No Dinosaurs Allowed teaches young readers about friendship and acceptance in this fun picture book. What inspired the idea of using a dinosaur to tell this story?
I have always been intrigued by dinosaurs and have visited the Museum of Natural History many times. I also used to read “If the Dinosaurs Came Back” by Bernard Most to my children and have always wanted to write my own dinosaur story. One day I started to think about how much fun it would be to have a dinosaur as a best friend but he would be so big and maybe some people would not accept him because he was different. And even though Bobby wants to go to the party he will not leave Teddy the Dinosaur behind and that is what a true friend would do.
The art in this book is wonderful. What was the art collaboration like with illustrator Ashleigh Heyns?
Ashleigh was wonderful to work with. We collaborated closely and it was a fun process to see the characters come to life. She is very talented and all the characters are diverse and there are three versions of the book. This book is part of Hurn Publications’ the Princess Like Me(R) and Prince Like Me(R) Campaign. Therefore it is available in multiple ethnic backgrounds. Book Option Legend: (B) for the Black Community, (L/X) for the Latin/Hispanic Community, (E) for the European/Caucasian Community
What is the best way for children to learn to be inclusive?
I think children learn by example and the role models in their lives; parents/caregivers, teachers, friends, and siblings. I also believe that books that include subtle themes that teach and not preach can be very helpful.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on several books. Hurn Publications will be releasing my picture book Booch the Pooch in 2022 in addition to several other books (Dates TBA). I also have a chapter book Detective Natty and Doggy Dale Follow the Clues being released by Clear Fork Publishing in 2022. I have two books out on submission with my agent Dawn Dowdle and am currently working on several picture books and a middle grade book.
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No Dinosaurs Allowed follows a young boy named Bobby and his dinosaur friend named Teddy. They both head out to go to a party and meet several people along the way, but everywhere the places they go are not suitable for a dinosaur as big as Teddy. He is too big for the birthday party, he is too scary for the animals at the zoo, and the library does not allow dinosaurs. With nothing to do, Bobby and Teddy are starting to feel left out. What are they going to do?
This is a charming and poignant children’s book that teaches a wonderful lesson on inclusivity and making adjustments for others to fit in. While Teddy is first turned away from many activities, later on he is invited back to those same activities after they have made some minor adjustments. This is a fantastic way to show children how to accommodate other people that are different from them.
The story is told through simple words and brightly colored images that look to be hand drawn and colored, which adds a fantastic handcrafted feel to the story that children will be able to really connect with. All the characters are also very emotive as well, which helps children see and understand the emotions that each character is feeling in the different situations.
No Dinosaurs Allowed is an educational picture book that teaches an important lesson to children and does it in a fun way.
Pages: 32 | ASIN: B097HPZHY3
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An interesting kids chapter book is what readers will find when they pick up The Visitor from 4-D by Deborah Dolan Hunt. We come across the three Keating siblings who are visited by a tiny humanoid during a lightning storm. Not only does their visitor tell them about a parallel world in the 4th dimension, he even looks like one of the Keating siblings himself! So begins an adventure to help the inter-dimensional visitor return to his home.
The book is broken down into chapters that are easily digestible for young readers. The kids portrayed in the story are fairly realistic in their reactions and temperaments. There are some parts where the kids don’t exactly talk like stereotypical kids of their ages, but the core message of the story shines through.
Learning about differences, helping others in their time of need regardless of their origins and teamwork are all important messages to be sending to kids in the targeted age-range of this book. Doing so in a story format helps kids learn lessons without realizing they are.
The Visitor from 4-D is a fun story about inter-dimensional travel and siblings working together for the greater good. The Visitor from 4-D by Deborah Dolan Hunt is an entertaining book with an amusing plot and lively characters.
Pages: 32 | ISBN: 1644677849
Same Inside, Different Outside is a wonderful children’s book that teaches biology and promotes diversity. Why do you think this is an important message to teach children?
I’m a nursing professor and one of the courses I teach is on Culture and Cultural Concepts which has certainly changed my worldview. I thought I had a good understanding of the various cultures and their beliefs and practices, however, one of the big lessons I learned was that becoming culturally competent is a journey that can take a lifetime. This made me realize that we need to teach children at a very young age to celebrate their uniqueness yet understand how in many ways we are all very similar. As a nurse, I also believe that children need to learn about the inside and outside of their bodies and although some of the concepts may be difficult for a younger child it is never too early to start introducing concepts that can be built upon as they complete their educational journeys.
I loved the pictures in this book. What was the art direction like?
Thanks, I loved the pictures, too. I worked very closely with my illustrator. Initially, I placed notations throughout the manuscript detailing my ideas for the illustrations and where they should be placed. Xavier, of course, used his creative and artistic abilities to bring the illustrations to life. It was fun to collaborate with him on this project and we really worked well together. Final edits were completed based on the input of the Waldorf Publishing team which certainly strengthened the book.
What do you hope young readers take away from your story?
First, and foremost I hope the readers enjoy the story and want to read it over and over again. Secondly, I hope they begin to understand that although we are unique and look different on the outside we are also very similar, especially on the inside. Lastly, I hope they begin to understand how some of the major parts of their bodies work. And that skeletons are really not scary and are somewhat like superheroes because they protect all of our insides.
Will you be writing more kids books that tackle other social issues?
Yes, although I’m currently working on the second pug book I’m also in the early developmental stages of inviting the readers back to Emma’s kindergarten class where I will address other social issues that help children to understand that although in some ways we are very similar it’s okay to be different.
Today is a very exciting day for Emma’s kindergarten class. Emma, Robert, and the rest of the student’s don t understand how they can all look so different on the outside, but look very similar on the inside. So Dr. Shaw is coming to visit, and she’s bringing Mr. Bones, who is a real life-size skeleton. Mr. Bones is going to help Dr. Shaw teach her lesson about the human body. Dr. Shaw has also brought a cool body screening machine with her so the children can see what their insides look like.
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In order to eliminate discrimination and promote inclusion, we need to start with our children. They are the future of this world and if they can learn to love and accept each other regardless of what they look like or act like, then the world will be richer for it. Deborah Hunt takes this idea and uses it in her children’s book Same Inside Different Outside. It’s a lovely short story accompanied by equally wonderful pictures to help bring the message home. The colors are bright and the lines are soft. The story takes place in a school setting which readers should be able to connect with. This makes the message more relevant and easy to understand. It’s a clever way to deliver a sometimes difficult message to such a young audience.
The representation of a medical professional as a woman and the teacher as a man is a nice and subtle way of breaking down gendered stereotypes when it comes to careers. In traditional books teachers are women and any medical or science-related job is played by a man. In a book about acceptance, this is a key idea to get across. The children in the book are aware of their differences from each other, which is a normal discovery at their age. The doctor who is presenting to the children in the book is kind and patient with them as she goes over the parts of our bodies under our skin. As they move through the lesson the children voice their concerns and are answered honestly. This is key for the story because it also teaches readers that it is okay to ask questions and you will receive an appropriate response.
I felt like the children had a vocabulary and an understanding of body parts that were a little beyond kindergarten. But this is a minor concern that does not impact the integrity of the message.
Deborah Hunt is able to deliver a sometimes difficult message with ease in Same Inside Different Outside. The illustrations are very nice and pleasing to look at. The content isn’t difficult to understand and the message is clear and easy to digest without being muddled. Children and adults alike will find that the message this book sends is one we have been trying to share for a long time.
Pages: 32 | ISBN: 1945175702
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The One Eyed Pug is a cute chapter book that helps kids deal with change and uncertainty. What was your inspiration for this lovely story?
Although this story is a work of fiction it’s actually based on the life and experiences of my lovely little pug and the incorrigible Chewy.
Do you have pets of your own? Were you able to use anything from your own experiences in life?
A good portion of this story is based on actual events that occurred with my pug and Boston terrier and was influenced by my experience as an animal lover and life long pet owner. Although I don’t proclaim to be on the level of the “dog whisperer” I do believe our pets communicate with us and if we are open to this possibility we come to understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and that the relationship is reciprocal so eventually our pets also understand our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
I think this book did a great job of keeping kids interested and engaged. What do you find is the most challenging part about kids books?
I believe the most challenging part about writing kids books is learning how to show and not tell and utilize appropriate verbiage and action words. Also, learning how to develop content that is age appropriate knowing that reading level is individualized and that stories should be versatile and lend themselves to different types of readers ranging from reading aloud, early readers, independent readers, and even adult readers. The illustrations also play an important role in helping the reader to develop a greater connection with the characters. Determining the placement and type of illustrations was also a bit challenging and I worked very closely with my illustrator throughout the process. Since this was based on a true story I was also able to share actual photographs that certainly helped my talented illustrator to accurately depict the characters, especially the lovely little pug and Chewy, the Boston terrier.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
This has certainly been a banner year for me and I am thrilled to share that my picture book entitled “Same Inside Different Outside” is being released by Waldorf Publishers on September 15, 2017.
Currently, I’m working on another chapter book about the lovely little pug and Chewy, the Boston Terrier. The clue to what this next book will be about is at the end of “The One Eyed Pug”.
The One-Eyed Pug is based on a true story. Children and adults will fall in love with the lovely little pug, and eventually come to love the incorrigible Chewy, too! In this story, a little pug keeps hoping she will find her forever home but every time she thinks she has found it she has to move, or is adopted by a new family. Finally, she is adopted by the Barker family and believes she has finally found her forever home. Everything is perfect until the terrible horrible thing happens; a new puppy named Chewy comes to live with the family and makes the little pug’s life miserable. Then one day when the two puppies are playing and finally getting along Chewy accidently scratches the pug’s eye and she has to go to the hospital. What will happen the little pug? What will happen to Chewy? You will find out when you read this truly intriguing tale.
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It’s important to share messages of acceptance with children, but it can be difficult if you don’t take into consideration their level of understanding. What a child can understand is vastly different than an adult. The One Eyed Pug by Deborah Hunt is a cute little story about a pug puppy that has a slightly difficult life waiting for her. She has to go through the anxiety of being separated from her birth parents and then living with a stranger. While she does her best to adapt to her new life, change is right around the corner as her ‘mother’ ends up being unable to care for her and gives her to another family. Our little pug now has to deal with the uncertainty of a new home with new people without understanding why she was given up in the first place. Things seem to start going better for our pug until the introduction of a new friend and the terrible accident that follows close behind.
Using animals as a way to deliver important messages and teach important lessons to children is something that is not easily done, but delivered well in this story. Children seem to be able to listen carefully and understand difficult lessons when taught through an animal that can speak. Hunt uses the story of the pug to show children that change is not always bad. She also teaches them that while bad things may happen, there are good outcomes as well. Our pug has only lived for a short time yet she’s met with various changes and has to face the anxiety of the unknown each time. This story can also teach children compassion. Compassion for those who are different than us and compassion for those who are struggling.
There are several drawings throughout the book which can give the readers a nice interruption to the waves of text. It is important to keep children engaged as well as entertained. The drawings give more information on what the characters look like which helps the readers connect more to the story. The language in the story is very easy for new readers to understand. While this isn’t a first step book, it is definitely suitable for a child who has experience reading books with little pictures. The language might be too young for older readers, even though the message it sends is positive.
Deborah Hunt takes us on a trip to learn compassion and acceptance with The One Eyed Pug. This tale allows children to connect their own feelings of anxiety and uncertainty with things like change to the life of the protagonist, the little pug. It also allows children to see that dogs and other pets have feelings as well, even if we can’t always understand what they’re trying to tell us. Even when our little pug goes through a life changing situation, she comes out strong because she has the support of those who love her around her. This is an important thing for children to understand as well: we are all stronger thanks to the people who support us. This would be a great book for any avid young reader.
Pages: 80 | ISBN: 1945175788
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