There are issues that plague all children as they grow up. Each child struggles with identifying who they are as a person, how they relate to other people and how to find out what they believe in. Children can be cruel to each other while they learn how to navigate the messy world of emotions. This can come out in the form of bullying. In The Big Cheese Festival the authors explore the concept of bullying and how it can impact the life of another. What may seem like funny and harmless words to one can truly hurt another. We’ve got a fantastical world of anthropomorphic mice, one of whom only has half a tail. He is named Stubby and due to the unkind bullying from his brother’s friend worries about whether or not he’ll find any worth in himself.
Bullying is a big issue to tackle. Some children’s books try to address this and drop the ball completely. Jackson and Raymond have bundled up the idea of bullying in their book. They take an obvious difference, like having half of a tail, and use it to illustrate how others might react to something so clearly different from the norm. It’s a cute book with the little mice getting ready for a festival. Cutter Mouse, who is friends with Stubby’s brother, is the perpetuator of the bullying. It is often someone close to the bullied who begins the abuse, which Jackson and Raymond have captured here.
While the story is simple and easy to either read or read to a child, there are a few areas in which it lacks. The mice all look exactly the same, in the same outfits. The girl mice have different hairstyles but the boy mice don’t have anything to separate who they are from each other. Different coloured outfits may have helped with this issue. The mice also don’t seem to express emotion. For a story about bullying and overcoming that, showing joy or sorrow would be necessary.
Stubby does stand up to the person who is making him feel poorly which is an important message to children. He doesn’t do it with violence or by calling Cutter names back. He uses his words. S. Jackson and A. Raymond know that children need to learn these skills to survive in this modern world. The Big Cheese Festival helps to make it less frightening and more relatable by creating a fun and entertaining world.
Pages: 37 | ASIN: B01H3S381O
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In Sir Princess Petra’s Mission, Petra’s father sends her on a mission where she is expected to fail so that she can stop having fantasies of adventure and become a proper lady. The book is beautifully written, did you set out to create a story rich in kindness and morality, or did that happen organically?
Before I began to write the story, I did tons of work creating the characters. When I felt the characters were fully rounded and as well-known to me as friends, I began to write their adventures. It was, also, important to me to have noble characters doing noble deeds. So, the story was written and developed with noble values in my mind, but the characters seemed to develop the story organically because of who they are.
Princess Petra is a strong young woman. What was the inspiration for the main character’s traits and dialogue?
I’ve always believe that gender was never an issue to accomplishing what one’s heart desires. Petra’s character was created out of that belief. Petra is a strong young lady, and I am sure those traits come out because of my upbringing with a strong mother figure who has, and still is, accomplishing great things in life whether those accomplishments are male or female orientated.
What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in Sir Princess Petra’s Mission?
Believing in oneself is the most important theme Petra instills throughout the series. Also, kindness, acceptance of others, standing up for what is right, bravery, and friendship were important themes to bring out in all the characters.
What will the next book in that series be about and when will it be published?
The characters haven’t told me yet what the next book is about yet. They have mentioned that they like the title Sir Princess Petra’s Quest. I’m hoping we’ll have created the 4th book for publication in later 2017. In the meantime, I have a new book, based on these characters, releasing in early 2017. The book is entitled The Dragon Grammar Book, and it’s an-easy-to-understand grammar book for middle grades through adults. The book is kind of quirky (well, if you think fantasy characters giving grammar lessons is quirky), and a fun and easy way to learn grammar.
Sir Princess Petra has already attained her knighthood in the Kingdom of Pen Pieyu and her non-princess-like talent certificate from Talent School, neither of which pleases her father and mother, the king and queen. The king writes up more silly rules in the royal rule book to deter Sir Princess Petra from her knightly ways and useless talent, and turn her into a real princess once and for all. Will the king finally succeed with this newly written, ridiculous mission for Petra?
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At first glance this novel looks like a story taken from the world of Tolkien, you have trolls, mortals, a mystical race of beings that live in the woods, talking animals, and a quest. That, however, is where the similarities end. L.J.Francis has managed to create in Horatio Hobbs and the Calimor, a magical world that will appeal to readers of all ages. Francis brings in some of the traditional magic and creatures that people come to expect in fantasy novels, such as the trolls and elf like beings, but he turns many of the stereotypes of these fictional beings around. Nothing is as simple as it seams in the sleepy town of Drinkwater and the feared forest of Shadowmere.
Horatio is a young boy about to turn sixteen. In the town of Drinkwater, sixteen is when you become an adult to the community. He was raised by his grandfather Theodore Hobbs. You learn in the book that his mother died during child birth, as for his father, well you will have to read the book to find out what happened to him. Theodore Hobbs is a master furniture maker, and excels in his craft. He is known far and wide for his skill and ability to create the perfect item. At the center of this novel is one of his works of art. The mayoral throne. Unbeknownst to Theodore, he has carved this throne from magical wood. The tree that this wood came from is also the source of a magical acorn, the Calimor, that is delivered to Horatio by a fox. This acorn has a magical and devastating story.
The epic journey begins with Horatio setting out with his pony Thomas for the mysterious woods of Shadowmere. These woods are dark, thick, and filled with magic. The Bloodeye trolls make their home in Shadowmere. The leader of the Bloodeye, King Bovik, hates the mystical race of Eldrin that live in a protected area of Shadowmere called Celeste. When word gets back to him that Horatio has something from Celeste and is headed there King Bovik decides he will intercept Horatio and get information from him on how to destroy the Eldrin. The Bloodeye’s pursuit of Horatio and Thomas lead them on further adventures and bring them into contact with several interesting characters. One character that I feel offers the most passion and heart is Krunger, the exiled Bloodeye troll.
Francis’s ability to portray the relationship between Krunger and Horatio speaks volumes. These two characters couldn’t be more different on the outside but inside share the same goals and passions. The transformation both characters must go through is immense and will pull at the reader’s compassion and provide a renewed sense of hope.
Overall L.J. Francis gives readers a new look in the fantasy novel realm. He turns traditional character rolls around and offers a brightened future for the lands he creates. The easy reading style and lack of extreme gore from fighting scenes makes this novel appropriate for young adult readers. The complex character development and unique plot makes it appealing for adult fantasy novel followers. This book leaves the reader with just enough questions to look forward to the second installment that L.J. Francis is currently working on, but offers a conclusion to the story line in this novel. A well written novel with the promise of more adventures to come.
Pages: 284 | ASIN: B01D1XNPOA
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