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Near And Dear To Me

Lisa Jacovsky Author Interview

Lets talk! Learning to bowl follows two friends to the bowling alley where they learn about the importance of wearing a mask and how people with autism communicate differently. What inspired the idea to have this story take place in a bowling alley?

Each book has a different setting and activity that is near and dear to me. I grew up bowling and had even worked at the local bowling alley. In doing that I got to see a lot of children begin to bowl and fall in love with it. I thought it would be great to showcase that in a book. Not many books show bowling and I loved the idea of it being something different that can also inspire kids to want to try a bowling league too.

Was there anything that you pulled from your own experience and used in the book?

Oh absolutely I did! All of my books have things in them that are from my experience in the field. This book in particular though is special and near and dear to me because I did work at the local bowling alley and volunteer coached. In this book I bring back the idea of using the index cards for Emma to understand and communicate. That is a technique I use a lot in my current career in applied behavior analysis.

I modeled the bowling alley and coach after what I knew growing up. The bowling alley is similar to the one I worked in. I decided to use a coach because I had coached as a volunteer too. I had worked with children and seen little ones with disabilities try to bowl. I pulled from my own memories and experiences to shape the character of the coach. It also influenced the front desk and the types of shoes the characters are wearing. I made sure those were all authentic when I wrote out how I wanted the illustrations to look. I loved that I could put my experiences in and be super authentic when It came to the communication device and the activity this time.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun creating?

Most fun creating, I would have to say it was figuring out how to address Emma wanting to take the mask off and helping her to understand why it needs to stay on. Emma taking the mask off is very real and similar to experiences I had in my own career once we were able to go back to in person therapy. I think that was the most fun to actually write and pull from my own experiences. I really loved writing in the character of Coach Phil too. So many people do not realize how fun bowling is or that a little one with a disability can do it too. I loved that I was able to show people that with a little effort and a few questions, our teenage or adult coaches can understand how to work with our littles ones with disabilities too. Also, one last fun part, was making the character of Coach Phil Native American. Diversity is so important to me and being able to showcase that in a main character was really amazing.

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

Currently, I have a few things in the works. I have some books written that under contract. The first book in a new series with the illustrators being amazing individuals with autism. Then there is a third series that was actually picked up by a traditional publisher. That first book in the series is actually written from Emma’s point of view. There will be more information and teases coming up! Also, there is book 4 in the Lets Talk! series which is called Lets talk! celebrating the holidays. This will be available by April 2023. Lots to come! I am very excited for everything that is moving forward!

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Two best friends go bowling for the first time during the time of the pandemic when everyone needs to wear a mask. This is difficult for one friend who happens to have autism and sensory processing issues. Her best friend helps her to understand why she needs to wear a mask. Then she helps the teenage coach, who is helping them to learn to bowl, understand Autism, and how to communicate with her best friend. Come along on a fun journey of friendship, bowling, and learning!

Lets talk! Learning to bowl

Let’s Talk! Learning to bowl, is a beautiful story that follows young Harper who has a very special best friend named Emma who happens to also be autistic. Their latest adventure takes them to the bowling alley where they learn to bowl with their new friend Jerry, who is in a bowling league. While learning to bowl, Emma sometimes takes her face mask off and, because Harper is the greatest friend, she takes on the role of educating Coach Phil on how Emma understands what we are asking of her by communicating with flash cards. Which leads to everyone having a great time at the bowling alley, and another successful adventure for the friends.

This is a sweet picture book that shows how children can be amazing role models that promote inclusivity and understanding of people with special needs. The story is perfect for the developing reader who is ready to take on longer sentences and new vocabulary words. The illustrations by Blueberry Illustrations are incredibly adorable, vibrant and wonderfully shows each character’s emotions. I feel it gave the story such warmth and charm.

I enjoyed learning about the author at the end of the book and I can tell her background in working with special needs children is very near and dear to her heart, and that passion shines throughout her book. I loved how she included some of the mannerisms children with autism exhibit. This makes them seem natural and like nothing is different or strange about them.

Lets talk! Learning to bowl is a fantastic children’s book that will educate readers while promoting diversity and inclusion.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B0B8BLVS1L

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The Adventures of Arya and Krishna Betta Fish

Arya betta fish and her brother, Krishna, journey from the pet store where they were born to their new home at a lovely koi pond. While exploring their new home, Arya and Krishna meet new friends Blake and Sharktooth and explain their greatest mission: to reunite their family. However, when the world of the koi pond is turned upside-down, all the betta friends find themselves on an exciting adventure. Meeting new friends, discovering amazing new places, and helping each other survive, Arya and Krishna must use their wits and find a little luck on their quest to find their missing parents.

Bettas have a special place in my heart. My first pet was a betta, and I love this charming adventure tale of fish friends working hard to help each other. I also love the multi-cultural approach to this lively narrative, where both the fish and humans in the world are from many different ethnicities. Spunky Arya, courageous Krishna, wise Ash, and all the other friends the bettas encounter add their own personal magic to this thrilling journey. Numerous endearing illustrations add to the enchantment of the adventure. Whether fish, human, or animal, everyone works together to aid each other in this entertaining tale of friendship, family, and fun.

Author Gabriel Bietz uses lighthearted storytelling and adorable illustrations by Ananta Mohanta in this book that is perfect for children ages seven and up. The illustrations brought the story to life, making this a middle grade book that young readers will find engaging. The adventure wraps up nicely while leaving plenty of room for many more exciting stories to follow. The Adventures of Arya and Krishna Betta Fish is a cheerful romp through a world of never-ending challenges and fun, where friendship and determination may be the key to everything.

Pages: 129 | ASIN : B09QH8YW9W

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Superhero’s In Their Homes

Vera Harris Author Interview

My Mom has Superpowers follows a young girl who believes her mom has superpowers; once she realizes her power is prayer, she too wants to become a superhero. What was the inspiration for your story?

The inspiration for writing this book was so many kids look for superstars (football players, rappers, singers, etc., etc.) as superhero’s and they have superhero’s in their homes. I wanted children to just look to their mom or dad or even older relatives and they will see that they can be inspired from people in their own personal lives.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Ishika Sharma?

My illustrator is very talented and she worked with me to bring my story to life with her awesome work. I have recommended her to other authors since our collaboration.

Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into your characters?

I saw myself in the main characters because I always looked up to my own Mother because she was so awesome! And she had much faith and belief.

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

The next book that I am currently working on is a Children’s Christmas book. This will be my first Christmas book. I have a great message to share in that book. I am working for its release in a couple of months. More to follow…

Author Links: Facebook | Instagram | Website | Twitter

In many ways, my mom is the queen of our house, smart, beautiful, and loving. But could she be hiding a secret from me? What could the secret be? And how does my mom know how to fix everything? Follow along with Lillian and you will find out just how awesome Moms really are, especially Lillian’s Mom!

Tegan Finds Her Tribe

Tegan is a charming and unique cat who has big dreams. But those dreams are dashed when she’s abandoned in the woods. She survives one terrible night and decides to take it upon herself to seek safety and a new home. What she finds instead is a band of friends that make her feel better and let her be who she is.

Tegan Finds Her Tribe is a heartwarming and uplifting children’s book that teaches young readers to persevere in the face of adversity, and that a home is really a place where people accept you for who you are, not just a place. Throughout the story Tegan is wonderfully emotive, ensuring that readers can see her emotion in every situation, which speaks to the fantastic illustrations throughout the story. Tegan’s nose looks like a little balloon and was one thing I looked forward to in every scene. This picture book is filled with beautiful watercolor art that is vibrant, has depth and reminded me of the artwork in The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.

The story starts off with Tegan being abandoned, which is hard to see, but the story then takes readers on an inspiring adventure that is filled with lots of creative and cute imagery. I loved the scene where Tegan lists all the animals she heard in the woods. They were all so cute. Tegan’s imagination is also a source of inspiration for her and provides her with the motivation she needs to keep going. I really enjoyed this idea and I think it makes this book unique because there are not many kids books that show kids how to find inspiration from within. It’s usually an external force that motivates the character. In this book, Tegan motivates herself to find something better, imagines what that could be, and then goes out to find it.

Author Melinda Booth has created an inspirational children’s book that takes young readers on poignant journey to find a place where an abandoned cat can feel like herself. This is the perfect book for parents and teachers to educate kids on acceptance and empathy and show them how to find the strength from within to overcome obstacles.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B0B57ZH86Z

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You Can Feel The Love

Naomi Dunsen-White Author Interview

Johari The Great follows a fifth-grade boy who discovers the power of his imagination and enters the school writing contest; he uses his story to inspire his classmates and friends. What was the inspiration for your story?

My grandson, whose name is actually Johari, was the initial inspiration for this story. He was always so smart and curious about learning. I wanted to write a story that clearly dealt with a boy whose gift was within him – he could feel it – and how he was able to bring it out with the support of the adults in his life.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Megan White?

Megan White, now Megan Rizzo, is such a gifted artist. She used to be an art therapist, so she brings this sensitivity to her art. We worked so well together. She really listens to what my vision is, and there’s never a lot of back and forth with her. She understood this was a fun story, an adventure, but she also picked up on the emotional nuances too, like the relationships. For example, I love the illustration of Johari hugging his dad. You can feel the love there.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

It was important for me to have this story about an African American boy. Research shows that at the 3rd-4th grade level, there is a high risk of boys, and African American boys in particular, slipping in their reading skills. This is a critical time when students go from learning to read to now reading to learn. If those skills are missed, it’s an uphill struggle. So, I wanted to engage these boys and use an adventure that included school, teachers, families, friends, but most of all, how their imagination and effort could make them successful. Their imagination could help them discover just how great they really are, and what wonderful gifts already lie inside of them.

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

I’m very excited to share that my next book will be the second in the Johari The Great series. Johari will be off on a new exciting adventure, so there will definitely be another story he has to share. I can’t divulge the title yet, but I will say, the setting is quite unique! This story promises to be very appealing to almost anyone – young readers and adults too! Megan Rizzo and I are anticipating a Spring, 2023 release.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

“Johari the Great” is an early chapter book with full-color illustrations. It’s an engaging tale about a clever boy named Johari. His teacher inspires him to use his imagination to write. So he does! A contest and a mystery follow, and a fun plot twist too! With a little humor and some help from his friends, Johari discovers his gift and the greatness he has within. It’s an inspirational story that celebrates diversity, learning, family, and the greatness that all children have inside, just waiting to be discovered. Emphasizing reading comprehension and vocabulary, the included questions enhance understanding and promote family discussion.

Diversity and Unity

Mariam Latifi Author Interview

A to Z of Mini Muslims: An alphabet book exploring all about Islam and being a Muslim teaches children the alphabet and the teachings and principles of Islam. Why was this an important book for you to write?

This lovely children’s book- A to Z of Mini Muslims: An alphabet book exploring all about Islam and being a Muslim was important for me to write as I wanted to promote young children’s religious worldviews and help dispel myths and stereotypes about the religion of Islam and who Muslims are. I wanted to also show diversity and unity through which students can be connected. I wanted to educate young children and even adults who are not familiar about the Islamic faith to empower them and to encourage and motivate them to learn about Islam in a meaningful way. My three children were the source of inspiration for writing this book. They always questioned who Muslims were and what is Islam and so I decided to write a children’s book that explored these basic foundations and principles of Islam through a fun and engaging alphabet book. Moreover, I ensured this book connected to their cultural background and hence themes of Afghanistan were embedded through the beautiful illustrations such as the three young girls dressed in their Afghan clothes on the front cover, or the Afghan flags shown on different pages. Therefore, I wanted to write this important book for children to be proud of their faith, culture and identity.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Saba Yasmeen?

Thank you so much! Yes, this book would not have complete without the wonderful illustrations by Saba Yasmeen who brought my vision to life. The art collaboration process was amazing with the wonderful illustrator Saba Yasmeen. Saba was absolutely understanding, patient and very accommodating and diligent in her work. Every detail in the images that I had envisioned, such as promoting diversity and unity and connection to the Australian themes and perspectives, Saba brought it into life. Having a working document with the first round of drafts sketches then giving written feedback and moving onto the next step really helped us focus and be on the same page. Saba was amazing in her talent and ability to come up with such gorgeous illustrations and always making sure it is exactly what I wanted. Also, to make a note, this was my first time writing a children’s book and it was Saba’s first time illustrating a children’s book. We both live on the opposite sides of the world and the process might sound like a huge challenge or impossible for some, but it was such a wonderful journey for both Saba and I. We both learned so much along the way that our collaboration was a huge success. Effective communication was the key, and I am so proud and honoured to have Saba collaborate with me on this wonderful project. Thank you, Saba, for your amazing work!

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

This is a great question. I believe every letter in my book has an important message for the readers. Some of the ideas that were important to me to share in this book was including the basic understanding and principles of Islam such believing in one God who created everything (Allah), believing in the final Prophet of Islam (Muhammad PBUH), learning about the Lunar Calendar that Muslims follow with having that knowledge of the Islamic months was important. Also learning about what is Ramadan and Eid and how visiting the sick and being good to your parents, with doing good to others and giving money as charity to the needy are all important concepts and ideas that I wanted to share in this book. I wanted to create a unique alphabet book that would connect to our readers in a meaningful way and that would be a valuable resource to share and have in any classroom and library. This book has already been well received with winning the 2022 International Book Award as a Finalist in the Children’s Religious Category and as a Finalist in the Readers’ Choice Book Award for the Best Children’s Book 3-7 and with further receiving the Five Star Seal from Readers Favourite.

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

Well, this is such a good question! Before I had published my first book, I had already written my second children’s book and was looking at having it published very soon. But then I decided to wait for the right time. However, it will be available in the near future, and I will definitely be updating my wonderful followers when this happens 😊

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website

The A to Z of Mini Muslims is a perfect book for children of all ages to help them learn all about the religion of Islam. It is a simple and easy book to read which explores the teachings and principles of Islam through beautifully set out vivid illustrations. Your child can read and learn so much about the basic foundations of Islam, thereby nurturing their development. This book is a great source of motivation to engage children from all ages in learning about the beautiful religion of Islam.

Honeycake: A Helping Hand

Nala is excited to go out to a fancy fundraising party with her two uncles. She does not realize until she is there that it is a fundraiser for amputee children. Nala learns all about the things that those with an amputee can do. After meeting so many children and seeing her new friends’ incredible work, she is inspired to go home and make a difference of her own.

Honeycake A Helping Hand is an inspiring picture book about the incredible good that children are capable of. This fantastic children’s book shows kids as leaders, motivators, helpers, and genuinely caring individuals. Author Medea Kalantar teaches children about amputees in a compassionate and age-appropriate manner. Kalantar does not oversimplify the facts but presents them in a conversational tone that sounds like two preteen children talking. If readers have additional questions, there is a glossary at the end to help them understand further.

Aside from the topic of amputees in this unique book, Kalantar introduces the concept of blended families and same-sex relationships, normalizing these dynamics. This book has so many examples of inclusion and compassion that it takes a lot. I love that there is so much representation in this short children’s book. Illustrator i Cenizal brings all the different elements to life, adding to the experience.

Honeycake A Helping Hand showcases the value of helping others, giving back to the community, and doing your best to be a good person through your actions and words. This well-written children’s book is perfect for classrooms and libraries.

Pages 33 | ASIN: B0BFC2GWJS

In the sixth installment of the delightful Honeycake book series, Nala’s uncles, Victor and George, take her to a fundraiser where she meets Alexis, a girl with an artificial arm. Through her interactions, Nala learns that you are never too young to lend “a helping hand,” that it’s okay to be different, and that being different doesn’t stop you from doing great things in life.
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