Success follows a young boy who is working on a school assignment to discover what the meaning of success is by interviewing people he knows. What was the inspiration for your story?
The inspiration for this particular series of stories comes from my students over the years. As an elementary school teacher, I have seen countless challenges that kids face. I am inspired by them to write stories that touch on big life lessons, such as identity, perseverance, kindness, and courage. This story came to me while I was on a walk with my oldest sister one Sunday morning. She and I were chatting about my students, her own kids who are now adults, and life in general. If you have sisters, or have been around sisters, you know how we can bounce all over the place in conversations! Anyhow, as the day went on, the idea became more and more clear, and the story sort of wrote itself!
The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Helen Ayle?
I agree, the art is fantastic! Helen and I have been collaborating for about two years. We discovered one another for our very first project, a book called Good Deeds Gone Wrong that also has the same main character as Success. We have collaborated on seven projects so far. She is a wonderful artist and illustrator. Her ideas are creative, and I love how she brings different perspectives in the illustrations. My favorite from this book is while Stephen was lying awake in bed… I love the colors and mood on that page!
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The main themes that I wanted to explore through this book are identity and defining success. I think it is important for kids to consider this idea of identity — who we believe we are and how we see ourselves. I also hope kids understand that success looks different for different people. Ultimately, I hope kids think about success a little differently, just like the main character. I see children come through my classroom each year who are so uniquely talented, and often don’t feel successful based on school criteria. They maybe struggle with reading or math, but perhaps are incredibly logical thinkers. Or maybe they are amazing artists, or kind and helpful people who jump up to assist anyone who needs it. I have kids who are incredible public speakers, dancers, writers, athletes, and mathematicians. Ultimately, I hope this book helps kids feel seen and understood. I hope it helps them consider that each person is gifted in different ways, and that is what makes the world function well. We need all of the talents and perspectives!
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I just released another piece about a week ago that Helen illustrated for me called A Big Family’s Big Trip. I was inspired to write a story after reading the 1978 Caldecott winner The Relatives Came. The story is about my family’s trip to Israel in December 2018- January 2019. My parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 2019, and they announced that rather than having a big party, they wanted to take us all on a big trip to Israel! It was an amazing adventure, to say the least. And Helen did a fantastic job creating the thirteen characters inspired by my family! She has also finished illustrations for another book called Tough Turning Ten that will be released this summer. AND I’m also putting together a book for another series that I have with an exceptional illustrator named Pablo D. A’lio. That series has brief lessons for everyday activities that are also wise words of wisdom for life. We created three books of Grandpa’s Lessons, and now we are diving into Grandma’s Guides… We can learn a lot about life from activities like fishing, hiking, cooking, and gardening. Plus grandparents always have the best advice, right?
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Grandma, Granddad, We Want to Praise God teaches children all the different ways they can offer praise to God in their daily lives. What was the inspiration for writing this book?
The series started with the first book, when my seven year old grandson, now eighteen, said to his mother, “Mama, I want to see God”. After, Mama, I Want to See God was published, I decided to include the entire family in the series with a Daddy book and a Grandparents book. My goal was to show families through each of the books that we, (children and adults) are all works in progress as it relates to building our faith.
The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Sharon Grey?
The art collaboration with Sharon was awesome. This book was the second book that she and I have worked on together. My publisher requires that I create a storyboard for my books, providing concepts about what I envision for each page. Many times, I needed Sharon’s insight regarding my ideas. Sharon was always willing to rework a sketch if it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I appreciate and admire Sharon’s expertise and experience in bringing to life the pages of my book.
I loved the scene where they talked about praising God even when things go wrong. What was your favorite scene in this book?
I have two favorite scenes in the book. The first is when the children want to know the best time to praise God. This is one of my favored settings in the book because my mother is depicted on that page. The other scene is when granddad and the children are praying at the dinner table. And, my father is portrayed on that page. My parents were indeed the best grandparents that any child could have!
Do you have more books planned for the Families Growing in Faith series? If so what is the topic and when will it be available?
I actually have three additional works that I started writing years ago. I’ve been so busy with my first three books, as well as other works in progress that I haven’t had time to get back to those stories. I believe they would fit well in the series, Families Growing in Faith. All I can reveal at this time is that each of the stories start with “God Knows . . .” I’m not sure when they will be available. But, be on the lookout!
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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 www.jameshensman.net.
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.
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This stunning picture book captures the spirit of Christmas even if told from a perspective most have never heard of. Based off of the biblical story of Saint Nicholaos, the author intertwines how other cultures have added their twist to the story to lead it to the familiar story of a red suit and hat with reindeer.
Young Nikolaos was raised in Patara, a shipping town where he was taught to pray and about the life of Jesus and God. Inspired by the stories of Jesus, Nikolaos traveled to Jerusalem to visit all the places he learned of. He embodied the spirit of Jesus by giving all he could to those less fortunate than himself. When he was returning home his ship ran into a bad storm and he prayed that they would return to land safely. His faith and kindness are examples of where the spirit of the modern Saint Nick comes from. Saint Nikolaos was known for leaving gifts outside children’s windows, or just handing out things that they needed as he could. The tradition of gift-giving was started as a means to show kindness and help each other.
This picture book will entertain young readers and give them a historical perspective without dampening the excitement of the holiday season. This thought-provoking children’s book allows children to see that different cultures believe different versions of the same story. Captivating illustrations accompany the narrative and make for an engaging experience.
Ships, Sleighs and Christmas Lights: The Origins of Saint Nicholas is a delightful picture book that religious educators and families can all enjoy around the holiday season. It focuses on the meaning of Christmas and not the commercialization of the day. The historical fiction in this children’s book is a great conversation starter as well for what life was like in the fourth century.
Pages: 44 | ASIN : B09M3QXBLB
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Barclay & Berk Builders: A Parable has been retold in this spiritually enriching children’s book by Beverley Rayner and illustrator James Hensman. This thoughtful kids book tells the story of two builders that can build everything, from sandboxes to jungle gyms, with skill and ease. The builders Barclay and Berk decide one spring to build their dream homes. Barclay is excited and races into the project, Berk takes his time and thinks out each step. Along the way both builders take pride in what they have accomplished, while Barclay is more excited about showing off all the amazing aspects of his home, Berk is more concerned with making a strong foundation that will last. Both finish their homes in time for the winter storms, but both homes are not prepared for what is to come. This educational story is based off of the one that Jesus tells in Matthew chapter seven.
This classic Bible story is retold in simple language that young elementary age children will easily be able to understand. Beverley Rayner has experience with children and teaching and uses her knowledge to make this parable entertaining while also ensuring that it is easily understood by children so that they grasp the message and remember it.
The light-hearted story, together with playful art, bring this parable to a level kids will understand and follow with ease. This picture book is illustrated with whimsical artwork that children will find appealing. Illustrator James Hensman has a unique style, with bright colors and imaginative drawings, that will appeal to children. Each page is a work of art in itself and conveys the message of the story for those children that are too young to read the words.
Barclay & Berk Builders: A Parable is an exceptional children’s book that parents and teachers will find to be a great addition to their library. I thought this was a charming picture book that teaches the word of God to young children. This delightful picture book takes the parable of the two builders down to a level that children will understand and love.
Pages: 36 | ASIN: B09JSXZBTT
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When two children asked Poppy what the greatest light is, the three of them go on an adventure to discover the answer. While trying to discover the greatest light the three get balloons in the park, have some cookies, eat by a fire and catch lightning bugs. While enjoying all these fun activities the children see people that could use some help and they gladly go about helping. Poppy just watches and tells them how kind they are to help out others.
The Greatest Light is a feel-good Christian picture book that communicates the message of kindness and how we should help those in need. Tim & Cindy Morrison have written a story that is easy for children to understand using themes and topics that will appeal to young kids. Steve Worthington illustrates the story in a whimsical manner. The pages look like watercolor paintings and the colors used highlight the focus of each page. Together the prose and artwork create an engaging and entertaining book to read to children that will draw them into the story and teach without feeling like a lesson.
The Greatest Light is heartwarming and spiritual book ideal for parents, teachers, and those in religious education. This Christian picture book will emphasize that kindness is achievable in your day to day interactions
Pages: 54 | ISBN-10: 1664231641
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