Blog Archives

Strength That Lies Within

April Pulliam Author Interview

April Pulliam Author Interview

Strong Is…” shows that children can be strong in their own way when they’re up against tough challenges. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I began writing “Strong Is…” when my friend, Kathy, was battling breast cancer and had her in mind the entire time I was planning the path the story would take. It was important to me to convey her strength and at the same time write a book her young daughter and other children could understand and find relatable.

I thought the art was cute and fitting for the story. What was the art collaboration like between you and the illustrator Amy Grantham?

Amy is a phenomenal artist. We work together on a daily basis, so discussing the story and our ideas for the illustrations was simple. Once we decided we wanted the entire book to slowly reveal the character’s point of view, the rest was easy. Over the years, I have seen enough of Amy’s artwork to know what look I wanted for the illustrations, and Amy listened to my descriptions and more than delivered.

I thought you handled this sensitive topic with respect while also making it accessible. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

It’s my hope that readers of all ages realize that no matter the challenges they face, there is a strength that lies within each of us. Overall, I want the book to be a bright spot during difficult times for those struggling with cancer, their families, and their friends.

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

Our next book is “Bottom Down, Penelope Brown” and should be available in the next 2-3 months. I won’t give anything away about it–my mom wants to be surprised.

Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Strong Is . . . by [Pulliam, April B.]Author April B. Pulliam explores what “Strong Is” through a child’s eyes. Nothing defines strength like a battle, and there is no battle like the one presented by cancer. This book is for anyone touched by cancer and amazed by the strength found within during the darkest of days.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Hey Baby – Deja’s New Adventure

With a new baby comes new responsibilities for an older sister. This is what Deja is about to learn. Join Deja on her new adventure in this picture book series with an empowering message: You are never too young to learn the value and joy of helping.

Deja has been waiting for her baby brother to arrive and he is finally here! Now she is a BIG Sister! While visiting her baby brother at the hospital, Deja gets a special gift. The gift gives her SUPER HELPING POWER!

Find out what happens with Deja as she begins a new adventure as a SUPER BIG SISTER, learning how to use her SUPER HELPING POWER to save the day!!

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Strong Is…

Strong Is . . . by [Pulliam, April B.]

What is strong? According to Merriam-Webster, strong is not mild or weak. But what exactly does that mean? To determine if someone or something is strong you need to look at it in context and compare it to other things that are similar. Strong Is… by April Pulliam and illustrated by Amy Grantham looks at the situation through the eyes of a child. The child is relaying all the ways they have heard the word strong used to describe people and things. Each situation gives a new view on what makes something strong or not. As you go through the book you encounter funny images like a stinky dog or a hungry lion, but then it starts to focus more on people and the images become more serious; a hospital, a distraught mother. It all leads up to the end with a picture of a small child. While the book never says cancer in the story line, it is implied with the imagery and by reading up on the author’s page at the end.

This is a challenging subject and this book is a great way to introduce a young child to what might be going on. Learning that it’s okay and even when you’re little you can be strong in your own way. I think this is a great book for siblings or even a child that may be going through this to read and gain some confidence. It’s an emotional topic that is handled with dignity and simplified for young readers. I recommend this book to anyone that knows someone going through an illness and trying to explain it to a young child.

Pages: 15 | ASIN: B07NKH1FNC

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Stay Faithful to the Stories in Your Head

Gloria D. Gonsalves Author Interview

Gloria D. Gonsalves Author Interview

Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms follows the king and queen of Lamellia as the kingdom is dealing with the appearance of a human child. What was the direction that you wanted to take this book that was different from The Wicked Queen?

Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms is the prequel to Lamellia: The Wicked Queen. There was no direction for the plot except that I honoured the file downloaded to me by nature. The story line seemed absolutely piffle but it nudged to be told and I had to respect the idea as it came to mind. Perhaps I was paying tribute to Paula Hawkins words “Stay faithful to the stories in your head.”

In this book we get to explore more of the king’s backstory. What were some themes you wanted to capture in his character?

I recall seeing this big, ugly and brown mushroom during a forest walk. As I sat down to write the story based on that particular mushroom, it seemed natural that regardless of its appearance it’s going to be the story lead because I saw it first and the idea of the book followed.

Why did you choose mushrooms to be a large part of your world?

This book was not planned at all. I got the idea while out in the nature. One could say that the inspiration was fuelled by my husband, who likes to point out names of wild plants in the forest.

Being authentic with this story was important even though to some people it seemed ridiculous or not one to pay most money.

Some parts of the books might appear harsh to a child. I am not keen to block truth and reality from a child such as there are poisoning mushrooms out there or some human behaviours have negative impacts to nature.

I also remember one marketing person who saw the draft and told me that their child did not like the story and went further to suggest I write a different book based on trending topics at that time which made more money. It did not put me off because humans are different and our motivations are diverse. A child who is not raised to explore nature and its residents will probably not be excited by this book. It was essential to tell this story without money being the motivator.

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

I am working on two projects simultaneously. One is a children’s Swahili book co-authored by Tanzanian writers. The other is of course the continuation of Lamellia story. For the latter, I am open minded to receive ideas for where Lamellia story should go but I trust to know when the end has come.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms by [Gonsalves, Gloria D.]

Can a lost baby girl find a new home in a world of enchanted, talking mushrooms? King Polipoli is kind to all who enter his magical kingdom. When he learns that a human baby girl needs his help, he sends out all his mushroom troops to rescue her. But the journey wont be easy. After all, how can the little fungi carry a baby? Or feed her? Mushrooms of all shapes, sizes, and species must use teamwork and creativity to bring the girl safely to the kings castle. Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms is a delightful educational picture book for children. During the fun-filled adventure, your children will discover the importance of kindness, tolerance, and acceptance. If your child likes seeing beautiful illustrations, learning about nature, and using their imagination, then theyll love this charming fantasy tale. Journey to Lamellia today to have a fun time with fungi!

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Jai the Albino Cow

Jai the Albino Cow: Jai Ng’Ombe Zeruzeru by Gloria D. Gonsalves (with illustrations by Nikki Ng’ombe) is a book intended for children in Grades 3-4. The story features a family of Ankole cows that live in the meadows of Kole Hills. There are two brothers, Lutalo (Bello Bello) and Tokei (Spotty), and their sister, Anjait (known as Jai). But Jai is different–she’s an albino cow. And some of the cows in Kole Hills believe that she is cursed. But others believe that she is a relative of unicorns. And it’s true. She is a magical cow whose dancing produces stars, silver glitter, and a rainbow of colors. She is the first female cow to join the dance of the cattle kings.

I really enjoyed this book, especially the fact that the story is written in two languages, with both shown on the same page. Besides English, Jai’s adventure is also told in Swahili. Which allows a larger audience to read the book, as well as helps to teach readers another language.

I liked the message in this story, that what makes a cow (or person) different is what makes them special. This book teaches children to show kindness to others, even those who are different. And it also encourages children to try new things, even things that no one else has ever tried before.

I loved the illustration that were included in the book, showing various scenes from the story. The pictures, showing Jai and her family and the Kole Hillls, featured realism rather than cartoonish qualities and were drawn using vivid colors that appeal to young readers.

I would have liked it if the story had been just a little bit longer and included Bello Bello and Spotty’s reaction to seeing their sister’s magical abilities, but otherwise this was a great book.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07HBZ8D5T

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms

Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms is part of a series by Gloria D. Gonsalves. In this series, Gonsalves weaves together a whimsical kingdom of royalty, guards, and an army made up entirely of personified mushrooms. Gonsalves follows the mushrooms as they discover a human baby in the forest of their kingdom. In true foster-parent fashion, the mushrooms make sacrifices to care for the lost child. The community of mushrooms rallies to take care of young Tiara. Gonsalves does a good job of introducing each type of mushroom and their specific jobs much like she did in Lamellia: The Wicked Queen.

When so many characters or character types are introduced at once, I think it is important to give a thorough explanation of who they are. Gonsalves does that in the first few pages. Having this as an introduction lets readers know they can always flip back to that section for reference if needed. This book focuses more on the king than the queen of the kingdom of Lamellia. It gives a little more backstory and insight into the king’s young life growing up. He is described as a sort of monster-like figure when he was young, but grew into a king and adopted a new name to go with his new role. I like that he didn’t look the part, but grew to be a wise and kind king. This emphasizes how unimportant outward appearances can be.

The book is generally an easy read with a few challenging words throughout the pages. I think the book would be good for young readers, but I would suggest some slight parental guidance for especially young readers. There is mention of a mushroom’s inclination to poison the baby. Also, there is talk of humans being mean to mushrooms, picking them and throwing them away, and cooking them to death. This might be a little scary for young readers.

Young readers will enjoy the brightly colored illustrations that seem to be hand drawn and painted. They will enjoy the imaginary world of Lamellia with mushrooms walking about and talking. They will also appreciate the fairy tale-like happy ending of the book. Having read The Wicked Queen, I did spot quite a few discrepancies between the stories. It seems more of a retelling of the same story than a new part of the story. I’m not sure which came first in the series, but the story-line of the baby in the story is quite a bit different than in The Wicked Queen. I’d think this might be a prequel and the queen’s sinister influence might come after except for  the “happily ever after” part of the story at the end. It was a much less happy fate for the baby in the other book. This book had a much lighter mood than the other part of the series.

I think this is a book that kids will enjoy reading. I like the characters and the story-line. I’d like to see a different scenario with these characters in the future, or the progression of baby Tiara’s life.

Pages: 38 | ISBN: 1524634972

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Lamellia: The Wicked Queen

Lamellia: The Wicked Queen is part of a children’s book series by author, Gloria D. Gonsalves. The story is set in the whimsical mushroom kingdom of Lamellia. King Polipoli and Queen Nobilia rule over the land and employ several other types of mushrooms that make up their army. The queen seems to have everything that she could ever want, but there is one thing she longs for; a baby. When she’s sad, the queen sings a song that would puts a damper on the mood of the entire kingdom. Black clouds hang over the colorful kingdom washing it out with dark shadows. All of the mushrooms’ moods seemed to mimic the queen’s. They become depressed and withdrawn when their queen is suffering.

The author does a good job of introducing the kingdom and the types of mushrooms in the first pages of the story. I found myself flipping back to reference things there. It seems that everyone had a job to do. Most of those jobs consisted of combating enemies or keeping them at bay. In this way, the story feels very much like the fairy tales we grew up with. The king, the queen, their court, and their protectors are all present like in the classics.

Magically, a human baby appears in the kingdom. Everyone, including the king, falls in love with this precious baby and care for and dote on her from the instant she is found. She is showered by adoration with everyone except one mushroom. The queen tries to keep decorum in front of the others, but something sinister is afoot. With that, another classic element of an evil queen is introduced.

What’s a book without conflict? Not all is sunshine and roses in the kingdom of Lamellia. The author introduces conflict through Nobilia’s demons. However, the book seems to leave an open path toward redemption. If Nobilia accepts the baby, everything could change. Readers will find these elements reminiscent of Disney movies they’ve seen.

I think the book is well-written and easy to read. With parental guidance, I think young readers will be able to handle this book. It does have some dark parts, so I don’t know if I’d suggest it for independent reading for very small children. Some guards die, and the queen poisons the baby. These elements can be a bit scary for little ones. I do think children will enjoy the beautiful, painted illustrations. It is also short enough for a young reader to tackle without getting overwhelmed.

Overall, it is well-written and has a nice flow. Gonsalves has woven together a beautiful kingdom of characters while leaving room for flaws. I’d like to see how the story of the wicked queen progresses.

Pages: 36 | ASIN: B079K7NCQQ

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Missing Reindeer

The Missing Reindeer by [Smith, Zeke]

The Missing Reindeer is a short, illustrated children’s Christmas storybook about a little boy named Sammy. The story follows Sammy who lives with his tribe in Northern Scandinavia where they herd reindeer. When the Reindeer go missing, things seem dire for Sammy and his tribe, and so he decides to make a winter’s wish to Santa Claus. This is a cute little Christmas story about being thankful for what you have and those around you.

The book is a little less than twenty pages long, and each page has only a few sentences of text one it, making it a quick read. It is a perfect story to read to small children around Christmas time as it explores a little of the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia, while also being a sweet Christmas story that has hope and thankfulness. The illustrations of the book are pretty and vibrant. I liked the art style of the book which was a little water-color inspired cartoon drawings. I thought that the backgrounds and animals were particularly beautiful. There were a few of the pages where the people in the illustrations seemed a little out of place with the scene or what the text was describing, but overall it worked together nicely.

Christmas stories are always a fun addition to have to read to your children during the winter, and I appreciated that the setting and plot worked together to give this story some originality. Overall The Missing Reindeer by author Zeke Smith is a sweet children’s Christmas tale that shows endearing heart, and lovely illustrations, a perfect combo for a wonderful children’s book.

Pages: 20 | ASIN: B0794V1ZP8

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Books are Pure Magic

AJ Wootton Author Interview

AJ Wootton Author Interview

Gardening with Guns: A Memoir details the road you traveled from childhood to adulthood. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I have wanted to be a writer since reading my first novel as a child. To me books are pure magic. As my life unfolded it became more and more clear to me that my path was quite different from the norm. I felt that others would find my story interesting and that some who had experienced similar obstacles would draw inspiration from knowing they are not alone.

I appreciated how you didn’t shy away from the dark times in your life and shared them along with the good. What were some important memories you wanted to capture?

My childhood home. I have only fond memories of that house, our yard, and our garden – in spite of the negative things that happened there. I also wanted to capture my beloved grandparents. I often attribute my perseverance to them and their unguarded love for my brothers and me. It was also very important for me to capture the trauma I experienced surrounding my father’s death. In a way it is a tribute to him.

Looking back on you life after you’ve written a memoir, is there anything that you see differently?

If I could sum it up, I would say that all of the fearful and awful memories that loomed large in the back of my mind were greatly diminished and their effect on me neutralized.

I found this book to be ultimately uplifting. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Just that! I wanted very much to tell the good and bad and to show that you can overcome. The keys are self-reflection, honesty, forgiveness and love. Oh, and one more important one – courage! It takes courage to face your fears, but the rewards are immense!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Gardening with Guns: A Memoir by [Wootton, AJ]

In the prime of her life, AJ seemingly has it all – a successful career, three thriving children and a marriage that spans two decades. Her hard-fought, adult life beams bright and in sharp contrast to the dark, gun-wielding, serial-parent changing, and starkly silent world she grew up in.

On the heels of her father’s sudden and tragic death, AJ finds herself questioning the life she has so carefully architected. Estranged from her mother, she seeks comfort in the revival of her relationship with her two brothers, all that remain of her childhood nucleus. The three siblings find themselves in a sad, yet familiar place as they bond in the midst of their loss, and relive together similar times from the turbulent and siloed childhood they shared.

In the months following her father’s funeral, AJ’s reminiscences compel her to see her current circumstances through a fresh lens. Concerns that her husband is leading a secret life turn from suspicion to fact as the void in their relationship widens, creating a troubling likeness between her marriage and the dysfunctional relationships she witnessed as a child. She struggles with the decision to honor her intuition and end her failing marriage, but the consequences of divorce still loom ominously in her memory. She realizes that she can no longer deny her buried past, nor its implications on her current situation.

This is a fascinating true story of one woman’s journey to overcome childhood trauma, and to listen to the inner voice that she has been ignoring for years. Written as a novel, her memoir traverses past and present, all the while painting vivid pictures of both her childhood and adult worlds, the similarities of which have become too numerous to ignore.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Jai the Albino Cow: Jai Ng’Ombe Zeruzeru – Trailer

Can an albino cow possess abilities to be admired by other cows?

Anjait (Jai) is Ankole cow who lived with her family in Kole Hills. Jai suffers from albinism. Other cows thought she was cursed. One day, Jai shocked other cows for doing something that no other cow did before. She also surprised them with a magical skill.

What is it that Jai did as the first ever cow? Will her actions and skill help bring love and respect to albino cows?

Get your copy now to find out the answers and reveal to your children the importance of showing kindness and respect to everyone, even if they look different.

Je, ngombe zeruzeru anaweza kuwa na uwezo wa kustaajabiwa na ngombe wengine?

Anjait (Jai) alikuwa ni ngombe wa kitutsi anayeishi na familia yake kwenye vilima vya Kole. Jai alikuwa ni zeruzeru. Ngombe wengine walifikiri ana laana. Siku moja aliwashangaza ngombe wenzie kwa kufanya kitu kwa mara ya kwanza. Aliwapa mshangao zaidi kwa uwezo wake wa kimiujiza.

Ni kitu gani alifanya Jai kama ngombe wa kwanza? Je matendo na uwezo wake yanaweza leta upendo na heshima kwa ngombe zeruzeru?

Jipatie nakala yako ili kupata majibu na uwafundishe watoto wako umuhimu wa kuonyesha upendo na heshima kwa kila mtu, hata kama mwonekano wao ni tofauti.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: