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The Message Of Positivity

Maria Cedolini Thompson
Maria Cedolini Thompson Author Interview

Our 20/20 Journey Back to School talks about returning to school in a post COVID world, what was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for this setup to my story was the thoughts in my head about returning to school a few days before our return in February of 2021. I was fortunate enough to have my first-grade class loop up to second grade with me and so I knew the questions that they had been asking and had built a strong relationship with both my students and their parents. As a parent myself, I knew the importance of letting my community know that we are all in this together and that anything is possible (even though a pandemic). The message of positivity was necessary for all of us to cope with these challenges. The idea that we would conquer them as a team, was most important to me!

The artwork was very creative and engaging for young readers. What was the collaboration process like between you and the illustrator?

The collaboration with Daria Shamolina was amazing. She lives in the Ukraine and I have yet to meet her face to face or even on Facetime/Zoom. I trusted that she would produce incredible illustrations and she was truly able to make the story come to life. I found Daria on a Facebook Author page and saw her previous work and emailed her. I think it was meant to be because she had now illustrated my second book as well.

Returning to normalcy in a post COVID environment is challenging for adults and kids; you touched on the perspective of teachers and children in a relatable way. What was your thought process in writing this content in order to appeal to both the children and the adults reading with them?

In collaborating with teachers at my school and in Covid Facebook groups, I really got a good sense of what “all” teachers were going through. I learned so many things from the many groups I followed and was so thankful for the many resources that I had access to during this time. I really tried to put myself in the shoes of my students and think about how they might be feeling through this unprecedented time. I couldn’t be prouder of my group of students who were warriors through the Pandemic and who supported each other and myself alike!

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

My second book was just released at the end of November on both Amazon and Ingram Spark, it is called, “Lucky the Leprechaun on the Loose”. It is about a legendary St. Patrick’s Day leprechaun. Each year during the month of March up until the family Irish holiday, Lucky comes to visit children at school and at home. But he isn’t just here for a visit! Lucky wants to create some March magic by hiding toys, leaving messages and surprises, and even making messes while the children aren’t looking. In the spirit of The Elf on the Shelf, Lucky brings much delight to the hearts of children during this wonderful holiday time.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Instagram

“Our 20/20 Journey Back to School” is told from the children’s perspective and starts at the beginning of the Pandemic when students are home learning on Zoom. The children address both the challenges and positive aspects of their time spent at home. As the story continues, they tell of the changes to school upon their return. This story tugs on your heartstrings as the students return to school with joyful anticipation and describe the effects of the pandemic on their school experience. They explain how they are feeling and tell about the many unfamiliar changes in this new and different atmosphere. By the end of the book, they are able to express the importance of the class being together, whether on Zoom or in the classroom. This experience has opened their eyes (20/20 vision) and taught them the value of working together. While students and teachers have always been a team, 2020 truly taught us what teamwork was all about and the importance of our journey together and learning as a “class family”.

Dance-It-Out!

Once Upon a Dance
Once Upon a Dance Author Interview

Freya, Fynn, and the Fantastic Flute tells a creative story that gets kids dancing and exercising. How did the idea for this book come about?

As a dance teacher, I know the value of movement and expression. My daughter and I teamed up to try to keep cooped-up kids moving and active at home. The Dance-It-Out! collection—Freya, Fynn, and the Fantastic Flute is one of 10 books—are mostly expanded versions of stories I told in my dance classes. These were always the kids’ favorite part of the class, and I wanted to share the experience with a broader audience. This story is a collaboration with one of the instructors at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Marjorie Thompson, who was separately creating a story ballet, and we thought we’d team up.

What were some driving ideals behind the books development?

The story was created to be danced on stage, so it was an easy transition to create a children’s book with movement from the ideas. We infused even more movement into the Dance-It-Out version by adding the zombie ballet class and having the cats in dance-like poses. It’s full of movement themes and offers many opportunities for creating steps and shapes.

What is the collaboration process like between the authors to bring this book to live?

Marjorie, the original author, had a story draft. We whittled and edited that version together to create a book for her slightly older audience, then I infused that story with simpler movements and actions to make it accessible for younger kids.

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

We hope to have 2 more Dance-It-Outs out this year including one about a spirited squirrel superhero. Some of the previous series favorites include Joey Finds His Jump! and Princess Naomi Helps a Unicorn. We’re also working on audio books for the series and have 3 up on Amazon.

The Freya/Fynn sequel is in motion, and we have the same illustrator booked to start working on it in the new year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | CreativeMovementStories.com | OnceUponADance.com | Instagram | Twitter

Boisterous bats, zany zombies, and giddy ghosts await readers in this tale of sibling friendship, silly creatures, and magical music.

In the Dance-It-Out series, created by an award-winning dance teacherchildren act and move alongside the characters, and Ballerina Konora joins each page with movement suggestions. In this story, Fynn, Freya, cats, bats, ghosts, and zombies assemble for a captivating story of music, magic, and meyhem.

Movement, dance, and concepts include:
• Kicks
• Marches
• Jumps
• Rolls
• Bends
• First/Fifth position
• Shoulder lifts
• Lunges
• Tiptoes/Relevé
• Breath/Sighs
• Balancing on one foot
• Rocking/swaying
• Hand shapes such as fists/flat/pointer/curved fingers
• Sharp and smooth
• Emotions such as joy, shock, curiosity, and love
• Improv dance

Each Dance-It-Out story is an interactive kids’ storytelling adventure to ignite children’s movement, joy, and imagination. Ballerina Konora joins each page with optional movement and dance ideas and photographs.

The books can be used as a supplement for dance or theater studio classes or camps. Fynn, Freya, and the Fantastic Flute would be pair well with themes such as Halloween, cats, island-living, zombies, ghosts, music, camping, or magic.

The Dance-It-Out movement journeys are ideal for dance, pre-ballet, creative movement, preschool, daycare, early learning, physical education, homeschool, kindergarten, or first-grade activities. The full collection features male/female/nongendered and diverse characters. Books make a great gift for girls or boys interested in dance, ballet, gymnastics, or yoga, or reluctant readers who enjoy getting up and being active.

With kind characters, subtle life lessons, and a positive role model in Ballerina Konora, teachers love the kid-approved, ready-made, easy additions to curriculum and lesson planning. Children at home adore the stories that “young readers will return to again and again” (—Reedsy) offering “an innovative use of dance and storytelling” (—Kirkus Reviews).

Freya, Fynn, and the Fantastic Flute

Freya, Fynn, and the Fantastic Flute : A Dance-It-Out Creative Movement Story for Young Movers (Dance-It-Out! Creative Movement Stories for Young Movers) by [Once Upon a Dance, Marjorie Thompson, Emilia Rumińska]

Freya, Fynn, And The Fantastic Flute by Once Upon a Dance is a cute children’s story with a unique interactive twist. In the story, we follow Freya and Flynn as they visit their eccentric Aunt Gail. Their aunt’s home is rumored to be haunted because you can often hear music and movement coming from the attic throughout the night. But is it true? Find out and get moving in Freya, Flynn, And The Fantastic Flute!

If I could use one word to describe this book, it would be ADORABLE! The mixture of dance/movement along with beautiful storytelling through writing and illustration adds something new to the children’s literature market. The author introduces a clever way to get kids moving and exercising and is a great way to have parents interact with their children. I enjoyed the story so much that I was sad when it ended and felt as though it ended abruptly. I wanted to know more about the creatures in the attic. The structure of the book leads me to believe there will be a sequel to this story, which I hope there is because this was a blast.

Freya, Fynn, And The Fantastic Flute is a fun children’s adventure book that will get kids moving through an ingenious combination of dance and storytelling. Parents and educators with young children needing to burn excess energy will find this book very handy.

Pages: 40 | ASIN: B09K5XC9DD

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The Tale of the Christmas Hero

Santa’s reindeer are very busy on Christmas Eve delivering presents to all the children. But when the reindeer decide to take a break and chase a field mouse for fun they bring about a near Christmas disaster. Luckily the field mouse they were chasing knows someone that can help them out of their jam and get Christmas back on track.

This is a charming children’s book that is an absolute joy to read. This book fits right into the cheery holiday theme of the season. The reindeer, and mouse, are so lively and animated throughout the story that their antics are sure to keep any child’s attention.

Right when I figured out this was going to be a story about reindeer getting into mischief, I knew I was going to enjoy this story, and the amusing antics delivered a lot of entertainment. Each scene has a fantastic illustration from illustrator Brenda Timms. Each image has a soft color palette and looks like they were colored with crayon, which makes them easily relatable to children.

This delightful picture book is told in fun rhymes that add color and character to the story being acted out on each page. The rhymes are cute and easy to follow, with a few big words here and there young readers should have an easy time reading this story with an adult.

The Tale of the Christmas Hero is a whimsical Christmas book that will delight kids this holiday season. With lovable and emotive characters taking readers on an amusing chase that ends in a cheesy reward, family’s will surely enjoy this entertaining book.

Pages: 36 | ISBN: 1643613502

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From Hair to There

From Hair to There by [Cindy Lurie]

From Hair to There tells the imaginative tale of a girl’s incredibly long hair and how it is used by a diverse cast of characters to travel across the world. But when a gum chewing camel spits a wad of gum in her hair the magical adventure comes to a stop. Will Cynthia get her incredibly long hair back?

This is a fun and creative children’s book that takes readers on a fairytale adventure around the world where young readers will learn about a variety of locations. This provides a great opportunity for parents and teachers to talk about different geographical locations as well as cultures.

The art in the book is excellent. Every other page has a colorful and sharp graphic art piece that is fit to be framed all on its own. Cynthia and her hair get into a lot of whacky situations that will surely keep children giggling.

Author Cindy Lurie has created a charming picture book with simple rhymes that educates as well as it entertains. I loved Cynthia’s character she, and this book, has so much character that the story can easily be read again and again.

For parents and teachers looking for a lively and educational children’s book that will inspire their kid’s imagination look no further than From Hair to There by Cindy Lurie.

Pages: 56 | ASIN: B096Q3LLCJ

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The Adventures of Charlie, Blue and Larry Lamp Post

The Adventures of Charlie, Blue and Larry Lamp Post by [Sarah Duchess of York]

Young Charlie has a secret. Every night Larry the Lamp Post and Billy Barrow come alive and whisk Charlie and his dog Blue away on a magical star filled adventure that empowers Charlie and teaches readers about different star constellations.

The Adventures of Charlie, Blue and Larry Lamp Post is a uniquely imaginative children’s book with gorgeous water color art that fills every page. I enjoyed the colorful palette and the beautifully whimsical imagery. All of the illustrations are perfect for capturing a child’s attention and imagination while creating an interest in astronomy.

The art style works perfectly to bring the universe to life once Charlie starts zipping around the stars. Young readers will learn about a variety of different constellations and even be treated to constellation and space facts at the end of the book. All of this serves to make this a spirited adventure that is also wonderfully educational as well.

This is a perfect addition to any teacher’s science section in elementary school. This book is also perfect for parents to share with their children as it arouses curiosity in the world and sends a positive message of hope. The Adventures of Charlie, Blue and Larry Lamp Post is a marvelous picture book that sends readers on a wondrous journey through the stars.

Pages: 38 | ASIN: B09DM68N56

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Through Individual Ingenuity

Author Interview
Edward Martin Polansky Author Interview

Oscar the Osprey follows a newly hatched osprey who has difficulty relating to his peers because of his handicap and must face a threatening winter world alone. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration goes back over 35 years, and emanated from a trip to the Royal Gorge in Colorado with my family.  While walking across the gorge suspension bridge that was 1000 feet above the Arkansas River, my oldest son remarked that it would terrible for a bird to be afraid of heights.  He sympathized with the problem because he had a fear of heights.  The story about a bird having that problem was the idea that I found intriguing and it led to finally formally publishing the book 30 year later.

Oscar is a charming character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

A good children’s book should have, in my opinion, likeable characters, a strong moral behind the story, and be readable on multiple levels.  That is, it should be interesting to a non-reading young listener, challenging to a young reader, and interesting to a grownup.  Dr. Suess was a master of this technique.  I tried to combine those elements in telling the story about Oscar’s handicap and how he learned how to deal with it.  The moral of Oscar’s story is that we all have to overcome hurdles in life, not through miracles, but through individual ingenuity.  

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Sibling rivalry, overcoming personal limitations, dealing with life’s dangers, handling ridicule… all common problems of growing into adulthood.

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

I’ve written two additional books (through AuthorHouse) in the Oscar series, the second one focuses on his relationship with his brother and the third with his sister.  All of the books, I hope, followed the basic premises of the first Oscar book.  The books are available on-line through AuthorHouse, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I had originally planned on completing a trilogy, but now I’m working on a fourth book in the Oscar series, which should be available in early 2021.

Author Links: Facebook | Website

The book is set in the Tetons Mountains and begins with the newly hatched Oscar and his difficulty with relating to his parents, peers, and surroundings because of his unusual handicap. He not only suffers humiliation as a result of it but he faces serious limitations to his normal development and ultimately his ability to survive in the wild. It is about how he compensates for his handicap, the animals and dangers he encounters, and the fact that he is faced with how to survive the unfamiliar bitter cold and threatening winter world.

Hickory Doc’S Tales

Hickory Doc’S Tales: The Pack: First Generation by [Linda Harkey]

This bucolic children’s book contains a collection of humorous stories following the adventures and misadventures at The Lazy Dog Hacienda kennels in Oklahoma.

Hickory Doc’s Tales is a cute story about a family of hunting dogs. Zeke is easily my favorite character because he is the misunderstood uncle and sort of the black sheep of the family. Zeke considers himself better than his brother and family. Eventually he becomes humble and children will learn a good lesson along the way as well. Newt is my second favorite character because he is loyal and even though he is a different breed of dog, they still consider him family, this sends a wonderful message of diversity and inclusion to young readers. He is a little insecure, but quickly realizes his differences are positive and helpful. It’s cute to see how close this family of dogs are, the lengths they go through for one another and the adventures they share. There is also a delightful variety of colorful side characters that appear throughout the book.

Now, even though the characters were lovely I wasn’t fond of the author’s writing style. I felt like that held back the story a bit. It was well edited, but some of the wording felt almost robotic.

This is a book for young readers that are transitioning to chapter books. The book was well edited, but I wanted there to be more of a flow to the language so that the writing matched the easy flow of life in the book.

I loved the illustrations! They were very well done and added life and dimension to the story. The illustrations were placed perfectly throughout the book giving you a better feel for what happened in that chapter. The chapters are very short. The book itself is perfect for an elementary student from grades four to six. I found it interesting that the author is a hunting dog owner and wondered about all the sources of inspiration she must have had!

Hickory Doc’S Tales is such a cute story that young readers will absolutely adore.

Pages: 116 | ASIN: B0796623SZ

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