has a fear of falling. He also knows it’s difficult getting his wheelchair across the sand, but his friends Cosmo and Tara are determined to find a way to help their friend. After a number of hilarious failed attempts they finally solve the problem and enjoy a great day at the beach.
This engaging story also sheds light on the many obstacles children with different needs face in everyday life.
Based on the true story of Leigh who was born with a severe physical disability.
A beautifully illustrated story of friendship and determination.

Squishy Sand

Squishy Sand, by Charlene McIver is an educational picture book about three friends who take a trip to the beach and run into a problem on the sand and must come up with a creative solution. They’re all playing together, enjoying ice cream as they walk along the boardwalk. As Cosmo begins to grow bored he suggests going into the water. But there’s an issue: the wheels on Leigh’s wheelchair get stuck in the sand! The three kids try and figure out how to bring Leigh into the sand, going through different ideas. As they begin to lose hope, Cosmo finds something amazing!

Author Charlene McIver does a fantastic job of showing the different issues people struggle with. She shows that even if someone is in a wheelchair, they’re still capable of having fun and doing the same things everyone else does. The story shows how empathetic and kind Leigh’s friends are, encouraging children to copy that behavior. This book provides fantastic opportunities to talk to children about these topics and also gives some great examples of how these ideas apply in the real world. The art in the book is a wonderfully vibrant blend of sketch and water color styles, and makes me think of something Bob Ross would paint. There are cute creates on every page!

Squishy Sand is an educational children’s story that teaches young readers valuable life lessons and problem solving using creativity, all wrapped up in a fun little beach adventure. This book shows that it’s important to be understanding and patient with people that struggle with a disability. The story is fun and entertaining for the audience. Overall, the book is a great read for children to learn about others, and how to help them!

Pages: 38 | ISBN: 0648417832

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