Portraiture & Dahlya illustration by
Kurt Keller and Traci Van Wagoner
Copyright © 2016
by Debbi Migit, author of Child of Promise
Book 1, The Adventures Begin, introduces Booker T. Bear and his best friend Dahlya Dragonfly and their launch into adventures at home and around the globe. Discoveries prompts Booker to eagerly pack for their first destination far from Juneberry Square. He and Dahlya are hungry for the faraway adventure and ready to fly when Booker discovers that his ancient, magic Jet-Away jacket is missing!!
Book 3, Creature Features, celebrates Dahlya's birthday in her favorite BIG ways, perfectly planned by Booker--until a PESKY PEST disrupts the fun. This unexpected turn of events leads the friends to new discoveries. as they continue to play Dahlya's favorite game. When she fails to guess the creature that Booker has described, the two jet across the globe to visit the real-life creatures home.
Book 2, A Hap-hap-py Day, begins as a boring day. Booker suggests that he and Dahlya go watch the Cubs play, but Dahlya reminds him that he IS a cub and has seen lots of cubs play. She has a wild and exotic adventure in mind. With his magic Jet-Away jacket on, Booker and Dahlya squeeze their eyes shut and shout the ancient magic verse that transports them to their second destination far across the globe.
Book 4, Weird Word Day, is an annual FUN event for the citizens of Juneberry Square, to raise proceeds to help an endangered species. What no one knows is that Booker has a SECRET plan. When he reveals his surprise, it stuns the citizens and their professional weird-word-lover guests. Even Dahlya is bug-eyed with the surprise that sends the two friends on another extraordinary adventure.
Jen, I really enjoyed reading your Booker T. Bear series—the books are SO fun!
Thanks Debbi; likewise, I enjoyed your captivating true story! The Booker books were SO fun to write, and the work of the illustrators'—Kurt Keller and Traci Van Wagoner of Imagine That! Design—is incredible! It's great fun working with them and with everyone at The Library Store. We can't wait to get back to Juneberry Square to learn more of Booker and Dahlya's adventures.
Your two main characters, Booker and Dahlya, travel all over the world. Where would you like to travel?
Like Booker and Dahlya, I want to see the WHOLE world. But like Booker says, "there are way too many stickies to choose where to fly." I want to experience Europe, especially Scotland, a strong cord in my lineage, traced back to Scotland's MacInnes clan. I'd also like to visit my favorite animal in its natural environment—gorillas in Africa.
Do you know where your characters are going when you start writing or do they take you on the adventure, too?
I never know where Booker and Dahlya will lead me. Like our imaginations have lives of their own, so do my characters. I simply follow their adventures!
What fact was most surprising in your research?
© 2016 Imagine That! Design
Bright pink lakes really surprised me. The color is brighter than Dahlya's Juneberry Swirl Punch. Pink lakes are rare and fascinating. My research has lead me to pink lakes in Azerbaijan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Senegal, and Spain. It would be fun for readers to let me know the locations of any other pink lakes. Click here to see a photo of my favorite.
Can you hear the voices of your characters? What do they sound like?
Booker's voice is mellow (soft), kind and patient, and easily eager. It's especially fun to hear Booker when he's full of excitement. Dahlya's voice, however, for such a little thing, is commanding. It's not loud or soft but best described as confident and authoritative (a big word she would like). Dahlya quickly gets attention when she speaks because she's always buzzing with big words and knows a lot of facts that she's ready to share.
Are there any 'secrets' hidden in your books?
YES! There are many personally meaningful secrets in every book. To family members and longtime close friends I've included subtle tributes, both within the story lines and in the illustrators' fabulous work. As a matter of fact, there are so many 'secret' tributes tucked inside each book that I could write a book titled The Secrets of Juneberry Square! One of my favorite tributes developed very early in my writing adventure with Booker and Dahlya: In my research to find a unique berry that's not commonly known, it was an extra-special delight for me to learn that there's a real berry called a juneberry. This discovery brought such surprise and JOY to me because my ma's middle name is June, the name she goes by, and the middle name I gave to my daughter. The town's name, Juneberry Square, is a tribute to them.
Did you actually write the music in book two? Are you a musician, too?
LOL. :o) Amara's song of invitation, that appears as sheet music in the middle of book three, A Hap-hap-py Day, just bubbled out of me; I was so captivated by her joy and fervor. Music training and composing songs and melodies have 'played' an intricate and enormous role in the symphony of my life from a very early age. What's weird now, as an adult, is that every morning, and during the day and at night, a random known song, from any genre, will begin 'singing' in my head. I never know from day to day (or hour to hour) what song I'll suddenly start in my head. They simply unexpectedly invade my thoughts. From time to time, it will be a new, original tune.
The "M.M." following your pen name is intriguing. What does it stand for?
That's a great question, Debbi. The M.M. has a double meaning. On the boring side, M.M. stands for my maiden name and married name: Moore and Miller. On the fun side, from heart of Juneberry Square, M.M. stands for 'Magination Maker. Booker and Dahlya have learned that their imaginations can ignite the most exciting adventures, whether across the globe or at home in Juneberrry Square.
What were your favorite books as a child? Why?
Hands down, my all-time favorite children's book is Too Much Noise by Ann McGovern, published by Houghton Mifflin (Boston, 1967). The simple, timeless fable carries a powerful lesson that has traveled with me through life. Even to this day, whenever I'm feeling crowded in by too much noise, that book--and more importantly its lesson, quickly comes to my mind. My ma read that book to me and my siblings and many nursery rhymes and Golden Books. Being read to and reading was a constant in our lives that I loved. As a result of her example, all five of us love to read. Ma was rarely without her own "library book" to read for her own pleasure. She is a voracious reader and library patron. I credit her for my love of books and reading which led me to read a lot to my own children, and also led to my writing. When I'm asked how one can become a good writer, the core answer is always the same: "read, read, read!"
Where is your favorite place to write?
There's several! Any ocean beach will do, under the 'brella, with my notebook and pen. Being outdoors on a warm breezy day is very inspiring to me. I love everything about nature and creatures. I'm constantly writing something in my head, and wherever I am I try to take opportunity to write, whether from my porch chair (a favorite place on warm breezy days), or in my "just right" recliner on rainy and wintry days. I also write on-the-go: while waiting at the doctor's office, in the car, on a train or plane. I'm rarely without a spiral notebook and pen—and a book to read.
Do you keep a travel journal?
Oh my, I'm a journal hoarder! In a number of them I've written about my travel adventures. They're not quite as exciting as Booker and Dahlya's adventures though. I love how they just pack up and say, "Let's GO!," on a whim, using their imaginations to jet them to real-life destinations. The fact that they experience real-life places and cultures around the globe makes me eager to learn more and go on my own adventures--even if that means traveling through cyberspace from my laptop.
Did you ever imagine that you would write children's books?
Yes, from time to time I considered writing children's books. I've spent many years writing serious material to help and inspire adults to overcome life's challenges. All the while I've also been playing with children's material. I've written a number of whimsical pieces for occasions through the years. It wasn't until The Library Store invited me to bring Booker to life that I put those many experiences to work. By nature, I'm a rhymer and teacher, so this extraordinary opportunity is a gift that allows me to combine both. It's sheer JOY for me to 'live' in Juneberry square and share my silliness, and my love for words, writing, reading, research, creative cooking, and travel with readers. I'm very grateful for this time to publicly touch the hearts and lives of children, families, and classrooms, and to encourage the thrill of reading.
Interviewer, author Debbi Migit . . .
Child of Promise by Debbi Migit
An Amazing True Story of Faith and Family
Debbi is a prolific author, speaker, and mom of three adopted
children. In addition to writing, her passion is to promote adoption awareness, seeing children in need of homes placed with
couples whose hearts are dedicated to the values of love, faith, and family.
Debbi's joy of writing began at a very early age. Her work emulates that joy and captivates and inspires readers to overcome life's challenges with joy and peace.
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Illustrations © 2016 Kurt Keller and Traci Van Wagoner, Imagine That! Design, NYC. All rights reserved.