Titch the Itch is the tale of an animated little itch who wants nothing more than to make friends. How did you come up with the idea to anthropomorphize an itch?
The idea was born when I was ‘chasing an itch’ around my wife’s back. Every time I scratched a spot, the itch seemed to move. I thought the idea of an itch playing games would make a fun concept for a children’s book so I set about to develop the story.
There are many fun and funny moments in the book. Were there any moments that made you laugh out loud while creating the book?
I’m not actually a laugh out loud kind of person. I’m one of those annoying people who internalises humour – so no one is actually sure whether I’m finding something funny. I know… I’m working on it. But yes, there were quite a few moments that I found quite fun.
There are probably two main aspects of the story that stand out to me as funny. The first is Titch’s desperate but authentic attempts to make friends, juxtaposed with the exaggerated but real-world reactions of his new acquaintances. The second is Titch’s completely innocent disregard for anyone’s personal space.
Lenny Wen, the illustrator, also did an outstanding job capturing the humour. Probably my favourite page is when Titch spots a ‘rich-looking lady with a tiny white poodle’. She has managed to illustrate someone who typifies dignity and stoic behaviour. It is the anticipation of Titch’s desire to make friends with her that I think prepares readers for a good laugh out loud moment (if that’s their thing of course).
This story of an itch looking for friendship is perfect for teaching young readers about the value of friends and loyalty. What do you hope readers take away from this story?
I tried to write something that was a little different to most books on friendship. Often we think of friendship as something that we accept based on someone’s desirable qualities. I wanted to challenge that, and ask the question, what if friendship has more to do with someone else’s acceptance of us.
Titch ends up being a really interesting case study in friendship, because he is annoying by nature. In essence, the desirable qualities that we normally associate with friendship have been stripped away. We are only left with loyalty. I also purposefully avoid concluding the book in consonance, as it transfers this question to the reader.
At the end of the day however, this question is only a subtle thread in an otherwise simple and humorous adventure of an Itch. More than anything else, I hope that readers of Titch the Itch just enjoy the imaginative qualities and have fun reading!
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book to hit the shelves is called Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32. It is about a brother and sister who are invited to explore a mysterious hotel with some unusual guests. Readers will be able to linger on each page and count the hidden objects as they make their way towards the forbidden door. I really look forward to hearing what children (and adults) think of it.
It is currently available for pre-order, and will be available on March 14.
When Titch discovers that no one in his family wants him, he sets off on a journey to find someone – anyone – who would be willing to live with an itch. With every step he grows less hopeful. That is, until he meets an old friend.
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Lucy’s First Christmas, written by Rolynda Tassan and illustrated by Ruby Wheeler, is the heartwarming tale of Lucy the rescue cat’s first Christmas with her adoptive family. Like any other cat, her curiosity wins out, and she becomes entangled, literally, in the preparations for the coming holiday. From present-wrapping to light-stringing, Lucy is allowed to be a part of it all. Lucy is even afforded her first trip into the snowy outdoors and is a part of the family’s Christmas read-aloud. This particular book is the third in a series of stories written about Lucy and her adventures.
Tassan has written a much-needed tale with Lucy’s First Christmas. As a mother, teacher, and adoptive parent of three rescue pets, I don’t see enough of these books on the shelves. There is a joy like no other in watching a shelter pet bloom in a loving home. The author captures this feeling quite well with Lucy’s Christmas experiences. She describes each family member’s patience with the curious cat and demonstrates the various ways in which the family involves the pets in their routines. The love between the family and Lucy is mutual and communicated well throughout the book.
Any parent or teacher choosing this book to read with children will find it touching and true-to-life. The author has included a fair amount of “awwww” moments and lots of snuggling and loving. The pets themselves are no strangers to snuggling. This is an all-around sweet story to share with children who have pets, are wanting pets of their own, or who are in a family who has adopted a pet from a shelter.
Generally a realistic fiction piece, Tassan has managed to work in a bit of fantasy with the pets talking to one another. For the most part, these sections serve to explain some of the things that drive Lucy’s curiosity and, in the conclusion, add to the dearness of the overall plot.
Lucy’s First Christmas is a touching story that hits home for readers of all ages and features delicate illustrations of the pets and their family. Tassan and Wheeler’s precious Christmas story is a must-read for any family with rescue pets. Lucy’s first Christmas with her family will bring a smile to the reader’s face and touch the soul of any animal lover.
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Titch the Itch, written by B.C.R. Fegan and illustrated by Lenny Wen, is the tale of an animated little itch who wants nothing more than to make friends the only way he knows how–by doing his job. When his wayward, “no-reason-at-all” itching isn’t appreciated in the home of one large family, Titch the Itch seeks to make friends outside the home. Trying his luck with a cat, a neighbor, a police officer, and a park full of children, Titch learns that life is hard for an itch of his sort. His journey leads him to the hospital where he soon learns that he has had a bigger impact than he realized.
B.C.R. Fegan has constructed a touching story centered around the personification of a lowly itch. The author has managed to take a difficult concept and design a precious plot surrounding the poor little itch’s desire to be needed and to have lasting friendships. Titch is a memorable character with whom young readers will empathize. As he moves from one character to the next, he experiences rejection and disappointment. Fegan has included some important lessons in this wonderful picture book. In addition to friendship, the author teaches the benefits of being determined and the results of perseverance.
As with any children’s book, it is essential to include those moments of humor. Fegan does not lack in this area. The unforeseen circumstances surrounding the conclusion of the book are whimsical and encourage children to reread the book to find things they may have missed–a wonderful aspect to include to inspire young readers to delve further into the intricacies of text. As a teacher and parent, I more than appreciate those small amounts of mystery which energize readers. Kudos to the author!
The illustrations for Titch the Itch are fantastic. Lenny Wen’s vision of Titch is a cross between a ghost and a friendly dust bunny–exactly how one might visualize an itch. The facial expressions of Titch absolutely make the story. His woeful looks tug at the reader’s heartstrings. The color schemes chosen to brighten the pages make this a beautiful story to read aloud.
B.C.R. Fegan’s story of the needy little itch just looking for friendship is a sweet tale perfect for teaching young readers about the value of friends and loyalty.
Pages: 33 | ASIN: B076342B9D
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Suzy Has A Secret addresses child abuse and teaches young readers that telling a parent or guardian is always best. Why was this an important topic for you to write about?
One hears about this very thing every day in the media. That simply isn’t enough! As a registered nurse, I have had many children come through the ER and hospital who have been abused. Educating children must be done right as well as educating the parents. Keep in mind that a parent can be the abuser so this must be gently figured out with a one on one with each child.
On a personal level, my son was attacked at the tender age of seven. He was attacked by a large bully/predator who was age 16, in the bathroom of a park directly across the street from out house. The predator thrust his manhood into my son’s mouth and all my son could do was keep his teeth clinched until the 16 year old had enough. Imagine a seven year old, terrified beyond belief, not understanding why this was happening, and knowing his mom was across the street. Long story short, the police decided it was a she said/she said on the parts of the mothers and that nothing could be done. This trauma still affects my son today, at age 35.
My stepdaughter, my bonus daughter, was molested and abused in every way short of rape. She was age 10 or 11 when I noticed a mark on her skin just under the neckline of a shorts set she wore. When I asked what happened, she said her stepfather did it and then she showed me other markings of a sexual nature, and she said that he was “tickling” her and to keep their little secret. I went and got a towel, I had her hold the towel the correct way to keep her privates covered and I took pictures as evidence. Then I took her to Social Services and filed a complaint. They talked with her alone, and they heard me out, and I gave them the pictures. Long story short, my husband sued for custody and he won with my help.
I found the content to be very easy to approach and turns the subject into a discussion. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
Hopefully, readers will be more alert to the possibility of a child being abused when they see certain behaviors as noted in the educator section.
What are some common misconceptions you find about child abuse?
Number one is most sexual assaults are committed by strangers ~ not true! Most sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim or the victim’s family. Myth number two ~ the majority of sexual offenders are caught, convicted, and in prison. Very, very few of those who commit sexual assault are apprehended and convicted of their crimes. Most convicted sex offenders eventually are released to the community under probation or parole supervision. Myth 3 ~ most sex offenders reoffend ~ they don’t always reoffend. Figuring out a percentage doesn’t really work as most abuse is never reported. The majority simply isn’t reported, therefore the data isn’t there to make a realistic sample size to obtain a give or take percentage.
The book also includes instructions for parents, teachers, and counselors to use in discussions with groups of children. Do you find that group counseling is beneficial for children or are one on one sessions important as well?
First and foremost is one on one for all ages. Little kids are scared and need one on one, teenagers are ashamed that is happened and need one on one. Younger children should never be in a group as they have such immature minds. They might hear a child (maybe three years older) speak of something that happened and the child who overhears most likely won’t comprehend what was said, and this causes more problems and confusion. Teenagers may benefit from group therapy, and this may help them feel less ashamed and be able to cope with their own circumstance more effectively.
This book teaches a child, ages four to eight years-old, about personal safety and body ownership. Children learn how to identify who safe adults are in a child’s life. This book shows in positive and practical ways how parents, and educators, can talk to children about personal safety. Children learn about bad touch and good touch, and how their body belongs to them. Parents and educators can help children learn who the safe people are in their lives, and that they can always tell one of them about anything that may happen, and they aren’t comfortable about. Using little bug fairies and fairy houses, ensures that children aren’t scared when this story is read to them, or they read it on their own.
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Walking Over Eggshells is an autobiography about your life and how you survived growing up and living with mental abuse. What inspired you to put your experiences into a book?
Originally I never intended to publish my experiences of growing up, I wrote about my life solely for my children to explain my parenting skills, or lack of them and to give them a greater understanding of me as a person. I was aware of the effects of the fraught relationship I had with my mother but totally unaware of the cause. As I recount in the closing chapters, it was only after her death that quite by chance I read about Narcissistic personality disorder and my mother’s reactions, behaviour and responses ticked all the boxes. I was over 60 when she died and only then I learned that no matter what I’d done, I would never, ever have been able to make her love me. If only I had walked away decades earlier I could have saved myself years of heartbreak. From talking to other victims in various forums I realized there were thousands of people out there in a similar position and that’s when I decided to publish my story. From the huge number of emails I’ve received, I know it has helped many others and that has been the greatest award of all.
In this book you talk about many of your life experiences. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
The way my mother behaved towards me, belittled, mocked me and hurt me. I was also aware that many people would not understand why I was so stupid and returned time and time again only to receive more abuse. Only those who have been conditioned and brainwashed from birth to revere parents and respect families would understand this, many other people wouldn’t. As I wrote it opened the wounds, but at the same time pouring it all out on paper helped the healing process.
The novel covers the entire span of your life including your childhood. What is one common misconception you find people have about child abuse?
The media is full of stories relating to sexual abuse. To the outside world I was an only child, with all the comforts, food, nice clothes, private school, even the hated ballet lessons, living in a beautiful area in England. But what went on behind closed doors was ongoing mental abuse, and I think this has a more damaging effect that any other kind of abuse. It strips away your sense of worth, your self confidence, destroys any chance of achieving your potential. It doesn’t stop the day you are old enough to say ‘no this is not right’ because you can’t rely on your own judgement you have been taught that you are the problem. It follows you through life and while some simply give up, others will try again and again to be the perfect person and will fail again and again. I grew up in the days when there was no such thing as Child Line, no one to talk to, all adults stuck together, no one criticised the older generation. I was totally alone in an ongoing nightmare.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I published Walking over Eggshells in 2013, and since then, I had written two further memoirs about my career in writing for radio and television full of funny and tragic stories.
I have also written four action/adventure books set in Africa featuring my heroine Amie and the latest of these is Cut for Life published in October 2017.
I am taking a month off to co-ordinate my marketing strategies (which are a disaster!) and then I will begin the next Amie book.
Walking Over Eggshells is an autobiography that tells the story of a mentally abused child, who married a “Walter Mitty” clone who took her to live in many different countries. They moved from England to Kenya, from Libya to Botswana and on again to South Africa. It took all her courage to survive in situations that were at times dangerous, sometimes humorous, but always nerve wracking. She had a variety of jobs, different types of homes, and was both a millionairess and totally broke. At one end of the scale she met royalty, hosted ambassadors, and won numerous awards for her writing and for her television programmes. At the other end, she climbed over garbage dumps, fended off the bailiffs, and coped with being abandoned in the African bush with a seven week old baby, no money and no resources. She admits to being the biggest coward in the world, but her survival instincts kicked in and she lived to tell her story. This book will make you laugh and cry, but also it also explains the damage being brought up by a mother with a personality disorder can inflict on a child. However, it is not all doom and gloom, and hopefully it will inspire others who did not have the best start in life either. All names have been changed to protect both the guilty and the innocent – and that includes the author as well!
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In Lucy Meets the Family a kitten is brought home to meet her new family and has a hard time adjusting. What was your inspiration for this second book in the Lucy’s Tale series?
The reaction our existing pets had to Lucy’s antics when we introduced her to our family, helped bring Lucy Meets the Family to life. The first time Lucy encountered the litter box, she jumped in it and started digging until all the litter was on the floor. She made a huge mess! This appalled our older cat, who watched her with a disgusted look on his face. Later, Lucy jumped up on the kitchen counter, which prompted our Jack Russell to bark until Lucy got down. And then there was the time Lucy decided to take a nap on the dog’s bed. Our Greyhound whined until Lucy finally moved. All our pets play together and even sleep together occasionally now. But there was a period of adjustment for everyone.
What do you think is one of the hardest things to adjust to when bringing home a new pet?
Trying to make the new pet comfortable and feel welcomed in their new home, while remembering to be patient with the established pets. The established pets may exhibit bad behavior and/or need extra attention until all the animals find their place in the family.
I loved the image where Lucy drops drops a doughnut on the floor. What was your favorite image from the book?
That is one of my favorite images too! Another one of my favorite images is towards the end of the book, when all the animals are playing together.
What will book three in the Lucy’s Tales series be about?
Lucy will, once again, finds herself getting into mischief as she tries to help the family prepare for Christmas day. Lucy’s First Christmas will be released later this year.
Lucy is a small kitten who recently found her forever home. But when she is introduced to the family she discovers not everybody is excited to meet her. Lucy finds herself getting into mischief as she tries to figure out her place in her new family.
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The Bug Boys vs. Professor Blake Blackhart follows Alex and Ian who still have nanobots inside them and retain the ability to take on the different aspects of bugs they swallow. What direction did you want to take this book that was different from the first story?
Well the first book was the origin story. How the kids got their powers, and a lot of get-to-know-you stuff, where they live, etc. In the second book, I didn’t have to go over all that again, at least not as much, so I focused on upping the ante with bigger bugs, robots, action, and a proper super villain character. I also wanted to explore what being a hero was all about.
The writing in your novel is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
This is my writing style. I like to keep things moving along at a brisk pace, and I always jump on an opportunity to see the funny side.
I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?
Thank you! As a kid I was always a story teller. More recently I set up my own movie review blog, and after a couple of years doing that I decided I was ready to construct a full novel. Since I’ve watched and analysed so many films (and books, I read a lot too) I think I’ve got a good handle on what’s needed in a story. It also doesn’t hurt to review one’s work with critique groups either!
Will there be a book three in The Bug Boys series? If so, where will it take readers?
There will, eventually! Tentatively titled, The Bug Boys and The Bullet Ant Queen. This one will spend a lot more time exploring the alien’s planet (The Bug Boys are going to visit!), while I explore the subjects of change, and the environment. This one will likely take a bit longer to put together as I also have another novel I’m working on. Something for adult readers, a little afterlife dramedy!
The fantastic superhero adventure that began with The Bug Boys continues! Alex Adams and Ian Harris take on Blake Blackhart, a disgraced Oxford professor. He discovers the boys’ source of power and plots to use the Secti’s alien technology to wreak havoc across the galaxy.
With a proper real-life supervillain in the village, the boys must step up their superhero game if they are to put a stop to the professor’s nefarious schemes. Along the way, they make new friends, and they encounter new bugs and superpowers. With the fate of the galaxy in the balance, the boys dig deep within themselves to truly understand what it means to be a hero!
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Adjusting to change is never easy—even if you’re a cat! In Lucy Meets the Family, Rolynda Tassan’s second book in the Lucy’s Tale series, Ben brings Lucy, a little gray cat, home. Nervous, Lucy meets her new family: a cat, Addy, and two dogs, Sissy and Pippin. When Ben leaves, Lucy tries to make herself at home, but she does everything wrong! She makes a mess of the litter box, gets into food that doesn’t belong to her, and annoys Pippin by sleeping on her bed. Will Lucy ever feel like part of the family?
Dedicated to families who open their homes to animals from the shelter, Lucy Meets the Family is a great way to teach young children how to prepare to bring a new pet home, especially if they have other pets at home already. Like Lucy, a new pet will feel anxiety at her surroundings and make mistakes as she tries to find her way around her home. Readers will learn to anticipate what they can do to prepare their other pets for a new family member. Addy, Sissy, and Pippin already have their own spaces and understand the rules, so they need time to adjust to another animal. On a more practical level, Lucy Meets the Family shows readers what an owner will need to purchase before bringing home a new pet.
For young children just learning to read, Lucy Meets the Family is good practice. The words are simple, and some lines of text are repetitive. The pictures in the book are colorful and have the feel of being hand sketched with watercolor paints. However, the illustrations directly reflect the story and focus on Ben, his pets, and the purchased items for Lucy. Tassan weaves a heartwarming tale about furry friends with tails that animal lovers will enjoy.
Pages: 30 | ASIN: 0998331821
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Alex and Ian return in the sequel to The Bug Boys, back to the town of Rossolington after the collapse of the mine. The boys still have the nanobots inside them and retain the ability to take on the different aspects of live bugs they swallow. They are still working with the Secti to bring new insects back to the Nest planet, but the Secti are impatient and want a better selection of insects so they start to create their own portal outside the boys. Meanwhile, bugs start showing up from a forth portal that no one knew existed. Professor Blake Blackhart, has also ingested nanobots and tapped into their abilities, as well as improved upon them. Professor Blake however, does not have good intentions and becomes the book’s super villain to the boy’s superhero personas. Add into the story a new student Linda and her mom, the new PE teacher that takes an unhealthy interest in Alex and Ian and things get very interesting in the declining mining town of Rossolington.
The Bug Boys vs Professor Blake Blackhart is an engaging and fun novel for young adult readers and adults alike. You have your classic good vs evil theme, and kids’ vs adults. A group of four kids taking on the super villain and his sidekick kitten. Yes, a kitten. A kitten that is also infected by nanobots and has been surgically altered to be a weapon. Hoffman uses humor that draws kids in, lots of detailed descriptions about farts, the noise, the smell, the way it makes them feel. All humor that appeals to typical young adult boys. Eating bugs, but needing to keep them alive, entertaining and gross. The awkward time of puberty where boys suddenly discover girls and those awkward moments are brought out in the interactions with Linda.
Hoffman also manages to address some serious topics through this adolescent humor. Alex has to come to terms with the fact his dad is not infallible. This realization, that his father has fears, is not perfect and can make poor choices is one that hits him hard. Alex must learn to accept his father and his short comings if he can. After almost losing his father in the mine to be dealt another blow is difficult. This is relatable to young readers as they are hitting the age where they might start seeing the childhood hearos for who they really are and realizing they are not the perfect examples of humans they originally thought them to be. These can be hard times for a young teen to experience, seeing characters in a book they like can help them come to terms with reality, and give them a laugh along the way.
While Alex and Ian want to be superhero’s, they learn there is more to being a superhero than just putting on a costume and having super powers. They learn limits, asking for help, working as a team and reaching out to others when they realize they can’t do it all on their own. There are a lot of good lessons for young adults packed into this short novel. There is enough action to keep kids interested and wanting to read more. Hoffman even at the end gives readers a cryptic scene that leads us to believe we can expect more from the Bug Boys.
Pages: 154 | ASIN: B076737HRN
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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