Blog Archives

The Greatest Gift

Diane Hull Author Interview

Diane Hull Author Interview

Be Happy to Be You is a cute children’s story about being happy with who you are. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?

Children are the inspiration for my stories; the children I have taught and my three grandchildren. Joe (6 years), Harry (4 years) and George (10 months). Children are individuals and they are all different with their own characteristics and strengths. I strongly believe that they should be happy to be themselves.

The art in this book is well done and very cute. What was the art direction and collaboration like between you and Jan Dolby?

Having submitted my book to MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing, I was introduced to Jan Dolby as a possible illustrator for my work. I was delighted with her drawings; her pictures were a perfect match for my story and her designs for my Baby bird were exactly as I imagined them. I hope that she and I will continue to work together on future Baby bird books.

This story did an exceptional job of driving home the idea of being happy with yourself. Why was this an important book for you to write?

As an Early Years teacher, I understand how important it is that young children are instilled with a sense of their own worth. A positive sense of self is, in my opinion, the greatest gift we can give any child. They need to be proud of their own unique achievements and embrace their strengths. This message is at the heart of my book. Using picture books, we can provide children with strategies to cope with possible problems they may face and offer them opportunities to discuss their feelings with a trusted adult.

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

My second book, “On Our Way to School,” is due to be published later this year by MacLaren-Cochrane. This is the story of Joe’s journey to school with his mother. Unfortunately for Joe, he forgets things that he will need for the day; his bag, his book, his coat etc. Each time he realises that he has forgotten something, he has to return to his house and set off for school again.

I have recently completed a second book featuring Baby bird, “The Lonely Bird”. In this story, Baby bird is lonely and he sets out to find a friend. Baby bird is unsuccessful it seems…. or is he? I have written quite a few stories but these have not yet been submitted for publication.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Baby bird wasn’t happy.
He longed to be like other animals.
He wanted to swim and run and jump.
But he had to learn to be happy as he was…
He had to learn just to be himself!

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Be Happy To Be You

The title of the book itself is encouraging enough for one to start reading. Be Happy To Be You takes a simple idea and drives it home with a lovable character, cute art, and an entertaining story.

The art in this book is beautiful. The images are appealing and match the tone of the story. The very first sentence in the book reads “Baby bird wanted to swim. He looked at the fish in the river.” “I wish I could swim in the river like the fish,” says the bird. “You can fly high in the sky,” replies the bird’s mother. This is a good example of the message this story carries throughout the book. Even with everything the bird wishes for, he is always reminded of the things that he does have.

Reading on, one can conclude that the bird feels inadequate with the things he has. Just like humans, the bird wishes for more. The bird’s mother plays a big role in making the bird understand that he can’t have everything he wants. I think kids will be able to make the connection with the animals on the page and easily see the parallels in their own life.

The bird keeps wishing for more throughout the book. He sees the horses and wants to run around the field like they do. He sees the frogs on the lily pad and wants to jump like the reptiles. In every situation though, mother bird shows how caring she is and reminds the bird of the things he can do, that other animals can’t.

Like most guardians, mother bird was always concerned with the bird and tried to make him feel better any time he felt low. A loving and caring mother is what every offspring wishes to have. I appreciate the author’s use of animal characters to bring out habits that are often seen in people. I think this is an important lesson that children of any age should learn.

Be Happy To Be You is not only entertaining, but also informative. The coloring and stunning drawings make the book both entertaining and fun to read. The images of the frogs were my absolute favorite. I wish I could put them in a frame. Every young person who struggles with not being satisfied with what they have will find this book educational.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: 1387596985

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Day That A Ran Away

The Day That A Ran Away by [Fegan, B.C.R.]The Day that A Ran Away is an adorably witty story about the letters of the alphabet just deciding not to report for duty one day. Master Jet is trying to write the alphabet and he just can’t do it with all the letters on holiday. Each letter has either decided not to show up or has had something that prevented it from showing up. Understandably, it’s hard to write the alphabet without even one of the letters. Master Jet may think he is fooling his teacher, but Mrs. May is way too smart to fall for his creative tricks.

My kids are much older now, but they would have loved this book when they were little. The writing is catchy and flows well for reading aloud. The rhymes are cute. The colors are bright and eye-catching. This was especially always a hit with my own children. The illustrations are beautiful. It is very visually pleasing. It is also funny. It made me laugh a couple of times. I actually think it would be fun to read aloud. Any parent who has had to read the same book one hundred times can tell you how important it is to have a story that flows well verbally.

My favorite part of the book is the beautiful illustrations. They are by Lenny Wen. As with most children’s books, the illustrations are a huge part of whether the book is a hit or not. Since most kids are being read to at this stage, the illustrations have to really appeal to them. A nice touch was adding a few “hidden” images within each letter’s page—having the kids match the letter with the object. My kids would have loved trying to find these little gems. Overall, the artwork is beautifully done.

Together B.C.R. Fegan and Lenny Wen have created a catchy, appealing story for little kids and their parents. I really enjoyed it. I believe kids and parents everywhere would enjoy it as well.

Pages: 33 | ASIN: B07DMN4VVP

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Algebra for the Urban Student: Using Stories to Make Algebra Fun and Easy

Algebra for the Urban Student: Using Stories to Make Algebra Fun and Easy by [Lee, Canaa]

Before you read my review of Algebra for the Urban Student: Using Stories to Make Algebra Fun and Easy by Canaa Lee, you should know that I am one of those strange people who really enjoy a good Algebra problem. I have always loved Algebra, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on a book about Algebra for review purposes. I am also a homeschooling parent so I am always interested in textbooks, especially those that incorporate new methods of learning. This book did not disappoint.

Lee is a high school math teacher who conceived of the idea for this book while she was working at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. She was a math teacher given the task of figuring out how to incorporate reading and literacy into her math class. To do this, she would find several topics in her class that shared a theme and try to build a story around them in order to teach them together. The book relies heavily on building an ongoing story throughout the entire course in order to help students retain knowledge and follow along as they shift from one concept to another. As someone right in the midst of teaching Algebra, I think this is a brilliant concept.

Lee wanted to demonstrate to her students that Algebra could be demystified and could become more than just a jumble of numbers and letters. This is especially important in some urban environments where the population is largely poor and underrepresented when it comes to education. Test results from many urban areas prove this time and again. I also know from teaching my own children (who hate math) that making the concepts of Algebra clearer can be a daunting task. Incorporating these concepts into stories can get through to students who simply don’t learn from numbers alone.

The book covers a plethora of relevant and important topics: equations, inequalities, absolute value, graphing, slope, ordered pairs, slope-intercept form, relations, functions, statistics, ratios, proportions, rate of change, compound inequalities, geometry, perimeter, area, surface area, volume, factoring, quadratic equations, quadratic trinomials, parabolas, domain, range, vertex, vertical stretch, horizontal stretch, horizontal shift, polynomials, monomials, binomials, trinomials, leading coefficients, and discriminants. It was very thorough. The author provides ample practice problems throughout the book. She also makes it very clear how the problems relate to every day life. I found it very relatable and relevant.

I would rate the book a 4 on a 5-point scale. Providing a supplement with an answer key to check the answers after doing the problems would definitely move it up to a 5. This is a book I would use in teaching my own children when we run across a particularly troubling concept. Lee has made math relatable for people who might have trouble.

Pages: 88 | ASIN: B0792VFC1W

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Faithful to Egyptian Style

George Neeb Author Interview

George Neeb Author Interview

Pharaoh’s Arrow is a picture book that tells a fascinating story using authentic hieroglyphics and historic papyrus paintings. What was the inspiration that made you want to put this book together?

I have taught elementary school for over 25 years. I have always found that using picture books is a great way to teach subjects like history and art to students. Picture books bring history alive. I found in teaching about Early Societies that there was an abundance of information books but not picture book narratives. I wanted to create a resource that teachers or any Egyptology fan could use and enjoy that included factual information but was also entertaining. I have always been fascinated by Ancient Egypt, so I thought this would be a great way to break into writing and illustrating picture books.

Each piece of artwork in the book was done by you on papayri. What was that process like?

The illustrations are actually done on paper to replicate the look of papyrus. I included directions in the back of the book, so readers can create similar drawings. The secret is to colour with pencil crayon, as this medium will resist paint. Then I painted over the coloured illustration using brown and yellow tempera paint. I used a large paint brush and painted both directions leaving the brush strokes showing. Last, I covered the wet paint with a disposable cloth and rubbed the cloth then removed the cloth. That is how the look of papyrus is achieved. It is simple yet works. I hope readers will try it out. I made a Youtube video to demonstrate the technique and colouring pages are found on my website https”//georgeneeb.ca

I felt that you did a great job of getting the facts of ancient Egypt correct. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?

I spent months researching how the Egyptian drew everything. I looked through lots of information books about Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians had a distinct way of drawing. Their style is simple yet graceful. I’ve heard the Egyptians described as the first graphic artists. People were drawn in profile but with forward facing eyes and shoulders. It is almost a contorted look. I also researched how trees, homes, palaces and animals were drawn. Egyptians didn’t uses perspective and size differences were usually due to importance, so sometimes the Pharaoh was drawn larger than everyone else. This made illustrating the book challenging because I couldn’t draw a lot of varied perspectives, such as a bird’s eye or an ant’s eye point of view. I really could only do some close ups in order to keep faithful to Egyptian style.

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

My next book is totally different. It is a story about an overweight girl that longs to be a super hero, but her mother and aunt really pressure her to act like the other girls and try to be pretty and popular. When some bullies befriend her, she has to decide if this is the person she wants to be. I did the illustrations using cut paper and also dyed paper backgrounds. The book is in the editing stage, so I hope it will be ready by late summer. I am also writing a book about an Emperor and a dragon in Ancient China. It will be illustrated to look like Chinese silk paintings have come to life to tell the story.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook | Website

Pharaoh's Arrow by [Neeb, George]Akia loves living in an oasis far from the Nile River with her father. But when she is faced with another family tragedy, Akia embarks on a plan of revenge that takes her to the ancient capital of Memphis and to meet Almighty Pharaoh. She quickly learns that vengeance isn’t as easy as it may seem! Come visit Ancient Egypt through a tale told in rhyming couplets, authentic hieroglyphics and historic papyrus paintings come to life. Ages 8 – 11 or any Egyptology fan!

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Real Feelings and Emotions

Kim Nugent Author Interview

Kim Nugent Author Interview

Did I Say Never is the emotional journey you took when you became a step mother to a special needs child. What was the inspiration that made you want to put your experiences into a book?

Truthfully when I began to reflect on our journey, I just kept thinking I wish there had been a book to help me. If we can help one family or a teacher or a caregiver by sharing what we learned, it was worth putting pen to paper.

I appreciated your candor and openness in the story, and it helped me fully understand your struggle. Was there anything that was difficult for you to write about?

Yes, any time I had to write about Brooks being injured or going back to the hospital was painful even at an older age of consuming nuts and bolts at the sheltered workshop. It literally makes me cry.

Do you find that there is a common misconception people have about special needs children?

Maybe not common misconception but as far as we have come in the area of disabilities, we have a long way to go. People feel uncomfortable around people who are different from them so they tend to avoid getting to know them. Special needs children have real feelings and emotions but they may express them differently.

I felt like this book was about family, devotion, and working through struggles. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

First, I truly want readers to use the book as a resource guide and ponder the questions for their family to consider what is best for them. Second, I hope they look at the milestones proactively and develop a plan for what they want as a family. Third, look for the angels in your life that can help. Finally, realize you are not alone even though there will be many days you think you are all alone.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Did I Say Never?: A Stepparent's Emotional Journey with her Special Needs Son by [Nugent, Kim]

Dr. Kim Nugent is the best-selling author of Did I Say Never. Kim shares her personal 32 year spiritual journey, a true story, filled with sorrows and joys, challenges and tears that unfolded during her marriage and life as a step parent. The intention of the book is to provide ideas, questions, resources and heartfelt encouragement for parent’s to help their special needs child or adult so they achieve their full potential and improve the overall quality of their life.

Kim never thought she would marry again and for sure not to a man who had children.
Little did she know that her life would change –in unimaginable and dramatic ways, and this is where the story begins!

Did I Say Never is an emotional journey of love, frustration, and overwhelm. Kim step-by-step describes the details of each step she took on the path and talks about the Angels that appeared just at the right time to guide and uplift her.

While Kim does not have all the answers for you and your family, she knows the struggles, pains, joys and victories. Kim offers remarkable disability resources and questions for consideration for you, your family, teachers, and caregivers.

Have you ever felt completely lost, confused or extremely overwhelmed about what to do next with your disabled child or adult? Have you ever felt clueless as to what questions to ask next or what resources might be available to you? Then grab a copy and don’t let anyone stop you from “designing your life without limits”! Did I Say Never is a must read.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

All Of My Human Fragility

Paulette Bodeman Author Interview

Paulette Bodeman Author Interview

The BreakAway Girl: Secrets of a Tantric Yogi is a memoir about your life and how you found peace through hard times. What was the inspiration that made you want to put your story into a book?

Great question. As I mention in the book I’ve been blessed over the years to have the privilege of teaching yoga to so many remarkable students. As a result, in many ways the book is a response to questions I’ve been asked over time. I also believe it’s important that as a teacher you’re seen as a human being. Who can be just as frightened at times, unaware at times, and who may have struggled with insecurities just like the person next to you on the mat, or in front of you at the grocery check-out. It’s all part of this human embodiment.

What I enjoyed was that you didn’t shy away from retelling the difficult moments in your life. Was there anything that was difficult for you to write about?

Ha – yes! Quite honestly revealing all of my human fragility was difficult. It’s not easy to rip open your heart and expose your vulnerabilities so intimately. Knowing that most likely there will be judgement and commentary. Yet, as a writer it’s how I make sense of my world. I teach the whole of yoga, not simply poses. So, for me it’s a way that I’ve learned how to not spiritually by-pass and one way to be self-accountable. By doing that I’ve also learned, that in the right context, you allow others to see that they are not alone in the messiness that is life. And hopefully they feel more accepting of their own cracks and breakaways.

Writing a memoir forces you to look back and analyze life choices. Do you see things in your life differently now that you’ve written about it?

I love this question. I could write a lot about this, but one main analysis is that I’m more forgiving of myself. I realize that I was doing the best I could at the time. However mis-guided it might look like in retrospect. Plus, I’m even more grateful that I finally found my way to the path of yoga that continues every day to help me step more fully into my own essence.

This book is inspirational as well as functional in that you give some yoga pose instruction in the back of your book. What do you hope readers take away from The BreakAway Girl?

I hope that readers are inspired by my story of self-reflection, and ultimately as I see it, redemption. If they recognize themselves in any small way, I hope that my story might provide insight and motivation into their own breakaways. And to never give up on themselves. Also, if a reader is searching for a tool or a modality that might move them forward perhaps it is yoga – the myths, meditation, mantra, or asana might just be that something that will support their spiritual growth and personal transformation.

Author Links: TwitterFacebookWebsite | Instagram

Paulette Bodeman is a certified integrative life coach and an Anusara® certified yoga teacher and trainer. When Paulette’s students asked her if she’d always “had it all together”, The BreakAway Girl – Secrets of a Tantric Yogi, was born. Through self-reflection, a sacred yogic practice, Paulette realized that she’d had many significant “breakaway moments” – moments when she made conscious decisions to change her life. Throughout her 20+ years of study, Paulette moved through many phases overcoming numerous personal challenges.

The BreakAway Girl is divided into sections that she named for the Hindu Goddesses – Kali, Saraswati and Lakshmi. Only through introspection was Paulette able to understand the meaning the goddesses brought to her life, and how their energetic archetypes supported her personal growth and transformation. In keeping with a relatively new breed of contemporary writing, part memoir – part self-help, Ms. Bodeman reveals with raw honesty and humor the secrets that held her hostage and the secrets that helped to set her spirit free. While she writes with fearless determination from the trenches of personal experience the author’s ultimate message is not only universal, but life-affirming.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

A Curious Journey

B.C.R. Fegan Author Interview

B.C.R. Fegan Author Interview

Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 takes young readers on a journey through the magical Hotel of Hoo where they’re introduced to many strange guests. What served as your inspiration for this imaginative hotel and its occupants? 

The concept was really born from the title. I had wanted to write a counting book for a while but one that carried a stronger narrative than many others in this particular category. After I had the title, everything else just came together. I think that there is something about doors that sparks a natural curiosity, particularly in young children. I wanted to extend that curiosity by placing the story in a setting that would really compound the mystery. A magical castle, to me, holds a lot of intrigue and seemed like an excellent place to begin a curious journey.

There are a lot of interesting creatures behind each door. My favorite was the miniature giants. What was your favorite to write and animate?

I have so many! For most of the characters there is a fascinating juxtaposition between the general perception of their stereotype and a characteristic they embody in the story. Some of the other creatures are simply a play on popular culture. However a few of them are just plain cute. If I had to choose only one favourite, I think it would be from this last category – the big-headed monkeys.

While I was writing this character, I had in my mind something so adorable that it would make a great stuffed toy. What’s exciting about working with Lenny is that we both think similarly. She was able to take my thoughts for this idea and really bring it to life with brilliant expression. They may not be a typical mythical creature, but I think they nevertheless compliment the overall enjoyment of exploring this hotel by diffusing the expectation that each character needs to have some kind of creepy characteristic.

The story is told in rhyme and each door has a theme which, I think, makes this book great for the classroom. Was it challenging to write the story in this way or was it natural?

After I had the idea, the story itself flowed quite naturally. The fantastical nature of the castle meant that each door wasn’t restricted to a single concept or any established rules. I think this is (in part) what both pulls you along in the story and tempts you to linger – every door is a portal to its own unique and perhaps unexpected theme.

I don’t want it to send like I’m begging, but please tell me this story is going to be expanded on in future books? 

Ooh, now that’s an interesting question. It was definitely a fun story to write so I wouldn’t rule out a sequel. I’ll let you know…

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32 by [Fegan, B.C.R.]

The magical Hotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.

This imaginative picture book aims to take children beyond the first ten cardinal numbers, and introduces them to the patterns of counting in a fun and accessible way. With rooms to explore and unique objects to count, children will enjoy lingering on each page as they make their way closer to the forbidden door.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

 

The Day Momma Made Me Dance

The Day Momma Made Me Dance by [Brown, Patrice]

The Day Momma Made Me Dance, written by Patrice Brown, is a colourful children’s book depicting the consequences of what happens when children misbehave. The story follows a young girl who is constantly up to mischief, whether it’s in the form of skipping chores, fighting with her brother or doing cartwheels in the hallway. Her momma ignores her naughtiness, and it seems like the little girl will continue with her mischievous ways. Finally, momma has had enough of her daughter’s behaviour and decides to inflict some interesting forms of punishment.

The Day Momma Made Me Dance is a short story that takes a look at children’s behaviour and using physical punishment as a result of “naughty” or “bad” behaviour.

The story begins with a touching dedication which gives credit to mothers and the strength they carry through motherhood. In particular, it dedicates the story to her mother who has sadly passed and the strength they have had raising their children as a single parent. It sets the tone for the story and provides relevance to the types of punishment used for the children.

It then goes on to continue with a forward and preface section where the author outlines the love for her family and her daughter. It’s clear to see that Patrice has a strong love and bond for her children and family and values the childhood that her mother was able to provide for her. It also indicates how similar punishments of “making her dance” were used on her and her siblings and how she understood and accepted the reasoning behind the particular types of punishment.

The Day Momma Made Me Dance appears to be targeted towards children, however, the underlying message is created for adults as it pushes towards building an understanding of what constitutes abuse and discipline. The choice of punishment is a form of corporal punishment where the child experiences being whipped for her misbehaviour.

The Day Momma Made Me Dance could be used as a talking point of what parents may consider appropriate punishment for their children. At the end of the novel, Patrice Brown discusses what she believes to be abuse and what she feels is discipline. Patrice also goes into depth on the importance of not using sexual abuse as a form of punishment and how abuse can occur in many ways- emotionally, physically and mentally. There are questions you can use to discuss with your children on how they feel about being disciplined and how you can better your relationship with your child. These questions put a positive spin on the story and open up the passage of discussion of what you consider to be unfair or inappropriate discipline.

I would recommend this to parents who were comfortable in the use of corporal punishment or were looking for a storybook to open up the conversation of what family members considered to be abuse or discipline.

Pages: 39 | ASIN: B075KLRNLQ

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Such an Epic Tale

Jim Cronin Author Interview

Jim Cronin Author Interview

In Empyrean two empires are stuck in a struggle for control and suspicion has been raised about Skae’s true motives towards the Brin. How did you approach this book in the Brin series to keep things fresh?

I always had an overall general idea of how I wanted to wrap up the series so there were several hints along the way about the Skae and Gorvin empires. I wanted to follow a single family of Brin over a long span of time so creating individuals across generations was an essential part of the story. As in real life, even close relations have very different personalities so the new generation of characters in each book helped keep everything fresh with new perspectives. As the stories progressed, there were many alterations and details that changed as new inspirations hit, but the overall arc did not change too wildly from my original thoughts.

We delve deeper into the two cultures history and motives in this novel. What were some guiding principles for you as you were creating these empires?

As each book came to life, I strove to add greater depth to the universe the characters lived in. This was partly by design, but also the result of my learning more about how to write such an epic tale. Remember, Hegira was my first ever attempt at writing. Even though this is all happening in a different universe than ours, there still had to be certain laws of physics to follow and all the technologies had to abide by those rules. Some few alterations and extensions to our physical laws helped make it an interesting scifi universe, but straying too far would create too much disbelief. I wanted everything to be based on actual theories of what could be possible, then make it so. (yes, an intentional Picard reference.)

You were able to expertly balance technical jargon with easy prose. How did you strike that balance and was it purposeful?

I spent 35 years in the science classroom trying to explain complex scientific concepts to 7th grade students. I guess I developed a knack for doing this which carried over into my story-telling style.

Will this be the last book in the Brin Chronicles or do you plan to continue this series?

Yes, this is the final book of The Brin Archives. It was surprising to discover how much I would miss all these characters when I was finally done writing their story, but it is time to move on to a new project. Maybe someday, if fame and fortune hits and all my adoring fans demand a fourth novel in the series, then I might revisit all of them again. (it could happen… right?)

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Empyrean (The Brin Chronicles Book 3) by [Cronin, Jim]In this conclusion to The Brin Archives, Maliche Rocker must risk everything including his family’s reputation and even his life, to uncover the truth about the Skae. For over three hundred years the Brin have believed the Skae to be their benefactors, and the race that rescued them from extinction. But recent revelations by a group of young Kolbri, the offspring of Brin and Kolandi mating, tell a disturbingly different story.

Three Kolbri, including Maliche’s son Jontar, must use their unique abilities to telepathically connect with technology, and discover the truth about the Skae once and for all by undertaking a perilous journey through thousands of years in space and time, unravelling the history hidden from them by Skae. During this expedition, Jontar and his two companions must encounter the Gorvin, hated enemy of the Skae and supposed instigators of the current interstellar war.

What turned the Skae and Gorvin into mortal enemies? What is the true cause of the war responsible for the destruction of hundreds of worlds over thousands of years? Will Maliche and his small group find the truth and avert disaster both at home and across the galaxy? Can his wife, Ryma, hold the Brin government together long enough for Maliche to succeed? Only time will tell.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: