Eat, Eat, Eat! Cheese, Cheese, Cheese! is the cautionary tale of three hungry mice who encounter a hungry cat in a cheese store. What was the inspiration for your story?
The Eat, Eat, Eat! Cheese, Cheese, Cheese! story is interesting because I started the drawings in high school, and now 52 years later, I finally finished the pencil drawings and book design for publication. On average, some of my picture books take a year or two to complete. But then again, it all depends on the illustration style I use. Two other picture books of mine, It’s Music Time, and You Can’t Tickle Me, the illustrations took five years to do.
I actually started the drawings for my cheese story as an art class project in high school. When I graduated high school, I had created only three illustrations. And at that time, I wasn’t thinking of any story to go with the drawings. During the course of the past 52 years, every now and then, I would pull out the illustrations and would work on a new drawing. It took me two to three months to do one drawing for this story.
Seven years ago, I finally figured out the storyline. And seven years later (actually 52 years later), the story and illustrations were finished and ready to be made into Eat, Eat, Eat! Cheese, Cheese, Cheese!
I loved the illustrations for this picture book, they are creative and entertaining. What was your favorite scene to illustrate in this story?
That is such a difficult question to answer. It is impossible for me to pick a favorite illustration for any of my picture books. But the one that took the longest in this story is the very first drawing in the book with the three cheese-hungry mice sailing a cheese boat. The one that makes me really laugh is the one with the cat wearing her big glasses. That one cracks me up!!!
I will say this, as much as I love drawing my stories, I love designing the book just as much!
What were some educational aspects that were important for you to include in this children’s book?
The central theme is the consequences we must face when we overindulge. Most times, too much of a good thing is just that, too much of a good thing. But it always amazes me after I write a story all the different learning aspects that will come to light.
Will you be writing more picture books with a message like this one?
That’s another excellent question. I never know what my next picture book will be like or what message it will develop from the writing. All I know is an idea will always find a way to inspire me to do another picture book.
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The String follows an ordinary young boy who discovers an ordinary ball of string and uses it to go on adventures with his imagination. What was the inspiration for your story?
That’s a great question. I was reading my picture book, It’s Music Time, to a 1st-grade class at one of our local elementary schools where I live in Brown County, Indiana. I say reading, but it’s really a near-wordless picture book with 15 words at the beginning and 15 at the end. Anyway, as I flipped through the pages, one little boy in the class had a small hand-sized rubber ball he was playing with. The teacher quickly took it away from him, but I could tell by the look on his face that he was in some faraway magical land playing with his rubber ball and didn’t like it at all that he was brought back to reality by the teacher.
The very next weekend, I was thinking about that little boy’s expression, and I knew all he wanted to do was play in his imaginary world with his rubber ball. So I looked through the drawers in my kitchen cupboard, and the first thing I saw was an orange ball of nylon string. And it hit me all at once. At that very moment, I knew exactly what the little boy in my story would do with that string.
The art in this book is fantastic. What was the process like to create the art while writing the story at the same time?
Sometimes I will do a drawing and become inspired to write a story because of that drawing. My young adult novel, The Good Witch of the South, was like that. When I first gazed upon the fairy that I used for the front cover of my novel, I knew she was the daughter of the Good Witch of the South and knew precisely what she would become in that story.
My String book was different. When I first saw the ball of string, I sat down and wrote the story while catching glimpses of illustrations in my head as I was writing.
Once I finished the manuscript, I started the illustrations. Once the drawings were completed, I did a small dummy of the book. From there, I changed some of the text and added a couple of new drawings. For example, in the original manuscript, the little boy didn’t use the string, or his sister, to pull a loose tooth. He didn’t have a loose tooth. But when I made my dummy, I needed to add more illustrations and decided to add a loose tooth to the text. And that made the illustration of the little boy brushing his teeth funnier. All in all, it took over a year to write, draw and put the book together.
What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?
One of the best ways to discover what we will become when we are children is by using our imagination. Children love to pretend to be this or that. Mostly, I want children to know they can be extraordinary in every way. All they have to do is try. When children see the little boy in my book doing all the amazing things he can think of doing with his ball of string, it is my hope it will inspire children to take flight with their imagination.
Who knows what extraordinary things they might achieve?
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Oh yes, my next book . . . I am incredibly excited about my next book, which will come out in 2024. The title is, That Will Never Do. It’s taken me over a year to do the illustrations for this book, just like The String.
I have to say, though, That Will Never Do might actually be one of my favorites.
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Education is not only in school because we also learn from our family, culture, and environment. Traditions, beliefs, and upbringings in many homes are different. Being an immigrant in America is proof of that, and recognizing it can give you a new perspective on life. The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi shows the daily life of a Nigerian-American man who discovers himself amidst the contradictions of life. Obi tries to balance family, work, and ideological responsibilities. He soon faces reality and realizes that generational customs are changing. He goes through life reflecting on situations in search of realistic expectations for his life. In this way, Chinedu Achebe demonstrates how education and society change, evolve and adapt.
Obi learns that marriages are relationships that do not always meet people’s expectations. Every family has its secrets, and Obi’s is no exception. As I continued reading on, I learned that Obi and Nkechi are not the perfect couple that they like to portray to others, and Obi is struggling to be a better husband. The tension and drama build when Sade and Tamika enter the picture as Obi has to battle with temptation, leaving the reader wondering how Obi will handle this situation.
I found it interesting that Obama’s re-election is discussed by Obi and it shows how politics affect our lives. This made for a relatable read because many readers have experienced what Obi is experiencing, from having to pay for daycare, healthcare, and the worries of a stagnant economy and how people are wary of Obama’s policies affecting our decisions life to care for our families. Nkechu is a character that some will either love or hate because, on the outside, she is a strong woman who is trying to find her footing as a new mother and have a career, all while still trying to have a healthy marriage. Still, on the inside, she is really insecure, which begins to take a toll on their marriage. I felt that Obi needed a better support system, especially regarding his needing advice on marriage.
Chinedu Achebe emphasizes the effort of Nigerian immigrants to integrate into a community, all while trying to hold on to past traditions as well as create new traditions. I recommend The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi to those who are looking for realistic and current fiction that focuses on family, culture, and politics.
Pages: 228 | ASIN : B076KP1GWX
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Dream Knights: The Network follows a young boy and girl in a world where adults have lost the ability to dream and the pair seek answers to the problem in their dreams. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
Burnout in the United States, such as the Great Resignation, inspired me to suggest a world where adults no longer dream. In the novel, excessive stress and worry make dreaming impossible for adults. Yet, thanks to heroic children, there is hope to bring dreams back.
In reality, there is hope to reduce burnout too. Teleworking and flexible schedules are already gaining popularity. We can go even further.
When compared to the United States, Finland’s students show greater academic success while spending less time in the classroom. They even have summer breaks that are 10 to 11 weeks long. We can learn from this type of success not only for our children but also for our workforce. We all have limits.
Grant and Zahra are intriguing characters that were fun to follow. What were some driving ideals behind your characters’ development?
I wanted Grant and Zahra to be great role models and add cultural and gender diversity to the novel.
To be inclusive, I requested that my cover artist present my characters as silhouettes. Originally, the characters were also written in a nondescript manner. I later changed that, as to be more intentional with diversity, and modeled Zahra after a friend whose family emigrated from Bangladesh.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Different people have different skills, and they are all valuable. When working together, people can accomplish great things.
Also, building relationships and simplifying life can lead to a more fulfilling life than one filled with possessions and stress.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Dream Knights: The Gate, which picks up a couple of weeks after the first book, was just released on December 21, 2022. The third book, still in its early stages, will take place three to five years after the first two books. However, I have also started a historical fiction book for adults. It’s about a budding romance in 16th century Sweden during the rebellion against Danish rule. Although I’m still deciding which book to write first, I’m hoping to publish one in 2023.
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Nothing’s As It Seems follows a woman who has never found “the one” but discovers that other forces are at play in her life and that nothing is as it seems. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
The inspiration has been my own life. Chastity is based on my experiences. That said, I am a hopeless romantic to the core, dreaming of forever with a man when I can look him in the eyes and say, “I do” again and again. I learned long ago that it’s worth waiting and fighting for all good things. I wanted readers to see a character who has everything thrown at her—lack of success, inability to have children, loss of the things most cherished—but then decides to fight, sticking to her truth and values. She may come out bruised in the process, but she has toughened up because of her experiences, a true survivor.
Dr. Chastity Ann Morgan is an interesting and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
One driving ideal is Chastity’s sense of humor since she can roll with the punches and laugh about all these crazy men who come into her life. The other driving ideal is her tenacity to fight hard enough to overcome any obstacle thrown her way and never let anyone tell her that her ideas and beliefs are crazy and ridiculous because those concepts make people so unique and special.
What were significant themes for you to explore in this book?
Fate and destiny. As a single woman, I talk a great deal to my friends about a new man as destined or fated for me. Can you fall in love and be destined for someone else? Do soul mates exist? It’s a major driving theme in Nothing’s As It Seems when hidden family secrets start unfolding.
What is the next book you are working on, and when will it be available?
I am working on the third and final novel to close this series and hope to release it before the end of the year. Readers can look forward to much revealing but should expect many twists along the way.
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When you were a child, what did you wish to be? Was it an astronaut so you could explore space or a doctor to heal the sick? In What I would Wish to Be, Trey’s father asks him if he could be anything he wanted, what would it be? Trey’s responses are creative and unexpected and throw his father for a loop when he mentions he wishes to be a tree, the wind, the sea, and much more.
Author Michele Sayre sparks young readers’ curiosity with her charming story of Trey and his conversation with his father. I felt that Trey’s responses were spot on, and it was as if I were speaking to a child. I loved Trey’s imagination and how he dared to be something that others wouldn’t think of. This creative and free-spirited read will surely spark the imagination of young readers.
This is the perfect book for teachers to read to their students and, as an exercise, have them write about what they want to be and see what they come up with. The illustrations are eye-catching and reminded me of the Baby John videos. The rhyming scheme made this a fun read that will teach young readers how to rhyme without them even realizing it.
I highly recommend What I would Wish to Be to parents and young readers as this is the perfect book to spark up a conversation before bedtime.
Pages: 46 | ASIN : B0BRGYC5LX
Tags: author, Baby and Toddler, bedtime story, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, childrens book, childrens fiction, childrens imagination, childrens play, childrens sleep issues, ebook, goodreads, indie author, kindle, kobo, literature, Michele L Sayre, nook, novel, picture book, read, reader, reading, story, What I Would Wish to Be, writer, writing
Sara Winslow Talbott is a family law attorney defending a woman in a custody battle. The problem? She’s defending her husband’s mistress, who is pregnant with her husband’s baby. As she struggles to figure out how she should handle this situation, she is suddenly the primary suspect in her husband’s murder. The mob now wants her dead because her husband stole from them. Will the handsome District Attorney Phillip Martino be able to help her out of this mess? Will she make it out alive and prove her innocence?
Heart of the Storm by Sharon K Middleton is a captivating story that I found hard to put down. The characters in the story are likable, and I enjoyed reading the witty conversations between Sara and her sister Liz. As soon as I read the first sentence in the book, I was both shocked and hooked. I empathize with Sara, and I love her character. I also appreciated that she had a lot of support from her family, and they all had a great sense of humor through this tough situation.
Middleton has created a dramatic story filled with tension that made this page-turner from start to finish. I was not expecting Sara’s husband to be murdered, and I was thrown for a loop. The stakes are raised in the story when we learn that Sara was abused by her husband and that he was a cheater, making her look like a possible suspect in his death. The author expertly immerses the reader into the story, and I felt like I was alongside Sara, trying to solve the mystery of her husband’s murder.
Heart of the Storm is a riveting read that will take readers on an emotional rollercoaster filled with unexpected twists. This suspenseful story has the right amount of drama with characters that you will love and hate. I would recommend this compelling read to anyone who enjoys a cozy mystery.
Pages: 281 | ASIN : B0BCSZLJVB
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Who Knew? is a collection of evocative poetry that is based on people throughout time in New York City. What inspired you to write this collection of poetry?
A feeling I got in the middle of the night to write the book.
What draws you to New York City and what do you think draws so many other people to the city?
I was born here. I always worked here.
Others are drawn to New York City for adventure and the HISTORY. They heard about the city from others and said we have to go there.
My favorite poem from the collection is the one about ‘General George Washington’. Is there a poem that you are particularly partial to in this collection?
Oh yes! The Slave
Do you have plans to write and publish more works of poetry?
Yes! If it comes to me in my sleep and or a very strong inspiration while being awake.
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