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Read and Read and Read Some More

Susannah Nilsen Author Interview

A Splash of Colour is a wonderful picture book introducing colours to children. What made you write a story about this topic? Did you pull anything from your life experiences?

For many years, I was a classroom teacher. I started writing in December of 2021.

My motivation in writing A Splash of Colour was the same as for all of my books.

Thus far, I’ve published two children’s picture books using a conventional format.

So, with a narrative structure and characters and with illustrations that reinforce and complement the written text.

I will write many more of these however thus far most of my picture books have had less a conventional narrative structure. They are much more an educational aid explicitly teaching maths and language concepts. These are aimed at early childhood albeit with the written text and the illustrations complementing and reinforcing each other and aimed to be read by children or to children.

There are many educational workbooks for younger children but these serve a completely different function to children’s picture books.

I feel passionately about the importance of having children arrive in a classroom setting for the first time, feeling confident and comfortable around words and numbers. Word and number intelligence are the bedrock of our educational system and its curriculum. Without feeling at ease in this environment, children start their formal schooling on the back foot.

And it’s so easy to make a difference in the life of a child. If as an adult you feel comfortable with words, then read and read and read some more to the children in your life. Some children will find the journey of learning to read harder than others. With support and strategies they will learn to read. For them to live in a

home environment where words and reading are a comfortable part of the atmosphere will be powerful. And I have never met a child who didn’t adore being read to.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing or illustrating?

I was gardening and the rhyming verses flew through my mind and the illustrations of colourful birds began to form. I enjoyed creating every page. I love the effect of water colour as a medium and I loved being able to have an entire book using watercolour elements to build up the illustrations. And I also so enjoyed writing in rhyme. If you can get the tempo right, then this style just flows from the mouth of the reader. It’s born to be read out loud and for young children, this is a very effective tool for learning.

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

I next published Numbers Come In Pairs and that’s up on my Amazon bookshelf. The explicit teaching focus of this book is that numbers can be written as words or as digits. Again, its written in a picture book style but without an explicit story narrative. There are characters however. Meet the ones, meet the twos, meet the threes and so on and we discover something that each of the pairs loves to do.

I’m almost ready to publish an educational workbook that fits hand in glove with the picture book. It’s tentative title is Numbers are Never Alone.

What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book?

I next published Numbers Come In Pairs and that’s up on my Amazon bookshelf. The explicit teaching focus of this book is that numbers can be written as words or as digits. Again, its written in a picture book style but without an explicit story narrative. There are characters however. Meet the ones, meet the twos, meet the threes and so on and we discover something that each of the pairs loves to do. I’m almost ready to publish an educational workbook that fits hand in glove with the picture book. It’s tentative title is Numbers are Never Alone.

I have just begun a book for primary aged children. The focus is on feelings, naming them up, describing their physicality and their impact. Having a language to speak about feelings is a powerful means of building emotional literacy and a strong sense of self. Books aimed for earlier school aged children and very young children will follow

What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book? First of all, for it to effectively help colour recognition in young children. And for it to be enjoyed a book that children will want to revisit again and again. And then for the book to be the best that it could be. I felt very positive building up the book in my mind before putting ideas on paper. I wanted it to be as good as I my imagination had it. And I was really proud of A Splash of Colour. While I feel comfortable with words and can create stories on the fly, I’m new to creating and publishing books and I feel they are getting better each time. It’s so important for us humans to feel proud of what we do and if we can enjoy what we do to earn a crust, how blessed is that!

A goal that I have and I’ve had some limited success with, is using tools to get my books under people’s radars. I struggle with this, I’d happily not have to do it. I have a Shopify store, an Amazon author page and a Facebook page and they will mature with age. I’m excited about blogging because I can add so much more of interest and that’s useful for others and to learn from them.
The issue is that all of it is a tiger in the bushes. In the last two years, I’ve discovered that I’m autistic. This has been a profound and very positive paradigm shift. The downside of such a late diagnosis (Ive just turned 54) is that, as for so many others with late diagnosis is that anxiety and depression are my housemates. This interview took three weeks to sit down and write to as the thought of it brings on anxiety. So, blogging and promotion are tigers in the bushes. But they are tigers that need to be tamed somewhat if my books are ever going to be found by readers and listeners.

Author Links: Website | Amazon

Best friends, not so much or somewhere in the middle. Follow the adventures of some very colourful birds.
With its rhyming text and engaging illustrations, ‘A Splash of Colour’ is a must for young children learning to recognise colour.

The Sanctimonious Psychoproctological Invasions

In The Sanctimonious Psychoproctological Invasions: The Handbook for Political Analysis, Dr. Len Bergantino discusses the political climate in the United States while paying attention to the first amendment. The author extensively writes about this constitution clause, enlightening his readers on the political workings, how the government runs its daily business and the life the political class lives. The author exhausts every point regarding political discussions, giving sober analysis in every argument. The reader gets the privilege of reading through Dr. Bergantino’s notes, letters, and opinions on issues that not many are comfortable discussing. 

One of the most remarkable features of a good author is his bravado. Dr. Bergantino is bold in his work. He writes his truths and does not shy away from addressing controversial matters. The confidence displayed by the author makes reading this informative book interesting and engaging. Throughout the book, the reader learns about the political world and human stories. Dr. Len Bergantino shares personal tales, writing about his private life, professional life, passions, and the impact modern-day politics has had on his life. I relished reading his personal stories, his interactions with the who-is-who in the political class, and his contribution to his community.

Dr. Len Bergantino displays wisdom in his language and does not openly show partiality when writing about either Right Wing or Left Wing politics. The discussions are balanced, and the analysis is delivered objectively. Even when using strong language, Dr. Len Bergantino ensures that his message is not lost depending on the phrases he uses. America is the land of the free, and even with all its freedoms, American society seems to fall short in some areas. Dr. Len Bergantino does not conceal the evil of the political class, as he writes about it all; the good, the bad, the ugly, the embarrassing, and the pride instilled in Americans.

As an educator and political expert, Dr. Len Bergantino seems to be the ideal person to discuss the status quo and the battement of society. This educational book is arranged in an unconventional manner, which is great as the reader can choose and pick which topics to start reading first. The images of the author’s works shared between the pages give the reader a good idea of how Dr. Len Bergantino’s mind works and thus give one a better comprehension of these thoughts.

The Sanctimonious Psychoproctological Invasions: The Handbook for Political Analysis is a one-of-a-kind book that will expand readers’ scope in politics, help readers to fully understand their rights as a citizen, and enlighten them on how the world works. I recommend this fascinating book to political science students and readers who enjoy political and socio-economic literature.

Pages: 366 | ISBN : 1955691835

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Hide and Seek Alphabet: With Australian Animals

Hide and Seek Alphabet: With Australian Animals is a highly engaging children’s book that educates as well as it entertains. I’ve come across many alphabet books that use generic words, but Anna Finch adds yet another layer of education to her book with the focus on animals specifically from Australia. Some of the names of the animals were hard to pronounce but children will love seeing the exotic animals, especially in the beautiful artwork that illustrator A.P. Gil has created.

There are multiple levels of engagement to this wonderful children’s book. The book goes through the alphabet one letter at a time. With each letter we learn about an animal whose name starts with the letter, we learn a fact about that animal, and we learn sounds that it makes. Children will mostly love how the book invites them to find the animal on the page, and they’ll also enjoy making the different noises that accompany each animal. All of this together makes for an engaging lesson that any parent or teacher can use to ensure their kids are focused on the subject.

Hide and Seek Alphabet: With Australian Animals is an entertaining and educational children’s book. This is a perfect fit for any kindergarten or preparatory class. I highly recommend this book to any parent who is struggling to keep their child focused as there is plenty of fun activities built into this book.

Pages: 58 | ASIN: B0BHLH35BM

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I Loved Them For That

Author Interview
Darlene Pscheidell Kwarta Author Interview

Once There Was a Child is a fun and touching account of your time as a special education teacher. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I wanted readers to realize how difficult my kids’ lives were and that they worked hard to do things that most people take for granted. They blossomed in the school environment because the staff, and especially the principal, stressed a “go for it” attitude. Sometimes my kids succeeded, and sometimes they didn’t, but they never stopped trying. They attempted things that no one had ever given them the opportunity to try—joining clubs, going on Outdoor Education, climbing a tree, rolling down a steep grassy hill, joining a lunch table with “regular kids” or going to a school dance when they couldn’t hear the music. I want my readers to give people who are “different”, disabled, handicapped, or whatever you want to call them, a chance, to accept them and respect them. They will be thankful for what THEY have learned.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to work with special needs children?

Have a great sense of humor. It will get you through the times when you wonder if McDonald’s hires burned out teachers. (They do). But then one of my kids would look at me and ask, “Teacher OK? Teacher sad?” and would give me a hug. I realized that they had shown concern, and an awareness of someone’s feelings. Maybe they couldn’t multiply or divide or understand a story they were reading, but they had shown that they understood and demonstrated kindness and compassion, and I loved them for that.

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

It is important to first think of handicapped and disabled people as PEOPLE who need to feel friendship, acceptance, and tolerance. Regular education teachers, family members, community organizations, etc. are grateful to learn how to interact with special needs people. My kids wanted to feel that it was THEIR school too, and were grateful and happy when they were given that chance.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

What special kids and adults have to offer a “regular” person. Give them a chance to do so. You might just make yourself a good friend.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

“Hey, it’s Darlene. I got the job!”
“Great! How many other teachers applied for that position?”
“Just me! I guess no one else was up for the challenge of a multi-handicapped class of junior high kids, but I am.”
“Uh, Congratulations, I think.”
“Thanks, I’m going to love it!”
And she did.


As a child, Darlene always felt like an outsider and was drawn to others like herself. She learned sign language from her deaf neighbor, Joe, and was the only person in the neighborhood who could communicate with him. The Helen Keller story inspired Darlene. So did the movie Teacher Teacher, which is about a teacher with many demons who works with a severely autistic, lonely young boy. Those teachers brought both of these children into a world they might never have known or become a part of. That’s what Darlene wanted to do. In her first book, ONCE THERE WAS A CHILD, Darlene Kwarta chronicles her journey with children who were often forgotten.

Marky the Magnificent Fairy

In Marky the Magnificent Fairy by Cynthia Kern Obrien, readers are presented with an array of characters with numerous differences and physical capabilities that are then quickly explained and understood. As society is becoming more aware and educated on the diversity of people in many aspects, it is important to be able to introduce this subject to growing minds, and this vibrant children’s book does just that.

Throughout this charming picture book, readers are taken on a journey exploring the differences between people and get to understand self-love, confidence, acceptance, compassion, and positivity, among other things. All these things are core values that all people should learn about, but author Cynthia Kern OBrien makes it very easy for young readers to understand. All of these characteristics come into play as children grow into adulthood. This book also includes discussion questions that get kids to self-reflect and understand themselves and others better. Teachers will greatly appreciate The Resource Guide, as I thought it was helpful in furthering the discussion on how to handle situations with disabled people.

The beautiful illustrations were incredibly adorable and fit the atmosphere of the book perfectly. They were charming and captured the essence of each unique character. The writing is easy to follow and sends a clear and compassionate message. I would highly recommend Marky the Magnificent Fairy to all children, parents, and teachers. This would be a great book to have in an elementary school classroom to inspire discussion on diversity and self-respect.

Pages: 36 | ISBN: 1589850157

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Bringing These Two Rich Cultures Together

Author Interview
Simran Sadana & Meena Iyer Author Interview

Ramayana Through Ikebana uses a Japanese art form to tell India’s Ramayan and explains how Ikebana has been used to depict various sequential scenes from Ramayana. Why was this an important book for you to create?

Our exposure to the Japanese culture during our stays in Tokyo along with pursuing multiple masters in the field of Ikebana and our own cultural Indian heritage as a part of our upbringing, always made us wonder whether there was an opportunity of bringing these two rich cultures together.

The calling of building a unique concept which intertwined the art of Ikebana with Indian roots sparked from a simple idea of attempting to make one ikebana arrangement symbolic of a scene of Ramayana that transcended into hosting an exhibition in one of the art galleries in India where we took hundreds of people through a live display of different ikebana arrangements demonstrating different scenes of Ramayana with Ikebana in 2019.

Seeing the response of the audience, we felt the impact of this powerful concept needed a wider audience and greater depth. This led to the creation of this book with the core focus of embarking every reader into a journey of the two oldest cultures in the world where one could appreciate the richness of the Japanese traditional flower arrangement art, while reading a brief narration of the oldest Indian epic.  

What was the collaboration process like between the two of you to bring this book to life?

We decided to break up the design of the book into multiple phases. Our first phase was to ensure that we were fully aware of the entire tale of Ramayana. We read the entire Valmiki Ramayana, the original version of this tale, constituting of 24,000 verses to identify how do we want to break this story and which crucial scenes could be designed using an Ikebana arrangement.

The second phase was to identify all the various scenes we wanted to narrow down and ideate on what natural materials, design styles we could possibly use to represent each of the scenes. Over a span of a few weeks, we did multiple sessions of playing with different materials to arrive at each of the scenes. Quietly we browsed through our material, walked through different landscapes, browsed various styles to take inspirations. Little did we realize that our own arrangements were surprising us on what we were creating.

In the third phase, we deeply thought over the narration style of this book. After brainstorming on our target audience and different field experts, we decided to break the story into different chapters where we narrated Valmiki’s Ramayana and then ended each chapter with one of our arrangements. We also decided to explain in detail the thought behind the design of the display and symbolism of each element. Our core objective being, the reader should cohesively understand and absorb the depth of the artistic displays.

With different iterations over a span of months, the final product brought a soft smile of sheer joy to see the story and the art come together.

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

We had the most fun representing the scene of the burning Lanka where an angry Hanuman used his tail to burn down the entire city of Lanka, Ravan’s kingdom. We were attempting to build a large arrangement where we wanted to show a city burnt down to ashes with rakshasas, the residents of Lanka, running for their lives and the fire scorching the city.

To build such a large arrangement, it was exciting and inspiring as we used various materials such as large palm sheaths, dried tulsi, branches of arjuna pods, red berry sticks and chrysanthemums.

It took us various iterations before we could bring a structured cohesive theme, visually impressive, and at the same time symbolic of the story.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

We hope it leaves the readers with the awareness and appreciation of Ikebana coupled with visual appreciation of “Ramayana”. They can even appreciate how there is tremendous untapped opportunity in fusion across different traditional artistic styles & cultures.

Author Links: Instagram | YouTube

Ikebana, the ancient art of arranging flowers, is deeply rooted in Buddhism and Japanese traditions. Over the centuries, it has developed as an art form all its own, garnering popularity and leading to the development of schools dedicated to teaching this art form. A few things set Ikebana apart from traditional flower arranging. Those who practice this art know that it is based on minimalism, a focus on space, its unique materials, and asymmetry. Another amazing tradition is that of India’s Ramayan, a tale describing both love and honor. When the art of Ikebana meets Ramayana, something truly beautiful emerges.

Ramayana Through Ikebana, by Meena Iyer and Simran Sadana, is a unique combination of mythology and explanations of how Ikebana has been used to depict various sequential scenes from Ramayana. With attention to color, shape, position, and texture, each arrangement in the book’s photos tells the story in the most stunning fashion. The authors have taken great care to caption each photograph, listing the materials and the rationale for the arrangement for each as it relates to the storyline.

I found it amazing that I could actually picture the story’s scenes when I looked at the arrangements. Iyer and Sadana have managed to pull together for readers two exceptional art forms and present them in a way they will both appreciate and at which they will marvel. Ramayana is beautifully told throughout the book and carries with it both amazing symbolism and life lessons that readers will enjoy.

I can see Iyer and Sadana’s work as being beneficial in both literary arts and visual arts. The Indian story itself is a wonderful representation of both culture and tradition while the vivid descriptions of Ikebana throughout the book benefit those who are studying flower arranging. The authors have gifted readers with a true thing of beauty–on many levels.

I was pleasantly surprised at the way the two art forms meld seamlessly to convey a timeless tale. I highly recommend Ramayana Through Ikebana to anyone interested in exploring other cultures, those who are curious about the history and significance of Ikebana, and any fan of mythology. Iyer and Sadan’s work is a lovely presentation of two cultures united in one work of literature.

Maggie McNair Has Spiders in Her Hair

Maggie McNair Has Spiders in Her Hair follows young Maggie, who absolutely refuses to have her hair brushed. When her mother tells her that spiders will make a home for themselves in her hair if she doesn’t comb her hair, the issue is resolved! This is such a delightful, sweet, and charming story. From the rhythmic writing to the whimsical illustrations by illustrator Norris Hall, readers can’t help but enjoy this imaginative story.

One of the most difficult obstacles to overcome as a parent of a child with long hair is to be able to brush their hair. At times it can feel like a losing battle. Maggie McNair Has Spiders in Her Hair, written by Sheila Booth-Alberstadt, is a must read and a fantastic tool that will help parents teach their children to build good and lasting habits.

I would recommend Maggie McNair Has Spiders in Her Hair to any parent, teacher or child because it creatively conveys the important message of keeping your hair tidy. The lesson is delivered in a fun and silly way that will capture a child’s attention and help them come to terms with it. This educational children’s book lets kids see why brushing their hair is essential to hygiene; all while entertaining them with an amusing story.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B09B4DJ1Z5

Buy Now From Amazon

Ramayana Through Ikebana

Ikebana, the ancient art of arranging flowers, is deeply rooted in Buddhism and Japanese traditions. Over the centuries, it has developed as an art form all its own, garnering popularity and leading to the development of schools dedicated to teaching this art form. A few things set Ikebana apart from traditional flower arranging. Those who practice this art know that it is based on minimalism, a focus on space, its unique materials, and asymmetry. Another amazing tradition is that of India’s Ramayan, a tale describing both love and honor. When the art of Ikebana meets Ramayana, something truly beautiful emerges.

Ramayana Through Ikebana, by Meena Iyer and Simran Sadana, is a unique combination of mythology and explanations of how Ikebana has been used to depict various sequential scenes from Ramayana. With attention to color, shape, position, and texture, each arrangement in the book’s photos tells the story in the most stunning fashion. The authors have taken great care to caption each photograph, listing the materials and the rationale for the arrangement for each as it relates to the storyline.

I found it amazing that I could actually picture the story’s scenes when I looked at the arrangements. Iyer and Sadana have managed to pull together for readers two exceptional art forms and present them in a way they will both appreciate and at which they will marvel. Ramayana is beautifully told throughout the book and carries with it both amazing symbolism and life lessons that readers will enjoy.

I can see Iyer and Sadana’s work as being beneficial in both literary arts and visual arts. The Indian story itself is a wonderful representation of both culture and tradition while the vivid descriptions of Ikebana throughout the book benefit those who are studying flower arranging. The authors have gifted readers with a true thing of beauty–on many levels.

I was pleasantly surprised at the way the two art forms meld seamlessly to convey a timeless tale. I highly recommend Ramayana Through Ikebana to anyone interested in exploring other cultures, those who are curious about the history and significance of Ikebana, and any fan of mythology. Iyer and Sadan’s work is a lovely presentation of two cultures united in one work of literature.

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