Blog Archives

It’s OK to be Different

In her children’s book, It’s OK to be Different, Sharon Purtill endeavors to teach her young audience an important lesson that all children – and adults – need to learn:  that although people may differ in the things they like, the way they live, and the way they look, everyone deserves to be treated with the same respect and kindness.

I think Purtill’s book has a great message and one that is especially important in a modern world that is connected globally like never before. By teaching children to be accepting of themselves and of others, Purtill challenges the need to fit into a stereotypical idea of “normal” while emphasizing that everyone is different in one way or another. The use of rhyming, simple examples, and colorful illustrations makes the book flow well and makes it one that is easy to read and is likely to appeal to Purtill’s young audience.

Although Purtill’s message is solid, I think she could jump to the issues that are likely to really matter, like differences in appearance, speech, or abilities/disabilities, earlier in the book. With that being said, the book has a great message for children, is easy and fun to read, and has delightful illustrations to capture the eyes and minds of its audience.

Pages: 30 | ISBN: 0973410442

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“Bottom Down, Penelope Brown!”

"Bottom Down, Penelope Brown!" by [Pulliam, April B.]

For as long as she can remember Penelope Brown can’t stay sitting down. She wiggles and worms, dances and turns, and every teacher she’s had will insist throughout class that she remain in her seat. As Penelope enters the third grade, she dreads the new teacher, knowing exactly what she will say – or will she?

April Pulliam delivers a touching message with a simple story. The characters are kept to a minimum to focus on the issues at hand. Penelope is likable and relatable; she is described in good light with age-appropriate language. I appreciate how Pulliam never outright stated Penelope’s difficulties as a problem. She consistently views the characters through a young child’s perspective.

Penelope struggles, like many children, to stay in her seat. Like many young children she wriggles and squirms and is brimming with energy. How do children handle this? How do they handle the teachers that constantly tell them to put their ‘bottom down’? These are lessons that I think many elementary school children can relate to and one that is presented in a fun and understanding manner in this book.

Pulliam and Grantham team up to craft a wonderful opportunity to introduce and validate a child’s woes comparable to Penelope. I would highly recommend Bottom Down, Penelope Brown for the modern classroom.

Pages: 23 | ASIN: B07SRX418X

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Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania

Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania by [Gonsalves, Gloria D.]

The magical forests of Germania beckon! When five-year-old Stan is invited to a party by a talking Fern, he eagerly enters a lush, verdant world of discovery. When Stan falls ill, his forest friends find a cure. When he gets lost, they guide him home. The forest’s generosity truly knows no bounds.

Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania reveals the protective and healing powers of the forest and its vegetation. Author Gloria Gonsalves cleverly teaches children the names and characteristics of plants, and their ability to heal or harm. Her enchanting fable reveals the countless ways the Earth protects and provides. The true magic of this book is in the illustrations that were created by children. Each drawing is engaging and gives the story an added layer of meaning through the imaginations of young artists. It is a heart-warming story that speaks to the giving nature of the Earth.

Pages: 61 | ASIN: B07926X9S4

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My Inspiration for the Elaborate Mousetrap

B.C.R. Fegan Author Interview

B.C.R. Fegan Author Interview

The World’s Greatest Mousetrap follows Reginald as he tries his best to rid his shop of a pesky mouse. How did you come up with the idea behind this book?

It really began with the text on the first page. When I began writing the book, I had intended on having the bookstore as a small library. The only idea I had at the time was that I wanted to contrast the small, quiet and familiar world of a building (and the person within it) that had managed to keep out the expanding and fast paced world growing up about them.

After the first page, I knew I could take the story in a number of directions, but I decided that I really wanted to focus on that idea of our small worlds being challenged – not from the outside, but from within.

The elaborate mousetrap that Reginald builds was cute, and I ended up staring at the image for a few minutes just to take it all in. What served as your inspiration when creating the mousetrap?

I’m happy to hear that you lingered on that page – that was exactly what I hoped readers might do. I’ve always loved books that invite you to spend time looking over them in detail.

I think perhaps what served as my inspiration for the elaborate mousetrap, were the strange inventions and Rube Goldberg machines in the classic film ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’. I enjoyed the over-the-top attempts to solve a problem and I wanted to inject that humour into the book.

That page was actually one of the more difficult ones I think for me to describe to Fanny Liem (the book’s illustrator). I hope I didn’t frustrate her too much, but I think we went through three revisions. Each time, I asked her to make it bigger and more complex. In my mind, I had levers and tubes and gears crowding the shop so much that they were invading the street. In the end, I think she rightfully restrained the idea to something that someone of Reginald’s age could manage. She did a fantastic job I think with not only the mousetrap, but with all the illustrations.

I think, in the end, this book is about unlikely friendships. What was a guiding theme for you when writing this book?

I really wanted to create a fun and accessible story about prejudice and the worlds that we create around ourselves that can often hinder our capacity to see the similarities in others.

Reginald’s world is safe. He knows who he is and he knows what he likes. The mouse ends up invading that world and obviously setting into motion a series of events that leads to Reginald confronting his own prejudgements.

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

The next book is called Don’t Drink the Pink and is about a young girl and the magical relationship she has with her Grandfather. Like all my other books, there are a number of layers that I hope will appeal to a wide age group. It will be available August 1, 2019.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

The World's Greatest Mousetrap by [Fegan, B.C.R.]When Reginald finds a mouse in his bookstore, he will stop at nothing to catch the pesky critter. Even if it means building the world’s greatest mousetrap. Unfortunately for Reginald, the mouse always seems to be one step ahead.

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Humorous and Fun

Norman Whaler Author Interview

Norman Whaler Author Interview

Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black brings two strange men to the farm and peaks the curiosity of the two farm friends. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this kids book?

All the Oink and Gobble books are are short reads and meant to be humorous and fun and to put a smile on everyone’s face! The Men in Black are popular and familiar to kids and adults alike, but are still are a mystery to be solved!

This is book two in the Oink and Gobble series. What were some new themes you wanted to introduce in this book and what were some ideas you wanted to continue from the first book?

Oink is adventurous and interested in all the strange mysteries of the world, yet has a tendency to jump to conclusions with few facts. Gobble is focused on facts first and tries to bring logic to the investigations the two inevitably start. Though they look at things quite differently, they are best of friends!

What kind of mischief will Oink and Gobble get into in book three and when will it be available?

Without saying too much, Oink once again will jump to conclusions about a mystery of the world, and Gobble will try to bring reason to Oink’s thinking. I hope everyone will enjoy it! Should be out by July 2019.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Oink and Gobble and the 'No One Can Ever Know Secret' (Oink and Gobble Book Series 1) by [Whaler, Norman]Oink and Gobble were best friends and, with all the other animals on the farm, had a BIG secret they could never, ever let any humans know! But, did Oink let the cat out of the bag?

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Not Enforcing Sameness

Rachael Higgins Author Interview

Rachael Higgins Author Interview

The Silver Tabby is a wonderfully illustrated children’s book about a kitten that struggles to fit in with the other cats. What was your inspiration behind this kids book?

The Silver Tabby was initially written as a high school English assignment. At the time, the class was studying the topic of myths and fairytales, and how the stories portrayed a message or lesson to pass on to the next generation. The assignment task was to write and illustrate a story that embedded a lesson relevant to our societal paradigm. In completing the assignment, I wanted to pass on the message that differences can be beneficial, and that no-one should be judged based on their appearance of being different. I was inspired by authors such as Beatrix Potter and A. A. Milne, with their use of animal characters to portray their stories. Having a love of animals myself, I wanted to use animals in my story to spread a message of hope, kindness, and reconciliation. I also followed the commonly heard writer’s advice of “write what you know” and incorporated some of my own experiences of being considered different, spending time alone; as a result, then receiving acceptance.

Over the years, since the original high school assignment, The Silver Tabby has been redrafted and revamped, but the inspiration and passion in telling the story have remained the same. I believe that passing on the message of accepting others for who they truly are, and not enforcing sameness, is an essential lesson to teach our future generations.

Are you a cat person or a dog person (I’m guessing a cat person)? Do you have any pets that this story was based on?

I would say that I am an animal person in general, not specific to being a cat person or a dog person. However, I have had both animals as pets in the past as well as guinea pigs, and most recently, rats. I’m the type of person who will go for a walk and rescue a lost or injured animal or will visit an animal shelter and want to adopt all the animals to make sure they have a happy, loving, and safe home.

When I originally started writing The Silver Tabby, I had a short-hair silver tabby cat named Silver who the main character of the book is based on. The real Silver was born from my families’ then neighbour’s cat, who had chosen the enclosed area where our hot water tank was stored, below our Queenslander-style home, as a warm, safe place to birth her litter of kittens. The kittens were a mix of tortoiseshells, ginger tabbies, and black furred kittens; Silver was the only silver tabby. Our neighbours called Silver’s mother, Mama Cat. Mama Cat would lead the kittens between our house and the neighbour’s; Silver would venture away from the litter and come inside our house and make herself comfortable while I read. I think Silver really ended up adopting me rather than the other way round.

I loved the illustrations in this book. What was the collaboration like between you and the illustrator Grace Elliott?

Grace is fantastic to work with; I would recommend any author seeking an illustrator for their children’s book to look Grace up on Instagram. Initially, I showed Grace a draft of the text and concept of illustrations that I had drawn years ago for the high school assignment; and later digitally remastered for a later draft. Then Grace worked her magic on the artwork for The Silver Tabby. I feel I made the right decision collaborating with Grace, rather than illustrating the story myself. Grace’s artwork compliments the text and sets the scenes of the story, bringing the characters to life, in a way that I couldn’t have done myself.

As an artist, Grace was willing to accept feedback and advice from other artists, as we amended drafts, and she shared my vision as the author for how the book might look as a finished product. Most of our collaboration was done online, as I spent a lot of the last year moving intercity and overseas, Grace was very patient and understanding throughout every pause and readjustment that was made during the production of The Silver Tabby. I am very grateful to have had Grace onboard for the project, and would gladly work with Grace again.

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

I have a couple of concepts that I am working on at the moment. Another illustrated book that poetically portrays the epic clash between Heaven and Hell. I expect this book will be available within the next year or two. The other concept is a romantic story of undetermined length, and availability, at this stage; although I anticipate the story to evolve into a novella if not a novel.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram

The Silver Tabby by [Higgins, Rachael]

The Silver Tabby is about a kitten named Silver who struggles with being different from the other kittens in her litter.

Then one day, Silver manages to become the same as the other kittens. Excited to meet a new friend, all the kittens play happily together. But, Silver’s disguise does not last long.

When the other kittens discover their new friend is Silver, will she still be accepted?

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Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black

Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black (Oink and Gobble Book Series 2) by [Whaler, Norman] Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black is a children’s story written by Norman Whaler. The story follows a duo of livestock buddies, Oink the pig and Gobble the turkey. Oink is an excitable young creature, and Gobble is more mature and a bit on the serious side. The two find some unusual things happening on the farm and Oink cannot contain his curiosity and must look for answers.

I think the story has a pretty good pace and flow for children, but seems to rise and build suspense and then end abruptly. I think there was some room for some more scenarios to play out following the “unmasking.” I did like the friendship between the pair despite their differences. I liked that the pig was overly curious while the turkey was more reserved. That made way for a nice back and forth exchange in conversation.

The illustrations were cute but the colors seemed over saturated. I think softening things up a bit would add to the playfulness of the farm. The “Men in Black” aspect felt borrowed and I was wanted to see some Oink and Gobble specific twists to the story.

I love the authors work and I think Oink and Gobble has huge potential to be something both whimsical and unique. I’d like to see Oink and Gobble in original story lines that give their relationship and whimsy potential to stand out. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I think kids will adore Oink and Gobble as they are both fun and funny.

Pages: 28 | ASIN: B07PBMNYKS

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My Name is Erin, and My Mom’s an Addict

My Name is Erin, and my Mom’s an Addict by Amy Voltaire is the story of Erin Whitaker, a fifteen-year-old girl whose mother is a heroin addict. Erin went to live with her grandparents when she was five, after her mother left. When Erin got home from school one day, her mother was gone and never came back. Ten years later Erin’s mother has reentered her life. She’s finally gotten clean and wants to have a relationship with her daughter. Though reluctant, Erin allows her mother back into her life. But when she relapses, will Erin’s anger cause her to lose all the other people in her life as well?

This story focuses on the effects of drug addiction, not just on the addict, but on the other people in their life, children especially but also siblings and friends and even parents-in-law.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Despite the dark theme of substance abuse and drug addiction, there were bits of humor in the story. The author had an engaging writing style. And I really liked the main character, Erin. The whole book was written from her point of view, so I always knew what she was thinking and feeling and why she acted out at times. I didn’t like that Erin kept getting angry about the situation with her mother and taking it out on other people, who were not the source of her anger. But the author offered compelling motivation for her actions, and Erin worked to improve her anger-management issues.

I liked the relationships portrayed in this story, especially between Erin and her best friend, Grace, and Erin and her boyfriend, George, who also acted as a good friend to her. And Erin’s grandparents did not just see caring for her as a duty. Even when she was difficult, they loved her, and they enjoyed having her living with them. Their interactions were funny and sweet. I loved the way Erin acted with Sweetie, a chihuahua poodle mix.

Although the story did not have a conclusive ending, it was hopeful. I believe this story is a realistic portrayal of the realities of life for children affected by drug addiction, and even though it is a work of fiction, this book will resonate with people who are going through a similar situation.

Pages: 250 | ISBN: 1939696496

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Hurtsy: The Harrowed Hedgehog

Hurtsy: The Harrowed Hedgehog by [Graves, Cindy]

Hurtysy is dealing with a unique hedgehog problem. Anyone that touches her gets hurt by her quills. And because of this, Hurtsy is sad and feels bad. In this story Hurtsy meets several animals that are hurting one another and Hurtsy wants to show them how to love, but she can’t because of her sharp quills. Hurtsy must use some bravery and ingenuity to solve this prickly problem.

Every page of this wonderful children’s book is artistically drawn and each piece of art is bright and colorful and fits the tone of the story. Throughout the story Hurtsy is followed by a thought bubble which shows her inner feeling; which is often different from what she is showing to others. I thought this was a unique way to show kids how sometimes our external appearance hides our internal emotions. I really like how this book was able to help kids visualize a complex idea like this.

The story is told in rhyme which flows nicely. The words are easy to understand, but this is a book that adults will want to read to kids because of the aforementioned complex emotional ideas delivered in this book. Sometimes it’s not easy to discern the thoughts from the person as Hurtsy interacts with her own thought bubble.

This is a very cute story that delivers an important message in a unique way. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to teach their kids about emotions, talking about them, learning tough lessons, and reconciling differences between people.

Pages: 26 | ASIN: B07D734LK3

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Oink and Gobble and the ‘No One Can Ever Know Secret’

Oink and Gobble and the 'No One Can Ever Know Secret' (Oink and Gobble Book Series 1) by [Whaler, Norman]

The story Oink and Gobble and the ‘No One Can Ever Know Secret’ is a children’s book about a group of farm animals trying to keep a secret from the humans living with them. The two main characters, Oink and Gobble, spend all of their time together, and are best friends. When Oink goes to talk to Gobble, she thinks he is joking about the little girl that’s been watching him. He lets Gobble know that the girl may suspect that they can talk. They both get worried that their secret may be revealed.

Oink and Gobble and the ‘No One Can Ever Know Secret’ is a interesting story! It really grabs the audience’s attention. The book has a great plot that utilizes suspense and humor in exciting ways throughout the story. The characters are lovable and have their own unique personalities! The change in font size definitely made the story more suspenseful, and allows the reader to understand the importance of those words. This story is definitely good for kids that are still beginners at reading. There aren’t any huge words that would be too hard to understand. The art is cute, using bright colors to showcase characters that are really emotive. The pictures make the story even more enjoyable and makes it easy for kids to imagine each scene; as it’s a still image of an animated cartoon. This is a book that is easy for kids to enjoy, and is one that kids would want to read over and over!

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07L5W3SS6

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