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Eleven-year-old Dee Lanson has just begun her last year of elementary school. Greeting the new year, Dee looks forward to spending time with her friends and friendly sports competitions between the boys and girls of the fifth grade. But when new girl Samantha seems to be spending more time with Dee’s closest friends, Sue and Ronnie, than she is, Dee begins to feel the deadly stirrings of jealousy deep within her heart. Finding the perfect opportunity to vent her frustrations, Dee takes it upon herself to teach Samantha a lesson she’ll never forget. But when events spiral out of control, Dee finds that there is much more to her rival than she ever thought possible. With the guidance of teacher Ms. Hersh, school counselor Mr. Kent, and Dee’s parents, Dee and Samantha both learn more about each other and themselves as they work towards a solution to solve a problem that can only be described as “gloppy.”

A wonderful slice-of-life story that covers the last year of elementary school, Dee’s coming-of-age adventure is a lighthearted tale that explores the host of new emotions that come with being eleven. Although Dee and Samantha are the indisputable stars of the show, there is also a rich supporting cast of fellow students and teachers. I liked the vibrant personalities of the students, ranging from stalwart Sue to practical joker Pete. I also liked the interactions between Dee’s parents and the fact that there was more to Ms. Hersh than met the eye. Dee is easy to identify with, as she struggles to understand the complex emotions roiling within her. The only detraction I really had was that I wish Dee was a little nicer to her kid brother, but arguments between siblings are normal, and their parents were good mediators.

A tale of friendship and solving problems brought on by overwrought emotions, Gloppy by Janice Laakko is a lighthearted journey through the fifth grade. Gloppy has a joyful tone, excellent storytelling, and a satisfying conclusion, and it’s the perfect choice for readers eight and above who love a solid school-year adventure full of discovery, mischief, and fun.

Pages: 129 | ASIN : B09BW479M9

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Kindness Has the Power to Change Lives

Tania Woznicki Author Interview

Marty and Lenny follows a friendly monkey who decides to befriend the school bully in hopes of helping him change. When you set out to write this book, was it your intention to write a story filled with kindness and morality?

Yes, it was definitely my intention. My aim was to create an entertaining children’s book designed to teach and inspire children to be kind to others, even when at first it may seem difficult.

I was inspired by research on the positive effects of oxytocin (the love hormone) on the mind and body. Showing and receiving kindness are ways we can boost oxytocin levels. Every act of kindness counts and repeated acts of kindness, have the power to change lives and make the world a better place.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art creation process like?

For the artwork in Marty and Lenny, I contracted Stefanie, an amazing, talented illustrator through Tellwell Publishing. I had a clear vision of the style of artwork I wanted based on the many picture books I had enjoyed reading in the past. I asked for bright, colourful and dynamic illustrations which effectively portrayed the emotions experienced by the characters in the story. I then created a storyboard and detailed descriptions for each illustration. Based on these descriptions, the illustrator created draft sketches for each illustration and then submitted them to me for review and feedback. Adjustments were made based on feedback and then colour was added to complete the illustrations. When I saw the finished products, I was thrilled and excited to see the story coming to life!

What were some educational aspects that were important for you to include in this children’s book?

The power of kindness and the importance of good manners, were two of the main educational aspects I wanted to include in this book. My desire was to teach children that sometimes, the people who find it challenging to show kindness, can be the ones who need it the most. Everyone longs to belong and feel valued.

In addition to this, the story is a narrative poem designed for young readers. I chose this form of storytelling because poetry motivates children to read and builds early literacy skills. It helps children learn about rhyme, rhythm and sound. I was also intentional about the vocabulary I included in the story to help young children build their vocabulary.

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

I am in the process of writing some draft manuscripts, which all have a special message for young readers. However, there is no current set release date for these yet. 

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Instagram | Website

Marty and Lenny is an encouraging story about the power of kindness.

Marty is a sweet, helpful monkey with lovely manners. Lenny is the complete opposite! He is a mean and selfish lion with bad manners and disgusting habits. After a memorable encounter with Lenny, Marty decides that things need to change. Join Marty as he makes a brave choice that changes EVERYTHING!

Marty and Lenny

Marty is a well-behaved and polite monkey; he has excellent manners. One of Marty’s traits is he tries to be a good friend to all around him. That also includes Lenny the Lion. Lenny is rude, crude, and has a terrible attitude. He has no manners and does not care who he upsets as long as he gets his way. One day at lunch, he let off a fart that was loud and stinky, and Marty knew something had to change. So that night, Marty came up with a plan. He was going to be nice to Lenny. Marty was going to see if being friends with Lenny would help him be a better Lion that people actually liked and wanted to be around. Would his plan work?

Marty and Lenny by Tania Woznicki is a heartwarming picture book about friendship. The school bully really just wants to be noticed, and when Marty approaches him with kindness, he is thrown off and takes him up on his offer to play. Marty teaches Lenny how to have good manners and be a good friend, not by lecturing or telling him everything he does wrong, but instead by showing him how a good person and friend acts.

The artwork in this children’s book is fantastic, there are layers of details, and everything is so vibrant. The characters come to life and will draw children in as they read the story and see Lenny learning how to have good manners.

Marty and Lenny is a delightful way to introduce good manners to children and teach them how to be a good friend to others. Children and adults will find this book well-written and inspirational. This would be an excellent book for preschool and kindergarten classrooms to help kids understand how to make new friends.

Pages: 24 | ASIN : B09VD63H9V

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I Want to Inspire and Encourage Children

Kathryn Hollingworth Author Interview

We’re on a Dragon Quest follows two children as they go in search of a dragon in the snow, collecting clues from magical creatures along the way. What was the inspiration for your story?

When I was a young child, my mother told me that she’d seen a fairy hiding among the potted plants in our yard. I really wanted to believe her, so I went outside to look for this tiny creature. Although I didn’t see a fairy, I drew pictures about my search for her. More recently I came up with the idea for We’re on a Dragon Quest, because I wanted to write an exciting adventure set close to a child’s home. The story takes place in the winter, as snow has a magical quality.

Why did you choose to leave the children in this story unnamed?

I left them unnamed because I wanted the children reading the story to pretend that they are the characters in the adventure, and therefore to become more involved in the quest.

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

The themes of the story are friendship and co-operation. I was also hoping to inspire a sense of wonder and encourage children to write imaginative stories for themselves

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

I am working on a lower middle grade series of animal story books. I am currently editing the first one and I hope it will be available in 2023.

This is an enchanting picture book for young children. This book tells an story about two young children, who go on a quest to find a dragon in their garden in the wintertime. They are helped by magical creatures along the way. The children find friendship in an unexpected place.

We’re on a Dragon Quest

One cold winter day, a girl looks out the window and sees a dragon flying down the street and landing by the fishpond in her backyard. She tells her brother, and together they decide to go on a dragon quest to find the bright red dragon. To find the dragon, they follow a pixie, talk to a goblin, and get directions from an elf. Finally, following the dragon’s footsteps in the snow, they find Frazzle, the dragon hiding in their shed, and she gives a playful roar.

We’re on a Dragon Quest is an enchanting picture book written by Kathryn Hollingworth and illustrated by Felipe Calv. Young readers will be mesmerized by the colorful and whimsical drawings. The colors used to highlight key story elements make reading this more entertaining as children will be drawn to the words as much as the pictures. I really loved the rendering of Frazzle; she is funny and playful, a combination that will draw children right into this book.

The wonderful rhyming lines tell this imaginative story in a way that children will be excited to see what characters the brother and sister encounter next. The flow of the story keeps the action moving while also allowing children to imagine and guess what could happen next. It really does feel like going on a quest in the traditional sense as each new scene brings them new information, a new friend, and closer to the goal, finding the dragon! Each new character shows a unique personality and a friendly and helpful attitude. Bringing in classic fantasy character types is a great way to introduce this genre to children and entertain adults who love fantasy novels.

We’re on a Dragon Quest is a magical picture book that preschoolers and kindergarten children will love to read. With meaningful messages of helping others, friendship, and encouraging imaginative play, this children’s book would be a welcome addition to a home or classroom library.

Pages: 34 | ASIN : B09XKDKWZ2

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The Lost and Lonely Tumbleweed

The Lost and Lonely Tumbleweed, by T.C. Bartlett, tells the story of a lonely tumbleweed named Spike. All Spike wants is to make a friend and not be alone anymore. He is very open-minded and tries to make friends with everyone he meets, but no one wants to be his friend; they all have a different excuse for why they can not be friends with a tumbleweed. Spike refuses to be discouraged for long and keeps his search going. Even when chased by bees and birds or stuck in a rain shower, Spike rolls along, never giving up. Will he ever find a friend that accepts him as he is?

This creative picture book tells a story about persistence, friendships, and acceptance. Through the whimsical illustrations, also done by T.C. Bartlett, young readers will follow Spike on his journey. Spike has a sense of humor and a strong personality that kids will find entertaining. However, it is not all sweet and happy moments in the story. Instead, this children’s book showcases Spike’s struggles on his quest. None of the obstacles he encounters are scary, but they show kids that it is not easy to achieve your goals sometimes, and you have to work hard to get through the challenges.

The topic of friendship is one that many preschool and kindergarten children face. Making new friends is hard, and Spike shows the reality of it. Not all people are meant to be friends, and you have to choose your friends wisely. The message of finding someone that wants to be your friend for who you are and not what you can do for them or try to change you is important.

The Lost and Lonely Tumbleweed is a heartwarming picture book that tells the story of finding a real friend. It reminds children of the importance of never giving up on achieving your goals and not changing yourself for other people.

Pages: 50 | ISBN : 1733908609

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Unstoppable Zee

A young girl named Zee believes she has superpowers because her mom told her so. This well-written picture book shows Zee’s experiences with her superpowers. These powers are making flowers grow from seeds, drawing and painting, playing the drums, building tall towers, running fast, playing piano, singing, jumping high, helping to cook, and frosting cupcakes. Zee is proud of herself for trying her best and having fun while doing all these different activities.

In the feel-good children’s book, Unstoppable Zee by Reesa Shayne, young readers will identify with these activities and, at first, might not realize they are their superpowers too. Through watching Zee, children will learn they are able to accomplish whatever they put their mind to. They learn that having fun is important, and it isn’t a matter of how well they can do some of those things; instead, they enjoy it and try their best. It is a beautiful way to teach self-confidence to preschool and kindergarten-age children. Zee’s optimistic attitude is contagious, and teachers and parents will love reading this book aloud to kids as much as they will enjoy following along with the entertaining pictures.

Illustrator Juanita Taylor has brought Zee’s story to life with her imaginative and expressive illustrations. The wide-eyed look on Zee is welcoming and filled with joy. The graphics portray realistic expressions and activities that kids will be drawn to, even in cartoon form. In addition, the illustrations show a happy and engaged family all having fun together as Zee uses her superpowers.

Unstoppable Zee is an inspiring and uplifting picture book for preschoolers and kindergarten-age children. This fantastic children’s book will entertain young readers with bright and vivid illustrations, relatable subjects, and a can-do attitude. This is a welcome addition to a home or school library with its positive messages of doing your best and being willing to try new things.

Pages: 36 | ASIN : B098MRD316

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A Big Part Of My Own Story

Kendall T. Newell Author Interview

A Star Upon a Dream follows a discouraged young girl who tries to discover what her dream job is and finds renewed confidence from her father. What was the inspiration for your story?

The inspiration behind the story is connected with my own personal story. Children are like sponges; they soak up everything. The people they are surrounded with can make or break that child. Having strong adult figures in a child’s life really is powerful. I have a supportive family along with great teachers and coaches. Without them, I would have given up for sure.

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

There were several themes I wanted to incorporate into this book. The most critical themes included school life and bullying because I know there are many other people out there that could probably relate to this story. I wanted to make wrestling present in this story because it was a big part of my own story. Wrestling is a great sport to correlate with real life situations. In wrestling, we can get taken down but you can always fight and get back up. This is the same concept we can apply to our own life. Sometimes, we get taken down in life but we have to fight and stand back up. 

What is one piece of advice someone gave you that changed your life?

Failure is something we all face in life. Failure does not define you. It’s how you deal with failure that makes you successful.

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

I have another book in the development stage. My current focus is this book because it is my first book and the message is very important to me. If things work out then I hope to have it completed by 2024.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Do you have dreams? Like the stars, we are very similar but unique at the same time. We all twinkle with a light that shines in our own special way. That shine is the power that fuels our dreams and aspirations in life. Doubting and telling others that they are not good enough only diminish a person’s light. Eventually, that light will lose its shine, blacking out into the void, like the star never existed. We should be uplifting to one another and making one another shine brighter than ever before. We all may have different dreams, but we all share the same sky!
Follow Meleah Rowland, a third grade student whose dream is to become a zoologist someday. She quickly learns how it feels to be doubted, thus diminishing the light of this young girl. She learns a very important lesson from her father, Charles Rowland, through the story of his own past to becoming the shining star he is today.
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