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I Believe In The Power Of Words

Tuula Pere Author Interview

The Fox’s City is the delightful tale of one fox’s plan to outwit a city and have his way. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The adventures of Francis the Fox reflect social and political setups in many countries as well as in international contexts – unfortunately. Stories start to live in my head when I read or hear something absurd, annoying, or unreasonable in the news or public discussion.

My background as a Ph.D. in Law is sometimes reflected in my fox stories, where the appropriateness and legality are constantly tested, and the boundaries are sometimes crossed. Social justice and the rights of individuals are valuable to me, and I want to speak for them. As my tool to influence, I have chosen the one I feel most comfortable with, the use of words.

I believe in the power of words. I want to write about social and political problems in a way that works for children. I think children’s books can prepare them to meet certain realities they encounter in the world – at least as they grow up.

When reading “The Fox’s City” with adult eyes, we find some severe themes between the lines. It talks about the pursuit of power by any means, societal manipulation, and limitations on freedom of speech. Telling about the activities and wrongdoings of this power-hungry fox makes children think about justice and the effects and consequences of different actions. Nothing wrong with opening one’s eyes already at an early age!

All of your books are so artful and creative. What is your writing process like?

Thank you! Hearing this makes an author happy! As I write books, I try to give my best. I genuinely value children as a target group. I try to reach a level that is more than pure entertainment – though I understand it’s needed, too. I have been fortunate to find skilled and ambitious illustrators for my books. They add their spices to the stories and interpret them in a visually exciting way. I find this co-operation very stimulating.

In my stories, I want to combine child-like and free imagination and creativity with the knowledge and experience of life I have gathered. There is so much to remember and share!

Sometimes it feels like having an endless story library or warehouse in my head. I can adventure there alone and taste the content, or I can pick something out and write a story for others if I feel like that. I can honestly say that writing is like breathing for me—an equally important and equally natural way to live.

I write when I am happy, excited, sad, or irritable — whenever there is a lively movement in my mind and thoughts need to be expressed in words to others. But I also write when there is peace of mind and a calm feeling prevails. Emotional states affect what kind of things I want to write about and how I do it.

Often the stories are almost ready-made packages in my head. I can take them out whenever I need to. The stimulus can come from inside or outside of me. When writing starts, it’s a go! I enjoy the flow of the story, and I can’t stop in the middle. The time for a more detailed examination and corrections will come later. Before that, the intense feeling must calm down.

What do you find to be the hardest part of writing?

As a continuation of the previous answer, I could say that the most challenging stages in my work are placed on both sides of the actual writing stage.

Before the story gets on paper, the biggest dilemma is the overwhelming amount of ideas. I’m so excited about so many writing possibilities all the time that it’s hard to choose which one to tackle first. I would like to accomplice so much simultaneously that it exceeds the strength of one person. I have to limit and control my enthusiasm!

The congestion of ideas I described above is a positive dilemma that I actually enjoy. More problematic is the phase after creative writing, where you have to delve into grinding, editing, and proofreading the text. It would be wonderful if I could leave that later stage more in the hands of others, and I could just grab another inspiring story and write a new book about it.

Will readers be able to see Francis the Fox in any of your future books?

I have already published two books about this fox villain, “The Fox’s City” and “The Fox’s Palace,” and the following three books are in the process already.

Francis the Fox has become such a “friend” to me that I must continue with him! I completed the Finnish version of the third book in the series yesterday, and the next two are waiting for my “summer vacation.” The following subjects are also captured from the society and politics around, and the storylines are ready in my head for writing out.

Writing about society and politics in a child-appropriate way will be much fun again! I believe a suitable amount of satire also works in children’s books! Especially if the protagonist is a villain like my Francis the Fox. I have to admit, writing about villains and various bad guys is sometimes fun. I can bring up contradictions and create moral tests for the readers. But goodness and honesty always win at the end of my stories.

Interestingly, some of my readers have wished Francis the Fox “tougher penalties” in the end. In real life, it might have happened. But a fairy tale is a fairy tale, and Francis continues his journey into new attempts and mistakes. Just wait for the following three books to come! Very current subjects!

I think children need clever books about society, too. After all, we have to try to understand this strange world starting from our childhood.

Author Links: Facebook | Website

Francis the Fox has great plans for the future. Leaving his den behind, he marches to the city in his shiny boots to meet the mayor, William the Wolf.
When the old wolf mayor goes on a fishing trip on a deserted island, Francis talks him into letting Francis serve as substitute mayor. But Francis’s greed for power and actions quickly make city residents uneasy. There’s something suspicious going on in the library attic, and the city’s carrier pigeons have disappeared mysteriously.
Will Francis ruin the upcoming soccer match with a rival team? And will it be a friendly match as always before?

Healthy For Both Body And Soul

Tuula Pere Author Interview

Scared to Swim follows a young child who is eager to learn how to swim but is fearful of the busy swimming pool. What was the inspiration for the idea behind Lillian’s character?

First of all, I must advertise that Finland is indeed a country with thousands of lakes. Much of the summertime is spent on the shores of the lakes and by the sea, and the use of swimming pools is active during the winter. For this reason, good swimming skills are essential for the safety of children.

There are, of course, other good reasons. Swimming is healthy for both body and soul. I learned to swim when I was very young. I immensely enjoyed the lakes and summer nature when I spent my childhood in a small rural village in Finnish Lake District. And diving was fun!

I was the oldest child in my family, so I also participated in teaching younger siblings to swim. I was a popular swimming teacher because I always kept my promise and never loosened my grip unless it was mutually agreed. The feeling of being in safe hands is most important when a child learns something new and challenging.

In indoor swimming pools, a child may be afraid of the hustle and bustle around them. Loud noises are unpleasant for many, too. In particular, shy and sensitive children suffer, and a pleasant thing can turn uncomfortable and scary. With this book, I wanted to help every real-life Lillian. Over the years, I’ve met many of them.

The Little Fears series gives young readers the tools needed to handle fear. What is a key tool shared in this book that will be built upon throughout your series?

Six books have already been published in the Little Fears series, and more are on the way. The fears they talk about are very different and of various sizes.

But, regardless of what the others say, every fear exists for the child. This unpleasant thing can cast a shadow on the child’s whole life.

The key tool that unites these Little Fears stories is a two-way solution. It involves a helpful adult who takes the child’s fear seriously and seeks a solution. It also includes the child’s opportunity and ability to express the concerns instead of drawing back and feeling left alone with the trouble.

Creating an atmosphere of trust, rather than downplaying grief, is important for the adults to remember. This change of attitude may take time, but it is worth working with. At its best, it can save children a lot of harm for the rest of their lives.

In many cases, the reactions of adults surprised me when I presented the Little Fears series at international book fairs, for example. I have met people who have come to seek advice for the parental challenges of their daily lives or asked me to write a new book about some of the fears connected to their families. I have also encountered those adults who burst into tears and said they would have needed a similar book when they were children. Their fears may have plagued them until the adult years.

What is a common fear young children have about swimming and how can parents help them overcome it?

Although children generally enjoy water games, the situation may change as the playing becomes a lesson in swimming. Performance pressures hamper a relaxed attitude towards learning a new skill. Children may compete to see who is the quickest to learn, the bravest in diving, or who swims fastest. A joyful hobby turns into a tough competition.

The children may also fear that they will be a disappointment to their parents or swimming instructors. The family may have traveled a long way to swim on the beach with high expectations. Or swimming course has been an expensive parental sacrifice that should result in some achievement. Failure can make a child feel utterly disappointed and give up the effort for good.

Children also have concerns about their safety. What if I sink under the surface and no one notices? What if I draw water into my lungs? What if no one hears me screaming for help? Fears like this are, in my opinion, the most serious because they are related to the child’s basic safety.

There are a few simple things to keep in mind for parents. Learning any new skill requires time, patience, and a safe environment. It is best to forget all about performance pressures and unnecessary requirements. The grown-ups must focus on making the children feel protected and happy to practice the new thing at their own pace.

What is the next book in the Little Fears series?

After the present six books in the Little Fears series, it’s time to introduce two new books later this year – both illustrated again by a very creative Catty Flores, who has an eye for the child’s view of the situations. Both stories, “Noise All Over” and “The Giant Legs,” talk about celebrations and crowds in separate ways.

In the first one, “Noise All Over,” the Dinosaur Rock Band concert for children turns out to be an unpleasant surprise for the little Liam. The loud music is painful to his sensitive ears, and the only solution is to escape! There are other noisy elements in the book as well, to make it possible to discuss this problem with children.

“The Giant Legs” may be a surprising name for a book about fears. It tells about Elliot, who doesn’t like family gatherings. At Grandpa’s party, he feels uncomfortable in the noisy group and escapes to the attic. His uncle finds a way to lure him back to the others. The crowd looks less scary when Elliot observes it while walking on high stilts! These old playthings, wooden legs, provide many fun moments for the entire party, and Elliot is no longer afraid to participate in the joint celebration.

Adults should remember that parties and crowds may look very different when viewed from a child’s gaze level – and sound different as a child listens to them.

Author Links: Facebook | Website

“Little Fears” is a book series about the various concerns that children can have. Sometimes, minor harms may grow into big worries if they are ignored. Fortunately, there are fun ways and gentle tools to handle such situations, often through play.

Lillian wants to take swimming lessons, like some of her friends.
However, it’s very noisy at the swimming pool, especially in the children’s pool, where things can get wild at times. It frightens Lillian and makes her back away from the pool.
“What if I sink to the bottom and no one notices?” Lillian says, worried.
Once Dad and Lillian start practicing together, she conquers her fear of swimming.

A Tribute To The Finnish Generations

Tuula Pere Author Interview

Raspberry Red follows a young girl as her family flies from a war-torn country and eventually makes it back home to start over again. What was the inspiration for to your story?

The subject of this book has matured in my mind since I was a small child. As the 100th anniversary of the independence of Finland approached, it seemed to be just the right time to write “Raspberry Red”, as it is inspired by drastic periods in the history of our country.

At the same time, the book can be fitted equally well for any country, at any time. The topics are sadly current even today. Recent news proves it painfully. I still remember my conversation with the Greek illustrator Georgia Stylou about the book. After reading the script, she felt connected to the story through the developments in her own country throughout the years.

“Raspberry Red” is also a tribute to the Finnish generations before me. Over the years, I have listened to the personal experiences of many people about the war, leaving home, and adaptation to demanding situations. There have been threats, danger, escaping in haste, and joys and sorrows experienced and shared.

In addition, as a child, I lived in Eastern Finland in an area where a lot of evacuees from Karelia had been placed. Families no longer had a home and familiar regions to return to after the war.

I will never forget the stories of these people. They were telling about everything they had experienced or what they had to leave behind them. The tears were plentiful, and the songs were full of longing. The hospitality was present, although there was little to offer. The new life gradually began.

Aino is a strong young girl that stays strong for her family during these difficult times. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The book includes some of my mother’s experiences with her father going to war and how she waited for him to return. As a child, my mother-in-law also had challenges keeping the family village shop running together with her mother during the war. The most dramatic moment of Aino in the story is encountering the foreign soldier. That had taken place in real life for a deceased lady when she was young. Her perseverance and survival after the war showed great courage and determination.

Aino, the girl in my story, had to face highly demanding situations at a young age. Everything in her life changed in a short time. I wanted to highlight the child’s vulnerability and sensitivity, but simultaneously her ability to adapt to the inevitable. Aino doesn’t lose hope of getting father back home.

Fortunately, she gets to talk about father with other people close to her. She shares her feelings and expectations with her friends, mother, and grandparents – except for one event; meeting the enemy soldier face to face. It was such an overwhelming experience that only the father’s return frees her to reveal what happened. She feels safe and confident going through the situation only with her own father. He has been a soldier, too, and can understand the event’s significance for all parties.

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

I find it extremely important to pass on the experiences of previous generations to younger people. We must try to learn something from what has happened in the past. Maybe this would prevent the same mistakes from happening again.

The themes of war and peace are, in my view, among the most important stories of all – though telling them requires a sensitive mind and a skilled hand.

In the twists and turns of this story, we encounter people of all ages whose lives have been shaken utterly. I want to encourage the reader to believe that even during difficulties, good things happen, too. People help each other, and also, in the most challenging situations, it is possible to choose a humane option.

Stories that connect real experiences and increase empathy are valuable. They help us better understand people in different situations.

What is one thing that you hope readers take away from Raspberry Red?

Before I can answer this question, here are a few words about my general motivations for writing several children’s books about conflicts and wars. As an author, I find it necessary that my audience is left with hope even after reading such books.

I want to consider the needs of children as a target group carefully. Their ability to understand is essential for how the story is told, and their feelings must be respected and protected. They need wise guidance in meeting the most significant challenges of their lives.

We often say in Finland: As long as there is life, there is hope. The English saying “hope is eternal” means roughly the same thing. I find this thought very encouraging. The idea of ​​keeping up hope to the very last moment is important. However, I want to attach another thing to it, overall respect for life. This attitude means a humane approach to other people’s lives, too, not just our own.

I want to believe that we can cherish humanity, even if life is challenging at times. I find it especially beautiful if a person respects the life of others, even if their own is under threat. It is probably the greatest gift you can give to another.

The foreign soldier in the “Raspberry Red” carried this warmth with him. He used the humanity of his heart in a most stressful situation and chose to save the life of the child of the enemy country, as his highest priority.

This message of love and respect is necessary for all ages, in all countries. I write about it in all my books, not just “Raspberry Red,” and plan to do it as long as possible.

Author Links: Facebook | Website

Raspberry Red is a story about war’s breaking out and a family setting out on an evacuation journey, as seen through the eyes of a little girl. When they’re leaving, Aino meets a foreign soldier by her playhouse. The man lets her go. Only her rag doll’s raspberry red apron is left behind in the snow when Aino escapes.

Late one autumn, Aino’s father sets off on the road with the other village men. Little Aino doesn’t quite understand why. During the cold winter days, scary noises start to echo from the nearby forest.
The family is forced to leave their home, their own village shop, and Aino’s playhouse. They leave for the train station in such a hurry that Aino can hardly keep up with the others.
Near the playhouse, the eyes of the child and a foreign soldier meet. When Aino escapes, her rag doll’s raspberry red apron is left behind in the snow.

It Also Requires Great Honesty

Tuula Pere Author Interview

Axel Washes the Rug follows a little boy that tries to hide his mistake and fix things himself, only to make things worse. What was the inspiration for your story?

This book about little Axel is part of a series where he invents this and that, mostly with her friend Ava. I like to write about initiatives where children’s willingness to experiment sometimes exceeds their skills and ability to handle different situations. It’s good to see that one can survive difficulties and understand that help is often needed and available.

This book focuses on Axel’s visit to Grandma and the problems caused by blueberries. Sounds harmless, but difficulties tend to pile up – especially if you start covering up mistakes. This series is for parents, too, because children learn to be independent and adventurous within reasonable limits with wise guidance.

Every adult is sure to remember similar events from their childhood. I’d like to share a memory from my early years. This case of mine also involves danger. I was five years old when my sister was baptized, and we had relatives visiting. Everyone enjoyed the coffee and cakes inside the house. But I slipped into a liter with wood to be sawn. I was very interested in trying a sharp tool, but it was more complicated than I thought. The result was a wound on my wrist. Luckily it was just on the surface but very sore! I didn’t dare tell anyone about the incident. I was ashamed, as I had taken a risk in secret and harmed myself.

Now, I wish I had talked to adults instead of keeping quiet. That alternative should always be open – even when the children feel they have been disobedient.

Do you think children’s books should have a message or lesson, or is it ok just to write something fun?

I appreciate the diversity of children’s literature. There is a need for very different books because, after all, children and their families have their particular needs and situations.

In my opinion, children’s literature is like nature, which I love. It should have a place for all possible creatures – big and small, tame and wild. For every kind of flower, berry, and tree. And it can adapt to all types of weather and all seasons.

The authors should have the opportunity to express what is important and natural to them. If the author has something serious or educational to say, perhaps that is the scene to focus on. If some writers are funny storytellers and like to make jokes and play with words, their pens will surely bring joy to many. In this way, the stores and libraries are filled with the best possible books, and readers have a lot to choose from.

I often choose even very challenging topics for my books – subjects that others rather avoid. I trust that I have something special to give on that side through my own life experience. Of course, I also write in a lighter style sometimes – about parenting, for example. But even then, there are relevant things between the lines.

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

I want to emphasize the responsibility of the author in writing a manuscript. It also requires great honesty.

Good writing starts with a genuine desire to give something to your readers. The author must have something unique to offer. It may be a meaningful topic, verbally skillful or fun text, or something to boost the readers’ thinking or encourage them.

In addition, the author must seriously aim to ensure that the message is delivered as professionally as possible. No sloppy solutions or stories just for commercial purposes are acceptable. Children are morally a valuable target group, and they deserve the best building blocks for their lives.

How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?

To be honest, I am not such a well-known author that my works would be reviewed too often. I welcome all the feedback if sincere and profound enough. One always hopes that the critic has really read the book with an open mind and without prejudice.

Of course, I read each review very carefully. You must always be ready to develop your work. Not even a negative review hurts when I know I have given my best and try to get even better next time.

If you feel that you have been misunderstood or mistreated, it is always possible to kindly contact the reviewer. Few of us do so because that act would easily be interpreted as a mere sore mind and low self-esteem. Many years back, I got such a critic concerning my way of working as an independent publisher that I was annoyed. The writer of the critic had no understanding at all of how my small, independent publishing house worked and what was possible or not then. I felt offended but decided to prove my point by continuing my chosen path with good results!

Fortunately, the reviews I have got so far have been very encouraging.

One of the first book reviews that I still remember particularly well came from one respected literature professional. This critic said that my “Between the Walls” is a wise book. She had perfectly analyzed and understood my aims. I’ve been keeping this review in my mind as a driving force to write more.

I talked earlier about authors’ responsibility. The critics have a significant obligation, too, and they should never misuse their power. Professional and constructive evaluations are essential for the whole book business.

Just one last remark; the best evaluation of my books comes from the eyes of the children who are listening to my stories. I simply love the moments when I can witness the sparkle and interest there.

Author Links: Facebook | Website

By accident, Axel stains his grandmother’s rug with blueberries. During Granny’s afternoon nap, he tries to correct the mistake all by himself. The result is a surprise for both of them!

Honeycake: A Helping Hand – Book Trailer

Multi-Award Winning and Amazon best-selling Author Medea Kalantar Introduced readers to her new book series Honeycake. Inspired to write these books when she learned she would become a grandmother, Kalantar’s stories are based on her own family, whose members come from many ethnic backgrounds. This unique mix is a perfect recipe—just like the spices in a honey cake. That is why she calls her grandchildren her little Honeycakes.

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.

All proceeds from each book sold in Honeycake: A Helping Hand will be going to The War Amps CHAMP Program as Medea Kalantar’s charity of choice.

The delightful Honeycake book series is endorsed by Unstoppable Tracy Schmitt.

With all the negativity in the world, Medea Kalantar’s series is a much-needed glimmer of hope and positivity. The Honeycake Book Series teaches valuable life lessons, giving children the tools to overcome obstacles in their everyday lives.

The Honeycake books teach children about diversity, acceptance, kindness, mindfulness, trust, and gratitude. This series will enlighten, empower, educate, and entertain children and their families for generations to come.

In Honeycake – A Helping Hand Nala learns that being different doesn’t stop you from doing great things. Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and anywhere ebooks are sold.

Buy Now From Amazon

That Playful Little Ghost

Isabel Ricardo Author Interview

The Ghost of the Torn Underpants follows a ghost that is given a unique name and is teased for it, he learns to accept his different name with the help of a new friend. What was the inspiration for your story?

The inspiration was really my children. I used to try to spook them by going into their room with a sheet covering me, waving my arms and yelling that I was The Ghost of the Torn Underpants. Of course they would always burst out laughing. At a certain point, young children accompanying their older siblings to signings of my THE ADVENTURER’S series asked me to write something for them too, and so I indulged them. I reminisced in that game I used to play with my children and one summer I decided to write the story of that playful little Ghost who was marginalized by others due to his crazy name, and was deeply saddened by this. And it has been a great success!

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

After writing this book I searched for an illustrator whose work I admired a lot, Pedro Pires. In this case I sent him the book and left it to his creativity. I had no idea what would come out of his hands. When we hear about ghosts, we always have this common image in our minds, but the illustrator’s vision was very original and innovative, with a ghost with red hair so long that it even wrapped around the lamps. I was surprised by the final product, but I enjoyed the uniqueness. And it was a good choice indeed, because kids love him and they really like his different and strange look.

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

The main theme is the acceptance of difference and diversity. This book has a pedagogic component to it. I wanted to demonstrate to all children, through a fun way, that we are all different, but at the same time, all the same. We all have hearts and feelings that must be respected and we must not treat differently those who are different from us. This way, children learn to accept and respect difference with ease. During the course of this story, we also discover the value of friendship.

This is a Portuguese children’s literature bestseller, with successive editions, very dear to children of all ages, as well as Educators, Parents and Teachers.

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

I am currently writing my next historical novel, in Portuguese, which always takes longer as it requires very deep and comprehensive research. Later this year, Underline Publishing will release “The Enchanted Forest”, as well as “The Forgotten Treasure”, the second volume of The Port of the Grail trilogy, in succession of The Quest for the Lost Map. There will also be a new adventure: “The Adventurers in Underground River”.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

The Ghost of the Torn Underpants is a very entertaining book about a playful ghost, who tore his underpants, becoming forever called: The Ghost of the Torn Underpants. Aimed at children from 3 to 10 years old, this story amuses and, at the same time, teaches kids that we are all different, but all the same. This title has the collaboration of Isabel Ricardo, a renowned Portuguese author of many successful children’s and youth collections, and the talented illustrator Pedro Pires. Let’s have fun together!

Begin Leading An Even Happier Life

Jennifer Decker Author Interview

Oliver and the Wishing Star follows a young boy who becomes a dog but finds that it’s not what he thought it would be and learns to appreciate his life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Growing up, we always had a lot of animals. I often thought to myself how animals have the good life, especially our dogs. As a former preschool teacher and having spent a couple decades working in Children’s Ministry, I found the topic frequently talked about amongst children. The thing is, everyone’s life has both the good and the bad, and we should be grateful for who we are and what we have. And that’s the inspiration behind my story.

I loved the art in this book. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Chrish Vindhy?

Working with Chrish Vindhy was a wonderful experience, and we’ve become good friends ever since. In the beginning, she asked me for my manuscript and what the breeds of the dogs in the story were, and within two weeks she got back to me with her sample illustrations, and I was smitten. She captured my vision perfectly. Except for the cover, I let Chrish have complete artistic freedom in creating the entire book in black and white sketches. With only a few changes, I approved them. After that she enhanced everything with color, and with a few minor color changes we were good to go, and I handed it over to my graphic designer, Tia Perkin, to work her magic. Good relationships are vital when creating. I could honestly say that Chrish was ideal to work with, and I look forward to working with her again in the future. And highly recommend her as an illustrator.

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

I hope everyone who reads my book or listens to it is left feeling more grateful and appreciative of who they are and what they have—and begin leading an even happier life—and also shares what they’ve learned and experienced with others.

Do you have plans to write more children’s books featuring Oliver?

I certainly do! “Cooper’s Wish” is in the works. Where Oliver’s dog thinks that kids have the good life and wishes upon a star and becomes a boy. I’ve also started another as well. I didn’t plan for it to be a series, but my imagination is running wild regarding numerous story ideas.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website



HAVE YOU EVER WISHED UPON A STAR? What did you wish for? In this unforgettable story, Oliver thinks dogs have the good life until one evening when he sees a falling star, makes a wish to become a dog…and that wish magically comes true! At first, he’s on Cloud 9, but soon things take an unexpected turn, and Oliver begins to miss the old life he once had. Will Oliver ever make it home, or is he destined to remain a dog forever?

This book is destined to become a CLASSIC and a FAVORITE your child will ask you to read over and over again! Filled with laugh out loud humor, and moments that will touch your heart. Sure to become a book you and your whole family will treasure and enjoy time and time again!

The Path To A Friend’s Heart

Tuula Pere Author Interview

Colin the Crab Finds a Treasure follows a crab who meets a hurt pearl oyster and while helping her heal realizes the value of friendship. What was the inspiration for your story?

After I had written the first book – The Caring Crab – in this series, I couldn’t just leave the characters. They had grown so strong in my mind that they continued their lives almost independently.

I am happy to pass on my real-life experiences through the life circle of Colin the Crab. The diverse character gallery offers a fruitful ground to explore very human relationships, weaknesses, and strengths.

I have chosen two main themes for this book: different perceptions of essential things in life and trust as a prerequisite for friendship.

I found it essential to show that Colin the Crab lived a rich life, although it was seemingly modest. Children get to compare the choices various characters value in life. I hope they realize the importance of friendship by the end of the story, too!

I also wanted to show that it is better to be genuinely yourself than pretend to be something else. When Colin gets lost on this path, the consequences are harmful. Fortunately, Colin learns from his mistakes. Boasting is pointless, and not everyone needs to build muscle at the gym. The path to a friend’s heart goes along other routes.

If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?

Funny coincidence that you ask this! I recently started to consider writing separate books or series about Colin the Crab’s friends.

There are many delicious characters in the series about whom I could easily write separate books or an entire spin-off series. I could look at the world through the eyes of Eddie the Eel, Stella the Starfish, or Ms. Monkfish, for example. Also, the fast-paced life of Norma the Newt’s family with many lively children would be a perfect setting for new adventures. Each spin-off would indeed become interesting in different ways.

With Eddie, who is a technology freak, we would undoubtedly embark on the wildest adventures. He is so passionate about acquiring the fastest, most comprehensive, and most expensive technology and solving everyday problems with them.

The sophisticated and vain Stella would undoubtedly spend most of her efforts to fulfill her desires. That kind of character simply believes herself to be the center of the world. Successes and failures with this delusion would give rise to many juicy conflicts.

There would undoubtedly be many interesting things to tell about old Ms. Monkfish’s past and memories. Her adaptation to modern life and various friends also offers exciting opportunities for stories. And needless to say, Norma the Newt’s bunch of children – with its hustle and bustle – is certainly enough to fill many books.

Thinking about this answer inspires me to consider these spin-off stories seriously. Thanks for that, and let’s get back to it later.

What are your favorite blogs or websites for writers?

I don’t know if I dare to admit that I hardly follow any authors’ blogs or web pages. I am writing all the time myself and work with my own publishing company, so I don’t have too much time and energy for that.

There are some literary communities to which I belong. e.g., The Association of Finnish Nonfiction Writers and Finnish Youth Writers Association. I follow their communication and activities – and participate occasionally. I used to belong to IBBY Finland as a board member and have been the chairman of the board for the Topelius Society of Finland, which recently organized a national poem competition for young writers.

I know this isn’t exactly an answer to your question, but I rather write and act myself instead of reading how others do that. Besides, I have this hybrid role of being a publisher as well. In that respect, as a writer, I am perhaps in a different situation than the others.

I personally have direct contacts with all my target groups – including international publishers, illustrators, and translators. Hopefully, I’ll find more new ways to be in contact with as many readers internationally as possible. Enough goals for a small author/publisher and enough reasons to develop my blogs and websites!

What books did you grow up reading?

I grew up with a library of books, not my own, but the village library across the road. I moved between the shelves there from one age group and theme to another.

I went to the library every evening it was open and borrowed loads of books. I quickly moved from fairy tales and picture books to international favorites in children’s literature. My favorites were all the adventures like The Famous Five and Five Find-Outers by Enid Blyton and many more. Naturally, the romantic books about Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery had to be read later. I also read all the possible Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan books to keep the balance.

The most important books of my childhood and youth also included various non-fiction books. I was a big consumer of them. As schoolbooks sparked my interest in some topics, I got excited to learn more details from the library’s book collections.

In my childhood in the 1960s and 1970s, it was impossible to use the Internet to search for information, but a library was a good source. Of course, the amount of information available has multiplied, but it is essential that the data is structured and there is peace in absorbing it. Books are a great tool in that sense. That’s the reason why I would love to retain something of that explorer vibe that I enjoyed in my childhood library.

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Colin the Crab has many special friends at his home in the river bay. It’s hard to imagine anyone more beautiful than Sally the Starfish or more successful than Eddie the Eel. Ms. Catfish’s antiques are very impressive, and the big newt family is always busy and full of energy.
Just as Colin starts to wonder if his own life is a bit too ordinary, a tidal wave tosses Priscilla the Pearl Oyster into his backyard. Colin’s new friend has something very valuable—something that many others want, including the deceitful Larry the Lobster.
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