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A Magical Theme

S. Jackson Author Interview

S. Jackson Author Interview

Uncle Stubby Gets Married takes the idea of simple squirrels and marriage and melds them together into a fantastic story of kindness and cheer. What was the inspiration that made you want to write a kids book about this subject?

First – wild squirrels. We have them in our backyard and the neighbors do as well. They are truly wild but they also come up to eat nuts and seeds my husband puts out for them, as well as the water. We watch their funny antics and many have names such Stubby due to his short tail, Sparkles because she is a juvie squirrel with a radiant white tummy, Foxy – well she is a mama squirrel and has had litters in two years. Cutter has a tear in his ear, Nibbler has a small tear and a hole in his ear, and so on. Shadow is our daughter’s small dog and one day we thought the squirrels and Shadow would make for a good children’s book. Shadow and the squirrels had just spent Christmas in New York City and Central Park when the idea of Uncle Stubby Gets Married hit us. We love to teach kindness with all the animals in our books, and to have them be friends no matter what the animals were like in the real world. We also figured it was high time Uncle Stubby got married.

What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?

Friendship and kindness are very important and those elements are always added in our children’s book. We teach safety and learning about animals in our books, and we like to have everything colorful and eye catching. Having the animals work together in the wedding illustrates how children can work together in the real world, also.

I felt that the art in the book was well conceived. How did you decide on which images and themes to use?

Theme wise we knew if the wedding was held in a magical fairy forest, that no animal could even remotely get hurt, or preyed upon by hawks and other predators. In keeping with a magical theme it was only proper to use magical animal characters and a magical forest as the setting.

Uncle Stubby Gets Married is book 5 in the Shadow and Friends Series. What is the next book in the series and when will it be available?

Book 6 is a work in progress, and the title is Shadow and Friends Circus Adventures. Not only will the squirrels, Shadow, and her boyfriend, Max, be a part of the circus; plans include many different animals and the the acts will also be done in a magical theme. We are planning on releasing in early May, 2017. We also have book 7 as a work in progress and Shadow and her friends will help the town of Ellsworth, Kansas, celebrate it’s 150th birthday August 2017. This will be a fun book, too, with all the old west built in, and it should be available early to mid July, 2017.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Uncle Stubby Gets Married (Shadow and Friends Series Book Five 5) by [Jackson, S., Raymond, A., Schmidt, M.]“In this children’s picture book, and sixth book in our ‘Shadow and Friends Series’, Uncle Stubby Gets Married, a fox squirrel named Uncle Stubby has fallen in love with a girl squirrel named Sparkles. Squirrel family and friends, including a small dog named Shadow, and her boyfriend, Max, are invited to attend the wedding in a special Valentine Fairy Forest. Uncle Stubby thinks Sparkles is the most beautiful girl squirrel in the land. Uncle Stubby’s twin, Shorty, flies in from New York City with his family, and Shorty is best man for his brother. Foxy is matron of honor for Sparkles. The Valentine Fairy Forest is truly a magical land, the illustrations show how this dream forest looks, and all the animals are safe in this forest both day and night. Along the way, we meet mouse fairies, and Minister Mouse conducts the wedding. Sparkles’ wears a crown, and Uncle Stubby is dressed in a cummerbund. Various other animals are present, including one unicorn, and the bride and groom spend their wedding night in Walnut Forest, a special part of the Valentine Fairy Forest. Children will love seeing how magical the forest is, with abundant sparkles thrown in for good measure. This delightful and funny book for children, targeted at ages 4-11, is easy to read and perfect for home or classroom. This story illustrates how beautiful the Valentine Fairy Forest looks, produces pure imagination in children, and the illustrations will fascinate children and adults.”

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Nickerbacher: The Funniest Dragon

Nickerbacher by [Barto, Terry John]
4 Stars

The story of Nickerbacher takes you on a journey of mystical beings and starry-eyed dreams. It’s an adventure with a dragon and a prince and princess. Nickerbacher is a dragon destined for a life of working as a protector of princesses- a job that was proudly held by his father and his father before that. However, Nickerbacher dreams of something more and wants to perform on The Late Knight Show where he can show off his comedic value. With the help of a leprechaun, a prince and other magical beings, can Nickerbacher change the hearts and minds of all La La Land?

Nickerbacher, written by Terry John Barto, is a fun-loving children’s novel based on the story of a dragon and his friends. Nickerbacher dreams of being something more than a dragon protector of princesses and sets his sights on becoming a comedian. There is an underlying message that children will love as it promotes following your dreams even if other people may not believe that you can achieve them.

Throughout the story, the fantasy characters participate in modern-day activities, like taking selfies with mystical beings or trying to fit their feet into the prints of famous celebrities. This provides a modern twist to a classically styled fairy tale that combine beautifully in this incredible city. My favorite character is Miss Phoenix, a receptionist who rises from the ashes to greet the unlikely trio. She is dedicated to her work but has a heart of gold which sings true to the end.

Pictures are included throughout the novel which brings to life the extraordinary fun loving characters. My favorite image is one that includes ghosts and goblins at the Fairywood Forever Cemetery, royal chariots at LAX and the Medieval Tar Pits. The images are a mix of castles with high rise style buildings that replicate a similar style of what I would imagine LA would look like if it had been sprinkled with a touch of fairy dust. I love how the imagery complements the text and helps with engaging the reader in expanding their imagination.

This story will help children to learn the importance of friendship and believing in yourself. Nickerbacher also touches on issues such as family, societal expectations and breaking through the barriers of life in a fun and engaging story line. Children will relate to parts of the story and see parts of themselves in each of the magical beings. I love the relationship between Princess Gwendolyn and Nickerbacher and how they break the stereotypes of the typical dragon and Princess friendship.

I would recommend Nickerbacher to any school-aged children who wants to be lost in the magic of La La Land. This book would be perfect as a bedtime story to be read aloud as Terry John’s Barto’s wonderful way with words will delight all children and adults alike.

Pages: 34 | ASIN: B00SKKX2AW

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The Big Cheese Festival

The Big Cheese Festival4 Stars

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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Ridiculously Good

Ann Bevans Author Interview

Ann Bevans Author Interview

Bean Takes a Walk is a short, colorful, and educational adventure book for kids. What was the inspiration for Bean in the Garden?

Matt originated the idea of a children’s series about a bean walking across a garden. As we explored it further, we realized that Bean could be an aspirational character for young children, and we could use him to teach kids about acceptance, kindness and friendship. These are lessons we’re both trying to instill in our own children, so it felt right to do it in the series. Before we knew it, we had a whole town full of veggie people!

The story is about sharing, making friends, and being kind; a great message for preschool kids. In such a short book, how did you balance story telling with the delivery of those messages?

We try to keep it lighthearted and fun. We want kids to engage first and foremost with the characters and the story. The lessons are baked in, but there’s nothing preachy about it. I believe that kids have an intuitive understanding of fairness and kindness, so it’s easy for them to grasp these concepts!

The art in this book is wonderful. What was the collaboration like to make such colorful works of art?

Matt is just ridiculously good. It’s an honor to work with him. We’ve been working together for almost 10 years on website and logo design, so we know each other well. Even so, this was a brand new adventure for us! It’s been really fun figuring out all the characters and how the different scenes might look.

On Bean’s adventure he takes three toys, one of them is The Amazing Pickle #1 comic. So cute! Why did you choose these items?

We wanted things that would be simple and identifiable to kids – the kinds of things they might have in their own backpacks! As for the Amazing Pickle – well there might be some special superhero adventures in Bean’s future!

Bean Takes a Walk is book 1 in the Bean in the Garden series. What’s next for Bean in the Garden?

There are so many characters to explore in our little world! Coming up, you can expect more stories about Bean’s family and his best friend, Bella.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Bean Takes a Walk (Bean in the Garden Book 1)Bean in the Garden is a series of delightful, lighthearted picture books and videos aimed at teaching preschoolers how to be brave and kind in everyday life. In Bean Takes a Walk, Mrs. Berg entrusts Bean with a beautiful stone to trade with Miss Tots for some chamomile tea. Along the way, he makes some new friends and learns that not everything is what it seems!

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And The Story Was Born

Jim  Cronin Author Interview

Jim Cronin Author Interview

Hegira is beautifully written and addresses a subject that is rarely discussed. Why did you want to write about subjects such as cloning and cryogenics?

I have always been a science geek so all aspects of science fascinates me. After I retired I started thinking about writing a science fiction story and the idea of time travel struck me as something fun to write about. To give a plausible reason for the time travel adventure, and a method for supposedly rescuing an entire planet’s population, I came up with cloning and cryogenically freezing the embryos as the strategy for my main character to save everyone. From there, everything else fell into place and the story was born.

I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?

Hegira is my debut novel. My only previous writing has been for education journals. I had no idea what I was getting into, or how difficult writing could be. I have learned a great deal along the way and am enjoying the new learning experience.

The characters in Hegira are very complex. What is your process for creating such in depth characters?

I have always enjoyed reading stories where the characters, not the technology, are center stage. I wanted my novel to do the same and present my universe with believable inhabitants. To do this, I try to put myself into each character’s mind and experience what they see, feel and do. From there, I use my experience as a teacher who has worked with thousands of students over the years, to imagine how each individual would react to the circumstances they find themselves in. The weird part of this was that when I really got into the heads of my characters, they told me how they would react and what they would do. Any time I tried to force my own ideas, the writing stalled. When I gave myself over to the character, the words flowed smoothly.

What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?

I have just released book 2 of The Brin Archives: Recusant. It is now available on Amazon.com and is already earning great reviews. Currently, I am writing the final book of the series, tentatively titled Empyrean. This book takes up the story not long after Recusant ends and we learn the Skae, the alien beings who played a large role in Hegira, may not be who they claim to be after all. The Brin have reason to believe they may be on the wrong side of an interplanetary war and need to learn the truth of what is going on. To do this, they will be time traveling and secretly spying on both alien races involved in the galactic war to see which side is at fault. I hope to release this novel sometime next summer.

Author Links: GoodReads

Hegira (The Brin Archives #1)His home world is dead; the victim of a supernova, but this does not stop Karm from attempting to save the Brin, his extinct species. Rescued by an alien race from a derelict spacecraft as a vial of DNA, then cloned, Karm must travel back in time, convince a small team of co-conspirators to join him in his quest, and outmaneuver a power hungry monarch and his fanatic brother, leader of The Faith, both absolutely committed to opposing him. All of Karm’s plans rest on the untested and controversial cloning theories of the young geneticist Dr. Jontar Rocker, and the abilities of his bodyguard, personal assistant, and surrogate niece, Maripa. Will their combined efforts be enough to overcome the power of the monarchy and the planet’s most influential religion? Will Karm’s secrets destroy the trust of his companions and ruin his campaign to save the Brin?

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Bean Takes a Walk

319511465 StarsBean in the Garden is the first book of the children’s series, Bean in the Garden, by Ann Bevans and Matthew Ethan Gray. The books are designed with preschool children in mind, so Bean in the Garden is short, colorful, and easy for young children to understand.

Bean sets out to take a walk around the garden, and packs his favorite toys in his backpack. On the way, he meets Mrs. Berg, who has a new teapot but is out of tea. Bean offers to get her some tea as part of his adventure. Along the way, he meets three little peas who are about his own age, and they all have toys just like his. When he discovers a hole in his backpack and all of his toys are gone, he realizes the three peas were trying to return what they had found. The story is all about sharing, making friends, and being kind; a great message for preschool kids.

The first thing that struck me about the book was the illustrations. Mr. Gray’s artistry fills the page with bright colors and engaging images. This is a world of vegetable people. Bean is, of course, a bean and his mother is a lovely red beet. His neighbors include a friendly lettuce, Mrs. Berg, and a potato, Miss Tots. The clues to Bean’s toy dilemma are right there in the pictures so adults can encourage their children to search for the “lost” toys as they read along. Kids may also want to look at the pictures and imagine their own Bean adventures.

Another message I got from the story is that some things that seem bad, like a hole in your backpack, don’t have to be a big crisis. Bean reacts with shock when he realizes his toys are lost, but instead of being angry, he realizes that the three peas were trying to help him all along. It’s a good way to teach children about kindness and understanding, especially since kids who will be reading this are learning how to control their expectations and emotions.

There are three books in the series thus far, each available in both print and eBook formats. For toddlers and preschoolers, you can’t go wrong adding this book to their reading list. You can get more information about the authors, the series, and links to purchase the print and eBooks at http://beaninthegarden.com/

Pages: 36 | ASIN: B01LNRBK7K

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