Titch the Itch, written by B.C.R. Fegan and illustrated by Lenny Wen, is the tale of an animated little itch who wants nothing more than to make friends the only way he knows how–by doing his job. When his wayward, “no-reason-at-all” itching isn’t appreciated in the home of one large family, Titch the Itch seeks to make friends outside the home. Trying his luck with a cat, a neighbor, a police officer, and a park full of children, Titch learns that life is hard for an itch of his sort. His journey leads him to the hospital where he soon learns that he has had a bigger impact than he realized.
B.C.R. Fegan has constructed a touching story centered around the personification of a lowly itch. The author has managed to take a difficult concept and design a precious plot surrounding the poor little itch’s desire to be needed and to have lasting friendships. Titch is a memorable character with whom young readers will empathize. As he moves from one character to the next, he experiences rejection and disappointment. Fegan has included some important lessons in this wonderful picture book. In addition to friendship, the author teaches the benefits of being determined and the results of perseverance.
As with any children’s book, it is essential to include those moments of humor. Fegan does not lack in this area. The unforeseen circumstances surrounding the conclusion of the book are whimsical and encourage children to reread the book to find things they may have missed–a wonderful aspect to include to inspire young readers to delve further into the intricacies of text. As a teacher and parent, I more than appreciate those small amounts of mystery which energize readers. Kudos to the author!
The illustrations for Titch the Itch are fantastic. Lenny Wen’s vision of Titch is a cross between a ghost and a friendly dust bunny–exactly how one might visualize an itch. The facial expressions of Titch absolutely make the story. His woeful looks tug at the reader’s heartstrings. The color schemes chosen to brighten the pages make this a beautiful story to read aloud.
B.C.R. Fegan’s story of the needy little itch just looking for friendship is a sweet tale perfect for teaching young readers about the value of friends and loyalty.
Pages: 33 | ASIN: B076342B9D
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Utopia follows Brian who wakes up from a coma to a world very different world. He is given everything, but Brian starts to question this with deadly effects. I always found the idea of Utopia’s ripe with social commentary. What message did you want to convey to readers with this book?
The three things that people invest so much time into finding are a good job, a nice home, and someone to share their life with. It would save a lot of frustration if these things are automatically given to you right from the get go. However, every society has to have some structure to make sure it remains successful. Working in the shadows of this perfect world is a control factor that cannot allow people to reach their full potential. It limits the possibility for humanity to achieve personal achievements because then they are suggesting something is not perfect.
If something is perfect it does not need to be changed; just like if something is at its highest level of operation then it cannot be further advanced or bettered. If everything was perfect then nothing new can ever happen. Sounds like a boring existence.
Do you think Utopia’s can ever be possible for humans? Or do you think hardship is a natural and acceptable part of life?
While it is a nice concept I believe a Utopia can never be successful. People’s lifestyles and goals vary too much to fit into any perfect structure. What might be perfect for one person will be intolerable for someone else.
In Utopia, everyone lives in posh apartments with next to no rent. That may be awesome for a few of us, but then you will have those who like having a yard or a basement, or not living with other people or even may need a garage. There are too many variables to make everyone happy.
Nobody wants to experience hardships, but if you take a look back those hardships taught you what you needed to know to learn and grow. A bad job can motivate you to look for another one or go back to school; your future will now be better because of that bad job. If everything was perfect we would have no need to change anything.
One of my favorite utopian stories is The Island with Ewan McGregor. What is one of your favorite utopian stories that inspired you?
The Demolition Man was a movie that came out in 1993 and depicts a non-violent world with no murder, theft, or crime of any kind; not even a curse word is ever uttered. When a real criminal is let loose in the city the police do not know how to stop him.
In my story the enemy is the government, which is not uncommon. Governments, politics, and conspiracies seem to go hand in hand. Organizations like the Illuminati, Freemasons and The Majestic 13 have been theorized to be the evil puppeteers behind our society for generations. If there is a system or structure set up, there will be a reason to find fault with it; and there is fault with it. Afterall, this is not a perfect world.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book will be written as a regular novel and takes place in a futuristic past. I am trying to merge several genres together. Right now I’ll categorize it as a sci-fi, fantasy, mystery with elements of steampunk, legends and erotica… Give me some time with this one.
Brian Troth is a defense attorney, who after being shot in the head, awakes from a coma thirty years later. He is told that the world is now “perfect” where everything is provided. He is given a new job, a posh apartment and, to his surprise, the perfect romantic match. However, when he questions the sudden disappearance of a colleague and stumbles upon a concealed government secret; he and his loved one become targeted for a swift removal.
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Same Inside, Different Outside is a wonderful children’s book that teaches biology and promotes diversity. Why do you think this is an important message to teach children?
I’m a nursing professor and one of the courses I teach is on Culture and Cultural Concepts which has certainly changed my worldview. I thought I had a good understanding of the various cultures and their beliefs and practices, however, one of the big lessons I learned was that becoming culturally competent is a journey that can take a lifetime. This made me realize that we need to teach children at a very young age to celebrate their uniqueness yet understand how in many ways we are all very similar. As a nurse, I also believe that children need to learn about the inside and outside of their bodies and although some of the concepts may be difficult for a younger child it is never too early to start introducing concepts that can be built upon as they complete their educational journeys.
I loved the pictures in this book. What was the art direction like?
Thanks, I loved the pictures, too. I worked very closely with my illustrator. Initially, I placed notations throughout the manuscript detailing my ideas for the illustrations and where they should be placed. Xavier, of course, used his creative and artistic abilities to bring the illustrations to life. It was fun to collaborate with him on this project and we really worked well together. Final edits were completed based on the input of the Waldorf Publishing team which certainly strengthened the book.
What do you hope young readers take away from your story?
First, and foremost I hope the readers enjoy the story and want to read it over and over again. Secondly, I hope they begin to understand that although we are unique and look different on the outside we are also very similar, especially on the inside. Lastly, I hope they begin to understand how some of the major parts of their bodies work. And that skeletons are really not scary and are somewhat like superheroes because they protect all of our insides.
Will you be writing more kids books that tackle other social issues?
Yes, although I’m currently working on the second pug book I’m also in the early developmental stages of inviting the readers back to Emma’s kindergarten class where I will address other social issues that help children to understand that although in some ways we are very similar it’s okay to be different.
Today is a very exciting day for Emma’s kindergarten class. Emma, Robert, and the rest of the student’s don t understand how they can all look so different on the outside, but look very similar on the inside. So Dr. Shaw is coming to visit, and she’s bringing Mr. Bones, who is a real life-size skeleton. Mr. Bones is going to help Dr. Shaw teach her lesson about the human body. Dr. Shaw has also brought a cool body screening machine with her so the children can see what their insides look like.
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Secretary of State and State Librarian Recommended children book ” Save That Penny For A Sunny Day”, educates, inspires and introduces youth to understanding entrepreneurship, finances, and budgeting to promote financially healthy youth for generations to come.
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GROND – The Raven High is a sci-fi book set in the future where pollution has caused giant storms across the planet. What was your inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I have a lot of inspiration sources, mostly the Golden Age Sci-Fi and the movie of the eighties, from the “Masking” of Henry Kuttner to Thing and Aliens. But most of all I was influenced by the old and almost forgotten Young Adult Sci-Fi – Earth Star Voyager. I saw it when I was at school, and loved much more than Star Wars. This should be a good sci-fi for teenagers – exciting, realistic, without superheroes, but with smart and courageous heroes. And it was Earth Star Voyager that I first saw the idea of a catastrophic climate change and the search for salvation in space. I was so pleased that I decided to create the same story. The same, but completely my own. No sooner said than done.
I recently reviewed Earth Star Voyager for the first time in twenty years. And he’s still good.
So, if you are looking for inspiration for a great space adventure – you are welcome.
Olga’s nanny is an android that I genuinely started to care for towards the end of the novel. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
Creating Olga, I wanted to get rid of two obsessive stereotypes of teenage literature.
Firstly, the main character isn’t the despised loser or ordinary schoolgirl, who suddenly finds herself in the center of the universal conspiracy.
Secondly, Olga’s superhuman abilities don’t fall on her in one fine morning, free and without consequences. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch in her world.
The image of Arina combines the features of an ideal mother and ideal teacher. She really loves Olga, so, when necessary, she can be very strict and demanding of her ward, otherwise, Olga won’t stand the load of enormous responsibility.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the Earth is ravaged by pollution. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
Morality is very simple – dreams and good intentions won’t change the world for the better. But the world can be changed for the better by persistent daily work. There are thousands of brave book heroes who save the world by simply believing in themselves and accomplishing a great feat in the battle against the system. Olga also saves the world, but in a completely different way – just goes on the next shift at her space plant. Day by day.
This story was written in Russian and translated to English. What were the challenges you faced when translating?
Most of the difficulties were caused by two things – compliance with the size of phrases and slang expressions, to which it is hard to make a direct translation.
The Raven High is book 1 in the GROND series. Where does book two take the story?
In fact, the GROND story begins with the second book, GROND: The Blitzkrieg. And at the beginning of this story, Olga will be forced to leave her orbital home, join the gang of space mercenaries and take part in the brutal war of the Martian colonists for independence. It’ll be cool!
In the year 2086, Earth is exhausted. The seas have been emptied, the bedrock and soil stripped of their resources, and the superheated atmosphere churns with terrible storms. Those who can afford to do so live in the limbo of virtual reality, and the billions who suffer in poverty have no work, no clean water, and no security from the chaos.
The only hope for those trapped on a dying Earth are the Changed—the seven bioengineered post-humans who work in their separate manufacturing facilities orbiting high above the planet. Raised from birth for their work and fully matured at ten years old, their genius provides the nanomaterials that have begun to cleanse Earth of the pollutants that have wiped out almost the entire ecosphere.
But for Olga Voronov, youngest of the Changed, the isolation and endless toil are not the greatest of her challenges. Down on Earth there are those who resent and fear her talents—and would prefer that humanity not be given the second chance that only she could make possible …
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The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
My idea for The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies began when I was falling in love with the Steampunk sub-genre and I knew I wanted to write a series of short stories set in a fantastic, fictional university with the themes of sci-fi and fantasy that are often seen in Steampunk. As I was developing the stories I quickly realized that I wanted to incorporate paranormal and horror elements in order to give the book a darker edge. I was also in the midst of reading a lot of H.P. Lovecraft, which has certainly had an influence on my writing.
The story is divided into a number of different perspectives from each character. What was the inspiration for your characters and what themes did you try to use?
It all started with my friends from college. I have been very to lucky to meet a lot of interesting and diverse people with a wide variety of backgrounds and studies, which inspired me to write about a cast of characters who are all very different, but still wind up becoming the best of friends. The deeper themes of these characters wrestling with inner demons and overcoming fears and flaws actually stemmed from my own darker thoughts and fears, and over the years of writing and editing, the characters also took on lives of their own, evolving into the people you see in the final draft.
The University is an intriguing place that rivals Hogwarts and begs to be explored. How did you set about creating this imaginative world?
As a child I was definitely inspired by J.K. Rowling, so there is an element of Hogwarts about the University, but primarily this world began when I was actually in college and shortly afterward. I was – and continue to be – amazed by the latest breakthroughs in science and the fantastic expressions of artists of all mediums. As I began brainstorming ideas for a Steampunk University I could not help but imagine impossible, dark twists on real studies of arts and sciences. The world that the University is situated in is even more exotic, as it is inspired by the rich diversity of our own real world, as well as history and of course, sci-fi and fantasy elements from a life as a bookworm.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The sequel to The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies is still in the first draft stage. I have it all outlined and I am plugging away at writing it, one day at a time. The characters from The University will be traveling abroad – but I am not done with the University itself. I have an anthology book in mind with another variety of short stories set at the University, exploring more of the dark and creative studies there. The first sequel is undoubtedly at least a year or two away, but I am working on it as fast as I can. I am very excited to share my writing with my friends, family and anyone who enjoys sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal fiction.
At the University of Corporeal & Ethereal Studies meddling with unknown powers can be dangerous work. Courses in arts and sciences experiment with supernatural forces to solve the mysteries of the universe, but when school projects go awry, the students may discover more than they would like to about the madness of the cosmic ‘Beyond’.
Eight interwoven stories follow students whose school work, social lives and inner demons crash together, leading to fantastic and horrible experiences, supernatural powers, and a fuller understanding of the dark depths of their world.
Classes include subjects such as time travel, alchemy, oneironautics, psychedelic transformation, rogue automatons, cosmic ghosts, reality-warping crystals, and more.
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Upon entering the book, The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies, the reader is immediately greeted with an acceptance letter. Wolfgang Edwards uses this as a sort of introductory to foreshadow what is to come: you are literally stepping out of our own reality and into this new one and this letter serves to summarize that. What follows is the collections and stories of various students and characters who attend this university. Set in a fictional, sometimes bizarre, universe, Edwards explores various facets of the supernatural, blending fantasy with characters who have very human traits.
I think an interesting way to categorize this book is like taking Harry Potter to the next level. You sort of get that feel because of the setting that it’s in. It’s not magic per say, but exploring otherworldly things, some of which I was unfamiliar with before learning about it. So that’s really the closest way to describe it, although it goes far beyond that. I learned a lot because certain things piqued my interest which I honestly have never heard about before. The book is intriguing and I became more interested the more I read. One such example was a chapter titled ‘The Oneironaut’ which is based off a concept called oneironautics. I learned that this is the concept of lucid dreaming, or being able to control your dream, whether it is trying to wake up from a dream or make something happen within the dream.
The actual story is divided up into a number of different perspectives from each character. Some had more relatable stories and more developed characters than others; some were truly fantastic. It reads like a dark adventure of disconnected people that the author is able to draw together for a bigger purpose – much bigger, and much more dangerous. Throughout the various chapters, we learn of different schools within the University, from which the different characters attend. There’s the School of Coin, School of Metallurgy, School of Engineering, etc. Each school is headed by a dean; and one sticks out in particular. Dean Merkea – an unpleasant man with an ugly, tattered demon dog who even urinates on a character’s shoe at one point. My favorite chapter, Prisoner from Beyond, ties together Dean Merkea, a curator, and unravels the launch of a very unique exhibit at a museum.
Despite its setting, the author manages to piece together a few solid pieces of insight every so often that can be just as intriguing as the story. One such example was of Arakatzeko, a character who can be related to someone like Socrates today: deceased, but full of wisdom. As Araktzeko is studied, we learn alongside the characters: “the true rulers of the royal palace were the cats, who were said to live through every change in royal families without incident”. Such tangible reliefs are welcome and help humanize an otherwise crazy setting.
As the book progresses, you get a feeling it’s heading towards something – just not sure what. The unique stories of each of the characters has surely got something for everybody, admittedly some more than others. It is guaranteed to stay fresh and new until the very end, which may leave you wishing that the author could’ve just kept going.
Pages: 720 | ASIN: B01MUAKPM3
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In The Big Cheese Festival, we meet Stubby Mouse who is being bullied by because his tail is short. Why was bullying an issue you wanted to tackle in this kids book?
I see bullying all the time and it just makes no sense to bully another child, or adult for that matter. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed in childhood. Cyber bullies come into play and one reads about another child taking their own life due to being bullied. If I can help children be a little kinder to one another then this book was worth writing. Kindness breeds kindness. Bullying must stop. Children need to take a stand against bullying and their families must do the same, as do the educators in our system. It is bad when ones parent actually cyber bullies another child and that child ends up taking their own life. Parents need to be held accountable.
Do you think children struggle with confirmation of their self worth? How do you think kids seek that out?
Of course they struggle. Self worth and self esteem are huge issues as a child grows up and I, for one, still have self esteem issues at my age (56). Not all children grown up in a loving or supporting home. As a mother, and as a registered nurse, I have seen the dark side of life and it is ugly. Many things are preventable, and if parents aren’t willing to step in and assist in a positive manner then educators need to step in. Kids seek confirmation in many ways and most are a sacrifice, that is, some seek out sex to feel worthy, or eating disorders to help with body image issues they perceive as having or have at that moment/time span in time. Others over medicate and some over dose, others try their hardest to please their parent/parents/adult care provider, etc. and many don’t measure up or they simply give up. They lose hope, and we all need to have hope. Society in general needs top help foster self worth in troubled kids and teens.
There are lots of wonderful images in this story. What was your favorite image to use and write for?
Stubby Mouse is my favorite. The idea for him came about from one of our backyard squirrels who only has half a tail, and partly crippled due to meeting up with a vehicle and living afterward. We named him Stubby (his tail) and he has a different scamper than the other squirrels but he is determined. Stubby is just as wild as all the squirrels are and he loves to play chase. From one little stubby tailed crippled squirrel a book was born. I purposely presented all of the characters to dress the same, and for the girls to have different hairstyles. Stubby is the only one who is different and I knew that his short tail would be noticed by keeping the other characters similar. This worked quite well. Stubby is favorite for the preschoolers and kindergarten kids as well as first graders. The kids latched onto Stubby and they all defended him. Once the kids settle back down after a reading and discussion, then I will point out various differences in the kids in front of me such as hair color, etc. and I explain our uniqueness to all, and how that makes us special.
What are some themes of future books that you would like to write about?
I have many yet my time is limited due to health. I will say that we put out a book last year that speaks about molestation/sex abuse. It’s titled “Suzy Has A Secret” and it includes an adult/educators part in the back of the story. I used characters that do wear different colored clothes but facial expressions are the same. My mantra here is good touch/bad touch and children are innocent/predators are not.
“In The Big Cheese Festival, we meet Stubby Mouse and his family and friends. We learn that Stubby Mouse has a secret, that he is being bullied by another mouse, simply because his tail is short. Read how Stubby Mouse stood up for himself, and how he ended the bullying, in this delightful story for children. Targeted at ages 4-8, the book is easy to read and perfect for home or classroom. Children learn how bad bullying is, and what they can do to help stop bullies! Stubby Mouse encourages children to take a stand against bullies, and always be kind to each other. This story illustrates how everyone is different and unique, and it is a delightful read with cute illustrations for both children and adults. Take a stand against bullying today!”
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It’s Okay, I’m Watching, written by Chenee Gilbert, is a novel based around LaTrell Wiggins- a caring young girl who lives with her younger brother Daryl and her parents, Luis and Paulini. Tragedy strikes the family as Paulini’s life is taken by cancer. Grief-stricken, the family begins to process death in their own ways and learns that grief can appear in all shapes and forms. Meanwhile, LaTrell is beginning middle school which comes with the inevitable stage of life- puberty. During this confusing time, Luis, Daryl and LaTrell must come to terms with life without Paulini and the changing dynamics of their family environment.
It’s Okay, I’m Watching opens the door to conversation with those experiencing all forms of grief. LaTrell Wiggins, the main character, loses her mother to cancer whilst entering a vulnerable stage of her life- middle school and puberty. An easily relatable character, LaTrell’s journey shows how families can show strength in the face of terrible adversity.
It’s Okay I’m Watching discusses how our lives are enriched in traditions and questions the reader’s thoughts on what traditions they would pass on to others. It reminds the reader that time waits for no-one and unfortunately, circumstances are out of our control. Personally, it reminded me of the importance of holidays and the unique nuances that make my family my own and what traditions would be present in a memorial for my loved ones.
If you are looking for a companion after experiencing loss, look no further. It’s Okay, I’m Watching will help begin the healing processes and start the pathway to acceptance. This is done through discussion questions at the end of each chapter which helps the reader to reflect on their own circumstances. It explores how grief is a reaction and a release of an array of emotions. Tragedy can strike anywhere at any time and you will be able to empathize with the characters and their journey.
One of my favorite characters is Shajuan Martinez, LaTrell’s friend. Sassy and confident; she tolerates very little. LaTrell discusses with her friends her grief counselling sessions and they begin to identify whether it is something they could benefit from. LaTrell’s other friend, Chandler, begins to acknowledge his own grief that he had been trying to mask. Her two friends shine a humorous side to LaTrell’s darkest days.
Teenagers experience loss and grief through death, break-ups and even loss of pets. Exposure to novels such as this will help them begin to understand the grieving process in an already confusing time of their life. It allowed me to normalize my own grieving processes and the impact these times had during my youth.
What I loved most about this novel is that it opens up the idea that grief isn’t restricted to those experiencing death and instead can be felt by those who are feeling alone, sad or missing someone. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to understand their own journey in regards to grief and loss.
Pages: 110 | ASIN: B01MXKCY8R
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Book 1 of the Dreadnought Collective series begins in Spain, where Sebastian Cage and his younger brother Bart arrive to spend the summer with their grandparents. Terry and Sandra Tumbler have plenty for them to do, with sporting activities and swimming to keep the boys active and burn off their boundless energy. Despite this, the rivalry between the brothers starts to fray their grandparents’ nerves, so Terry devises a plan. He enlists thirteen-year-old Sebastian as his research assistant for a secret project. Terry has noticed a larger-than-average number of little people in his town and is convinced they are aliens.
Seb’s intelligence and tenacity are put to good use. Seb and Terry’s set out to observe and follow people under five feet tall as they move about town. The pair’s activities are noticed, and a man named Skip approaches Seb and Terry and confirms their suspicions. Skip and his organization – the Sombrella Syndicate – aren’t hostile at all. He invites Seb to join their summer campus to learn special skills and advanced technology. Terry is skeptical, but he can further his research than getting the information straight from the source, even if he has to get the data by tricking his grandson.
Seb Cage is intended for middle-grade readers and offers a fantastic, “what I did on my summer vacation” adventure story. Seb must cope with discovering and controlling abilities he never knew he had, making friends with his fellow students and focusing on his education. He must also work in tandem with his partner Maisie, and develops a crush on her.
His uncertainty and awkwardness over Maisie, coupled with constant teasing from his younger brother, makes it easy to sympathize with Seb. He faces some issues that tween and teen readers will be familiar with. He’s essentially joining a new school and is soon surrounded by a group of young people his own age who come from all over Europe. He must learn to deal with embarrassment, mistakes, and successes, as well as bond with his classmates and learn from mentors who are very different from any teacher he’s had before.
The humor in the book is delightful, with a distinctly British feel. Some of it is word-play, with funny scenes (mostly involving Seb’s grandfather, Terry) that range from misunderstandings and mishaps to literal bathroom humor. Since the students and mentors are telepathically linked, the occasional stray thought slips through to hilarious effect. This kind of comedy plays through the whole story, keeping the mood light and the story moving.
The students visit real historical sites, and the descriptions of these monuments, battlefields, and triumphs of ancient engineering are wonderful. The author provides an appendix of links to some of these fantastic places that inspired the story.
Seb Cage Begins His Adventure is well-suited to readers from 9-14. It’s full of adventure, science fiction, and fantasy and will also appeal to youth who enjoy sports and exploration. The novel features strong themes of friendship, discovery, and learning to care for others and the planet Earth as well.
Pages: 382 | ASIN: B00VVCVNYI
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