Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Author Interview with Storybox creator Steve Light

I'm excited about today's author interview with Steve Light. I recently had the chance to review a Steve Light's Storybox, Hansel & Gretel, and I completely fell in love with it. I should say we, as my daughter now carries it around and loves recreating the story and playing with it. You can read my review hereI'm thrilled to have had the chance to interview the creator behind these fabulous story-boxes, Steve Light. 

Hi Steve! Thank you for being on Mundie Kids today. I love the concept of Storybox sets. I wish I had one of those when I was a kid. What inspired you to create your line of storybox books? 

I was a storyteller in a school. One class ONLY wanted to hear the story "Hansel and Gretel". At home in my work shop I had two little pieces of wood that were the same size so I decided to carve a little wooden doll of Hansel and Gretel and use it to tell the story to that class. After the story the children asked "Well, where is the father and the witch?" So I carved those and more and found a box to put them in so I could carry it from class to class, and that is how the storyboxes were born.

Can you tell us a little bit about your planning process with the storybox sets? How do you go about creating a set and how do you decide what to include in the set itself (character and accessory wise)? 

It all starts in my sketchbook ad a lot of drawing and planning. I tell the story over and over in my head, deciding what I need as far as props and what I can do with out. A lot of it is what I think would be fun for the kids to see or what they would want to play with. Can  Hansel and Gretel sit on the back of the duck? How big I can make the tower for Rapunzel and still have it fit in the box?  How can I make the Oni's stomach be poked with Little One Inch's needle?  These are all the fun problems that I love to solve. I think about what would add to the story.  Then I do full size drawing of figures and props to fit the size of the box. I then use the full size drawings to hand carve the figures. Once they are hand-painted I use the Storybox in classrooms  and make changes to the story and the props and figures so that the telling of the story flows and the props enhance the story. 

To date, what has been the storybox set you've had the most fun creating? 

They are all fun but figuring out how the tower would fit in the box was alot of fun. I actually went to this great coffee shop/knitting store to sketch that story. I sat next to this huge wall of yarn in every color imaginable and drank tea and drew. I think the colors in Rapunzel are so good because of that wall of yarn.

What was your favorite children's story from growing up? Are you hoping to create a storybox for it in the near future? 

One of my favorite stories growing up was Hansel and Gretel. I love stories with dragons and have a prototype storybox of "Dragon Feathers" that I have been working on. The story is still a little clunky, so I am working on simplifying it. 

Can you tell us about any future storybox sets you're either working on now or hope to work on? 

I hope to do "Three Little Pigs" and "Three Billy Goats Gruff" I have both done as storyboxes and have performed them for children with great success. "Three Billy Goats" is one story that I have told alot with out a story box--it only gets better with the storybox!

All the best--Steve Light

Thank you Steve for visiting Mundie Kids today!

You can check out the rest of Steve Light's Storybox collection here
Purchase each individual story box from: Guide Craft | Amazon

Book Review: The Unwanteds, Island of Silence by Lisa McMann

Published by: Aladdin
Released on: September 4th, 2012 TODAY
Ages: 8-12
Source: ARC from publisher to review
5 stars: Love This Series!
Purchase from: Simon & Schuster | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Series: The Unwanteds #2

The battle is over. The magical barrier between the dreary land of Quill and the fantastical world of Artimé is gone. Now residents of both places are free to mingle, but tensions are high. The artistic warriors of Artimé struggle to forgive those in Quill who condemned them to death, while the Quillens attempt to recover from the shock of Artime’s existence, the loss of their leader, and the total collapse of their safe, orderly world.

14-year-old Alex Stowe has recovered from his physical wounds since his death-defying role in Artime’s victory, but his confidence is shattered. He battles self-doubt after Artimé’s beloved mage, Mr. Today, makes a stunning request, which is further complicated by the mysterious arrival of two silent, orange-eyed teenagers.

Meanwhile in Quill, Aaron is devastated by his fall from grace and seething with anger toward his twin brother Alex. Spurred by rage, Aaron recruits a team of Restorers and devises a masterful plan of revenge that will return him to power…if no one gets in his way.

Bestselling author Lisa McMann delivers another trademark page-turner in this second book of The Unwanteds series, as Alex and Aaron's parallel stories ultimately come together for a shocking climax that will leave readers desperate for more -quoted from Goodreads

What a fabulous sequel! Island of Silence picks up right where The Unwanteds left off and dives right into a plot line full of action, betrayal, chaos, and suspense. I swear Lisa McMann's writing gets better and better with each book. Every time I read her newest release it becomes my favorite Lisa book because of that. This time around I really liked how she not only told the story, but how she allowed me to understand the motives that drove the two brothers to make the choices they did. 

It was really fascinating for me to see the brothers in a very different light than I had in The Unwanteds. I felt like I understood Alex a lot more in this book, and I got why Mr Today was so eager to teach him and train him in his ways. I also like the fatherly patience and wisdom that he gave to Alex. One of my favorite quotes from this book comes from Mr Today when he's talking to Alex:

"...... There will always be times we struggle, make bad decisions, even fail. What's important is not that we fail, but that we learn and grow. And that we know there is always someone out there who believes in us." 

..... "Where problems you may face, you must know this: I do believe in you." (pg. 250)

I liked seeing Alex's hesitation and admire him for stepping up to the plate to fulfill his duties when the time was right. It made him more relatable to be unsure of himself and then see him grow into this confident person. Alex is a hero who learns to overcome the little voice in his head that fills him with doubt. He learns to embrace his talents and he finds the confidence he needs to accomplish his mission.

Aaron on the other hand surprised me with all he does in this book. These two brothers reminded me of Yin and Yang. It seems with them you can't have the good without having the bad, and in some strange way the good and bad each brother sides with balances everything out. One brother's horrific actions leads another brother to his destiny. I know this sounds crazy, but when you read the book you'll see what I'm talking about. I liked how Lisa wove the two brother's paths together without the other knowing what his brother was really up to. I really wish I could talk specifics, but I can't without giving anything away. This story line seriously surprised me. I wasn't excepting some of the thing that happened to happen at all. It's so well written. 

I enjoyed being able to dive back into the magical world of the Unwanteds. What I wasn't excepting was the incredibly fast paced story line, nonstop action, and surprising twists that Island of Silence has. I feel like I'm still catching my breath after finishing it. I can not wait to read the next installment in this incredibly addicting series. I highly recommend picking this up today! 
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~