Yes! It’s finally Summer–and for those of us who love to dive into a great book…it’s also Summer Reading Time!
Of course there’s the list of must-read books. I don’t know about you, but I always finished those up pretty quickly. I remember each week of the summer, my mom took me to the library in Brooklyn where we lived, and I checked out as many books as they would allow–which was quite an armful for a small person. I would go through trends–sometimes in a genre (I loved Science Fantasy and Science), or following an author (Ursula Le Guin, LM Montgomery, all the books by L. Frank Baum), or sometimes the new books on display.
So, it’s with a joyful heart that I let you know that the Garden City Park School invited me to their First Annual Author’s Night–to invite kids to read my book & other local author’s books this summer! The students were interested readers, welcoming to their school and a lot of fun.
And let me invite you — adults & children — to read local authors this summer. Just check out your local independent bookstore (Book Revue in Huntington, The Riverhead Aquarium Gift Shop). It’s an interesting way to see our local world in a different way, through the eyes of a creative author. Many books, like mine, spread awareness about animals and help us remember how important it is to take care of our beautiful natural resources.
Purchasing this book includes a Donation to The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research & Preservation–so you help in a very tangible way.
Wishing you Joy & Kindness in All Your Adventures!
We’re longing for Spring–and planning for two of the Spring time holidays. Easter and Passover are high holy days for many, and are cherished time with family and friends. We have the playful side–playing “find the afikomen” with the youngest child, easter egg hunts, visits to see the baby bunnies. And we have the serious lessons–kindness, love & compassion, remembering historical enslavement, protecting those who are vulnerable in these times.
If you’re looking for some generous-spirited books to read with the little ones this times of year, books that emphasize these essential messages in a secular way–please consider the following great reads:
Strictly No Elephants, Lisa Mantchev and Taeeun Yoo
After a little boy and his tiny elephant are barred from the Pet Club, they befriend other children with unusual pets. The first-person narrative has a quiet, contemplative feel: “The trouble with having a tiny elephant for a pet is that you never quite fit in. / No one else has an elephant”… Yoo’s concluding scenes depict a treehouse occupation (its restrictive message changed to “ALL ARE WELCOME”) and multiethnic, multispecies harmony. Sweet and affirming. (Review: Kirkus)
Celebrate love with #1 New York Times Best-Selling Title!
“You are the cherry on my cake; you make the sun shine brighter; you make my heart flutter.” Using a range of images from the World of Eric Carle, and featuring the Very Hungry Caterpillar, this special gift book gives all the reasons why someone special makes the world a better and brighter place. Perfect for that someone special any day of the year!
Simon & Sedef: A Seal’s First Adventure, Sheree Jeanes
I loved this heart warming story about a family of harbor seals on the east coast! You get so absorbed in the life of Simon, the baby seal, that you can see the waves, smell the salty air and feel his emotions as he struggles through new experiences. As all children learn from watching their parents, he uses that knowledge to bring him back to the security of his family group. Children will not only learn about seals, they will learn respect for nature, and about love, trust and devotion. (Review: Amazon Customer)
Wonder, R.J. Palacio
August, nicknamed Auggie, is a 10-year-old with a facial deformity that causes others to avoid and even shun him. When he enters a mainstream school, Auggie must learn to cope with difficult new situations and new people. (Review: School Library Journal)
The Want Monsters: And How They Stopped Ruling My World, Chelo Manchego
This book is just delightful. It’s a about a boy who wants too much and is learning how to manage his cravings. It’s something relatable across all ages because we all have those Want Monsters, many in fact, that worsen through adulthood. It’s a good book to start a conversation. (Review: Amazon Customer)
You can Get Holiday Gifts & Help Local Kids this Sunday.
How? Come shop this Sunday (and come say hi to me) at the Bay Shore Barnes & Noble. It’s a fundraiser bookfair to benefit Marine Camp in Suffolk County. I met some of the kids at the Riverhead Aquarium–can I tell you how much they loved learning all about marine life & the ocean we love?
Hope to see you there!
And if you just can’t make it, you can also shop online from Dec 11-16. Please use the special code #11986114 to tie your purchases to the fundraiser.
Sheree Jeanes has always loved animals, and last fall she channeled that passion into a captivating new children’s book. Jeanes, who grew up in Brooklyn and now lives in Huntington, published “Simon and Sedef: A Seal’s First Adventure” in November. A portion of the book’s proceeds will be donated to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Jeanes about her book and what’s in store for the future.
Tell me a little bit about your background. I’ve worked in marketing for close to 20 years now. I’ve also done grant writing, and I have my own copywriting business called Redwing Copywriting.
Have you always been interested in writing? I always wanted to write children’s books. I have a collection of children’s books at home that inspire me, and I finally found the courage to do it.
Briefly summarize the plot for us. “Simon and Sedef: A Seal’s First Adventure” is about a young seal who gets swept up in a sudden storm and is separated from his mother, Sedef. He needs to tap into his own resiliency, to see what he’s capable of, and learn to lean on others with trust.
What inspired you to write “Simon and Sedef”? My mother-in-law lives in Rockaway Beach, which is a part of the story. Several years ago there was a story in her local paper, The Wave, about a little seal that got washed up on the beach, and it sparked my imagination. Simon’s story grew around him. When I got the idea for this book, I could see where it was going. I knew how it would end and that there could be sequels. I was able to enlist a friend who very generously edited and story boarded the book for me, and we went from there.
There are so many ways to write about marine life conservation efforts. Why did you choose to write a children’s book? Honestly, I love to learn through stories. Historical novels are a great way to learn about different periods in history, for example. I did a lot of scientific research for the book, and when I do readings, I always bring someone from the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation. They always have an incredible wealth of knowledge to share and are able to answer additional questions about marine life while sharing how important it really is to all of us.
Who is your favorite character in the book? My favorite character is Rita, a little girl that Simon meets on the beach. She’s actually named after my mother-in-law. Part of the book is about connection and being sensitive and kind to animals. She embodies what kids are able to do (if they encounter an animal), to engage them with respect on (the animal’s) own terms. She reflects the connection that humans and animals share and the animal part that exists in all of us. It’s a really beautiful part of the story, and she’s a lot of fun.
“Simon and Sedef” is full of vibrant, lifelike illustrations. Were you involved in the art development? I’m not an illustrator, but I was a part of the process. I went onto (arts and crafts sale website) Etsy and put out a job request. I got a bunch of responses and spent a lot of time looking through portfolios. The artist I chose worked with these brilliant watercolors, and she was able to paint animals with so much expression and sensitivity. I ended up choosing her to do the illustrations — her name is Luminita Cosarenu and she’s from Romania. She was just lovely to work with. I told her what I had in mind and we went back and forth for a while until it was just right. She started with pencil drawings and finished with watercolor. They are just magnificent.
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation plays a big part in your story. Can you tell me a bit about what they do and your decision to work with them? The foundation would have rescued Simon in the real world and they do such incredible work — it only seemed fair to include them in this way. We’ve been working together from the early stages of the publication process to figure out how to best promote the book and all of the great things they do. They do a lot of animal rescue, particularly of seals and sea turtles. They’re also affiliated with the Long Island Aquarium, where some of the rescued animals will remain for a while or even their lifetime if they can’t be released.
Is there a recommended audience for “Simon and Sedef”? I think the littlest of kids should probably have the book read to them, but there’s nothing inappropriate for them in there. I did make it a little scary, but even younger children really tend to enjoy that.
What do you hope readers will take away from the book? Every human character in the book is kind and also respectful to animals. That’s really the central message of the book — living and treating others with compassion.
What are some things we can do right now to help preserve marine life? We can pick up after ourselves! So much garbage ends up going out to sea, where animals end up being choked or swallowing things that can impair their digestion or kill them. As for the bigger picture, go and experience the wildlife that’s all around us. Bring your kids. Lastly, really support the people who are out there doing the work of preserving marine life, whether that’s the foundation or another organization you care about.
What’s next for you? I’m really enjoying the adventure of self-publishing and self-promotion right now. There is a sequel for Simon in the works right now that will be coming out soon — as you might expect, he has plenty more adventures to go on!
In celebration of World Oceans Day, Sheree Jeanes will hold a book launch on Wednesday, June 8, at the Long Island Aquarium, 431 E. Main St., Riverhead from 3 to 5 p.m. “Simon and Sedef: A Seal’s First Adventure” may be purchased online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as at Book Revue in Huntington.