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The Tea Drinker’s Guide to Adventure

The Tea Drinker’s Guide to Adventure by Andree Jannette follows the story of three older women; Cathy, Linda, and Betsy. The women had met at a book club in their hometown, and although they come from different backgrounds, they quickly became acquainted. Their promise to a dear friend to scatter her ashes at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico leads them on a journey of adventure, friendship, and romance. Following a late-night incident that brings them into an encounter with an injured dog, the trio finds themselves in an RV community. After spending a few weeks in this community,  each woman’s life changes unexpectedly.

The Tea Drinker’s Guide to Adventure focuses on three older women. Andree Jannette did a fine job shedding light on the conditions that accompany humans’ aging process, including illnesses,  grief, and uncertainty. The novel presents the ups and downs of old age, a reality not often explored in literary works. It consists of colorful elderly characters as they retain the youth’s passion, adventurous spirit, and romance. The author refuses to present these characters as frail or dependent. Reading this helps one come to terms with aging and the end of life. The book is also incredibly heartwarming, with the inclusion of pet characters.

Jannette has written a comforting story of healing. However, at times I felt the storytelling was disjointed; secondary characters tended to overshadow the leading trio in the plot. Despite those things, this is a story of strength, of finding the spark and passion inside of oneself to face challenges and overcome obstacles. Life is full of the unexpected, and this novel teaches readers that even those moments, while they might look bad at the start, can lead to beautiful discoveries.

The Tea Drinker’s Guide to Adventure is a beautifully written women’s adventure novel. The bonds of friendship between the characters and the sparks of romance they feel will keep readers engaged and following the trio through this unexpected journey they end up on together.

Pages: 308 | ASIN : B0BD22NSLF

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Kindness Has the Power to Change Lives

Tania Woznicki Author Interview

Marty and Lenny follows a friendly monkey who decides to befriend the school bully in hopes of helping him change. When you set out to write this book, was it your intention to write a story filled with kindness and morality?

Yes, it was definitely my intention. My aim was to create an entertaining children’s book designed to teach and inspire children to be kind to others, even when at first it may seem difficult.

I was inspired by research on the positive effects of oxytocin (the love hormone) on the mind and body. Showing and receiving kindness are ways we can boost oxytocin levels. Every act of kindness counts and repeated acts of kindness, have the power to change lives and make the world a better place.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art creation process like?

For the artwork in Marty and Lenny, I contracted Stefanie, an amazing, talented illustrator through Tellwell Publishing. I had a clear vision of the style of artwork I wanted based on the many picture books I had enjoyed reading in the past. I asked for bright, colourful and dynamic illustrations which effectively portrayed the emotions experienced by the characters in the story. I then created a storyboard and detailed descriptions for each illustration. Based on these descriptions, the illustrator created draft sketches for each illustration and then submitted them to me for review and feedback. Adjustments were made based on feedback and then colour was added to complete the illustrations. When I saw the finished products, I was thrilled and excited to see the story coming to life!

What were some educational aspects that were important for you to include in this children’s book?

The power of kindness and the importance of good manners, were two of the main educational aspects I wanted to include in this book. My desire was to teach children that sometimes, the people who find it challenging to show kindness, can be the ones who need it the most. Everyone longs to belong and feel valued.

In addition to this, the story is a narrative poem designed for young readers. I chose this form of storytelling because poetry motivates children to read and builds early literacy skills. It helps children learn about rhyme, rhythm and sound. I was also intentional about the vocabulary I included in the story to help young children build their vocabulary.

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

I am in the process of writing some draft manuscripts, which all have a special message for young readers. However, there is no current set release date for these yet. 

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Instagram | Website

Marty and Lenny is an encouraging story about the power of kindness.

Marty is a sweet, helpful monkey with lovely manners. Lenny is the complete opposite! He is a mean and selfish lion with bad manners and disgusting habits. After a memorable encounter with Lenny, Marty decides that things need to change. Join Marty as he makes a brave choice that changes EVERYTHING!

Tommy Turtle

Tommy Turtle is a young shy land turtle. He wants to play with the other turtles at the park, but fear keeps him inside his shell, away from the others. Tommy watches from his hiding place in a hollow tree stump as the others splash in mud puddles and has a good time. Soon another turtle named Jerry walks over and introduces himself to Tommy. He convinces Tommy to give playing in the puddles a try but takes him to a less crowded area of the park. There Tommy opens up and starts to play and have fun until another turtle comes over. Once more, Tommy hides in his shell till she convinces him she won’t make fun of him. Together, the three go on to meet other turtles in the park and play.

Authors Mary and Michael Schmidt have created a heartwarming picture book for children to understand what shyness is and how to treat their peers that are shy. The storyline is well thought-out, giving kids an accurate representation of what shyness is and what the child that is shy is thinking and feeling. In addition, it explains how to approach and encourage children that are sky to make new friends and try new things in a child-appropriate way.

Tommy Turtle is a wonderful resource for schools to use in the education of emotional empathy and social skill development. Teachers, especially in kindergarten, can use this story to help children become comfortable with new situations and people as they learn to be in a classroom together for the first time. The emphasis on self-esteem and acceptance of others blends into this engaging story, and children will want to see Tommy make new friends while understanding why it is so hard for him. This children’s book is a must-have for families and schools.

Pages: 33 | ASIN : B09XNTKRDQ

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Rooty the Rutabaga: A Story About Vegetables, Inclusion and Seeing the Sunny Side of Life

Rooty the rutabaga is all alone. He sits in a dark patch of the garden, away from all the other vegetables. Rooty has no friends and has never ventured out of his garden corner to discover what is making all the noise he hears on the other side of the plants. Then, one day two peppers are playing and accidentally throw their nut over into Rooty’s corner of the garden. While looking for their nut, they meet Rooty, who is initially rude and unfriendly. Not to be dissuaded, the peppers lead Rooty out into the sun and introduce him to all the rest of the vegetables. Soon he is making friends and learning how to play for the first time ever.

Children’s author Steven Megson has created an entertaining picture book with illustrator Andy Yura to teach kids about inclusion. Kids usually hear about the more common vegetables, like broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes, which are all friends and grow in the bright sun. However, rutabaga is a vegetable that many kids have never heard of. It has a strange name and looks really different. Megson uses this to teach children that even thorough someone is other, they are still part of the community.

The moment that stood out for me was when Rooty was rude to the peppers; they thought about leaving him alone and returning to their friends. Instead, they saw Rooty was lonely and afraid. So they took his hands and led him to meet the rest of their community. It was more than just being kind; it was seeing someone that needed help and taking a chance on them. This is a motivating story to help children learn to identify others needing help and show them ways that, even as children, they can make a difference in their world.

Rooty the Rutabaga: A Story About Vegetables, Inclusion and Seeing the Sunny Side of Life is a heartwarming picture book that children and adults can appreciate and learn from. This is an excellent children’s book for school classrooms and libraries to teach about multicultural groups and the value of kindness.

Pages: 30 | ASIN : B09RG9YW6X

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Danger Peak

Danger Peak by Michael Thomas Perone is a feel-good coming-of-age story that follows 13-year-old Robert and his best friends Chris and Rinnie. We follow this group of friends who are part of the motorbike racing club known as the Wild Boars. Readers are taken on an adventure filled with nostalgia, courage, and determination as Robert sets out to conquer Danger Peak.  

Author Perone transports the reader back into the 80s, filled with references to Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, and good times like getting into mischief with friends. This nostalgic book reminded me of The Sandlot, but instead of tackling “The Beast,” it is Danger Peak this time.

The characters are well developed, and the author perfectly portrays the teenage attitude where all kids want to do is hang out with friends and have a good time making this a relatable read to young readers. Robert’s determination is inspiring, and there are times when you feel sad for him, especially when he has flashbacks of his older brother Danny. I also enjoyed the fact that Robert’s family didn’t come off as the perfect family, and they were going through real problems. The author’s writing is not elaborate or detailed and is perfect for middle-aged readers.

Danger Peak is an entertaining, page-turning read that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster. I highly recommend this book to middle-grade readers and even those who want to reminisce about the good old days of growing up in the 80s.

Pages: 195 | ASIN : B0B5S7ZHMQ

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Marty and Lenny

Marty is a well-behaved and polite monkey; he has excellent manners. One of Marty’s traits is he tries to be a good friend to all around him. That also includes Lenny the Lion. Lenny is rude, crude, and has a terrible attitude. He has no manners and does not care who he upsets as long as he gets his way. One day at lunch, he let off a fart that was loud and stinky, and Marty knew something had to change. So that night, Marty came up with a plan. He was going to be nice to Lenny. Marty was going to see if being friends with Lenny would help him be a better Lion that people actually liked and wanted to be around. Would his plan work?

Marty and Lenny by Tania Woznicki is a heartwarming picture book about friendship. The school bully really just wants to be noticed, and when Marty approaches him with kindness, he is thrown off and takes him up on his offer to play. Marty teaches Lenny how to have good manners and be a good friend, not by lecturing or telling him everything he does wrong, but instead by showing him how a good person and friend acts.

The artwork in this children’s book is fantastic, there are layers of details, and everything is so vibrant. The characters come to life and will draw children in as they read the story and see Lenny learning how to have good manners.

Marty and Lenny is a delightful way to introduce good manners to children and teach them how to be a good friend to others. Children and adults will find this book well-written and inspirational. This would be an excellent book for preschool and kindergarten classrooms to help kids understand how to make new friends.

Pages: 24 | ASIN : B09VD63H9V

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The Emerald Lake

Join Jimmy Crikey in the fourth installment of The Adventures of Jimmy Crikey: The Emerald Lake. Readers follow Jimmy as he goes on an all-new adventure in this spellbinding world of magic. Jimmy, an alien orphan from another planet, now living on Earth alongside the four witch guardians, sets out to help the Aquamites.  When fire-breathing serpents threaten the Aquamites, Jimmy and his friends must use their wits to protect the merfolk from utter destruction.

Author Wallace Briggs brings magic and the characters in the story to life in this magical adventure. Jimmy’s character is an enjoyable one to follow, as we’ve seen him struggle with finding his place on Earth and now we watch as he struggles with the awkwardness of being a teenager and falling in love for the first time. I enjoyed watching the characters progress through the series and seeing friendships blossom.

The author does a great job of giving the reader just enough information to be able to read this book and still understand what is going on without having read the first books in the series. Briggs provides a beautifully detailed world that you can clearly imagine the scenes in your mind. The plot moves at a smooth pace, and there are some tense scenes that will have you quickly flipping through the pages.  This is the perfect book for young readers to immerse themselves in and let their imagination run wild.

Author Briggs provides a great balance of magic, fantasy, science, and friendship, making this a thrilling read that you won’t want to put down.  I look forward to seeing what’s in store for Jimmy and his friends on their next adventure. I highly recommend this enticing book to teen and older elementary grade readers who are looking to go on a fantastical adventure.

Pages: 170 | ASIN : B09VDNTFB4

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In a Small, Quiet Village 

Author Ian A. Hollis’ book In A Small, Quiet Village (Where Nothing Much Ever Happens) initially chronicles the low-stakes dramas and daily activities of the residents of a small, peaceful village. Readers are introduced to Jacob, a curious and excitable ten-year-old, alongside his friends and family. The story follows these characters as they go about their lives socializing, playing, and exploring. Invited to join in with the tranquil way of life in the village, readers grow to understand why its settlers so rarely want to leave. However, things cannot remain idyllic forever; with threats of potentially deadly weather on the way, readers will find themselves waiting for the moment the peace will shatter irrevocably.

The novel contains elements of mystery that begin to provoke unease in the reader that are effective and could be further explored. For instance, there is mention of people rarely leaving the village, and the inhabitants don’t seem to know where the train, which drops off visitors, actually comes from. This could be further developed to create a greater sense of entrapment and claustrophobia, perhaps by parents warning their children not to venture beyond the village’s borders or by displaying the villagers as being weighted by a fear of the unknown. The threat of Johnathon Storms, the harbinger of dangerous weather, is the greatest source of tension in the narrative, as both the villagers and readers dread his inevitable appearance.

The switch from a cozy, relaxed atmosphere to the action of the fateful storm is compelling; the build-up to the text’s more dramatic events sneak up on readers. The beginning plot of the story is sedate with a slow burn style allowing the climax to fall into place, giving readers a thrill. It successfully generates fondness for its characters and setting before striking readers with sudden tragedy.

In A Small, Quiet Village (Where Nothing Much Ever Happens) is an engaging, magical realism story that will captivate readers with solid character development and a beautiful tale of friendship.

Pages: 228 | ASIN : B09W2VR3SK

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