Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

Franky the Finicky Flamingo by Wanda Luthman – my review

What a lovely children’s book, fun for kids and helpful to parents whose children are fussy about food.

In a very gentle way, through rhyme and colourful illustrations, without laying blame or preaching, the author guides us, along with Franky, to the realization why food is important (I love the metaphor about the colour fading, which is also why the illustrations are rich in colour elsewhere). Furthermore, the children are shown that not all kinds of food are good for everyone, and the goal is to find what is healthy for your particular body and lifestyle.

Eating suitable and healthy food lets you live an active, fun-filled life, and share your adventures with your friends nd family. And keep your ‘colours’:). I can see this book used by parents, teachers, even nutritionists, especially in kindergartens. Another good one, Ms Luthman!


Reading with Children

To parents, friends  and educators reading to children

The actual process of reading, sitting down with somebody you care about, whether it is your child, grandchild, student, or even an adult, is a wonderful experience – you share time, place, dreams, worlds… Children are especially open to gratitude. After a busy day, having their parent sit down and set this time aside only for them… there is nothing better than this! There is no better gift that you can give your child than your time and attention. 

Of course, if you read and comment along with children, ask for their opinion and challenge them to think, it is even more worthwhile, but it is not always necessary. Sometimes you are tired, you skip words and they correct you, they stop you with questions, and you really don’t feel like reading at all. But their questions, their corrections, their hillarious comments, all this will just magically wipe away your stress, make you smile and forget about everything else. 

It is the love they share with you in those moments. 

The same goes with reading to and with adults. If you read with your partner, to your mother or father, to people who can no longer read to themselves, remember – we are all children at heart! Stories have that mysterious power of waking up that honest, non-constricted, free and imaginative child, dormant but present within us. 

I have seen the magic of reading stories to all age groups, and would never trade in its power and positive effect for any technological device there is, much as I respect and use them in my teaching. Reading awakens playful freedom, sets emotions free and channels them, challenges the mind into critical and creative thinking, and lets us grow, develop and express ourselves. 

So yes, children, meaning all of us, associate books with love and affection, because this is what we share when we read together. 

And if you are ever lucky enough to have your child read to you, relish every second of that love. 

(From the afterword of Mimi Finds Her Magic)


A Treasure Chest of Children’s Stories

It has been such a treat for me to participate in this latest anthology of children’s stories. I hope you find some magic in each of them! 

Watch out for First-Grader Angel, Diana the Daring (both by me) and Unicorn Rider by my goddaughter – Helena Čačić! If I am not mistaken, there is a story for each month of the year:). Thank you, Plaisted Publishing! 

#children #stories 

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Just submitted a wonderful children’s story for an anthology, but this one was not written by me. What makes me so proud is that the author is a young lady I am proud to call my goddaughter. There is nothing so fulfilling as knowing that, in the generation which is to follow, there are still artists, builders, creative young people who will continue to tip the scales on the side of positivity, creativity and soul. 

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Try! And keep trying!

It is always difficult to decide when you are big enough to do something, or if you are still too small. I believe it’s best to trust your heart, and also to listen to the advice of your friends and family, the people who really care about you. Those things combined should always tell you when the time is right.

And then you try!

At first, you may not succeed. Even the second time. But don’t give up, because you haven’t failed – you are still learning! And what a dull world it would be if everything worked all at once – there are so many wonderful things you can discover while trying and learning. Anyway, the way others do things may not even be the way in which you will do things! That’s the very beauty in life – finding your own way!

So, dear grown-ups, have the courage to try new things, and to let your children try things for themselves! They might just surprise you and be more amazing than you ever hoped they would be!

And dear children, do try! Keep trying! There is nothing quite as magical as finding your own way of doing things!

(From the Foreword to MIMI FINDS HER MAGIC)

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New release in the summer

You may think authors take reviews for granted. We do not. I am so grateful to anyone who takes the time to read my book and craft a review. It’s like wind in my sails every time the sea gets too rough, the time too scarce, and my energy too low. 

Getting some inspiring advanced reviews for this little guy has made my week. Getting it published during the summer now looks promising. Planning on some online events, so stay tuned for a positive children’s book about accepting ourselves as we are. His name is Hank:) 

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Still so many…

Can you believe it? These are just some of the characters whose stories I have written, and yet another year has gone by and I have not published them. Well, let’s say it gives me something to do when I get older;) 

PS: These are not my illustrations, just samples from the divine Pixabay.

#amwriting #childrensbooks 

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Read like a Child – with ♡

Happy International Children’s Books Day!

#children #reading #books

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Believe it or not, I can never have enough advice on writing (and living, for that matter;). As always, it is wonderful to get advice from someone kind-hearted, experienced, honest and professional, and if you are lucky to be friends with such a person – all the better. 

Today I am so pleased to welcome award-winning multigenre author, a hard-working and optimistic mother, and an admirable human being Traci M. Sanders. You may have read my reviews of her books here already (children’s, romance, non-fiction). She is here today to promote her amazing series of non-fiction books and shed some light on writing children’s books. Since I myself write children’s books, I plan to follow her advice as best I can.


Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides. Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.


TIP 237: Know your audience – part 1 – children’s books and middle-grade fiction

The following tip can be found in Beyond The Book: Tips on publishing, marketing, and networking to build your brand, available now in digital and paperback format.

Before writing a book of any genre, it’s important to know your audience—know their likes and dislikes as far as characters and plots, and know their attention spans.

Middle-grade books would obviously not be as short as picture books, but not as long as traditional novels either. As well, some adult readers might feel cheated by a novella-length romance book.

Here are a few guidelines for children’s books and middle-grade fiction:

Children’s picture books:

  • Animals are always favorite character types for kids this age.
  • A typical picture book is 32 pages, and around 24 illustrations, 500-600 words, no more than 1000, 1-2 single-spaced ms pages.
  • Young children respond to faces, especially faces of children their age.
  • The words should be challenging enough not to bore the adult who may be reading it to the child, but not overly sophisticated that the early reader can’t read it alone.
  • Avoid preaching or lecturing, to parents or kids. A subtle lesson on friendship, sharing, or the like is acceptable, if done tastefully.
  • Make sure the book has an actual plot, not just words thrown together haphazardly, even if they rhyme. It has to make sense to be memorable.
  • Use child-friendly artwork.
  • Bad guys never win, if any bad guys even exist in these books.

Early readers – first chapter books for kids:

  • Target age is 4-8 years old.
  • May or may not have real chapter breaks, could just be small images or large words that separate the sections.
  • Typically, no more than 1,500 words, 3 or 4 single-spaced ms pages.
  • Font size is smaller than that of picture books, and the verbiage is a bit more challenging to encourage early reading skills.
  • Very few images, but the ones present may be black and white rather than color.
  • Reads much like a 30-minute television show. The conflict is simple and is solved fairly quickly.

Children’s Chapter Books:

  • Target age group is 6/7 to 9/10 years old.
  • Even more so than in picture books, don’t be preachy. Kids this age hate that.
  • Between 5,000 and 15,000 words, between 30-40 single-spaced ms pages.
  • Very few pictures, if any. If they are funny or sketched images, (cartoonish), they may work.
  • Doesn’t use adult language, sexually-oriented words, or overly sophisticated verbiage.
  • Fantasy, comedy, and mysteries tend to be big sellers in this age group.
  • The story doesn’t “talk down” to kids this age. Nothing cutesy.

Middle-grade fiction books:

  • Target age group is 8-12 (often called tweens).
  • No pictures needed, except for cover art, of course.
  • Middle-grade fiction can be anywhere between 20,000 and 35,000 words, some even up to 50,000 (for advanced readers), around 40-60 single-spaced ms pages.
  • Contain some teen-ish content/language. Perhaps a slang word or two, but no profanity or sexual situations.
  • The kids run most of the show in these books, solve their own problems, with very little help or interference from adults.
  • Real-life issues are popular in this genre – boy/girl interactions (typically not sex, though), coming-of-age problems (pimples, menstrual cycles, betrayal by best friends, peer pressure, etc.,).
  • Kids learn life is not always pretty – child abuse, divorced parents, death of loved ones, during this stage of life.
  • Relatable characters and lots of action.

Certain guidelines must be followed if you are writing for traditional publishers, but even if you are self-publishing, it’s a good idea to stay within the realm of themes, page count, and structure.

Traci Sanders
Award-winning author of parenting, children’s, and romance titles
~Reviews keep authors writing~

Thank you so much for sharing this advice, Traci. I will make sure I check it before publishing another kidlit! 

And FYI, dear readers, here are some of Traci’s other books, just to show you where her vast experience comes from. 

Her recent contributions to two interesting anthologies of short stories.

These are two contemporary romances with different settings, but a common message – love will prevail.

And finally, from Traci’s previous career days of childcare provider – parenting guides and children’s picture books.

Keep writing, Ms. Sanders!


I’ve decided to give away two prizes during this tour:

*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Before You Publish Volume I

*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Beyond The Book Volume II

To enter, all you have to do is email me a proof of purchase of a digital copy of either of these two books during the tour.
I will draw TWO winners total, at the end of the tour. Please email your proof of purchase (can be a screenshot) to


SOREN by D. M. Cain – my review

Soren is a children’s fantasy book for the preteen and teen generation, although I have to admit I read it in two sittings. Being a fan of fantasy myself, and working with students of all ages, I know this book will appeal to many. 

The characters are well-set, my favourites being Dash and Callista, and there are plenty of magical events and creatures to satisfy a teen fantasy fan (even some honouring the author’s commendable writing influences, I dare say). The descriptions are clearly laid out but not burdening the story, the suspense really written with feeling, rhythm and even a tease; ending chapters on a cliffhanger gets you moving immediately to “just one more chapter”. Having also read this author’s Phoenix Project, it is obvious that D. M. Cain has a natural knack of vividly describing action scenes, especially hand-to-hand duels. The language is excellent, not over-simplified for children but just enough of a challenge.
My favourite part of the book (except for Dash:) is how the author depicts the (royal) family – with past trauma behind them, and the fears of the oncoming prophecy, they are still that imperfectly perfect family of different kids, a moody dad and a slightly controlling mother.

I am glad the story has many possibilities for a sequel, as it is obvious Soren will soon have his followers, the rebel with a (special) heart that he is.

This review will also appear on Readers Review Room with a gold bookworm. 
Amazon link

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