The Perfect Dot by author and illustrator T.C. Bartlett tells the story of how the universe is formed. This magnificent picture starts with one perfect dot that flies around and doesn’t know what its purpose is. Eventually, that tiny dot decides to stop and spin. When it starts spinning, extraordinary things begin to happen, and soon there are millions of perfect dots. Soon, millions upon millions of planets were floating around each of the shining dots. Finally, the one perfect dot had found its purpose.
The Perfect Dot is a picture book telling the story of how the universe was formed. With one big bang, a single light became millions. This intellectual story is illustrated with detailed black and white pictures. It teaches the theory of the Big Bang in a way children can understand and comprehend. T.C. Bartlett brings the universe to life with his drawings showing the vast darkness and the beauty and delicate nature of the single dot. Once the universe is created, the illustrations of the planets and stars are detailed and eye-catching. I also liked how the text is not in organized, clean lines; instead, they are scattered around the pages and fit into the chaotic nature of the story.
I loved this simple and straightforward portrayal of this secular theory on how the universe was formed. It provides young children an explanation in words they can comprehend and uses clear and direct images. With some added humor, this fascinating story introduces the science of the universe’s creation to children in an age-appropriate manner.
The Perfect Dot is a creative picture book for preschool and kindergarten-age children on how the universe was created. Teachers will love having this book in their classroom library to explain this complex topic in a simple and entertaining way.
Pages: 50 | ISBN: 1957422998
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Eddy is creative and enthusiastic about knitting. After making a pot holder decides he will knit a sweater. He starts by looking at designs in a magazine, then he draws up a plan. Unfortunately, he hits roadblocks towards his goal. His family thinks this project is too much for him and that he can’t get the right yarn and needles to make a project this large. Rather than giving up, Eddy finds ways around these problems and never gives up on his vision. Even when it takes him months to complete the project, he keeps going and finding solutions to every problem he encounters. In the end, Eddy is proud of his hard work and dedication; nothing anyone says will diminish his happiness.
A Special Sweater by children’s author Tuula Pere is a heartwarming children’s book about dedication and determination. Eddy learns to knit, and even when everyone around tells him making a sweater is too much work or trouble, he refuses to give up. Instead, he makes the best of the supplies he is given, even if they are not what he needs or wants for his vision. The ability to adapt to his situation and the make the best is a valuable lesson that children can learn from.
I love how Eddy keeps going, takes every obstacle, and finds a way around it. So many books have things work out easily. This one really showcases how important a good attitude is to turning something into a magical experience. When things don’t work out how he wants he adjusts his vision and perspective to see the project through.
A Special Sweater is an inspirational picture book that will show children that they can achieve their dreams even when there are obstacles in the way. They will learn that having a good attitude is key to finding a way through challenges in life. This is an excellent book for families and classrooms to have.
Pages: 32 | ASIN : B09K6M3CHL
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Francis the Fox is living in the city near the sea. He wants his family to be proud of him, and he sends them photos and letters saying how wonderful he is doing. The problem is, it is all a lie, so he doesn’t want his family to come to visit him. Francis, however, comes up with a plan to make all his lies the truth and build his dream of Fox’s Palace. He makes some poor choices and tricks people into trying and making his dream a reality, but in the end, he discovers it doesn’t pay to lie and cheat people.
Children’s author Tuula Pere has written yet another fantastic and meaningful children’s book. This story teaches kids about the value of being honest and how being untruthful will only cause more considerable trouble in the end. Francis learns this by ending up in jail. While the message is important, it is told gently so that kindergarten children and young elementary students can comprehend it.
I loved the artwork done by Andrea Alemanno, the seaside was beautiful, and the characters really came to life. The colorful images will draw in children and the detailed work will keep them engaged throughout the story. Despite Francis being a sneaky fox, he does not come across as scary or evil. This helps to show that even when people make bad choices, they are not bad people. Mayor William Wolf allows Francis to see what he did was wrong and forgives him while ensuring that the fox knows he can not treat people so poorly.
Tuula Pere has taken some challenging topics and presented them so that children can follow along and understand actions have consequences. This beautiful children’s book would make a great addition to a classroom or library with an important message on how people should treat one another and the value of honesty.
Pages: 44 | ISBN : 9523572865
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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.
Posted in Interviews
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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.
Posted in Interviews
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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.
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The Tree House Night is a beautiful picture book with an inspirational message about friendship and supporting those you care for. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
As a child, I was eager to climb trees and build huts. “The Tree House Night” has undoubtedly been inspired by my own experiences sitting on the branches of trees by the house or further afield in the forests of Eastern Finland.
Admittedly, wandering in a darkening forest or climbing higher and higher in a tree sometimes felt too exciting – but survival boosted self-confidence. It was physically challenging, but the most important thing was the close connection with nature.
Most of my childhood adventures I did alone. It seemed most natural because I could make all the decisions when hiking alone. I wouldn’t be my current self without these adventures in nature. The hideaways in the middle of the forest, or high up in a tree, made me realize that I am enough and able to survive alone.
Now, as an adult, I realize what risks my childhood outings involved. Fortunately, nothing happened, and I could also gather authentic experiences for my children’s books! My books don’t recommend just one model for the families, but somewhat alternative ideas, because each family is different.
The individuals are of a great variety when it comes to skills, needs, and interests. Some children need a lot of encouragement. Some need to be protected from their wildest ideas! It’s not easy being a wise parent to support your child in the best possible way.
Childhood adventures have made me the person I am. The same curious child looks at me from the mirror, still ready to try something new and challenging!
What were some driving ideals behind your character’s in this story?
Friendships are essential for children. Experimenting together and sharing ideas and plans with peers is inspiring. Friends can also get support and security from each other as they try their limits.
For this book, I wanted to choose two children of different natures who also have much in common. The other one has more courage and optimism in her adventurous plans. She gets even her more cautious friend to participate in building her dream, a tree house.
It also brings the friends in the book to the limit where their perceptions of appropriate and permissible differ. Due to disagreement, only the braver child stays in the tree house for the night. She stubbornly wants to prove that she is independent and capable of surviving the night alone.
The children in the book are different but still need each other. Despite their controversy, they work together as a team. The friend keeping guard from her bedroom window adds a sense of security for the other child staying outside in the tree house. Testing their friendship in a conflict teaches the two an important lesson and reveals something essential about being a true friend.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The child must be able to make friends with different children. If they have been practicing cooperation since childhood, it helps them for a lifetime. In the end, real-life communities have a place for very different individuals. At least they should have. I like to emphasize how much various personalities, opinions, and skills enrich our lives.
I don’t think only similar kids play best with each other. The differences can also complement each other.
The enthusiastic and brave ones draw the more precautious ones into exciting activities. But a more careful and considerate person can prevent worse damage from occurring when a friend has too much momentum.
It is helpful for strong-willed and creative children to learn to accept that not everyone is enthusiastic about the same things. We have to respect the limits set by another person. For the stronger, louder, and faster persons, it is easy to – accidentally or on purpose – step on the toes of others and block their opinions.
Those who feel somehow superior should realize their individual weaknesses and the fact that they need the help of others, too. There is no weakness or shame in needing other people.
“The Tree House Night” belongs to the I DID IT series. A central theme in all these books is children’s enthusiasm and desire to implement their ideas even when others are not encouraging them. Sometimes children act on the gray zone of what is allowed and forbidden and test their limits. – Why not try to climb a little higher this time! The view might be fantastic.
What can readers expect in book three of the I DID IT series?
In the first book of the series, a child secretly grew her own sunflowers – from seedlings to heights. She even helped them survive the storm at night. The heroic act of this second book is building a treehouse and spending the night up there, against even the opinion of the closest friend.
The next book, “A Special Sweater,” talks about the protagonist who shows creativity and determination in knitting a woolen sweater. He’s not bothered too much, though his mother gives nothing but yarn leftovers. No one thinks he’s getting anything done, as this is his first large knitting – but he struggles to the end. Even the somewhat weird-looking result makes others suspect whether it’s suitable for school. Of course, it is!
So, my readers can expect some fun surprises again in the company of their active peers. And their parents get something to think about in their role as encouragers and supporters.
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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.
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