Guest Post: Rosie the Reindeer and Her Alphabet Friends

This week I asked a college friend of mine who, with his wife and an illustrator, co-authored and self-published a children’s book, to guest post and talk about his book so hopefully you folks will support him and BUY HIS BOOK! So, take it away Neil . . .

bookI want to thank Dan for this opportunity to be a guest blogger.  Dan and I have known each other since our days at The University of Tampa, working together on the school newspaper, The Minaret, in the news department.  I had the privilege of reading the manuscript of The WILCO Project prior to its publication.  I wondered why no publisher had yet picked it up.  But I am very happy for him now that it is on the market and has the [good, I hope] possibility of being turned into a movie.

Even though the book my wife, Lisa, and I wrote – with the help of our two young children, Victoria and Joseph, and a very talented artist and friend of ours – is far afield from Dan’s genre, I appreciate him giving me the space to talk about our book.  One day, the readers of our book will become the readers of his books (yes, books; he should write more).

In December 2012, we self-published Rosie the Reindeer and Her Alphabet Friends, a colorful and multi-faceted children’s book.  Rosie the Reindeer and Her Alphabet Friends is an alphabet book that aids youngsters not only in letter recognition but also in reading, number recognition, counting, and the American manual alphabet.

Each page of Rosie the Reindeer and Her Alphabet Friends features one letter of the alphabet and includes

  • the uppercase and lowercase letters, which can serve as models for youngsters to copy as they learn the alphabet.
  • the American manual alphabet hand sign.  Practicing the hand sign can help youngsters with manual dexterity and can be used to practice spelling.  Many youngsters find using sign language a fun experience and enjoy communicating with signs.  Learning the American manual alphabet can be a springboard to learning American Sign Language.  (This was my idea; I learned basic sign language several years ago.)
  • an alliterative sentence featuring the letter.  The alliteration used in the book provides youngsters the opportunity to practice pronouncing the sound each letter makes.  Parents and children can carry the idea further by making lists of words that begin with the letter featured on the page.  Beginning readers will find the alliteration an aid in reading the sentences.
  • the numeral for the position of the letter in the alphabet and an equal number of stars, which allow for practicing number recognition, number order, and counting.
  • a bright illustration designed to grab the attention of new readers.  Parents can talk to their children about the animals and other objects in the picture.  Children may enjoy trying to draw the pictures themselves or find other ways to illustrate the sentence on the page.

For beginning readers, the book can also be used to learn the parts of speech as each page features proper and common nouns, a verb, and an adjective or adverb as well as articles and prepositions.  Subject and object nouns can also be discussed.  The inside back cover of the book gives some examples of these parts of speech and some other categories of words found in the book.

The illustrator of the book, Will Sebring, is a very talented artist.  He was a friend of ours through Lisa’s work for a school board in Kentucky, where we lived for six years, before returning to Florida in 2011.  Will’s previous work as an artist included designing album covers.  We had no idea that he was an artist until he was visiting our house one day, and Lisa showed him the [very] rough draft of the book.  Will sat down and drew several characters in just a few minutes.  For the book, he drew all the characters by hand based on the one sentence that we wrote for each page.  Will also converted the pictures to computer art and did all the production work involved in putting the book together.

The book is named after Lisa’s friend and Will’s wife, Rose.  Rose has been fighting cancer for several years.  I came up with the title as a dedication to her, and the inspiration she gave to us to keep going with the project.  [I am very happy to say that Rose’s latest tests – in early May 2013 – show that her cancer is in remission.]  Many of the animals in the book are named for family members and other friends.

Our children, Victoria, 9, and Joseph, 7, helped us as we searched for the animals and objects named in the book.  We let them choose what type of animals they were (Victoria, a big dinosaur lover, chose the velociraptor over the vulture and vole).  We also showed the book to family and friends and incorporated many of their ideas into the final version of the book (and we are very grateful to them for pointing out errors along the way).

Earlier this year, Lisa, who was a very active volunteer at our children’s elementary school, read the book to numerous classes, from pre-kindergarten to third grade.  She received very positive reactions to the book, and quite a few parents even bought it.  The book includes a list of questions about the content of the book, and children of all ages were enthusiastic about answering the questions.

We have plans for additional Rosie books, including Rosie the Reindeer Travels the USA, which will feature all 50 states and information about them.  In each state, Rosie meets one of the other 25 animal characters from the first book.  We are also working on a children’s activity book to accompany Rosie the Reindeer and Her Alphabet Friends.  This will be a combination coloring book and learning book that builds on the reading, writing, and number concepts in Rosie.  Various types of puzzles, including decoding sign-language messages, are planned for the book.  A third project is to have a book similar to Rosie the Reindeer and Her Alphabet Friends that covers digraphs and blends.  Finally, we have thought about a math-focused book to introduce number concepts to very young children in a fun.  (I teach math at the college level and know how important it is for children to get a good math foundation.)

We have a website for the Rosie the Reindeer and Her Alphabet Friendswww.rosiereindeer.com.  On the website, you can see sample pages.  One of the pages lists books by family and friends.  We hope to grow that page, and since any author friend of Dan’s can be an author friend of ours, we would be happy to list your book(s) there, too.  You can contact us at starrbooks4@gmail.com.