Patricia Furstenberg is a bestselling children’s author and her work is an absolute joy. My interactions with her over the last couple of months have been an inspiration. I was honoured when she asked if I would reveal the covers of her new trio of books. As an avid reader, I believe that the children’s authors are word magicians and dream weavers. Once upon a time, children’s stories commenced my lifelong reading journey thus they have a special place in my heart. Children’s writers inspire the future readers and writers.
I know that Patricia will inspire children aged three to seven years with her trio of stories: ‘The Lion and the Dog’, ‘The Elephant and the Sheep’, ‘The Cheetah and the Dog’. These stories are simple tales of friendship inspired by true stories from the animal kingdom. Without minding their differences diverse animals become friends, helping and supporting each other. They share food and shelter, they give each other moral support and, of course, they have lots of fun together! It is my pleasure to reveal the covers of these stories here today. Instantly, the covers present you the promise of a magical world of animals. Patricia’s stories are popular because they entertain and educate: they can be used as a starting point for discussion with children. I am sure that adults will enjoy the stories as much as the children.
One is never too old to read a children’s story! I had great fun reading ‘Joyful Trouble’, and realized the depth of what Patricia achieved with her books. I am astounded at how much Patricia writes and wondered what motivates her. Having interviewed and interacted with this prolific writer of children’s fiction, I invited Patricia to tell me more about her writing. I wanted to know how she works her magic to get children reading and how she educates through her stories.
Patricia Furstenberg on the magic of animals in children’s stories #Guestpost
Children’s love of stories comes from an innate desire to discover the truth, supported by their confidence that they will succeed in this endeavour because they feel protected in the safety of their lives. I like to think of children’s books as a magic trick. You have the instant surprise and joy, yet in the long run, besides the lingering amazement and awe, there are countless benefits. Reading improves a child’s vocabulary, thus his self-esteem. Reading is linked to EQ (Emotional Intelligence); a high EQ can positively assist a child in a bullying situation. Reading improves child-parent bonding as well as a scholar’s concentration and his academic excellence.
Writing for children is an attractive challenge which I enjoy tremendously. Take a real life situation, add lots of imagination, dress it with metaphors, throw in at least one animal character and sprinkle with humour. Let it rise. Bake it with love and serve it with bright illustrations. It will keep kids entertained for years. And ideas for new kids’ stories are everywhere; tucked away in my memories, like Puppy, my latest book release, or hidden gems in the nature surrounding us like my first book, Happy Friends. The more I write, the more ideas I discover.
Animals are very important in children’s lives. From an emotional level, as they teach youngsters empathy and responsibility, to a more cognitive one. So many life lessons can be taught if we sugar-coat them in a puppy or bunny shape. The same goes for Young Adult books. Think of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, a sheer lesson about the will to live and how our perception of reality changes when beasts are involved, whether they are imaginary or not. Animals always do unexpected and extraordinary things in order to survive and often they become a symbol of our most profound fears and battles; yet animals never judge. My second book, Joyful Trouble, tells the story of a Great Dane enlisted in the Royal Navy during WWII. This dog wins the hearts of all soldiers and residents of Simon’s Town, South Africa, through his sheer loyalty and love. I like to think that Joyful Trouble reached Bestseller status on Amazon UK and US in its category through his likeable personality and uplifting presence.
Sometimes beasts have their own path to follow, as well as dance with Belle. Other times animals succeed in bringing humanity into a story where people act mercilessly. Dumb Witness, Agatha Christie’s thriller, presents a most softened Hercule Poirot solely through his interactions with Bob, the fox terrier that holds the definitive clue. Perhaps reading this crime novel by Dame Christie was one of the turning points in my life. But it wasn’t until much later that I decided to put pen on paper and write children’s books focused on animals. Animals make for such versatile characters. George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where “some animals are more equal than others,” although it is a satire on the Soviet Union under the Communist Party rule is still relevant to the present political scene of many countries around the world.
At times, an animal pops up in a story because of cultural perceptions, such as in Jerome K Jerome’s witty Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog). Other times the animal itself brings the fiction to life, if you think of Dion Leonard’s wonderful Finding Gobi or of my next trio of children’s stories The Lion and the Dog, The Elephant and the Sheep, The Cheetah and the Dog. Some stories ask to be written, others just wait to be discovered, you must just pay attention. And where there is an animal with a history to tell, there are usually more waiting in line. For most beasts live in packs, helping each other. A little bit like the Twitter community J where we follow and support one another, taking strength from numbers.
Take a look at one of Patricia’s articles about encouraging boys to read.
Author Website: http://alluringcreations.co.za/wp/
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