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The Way of Courage

Mia the small raccoon loves exploring and hunting alongside her mother and brothers. But when the unexpected occurs, Mia finds herself far from home and everything she knew. Thrust into a brand-new environment, and struggling to use her limited knowledge to survive, Mia finds herself in danger as she fights to adapt. Discovering new allies as well as new enemies, Mia and her friends, Coe the handsome raccoon, Henry the badger, and Gallant the crow work together to defend their forest home. Encountering both good and bad from their human neighbors, Mia and her forest community must find a way to protect their futures against a deadly foe.

Raccoons are one of nature’s most endearing creatures. When I was young, my family and I would safely observe these highly intelligent creatures from our own home. The Way of Courage showcases the raccoons propensity for mischief and their ingenuity in navigating situations. The message of protecting the forest environment as shown through the eyes of Mia feels authentic and grounded, while the characterization of the animals weaves a story that is both suspenseful and engaging. I loved the legend of how the raccoon got her mask, and I look forward to the day when leg-hold traps are effectively illegal nationwide. This is an adventure story that has intense moments, but that ends satisfactorily with no loose ends. This educational children’s chapter book also includes notes on safe observation tactics and how to chronicle your own nature findings.

I recommend The Way of Courage by Janet Hallagin for its ability to weave an important message of ecological protection into an interesting and informative narrative. A story of bravery, teamwork, and going the extra mile to protect the world from harm, The Way of Courage is a highly engaging children’s book about heroism, and how even one small raccoon can make a big difference.

Pages: 156 | ASIN: B0056J6WES

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The Adventures of Arya and Krishna Betta Fish

Arya betta fish and her brother, Krishna, journey from the pet store where they were born to their new home at a lovely koi pond. While exploring their new home, Arya and Krishna meet new friends Blake and Sharktooth and explain their greatest mission: to reunite their family. However, when the world of the koi pond is turned upside-down, all the betta friends find themselves on an exciting adventure. Meeting new friends, discovering amazing new places, and helping each other survive, Arya and Krishna must use their wits and find a little luck on their quest to find their missing parents.

Bettas have a special place in my heart. My first pet was a betta, and I love this charming adventure tale of fish friends working hard to help each other. I also love the multi-cultural approach to this lively narrative, where both the fish and humans in the world are from many different ethnicities. Spunky Arya, courageous Krishna, wise Ash, and all the other friends the bettas encounter add their own personal magic to this thrilling journey. Numerous endearing illustrations add to the enchantment of the adventure. Whether fish, human, or animal, everyone works together to aid each other in this entertaining tale of friendship, family, and fun.

Author Gabriel Bietz uses lighthearted storytelling and adorable illustrations by Ananta Mohanta in this book that is perfect for children ages seven and up. The illustrations brought the story to life, making this a middle grade book that young readers will find engaging. The adventure wraps up nicely while leaving plenty of room for many more exciting stories to follow. The Adventures of Arya and Krishna Betta Fish is a cheerful romp through a world of never-ending challenges and fun, where friendship and determination may be the key to everything.

Pages: 129 | ASIN : B09QH8YW9W

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A Heartfelt Conversation With The Moon

Natcole Staskiewicz Author Interview

Lacie’s Moon follows a little girl who embarks on a fantastic adventure where she learns about love and grief. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Amyia Staskiewicz?

Amyia is my daughter and that made working on this project extra special. She had been drawing since she was six years old, and I was happy she said yes when I approached her to do the project with me. It was during a difficult time and we had loss many loved ones. She created the character, and everything took off from there. I was amazed that without reading the full story and with little instructions she was still able to capture its essence.

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

When Lacie rides through the stars having a heartfelt conversation with the moon. It was both fun and therapeutic because I was grieving alongside her.

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

I am currently working on a couple of book projects. One of them is the next book in the “Little People Big Emotions” series which focus on children processing their feelings. It will feature Lacie adjusting to having a new sibling. It has just started the illustrating phase and I anticipate it will be available by early 2023. The second book is a story about kindness, and I am working to make it available by December 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Rated #1 New Release
Awarded Honorable Mention at the New York Book Festival


Understanding grief is never easy.

Lacie’s Moon follows a happy little girl who can’t imagine life being anything else until she learns that two members of her family have died. She loved them with all her heart. And they loved her to the moon and back. Now they’re gone forever…
Not sure what to do, Lacie shouts out to the moon. To her surprise, she wakes to the moon coming to her aid.
Can the moon help?
Natcole Staskiewicz has thoughtfully crafted a beautiful story to help your child cope with loss. Each page is accompanied with wonderful illustrations by her daughter, Amyia Staskiewicz, that helps bring the story to life.
This book is wonderful for elementary grade children and older, who can then discuss it with their parents and family. This is also for adults who need a gentle reminder that the ones we love stay with us…through their never-ending love.

Pearl, Our Butterfly

Pearl, Our Butterfly by Tuula Pere navigates the very difficult subject of loss of life with a beautifully written book that handles a tragic yet memorable journey that is the life of Pearl. Pearl is Jacob’s younger sister, and since her birth, she has encountered many challenges and requires ongoing care due to a disability and many medical issues. Pearl’s big brother, who has experienced several milestones, including recently starting school, has just adjusted to becoming a sibling and must now learn how to grieve the loss of his sister.

From the moment Jacob and Pearl meet, he becomes her biggest fan and supporter. Jacob worries that she will never come home when his small sister is moved into a hospice facility. It is during this process that Jacob and his parents must face the tragedy of loss, which is a traumatic event for anyone. I admire how the author handles a complicated but important topic with such grace and support, which helps children articulate their feelings and understand how grieving is a natural part of the loss.

Pere highlights the importance of communication and support, a crucial part of healing after losing someone. The author cleverly shows how a whirlwind of emotions and pain is to be expected and how it is possible to achieve a sense of peace and acceptance in time. Jacob’s character showcases many real emotions which mirror what many people experience after the death of a loved one. The author brilliantly illustrates death through the transformation of a butterfly coming out of a chrysalis. Like Pearl, the butterfly is no longer confined to a cocoon and is finally released to be free. Pearl, Our Butterfly is a helpful book for children dealing with loss and shows them that it is possible to see the light through the darkness.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B07NKSLM6N

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Pearl’s Life

Pearl’s Life is the second book following Welcome Home, Pearl, which tells the story of Jacob, the older brother of Pearl, who experiences big changes in life after her arrival. As Jacob prepares to start school, he wants to include Pearl in his new experience. He asks his family to bring Pearl when they drop him off at school. As a child with disabilities, Jacob’s parents are initially unsure if Pearl can handle such an event or if bringing her to school to see her big brother make an entrance would be too much for her.

This children’s book provides a great opportunity to discuss the challenges of welcoming a new baby into the home and how a child with disabilities can handle some of the same experiences and activities differently. Jacob asks many helpful questions, as he sincerely wants his baby sister to play a pivotal role in his life, but doesn’t always understand how her abilities and special needs may impact how she interacts with him. As his family listens to Jacob’s concerns, they provide the best and easiest explanations and solutions while discussing how Pearl will be a part of every new milestone in his life.

The author does an exceptional job of tackling difficult questions and the emotional, real-life situations that accompany a family, especially when learning how to love and care for a child with disabilities. The story illustrates how important it is to not let the opinion of other people determine how to live your life or the compassion you have for others, including your family. Just because Pearl has a disability doesn’t mean she can’t come with Jacob to his first day of school. The boy sees this as an opportunity to show off his sister and normalize her condition by opening answering questions and inviting people to meet Pearl.

I really enjoyed author Tuula Pere’s carefully and beautifully written story and the illustrations by Catty Flores. I found each scene brought a sweet and heroic nature to Jacob. He’s a curious but compassionate child who makes a great role model for children. He shows readers how to discuss friends and family members with disabilities. I recommend Pearl’s Life for its excellent message to accept others and start a meaningful and heartfelt discussion about family and friends and their disabilities in a way that educates and increases compassion.

Pages: 16 | ASIN: B07NKF91BL

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It’s All About Self-acceptance

Kellen Roggenbuck Author Interview

The Awkward Dinosaurs identifies the lesser known fictional dinosaurs of the world who have awkward characteristics making them less popular. What was the inspiration for this picture book?

I was drawing dinosaurs for fun, trying to make ones with silly personalities, and the more I thought of silly backstories, the more I thought this would make a fun book!

Shyladon is one of my favorite awkward dinosaurs. Do you have a favorite?

This feels a little like choosing a favorite child! I chuckle every time I read the Blankasaur page, so I’ll say that’s my favorite today.

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

I’ve tried to make sure that my books have a moral undercurrent, something that is subtle but concrete to help teach important lessons. In The Awkward Dinosaurs, it’s all about self-acceptance, even when you feel awkward, strange, or weird.

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

I am working on two projects, but both only in the planning phases – an unnamed llama project and a tattooed dad project. I would’ve loved to had either available by Christmas, but most likely we’ll see one or both in 2023.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

You know the popular dinosaurs, but here’s a book dedicated to the ones that history forgot! These are the awkward, strange and delightful dinosaurs you’ve never heard of! This book is a silly book about different make-believe dinosaur species who are downright awkward, but that doesn’t stop them from being happy! This book has a colorful, fun illustrations and a nice message about being who you are and proud of it.

Author and illustrator Kellen Roggenbuck does it again! Another fun, colorful book full of humor and positive lessons! Check out other books by Kellen Roggenbuck, available on Amazon.

Welcome Home, Pearl

Welcome Home, Pearl is a story about Jacob, who is anxiously awaiting the arrival of his baby sister Pearl. As with the arrival of any new baby into a family, things can be difficult, and there may be concerns about the baby’s health, development, and how everyone interacts with the new addition. When Jacob’s baby sister arrives, he quickly learns that she will require lots of special medical care, and as her big brother, he must focus on the positive. Jacob is proud to call Pearl his sister, and he becomes aware of the stress and challenges that lie ahead for his parents, himself, and Pearl.

Children with disabilities and their families face many challenges, and the author does a great job of expressing the fears and anxiety experienced by not only the parents but the siblings as well. Pere takes a serious situation and explains it well so that it is clear to understand young readers. Jacob’s character is a positive force of support throughout the story, despite how worried his parents become during such a distressing time. This difficult subject beautifully opens communication and discussion about how to talk about children with special needs and ongoing medical treatments so that children and adults can express their emotions and concerns while providing a powerful, supporting role during the process.

I really enjoyed how brilliantly the author approached this challenging subject, as well as the charming and warm illustrations by Catty Flores. Author Tuula Pere creates a wonderful portrayal of how the love and support of family mean everything when faced with challenges and how Jacob’s positivity shining through can make a big difference. I recommend Welcome Home, Pearl for its excellent writing and serving as a great reminder to look at things from a different perspective, with love, patience, and understanding.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B07NKQ9JKJ

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The Best Things In Life Are Shared

Joan Enockson Author Interview

Lemonade Lilli follows a little girl as she pursues her entrepreneurial dreams of starting a lemonade stand and becomes business savvy in the process. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Lemonade Lilli was an idea I had put in the back of my mind until my father passed away (September, 2021). It then became a labor of love to remember and memorialize memories I had while growing up on his dairy farm. The setting of Lemonade Lilli takes place on that farm in Mount Vernon, WA.

My grandfather was also a big part of what I loved most about the farm. Following him or my father was decidedly what I looked forward to most days. The illustrations of the front porch, shop, and barn were inspired from family photos taken back in the 1970’s.

Lilli is a wonderful character that I loved following. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

The only advice I have taken about writing, since I started this journey, has been ‘write what you know’. I knew this farm, the tractor dealership down the road, having neighborhood friends, and hours of watching my father and grandfather work.

Even though I grew up in a middle-class family, we were taught to work for what we wanted. My siblings and I worked many jobs as well as chores to earn the money for what we wanted. The first major purchase I made as a kid was a brand new, lime-green, 10-speed bicycle.

The character of Lilli was indeed developed from my memories of my childhood. Even though I never ran my own lemonade stand, I always participated in fundraisers and loved sales. I also remember, acutely, the feeling of wanting the rewards for my efforts much sooner than was realized.

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

Financial Literacy was the main theme. As an educator, mom, and a member of society, I have seen a large deficit in our younger population’s ability to make wise decisions about money. Simple skills such as counting change or saving money for the future are not skills many middle school children have.

I also wanted to highlight how important healthy family relationships are to the success of children. Children also need support from friends and members of the community to give them the best opportunity to succeed in life. Overall, I wanted to show what that kind of support looks like, since many children have never experienced it on all levels.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a child who wants to start their own business?

My advice would be to recruit at least one trusted adult and a few loyal siblings and/or friends to help you plan, fund, and execute your project for its optimal success. The best things in life are shared.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Lilli wants to earn money! With the help of her grandparents, neighborhood friends, and her older brother, Lilli learns the value of hard work, support, and sound business practices to create a successful lemonade stand business.
May you be as successful as Lilli!
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