A World of Wonder by Brent A. Ford and Lucy McCullough Hazlehurst is an educational combination of photographs and poetry, designed to be enjoyed by parents and children together. Giving the latter an interest in the world and to act as a starting point for appreciating its wonders. It consists of 41 high-quality, color images of nature and natural phenomena across the globe, each paired with a relevant, short poem – some newly written for the book, and some classics. The interactive copy has links to further information related to each photo.
The first thing that struck me was the quality of the photos, which are expertly-framed, beautiful shots of a range of animals, scenery, and weather across the globe, as well as views from beyond the upper atmosphere. As an adult, I still wonder at many of them, so it must be magical for a child. They evoke multiple emotions – some are dramatic, some cute, some calm – but all are of a suitable nature for young children, as should be expected.
The accompanying poems are apt for the stated age range of 3-8, and grade level K-2; they’re short, accessible and fun to read aloud. Some are humorous, while many are more instructive about the habits of animals or natural processes. They match well with the photos, and explore different aspects of life on Earth.
The combined variety of photos and poems are ideal for promoting conversation of all kinds between parents and children; it’s easy to tell that the authors have experience in education. Not just parents, but teachers could certainly get a lot of use out of this book, too.
It’s not particularly long, and because it’s designed to be picked up and put down, it seems perfect for different attention spans and available periods of time. It could be used at bedtime, or for car journeys.
The amazing choice of photographs enables you to revisit this book many times, so parents can ask different questions to highlight different points and to introduce more complex ideas as their child grows. This flexibility of use would is a huge draw for parents. It would be ideal for guessing games – trying to remember the photo from the poem, or even the poem from the photo. Budding artists could get some great inspiration from it, and it could be a very useful starting point for crafting projects or for guided research about animal habits and habitat.
I appreciate the authors’ aims and the work that they have put into the book in order to achieve them. A World of Wonder truly delivers on the wonder that it promises.
Pages: 88 | ASIN: B072LJWBSZ
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I’m With You is a gripping novel that follows young Remiel as she tries to evade assassins sent by her father to avenge the death of his wife. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
Remiel is the backbone of the story – I had the idea for her character first, and the plot evolved from there. I’m With You is a very character-driven story in general, so once I established the basic plot, my ideas shifted around to fit the characters. I shaped their personalities and relationships, then molded the remainder of the plot to connect them and aid their development.
The book starts in the industrial city of Kelvar. I found this backdrop to be detailed and interesting. What did you use as a starting point to create such a vivid backdrop to the story?
I did a summer semester abroad in England during my college years and spent a lot of time in London, but I also traveled to several other cities and towns, and I drew a lot of inspiration from the places I visited. During my time there, I got to study history, architecture, writing, and various other subjects, which influenced the initial framework for Kelvar and the nation of Empirya. I also aimed for a less “modern” time period and took additional inspiration from 1930’s/40’s America. For Kelvar specifically, I drew from particular parts of both London and New York City.
The relationship between Remiel and her brother Ciarán is intriguing. What themes did you want to capture when creating these characters and their relationship?
One of the main messages I hoped to convey through the story is the impact and significance of family, which is partly expressed through the sibling bond between Ciarán and Remiel. Even when their lives are flipped completely upside down, they can always rely on one another. I also utilized their relationship to illustrate the theme of acceptance, as Ciarán accepts Remiel for who she is despite her “gift,” and that encourages him to accept others as well. In a way, I view their bond as the heart of the narrative, which serves to fortify their connections to the other characters.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a YA fantasy novel that will (hopefully) become a series, and I hope to put it out soon! I also have ideas for a potential companion novel to I’m With You – like a collection of short stories or something similar – but nothing set in stone.
When fifteen-year-old Ciarán Morrigan eavesdrops on a conversation between his father and two mysterious strangers, his life–and the life of his little sister, Remiel–is changed forever. After their father makes a startling decision, the Morrigan siblings are forced to flee the only life they’ve ever known and embark on a dangerous adventure across the nation of Empirya. With the help of a disinherited vagabond, a cynical violinist, a fire-juggler with a fierce temper, an aspiring mechanic, and a cheerful librarian, Ciarán and Remiel must fight to escape those who have been hired to hunt them. But will Remiel’s dark secret prevent the Morrigan children from finding a place they can truly call home?
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Vampires: Don’t You Just Hate Them? follows Jonathan, a werewolf, as he struggles with understanding pack behavior while dealing with deadly vampires. What was the inspiration for the setup of this novel and how did that change as you were writing?
Through out time, men are always the aggressor. So I thought what if the males were dieing out leaving the packs predominately female. Now then, what if the females took control of the packs and forced the remaining males over time to become pacifists by nature. Now a story like this could be fun, but I like to try and throw in a twist. Something the readers are not expecting. So I considered what other were animals or other monsters could there be and how would they live. This is where I mixed things up, so I had Jonathan brought up in the human world by his dysfunctional parents, away from the packs. Next was developing his character by living on his own for a few years out in the human world before he meets with a pack female. Now this is where the story can begin, yet it needed something to catch the reader up with Jonathan, so I thought what if he was in a psychiatrist office, talking about his life. By doing so the reader could see and feel his experiences dealing with the supernatural world.
This novel takes a deep look into the mentality of a werewolf pack. What themes did you want to use to develop this werewolf culture?
Given that men have been dominant through out history, I thought it be fun to have a true male learn what it would be like to live in a society where the females are the aggressors and the men subservient.
The novel is action packed and keeps readers turning pages. How do you balance action with character development?
This is always the hard part for me. I love writing action scenes. Whenever I start writing, it always involves an action scene. Yet I know by experience no book or movie can convey emotional involvement without information about the scene, people or background information. Thus once I have an ideal of the main character, I consider all the boring aspects of his or her life and try to write in those that advance the story and character. These are predominately the hardest parts for me to write, yet in doing so I help myself to understand the main character and what he or she would do next.
What was the inspiration for the relationship between Jonathan and his werewolf wife Jasmine?
That’s hard to say. I have a romantic side that wishes to be expressed. Yet conflict is what gives us the ability to learn and adapt. Thus to make a couple viable, I consider their backgrounds and work at scenes which aid the reader to sympathize with the characters.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next works deals with animals who are humanist. The book is call. Braxton Snow P.I. It’s about an artic wolf, private eye, whose last job sends his world spiraling. This story is nearing completion. I’m in hopes of having it out on amazon in 2 to 4 months.
Dr. Haskin, being a human physiatrist, is a bit lacking when it came to knowing were-animal origins. Even so, I had to unload on someone, and as Dr. Himmer’s employed by that Vampire I’d like to kill, there’s no way I was entrusting him to any more of my problems. So gathering up the family, I drove to Dr. Haskin office. After settling Jasmine, Sharlene and the babies, I walked into the inner office where I shook hands with Dr. Haskin.
“To be honest, I am a bit hesitant in relating my story, after all, you humans have an overwhelming tenacity in reconstructing your own history, but I’m in dire need of help.”
“That’s quite understandable Jonathan,” the doctor motioned to a couch. “Trust is the leading problem in our society. And one that must be earned.” I watched as the doctor moved behind his desk and sat. “Now as this is our first session. Why don’t you begin with what you know.”
“Okay, uh, were-animals were created in antiquity by devil worshippers; specifically by an Egyptian priest from Lower Egypt before the lower and upper united.”
“Jonathan, that’s not what I meant. How about starting as to why you’re here.”
“Well that’s simple. I’m here to understand me.”
“Then lay down and we’ll venture into your mind together.”
I was afraid he’d say that. Oh well, here we go.
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RonnieandLennie is a story about conjoined twins, set in the hippie days of 1960s, which depicts the challenges of being incredibly close to family at all times. Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
I’ve had a long-time fascination with the lives of the original Siamese Twins, Eng and Chang Bunker. These two men joined at the chest for their entire lives managed to marry sisters and father 21 children between them. I found that amazing. I tried to imagine how the Bunkers – or any conjoined twins – negotiated life’s private moments in the company of one other. It’s almost impossible to comprehend simple acts like going to the bathroom, meeting a girl, having sex – accompanied at all times by another human being. I assumed any conjoined twins would long to be separated, yet I discovered in my research that sometimes newly freed siblings would suffer from chronic adjustment disorder. Being attached to the same person for decades then suddenly cut loose could be the foundation for an interesting conflict. I built the story of Ronnie and Lennie around their picaresque lives together in a turbulent time contrasted with tragic setbacks that arise following their accidental separation.
Ronnie and Lenny are fascinating characters with much depth. They go through many trials throughout the story. What is one obstacle you felt was important for their characters?
Again, going back to the Bunker’s, Chang was the dominant brother over Eng which was the basis for a good deal of conflict and animosity between them. Unlike normal identical twins who seem to me to be highly compatible with very similar interests, I imagined conjoined twins having great difficulty living in harmony. Ronnie is dominant like Chang, Lennie is more submissive like Eng. So the biggest obstacle for Ronnie and Lennie is their physical attachment to one another. But equally challenging is their innate, fraternal desire to make each other happy. The conflict impels them.
The story is set in 1960’s America. Did you grow up in this time? I felt that you captured the essence of this time well. Why did you pick this era for your story?
Once Ronnie and Lennie are introduced, the bulk of the story takes place as they grow up in the 1960s and early 1970s – which is when I was a kid around the same age as them. Perhaps because this was my first novel I fell back on writing about an era with which I had first-hand experience. As Ronnie and Lennie are rather feral kids raised by their single, middle-aged aunt, I wanted to put them in a time when kids could behave with wild abandon – before the world became paranoid and protective. I wanted them to do crazy things. Experiment with sex, music, drugs without helicopter parents hovering about to ruin the adventure. I also needed to set it in a time when separating conjoined twins was impossible or at least too risky.
I also set the beginning of the story – before the twins are born – in 1950s Las Vegas which is a fascinating time and place. Big hotels and casinos are just starting to boom. The army is blowing up nuclear bombs in the desert. It was great fun researching and writing about those times.
What is the next book that you’re writing and when will it be available?
After RonnieandLennie, I wrote two more novels and a collection of short stories. Another genre that I enjoy is the tale of the con-game and revenge. My second novel, “Architect’s Rendition” is the story of an architect, determined to marry his mistress, enlists three associates in a complex scheme to murder his wife, and each other. The third is “Double Blind Test” in which a professional mediator is conned by identical twin businessmen who sought her help to resolve a dispute. She later meets another woman in a suspiciously similar circumstance, and the two women team up to take down the con artists.
After the publication of the short story collection “Sometimes the Sun Does Shine There,” I started writing screenplays, and have spent the bulk of my energy in that dispiriting endeavor.
“Ronnie and Lennie are twins fused in the womb who join a world that is unprepared to separate them. Seemingly chained for life, the boys unexpectedly break free but life apart is not all it’s cracked up to be. Trouble strikes. They become prisoners of another kind. RonnieandLennie spans decades and visits numerous venues as it chronicles the lives of twins conjoined by a rogue band of flesh.”
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