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I Will Always Love You

The story, I Will Always Love You, with its rhyming words and loving, non-descript characters appeals to the child in all of us. We should not be fooled by our aging bodies and experienced years; there still is a young and innocent version our former selves tucked away somewhere deep inside of us all. As you read the story, you are encouraged to allow your imagination to expand. Open your heart to the gentle reminders and hints that are around us each day.

What if? Why not? Give it a try. Give it some thought.

The intention of this book is to bring peace and comfort to those of us who have lost someone we dearly love. Whether it’s hope or a sense of ‘knowing’, the thought that our loved ones are somewhere happy, free and possibly around us can bring a sense of joy that lifts us to a higher place that feels good.

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Same Inside, Different Outside

Same Inside, Different Outside

In order to eliminate discrimination and promote inclusion, we need to start with our children. They are the future of this world and if they can learn to love and accept each other regardless of what they look like or act like, then the world will be richer for it. Deborah Hunt takes this idea and uses it in her children’s book Same Inside Different Outside. It’s a lovely short story accompanied by equally wonderful pictures to help bring the message home. The colors are bright and the lines are soft. The story takes place in a school setting which readers should be able to connect with. This makes the message more relevant and easy to understand. It’s a clever way to deliver a sometimes difficult message to such a young audience.

The representation of a medical professional as a woman and the teacher as a man is a nice and subtle way of breaking down gendered stereotypes when it comes to careers. In traditional books teachers are women and any medical or science-related job is played by a man. In a book about acceptance, this is a key idea to get across. The children in the book are aware of their differences from each other, which is a normal discovery at their age. The doctor who is presenting to the children in the book is kind and patient with them as she goes over the parts of our bodies under our skin. As they move through the lesson the children voice their concerns and are answered honestly. This is key for the story because it also teaches readers that it is okay to ask questions and you will receive an appropriate response.

I felt like the children had a vocabulary and an understanding of body parts that were a little beyond kindergarten. But this is a minor concern that does not impact the integrity of the message.

Deborah Hunt is able to deliver a sometimes difficult message with ease in Same Inside Different Outside. The illustrations are very nice and pleasing to look at. The content isn’t difficult to understand and the message is clear and easy to digest without being muddled. Children and adults alike will find that the message this book sends is one we have been trying to share for a long time.

Pages: 32 | ISBN: 1945175702

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Rich in History

S Jackson & A Raymon Author Interview

S Jackson & A Raymond Author Interview

Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS 150th Birthday is a lovely children’s story that gives the history of the town of Ellsworth Kansas. Why was this an important book for you to write?

When your town is having a 150th birthday, and your town is rich in history, then that history needs to be included your children’s picture book. The huge four day celebration also included re-enactments, 150 prime longhorns, a cattle drive, two day rodeo, and much more. An adult commemorative book was in the works, so we thought one for kids should be done as well, leaving out the blood, death, and salacious parts. The kids loved it. So did the tens of thousands of people who traveled to this town from across the USA and overseas.

What kind of research did you have to do to maintain the accuracy of the history?

I used extensive curate material from the historical society for the parts and dates I wasn’t sure of.

Do you think it’s important for children to learn the history of their city or town?

Of course it is. One’s heritage is important, and children need to know where they come from, their roots.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS 150th Birthday“Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS, 150th Birthday” is a wonderful and fun children’s book that both children and adults will enjoy. The story hits the targeted age range of 4-8. The painted illustrations provided are a delight, and my grandchildren loved them. Who would have thought to write a book using dogs and squirrels as friends, and the old west thrown in? This book is perfect for home, schools, and libraries. I highly recommend this book. Susan Vance, Author and Realtor In this children’s picture book and seventh book in our ‘Shadow and Friends Series’, Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS, 150th Birthday, two dogs and a family of squirrels decide to help Ellsworth celebrate the 150th birthday of the town’s history. This book coincides with the actual 150th birthday of Ellsworth in the summer of 2017. Illustrations are found on each page, most of them painted. Big Whitey tells the history of Ellsworth, and Fort Harker, with historical buildings, notable landmarks, and scenes painted by the author. At the end of this story, Little Whitey asks his father if they can re-enact the old west, dress like cowboys, and do a pretend cattle drive just like Ellsworth, KS. The squirrels dress in cowboy and cowgirl gear, and they even have a chuck wagon cook. They herd longhorn cattle, sing the state song of Kansas, and have lots of fun during their re-enactment. At the end of the story, they enjoyed a barn dance, celebrated the 150th birthday of Ellsworth, and Uncle Stubby took pictures and ‘selfies’. Children will love seeing the old west come alive with two dogs and a family of squirrels dressed in western attire, and using a small amount of cowboy slang. This delightful and funny book for children, targeted at ages 4-8, is easy to read and perfect for home or classroom. The story illustrates how cattle drives worked, the long dusty trails, life in the old west, and illustrations that produce pure imagination in children. Note: Actual gunfights and ‘adult type’ history were left out in this wild western history of Ellsworth, KS. 

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Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth KS 150th Birthday

Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS 150th Birthday

Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth KS 150th Birthday, written by S. Jackson and A. Raymond, is a tale of animal friends who are preparing for a very special birthday- the 150th celebration of their town. The animals gather round whilst Big Whitey takes a trip down history lane where he tells his friends about the importance of Ellsworth and how the town was first established. Prepare to be thrown into a wild world of cowboys, railroaders, and sheriffs as you learn the fortunes and misfortunes the town has endured to finally reach its 150th birthday. After the history lesson, the animals then begin the celebrations and re-enactments, songs, and poems will entertain them all.

Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth KS 150th Birthday is a very special children’s book that delves into the history of Fort Ellsworth in an exciting celebration with animals, cowboys, and Indians.

Legendary historical characters of Ellsworth come together in lessons on cattle pens, dusty trails and important landmarks. Authors S. Jackson and A.Raymond are able to beautifully paint a picture of the wild west through incorporating animals and history in a playful and engaging story. The storytellers are dogs and squirrels which give the book an animal twist- something which will be sure to spark the imagination of all children. The animals towards the end of the story throw a fabulous re-enactment of history and will encourage children to consider their own town’s history and how they too could get involved with historical celebrations of their town.

Travel through time as Big Whitey takes you on a history lesson that begins in the 1800’s and finishes in the present day. The once wild cow town starts with Indians and Cowboys that made homes out of bluffs and built their town through supplying to the military. I loved reading the small excerpts of cowboy slang which gave the story more authenticity and character.

I enjoyed how the story had a taste of the old and the new twisted together for a fun-loving plot line. One moment you were in the wild wild west and the next you were taking selfies with animals which are sure to delight both children and adults alike. Even though it is a children’s story, the plot line contains depth and interesting information about life in the old west that will entertain both children and adults. It’s a fun and light-hearted way to explore history and has the perfect mix of education and entertainment.

The illustrations throughout the story were bright and colorful and will be sure to grab the attention of all children as they eagerly learn about the town’s history. I particularly enjoyed the animals dressed up in cowboy outfits and old saloon style dresses and how they rode the buggy. The illustrations will only serve to ignite the imagination of the children reading the story and compliment the history lesson perfectly.

I would recommend this for children who enjoy stories about cowboys and animals.

Pages: 39 | ASIN: B072TPMDRH

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The One Eyed Pug

The One Eyed Pug

It’s important to share messages of acceptance with children, but it can be difficult if you don’t take into consideration their level of understanding. What a child can understand is vastly different than an adult. The One Eyed Pug by Deborah Hunt is a cute little story about a pug puppy that has a slightly difficult life waiting for her. She has to go through the anxiety of being separated from her birth parents and then living with a stranger. While she does her best to adapt to her new life, change is right around the corner as her ‘mother’ ends up being unable to care for her and gives her to another family. Our little pug now has to deal with the uncertainty of a new home with new people without understanding why she was given up in the first place. Things seem to start going better for our pug until the introduction of a new friend and the terrible accident that follows close behind.

Using animals as a way to deliver important messages and teach important lessons to children is something that is not easily done, but delivered well in this story. Children seem to be able to listen carefully and understand difficult lessons when taught through an animal that can speak. Hunt uses the story of the pug to show children that change is not always bad. She also teaches them that while bad things may happen, there are good outcomes as well. Our pug has only lived for a short time yet she’s met with various changes and has to face the anxiety of the unknown each time. This story can also teach children compassion. Compassion for those who are different than us and compassion for those who are struggling.

There are several drawings throughout the book which can give the readers a nice interruption to the waves of text. It is important to keep children engaged as well as entertained. The drawings give more information on what the characters look like which helps the readers connect more to the story. The language in the story is very easy for new readers to understand. While this isn’t a first step book, it is definitely suitable for a child who has experience reading books with little pictures. The language might be too young for older readers, even though the message it sends is positive.

Deborah Hunt takes us on a trip to learn compassion and acceptance with The One Eyed Pug. This tale allows children to connect their own feelings of anxiety and uncertainty with things like change to the life of the protagonist, the little pug. It also allows children to see that dogs and other pets have feelings as well, even if we can’t always understand what they’re trying to tell us. Even when our little pug goes through a life changing situation, she comes out strong because she has the support of those who love her around her. This is an important thing for children to understand as well: we are all stronger thanks to the people who support us. This would be a great book for any avid young reader.

Pages: 80 | ISBN: 1945175788

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Henry and the Hidden Treasure

Henry and the Hidden Treasure

B.C.R. Fegan’s Henry and the Hidden Treasure is the story of one little boy’s quest to keep his “treasure” a secret from one person in particular. Henry’s tale of overwhelming desire to keep his treasure box from his sister’s clutches leads the reader on a journey into a child’s imagination and its endless possibilities. The threat posed by his baby sister is the driving force behind a long string of scenarios designed to trick, intimidate, and trap his sister as he shields his beloved treasure from her greedy hands. Henry, for all his planning, learns a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions in the process.

Henry and the Hidden Treasure is a delight in both text and illustrations. As a third grader teacher and parent and one who has read more than my share of picture books to Kindergarten through 5th grade students, I can say Fegan has written a real gem. Children of all ages love a surprise ending, and the author has more than provided such a conclusion with a fantastic build-up and an added bonus on the last page. Teachers appreciate the opportunity to have students predict endings, and Fegan and Wen’s last page of text allows us to do just that with the simple yet powerful lone illustration of Lucy stealthily peeking at Henry.

The author/illustrator team of Fegan and Wen has created a story for both families and classrooms. The older brother versus baby sister dynamic is addressed via detailed, colorful illustrations which demonstrate the intensity of a child’s imagination. Each subsequent illustration adds a sense of drama children find appealing. My personal favorite of all the illustrations, as a mother, is the one depicting the reality of Henry’s room.

Teachers looking to create text sets for their students will find Henry and the Hidden Treasure a delightful addition to sets alongside books like Charlie McButton Lost Power where sibling rivalry is the theme. With the open-ended conclusion given by Fegan and Wen, I certainly hope there is a sequel to the saga of Henry and Lucy.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B0719JXRRT

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Several Bear Encounters

Amy Lou Jenkins Author Interview

Amy Lou Jenkins Author Interview

Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone: The Legend in Lake Isa is a fun children’s book that talks about conservation and respecting the wilderness. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this children’s book?

I’ve written somewhat serious books and articles about nature and science previously, but when I’m with the family– we are often goofy. We visited Yellowstone and my son asked me about Lake Isa, which sits atop the continental divide and therefore drains in two different directions. I began crafting and telling the story during our visit there. Our son enjoyed the story and laughed at the character names.

We also had several bear encounters on the trip. I had lived in Alaska, so I was weary of Grizzly bears, but less careful with the black bears. Once I even got out of the car in Yellowstone to get a better look at a bear and cub in the woods. That was not a smart move.

So our story about Howie Tootalot deals with the intoxicating grandeur of wild places like Yellowstone and the care we must use in how we love and appreciate them. I finally suppressed my MFA-serious ego enough to have fun with the story in print. I did publish under the name Lou Jenkins, which I now use for all my children’s work.

This story takes place in Yellowstone National Park and portrays the natural beauty of the land. What draws you to Yellowstone and why do you think it’s perfect for a kids story?

Kids feel the connection to wilderness. I’d written about the connections possible in Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting under my name Amy Lou Jenkins. We all need to foster a connection to natural spaces, because there are so few opportunities to escape the pressures of consumerism. We and our children are bombarded with the notion that we need to buy something new. We are told that we need to consume because we and our possessions are somehow flawed. Instead of purchasing something to fix our problems, nature allows us to experience source. We are natural beings. We can have independent thought while not bombarded with proprietary messages. Studies say that the number one way to build a love for wild places is to take kids to wild places. That’s a strong promise and scientific finding: take kids to wild places and they will build a connection to something real and unadulterated. While a book is second best to visiting Yellowstone, it is another way to make and support that connection.

The art in this book I felt was very creative. What was the art direction like and how did you make the decision on what went into the pictures?

Thank you for noticing that the artwork was not standard. We wanted to support the connection to Yellowstone, so we had actual photographs of the National Park cartoonized. Children who are lucky enough to visit Yellowstone will recognize actual landmarks, animals and plants from the book. Since the main portion of the book took place before the park existed, some of our illustrations came from national archives in the public domain. Children who never visit Yellowstone, will still recognize landmarks in images that are iconic in our culture. Children can begin to build a connection to National treasures such as Old Faithful, Mammoth Springs, The Grand Prismatic Spring, and Lake Isa. We hope that connection is based in fun, awe, and the sense of original identity that is nurtured in wild places.

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

Thank you for asking. We have just finished the artwork for more paper puppet characters in the Tootalot series. As you know, we include links in the books that allow readers to download and assemble articulated paper puppets. Many children enjoy a hands on experience as a part of play. Children who are not drawn to books, might be able to access the fun and play of reading with a character from the book in their hand. Yet even voracious readers, might extend their own imagination from reading to other play time.

I’m also a Registered Nurse and have worked in community health. I used to tell my children a story about the “magic mark” based on my experience in school nursing. My daughter used to ask me to tell her this story over and over. Many children have differences, and this story is about a girl with a port-wine stain. We include a student in a wheel chair, and work to represent a wide-range of children in this tale with a magical element. At its core, is a cheer for all who learn how to love each other and accept differences. Look for this new book, the third in theTootalot series, by the end of the year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone: The Legend of Lake Isa (The Tootalots, #2)Why does the water of Isa Lake drain in two different directions? Follow Howie Tootalot to the wild land we now call Yellowstone as he and his new bear friend explore the wild geysers, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and more. Danger surrounds them, yet lessons from the wild and the wilderness itself will save them. Learn the Tootalot family legend. Children may download and assemble their own free puppets—just like the ones in the story. Great fun for reading and play at home or in the car. Howie Tootalot in Yellowstoneis the second in The Tootalots series. Award-winning parenting author, dons a pen name and introduces Howie Tootalot in this fun legend that offers giggles and some important ways to deal with respecting the danger and wildness of natural wonders such as Yellowstone National Park.

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The Grumpface

The Grumpface

One of the joys of childhood is sitting with someone and reading a favorite story over and over again. The kind of story that sticks with you, and works it’s way into your heart. The Grumpface is that kind of story. It is about a grumpy old man that is cursed and lives in the forest of Ho. He captures unsuspecting travelers that get lost in the forest and they must complete a challenge to earn their freedom. If they cannot complete any of the three challenges they are trapped in the forest forever. In this story an inventor named Daffy Dan is looking for a rose to win the love of a girl named Bella. Bella sells flowers in the village but longs for a rose that she cannot grow. Dan thinks that if he can bring Bella a rose, he will have the courage to finally speak to her and win her heart. As he searches the forest of Ho, he gets caught by Grumpface and must find a way to escape or he will never have the chance to see Bella and tell her how he feels.

The first thing that grabbed me about this book, was the amazing illustrations. Grumpface at his worst is still funny enough to not frighten my four-year-old daughter. She fell in love with this book the first time she saw me reading it and saw the bright pink bird in the first challenge. The images throughout are all done with detail and colors that draw you into the story more. They complement the text in an artistic way as well as helping convey the emotions. The rhythm of the rhyming makes the story entertaining and flow smoothly. It is perfect for young readers, but not too silly that it will make parents want to hide the book after a week. One of the great morals of the story is to find the humor in life even when things don’t go your way. Daffy Dan is clumsy and riddled with bad luck it seems, it makes him relatable to young readers that are often clumsy themselves. Dan’s creative inventions all sound like great ideas and spark the imagination of readers as well. Grumpface is like the teacher or parent that just stares in disbelief at the crazy things Dan does. Together the pair make a memorable story that will leave you laughing.

B.C.R. Fegan and D. Frongia have created a beautiful and enchanting tale with The Grumpface. They manage to convey the fear and concern of Dan throughout the story, the disappointment he feels as things don’t go his way, and the joy he feels as he thinks he finally got it. The story touches the hearts of adults and keeps children entertained. It the teaches morals of persistence, compassion, and friendship. This is a book you will want to keep on hand to read for years to come.

Pages: 34 | ASIN: B06XFFK7VZ

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Quite a Character

 Werner Stejskal Author Interview

Werner Stejskal Author Interview

Oliver and Jumpy is book 4 in your children’s series that follows playful characters as they go on various adventures. Why was it important for you to create a children’s story that focused on kindness, friendship and helping others?

Many picture books have lessons to tell, but can be very obvious. Children don’t really like to be told what to do. A good example is always better and Oliver, although he is quite a character, shows that you can have fun and adventure, and at the same time do good.

The art in this book is wonderful. What was the collaboration like with the illustrators?

I thought a long time about which quality of illustrations I should pursue. I did not want to go cheap with dots for eyes figures. I would have loved to follow the very complex pictures of the fairy-tales books of 100 years ago. Unfortunately, being self-financed, this option would have been far too expensive. I grew up with Walt Disney and decided to follow that style, which is easy enough for most illustrators to create, but with facial expressions possible. I tried out six illustrators. The first one, Marvin Alonso, was outstanding. He did illustrations to about eleven of the stories before finding greener pastures. Then I found Maycee Ann Reyes who works together with her husband. The rest is history. This team was simply fabulous. They needed a minimum of supervision and created the scenes of the stories totally by themselves. I just provided the story and simple instructions. Maycee turned out a picture every 3-4 days. These series has about 500 illustrations. Oliver and Jumpy began 4 years ago and it was a herculean task which is now finished. This is a triumph of self-publishing. No run-of-the-mill publisher would have been able to produce such an elaborate work in that time.

My favorite story is Butterfly Trouble. What is your favorite story in this book and in the series?

I like the Dog story. I wrote this story because every time we have our daily walk through the neighborhood, there is a bored dog barking and my wife is saying that we should knock on the door and see if we can take him for a walk with us. My favorite story of the series is Story 18 called Moon Crystal. Oliver travels to the moon to bring healing crystals back to Sillandia. This book won the Readers Favorite Book Award Gold Medal.

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

I have been working and finished the Chinese and Spanish version of the series. I am now working on the German one and other languages will follow. My final goal will be to find a company who is willing to invest in a TV series. I would like to see children all around the world to benefit of the marvelous work of my illustrators.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Google | Website | LinkedIn | Amazon

Oliver and Jumpy - the Cat Series, Stories 10-12, Book 4: Bedtime stories for children in illustrated picture book with short stories for early readers. (Oliver and Jumpy, the cat Series) by [Stejskal, Werner]

Picture book: A cat series book for kids riddled with mystery and fantasy.

Oliver is an elegant tuxedo cat, who is full of himself. As a matter of fact he says: “I love myself!”, quite often. Naughty, isn’t he? But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that he has a soft heart and will always want to help others. The great thing is Jumpy’s pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in! He calls her his kangaroo taxi! These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids. A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words. These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value. Love you all! Meow! Story 10: Unhappy Dog – The friends help an unhappy dog to escape his boredom. Story 11: Kite High – Flying high is everybody’s dream, but how to get down? Story 12: Butterfly Trouble – Butterflies don’t like to be caught. Buy Now From Amazon.com

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