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Fingerprints of God

Fingerprints of God by Melanie Burgess takes young readers on a scenic adventure of where on earth we could possibly find God’s fingerprints. With each question asked, it beckons us to look deeper into the truth behind everything. That God, in fact, made it all with his goodness and greatness.

This beautifully done children’s book shows children how to find God in all that surrounds us. His goodness is in everything we see, and the art and illustrations in this picture book are captivating. I was so enthralled that I couldn’t help but linger on each page long after reading the narrative.  

I enjoyed that there were verses from the Bible sprinkled throughout, connecting the dots for the reader to put together. It shows that the author is well-versed in the Bible, it’s teaching, and how the information was researched and put together expertly. I also appreciated all the animal facts at the very end of the book because it felt as though the author knew people would want insight into all the creatures in the story and made sure to include it all.

Fingerprints of God is definitely an excellent book for young or beginner readers due to the simple language that the author has used. In addition, kids are so curious and are fascinated by animals, which, in my opinion, is what makes this the perfect story to get conversations started about God and his workings with young children.

Pages: 36 | ASIN : B0BBLG44GM

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God Made It All

In God Made It All by Ruthie Godfrey and illustrated by Helen Ayle are a match made in heaven. Godfrey’s exquisite writing skills are accentuated by Ayle’s majestic artistic abilities resulting in one powerful duo. We are taken on a journey of illustrative beauty through all the places God has touched and his goodness. All that surrounds us and all that is, God made it all.

“From the quietest blowing breeze to the loudest clap of thunder” especially stood out to me because I could feel the sweeping of the wind through the page. The art is remarkably masterful and connects the reader to the story’s overall theme. Each page is immensely evocative and held me captivated and yearning for more. The author has exceptionally encapsulated the incredible power of God throughout her verses in this book. It is apparent that this writer has tremendous passion for her writing, creating, and faith.

God Made It All is the perfect picture book for any person’s library and easy enough for beginner readers to get through and understand clearly. I would imagine this book to also be a great tool in starting conversations about God, the world around us, and God’s goodness. How everything and everyone is connected through God in so many ways.

Pages: 37 | ASIN : B09L7CCPBM

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Never Give Up

A family of penguins has left their icy home to take their son to a university in England called Ox-fjord. Junior Nerdy-Birdy Pingo-Bongo dreams of becoming a famous ice cream maker. On the way there, their aircraft malfunctions, and they are forced to land in a desert. Here they are distraught and have no idea how to get their plane fixed. Rather than give up all hope, Junior convinces his parents to make their dreams come true there in the desert and bring the ice cream they love to the people there.

Never Give Up by Anna Maledon and illustrated by Wenny Stefanie is an inspiring and creative story with many lessons packed in. Children will learn from this picture book about using their imagination, problem-solving, immigration, entrepreneurship, and different climate and weather conditions. The author uses humor to help teach many of these lessons and show children how even when things look impossible, you should never give up on your goals.

The artwork in this beautifully written picture book brings the characters to life, their personalities jump off the pages, and you feel all the emotions they do as you read through this story. The expression on Junior’s face as he goes through the different stages of the story helps young readers understand the complex emotions he is experiencing. This is a great way to teach emotional empathy and social skills.

Never Give Up would make an amazing gift for a classroom teacher or for someone getting ready to graduate as a reminder to never give up on their dreams. Of course, there will always be setbacks, but learning to adapt and see through the problem is what makes a person successful.

Pages: 47 | ASIN : B0B5FJ2D1R

Heart of the Forest: Book 1 of the Cousin Friendship Series

Twelve-year-old Ilyria wants nothing more than to write an incredible fantasy novel…and outdo her perfect cousin Jerry. However, when Thanksgiving Day arrives, Ilyria finds herself sandwiched between her disapproving parents, her doting aunt, uncle, and the insufferable Jerry. Things are only made worse when both sets of parents insist the cousins should spend time together. So, heading out into the dark forest, the two teenagers soon find themselves at the beginning of a wondrous adventure, with only each other to rely on. Facing deadly obstacles and dangerous pathways in search of the mysterious force that called them forward, Jerry and Ilyria must learn more about each other and about themselves if they have any hope of survival.

Taking place partly in our world and partly in a magical realm, Heart of the Forest: Book 1 of the Cousin Friendship Series by Hermione Lee is a thrilling journey of discovery. While facing numerous threats and encountering endless wonders, Ilyria and Jerry must learn to overcome their prejudices in order to genuinely understand one another. I liked that this story is about cousins, which is relatively rare in the field. I loved that I never knew what was going to be around the next corner, and the nonstop action kept the pages turning. I was as angry as Ilyria at the parents in the story, finding them to be the most irritating family members I have encountered in literature outside of a Charles Dickens novel. However, I loved the interwoven nature of the story, where I felt that I was not only experiencing the adventures of Ilyria and Jerry but something of the author’s personal journey.

One way that the author helps readers to develop empathy and an emotional connection to their main characters is through their struggles. The teenagers encounter numerous enemies, perform multiple physically demanding escapes, and practically hike across half a continent, only stopping to eat and sleep once in the entire adventure. By the end of their journey, they have been so exhausted, hungry, and dehydrated. Recognizing this plight gives the characters an additional level of respect for their endurance.

Heart of the Forest: Book 1 of the Cousin Friendship Series is an excellent middle-grade fantasy novel, perfect for ages 10 and up. This story is about magic and wonder, overcoming prejudice, and finding the courage to let friendship enter a broken heart. It is a beautiful beginning to an up-and-coming fantasy novel series.

Pages: 210 | ASIN : B0B6L2ZX3N

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I Want To Encourage Children

Kathleen J. Shields Author Interview

The First UniBear follows a cub that through acts of kindness and compassion grows a unicorn horn and spreads acts of kindness all around the forest. When you wrote your story at the age of ten what was your inspiration?

I absolutely adore Unicorns and I loved watching the Care Bears. I never understood why there weren’t unicorns in the “Land without Feelings” or why there wasn’t a bear with a unicorn horn and special magical gift. That’s how the idea came to me to combine them.

I began by wondering why no one could SEE unicorns. I determined that they DO exist, that they are rare, and we haven’t “Earned” the ability to see them. Then I began wondering what we could do to EARN the ability. Being a good person, doing good things, that was a given, but there were plenty of good people in the world that couldn’t see unicorns. So there had to be more to it. That’s when I came up with the “Pay it Forward” idea (long before that movie came out). You have to help one person, then that person has to help another person, and down the line. So by having met all of those challenges, you could have the gift… but would you know it?

As a child, I hadn’t helped save someone yet, so that made sense as to why I hadn’t grown a horn. As an adult though, editing my rhyming story – yes, I wrote it in rhyme at ten years of age, and no, I will not share that hilarious version, I realized that it may be because I hadn’t met a unicorn yet, muchless, SAVED a unicorn. I had met horses, but none of them needed saving. There were a lot of dominoes that need to be lined up just right to get to that miraculous gift.

So in my mind, I still instilled the idea that you should all do good deeds, help each other and be kind, because in that rare chance a unicorn is involved one day – I want to earn that horn!

I really loved the artwork and character renditions. You drew some of the illustrations when you were ten what was it like working with illustrator Aashay Utkarsh to turn your vision into the final artwork?

I wrote a blog post late last year entitled “My memories behind the upcoming book” https://www.kathleenjshields.com/authors/the-first-unibear-my-memories-behind-the-upcoming-childrens-book/ and in that post, I shared the original illustration I drew at 10 years of age. It really was adorable (in my own opinion) but Aashay added a level of depth, emotion, and detail that I could never fathom! Finding him was a blessing from God and it was all due to covid! During the lockdown, so many authors that I had met over the years had extra time on their hands and they all wanted to do children’s books. Since I had done so many illustrated books, they came to me.

Over the course of the year, I worked with nearly a dozen different illustrators across the globe to help illustrate their children’s books, but it wasn’t until I saw Aashay’s first page (of another author’s book) that Unibear came rushing back to my mind. I hadn’t thought of Unibear for half a decade, easy! I had lost my father nearly three years earlier. The will to even attempt it had been shelved, and yet, seeing Aashay’s first sketch ignited that spark within me! I immediately asked him if he could draw a teddy bear and a unicorn and what he sketched for me made me feel like that 10-year-old girl – all giddy and excited! I told him he HAD to do my book (as soon as he finished with the other author) and I have been utilizing his illustrations since, in many other authors’ works.

Working with him has been an absolute joy! He understands what I want, and adds a flair and thrill to his work that I haven’t seen from any of the other illustrators. I’ve started projects with a half dozen more this year alone, only to be grossly disappointed. Good illustrators that just disappear or don’t return messages. Illustrators that charge a ton and submit subpar work… maybe Aashay has spoiled me. All I know is he was a blessing and he’s definitely a keeper!

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

Originally, I just wanted to tell a story. I wanted it to be nice and magical and, as a ten-year-old girl who moved a lot, I wanted to make friends (out of a unicorn and bear of course). As an adult and author, my primary focus with all of my books is to educate and inspire. I want to encourage children to use their imagination, to do good, help others, and to believe that anything is possible. I want my stories to be fun and entertaining, and I don’t want to present major protagonists. I feel childhood is difficult enough without throwing so much ‘bad’ at them. And I wanted the story to be thought-provoking and a conversation started, which I believe it is.

I feel that 3rd, 4th and maybe even 5th graders can gain a lot from this story, especially Christian schools! Teachers could have the students point out Christian symbolism throughout the book; like the butterfly, the light leading the way, the ability to see with belief, and so much more. I even put together a document that detailed scripture along with questions of the theme which is available on my website.

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

I currently do not have an official book in the works. I have started a memoir but that has a long way to go! I also started writing a funny book about dogs, but it will be a chapter book. My illustrator for the Hamilton Troll series has come out of hiding and might want to work on the next part of the series… we’ll see. None of those are really inspiring me at the moment, and as any good author will tell you – when you force it, the readers can tell. A good story flows through you like warm chocolate cocoa on a bitter cold day. It comes to you like a frosty breeze and dares you not to shiver! When a story comes to an author, you have a very short amount of time to get as much of it written as you can because when that muse takes off, you’re left out in the cold without your cocoa. And for me… I want it to require illustrations because I want to work with Aashay again.

I am very grateful for the reception Unibear has received, all of the wonderful reviews, the awards it has already won, along with its stellar first day almost breaking the Amazon Top 100 Best Selling books in its respective categories! I honestly feel there are more awards coming up, and I have a dream of a screenplay making this inspirational and important story into a movie! Whether or not it makes it all the way is entirely up to God! Thank you for your support and don’t forget, “The First Unibear” is not only a full-color hardback book, but you can also get the full story in the black and white coloring book, for those young eyes that need a bit more activity to keep their attention.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website1 | Website2

This happy-go-lucky little Bear cub loves to explore! One day he follows a butterfly into the dark woods where he sees a curious sight and a shimmering light. A beautiful white horse needs help and this tiny young bear hurries to save him. What follows is a magically inspirational tale of what can happen if you follow your heart, have good in your soul, and do good deeds.

The First UniBear

A brave bear cub loves to explore the forest he lives in. There are so many wonderful animals and things to see in nature. One day he follows a butterfly even into the dark part of the woods he hasn’t been into before. Continuing to follow the butterfly, he finds a clearing with shimmering light. Laying in the clearing is a horse that looks hurt, and Bear rushes over to help the horse. The horse is caught in a vine, and Bear is able to free him. He is rewarded with seeing the horse for his true self, a unicorn. Bears good deed starts a chain reaction of kindness and compassion through the woods, and soon the unicorn magic is spreading to all the animals in the forest.

The First UniBear, written by Kathleen J. Shields, started as a project when she was only ten years old. This beautifully written picturebook contains the messages of kindness, compassion, and faith. Bear’s pure heart and compassion for others allowed him to receive his horn. His good friend Bunny prayed for a chance to meet a unicorn and had faith that they existed even though she had never seen one. Once Bunny helps save a baby squirrel, she gains the ability to see a horn on Bear. Surprised, Bear and Bunny talk to Unicorn again and learn how kindness spreads and how showing compassion is contagious.

At critical moments in this story, there are references to scriptures. This is a great way to introduce the sometimes confusing concepts of scripture to young children. The whimsical rhyming style by Shields gives the story an excellent flow and makes it a joy to read aloud to children.

Complementing the touching storyline is the bold and colorful artwork of Aashay Utkarsh. The art style brings characters to life with expressive faces, and the scenery highlights the emotions that go along with the story on each page.

The First UniBear is a heartwarming picture book sharing the love of God with children and teaching them how they too can spread love and kindness to help make the world a better place.

Pages: 45 | ASIN : B09DM64V6F

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Where’s My Monster?

There is a family of monsters, the Archon Family, and they are very hungry. There are five of them, Mamma, Papa, Calvin, Aurora, and Bryce. This family does not eat food, instead, they eat fear. To find their food they hide in children’s rooms and scare them as they come yelling “BOO.” They do this to a little boy and he runs away. But the monsters are still hungry so they wait for another child to come in.

Lucy is curious and decided to investigate these monsters, but she brings a candle with her to light the way. When she enters she is not afraid of the monsters, they are afraid of her! Then something amazing happens, the monsters are no longer hungry. The warmth and light fill them up and no one is afraid anymore.

Where’s My Monster written by Wendy Monica Winter and illustrated by Yulia Popova is a delightful picture book with an important message for children. The message that love is stronger than fear is present and illustrated in a creative manner that will engage young children.

Yulia Popova’s watercolor illustrations are vibrant and memorable. The image of Aurora is my favorite with the little bows tied below each of her five eyes. Aurora is the first one to go to the light and exclaim how it is comforting to her. The joy and innocence that radiates from this illustration are magical and children will pick up on it right away.

The quote from Martin Luther King Jr at the end sums up the story perfectly. Love will drive out darkness, you can not find light from more darkness and hate. Winter has taken this concept and created a children’s book that they can relate to and understand the message. Facing hate and darkness to show others how fulfilling it can be to live in the light, to show kindness and acceptance, is an extraordinary message. This beautifully written story is presented on a level that even preschoolers and kindergarteners can grasp the concept.

Where’s My Monster is a well-crafted picture book combining a meaningful message and remarkable illustrations. The combination makes this a perfect book for teachers, schools, and caregivers. With a secular approach, it is sure to be a welcome addition to help teach kindness and compassion.

Pages: 56 | ASIN : B09MSX18JW

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