Best Of, Book Love

Stewie BOOM! and Princess Penelope: Handprints, Snowflakes, and Playdates #ReadYourWorld

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Even though  Autism Awareness Month is drawing to a close, I am always on the lookout for quality children’s books about kids on the autism spectrum disorder and ones that encourage inclusively and empathy.
Then I stumbled upon the Stewie BOOM! series from Christine Bronstein is geared towards both families and parents with special needs children and families of typical children. Stewie BOOM! is a loud, comical, and sometimes cranky child, who works hard to navigate life as a busy young boy. His entire family (including the pets) always works together to help solve Stewie’s problems and prove that love conquers all.
In Stewie BOOM! and Princess Penelope: Handprints, Snowflakes and Playdates,  Penelope’s teacher encourages the class to play with someone new at recess so that they can see that minds, like handprints and snowflakes, are one of a kind. Penelope chooses Eric and they have so much fun she invites him over for a play-date. Before he arrives, Penelope’s Mom tells her that Eric’s mind is called “on the spectrum,” and so his unique preferences might be different from the ones she’s used to. To prepare, they practice using quiet voices, listening with their eyes, and being flexible. As their play-date unfolds, Penelope and Eric show readers the many ways that families can embrace neuro-diversity.

 

Thoughts from the Author on what makes Stewie BOOM! special

Q: What was your inspiration for Stewie Boom?

Christine : Mitra Ahani, who gives the tips for parents in the back of the book, has been a tireless advocate for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder for over 20 years. We have also been very close friends for that entire time and her dedication and unique and loving approach taught me how much these children and their parents have to teach all of us about perspective, kindness, and strength. Children with ASD are some of the kindest, most honest and wonderful people you will ever meet. Mitra and the kids she works with were my inspiration.

Q: Who is your mentor or biggest influencer when it comes to your writing?

Christine: I had a writing coach, Ivory Madison, for my first children’s book, Stewie Boom! Starts School and she taught me to really understand the structure, pacing, and language of children’s picture books. I also have a fantastic editor, Summer Laurie, who has been an invaluable resource for many children’s book writers.

Q: If you were to let parents, teachers, and librarians know ONE THING about this book..what would that one thing be?

Christine: Many of us were taught that differences-physical, mental, or emotional- were things we shouldn’t see and shouldn’t discuss, but those messages are outdated and not good for anyone. We need to be talking early and often to our kids about all of these kinds of differences and the importance of compassion and inclusion.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Christine: Roaring into my 50s.

Q: If you were to give any advice to the those who dream of writing and publishing a book, what advice would you give?

Christine: Read all three volumes of How to Write a Children’s Picture Book by Heidi Bine-Stock, do a lot of research on comparative titles and give it a go. I wrote my first book
Stewie BOOM! Starts School 5 years before I published it. It sat on a digital shelf for all those years until I met Karen Young and we decided to work together. It was divine timing and if I hadn’t already had the book written, it never would have happened.

Q: What are you most grateful for?

Christine: I never know how to answer this question, because I feel that having gratitude is like a prayer and I try to feel it a lot for my family, friends, nature, my spiritual life and my work.

Q: What other books have you published and “what’s next” for you as an author?

Christine: Our three other titles in this series are:

Stewie BOOM! Starts School

Stewie BOOM! Boss of the Big Boy Bed

Stewie BOOM! and Princess Penelope: The Case of the Eweey, Gooey, Gross and Very Stinky Experiment

I founded Nothing But The Truth publishing, which is focused on publishing diverse women’s non-fiction and creating cultural inclusion in all aspects of the publishing process. We have several upcoming titles that I am focused on as the publisher this year. With the Stewie series, we have several ideas around race and LGBTQ issues we would like to tackle in the future.