Tiger Tales is an independent publisher of imaginative picture and novelty books for children seven and younger. Whether the story is funny, whimsical, sweet, or sensitive, Tiger Tales books are designed to entertain and educate.
With the Christmas season approaching, it’s easy to get wrapped up with the ever growing list of to-dos like buying gifts, baking, attending and throwing parties, that often times the true “spirit of Christmas” gets overlooked.
Anyone who needs a reminder of the true meaning of the Christmas season should pick up Nicky Benson’s children’s book, The Spirit of Christmas, which tells the delightful story about a young boy named Drew who receives a “giving bag” from Santa to fill with toys for less fortunate children who would not otherwise receive gifts this year.
This novelty book includes a giving bag for your child to fill with toy donations and a keepsake bell from Santa. And the best part? A portion of sales proceeds will benefit The Salvation Army as her charity of choice.
We had the chance to chat with Nicky about her book and why she chose The Salvation Army.
Tell us about the inspiration behind this book. Why a Christmas story? We just love the idea of have a “giving bag” under the Christmas tree. How did you come up with that? Is this something your family does at home?
Christmas is one of my favorite holidays! I love spending time with family and friends, decorating my Christmas tree, and eating lots of food. My family has always been extremely generous, so when I had my son Drew, I started to think about ways to instill generosity and kindness in him. Christmas time can be so focused on gift getting, that we sometimes lose sight of the true meaning. I didn’t want Drew to grow up thinking Christmas is only about being good to get presents. One day, I was sitting at my desk, and it just came to me…a ‘Giving Bag’! I wrote it on a post it, stuck it on my computer, and here we are! Now we have a wonderful charitable giving tradition that will continue on. My hope is when Drew gets older and has his own family, that he will read ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ to his children and create his own memories. It brings a warmth to my heart that I can’t even explain.
We’re so grateful that you decided to donate a portion of the proceeds to The Salvation Army! What made you choose our organization?
It really seemed like a no-brainer to me! The Salvation Army is the perfect partner for a classic Christmas tradition like this. The Red Kettle Campaign touches so many people in so many different ways with Christmas dinners, clothing, and toys. You do so much for the communities you serve. Plus, we both love silver bells! I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to partner with you!
Do you have any fun family Christmas traditions you’d like to share?
Well, we always have a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve…so that is really special! But one of my favorite Christmas traditions is breaking oplatki with my family. Breaking oplatki is a Polish tradition that is done on Christmas Eve before we have the big meal. The wafer symbolizes the unity of family. We break oplatki, give kisses, and wish each other a very Merry Christmas. The house fills with Christmas spirit and love for one another…it is a wonderful tradition!
Did you have a favorite toy as a child?
This is going to sound very weird…but my favorite Christmas present as a child was a cardboard box house! I have no idea where Santa found it, but it really ROCKED! I got to color the walls and have tea parties in it. It was fantastic!
What were your favorite novels as a child?
Growing up, I loved books. When I was little, Dr. Seuss was king! I would memorize and recite his playful rhymes over and over again. As I grew up, I loved a variety of books. The one that resonated with me the most was ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’. I kept my own diaries, and would start every entry with ‘Dear Kitty’. She was an inspiration in many ways, but her influence inspired me to get writing.
Are there a few books that every kid should read today?
There are so many! I love being able to explore children’s books with my son. Some of the fan favorites in my house right now are anything ‘Pete the Cat’ or ‘Seuss’, ‘Dragons Love Tacos’, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, ‘Goodnight Moon’, ‘Open This Book Carefully’, ‘Dinosaur Dig’, ‘The Pigeon Wants a Cookie’, and ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ of course!
Is it safe to assume the character of Drew is based on your son? The character has such a big heart in this book!
Yes! Drew is my absolute inspiration for everything. I never knew I could love someone so much!
What advice do you have for young people who want to be writers?
Follow your heart and keep writing! Take inspiration from your every day, your imagination, your dreams…anything is possible if you put a pen to paper!
To inspire people to start their own giving traditions not only on Christmas but every day. This is a wonderful way to instill giving in our children early on, so that they want to give in the future.
What will we see from you next?
That is a good question! I feel so blessed and humbled by this opportunity, that I haven’t had a chance to really think about that. (Also could be because I have a very active three year old!). I would love to be able to write more children’s books…being able to stir the imagination of a child is an amazing thing. So hopefully you will be seeing more books from me!
Any final thoughts to share?
I just want to thank The Salvation Army for being so supportive of ‘The Spirit of Christmas’! It truly means the world to me and I am so happy that we can spread Christmas cheer together! And…MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
We are pleased to announce that one of our E-Reviewers, Kristi from Kristi’s Book Nook, has put together two guides for Hands off My Honey! by Jane Chapman, illustrated by Tim Warnes—a Common Core State Standards Discussion and Activity Guide, and a Reading and Activity Guide, to add to our list of Teaching Guides. Kristi is among a group of folks who preview Tiger Tales titles each season and post their reviews. Thank you, Kristi, for sharing your work with us!
Post a comment on this blog or on the Tiger Tales Facebook page-www.facebook.com/tigertales-and you’ll be entered to win two copies of Hands off My Honey!-one copy to keep, and one to give to a teacher! We’ll draw the name on September 30, 2013.
Tiger Tales Books Teach by Guest Blogger Kristi from Kristi’s Book Nook
Tiger Tales Books share some of the most creative and fun stories any child would love. Tiger Tales books offer lively and colorful illustrations that teach children to recognize colors, shapes, letters, numbers, and even animals and objects. Some stories have snappy rhymes that allow the words to roll off the tongue, thereby creating a unique and fun reading experience. But that isn’t all these wonderful books can do. Parents and teachers will be impressed with how these books build knowledge and comprehension through application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
What does this all mean? Stories all have a common thread. They put readers into situations where they have to recognize a character’s problem and see how it is solved. Readers will learn to identify motives and causes by compiling information and possibly coming up with their own alternative solutions. At the end of the story, readers can make judgments about what they’ve read and validate the idea of the ending and present their own opinion about the story. If you think this might be a bit much for your young reader, all you have to do is try it.
I put this theory to the test with one of my favorite Tiger Tales books by Jane Chapman, Hands off My Honey! If you look at the front and back covers, you can see the characters that will be found inside the pages. The images imply what the story could be about. Once inside the pages, readers will soon discover that the characters found on the back cover are plotting and planning to get the honey from the bear, and one is afraid. What the reader will have to figure out is whether or not the bear is scary or friendly. The front cover may give it away.
You may not realize it, but when you sit down to read one of these wonderful books from Tiger Tales, you are already asking your reader about the cover, the title, and what they think the story is about. As your child flips through the pages, he or she will have discovered the what, when, where, how, and why of the story. This can happen by just looking at the pictures. Soon, he or she will recognize and learn the words, too. The most important thing to remember is to just have fun and enjoy the story together.
This blog post comes to us from Tilda Balsley, the author of the tiger tales Spring 2013 title, Soo's Boo-Boos!
Soo’s Boo-Boos was a story inspired by experience. The lotion, the sling, the magic kiss… Every mother, every father, every grandparent, has a bag of tricks “to make it feel better.” Thus my dedication to the two little girls who enjoy all those treats that take care of boo-boos (even the imagined ones). And of course, the little boys I love enjoy the bag of tricks as well, only their fancy strips are not hot pink.
The other experience that shaped this story came from my teaching days. Beads and pennies and bottle caps and base ten…counting up, counting back. It’s addition, it’s subtraction and it’s grasping basic number sense. So, I wondered, could a child have ten boo-boos at one time? Why not? It may get a little silly, but children love silliness. Any alarm over so many boo-boos? It won’t last long. I rarely envision a plot so completely before the writing of it. Soo comes up with her ten boo-boos . Mom takes them away one by one.
This one seemed to call for rhyme. For a young audience, it’s a learning advantage, a pre-reading skill. But once again, it’s the fun of it that makes the case for rhyme—for me as a writer, as well as for children. Writing a rhyming story is like solving a puzzle.
The parts that have to fit together: the rhyming pair, the consistent rhythm, the natural speech pattern, the right meaning. When I solved the puzzle for one “boo-boo,” it was time to move to the next. But by the time I got back to 0, I was not ready to submit the story. The tweaking continued for quite a while. Writing is like that.
The other decisions had to do with the name of the child and the term for each of those little “hurts.” I couldn’t resist “boo-boo,” a great phonetic pairing with Soo. I graduated from high school in Korea—her name was a fun association for me.
Enter Shelagh McNicholas! Since I am not an illustrator, I got the thrill of seeing spunky Soo come alive. With her high-tops, fairy wings, and tutu over blue jean shorts, she was everything I had hoped for—the final piece of the puzzle - a contest!
Tell us - What special cures do you have for your children's boo-boos? Let us know in the blog comments or on Facebook and you'll be entered to win a copy of Soo's Boo-Boos!
Contest ends May 1 and the winner will be announced on May 2! Good luck!
One entry per person.
Must be a United States Resident.
Ask and you shall receive! At the request of tiger tales fans, we’re sitting down with authors and illustrators to give you a behind the scenes look at creating the perfect children’s book, tips and tricks and just a little splash of love. Tammi Salzano, author of the One Rainy Day series dished the details on being a children’s book author.
1. Why did you decide to become a children's book writer?
I have always loved reading and writing. In college, I took a course called Writing for Children, and I was hooked! By the end of the class, I didn't have much more than a folder full of book ideas, story starters, and half-finished manuscripts, but I realized how much I looked forward to the class and, yes, even the homework. But even more, I realized how excited I was at the thought of one of my stories becoming an actual book in the hands of a young reader.
2. What is so special about children's books?
One thing I love most about children's books is that they can be enjoyed by everyone--not just children. I know that when I'm reading with my own children, I'm enjoying the wordplay and illustrations just as much as they are! It's also so special for me to hear my kids read books to me--especially my daughter, who's just learning to read.
3. What's your method for writing a book?
Before I actually sit down to write a story, I loosely plan it out in my head. For me, there's nothing more intimidating than sitting down at the computer, knowing I have a writing assignment to complete, but having absolutely no idea where to begin. Sometimes I'll write out notes and the first draft on paper; other times, I'll hit the computer right away and type it out. Once I have a first draft (okay, usually as I'm writing the first draft), I revise. And revise. And revise! There are times when I need to put my work away for a day or two (or seven) and then come back to it because I just can't make it sound the way I want. Most of the time, I have a general idea of how I want the story to end, too, so I find myself working from the end as well as the beginning.
4. What tips and tricks do you have for aspiring children's book authors?
Read children's books to get an idea of the many ways to tell a story. Play with different types of writing--prose, poetry, and such. Take a writing class (or several!). Write about topics that interest and excite you. Write as often as you can, even if it's just a few notes every day. Know your audience--be sure the language and concepts are age-appropriate. Stay positive! It's so easy for me to get discouraged when I can't get a publisher to accept a manuscript. Most importantly, HAVE FUN with your writing!
We’ve had many requests to write about the authors and illustrators that work with tiger tales. First, we interviewed Stephanie Shaw, a new tiger tales author, and now we’d like to introduce you to the familiar, Hannah Wood, illustrator of tiger tales’ “One Day” series, who was kind enough to take some time to answer our questions all the way from England!
Q: Hannah, what do you think makes your illustrations so special?
A: I always endeavor to make my images bright, soft and sweet or endearing. My aim is to make a child smile when he or she sees it—it’s the best reaction an illustrator can hope for. Characters are instantly recognizable, to the extent that if they could leap from the page a child would instantly want to cuddle with them.
Q: How do you create your illustrations?
A: I use pastels, then work on the illustrations digitally. This means you have the softness of the pastels but can enhance and build on the colors on the computer. Acrylic is my favorite medium, with that you can lay down intense color and add texture, and the colors are bright—my recurring theme!
Q: Do you have any advice you’d offer to young illustrators?
A: My advice would be to practice and draw subjects that you enjoy and that “speak” to you. If you can’t draw flowers, don’t spend years trying to perfect them—it will only serve to make you frustrated! And if things don’t work the first time put them aside and come back later with fresh eyes. But most of all enjoy the task because that will show in your work and make it more appealing to others.
When we read Stephanie Shaw’s manuscript for the first time, we knew we had found something special. The children’s book author’s use of rhyme and imagery warmed our hearts and made us smile. Her book, Bedtime in the Meadow, is her first to be published. (And we consider ourselves lucky to have snagged her!) We wanted to get some insight from Stephanie about what it’s like to have moved from “aspiring author” to a soon-to-be “published author.”
Bedtime in the Meadow is a sweet story, a “lullaby type book” as Stephanie calls it. It’s about all the animals in the meadows snuggling into bed and trying to fall asleep. Stephanie wrote it because she felt it was absolutely “perfect for the nursery.”
We asked Stephanie what it feels like to have a manuscript accepted for publication for the first time. “I hope this doesn’t sound melodramatic,” she said, “but really it feels something akin to being told you are finally pregnant…and it’s news that I want to yell to the world (or at least everyone in my local coffee shop and bookstore).” And we here at tiger tales fully support shouting about books. We do it on a fairly regular basis.
We also asked Stephanie, having moved from “aspiring” to soon-to-be “published,” what advice she would give to the former category. Her biggest piece of advice is that you understand what you want to write. Stephanie suggests you “read as many children’s books in the genre you want to write” as you can. “My poor husband has to drag me out of the children’s book section of every library and store,” said Stephanie. She genuinely loves children’s books and makes it clear that she doesn’t care about fame and fortune.
We also asked Stephanie a question that we ask ourselves on a daily basis – What makes a children’s book really special? Stephanie shared this insight with us:
"I think the very special children’s book fulfills a need for the reader. Maybe it brings comfort or humor. Or maybe it satisfies a sense of curiosity and wonder. Maybe it solves a problem or describes perfectly the relationship between friends or family members. But, whatever need it fills, the book will stand reading over and over and over. I can’t imagine a better compliment for a book than to have a child say this single word at the end, 'Again!'"
We agree completely, Stephanie – welcome to tiger tales!
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