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You Can Feel The Love

Naomi Dunsen-White Author Interview

Johari The Great follows a fifth-grade boy who discovers the power of his imagination and enters the school writing contest; he uses his story to inspire his classmates and friends. What was the inspiration for your story?

My grandson, whose name is actually Johari, was the initial inspiration for this story. He was always so smart and curious about learning. I wanted to write a story that clearly dealt with a boy whose gift was within him – he could feel it – and how he was able to bring it out with the support of the adults in his life.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Megan White?

Megan White, now Megan Rizzo, is such a gifted artist. She used to be an art therapist, so she brings this sensitivity to her art. We worked so well together. She really listens to what my vision is, and there’s never a lot of back and forth with her. She understood this was a fun story, an adventure, but she also picked up on the emotional nuances too, like the relationships. For example, I love the illustration of Johari hugging his dad. You can feel the love there.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

It was important for me to have this story about an African American boy. Research shows that at the 3rd-4th grade level, there is a high risk of boys, and African American boys in particular, slipping in their reading skills. This is a critical time when students go from learning to read to now reading to learn. If those skills are missed, it’s an uphill struggle. So, I wanted to engage these boys and use an adventure that included school, teachers, families, friends, but most of all, how their imagination and effort could make them successful. Their imagination could help them discover just how great they really are, and what wonderful gifts already lie inside of them.

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

I’m very excited to share that my next book will be the second in the Johari The Great series. Johari will be off on a new exciting adventure, so there will definitely be another story he has to share. I can’t divulge the title yet, but I will say, the setting is quite unique! This story promises to be very appealing to almost anyone – young readers and adults too! Megan Rizzo and I are anticipating a Spring, 2023 release.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

“Johari the Great” is an early chapter book with full-color illustrations. It’s an engaging tale about a clever boy named Johari. His teacher inspires him to use his imagination to write. So he does! A contest and a mystery follow, and a fun plot twist too! With a little humor and some help from his friends, Johari discovers his gift and the greatness he has within. It’s an inspirational story that celebrates diversity, learning, family, and the greatness that all children have inside, just waiting to be discovered. Emphasizing reading comprehension and vocabulary, the included questions enhance understanding and promote family discussion.

Johari The Great

Johari has an incredible imagination and absolutely loves to write. He has put his skills to use writing an amazing story for his school’s writing contest. His patience grows thin as he waits anxiously for the moment in his day when he can share his sure-fire winning story with his classmates. Johari is convinced the tale he has woven will catch the attention of his friends and classmates, not to mention the contest’s judges. When the moment comes, Johari takes the stage with all the confidence and support one young fifth grader could ever hope to have.

Johari the Great, by Naomi V. Dunsen-White, is the sweet story of one elementary student who has an incredibly supportive and loving family and is especially gifted when it comes to using his imagination to write creatively. Dunsen-White’s main character, Johari, is a great role model for young readers. He shows all the qualities of a self-motivated and self-confident young boy.

I was particularly impressed with the book’s focus on the writing contest. As a teacher, I loved seeing the excitement of not only the main character but the other students in the classroom. This is a wonderful way to encourage students to delve into writing for enjoyment and share with peers.

Johari the Great, is a phenomenal children’s book with a positive message. Included at the end of Johari’s story is a fantastic resource for parents and teachers, which makes this book even more valuable to readers. Dunsen-White’s precious story will make a great addition to any classroom or school library.

Pages: 40 | ASIN : B08PTL62CP

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I Want Children To Know They Matter

Author Interview Naomi V. Dunsen-White

Why Am I Here? A Child’s Book About Purpose follows two children as they think about what the future can hold for them. What was the inspiration for your story?

I was inspired to write this story while watching the news one day. It was during the time of the protests and sometimes violent occurrences about police violence and brutality and race issues. I thought about how disturbing and hurtful it all was and I wondered, “If I am feeling this way, what must the children be feeling, especially children of Color?” That deeply bothered me and I began to ponder what I would want them to know. I wanted them to know that they mattered. I needed them to know that regardless of their background, skin color, zip code or even the ability of their bodies – they were all important and each had a purpose and a place in this life.

The art in this book is fantastic with all the bright colors and inspiring images. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Megan Rizzo?

Megan Rizzo is such a gifted artist! She was once an art therapist, so she truly has a gift for giving life to my words. Because of the serious message, but sensitive delivery, our goal was to evoke emotion through the illustrations, and Megan absolutely delivered! She truly understood my message, my heart, and she was just as committed as I was in reaching the children. Early on, we were in agreement that attention to specific features, body variety and skin tones would be crucial to our message. We were truly partners in expressing diversity, love and inclusion for all children. We wanted the beauty of the message to be received from looking at the pictures, whether or not the child could read the words. I believe we accomplished that.

What do you hope is one thing children take away from your story?

What I hope children take away from this story is that they each have a special purpose and a unique path to follow in life, made just for them. I want them to know they are each important and they each deserve a future that is bright. We need them, each one of them, in that future.

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

I have a couple of exciting projects in the works. One is the sequel to my first children’s book, Johari The Great. I’ve received many requests for another adventure for Johari, and it’s coming. Also, after my recent trip to Tanzania, East Africa, I was inspired to write a fun children’s book that introduces them to the Swahili language. I’ve been taking lessons for several months now, and I am very excited to share. Megan will soon be enjoying the new joys of motherhood, so we will be working around her schedule, hoping for early next year. She’s illustrated both of my books and she’s so important to me. She’s worth the wait!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

“Why am I Here? A Child’s Book About Purpose” is a beautiful, inspiring picture book that invites children to consider their unique path and place in this world, leading them into a future full of possibilities.
It features stunning, full-spread illustrations that truly bring the meaningful words to life. Readers follow two children who wonder about their place in life and where the future will lead them. As they consider possibilities, the answers to the question, “Why Am I Here?” go from whimsical to meaningful as they are guided into fun considerations and positive realizations. This book welcomes pondering, hoping and dreaming!
Stressing diversity, unity and inclusion as strengths to overcome obstacles in their way, “Why Am I Here? A Child’s Book About Purpose” reminds children that regardless of their situation or surroundings, the ability of their bodies or the color of their skin, they EACH have a purpose that is BEAUTIFUL and a future that is BRIGHT. Discussion questions in the back of the book enhance comprehension and promote family discussion about the important topics of purpose, diversity, self-awareness and self-discovery!

Why Am I Here?

Why Am I Here? A Child’s Book About Purpose is a beautifully written picture book about diversity, dreams, perseverance, and potential. Written by Naomi V. Dunsen-White and illustrated by Megan D. Rizzo, the story follows two children that are contemplating their purpose here in the world. They wonder what they can do in life and imagine all the different possibilities. Some of the things they dream up are funny and whimsical, while others are realistic and inspiring.

With each whimsical full-color page, the message of diversity is made clear. All the children are different. This book showcases different cultures, genders, desires, and abilities. This allows anyone reading this exceptional children’s book to see representations of themselves and their friends. The many differences in children shown happily dreaming of their future highlights any child can become anything they put their mind to. The message of overcoming obstacles and limitations placed by other people is taught in a gentle manner through the graphics and the rhyming lines.

The message of unity and fighting against racism, ableism, sexism, xenophobia, and bigotry is presented in a manner appropriate for kindergarten and young elementary-age children. They are shown it is ok to have confidence, dream big, and keep looking for the next accomplishment. Readers are encouraged that they are not limited by their race, culture, gender, their bodies, or where their families come from and that others not like themselves are also not limited by these invisible boundaries. This compassionate story confidently tells readers that we are all able to dream and belong to this world.

Why Am I Here? A Child’s Book About Purpose is an awe-inspiring picture book that will capture young readers’ attention with the bold, colorful graphics and the well-thought-out story. The message of diversity and inclusion will stay with them as they can see themselves represented in the pages of this magnificent work.

Pages: 33 | ASIN : B09PZB2CKY

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