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Strong Is…

Strong Is . . . by [Pulliam, April B.]

What is strong? According to Merriam-Webster, strong is not mild or weak. But what exactly does that mean? To determine if someone or something is strong you need to look at it in context and compare it to other things that are similar. Strong Is… by April Pulliam and illustrated by Amy Grantham looks at the situation through the eyes of a child. The child is relaying all the ways they have heard the word strong used to describe people and things. Each situation gives a new view on what makes something strong or not. As you go through the book you encounter funny images like a stinky dog or a hungry lion, but then it starts to focus more on people and the images become more serious; a hospital, a distraught mother. It all leads up to the end with a picture of a small child. While the book never says cancer in the story line, it is implied with the imagery and by reading up on the author’s page at the end.

This is a challenging subject and this book is a great way to introduce a young child to what might be going on. Learning that it’s okay and even when you’re little you can be strong in your own way. I think this is a great book for siblings or even a child that may be going through this to read and gain some confidence. It’s an emotional topic that is handled with dignity and simplified for young readers. I recommend this book to anyone that knows someone going through an illness and trying to explain it to a young child.

Pages: 15 | ASIN: B07NKH1FNC

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Stay Faithful to the Stories in Your Head

Gloria D. Gonsalves Author Interview

Gloria D. Gonsalves Author Interview

Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms follows the king and queen of Lamellia as the kingdom is dealing with the appearance of a human child. What was the direction that you wanted to take this book that was different from The Wicked Queen?

Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms is the prequel to Lamellia: The Wicked Queen. There was no direction for the plot except that I honoured the file downloaded to me by nature. The story line seemed absolutely piffle but it nudged to be told and I had to respect the idea as it came to mind. Perhaps I was paying tribute to Paula Hawkins words “Stay faithful to the stories in your head.”

In this book we get to explore more of the king’s backstory. What were some themes you wanted to capture in his character?

I recall seeing this big, ugly and brown mushroom during a forest walk. As I sat down to write the story based on that particular mushroom, it seemed natural that regardless of its appearance it’s going to be the story lead because I saw it first and the idea of the book followed.

Why did you choose mushrooms to be a large part of your world?

This book was not planned at all. I got the idea while out in the nature. One could say that the inspiration was fuelled by my husband, who likes to point out names of wild plants in the forest.

Being authentic with this story was important even though to some people it seemed ridiculous or not one to pay most money.

Some parts of the books might appear harsh to a child. I am not keen to block truth and reality from a child such as there are poisoning mushrooms out there or some human behaviours have negative impacts to nature.

I also remember one marketing person who saw the draft and told me that their child did not like the story and went further to suggest I write a different book based on trending topics at that time which made more money. It did not put me off because humans are different and our motivations are diverse. A child who is not raised to explore nature and its residents will probably not be excited by this book. It was essential to tell this story without money being the motivator.

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

I am working on two projects simultaneously. One is a children’s Swahili book co-authored by Tanzanian writers. The other is of course the continuation of Lamellia story. For the latter, I am open minded to receive ideas for where Lamellia story should go but I trust to know when the end has come.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms by [Gonsalves, Gloria D.]

Can a lost baby girl find a new home in a world of enchanted, talking mushrooms? King Polipoli is kind to all who enter his magical kingdom. When he learns that a human baby girl needs his help, he sends out all his mushroom troops to rescue her. But the journey wont be easy. After all, how can the little fungi carry a baby? Or feed her? Mushrooms of all shapes, sizes, and species must use teamwork and creativity to bring the girl safely to the kings castle. Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms is a delightful educational picture book for children. During the fun-filled adventure, your children will discover the importance of kindness, tolerance, and acceptance. If your child likes seeing beautiful illustrations, learning about nature, and using their imagination, then theyll love this charming fantasy tale. Journey to Lamellia today to have a fun time with fungi!

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A Forest Walk

Gloria D. Gonsalves Author Interview

Gloria D. Gonsalves Author Interview

Lamellia: The Wicked Queen takes place in a magical mushroom kingdom where a baby appears and causes suspicions to rise. What was the inspiration behind this books story line?

Lamellia: The Wicked Queen is a story continuation that was begun in Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms. Sometime in May 2012, I saw a big and ugly brown mushroom during a forest walk. Thereafter, I began paying attention to mushrooms. One day, I had an idea to write a story involving mushrooms.

In August 2015 while visiting Austria, I photographed a lot of mushrooms as well as visited a mushrooms museum for further character inspiration. The inkling to include a human baby in the story was inspired by the movie Avatar.

Nobilia is an interesting character. What were some driving ideals behind her character arc?

After publishing the first book, I was mostly in disbelief for having written a story involving mushrooms taking care of a human baby. A sequel story wasn’t in my mind because I doubted myself with the absurdity of the story which I have shared with the public.

The idea for a follow-up-story was instigated by a potential reviewer of the first book. She declined to write a review as it would be totally negative. Instead, she took time to write a long feedback and potential ideas for a sequel. She had some ideas all involving a conniving queen. I took the backbone of her suggestions–an evil queen–and created Nobilia.

The reviewer concluding words were, “…I get excited when I meet someone who can write really well. I love seeing them succeed…”

The art in this book is beautiful. What was the art collaboration like with Katerina Brunot?

Katerina Brunot was a contact through an online magazine acquaintance. We spent ten months communicating back and forth, her based in the USA and myself in Germany. It was pleasant working with her. At one point, she was unable to continue due to sickness. She offered to involve someone else and have a combination of illustrations from herself and another illustrator of my choice. I declined and agreed to wait until she recovered. I will not hesitate to work with her in the future.

What do you hope young readers take away from your story?

  1. Learning the importance of showing kindness, following the rules and understanding consequences.
  2. Enthused to go outdoors and learn from nature.
  3. All inhabitants of this world (living and non‐living) deserve to be respected and loved.
  4. If we care to listen, nature selflessly gifts us all the time with artistic inspirations such as stories and poems.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Can a human baby possibly be a mushroom?

When King Polipoli, the ruler of Lamellia, finds a human baby in his mushroom kingdom, he adopts it immediately to satisfy his wifes desire to be a mother.

But when the baby mysteriously grows weaker and weaker under the queens care, suspicions start to arise.

What is the queen doing to the baby? How did the baby get there? Will it survive and fulfil its purpose before it’s too late?

Get your copy now to find out the answers and reveal to your children the importance of showing kindness, following the rules, and understanding consequences.

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Jai the Albino Cow

Jai the Albino Cow: Jai Ng’Ombe Zeruzeru by Gloria D. Gonsalves (with illustrations by Nikki Ng’ombe) is a book intended for children in Grades 3-4. The story features a family of Ankole cows that live in the meadows of Kole Hills. There are two brothers, Lutalo (Bello Bello) and Tokei (Spotty), and their sister, Anjait (known as Jai). But Jai is different–she’s an albino cow. And some of the cows in Kole Hills believe that she is cursed. But others believe that she is a relative of unicorns. And it’s true. She is a magical cow whose dancing produces stars, silver glitter, and a rainbow of colors. She is the first female cow to join the dance of the cattle kings.

I really enjoyed this book, especially the fact that the story is written in two languages, with both shown on the same page. Besides English, Jai’s adventure is also told in Swahili. Which allows a larger audience to read the book, as well as helps to teach readers another language.

I liked the message in this story, that what makes a cow (or person) different is what makes them special. This book teaches children to show kindness to others, even those who are different. And it also encourages children to try new things, even things that no one else has ever tried before.

I loved the illustration that were included in the book, showing various scenes from the story. The pictures, showing Jai and her family and the Kole Hillls, featured realism rather than cartoonish qualities and were drawn using vivid colors that appeal to young readers.

I would have liked it if the story had been just a little bit longer and included Bello Bello and Spotty’s reaction to seeing their sister’s magical abilities, but otherwise this was a great book.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07HBZ8D5T

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I Grew Up Invisible

Lenore Ossen Author Interview

Lenore Ossen Author Interview

An Invisible Child is a memoir of your life growing up with an abusive mother. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I have an unusual story to tell. It is a true story. It is a story about pain, despair, and a struggle to survive. It is my story. I grew up invisible. I was unloved, abused, and shut away from the outside world. There was no school for me, no classmates, no friendships with other children. Under my psychotic mother’s rules I was not even allowed to be touched or speak to family members. I was my mother’s prisoner, and I lived in panic and fear. Later, when I left my mother’s asylum I found it very difficult to function in the world. I started to write my story for myself, with a need to release my pent-up feelings by writing about them. In the process, I was able to free myself of some of the unbearable pain I experienced in childhood. I soon realized what a compelling story I had to tell. So I decided to put it out into the Universe with a hope that others might learn from what I went through and be able to overcome as I have. Writing this book has also helped me to find my own voice.

The book recounts many memories that were sad and sometimes unbelievable. What served as a guide for you while writing your story?

My feelings and memories were my guide, plus a file my uncle kept on me when I was growing up. My uncle was persona non grata and was not allowed into my mother’s apartment. But he was collecting information from my grandmother and father about the abnormal isolated life I was living with my mother. As I went through the file I found all kinds of information, including a legal document stating that my mother was about to take her life along with mine when I was four. I used the file to write about all sorts of hidden details of my childhood that I never knew about.
Writing a memoir causes one to look back at their life in a different lens.

Writing a memoir causes one to look back on their life in a different lens. Is there anything you see differently now that you wrote this book?

Yes, I am now much more aware of how horrible my life was when I was growing up, I just didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to deal with the reality of it. Now that I have been able to confront my past, I have been able to feel my feelings, cry my tears, and finally accept my childhood for what it was — and go on from there. I am no longer terrorized by my mother’s demons, and her voice in my head has been replaced by my own. I revised my book several times, and each time I have come closer to the truth of who I really am.

The story ultimately serves as a message of hope. What do you hope readers take away from the book?

I do hope my book will be helpful to those of you who feel lost and alone in a world that can be cold, cruel, and indifferent. What I want to convey to my readers, more than anything else, is a feeling of hope. One can suffer, the human spirit can be crushed and one can plummet into an abyss, but one can rise above despair. I know – because I have, as I went from one crisis to another, learning and growing emotionally, overcoming the pain that dominated my life. By persisting and not giving up, one can eventually succeed and make a life that is fulfilling, with pleasures and joys from just being alive.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

An Invisible Child by [Ossen MSW, Lenore]Trapped in the twisted world of a psychotic mother, Lenore Ossen is shut away from the outside world. For her, there is no school. No classmates. No friendships with other children. Under her mother’s insane rules, she can’t even turn to family members for solace, and so, day after day, she lives in panic and fear. How can she survive such terrible treatment? In deep despair, Lenore learns to retreat to the safety of her own mind. There she creates a world of fantasy and yearns for someone to take her away from her deranged mother. But there is no one. Most people suffering such abuse would go out of their minds. What makes Lenore different? How does she endure? What drives her to rise above her traumatic past?

In this compelling true story, Lenore Ossen describes what living in isolation with a psychotic mother feels like to an innocent child. In telling how she broke free of the nightmare enslaving her, she reaches out to give hope and comfort to other victims of abuse.

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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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