I believe a positive attitude is essential for happiness. This includes being mindful and grateful. In Buddhism, there is a saying, “We make the world with our minds.” I could write an entire book on what that means but basically what we focus on influences the internal and external world in which we live. I keep this in mind in my writing for adults, young people and children. I was a grade school teacher for 33 years, 10 of those years as teacher librarian. I believe it is important to create picture books that help them develop interpersonal skills and internal strength.
My first book, The Amida Tree, is a rebuttal of Shel Silberstein’s The Giving Tree. While compassion is a major part of Buddhism, it only creates problems if it is not balanced by wisdom. The boy/man in The Giving Tree continually took from the tree without giving anything in return leaving it a devastated stump. At the end of the book, he still was unfulfilled and unhappy. In my book, a girl grows in balance with a wild apple tree. They have a relationship of give and take, mutual support. Because of this, both grow to have a rich and fulfilling life. It is sure to encourage discussion on our treatment of the environment and relationships with others.
We all know a individual or family that constantly gripes. They’re never happy with what they have or what the experience. Rayne Shines humorously features a frog family that has developed a pattern of complaining, until a new family moves in next door. Rayne is fascinated by the fact that they are constantly smiling even though they own very little. She studies and emulates Sunny whose wholesome and fun personality eventually brings out the best in Rayne.
While Too Quiet, Too Noisy was not specifically written for children on the Asperger spectrum, it has been favored by their families. It can just as easily relate to people with auditory processing difficulties, introverted children, and anyone who finds either continuous noise or long-term silence to be grating. Lily’s home is overwhelmingly loud and her grandparents’ home is boringly quiet. Through communication and problem-solving, she creates a more balanced environment in both houses.
While “be careful what you wish for” is a common theme in picture books, No More Red also teaches children not to judge superficially. Because of three negative experiences, Amy decides her world would be better without the color red. She learns it has far more importance and she realized. The book also teaches children about the myriad of ways red appears in our environment and that we need to be appreciative of our beautiful world.
I’ve always been interested in the motivation of villains. Why did Rumpelstiltskin want the Queen’s baby? Was he an evil warlock who wanted to use him for nefarious purposes? Did he want to enslave him? Or did he simply want a child of his own? If so, why would he go to such elaborate and dangerous means to acquire one? In Rumpelstiltskin’s Child, the themes of ostracizing, bullying, and loneliness are explored. The book reminds us that people often become angry outsiders because they have never been welcomed in.
My newest picture book, Then the Tooth Fairy Won’t Come, is written and drawn in a comedic style. Dion has a loose tooth and is worried he will lose it. Timo offers increasingly silly methods to remove it but Dion has an even bigger imagination. The tooth is bound to go missing in bizarre and elaborate ways if Dion takes Timo’s advice. Between laughs, the story shows how worry and fear can make us indecisive and stressed. (Don’t worry. The tooth fairy does come.)
I’m Bonnie Ferrante, a hybrid author. My short stories, newspaper articles and columns, and novels have been published traditionally. I have begun simultaneously self-publishing novels and picture books and am doing my own illustrations. During the long cold winters of Thunder Bay, in Northern Ontario, I spend most of my time writing and drawing. Since developing Parkinson’s Disease, I have switched from illustrating with acrylics and pencil crayon, to digital format but as this becomes more difficult, I am slowly changing to photos instead. I was a grade school teacher for thirty-three years, ten of those as a teacher-librarian. I am a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist lay leader, which shows up in unexpected ways in my writing. I also have a blog where I review books, give writing tips, and run contests. Beginning in August, I will be interviewing and author or illustrator every Wednesday. In addition to questions about their work, they will be asked Three Random Questions such as, “If you could have the original of anything in the world, what would you want it to be?” Comment on the writer’s work, their writing tips, or answer the random questions yourself. Http:// http://bferrante.wordpress.com/
Young Adult and New Adult Books
Check out Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/user/Bonnie0904 for book trailers and author read-alouds.
Website – BonnieFerrante.ca
facebook – Bonnie Ferrante – Author
twitter – @BonnieFerrante
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