If you’re shopping for a picture book, George Neeb’s Pharaoh’s Arrow should be high on your list of choices. This unique book is an experience like you haven’t seen before – a whole book written and illustrated in the style of ancient Egypt! Neeb took the time to paint all the pages by hand and tell us a story of revenge set in the times of a bygone era. He studied Egyptian art and it shows on every page.. Every page is an individual work of art, bringing the artistic style of the Land of the pyramids into the modern format.
While set in ancient times of the pharaohs, Neeb came up with the story himself. As he explained, he tried to get the facts correct. The style of clothing and the makeup match the era the story is set in and he spent a considerable amount of time giving his book the feel of an old papayri. He didn’t just stop at the characters, whom he painted in the drawing style of the ancient Egypt, but went as far to match the authentic hieroglyphics that appear throughout the story with the text!
Pharaoh’s Arrow excels in the themes it takes us through. While picture books usually don’t trouble themselves with big moral questions, George Neeb had other ideas for his characters. What starts like a story of revenge ends up differently than you would expect. Without giving the details, you will be surprised with the decision the main character decided to go with. And while odd, the decision is very practical. Considering the times the story is happening the decision is quite fitting. I felt that Neeb’s poetry was not his strong suit and were not lyrically challenging, but he is still able to tell an interesting story.
Many odds and ends of the life of ancient Egypt show throughout the book. The story starts in quite an unusual way – the mother of Akia, our heroine, is killed by a crocodile which makes her father decide to live in the desert. Crocodiles where a predator on the Nile back in the day and the situation gives us a glimpse of life thousands of years ago. Burial rites of the ancient Egypt are also referenced and Neeb also talks about the spirituality that the people of those times were observing. His reference of “ba”, roughly translated as the modern concept of the soul, is something you will not find in many books that deal with this long gone civilization!
The illustrations are unique and make it an unforgettable work of art. At the end of the book Neeb even explains how to accomplish the style yourself, making the Pharaoh’s Arrow a perfect choice for anyone interested in painting and history.
Pages: 18 | ASIN: B07DV1XL2M
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Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 takes young readers on a journey through the magical Hotel of Hoo where they’re introduced to many strange guests. What served as your inspiration for this imaginative hotel and its occupants?
The concept was really born from the title. I had wanted to write a counting book for a while but one that carried a stronger narrative than many others in this particular category. After I had the title, everything else just came together. I think that there is something about doors that sparks a natural curiosity, particularly in young children. I wanted to extend that curiosity by placing the story in a setting that would really compound the mystery. A magical castle, to me, holds a lot of intrigue and seemed like an excellent place to begin a curious journey.
There are a lot of interesting creatures behind each door. My favorite was the miniature giants. What was your favorite to write and animate?
I have so many! For most of the characters there is a fascinating juxtaposition between the general perception of their stereotype and a characteristic they embody in the story. Some of the other creatures are simply a play on popular culture. However a few of them are just plain cute. If I had to choose only one favourite, I think it would be from this last category – the big-headed monkeys.
While I was writing this character, I had in my mind something so adorable that it would make a great stuffed toy. What’s exciting about working with Lenny is that we both think similarly. She was able to take my thoughts for this idea and really bring it to life with brilliant expression. They may not be a typical mythical creature, but I think they nevertheless compliment the overall enjoyment of exploring this hotel by diffusing the expectation that each character needs to have some kind of creepy characteristic.
The story is told in rhyme and each door has a theme which, I think, makes this book great for the classroom. Was it challenging to write the story in this way or was it natural?
After I had the idea, the story itself flowed quite naturally. The fantastical nature of the castle meant that each door wasn’t restricted to a single concept or any established rules. I think this is (in part) what both pulls you along in the story and tempts you to linger – every door is a portal to its own unique and perhaps unexpected theme.
I don’t want it to send like I’m begging, but please tell me this story is going to be expanded on in future books?
Ooh, now that’s an interesting question. It was definitely a fun story to write so I wouldn’t rule out a sequel. I’ll let you know…
The magical Hotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.
This imaginative picture book aims to take children beyond the first ten cardinal numbers, and introduces them to the patterns of counting in a fun and accessible way. With rooms to explore and unique objects to count, children will enjoy lingering on each page as they make their way closer to the forbidden door.
Posted in Interviews
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The Day Momma Made Me Dance is a colorful children’s book depicting the consequences of childrens misbehavior. What was your inspiration for this book?
My inspiration was my very own childhood experience. I myself was a mischevious child and my sister was also so growing up in a home where consequences were learned about through whoopings. I decided to write about it and this book is in no way to excuse about but to simply talk about my story and how I learned right from wrong. Not all people will see this book as acceptable but in many black homes that are my culture, it is accepted.
The story follows a young girl who is constantly up to mischief. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in this story?
The themes that were displayed was the experience of going to school and misbehaving, treating my sibling badly and being disrespectful by not listening to my parent. These themes were important because everyone has had a bad moment in their life either in the home or school as a kid.
The story draws a line between punishment and abuse. What is a common misconception you find people have about this subject?
People find that any form of punishment with an object is abuse. I have to disagree with that opinion because we all have to measure the level of discipline with what object and for how long. I believe that it is ok to whoop your child, talk to them and do time out. However, what happens when all of your interventions fail and the child still continues to misbehave. My book was a simple representation of punishment was in my home and the yes the girl learned her lesson in the end. The girl talked with her mom and stated that she understands the rules of the home and school. I had the same similar experience in my life. So this book was a short story about that time.
What do you hope readers take away from your story?
Readers should take away that punishment is not all bad no matter the form of it. It just depends on the level and frequency of the punishment. This book is not only about punishment but it has a bit of humor in it. The day momma made me dance is simply a metaphor for a butt whipping. The girl understands her faults and is thankful for her punishment because without it she would not understand the rules of home and school.
As a mom, we continuously tell our children the rules of the house. Not only this, we are constantly cleaning and prompting them to do their chores and homework. Until one day, Momma has had enough. Find out what happens when enough is enough in this home.
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The Day Momma Made Me Dance, written by Patrice Brown, is a colourful children’s book depicting the consequences of what happens when children misbehave. The story follows a young girl who is constantly up to mischief, whether it’s in the form of skipping chores, fighting with her brother or doing cartwheels in the hallway. Her momma ignores her naughtiness, and it seems like the little girl will continue with her mischievous ways. Finally, momma has had enough of her daughter’s behaviour and decides to inflict some interesting forms of punishment.
The Day Momma Made Me Dance is a short story that takes a look at children’s behaviour and using physical punishment as a result of “naughty” or “bad” behaviour.
The story begins with a touching dedication which gives credit to mothers and the strength they carry through motherhood. In particular, it dedicates the story to her mother who has sadly passed and the strength they have had raising their children as a single parent. It sets the tone for the story and provides relevance to the types of punishment used for the children.
It then goes on to continue with a forward and preface section where the author outlines the love for her family and her daughter. It’s clear to see that Patrice has a strong love and bond for her children and family and values the childhood that her mother was able to provide for her. It also indicates how similar punishments of “making her dance” were used on her and her siblings and how she understood and accepted the reasoning behind the particular types of punishment.
The Day Momma Made Me Dance appears to be targeted towards children, however, the underlying message is created for adults as it pushes towards building an understanding of what constitutes abuse and discipline. The choice of punishment is a form of corporal punishment where the child experiences being whipped for her misbehaviour.
The Day Momma Made Me Dance could be used as a talking point of what parents may consider appropriate punishment for their children. At the end of the novel, Patrice Brown discusses what she believes to be abuse and what she feels is discipline. Patrice also goes into depth on the importance of not using sexual abuse as a form of punishment and how abuse can occur in many ways- emotionally, physically and mentally. There are questions you can use to discuss with your children on how they feel about being disciplined and how you can better your relationship with your child. These questions put a positive spin on the story and open up the passage of discussion of what you consider to be unfair or inappropriate discipline.
I would recommend this to parents who were comfortable in the use of corporal punishment or were looking for a storybook to open up the conversation of what family members considered to be abuse or discipline.
Pages: 39 | ASIN: B075KLRNLQ
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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B.C.R. Fegan’s Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 takes young readers on a journey through the magical Hotel of Hoo where Mr. Nicholas Noo gives his first-ever guests constant reminders to avoid, at all costs, door number 32. Behind each door leading up to 32, guests are treated to many surprises, some creepy and some quite humorous. Entertaining rhymes help light the way through the castle-like establishment as both the readers and the guests of the hotel meet and greet a bevy of characters who have taken up residence behind the first 31 doors. What lies behind Door 32? I’ll never tell!
I really love Fegan’s books for young readers. Lenny Wen, illustrator, creates some of the most vivid and striking images you will find in children’s literature. Wen gives his characters amazingly expressive eyes whether they are screaming in terror at ghosts cooking roasts, doing a double-take at a paintbrush-wielding elf, sneaking peeks at tea-drinking monsters, or (my favorite) marveling at miniature giants.
This particular tale takes on a Halloween feel and serves as a fabulous book to read aloud during October or as part of a monster-themed unit for elementary grades. As a third grade teacher, I can see using this book with my students to study rhyme, compare and contrast the findings behind each door, or as an inspiring writing prompt. The possibilities are as endless as the number of creatures housed behind each of the doors in the Hotel of Hoo.
Fegan does an excellent job of periodically reminding the reader that Door 32 is somewhat of an enigma and, possibly, the most feared of all doors in the Hotel of Hoo. Suspense builds throughout the book as the second-person narrative draws young readers into the different rooms, page by page, and treats them to a fantastic assortment of zombies, ghosts, wizards, and many more creatures of lore.
Fegan and Wen are, book by book, mastering the kiddie lit genre. With each successive book, their plots and accompanying illustrations take on more depth and even more vibrant characters. From the very first pages, this one has the feel of a classic in-the-making.
Pages: 36 | ASIN: B078VSML8V
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Lucy’s First Christmas is the heartwarming tale of Lucy the rescue cat’s first Christmas with her adoptive family. There is so many directions to take a holiday story, how did you settle on this story line?
Having a new pet during the holiday season can be stressful for them, the established pets, and the family. The family dynamic changes with the additional family member. I wanted to show that there is plenty of room and love to go around.
I felt like there was a lot of love and truth in this story. Did you take anything from your own life and put it in this story?
Oh yes! Lucy’s antics all happened. From playing with the Christmas tree decorations, to “helping” me wrap Christmas presents, to playing in the snow. She did it all! But in the end her favorite place to be is curled up on our laps or snuggling with one of our other pets 🙂
Do you find that pets are usually extra curious around the holidays when humans are decorating?
Absolutely, the sights, scents, and sounds that go along with the holiday season are very enticing to pets. The constant activity peeks their curiosity even more. That’s why it’s so important to take extra safety precautions for your pets during the holiday season.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The fourth book in the Lucy’s Tale series, Lucy goes to the Vet, will be available spring 2018.
Tomorrow is Lucy’s first Christmas. Everyone is busy getting ready for the big day. Lucy wants to help. But when she tries to help Mom wrap presents, she makes a mess. When she tries to help Dad decorate the tree, she tangles the lights. When she tries to help Ben build a snowman, she gets stuck in a snowdrift. Surely there must be a way for an eager kitten to help!
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The Dragon Grammar Book: Grammar for Kids, Dragons, and the Whole Kingdom, by Diane Mae Robinson, is a handy writing tool for kids in one neat, little package. Robinson presents readers with a succinct list of terminology, ten chapters covering everything from subject and verb agreement to dangling participles and misplaced modifiers. Throughout the grammar guide, readers are treated to engaging illustrations of Sir Princess Petra and Snarls, the dragon. From beginning to end, The Dragon Grammar Book, provides readers with everything they need to address those most common questions they encounter as budding writers.
Robinson begins her grammar guide with a very useful and well-organized grammar terminology section. Teachers, students, and parents will find the opening 15 pages of the book an extremely helpful tool for quickly skimming and finding definitions and examples of each of the parts of speech, punctuation, along with a few writing terms tossed in for good measure.
Let’s face it, kids can shut down at lightning speed when a textbook comes into sight. The Dragon Grammar Book provides the perfect amount of information presented in short bursts that don’t overwhelm the reader. Accompanying explanations for each rule are not too wordy, and hold the reader’s attention long enough to make a point. The ongoing dragon theme is tucked into each of the example sentences throughout the book.
As a teacher, I appreciate the wide variety of topics covered in the fairly short text. The author has chosen to include some areas students will encounter as their writing develops over the course of several years. Chapter One’s focus on confusing words was a breath of fresh air to this teacher. Arranged alphabetically and featuring brief, easy-to-understand examples, this portion of the book is simple to navigate and covers each and every roadblock young writers encounter as they learn to proofread and edit their work.
I give The Dragon Grammar Book: Grammar for Kids, Dragons, and the Whole Kingdom 5 out of 5 stars. Having a useful resource that engages students and includes a wide variety of grammar rules with short, fun examples is difficult to find. Robinson has produced a winner with this easy-to-navigate, all-inclusive, grammar guide for kids.
Pages: 140 | ASIN: 198871401X
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Titch the Itch is the tale of an animated little itch who wants nothing more than to make friends. How did you come up with the idea to anthropomorphize an itch?
The idea was born when I was ‘chasing an itch’ around my wife’s back. Every time I scratched a spot, the itch seemed to move. I thought the idea of an itch playing games would make a fun concept for a children’s book so I set about to develop the story.
There are many fun and funny moments in the book. Were there any moments that made you laugh out loud while creating the book?
I’m not actually a laugh out loud kind of person. I’m one of those annoying people who internalises humour – so no one is actually sure whether I’m finding something funny. I know… I’m working on it. But yes, there were quite a few moments that I found quite fun.
There are probably two main aspects of the story that stand out to me as funny. The first is Titch’s desperate but authentic attempts to make friends, juxtaposed with the exaggerated but real-world reactions of his new acquaintances. The second is Titch’s completely innocent disregard for anyone’s personal space.
Lenny Wen, the illustrator, also did an outstanding job capturing the humour. Probably my favourite page is when Titch spots a ‘rich-looking lady with a tiny white poodle’. She has managed to illustrate someone who typifies dignity and stoic behaviour. It is the anticipation of Titch’s desire to make friends with her that I think prepares readers for a good laugh out loud moment (if that’s their thing of course).
This story of an itch looking for friendship is perfect for teaching young readers about the value of friends and loyalty. What do you hope readers take away from this story?
I tried to write something that was a little different to most books on friendship. Often we think of friendship as something that we accept based on someone’s desirable qualities. I wanted to challenge that, and ask the question, what if friendship has more to do with someone else’s acceptance of us.
Titch ends up being a really interesting case study in friendship, because he is annoying by nature. In essence, the desirable qualities that we normally associate with friendship have been stripped away. We are only left with loyalty. I also purposefully avoid concluding the book in consonance, as it transfers this question to the reader.
At the end of the day however, this question is only a subtle thread in an otherwise simple and humorous adventure of an Itch. More than anything else, I hope that readers of Titch the Itch just enjoy the imaginative qualities and have fun reading!
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book to hit the shelves is called Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32. It is about a brother and sister who are invited to explore a mysterious hotel with some unusual guests. Readers will be able to linger on each page and count the hidden objects as they make their way towards the forbidden door. I really look forward to hearing what children (and adults) think of it.
It is currently available for pre-order, and will be available on March 14.
When Titch discovers that no one in his family wants him, he sets off on a journey to find someone – anyone – who would be willing to live with an itch. With every step he grows less hopeful. That is, until he meets an old friend.
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Lucy’s First Christmas, written by Rolynda Tassan and illustrated by Ruby Wheeler, is the heartwarming tale of Lucy the rescue cat’s first Christmas with her adoptive family. Like any other cat, her curiosity wins out, and she becomes entangled, literally, in the preparations for the coming holiday. From present-wrapping to light-stringing, Lucy is allowed to be a part of it all. Lucy is even afforded her first trip into the snowy outdoors and is a part of the family’s Christmas read-aloud. This particular book is the third in a series of stories written about Lucy and her adventures.
Tassan has written a much-needed tale with Lucy’s First Christmas. As a mother, teacher, and adoptive parent of three rescue pets, I don’t see enough of these books on the shelves. There is a joy like no other in watching a shelter pet bloom in a loving home. The author captures this feeling quite well with Lucy’s Christmas experiences. She describes each family member’s patience with the curious cat and demonstrates the various ways in which the family involves the pets in their routines. The love between the family and Lucy is mutual and communicated well throughout the book.
Any parent or teacher choosing this book to read with children will find it touching and true-to-life. The author has included a fair amount of “awwww” moments and lots of snuggling and loving. The pets themselves are no strangers to snuggling. This is an all-around sweet story to share with children who have pets, are wanting pets of their own, or who are in a family who has adopted a pet from a shelter.
Generally a realistic fiction piece, Tassan has managed to work in a bit of fantasy with the pets talking to one another. For the most part, these sections serve to explain some of the things that drive Lucy’s curiosity and, in the conclusion, add to the dearness of the overall plot.
Lucy’s First Christmas is a touching story that hits home for readers of all ages and features delicate illustrations of the pets and their family. Tassan and Wheeler’s precious Christmas story is a must-read for any family with rescue pets. Lucy’s first Christmas with her family will bring a smile to the reader’s face and touch the soul of any animal lover.
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