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A Star Upon a Dream

A Star Upon a Dream, written by elementary school teacher and former wrestler Kendall T. Newell, is a short and vibrant children’s book about a child’s internal dilemmas and insecurities as her class mates taunt her on the day of the school’s professional job fair, and how her loving father kindly helped her tackle the issue.

Meleah is a little girl who is thoroughly excited about Career Day. She still has no clue what profession she would like to pursue and hopes that the talks by adults in different areas of work will shed some light on the matter. Encouraged by her father, she leaves for school with the highest of hopes. However, her spirits suffer a blow when her classmates challenge each of her suggestions of possible professions she might pursue. That night, her father comes to the rescue and uses the starry night sky as a canvas to explain how each person is unique and can achieve their dreams in their own way.

The final section conveys the book’s key message, which is to highlight to children – who are especially sensitive to criticism and may struggle in handling it with care – that any third-party opinions should not obscure their objectives and wishes. In a world where kids are frequently exposed to television, the internet, and other forms of media that facilitate comparisons to be made, such as the ones Maleah suffered by her peers, this message is particularly noteworthy.

A Star Upon a Dream is a heartwarming children’s book about learning to believe in yourself and that no two people have to follow the same path, even if they are headed in the same direction. It is written ideally for the preteen age group and covers emotional topics they will encounter in today’s world. This is an excellent book to use to open up the discussion of peer pressure, bullying, and self-confidence.

Pages: 54 | ASIN: B09C7DYFB1

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Building Resilience and Finding Meaning in Life

Author Dr. June Rousso’s thought-provoking book, Building Resilience and Finding Meaning in Life is an interactive guide for teenagers looking to find meaning in their life experiences. This self-help book is intended to be gone through like a workbook. You read a section and sometimes there are exercises included for the reader to do to grasp the concept better. Not all sections have exercises but it is still meant to be an area for reflection. The overall concept is based on the teaching of Dr. Viktor Frankl and the Values In Action (VIA) Institute on Character, this book aims to equip teenagers with practical tips that they can apply to their lives.

Dr. June Rousso goes into the teaching of Dr. Frankl, particularly around how to find meaning and happiness even in the face of adversity. One of the key points in Dr. Fankl’s philosophy is that there are three things we all go through in life – guilt, suffering, and death. More importantly, it teaches teenagers how to cope with them, even as they struggle with the ups and downs that come with puberty. There is a strong emphasis on the importance of accepting your feelings, even the negative ones like envy.

The section that I like most, is the part that talks about virtues. The author explains how you can help yourself in the pursuit of finding meaning in your life and understanding how to identify happiness. Each section includes questions about the topic for reflection. I also liked that the author included quotes from a variety of sources that are scattered through the pages. At the end are worksheets with different scenarios that allow for reflection and putting the skills talked about to use.

Building Resilience and Finding Meaning in Life is written in a simple and direct style that is non-judgemental. This setup is ideal for teenagers looking for a self-help book, or something to help make sense of things at this point in their life.

Pages: 83 | ASIN : B09N321H64

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The Sumatran Trilogy

Emma Sandford
Emma Sandford Author Interview

What’s Troubling Tawny? follows a shy young rhino that has trouble making friends and meets a bird that helps her find her confidence and make friends. What was the inspiration for your story?

I wanted to write a story about the Sumatran rhino because, tragically, there are fewer than 80 of these beautiful creatures left. I thought it would be interesting to have a rhino who lacks confidence and struggles with her own body image and insecurities. I also wanted to get across important messages for children in relation to body positivity and how to overcome shyness, which a lot of children and even adults struggle with.

How did you decide on the location for the backdrop to this story?

All three books in the Sumatran Trilogy are set in the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia. Originally, whilst I was thinking of locations for the books, I wanted it to be in a rainforest. My research led me to Sumatra, which is one of the most important areas of intact rainforest in the world. It is also the last place where tigers, elephants, rhinos and orangutans still roam together.

What is one thing that you hope readers take away from What’s Troubling Tawny?

There are lots of things I would hope readers will take from the story such as the importance of being yourself, being brave and stepping out of your comfort zone, as well as the environmental messages which are equally important. Perhaps the main message is how vital friendship and kindness are because without Tallulah’s encouragement, Tawny would not have approached Rusty.

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

I am currently working on the final book in the Sumatran Trilogy, Hooray for Heidi!, which is due to be released in June 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Website

Tawny longs to make friends with another rhino, but her shyness holds her back. When she meets a hornbill called Tallulah, she is surprised to learn that she has a lot in common with the beautiful bird. Will Tawny find a way to overcome her shyness, and can Tallulah help her find a companion?
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