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Help This World Be A Really Cool Place

Vincent Kelly
Vincent Kelly Author Interview

All People Are Beautiful celebrates diversity and highlights the beauty of our differences. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I truly believe diversity is reality and that children need to know that our differences are what unite us, not divide us. I think this message is so important for kids to be exposed to until it becomes unconsciously integrated — until it becomes a truth they know deep down! I truly feel the conversation of diversity never gets old and can never be talked about too early. I feel our differences help this world be a really cool place to both live and love.

The art in this book is delightful and beautiful. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Cha Consul?

My partnership with Cha was kismet. Cha is an absolutely phenomenal illustrator. By the time we connected, I already had in my mind what I thought the illustrations would look like. Cha took my vision, added her creative flare and gave my words a face.

It was important to me that readers got to see bright colors, different skin tones, features, and faces of children from all over the world in this book. Cha helped me achieve that goal and I’m grateful. It was great to work with her because she loves diversity just as much as I do.

Interestingly enough, All People Are Beautiful was the first children’s book she ever illustrated, so I feel very special.

Because of COVID, locations, and our time difference, we did all the collaboration for All People Are Beautiful virtually from opposite sides of the world. Cha is based in the Philippines and I am based just outside Nashville, Tennessee, so there were lots of virtual video calls to make sure we aligned on the presentation.

I am forever grateful for her artistry and I am looking forward to working together again in the near future!

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

I want readers to take away that everyone is beautiful regardless of what you look like, where you’re from, your culture, your hobbies, or anything else that makes you different. I want readers to know we like different things and that’s OK. Our differences are what unite us, not divide us. I want kids to know that it’s cool to talk about our differences in fun and interactive ways.

Do you plan to write more children’s book on this or other topics?

So I’m a true ENFP and a Creative, so I’m always on the go! I’ve actually recently finished writing a few new stories.

I’ve written a really cool story about a group of animal friends that decide to switch places for a day and realize it’s no fun being someone else. This is definitely another diversity themed book. I’ve also written another book about beautiful rainbows and the things the colors remind us of.

Both are books for early readers so I’m looking forward to sharing these with children everywhere.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

An important book for early readers that highlights the beauty of our differences. All people are beautiful. All cultures are beautiful. All languages are beautiful. Celebrating our differences is beautiful. What better way to talk about diversity and acceptance than with bright colors, fun artwork, and interactive ways children can enjoy while they read. Enjoy learning a few new words in different languages and even use your creativity in some of the in-book activities!

Limerick Comics

Limerick Comics by [Robert Hoyman, Steve Feldman]

Who doesn’t need a little fun with their facts? When dry nonfiction material can be made more palatable, everyone wins. Limerick Comics, written by Robert Hoyman and illustrated by Steve Feldman, presents a mountain of facts while simultaneously handing readers entertaining limericks. The limericks do a wonderful job of drawing readers in and piquing interest while Feldman’s illustrations give readers much to ponder. They are colorful, detailed, and provide a perfect visual for both the limerick and the corresponding fact.

Hoyman and Feldman seem to have struck upon a fantastic vein in the nonfiction genre. I can see their limericks as a wonderful addition to middle school libraries and classrooms. They provide quick bites of science and history in easily digestible comic frames and short bursts of facts. I can say even as an adult reader, I learned quite a bit from Hoyman and Feldman’s comic in a short amount of time. From rollercoasters to food fights, this pair has created a comic that will most certainly appeal to young adult readers.

I would have given anything to have a book like this on hand for my own children. Encouraging them to read nonfiction material was always important to me, but it was difficult to find options that kept their interest. Hoyman and Feldman more than meet this challenge. Readers who appreciate and seek humor will love the limerick presentation, and educators will be instant fans of the accompanying facts.

Limerick Comics is a fun children’s picture book that educates as wells as it entertains.

Pages: 34 | ASIN: B07MFC7KQ5

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A Dog Named Zero and the Apple With No Name

Zero just wants to get his paws on that apple. The apple, who has no name, knows not what awaits him. Zero is in no way tall enough to reach the apple with no name and needs a little help from his friends. Counting their way from 0 to 10, the ever-growing group of friends cooperate to help Zero in his efforts. His friends vary in size and shape, but they all have one thing in common, they want nothing more than to give their friend a hand. Will they make it? Will Zero ever get his apple?

A Dog Named Zero and the Apple With No Name, by T.C. Bartlett, is the beautifully illustrated children’s book focused on counting. There are many counting books out there, but Bartlett has a whole new take on the concept. With a more advanced vocabulary that challenges readers, A Dog Named Zero and the Apple With No Name contains bits of humor that parents and teachers will also appreciate–those are the best kinds of children’s books!

I have used my share of counting books over the years as a parent and elementary teacher, and Bartlett’s work is one of the best I have seen. There is much more to this little gem than meets the eye. Each of the different animals in the series of numbers offers readers the opportunity for discussion. Parents and teachers will easily find ways to have conversations about why and how each type of animal might want to help Zero. There are plenty of teaching opportunities to be had within the pages of Bartlett’s work.

I highly recommend this adorable counting story to anyone looking for an alternative to the traditional counting books. A Dog Named Zero and the Apple With No Name makes a great addition to anyone building a library for infants and toddlers.

Pages: 48 | ISBN: 1733908617

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Magic Islands

Magic Islands by [Irene Edwards, Robert Brown, Tony Paultyn, Gareth Edwards]

Trevor is not known for being serious. In fact, he is best known for the tall tales he spins. He is new in Wales, living with his grandparents, and making friends has been easy. His personality is one that lends itself to laughter, jokes, and many a light-hearted moment between friends. When Trevor and his pals are exploring the beach one day, something happens that changes all of their lives, and Trevor’s love of a good joke is getting in the way of his ability to communicate with the adults around him. When no one believes what you say, how do you tell them your friends disappeared before your very eyes?

Magic Islands, by Irene Edwards, is a fantasy adventure centered around magic, wizardry, and adventure. The imagery painted by Edwards is absolutely stunning and contributes to the beauty of a well-crafted fantasy. Edwards’s young characters are relatable and full of life. The humor woven throughout this novel makes it not only more appealing but serves to create a fun read aloud for classrooms, as well.

As a fan of fantasy adventures and a teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed Edwards’s work. It is a light-hearted adventure based on the wonder of magic. There aren’t many young readers out there who don’t become enthralled in stories of the impossible, and Edwards has more than successfully tapped into that demographic. Her young characters are bold and just the right mix of the real world and fantasy.

The wizards and witches in Edwards’s work transport readers to a fabulously designed land of spells, castles, and absurdly fantastic beings. Page after page, the dragons and monsters continue to keep the story new and refreshing. Combined with the witty exchanges between characters, the wide array of character types makes this an all-around fantastic read for young readers.

From cover to cover, Edwards enchants young readers, pulls them into a fantasy like no other. In addition to the wonderfully engaging storyline and humor peppered throughout, Edwards includes famous names and well-known pop culture references that further serve to hook readers. I would be remiss if I did not mention the marvelous sketches by the team of illustrators, Robert Brown, Tony Paultyn, and Gareth Edwards. I highly recommend Magic Islands to anyone looking for an engaging story for young fans of fantasy and wizardry. Teachers in grades 3-6, this one’s definitely for you!

Pages: 211 | ASIN: B07ZRYY8LX

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Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me!

Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me! (What I Tell Myself) by [Michael A Brown, Michelle Mathews, Zoe Ranucci]

Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me!, by Michael A. Brown, is an educational children’s story about appreciating what our parents have done for us. Through this book readers will learn to value the things their parents have taught them by exploring various real life examples such as learning to dress themselves and learning to love themselves. The story portrays diverse families in many different situations that children find themselves in on an average day. The author then uses this base to show some simple, but effective, examples of the numerous ways that parents help their children learn and grow.

It’s important to appreciate the things our parents have taught us. They have taught us a lot of things that have helped us become the people that we are today. Our parents have always been there to guide us through life and it is important to think about what we have learned from them. Michael A. Brown inspires this kind of thought and understanding in his exceptional picture book.

Along with the multiple examples given that show how parents educate children, this cute book also helps remind kids to cherish the lessons their parents give them. If the reader were to discover something in the story that they didn’t know about, such as the concept of money, then they’d have something new to discuss with their parents.

Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me! is yet another brilliant book by Michael A. Brown that uses beautiful illustrations to capture children’s attention and then inserts a lesson while looking over all the beautiful imagery.

Pages: 34 | ASIN : B08K3QQNMG

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Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes

Oink and Gobble have very little in common, but that doesn’t stop them from being the best of friends. No matter what others on the farm may say about either of them, they manage to ignore it and live happy-go-lucky lives. When Oink’s cupcakes go missing, the two best friends set out on a mission to find the culprit. With Gobble’s love for logic and Oink’s overactive imagination, the pair is bound to solve the mystery–with some light-hearted moments along the way.

Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes, written by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Mohammad Shayan, is a children’s book filled with humorous moments between farm animals and best friends on their way to solving a mystery. Bright and colorful illustrations clearly convey the story line and further add to the plot. Included is a page with the names of each farm animal complete with labels.

I enjoyed this book, but I felt like the story line belongs in a book for children ages 2 to about 6 while the verbiage and some of the exchanges between characters I think might be above the heads of most children in that age group. I enjoyed the asides and the humor injected into the dialogue but found it more appropriate for older readers. I would recommend the plot of the story for young children, but the narrative is much more fitting for young adult readers.

Well-written and superbly illustrated this book will bring a smile to readers’ faces. I think this book is best read with parents or teachers as it presents many learning opportunities. Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes is a fun and funny picture book.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07YN4W37Q

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What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection

What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection by [Michael Brown, Ilham Fatkurahman, Michele Mathews]

What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection is an educational resource for children, adults and educators. It teaches the reader through simple rhymes that danger lurks in the world and one must be prepared for it. It shows how different people, young and old, can get into scary situations that may be harmful to them. It then empowers them with the knowledge that they can protect themselves by fighting back, but also that it is okay to run away or call the police. It gives readers the tools necessary to take their safety into their own hands.

This is the most pragmatic picture book that I’ve read this year. It teaches children and adults valuable skills that might literally save their lives. It presents readers with various situations where the characters are in danger, and then shows them different ways they could protect themselves. Either by being aware of their surroundings, or dialing 911, running away, or by simply saying No and Stop. The art that accompanied each scene was clean, bright, and emotive. It reminded me of the D.A.R.E comic books that used to be distributed through schools. This is a great book for parents or educators to begin a conversation with kids about self-defense and when it’s acceptable to defend yourself. I appreciated how varied the talking points were. At end of the book readers are given a list where they can write down the contact information for different self-protection resources, which is a good resource to keep handy, or at the very least it’s a great opportunity to begin a discussion about each resource. Simply knowing that those people and services exist should help children understand that there are people in the world that will help them when needed. The book also provides a summary of a self-protection law case that helps give the books topic a real world reference, but may be more suitable for older readers. What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection provides practical advice that is easy to understand and simple to implement.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B08BCNV9RB

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Jack

Jack is stuck at home with the measles, but he is still up for adventure. When his mother insists that he rest and takes away his television and game privileges, he is stuck with books–his least favorite things. Imagination, however, is stronger than even Jack realizes, and soon he finds himself lost in one world after another as he gazes out his window. Will Jack put two and two together and figure out what his teachers knew all along?

Jack, written by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Nina Mkhoiani, stresses the importance of books and the impact they have on our lives without ever stating it outright. Whaler uses Jack to demonstrate the effect stories have on children and how, when instruction is administered effectively, they never truly realize how much they are learning. The way in which Whaler uses the changing clouds to spark Jack’s imagination is quite ingenious. The illustrations by Mkhoiani are vibrant and eye-catching and convey the story line well.

I recommend this short children’s picture book to any teacher in grades K-3 who wants to impress upon students the fantastic wealth of information that can be found in books. This quick read would make a wonderful read-aloud to kick off the new school year.

Pages: 24 | ASIN: B07B2DNQPX

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