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Honeycake: A Family Of Spices

Nala’s grandma is one smart cookie. She is determined for her granddaughter to know exactly how special she is. She has a unique way of explaining to Nala that she is a blend of all of her parents’ and grandparents’ heritages. When Nala stops by for a visit with her grandma, the two of them set about making her family’s famous honeycake. Nala, ever curious, asks her grandma why her pet name is “Honeycake,” and the story begins.

Medea Kalantar’s Honeycake: A Family of Spices gives young readers a fantastic story with which to relate. Nala, the story’s main character visits with her grandmother and hears from her exactly how special her family’s background is. As her grandmother proceeds to bake with Nala, she explains in detail the ancestry of each side of Nala’s family and how the two families blend together to make unique individuals.

It is quite uncommon to find stories explaining heritage to children of elementary age, and Kalantar has certainly delivered a memorable story. When Nala’s grandmother relates cultural diversity to the many spices and ingredients required to make her honeycake, young readers are handed a scenario that is easy to follow and is presented in a manner that has been carefully crafted to demonstrate to readers the way in which they, too, are extraordinary.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Kalantar’s writing is her comment on the human race. The author is careful to emphasize that no matter one’s ancestry, we are all part of one race. This is a message seldom seen in books for young readers and is quite refreshing.

As an elementary teacher, I highly recommend Honeycake: A Family of Spices to anyone looking to teach or emphasize the appreciation of diversity to young readers.

Pages: 24 | ISBN: 0228810531

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Honeycake: Help I Swallowed a Butterfly – Trailer

“Help I Swallowed A Butterfly” is the second book in the delightful Honeycake series. In this sequel, Nala gets stage fright at school. But with the help of her mom, Nala learns how to get rid of those pesky butterflies in her tummy. This charming book empowers young readers to practice mindfulness and meditation so that they are able to meet life’s challenges head-on in a healthy and balanced way. Help I Swallowed A Butterfly is clearly written and incredibly relatable, with step-by-step instructions and guided meditation exercises for young readers. This book is also a valuable resource for caregivers who want to provide a positive introduction for children to the world of self-care and managing those butterflies.

Life can be stressful at any age, but with the right tools and mindset, we can overcome any obstacle!

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“Bottom Down, Penelope Brown!”

"Bottom Down, Penelope Brown!" by [Pulliam, April B.]

For as long as she can remember Penelope Brown can’t stay sitting down. She wiggles and worms, dances and turns, and every teacher she’s had will insist throughout class that she remain in her seat. As Penelope enters the third grade, she dreads the new teacher, knowing exactly what she will say – or will she?

April Pulliam delivers a touching message with a simple story. The characters are kept to a minimum to focus on the issues at hand. Penelope is likable and relatable; she is described in good light with age-appropriate language. I appreciate how Pulliam never outright stated Penelope’s difficulties as a problem. She consistently views the characters through a young child’s perspective.

Penelope struggles, like many children, to stay in her seat. Like many young children she wriggles and squirms and is brimming with energy. How do children handle this? How do they handle the teachers that constantly tell them to put their ‘bottom down’? These are lessons that I think many elementary school children can relate to and one that is presented in a fun and understanding manner in this book.

Pulliam and Grantham team up to craft a wonderful opportunity to introduce and validate a child’s woes comparable to Penelope. I would highly recommend Bottom Down, Penelope Brown for the modern classroom.

Pages: 23 | ASIN: B07SRX418X

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Inspire Creativity in Others

Gloria D. Gonsalves Author Interview

Gloria D. Gonsalves Author Interview

Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania is an enchanting children’s book that takes kids on an educational adventure. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I grew up in Tanzania where to me, nature is a place to collect firewood and fresh grass for livestock, hunt edible animals and a place to watch out for as a home to deadly snakes. I never imagined that one could leisurely visit a forest just for its aesthetic beauty. Fast-forward to years later, I am living in Germany and one of the leisure activities is spazieren (to walk) in the forest especially on Sunday. My husband has a knowledge of wild plants passed on to him by his parents. One day during our usual Sunday walk, I got an idea to write a book. I thought it was important to share the knowledge of wild plants to children since I didn’t have it when growing up.

I loved the children’s artwork in this book. What made you want to go this route with the art for this book?

One of my aspirations as a writer is to inspire creativity in others or showcase those who have potential. The idea to involve children with illustrations started with a book prior to this one. The book is about diamond poems and I thought it would be boring for children to read as text only. I approached friends, colleagues and family, who gave consent to have their children involved in the book. It was a try and I am grateful for their trust in my intentions. I got feedback of children treasuring the book as well as increased confidence in what they can achieve in art because someone believed in them to draw in their book.

I loved Stan’s character. What was the inspiration for his development and journey?

Stan is an imagined version of my husband as a child learning about nature from his parents. Danloria is a coined name from the letters of his first name and mine. Other characters are from our favourite forest in the Siebengebirge (Seven Mountains or Hills).

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

The manuscript for a third sequel of Lamellia is almost done and an illustrator is working on it. I am planning to have it out by autumn.

Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads | Website

Danloria is a forest located in the seven hills of Germania. Not everyone in Germania knows about the forest. Stan is a little boy who enjoyed visits to the forest with his father. One day, his dad fell sick, and Stan was led to the forest without his father by wise Fern. It was during this adventure that their friendship was sealed. During this forest visit, Stan was introduced to prominent residents of the forest and told of their benefits to human life. On one unfortunate occasion, Stan fell sick. The healing process introduced him to more friends of Fern from forests all over the world, such as Asilandia, Afrilandia, Califoria, and Englandia. These encounters with Fern’s friends formed an everlasting memory on the little boy.

This book is a blend of fantasy, adventure and education. The story is enchanting for readers young and old alike if you are a fan of nature adventures and fantasy. The different styles for each drawing makes each turn of the page a brand new experience. Danloria is written for children under seven.

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Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania

Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania by [Gonsalves, Gloria D.]

The magical forests of Germania beckon! When five-year-old Stan is invited to a party by a talking Fern, he eagerly enters a lush, verdant world of discovery. When Stan falls ill, his forest friends find a cure. When he gets lost, they guide him home. The forest’s generosity truly knows no bounds.

Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania reveals the protective and healing powers of the forest and its vegetation. Author Gloria Gonsalves cleverly teaches children the names and characteristics of plants, and their ability to heal or harm. Her enchanting fable reveals the countless ways the Earth protects and provides. The true magic of this book is in the illustrations that were created by children. Each drawing is engaging and gives the story an added layer of meaning through the imaginations of young artists. It is a heart-warming story that speaks to the giving nature of the Earth.

Pages: 61 | ASIN: B07926X9S4

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Humorous and Fun

Norman Whaler Author Interview

Norman Whaler Author Interview

Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black brings two strange men to the farm and peaks the curiosity of the two farm friends. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this kids book?

All the Oink and Gobble books are are short reads and meant to be humorous and fun and to put a smile on everyone’s face! The Men in Black are popular and familiar to kids and adults alike, but are still are a mystery to be solved!

This is book two in the Oink and Gobble series. What were some new themes you wanted to introduce in this book and what were some ideas you wanted to continue from the first book?

Oink is adventurous and interested in all the strange mysteries of the world, yet has a tendency to jump to conclusions with few facts. Gobble is focused on facts first and tries to bring logic to the investigations the two inevitably start. Though they look at things quite differently, they are best of friends!

What kind of mischief will Oink and Gobble get into in book three and when will it be available?

Without saying too much, Oink once again will jump to conclusions about a mystery of the world, and Gobble will try to bring reason to Oink’s thinking. I hope everyone will enjoy it! Should be out by July 2019.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Oink and Gobble and the 'No One Can Ever Know Secret' (Oink and Gobble Book Series 1) by [Whaler, Norman]Oink and Gobble were best friends and, with all the other animals on the farm, had a BIG secret they could never, ever let any humans know! But, did Oink let the cat out of the bag?

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Yara’s Tawari Tree

Yara's Tawari Tree (Book 1)

Yara’s Tawari Tree by Yossi Lapid is a children’s short fiction story that takes place in the rain forest. A young girl named Yara and her mother live a self-sustaining life surrounded by nature. One day, a Parrot named Chant leads Yara to the seedling of a Tawari tree that is in danger of being cut by big machines. Yara digs up the plant to save it and replants it near her home. But will her care of the seedling be enough to keep the Tawari tree alive?

I really enjoyed reading this book. I liked that part of the story was told from the point of view of the seedling of the Tawari tree and it talked to Yara, asking for her help. The story flowed well and had a lyrical quality to it due to the author’s use of rhyming lines.

The book was illustrated by Joanna Pasek, and I really liked the pictures that accompanied the story. I loved the illustrator’s use of vivid colors. The landscape scenes looked like paintings. It appeared that watercolors were used, along with another medium.

I enjoyed the ending of the story. Yara saved the seedling, and then tea made from the bark of the grown Tawari tree ended up saving Yara when she was sick. Her kind act came full circle, though she had expected nothing in return for her good deed.

I liked the book’s message that nature should be cherished and we must care for it to ensure that it will continue to be here for people to enjoy.

Pages: 40 | ISBN: 9780997389951

NetGalley

The Ocean Seeks My Sorrow As Its Water

Poetry movie by Gloria Gonsalves

www.gloria-gonsalves

www.wochipoda.com

Not Enforcing Sameness

Rachael Higgins Author Interview

Rachael Higgins Author Interview

The Silver Tabby is a wonderfully illustrated children’s book about a kitten that struggles to fit in with the other cats. What was your inspiration behind this kids book?

The Silver Tabby was initially written as a high school English assignment. At the time, the class was studying the topic of myths and fairytales, and how the stories portrayed a message or lesson to pass on to the next generation. The assignment task was to write and illustrate a story that embedded a lesson relevant to our societal paradigm. In completing the assignment, I wanted to pass on the message that differences can be beneficial, and that no-one should be judged based on their appearance of being different. I was inspired by authors such as Beatrix Potter and A. A. Milne, with their use of animal characters to portray their stories. Having a love of animals myself, I wanted to use animals in my story to spread a message of hope, kindness, and reconciliation. I also followed the commonly heard writer’s advice of “write what you know” and incorporated some of my own experiences of being considered different, spending time alone; as a result, then receiving acceptance.

Over the years, since the original high school assignment, The Silver Tabby has been redrafted and revamped, but the inspiration and passion in telling the story have remained the same. I believe that passing on the message of accepting others for who they truly are, and not enforcing sameness, is an essential lesson to teach our future generations.

Are you a cat person or a dog person (I’m guessing a cat person)? Do you have any pets that this story was based on?

I would say that I am an animal person in general, not specific to being a cat person or a dog person. However, I have had both animals as pets in the past as well as guinea pigs, and most recently, rats. I’m the type of person who will go for a walk and rescue a lost or injured animal or will visit an animal shelter and want to adopt all the animals to make sure they have a happy, loving, and safe home.

When I originally started writing The Silver Tabby, I had a short-hair silver tabby cat named Silver who the main character of the book is based on. The real Silver was born from my families’ then neighbour’s cat, who had chosen the enclosed area where our hot water tank was stored, below our Queenslander-style home, as a warm, safe place to birth her litter of kittens. The kittens were a mix of tortoiseshells, ginger tabbies, and black furred kittens; Silver was the only silver tabby. Our neighbours called Silver’s mother, Mama Cat. Mama Cat would lead the kittens between our house and the neighbour’s; Silver would venture away from the litter and come inside our house and make herself comfortable while I read. I think Silver really ended up adopting me rather than the other way round.

I loved the illustrations in this book. What was the collaboration like between you and the illustrator Grace Elliott?

Grace is fantastic to work with; I would recommend any author seeking an illustrator for their children’s book to look Grace up on Instagram. Initially, I showed Grace a draft of the text and concept of illustrations that I had drawn years ago for the high school assignment; and later digitally remastered for a later draft. Then Grace worked her magic on the artwork for The Silver Tabby. I feel I made the right decision collaborating with Grace, rather than illustrating the story myself. Grace’s artwork compliments the text and sets the scenes of the story, bringing the characters to life, in a way that I couldn’t have done myself.

As an artist, Grace was willing to accept feedback and advice from other artists, as we amended drafts, and she shared my vision as the author for how the book might look as a finished product. Most of our collaboration was done online, as I spent a lot of the last year moving intercity and overseas, Grace was very patient and understanding throughout every pause and readjustment that was made during the production of The Silver Tabby. I am very grateful to have had Grace onboard for the project, and would gladly work with Grace again.

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

I have a couple of concepts that I am working on at the moment. Another illustrated book that poetically portrays the epic clash between Heaven and Hell. I expect this book will be available within the next year or two. The other concept is a romantic story of undetermined length, and availability, at this stage; although I anticipate the story to evolve into a novella if not a novel.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram

The Silver Tabby by [Higgins, Rachael]

The Silver Tabby is about a kitten named Silver who struggles with being different from the other kittens in her litter.

Then one day, Silver manages to become the same as the other kittens. Excited to meet a new friend, all the kittens play happily together. But, Silver’s disguise does not last long.

When the other kittens discover their new friend is Silver, will she still be accepted?

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Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black

Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black (Oink and Gobble Book Series 2) by [Whaler, Norman] Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black is a children’s story written by Norman Whaler. The story follows a duo of livestock buddies, Oink the pig and Gobble the turkey. Oink is an excitable young creature, and Gobble is more mature and a bit on the serious side. The two find some unusual things happening on the farm and Oink cannot contain his curiosity and must look for answers.

I think the story has a pretty good pace and flow for children, but seems to rise and build suspense and then end abruptly. I think there was some room for some more scenarios to play out following the “unmasking.” I did like the friendship between the pair despite their differences. I liked that the pig was overly curious while the turkey was more reserved. That made way for a nice back and forth exchange in conversation.

The illustrations were cute but the colors seemed over saturated. I think softening things up a bit would add to the playfulness of the farm. The “Men in Black” aspect felt borrowed and I was wanted to see some Oink and Gobble specific twists to the story.

I love the authors work and I think Oink and Gobble has huge potential to be something both whimsical and unique. I’d like to see Oink and Gobble in original story lines that give their relationship and whimsy potential to stand out. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I think kids will adore Oink and Gobble as they are both fun and funny.

Pages: 28 | ASIN: B07PBMNYKS

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