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I Found It Just As Interesting

Colleen Brice
Colleen Brice Author Interview

Ships, Sleighs and Christmas Lights tells the story of how a young boy from Patara grew into the man we now think of as Saint Nicholas. What inspired you to write this story?

There are many wonderful things about gift-giving at Christmas time but for Christians who celebrate the holiday, it can be tricky separating the commercial from the spiritual. I have friends who want to embrace the fun of the season with their children, while making them aware of the historical figures associated with Christmas. I wrote the book with them in mind. Having researched Nikolaos’ life, I found it just as interesting as some of the fantasy stories about Santa Claus.

What were some of the challenges you had moving from being an illustrator to an author and illustrator?

I am used to complimenting an author’s words with illustrations so owning both aspects of picture book storytelling was a new experience for me. An outline of the story came first, then I sketched some of the key scenes. I worked with an editor before I started drawing, so the text was finalised and I knew how much space would be needed in the layout for the illustrations.

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

Nikolaos is recognised as a saint. I wanted to explore ways in which his upbringing shaped his beliefs. Not everyone will relate to him in this way but I’d like to think the book will be of interest to people with different beliefs too. Much of the book is about culture and the ways in which we influence one another (hopefully for the better). Although our clothes and countries of origin may appear to be different, people are always drawn to goodness.

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

There were so many legends about Saint Nicholas to draw on and some were only hinted at in Christmas Lights. I am writing a story about three young girls whose father fell on hard times. Nikolaos allegedly provided the family with special gifts but I wanted to tell the story from the girls’ perspective so they have a sense of agency. Most girls work hard but are not given opportunities or rewards. I’d like to think a privileged man like Nikolaos would address such imbalances. I hope to publish it in time for Christmas 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Snow-covered trees, twinkling lights and sleighs – these remind us of Christmas. But what about sunlit hills, an ancient lighthouse or a wooden ship at sea. Discover where Saint Nicholas (or Nikolaos) came from and follow him on his adventures. Did he really wear a red suit and deliver gifts to children? Learn how people living in different times and places added a bit of themselves to his story.

Courage Over Fear

Michael Ssentamu
Michael & Alysia Ssentamu Author Interview

Sticky Icky Vicky: Courage over Fear follows a young girl that must conquer her fear of water in order to attend her best friend’s birthday party. What inspired you to write this picture book?

When we started teaching our children about having a positive mindset and our positive and negative inner voices we came up with this great idea of a character called Sticky Icky Vicky, who must deal with water fear and face her inner voices.

The book is vaguely based on our youngest daughter’s fear of water. At the time Rhea was having great difficulty being introduced to water and learning to swim because she had grommets in her ears, (tiny tubes inserted into the eardrum to treat a build up of fluid in the middle ear and prevent recurrent ear infections), after having repeated ear infections and didn’t like putting her head under water.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with the illustrator Noor Alshalabi?

The art work is fantastic in that it’s vibrant, very imaginative and completely distinctive.

Noor Alshalabi is a Jordan based picture book illustrator while my husband and I are based In Canberra, Australia. All the collaboration for this amazing art work and illustrations for Sticky Icky Vicky: Courage over Fear was done through email, with the occasional phone call or FaceTime. This is all a testament to Noor’s brilliant communication skills and ability to work as part of a team. She is very skilled at reading into our comments and creating something amazing. We are very happy to have her working with us.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

The principle message we want to pass across is that – it is okay to have fear, but it is not okay to let the fear stop you from doing what you like, love or need to do.

Courage over Fear offers children an inspirational/loveable heroine who learns some valuable lessons like courage, positive thinking and goal-setting. It is a reading experience that leaves children believing that they, like Vicky, can get past any obstacle in their way.

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

The second book in the Sticky Icky Vicky series is called “Sticky Icky Vicky: Choosing to Be Myself.”

It follows Vicky and her love for playing in the mud, getting all icky and sticky. But when a school bully starts making fun of her, Vicky’s love for mud play is dashed. That is, until she learns about upcoming International Mud Day. Vicky wants nothing more than to get in on the fun—but first she needs to stop listening to other people’s opinions.

Sticky Icky Vicky: Choosing to Be Myself will be available for purchase from March 2022.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Meet Sticky Icky Vicky, a girl who wants to get over her fear—once and for all
In Sticky Icky Vicky: Courage over Fear, the first book in the Sticky Icky Vicky™ series, authors Alysia and Michael Ssentamu introduce readers to Vicky, a fun-loving girl who doesn’t mind getting a little sticky and icky. She loves rolling down hills and playing in mud—but when it comes to water, Sticky Icky Vicky’s fear prevents her from joining in the fun. Then Vicky gets an invitation for a waterpark party, and she decides that she really wants to go—even if it means ignoring the Negative Ned voice in her head and getting over her fear.
With vibrant illustrations and catchy rhymes, Sticky Icky Vicky: Courage over Fear offers children an inspirational/loveable heroine who learns some valuable life lessons, such as:
Positive thinking
Aimed primarily at readers aged six to ten, Sticky Icky Vicky: Courage over Fear is a reading experience that leaves kids believing that they, like Vicky, can get past any obstacle in their way.

The Fascinating World Of Holes

Lori Croy
Lori Croy Author Interview

The Hole Story takes children on an adventure exploring all the different holes there are in the world around them. What inspired you to write this picture book?

I have spent my life telling entertaining and educational stories to my 6 children and 13 grandchildren. I also love puns and wordplay and for many years joked about someday writing a book and calling it “The Hole Story.” During the pandemic when I was forced to be separated from my children and their families, I decided to write this book as a gift for my grandchildren. After receiving it, my daughter who is an Education faculty member at a university, encouraged me to publish the book as it had many elements that teachers could use in the classroom to help teach spatial concepts in a fun way. Thus, The Hole Story was made available for the public to enjoy!

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with the illustrator Katelynn Hoefelman?

Katelynn is a joy to work with. We have a great collaborative relationship. I draft my manuscript and try to think of examples of scenes or illustrative elements that will augment the telling of the story and move it forward. I break down my suggestions into the sections of text for pages and suggestions for artwork and Katelynn takes it from there. As I have more than one book, and intend to write more, we have agreed on an illustration “style” for my books that will hopefully make them more recognizable. Katelynn is responsible for coming up with a number of innovative paths in the illustrations that just add to the readers enjoyment.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

First and most important, learning should be fun. And, second, you need to look beyond the obvious and use your imagination to see the possibilities all around you. Holes are just one example of looking beyond the obvious “hole in the ground”, for instance, and seeing that it has a purpose. It’s just one more step to seeing other critical things such as looking beyond a person’s physical appearance and being able to see who they really are. I also wanted to introduce children to wordplay and that a word may sound the same as another, but can be spelled differently and have a completely different meaning. Many paths for a teacher or parent to take with these concepts.

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

My next book will be “The Whole Dollar” and is based on a true story about my two oldest sons. This story focuses on the close bond between siblings, what it means to share, and the unexpected gifts that can return to you later on in life. It’s one that will tug at your heartstrings and will speak to big brothers, little brothers, big sisters and little sisters everywhere.

The book will be in pre-sale at major book distributors in the next couple of weeks and will be released on March 4, 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

The Hole Story introduces in its title the concept of a word having more than one meaning. While many children may immediately think of a hole as an empty space, this story helps them explore the purpose of these “empty spaces”, giving them purpose and meaning. From providing a home for wild animals, to learning about the many places and purposes we can find for a hole in our clothing, this book allows children to learn about spatial concepts and wordplay through brief and easy to read text and beautifully illustrated examples. The Hole Story is an award winning children’s book, perfect for introducing early elementary aged children to the fascinating world of holes.

A Tribute To Her

Author Interview
Sharlene Novak Author Interview

Happy Tails Camper Stories: Lucy Learns to Share follows a young dog as she learns that having the toy you want but no one to share it with is not any fun. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My inspiration for this book was our Westie, Lucy, who actually did have a favorite toy at her doggie daycare that she would not share with the other dogs. I was also motivated to write her story as a tribute to her, because she got very sick and we had to say goodbye to her last year. Writing the book was cathartic for me and brought me closure after her loss.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Sarah Gledhill?

The publisher, Atmosphere Press, referred me to several illustrators so I could make my choice. What drew me to Sarah’s artwork was the way she draws dogs…they are charming and expressive without being “cartoon-y”. Sarah was able to draw Lucy, her friend Bingo and some other dogs based on photos I sent her. I’ve had many compliments on Sarah’s illustrations.

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

Sharing can be tough for young children, whether it is with siblings or playmates. I think children can relate to the sharing issue as seen through Lucy’s eyes and hopefully learn that it really is better to share toys with friends.

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

I actually have ideas for two more books in the series. Shortly after we lost Lucy, we adopted a stray that showed up in a friend’s neighborhood, so I am working on a story about Harry finding a new home. Also, I know a new baby in the family can be difficult for a child, so I think Bingo will be getting a little brother and will learn to deal with the issues that a new family member will present for him. I would like to have both books done by the end of 2022.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Lucy is a little dog with a big problem.

On her first day at Happy Tails Dog Camp, Lucy meets other dogs and sees lots of toys to play with. But another dog grabbed the toy she wanted and ran off with it! Lucy has a plan to get that toy for herself, but when she does, her plan doesn’t work the way she had hoped.

In “Happy Tails Camper Stories: Lucy Learns to Share” by Sharlene Novak, we experience Lucy’s disappointment when another dog takes the toy she wants and when her plan to get that toy has an unexpected result. But her friend Bingo saves the day with the perfect solution!

Lilbeebye Stings Bully

Lilbeebye is a young girl with a secret. She appears normal on the outside, but in reality, she has secret powers. She can change into a superhero bee that stings honey love into the hearts of those who are bullies. Lilbeebye believes that everyone can be good and kind they just sometimes need some encouragement. When her friend Sally becomes the victim of a bully Lilbeebye rushes into action to sting the bullies and restore peace to the school playground. Later that day her older sister gets into a fight with her friends and Lilbeebye must spring into action again and sting them all to restore the love and goodness inside them.

Lilbeebye Stings Bully by author Theresa Shields is written on a level for older elementary-level students. The first half of the book is a fun story about Lilbeebye’s superpowers and how she helps people learn to be kind and good. There are colorful and engaging illustrations that introduce the topic of bullying to children. This half of this imaginative story would be great for early elementary students to help open discussions of bullying as well.

The second half of this book is much more serious and better suited for older children, eight to twelve-year-olds. The second half of the informative book is not illustrated and brings up topics such as cyberbullying, emotional abuse, and even suicide. There is good information on social media bullying, posting pictures and texts that are embarrassing or hurtful. Shields explains how these things are not harmless teasing and how hurtful they can be to people.

While this complex children’s book uses the church as a way to present ideas of community and sharing of information it is not overly religious and could be used by secular groups to start conversations on bullying.

Lilbeebye Stings Bully is a thought-provoking children’s book. Educators and parents will find this to be a useful book for opening up discussions on bullying to children in elementary school and provide a chance to discuss deeper topics of bullying with older elementary students especially those getting ready to enter middle school.

Pages: 29 | ASIN : B085PW2YX5

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This Ancient Parable Has A Modern-Day Twist

Beverley Rayner
Beverley Rayner Author Interview

Barclay & Berk Builders retells the parable of the wise and foolish builders with charming illustrations and easy to understand language. What inspired you to retell this specific parable from the Bible?

As a children’s school librarian I am always on the lookout for good, read-aloud stories.

This ancient parable has a modern-day twist. The story is about working together, caring for one another, helping each other and primarily life’s choices. I wrote this story to appeal to a wider non-Christian audience but the sounds of a busy worksite will especially appeal to boys.

I enjoyed the art in the book. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator James Hensman?

James is a professional artist who has his own colorful style and humor. This is his first illustrated picture book, and his seagull character, Gulliver S Gull, is now showing up in his most recent paintings. View and purchase his art at

What do you hope young children take away from your story?

Stories are always multileveled, so whatever a child takes away from the reading experience is good. I hope children will enjoy the characters, and the art while perhaps discovering what a parable is. If a child remembers to help others–that’s a bonus! and on a deeper level to comprehend that this story that Jesus told is about our everyday choices and building a firm life-foundation by following God.

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

My next two projects are a historical Canadian novel for grade five, and a gift/picture book for children and adults, on the Promises of God. Possibly both published in 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Award-winning children’s author Beverley Rayner and artist illustrator James Hensman have teamed together to produce a cleverly-told and colorfully-illustrated children’s adaption of the well-known parable of the wise and foolish builders. Based on Jesus’ parable in Matthew, chapter seven the book teaches with a narrative that will appeal to a young audience ages five-eight, without diminishing the integrity and intent of Jesus’ words.

I Can Do That

Scarlett is a little girl, and her mom wants to play a game all day long. The game is mommy and daddy will give her different challenges all day, and she has to see if she can do them all by herself. Challenges like making her bed, cleaning her room, helping with shopping, and even playing at the park and drawing a picture make for a full day of fun. Scarlett spends the day thinking she is playing a game but is really learning and growing as she completes each of her challenges.

I Can Do That: A Little Girls’s Day of Big Challenges is written for preschoolers and kindergarten level children; this book introduces taking responsibility in a fun and creative way. Scarlett has a mantra she repeats with each task given, “I can do that!” This phrase is often heard from small children and allows them to feel empowered and able to accomplish things. Finding age-appropriate jobs and helping them succeed is a delicate balance, and this picture book demonstrates a creative way to engage children. Learning while playing is a crucial developmental skill, and Scarlett jumps right into this activity despite the fear that she may not be able to do everything. Her mom, however, offers encouragement and tells her all she needs to do is try and ask for help if she can’t do it.

Author and illustrator Kairen Alaina is immensely talented and does a fantastic job composing this children’s story and providing whimsical artwork to follow along. Reading this playful story aloud will entertain children and adults with a positive and energetic narrative.

I Can Do That: A Little Girls’s Day of Big Challenges is a remarkable picture book that will delight children and adults. Parents and teachers will love having this charismatic book on hand to help teach children about responsibility and building self-confidence.

Pages: 31 | ASIN : B09KNWFK5T

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Lights Of The World

Author Interview
Tim and Cindy Morrison Author Interview

The Greatest Light is a picture book that engages children with examples of kindness that they can embody. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Our inspiration was the Bible verse that is quoted at the end of our book. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Our desire is to inspire children to live their daily lives as lights of the world, and to show them that small gestures of kindness can mean a lot to the recipient of that kindness.

The art in the book was beautiful. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Steve Worthington?

Steve is a very talented, hardworking artist and he’s a great communicator too. He listened, created, listened again and revised until we were happy with the finished product. His art makes the story. We couldn’t be more pleased.

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

The theme we want to convey is the love a grandparent has for his grandchildren and the desire he has for his grandchildren to live lives that show kindness and love, bringing glory and honor to Our Father in heaven.

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

We are currently working on The Greatest Servant. Steve is working on it now. We’d like to publish it next fall, as its setting is Christmastime.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Go on an adventure with Poppy and his grandchildren as they discover the greatest light in the world.
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