Editor’s note: December is a great month to give the gift of reading to little ones. We have many fantastic authors right here in Rhode Island. This month we’ve asked four local children’s book authors and illustrators to tell us about their books.
Klaus’ First Winter
By Denise Flagg
Illustrated by Chad Thompson
(Halo Publishing International 2016)
From a very young age, I fell in love with creative writing. For me, reading is as vital to my life as breathing, and the creative possibilities of a blank page are always exciting. In Klaus’ First Winter, both my love of books and for animals have merged to create a sweet story about a curious dog name Klaus.
About the book: Take a stroll with Klaus the dog through a charming New England neighborhood and meet some of his friends along the way. On this adventure, you will discover alongside Klaus how Sally Squirrel, Billy the Eastern Bluebird, and Freddie Frog survive the cold and snowy winter months.
How Klaus’ First Winter came to be: Shortly after we lost our dog, Klaus, to Lymphoma, my husband suggested that I write a story about Klaus. It was one of those moments when I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it myself. I was able to smile through my grief as I wrote and allowed my imagination to whisk me away to an early morning walk with Klaus.
At many of my book events, a portion of the book sales are donated to local animal rescues, and a book is raffled off to help benefit these shelters. A new book, Christmas with Klaus, will be released in 2017.
Written by: Denise Flagg
By Anika Denise
Illustrated by Nate Wragg
Join Frankentruck, Zombie Truck, Ghost Truck, and more as they race to the finish line. But one of these trucks isn’t quite who you think. I loved the idea of mashing up trucks (a perennial reading favorite) with classic monster characters. Monster Trucks is a high octane, action-packed tale of a spooky speedway and a nail-biting nighttime race.
Of course, every race needs an underdog. In this story, it’s a perky blue vintage Volkswagen-style bus who takes on the bigger, badder rigs, despite being half their size and not nearly as menacing. But our heroine shows gumption, pluck and determination – something we all need on occasion, when facing scary stuff. After the checkered flag falls, readers are in for a spooky surprise.
The art for the book was created by Nate Wragg, who did a frightfully delightful job of bringing the monster trucks to life. And while it’s a natural fit for Halloween, I’ve heard from kids and librarians that the book works all year round—which is how I hope readers will enjoy it.
Written by: Anika Denise
By Betsy Devany
Illustrated by Christopher Denise
(Henry Holt and Co. 2016)
Lucy’s favorite lovey, Smelly Baby, is her most loyal companion. They are simply inseparable. Smelly Baby may be pretty rag-tag and, well, smelly, but her smell is very much a part of why Lucy loves her so much. Then disaster strikes as Smelly Baby accidentally flies out the car window and gets LOST!
When I was asked to make the art for this debut picture book, I jumped at the chance. The manuscript was so funny. I loved Betsy Devany’s names for all the loveys (dollies), and being the father of three daughters, I had lots of real life experience to draw from.
I enjoy illustrating books that express a universal truth in a unique and fun way. Having a favorite (slightly worn and smelly) toy or blanket is something all kids, and grownups, can relate to. It was also fun to draw Lucy’s drooling but lovable pug, Stasher, who steals the show – quite literally.
Written by: Christopher Denise
Baking Day at Grandma’s
By Anika Denise
Illustrated by Christopher Denise
Three bouncing little bear siblings, wrapped tight in their winter clothes, can’t wait to tromp through the snow for Baking Day at Grandma’s! The bears and their grandma pour and mix and stir – with breaks for hot cocoa and dancing – to create the perfect wintry treat. Then they wrap it up in ribbons to show that sweets are even better when they’re shared.
Baking Day at Grandma’s is perhaps my most personal picture book. I wrote it in honor of my Grandma Rose, who baked with all her kids and grandkids, especially around the holidays. It even contains her delicious chocolate cake recipe. Chris (my partner in life and books) created the artwork, and he used the Adirondack Mountain region, where my grandmother raised her family, as inspiration for the landscapes and Grandma Bear’s cabin. My favorite thing about the book is that it encourages baking together as a family tradition, and sharing treats with friends, relatives, and neighbors.
Written by: Anika Denise and Christopher Denise
By Dr. Mary Ann Shallcross Smith
Illustrated by Rebecca Compton
(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2015)
Read about young Edgar’s developmental milestones, such as learning to talk, potty training, and learning his ABC’s, and imagine what his future may hold after preschool graduation. From diapers to diplomas!
Families and children will enjoy reading this story together and discussing educational opportunities that are available. By bringing educational words such as Bachelor’s Degree, Doctorate Degree, or diploma into the family conversation, it becomes more attainable for all children. There are so many educational opportunities available.
One of the fun features of our book is the children’s artwork throughout the story. We loved to be able to include pieces of art from such talented young artists. We hope that you enjoy our book. Please send any feedback (positive or negative!) to firstname.lastname@example.org – we value your opinion and hope to share more children’s books with you in the future.
Written by: Mary Ann Shallcross Smith and Rebecca Compton