Be Happy to Be You is a cute children’s story about being happy with who you are. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?
Children are the inspiration for my stories; the children I have taught and my three grandchildren. Joe (6 years), Harry (4 years) and George (10 months). Children are individuals and they are all different with their own characteristics and strengths. I strongly believe that they should be happy to be themselves.
The art in this book is well done and very cute. What was the art direction and collaboration like between you and Jan Dolby?
Having submitted my book to MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing, I was introduced to Jan Dolby as a possible illustrator for my work. I was delighted with her drawings; her pictures were a perfect match for my story and her designs for my Baby bird were exactly as I imagined them. I hope that she and I will continue to work together on future Baby bird books.
This story did an exceptional job of driving home the idea of being happy with yourself. Why was this an important book for you to write?
As an Early Years teacher, I understand how important it is that young children are instilled with a sense of their own worth. A positive sense of self is, in my opinion, the greatest gift we can give any child. They need to be proud of their own unique achievements and embrace their strengths. This message is at the heart of my book. Using picture books, we can provide children with strategies to cope with possible problems they may face and offer them opportunities to discuss their feelings with a trusted adult.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My second book, “On Our Way to School,” is due to be published later this year by MacLaren-Cochrane. This is the story of Joe’s journey to school with his mother. Unfortunately for Joe, he forgets things that he will need for the day; his bag, his book, his coat etc. Each time he realises that he has forgotten something, he has to return to his house and set off for school again.
I have recently completed a second book featuring Baby bird, “The Lonely Bird”. In this story, Baby bird is lonely and he sets out to find a friend. Baby bird is unsuccessful it seems…. or is he? I have written quite a few stories but these have not yet been submitted for publication.
Posted in Interviews
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The title of the book itself is encouraging enough for one to start reading. Be Happy To Be You takes a simple idea and drives it home with a lovable character, cute art, and an entertaining story.
The art in this book is beautiful. The images are appealing and match the tone of the story. The very first sentence in the book reads “Baby bird wanted to swim. He looked at the fish in the river.” “I wish I could swim in the river like the fish,” says the bird. “You can fly high in the sky,” replies the bird’s mother. This is a good example of the message this story carries throughout the book. Even with everything the bird wishes for, he is always reminded of the things that he does have.
Reading on, one can conclude that the bird feels inadequate with the things he has. Just like humans, the bird wishes for more. The bird’s mother plays a big role in making the bird understand that he can’t have everything he wants. I think kids will be able to make the connection with the animals on the page and easily see the parallels in their own life.
The bird keeps wishing for more throughout the book. He sees the horses and wants to run around the field like they do. He sees the frogs on the lily pad and wants to jump like the reptiles. In every situation though, mother bird shows how caring she is and reminds the bird of the things he can do, that other animals can’t.
Like most guardians, mother bird was always concerned with the bird and tried to make him feel better any time he felt low. A loving and caring mother is what every offspring wishes to have. I appreciate the author’s use of animal characters to bring out habits that are often seen in people. I think this is an important lesson that children of any age should learn.
Be Happy To Be You is not only entertaining, but also informative. The coloring and stunning drawings make the book both entertaining and fun to read. The images of the frogs were my absolute favorite. I wish I could put them in a frame. Every young person who struggles with not being satisfied with what they have will find this book educational.
Pages: 32 | ASIN: 1387596985
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The Day that A Ran Away is an adorably witty story about the letters of the alphabet just deciding not to report for duty one day. Master Jet is trying to write the alphabet and he just can’t do it with all the letters on holiday. Each letter has either decided not to show up or has had something that prevented it from showing up. Understandably, it’s hard to write the alphabet without even one of the letters. Master Jet may think he is fooling his teacher, but Mrs. May is way too smart to fall for his creative tricks.
My kids are much older now, but they would have loved this book when they were little. The writing is catchy and flows well for reading aloud. The rhymes are cute. The colors are bright and eye-catching. This was especially always a hit with my own children. The illustrations are beautiful. It is very visually pleasing. It is also funny. It made me laugh a couple of times. I actually think it would be fun to read aloud. Any parent who has had to read the same book one hundred times can tell you how important it is to have a story that flows well verbally.
My favorite part of the book is the beautiful illustrations. They are by Lenny Wen. As with most children’s books, the illustrations are a huge part of whether the book is a hit or not. Since most kids are being read to at this stage, the illustrations have to really appeal to them. A nice touch was adding a few “hidden” images within each letter’s page—having the kids match the letter with the object. My kids would have loved trying to find these little gems. Overall, the artwork is beautifully done.
Together B.C.R. Fegan and Lenny Wen have created a catchy, appealing story for little kids and their parents. I really enjoyed it. I believe kids and parents everywhere would enjoy it as well.
Pages: 33 | ASIN: B07DMN4VVP
Tags: alibris, alphabet, art, artwork, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, bcr fegan, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, children, creative, ebook, education, elementary, fun, funny, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kids, kindle, kobo, learning, lenny wen, literature, nook, novel, parent, picture book, publishing, read, reader, reading, rhyme, school, shelfari, smashwords, spelling, story, teacher, The Day That A Ran Away, writer, writer community, writing
All Blair wanted was to fit in and find a place where her dark past wouldn’t keep following her and haunting her. After many moves Blair and her parents end up in the small farm town of Shady Oaks Kentucky. Having always moved around from one big city to the next, a small farm town with country side and horses was the last thing Blair expected to find and fall in love with. Here in Shady Oaks, Blair finds real friends and starts to imagine she could have a real life there. Than someone from her past shows up, and everything crumbles. Would she be able to stand her ground and overcome her past here with the new friends she has, or will they turn on her like everyone else has in the past?
Being a teenager is hard these days, the world is hung up on social media presence, how many followers do you have, is your life documented one image after another for all the world to see? No matter how much we may try to delay this, it happens, our children are exposed to the world online and it has permeated even into their education system. Parents can no longer protect their kids from the world online. The increase of social media has made bully’s even more prevalent, no longer is it teasing on the playground, the bullies follow their victims’ home and even when they move to their new homes. Michelle Areaux does an amazing job at showing how this can impact their lives. Written for this age group, they can relate to the characters, the school groups, the feeling of being the new kid. The story is relatable. It is not so far-fetched, even with Blair’s secret, to believe this could be any kid in the school with them. The feelings are real, and the personalities are believable. Hunter is very endearing, and you want to love him from the start, same with Grace. I was drawn to all the characters, I felt like I could have been Blair, or Grace at different points in my life. Now I relate to her parents as I navigate the world of mental illness, bullying, cyber-bullying, and all the other stress that kids these days face with my own children. They thought moving all the time was what was best for Blair, they wanted to do the right thing for her, to make her life easier. It is what all parents want, to give their kids a better life. Moving to Shady Oaks was the best thing they could do for Blair and their love and frustration at helping her find her normal is easy for parents to relate to as well.
Along with You by Michelle Areaux is a young adult novel that is filled with topics we should all be talking to our teens about. This would make a great book club or family reading novel to share with young teens that are facing a world filled with technology and social media. It covers topics of bullying, cyber bullying, and the fact that once things are online they never really go away.
Pages: 232 | ASIN: B079ZPSFJ6
Posted in Book Reviews
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Neurotic Children as Adults is a guide to help parents understand themselves and in effect become better parents. Why was this an important book for you to write?
After several decades of professional experience with clients who had been overtaken by serious neurotic disturbances in both their social and intimate partner relationships, along with damaging perceptions of self-worth, and with lives simply going nowhere, it was as clear as the noonday sun how maternal deficiencies and abject parental failures, often from day one, determined the troubling designs of their lives as adults. Inasmuch as I had written this book for young parents whose intentions were essentially very positive but whose own histories perhaps lacked bonding experiences, the experience of worthiness, and a recognition of their most fundamental security needs, it was also written for the adults who might identify with people described on these pages and grasp what had so mangled their own lives. True, genuinely absorbed awareness of what was responsible for the neurotic designs in their personalities offers, in effect, the only leverage permitting lasting therapeutic adjustments.
What do you feel is one common misconception people have about parenting?
Parents rarely grasp the degree to which a child is powerfully molded by just about everything that defines its earliest home environment. Up until about the age of eight the parents are seen as the life models with which they must identify and emulate. Later they may insist that the very opposite is true, but the patterns are effectively ingrained.The early experience of an unstable home environment, grievous emotional scarring, serious and prolonged parental discord produces children who, as adults, are without the capacity to experience true joy in any area of their lives.
I thought you showed a solid grasp of psychology and behaviorism. What background in education or experience do you have that helped you write this book?
A Ph.D. in the behavioral sciences, many decades of private clinical experience and almost as many decades lecturing on these experiences. The last decade included laboratory work in psychiatric hospitals and papers on biometric diagnostic procedures published in academic psychiatric journals.
When therapy fails it is largely because the therapist has no idea what may be at the root of his, or her, client’s distress. The therapist is entirely without access to the history of the client’s earliest pre-conscious experiences – information that is almost always vital in grasping the very reasons why that person had been moved to invite professional intervention. What sets this book apart from every other in the genre of child development and parenting issues are the perfect links it presents between very specific infant/child stress experiences, and equally specific disturbing attitudes and behaviors in the adult. Nothing is ever lost to memory even such as transpired in the earliest development phases. This work is intended, in the main, as a guide for the genuinely devoted parents of infants and young children. At the same time it delivers clear answers to adults weighed under by lives going nowhere and suffering anxieties of an unforgiving nature.
Posted in Interviews
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Sharon CassanoLochman’s Stranded on Thin Ice takes readers through a day-long class on Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Pre-teens Tanner and Richie quickly became fast friends on the day of an ice fishing derby. Tanner had bad luck at last year’s competition, but now has his eyes set on a brand new prize 4-wheeler and a fishing hut. Richie, a little less starry-eyed, is sort of dragged along for the ride with his uncle, at least at first. Reminiscent of John Reynolds Gardiner’s Little Willy of Stone Fox, the boys are thrown into a winter competition against big, burly, sometimes ornery grown men. They are met with one obstacle after another as they brace themselves against both the competition and the frigid, unforgiving weather conditions.
We meet loveable 12-year-old Tanner Phillips as he’s pushing his way through a mob of bearded, smoky-smelling men at Popper’s Bait Shop in an all-but-failed attempt to buy minnows. Tanner gets passed over time and time again as he juts his money out at Dom, the store owner. Tanner feels invisible to everyone over the age of 13. He feels overlooked by his father, the bait shop patrons, Dom, and basically everyone else in the world. He doesn’t feel like a little kid anymore, but he knows everyone else still sees him that way. He also feels that he is a failure in the eyes of his father. He made a pretty big mistake at last year’s ice fishing derby by letting a fishing pole get yanked down through the ice by a fish. He paid for it by staring into an ice hole empty-handed for the entire day, and still has not lived it down. He desperately wants to redeem himself and gain the approval of his father by winning the grand prize for the derby, a new 4-wheeler and a new fishing hut.
Tanner meets Richie Donald as he decides to just help himself to the minnow tanks. Richie is a tall, skinny boy in ill-fitting clothing. Not only are his clothes ill-fitting, but they are not a match for the frigid day he’s about to face. He is accompanied by a hateful uncle who doesn’t really want him around, but has been forced to spend time with him. He seems like he really needs a friend, and is lucky to have found Tanner.
It isn’t long before Tanner’s Dad has to leave Lake Oneida, leaving Tanner to set up the fishing hut and get started on his own. This is the first time Tanner will have to prove himself on derby day. It won’t be the last. Almost instantly, “whatever can go wrong” starts going wrong. Richie isn’t much help through most of the day’s obstacles, but they still work together to meet them head on. Together they face menacing competitors, an unrelenting winter storm, a fight against the possibility of frostbite, and of course, getting stranded on thin ice.
This fast-paced tale of determination, friendship, and redemption is great for readers of all ages. I cheered Tanner and Richie on from the edge of my seat as I watched them navigate through their horrific day. I also hoped for the redemption of some of the more menacing characters. Sharon CassanoLochman did not disappoint in either area. Comic relief provided by the boys’ dialogue keeps things from getting too heavy. The story is written brilliantly, and keeps interest piqued until the very end. I did not want to put it down.
Pages: 170 | ASIN: B07732BKVM
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The Ancient Sacred Tree: Birth of a Hero by author Dawnette N. Brenner is about a 12-year-old boy named Joshua who finds himself thrust into a magical land full of danger.
This book made me really emotional. Not only does the book cover a tough but important topic, how kids deal with divorce, but the quotes from anonymous children talking about divorce were heartbreaking. It really is important to remember that kids can be affected in different ways and often see more than people think, and like Joshua, often feel guilt. And on top of that, the book is also dealing with mental illness as Joshua is a pre-teen dealing with bipolar disorder. Having a book that deals with subjects like this is very important, and I feel that Brenner handled the subjects really well. This is the kind of book that readers can definitely connect to, both in how you deal with struggles and watching the struggles of others.
Brenner has done a fantastic job of entering into the mind of a child. The imaginative world that Joshua finds himself in is a great representation of the kind of imaginary places children make up to escape to. I loved how the land of Ice Plants and Norkels has not just a dreamlike quality but really captures how imaginary worlds are distorted versions of what we see and know. Things like Thragons that seem close to familiar but are a magic of their own. The imagery she uses really brings the fantastical world to life. The back and forth switch from the magical realm to the real world is disorienting, but it is clear that this was intentional as we watch Joshua dealing with the world around him.
Joshua is an incredible character who is dealing with a great deal both internally and externally. This book is a magical way of showing and handling tough subjects for your adult readers. I found this book to be enchanting to read, even when it made me want to cry, and I would highly recommend it. I would definitely give this book 5 stars for its unique creativity, and the extraordinary way it deals with its subject matter. I look forward to reading book two!
Pages: 186 | ASIN: B074PK4GHW
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Did I Say Never is the emotional journey you took when you became a step mother to a special needs child. What was the inspiration that made you want to put your experiences into a book?
Truthfully when I began to reflect on our journey, I just kept thinking I wish there had been a book to help me. If we can help one family or a teacher or a caregiver by sharing what we learned, it was worth putting pen to paper.
I appreciated your candor and openness in the story, and it helped me fully understand your struggle. Was there anything that was difficult for you to write about?
Yes, any time I had to write about Brooks being injured or going back to the hospital was painful even at an older age of consuming nuts and bolts at the sheltered workshop. It literally makes me cry.
Do you find that there is a common misconception people have about special needs children?
Maybe not common misconception but as far as we have come in the area of disabilities, we have a long way to go. People feel uncomfortable around people who are different from them so they tend to avoid getting to know them. Special needs children have real feelings and emotions but they may express them differently.
I felt like this book was about family, devotion, and working through struggles. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
First, I truly want readers to use the book as a resource guide and ponder the questions for their family to consider what is best for them. Second, I hope they look at the milestones proactively and develop a plan for what they want as a family. Third, look for the angels in your life that can help. Finally, realize you are not alone even though there will be many days you think you are all alone.
Dr. Kim Nugent is the best-selling author of Did I Say Never. Kim shares her personal 32 year spiritual journey, a true story, filled with sorrows and joys, challenges and tears that unfolded during her marriage and life as a step parent. The intention of the book is to provide ideas, questions, resources and heartfelt encouragement for parent’s to help their special needs child or adult so they achieve their full potential and improve the overall quality of their life.
Kim never thought she would marry again and for sure not to a man who had children.
Little did she know that her life would change –in unimaginable and dramatic ways, and this is where the story begins!
Did I Say Never is an emotional journey of love, frustration, and overwhelm. Kim step-by-step describes the details of each step she took on the path and talks about the Angels that appeared just at the right time to guide and uplift her.
While Kim does not have all the answers for you and your family, she knows the struggles, pains, joys and victories. Kim offers remarkable disability resources and questions for consideration for you, your family, teachers, and caregivers.
Have you ever felt completely lost, confused or extremely overwhelmed about what to do next with your disabled child or adult? Have you ever felt clueless as to what questions to ask next or what resources might be available to you? Then grab a copy and don’t let anyone stop you from “designing your life without limits”! Did I Say Never is a must read.
The Adventures of Fawn is a children’s novel that follows a young deer as she seeks adventure and frienship and finds much more. What was your inspiration for this fun story?
I’ve been a department store Santa for 40 years. The many questions children have asked, and my creative responses were part of my reason for writing ‘The Adventures of Fawn’. I wanted to instill a feeling of wonder and enjoyment regarding things related to Santa’s mythology and the North Pole for readers of all ages. The descriptions of making candy canes and sugar plums, and the activities in the Toy Shop are, for me, a great way of ‘bringing the reader in’…regardless of his/her age. Christmas is still my favorite time of year. Writing these books has afforded me an opportunity to spread that love and perpetuate the magic, as well.
I felt that the novel was about friendship and overcoming adversity. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
Yes. Friendship and overcoming adversity are indeed a great part of the story. I think the relationship between a child and his/her parents is also a vital part of the tale, and plays out well between Fawn, Comet and Vixen.
Fawn is a loving character that is easy to relate to. What were some ideals you were trying to capture with her character?
I imagined Fawn as a youngster just approaching adolescence. She got ‘smarts’, but her adventurous spirit gets the better of her. Despite, or perhaps even in spite of her parents warnings, she throws caution to the wind and decides she can face life outside the Village on her own. Realizing her Mum and Dad were basically right all along is a big part of Fawn’s journey and self-discovery.
I also like to think Doctor Weather and Fawn are both on a journey of sorts. Both are discovering things they never knew, whether they be North Pole related…or things about themselves.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Book 2 of The Adventures of Fawn, titled: The Ona Pendulum find Fawn, her friends and Doctor Weather trying to save the lives of the citizens of Santa’s Village. The Ona Pendulum, a magical device that enables Santa and company to live for centuries is apparently in grave danger of being destroyed. Book 3, entitled: Far And Yet So Near finds Fawn, her friends, and doctor Weather trailing the reindeer who have come under the control of a mysterious stranger bent on kidnapping the team. But Fawn winds up being the one kidnapped and spirited away to an estate in England. I have a fourth book nearly completed, but I’m not happy with it, and am trying to work on it and make it more entertaining.
This award-winning first entry in The Adventures of Fawn series is an exciting ‘coming of age’ tale! The year is 1849, and legendary reindeer Comet and Vixen have a young daughter, Fawn. In this first book, ‘Til the Last Snowflake Falls, the young reindeer spends far too many days alone in the stable at Santa’s Village, with no friends and nothing to do. While her parents caution her she’s much too young and inexperienced to go exploring outside the Village by herself, Fawn disagrees. Declaring, “I want some fun and excitement! I don’t care how dangerous it is!” she begins sneaking out each day in search of friends, excitement and adventure. She’ll find them all…but also find herself in dangerous situations she’s unprepared for! She’ll realize perhaps a bit too late that mom and dad were right all along! And, she’ll learn some valuable lessons about what’s really important in life. The Adventures of Fawn are filled with fun, laughs, excitement, and magical entertainment for readers all ages!
‘Til the Last Snowflake Falls was awarded the Bronze Medal in Dan Poynter’s 2017 Global E-book Awards, received an Honoree Medallion from indieB.R.A.G. Awards, a Reader’s Favorite Five Star Award, One Stop Fiction Books’ Five Star Award, and Literary Titan’s Silver Book Award.
Posted in Interviews
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Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 takes young readers on a journey through the magical Hotel of Hoo where they’re introduced to many strange guests. What served as your inspiration for this imaginative hotel and its occupants?
The concept was really born from the title. I had wanted to write a counting book for a while but one that carried a stronger narrative than many others in this particular category. After I had the title, everything else just came together. I think that there is something about doors that sparks a natural curiosity, particularly in young children. I wanted to extend that curiosity by placing the story in a setting that would really compound the mystery. A magical castle, to me, holds a lot of intrigue and seemed like an excellent place to begin a curious journey.
There are a lot of interesting creatures behind each door. My favorite was the miniature giants. What was your favorite to write and animate?
I have so many! For most of the characters there is a fascinating juxtaposition between the general perception of their stereotype and a characteristic they embody in the story. Some of the other creatures are simply a play on popular culture. However a few of them are just plain cute. If I had to choose only one favourite, I think it would be from this last category – the big-headed monkeys.
While I was writing this character, I had in my mind something so adorable that it would make a great stuffed toy. What’s exciting about working with Lenny is that we both think similarly. She was able to take my thoughts for this idea and really bring it to life with brilliant expression. They may not be a typical mythical creature, but I think they nevertheless compliment the overall enjoyment of exploring this hotel by diffusing the expectation that each character needs to have some kind of creepy characteristic.
The story is told in rhyme and each door has a theme which, I think, makes this book great for the classroom. Was it challenging to write the story in this way or was it natural?
After I had the idea, the story itself flowed quite naturally. The fantastical nature of the castle meant that each door wasn’t restricted to a single concept or any established rules. I think this is (in part) what both pulls you along in the story and tempts you to linger – every door is a portal to its own unique and perhaps unexpected theme.
I don’t want it to send like I’m begging, but please tell me this story is going to be expanded on in future books?
Ooh, now that’s an interesting question. It was definitely a fun story to write so I wouldn’t rule out a sequel. I’ll let you know…
The magical Hotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.
This imaginative picture book aims to take children beyond the first ten cardinal numbers, and introduces them to the patterns of counting in a fun and accessible way. With rooms to explore and unique objects to count, children will enjoy lingering on each page as they make their way closer to the forbidden door.
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