Friday, July 11, 2014

Children books with a Canadian twist...

Randa Handler, journalist, publisher and now author and illustrator of children’s books, is on a mission. Her emphasis on creating original works literature, stem from a primal understanding that universal good is pre-existent; and is purposeful in its re-affirmation, “I really feel that we are all born free of hate. So, my theory is simple, you educate early and open the mind of a child and he or she will grow up into a good human.” 

Randa Handler
As succinct, and ever forthright, she admits that the process of writing for a target audience-children-might not have occurred as readily as it did“I’m sure if they (publicist) were fronting thousands to print hardcovers of my books they might not have.  They might not have gone for an unknown author and unknown illustrator.”

Handler does not shy from the controversial, or what is being perceived as taboo. Her books are a testament to her core philosophy.  ‘The Boy Who Spoke to God’ is a candid discussion in matters of faith. A note to the wise, matters of faith are not exclusive, and as such Handler directs her message accordingly. What is distinctive about the structure of her books is the absence of chapters; boys and girls between the ages of four and nine are-developmentally unique, “I’m testing a new arena— they are between 2500 and 3000 words but still in picture book genre. They can be read to a younger audience but can also be used by parents and teachers to teach reading.”
As adults, and parents Handler believes that we tend to stop looking, analyzing and interpreting concepts through our own ‘child like’ kaleidoscope. She surmises her feelings as to what ‘appropriate reading material’ constitutes for children, “Introducing subject matter in story book form, is not detrimental to a child’s ability to process information. Really it is just that a story. My books are designed to re-engage age specific children, and trigger their interest and instill a love for reading.”
We all strive for diversity, and within children’s literature, Handler provides the necessary mechanisms to enable the ‘bridging’ so to speak, in subject matter that might be otherwise difficult to relate. Exceptional literature is akin to excellent food; it forms the necessary elements to transcend into other forms of communication.
 And in so doing, Handler’s novels are unique; they provide adults the means to communicate with their respective children and introduce societal norms.  ‘If I Were King’ is another novel penned by Handler which in 2013, won a Mom’s Choice Award for excellence.
Frau Hoppe is another children’s author and illustrator and adopts much of Handler’s perspective when creating works of fiction, “Of course I do. Books without aims don't exist. My aim is to convey my way of seeing the world, as an inter exchange. But I wouldn't say I try to teach children a precise relationship to the world through concrete didactic material, like "attitude to nature…"
Handler is of the opinion that children’s imaginations, “…take a much different path, and therefore a different outcome as opposed to adults.” It is the process by which children absorb differences. As adults and parents ourselves, or at least for the majority of us, the idea of introducing material that does not coincide with our own-extremely difficult. In this regard, Handler is quite effective in allaying parental concerns as to the subject matter within her books.  Judging by reviews posted on, many adults relate with what Handler is sharing via her children’s books.
“What a refreshing way to talk about something that people usually have such a problem talking about: religion. I remember as a kid being so stunned when a friend of mine didn't celebrate Christmas and didn't know about Santa. Randa Handler has given parents a great tool to open the conversation about different beliefs without preaching nor taking any sides! The story being told as a fairy tale helps to convey that message very well. I recommend this very highly to any parents or grandparents like me! Very cute and colorful illustrations also.”- Don Shelton
Teaching materials of this nature is garnering attention from educators, behavior and clinical therapists; including librarians around the world.  A brief Google search will expound on numerous reviews such as this one, “‘The Boy Who Spoke to God’ …is a book that for me has its major value in opening up the conversation about God and belief systems in general.”-Carol Smaldino, Psychotherapist and Parenting Columnist.
Handler recognizes the utility of identifying librarians as a prime directive; when speaking of distribution of children’s books. The competitive nature of the market is a reality for novelists and illustrators. There are often the perception that writing for children somehow, is more lucrative and easier. Both Handler and Hoppe dispel this myth.
“I don't know if it's true that children's books actually do sell better. In any case, writing doesn't have a commercial aspect for me. I've never earned substantial sums of money through it.”
Canadian novelists and illustrators also have added barriers when it comes to ‘getting published out there’… Canadian publishing companies are few and far between. It may not have been Handler’s first notion to establish Ravencrest Publishing; but doing so, has given her an added advantage to promote Canadian talent, “… I’m lucky that I found a couple of investors who happen to be in the education field to help with these costs. I find that creating added venues to showcase Canadian content and talent; not only when speaking of children’s books, but for all genres and age groups-adults included.”
Handler is a bright star as a Canadian novelist and illustrator, and can add one more career achievement milestone to an already illustrious career as a journalist.

Ravencrest Publishing Releases Handler’s Boy Who Spoke to God Offering Teachers 25% Discount!
Contact: Eleni Xenos (Ravencrest Publishing) 314-495 8796
Julie Ballou: (Pathway) 800-345 6665
ST Louis, MO (July 11, 2014): Ravencrest Publishing has just released in hardcover, Randa Handler’s much talked about children’s book, The Boy Who Spoke To God.  ISBN: 978-1-932824-18-6 (hc); (ebook-978-1-62467-237-8 $4.99 published by Open Road Media).  A young Greek boy, in this folk tale, helps feuding Greek, Chinese, Zulu, and Mayan tribes find peace and harmony through his dreams of a perfect God. This unique book introduces kids to different religions not that common in mainstream children’s books. Parents now have a simple way to teach about multi cultures and beliefs!
“There is an outcry for the need of children’s books with diverse characters. These books do exist but their authors are not getting the attention they deserve because they aren’t a household name. Recently, the #WeNeedDiverseBooks tweet went viral! And, I know many authors who have similar missions!” shares Handler.
Handler’s agent, Italia Gandolfo said, “I love how Randa always includes international twists or incorporates multi-ethnic characters in her stories. It’s such a clever way to instill in kids an acceptance and love of diversity. If anyone can inspire youth, it’s Randa.”

Ravencrest Publishing is offering a 25% discount to elementary school teachers when they order direct from the distributor. Handler’s books have received rave reviews from parents, kids, and teachers. 

“This is a book that for me has its major value in opening up the conversation about God and belief systems in general.” ~Carol Smaldino, Psychotherapist and Parenting Columnist.

“This is a really good book because it teaches that despite differences in religions, beliefs, ceremonies, and traditions, God is the God of everyone.” ~Dr. Israel Drazin, Rabbi, & Author.

“If or when different religious beliefs are causing conflict, this is the book to give to either children or adults.” ~Jessica Warne, CA Teacher. 

“This well-told tale, beautifully illustrated, will appeal to all children and will at least introduce the concept of interrelatedness of all peoples. Highly recommended.” ~Grady Harp, Top 50 Amazon Reviewer.      
“A parent will be hard-pressed to find a fun book that can introduce differences in beliefs without being preachy! This clever non-partisan book achieves that!” ~Rights Advocate and Bestselling Author, Calvin Helin

Randa Handler is an international journalist, publicist and publisher. Her interview with actor Rock Hudson (his last) was published worldwide. Her expertise in public relations made many products and personalities household names. In 2003, her publishing efforts launched an educational series of children’s books that are still being used as ‘lesson plans’ by elementary school teachers. She has published four other books that relay real life concepts to instill in kids an appreciation of differences. Cubbie Blue and His Dog Dot (Cubbie Blue series; book 1; 978- 1-932824 -23- 0 (ebk), and What’s Up With Mike? (Cubbie Blue book 2; 978-1-932824-25-4 (ebk), a fantastical series populated with multi-ethnic and multi-cultural characters, were released fittingly on UN Day. Book one sets the stage for the series about the adventures of three boys and their special friend Cubbie Blue and his even tinier dog, Dot, while Book 2 follows the kids as they learn how to deal with a blind friend. The Thanksgiving Dinner Platter; (978- 932824 -50- 2 (ebk), a fun book that explains why Thanksgiving is more than Turkey Day and introduces a similar celebration in Japan; If I Were King, ISBN; 978-1-932824-20-9 (ebk), is a fun animal tale about a feisty zebra trying to find her turf.

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