Sunday, March 7, 2010

Danny the Dragon "Meets Jimmy", by TINA TURBIN - REVIEW

If you haven't heard of this children's author, mother and advocate, Tina Turbin, most likely you soon will. Tina wrote her first book at 16, it wasn't published, but it showed she had an obvious passion, and that has bought her (or us) to 'Danny the Dragon, "meets Jimmy", an absolutely lovely children's book about a little boy finding a new friend, (who comes along with his very own navigator - Skipper). Danny has great manners, and this book has small points on how to "help out", for example after dinner, Danny points out to Jimmie, and his sister Sally, that they should "clear ... and help with the dishes" I loved that fact, and originally I thought my 2 year old was going to be the one who would read, and adore Danny & Jimmie, but my 7 year old, who has recently discovered a love for books, has laid claim to it! When I went to write this interview, I had to hunt G - who was reading aloud to herself :D - down to retrieve the book with a solemn promise to return it. Although the book stars a "boy" characters as the main ones, I found this story to be for a girl or boy - usually with boy orintated characters, they're directed more toward boys, & vice versa with girls.
                           Not so with this book.
What I especially liked about Danny the Dragon "meets Jimmy" was the way Tina wrote it. She has clear, efficent way of writing that makes it easy for younger children to understand, while able to entertain older kids too. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the books colorful illustrations! Aija Jasuna is the books illustrator, and she has done a beautiful job of capturing the heart and essence of Danny and Jimmy, and all the cast of this story. Bright, interesting, there's always something to look at, and combined with Tina's wonderful writing, this makes for a fantastic read (or three times at bed-time) for both Mom & child.

Tina herself is amazing! She works tirelessly on behalf  of children & their families, helping reputable organizations dedicated to children's literature, education, celiac disease, allergies & gluten-free issues (her blog had some great tips and interesting facts about living and being gluten-free) Tina is passionate about raising awareness on these issues & supports these causes fiercely. She also writes based on her own expertise to a variety of weekly publications, radio shows and web sites.
It's interesting to note she still has the time to write a fabulous children's book on top of all that!

Danny the Dragon ends with a promise of another adventure, which I hope goes in the direction of finding where Danny and Skipper came from, how they're able to fit and travel in their tiny sea shell and what they'll do next!
I asked my seven year old for her opinion on the story, and here's what she had to say :

"I want a Danny the Dragon necklace like he wears in the book. And I like, the best part is when he comes out of his shell with his big feet (laughs) I bet Skipper was smooshed to the side of the shell the whole time (laughs more)
 Are you done with my book yet?"

It has her seal of approval, so I'm so pleased I received this book. It comes out in stores on  April

On top of that Tina's new book came with a DVD, that has Carol Downing of the Montessori School for the Deaf, translating the entire story with sign language, while Janis Welch is reading aloud. It's just like reading the book, and I can't help but be incredibly impressed with Tina (& those who work with her) for their efforts in raising awareness. There are some starling facts preceding the story, & it makes me sad to think I had no idea about how little resources are available to a child (or adult) has who is born deaf.

I was also given the opportunity to review the audio book CD that came with both these (trust me - it absolutely made my day when all these arrived.) The CD is amazing, comprised of various compositions, created by talented artists. Track 1 is Janis Welch reading the story (Tina answers later why Janis is reading the story) then there are 10 other tracks featuring composed musical genuis! It's the perfect accompaniment to any bed-time routine, and I tried this out a few nights ago with my 2 year old. I had to sit in her room with her because she kept looking around trying to find who was speaking, but she only got as far as Track 3 before she was out! (Track 9, 'Touching the Sky', by Lisa Miller was my favorite)
Another versaile option with the CD (which is in stores April) is the fact that you can take it with you when you travel. We have a trip planned in March, and I'll be packing this as a way to transition that much easier to a hotel room for my kids. Especially since G has incorprated this story as her read-it-three-times. Skipping pages doesn't count. (When did she become so grown up that she noticed me doing that??)
This cd is well written, beautifully pieced together & something that my 2 year old adores, so it works for me.

Tina was nice enough to answer some questions I had sent to her personal assistant, and she has a genuine feel to her, which I liked. Here's what she had to say (as a side note, anything mentioned in this interview or review, the links can be found at the bottom of this page.)

How did you get back into writing after your first children’s story at 16? I was always very imaginative and into the Arts from as far back I can recall but I wrote my first children’s story at age 16. I had made a decision when I saw on my first-born child, that I wanted to set aside my personal goals like writing. I found being a mom so wonderful, satisfying and fun. I soon had three children, we loved to read and play games with books and ideas were rolling around in my little head. I always knew that as they got older I would someday get back into writing again. When the time came I just started creating my characters, how they looked and knew their exact personality. This really sums it up.

What was your inspiration for Danny the Dragon, & Skipper?
I am loaded with ideas and various things in life helped me from my ideas for the stories as well as the characters.

What is Skipper? Some say he is a frog, some say he is a polliwog and even some kids say he is a lizard. I allow the kids to imagine what they want him to be.

How did you become involved with Gluten-free issues, and Celia disease?
I went for many years not being able to find out what was wrong with my body and went to many doctors. I then resorted to searching for my own answers, like many undiagnosed celiacs do. I came upon this unknown subject called Celiac and gluten and the lights went ON. I presented this topic to my doctor and asked for the proper test. I FINALY had the test I had needed and there is my story in a very short version. I soon learned more such as the many adverse effects that gluten produces in many children and adult bodies- and even animals! One in every 120-130 people have this disease, which means about 2.35-2.85 Americans to this date have not yet been diagnosed. It takes an average of 4-10 years (depending on who your reference) to be properly diagnosed and in the meantime other autoimmune diseases can begin and a whole mess evolves. People find out about celiac or gluten intolerance, start researching it themselves, and bring the topic up to their doctors as I did, after many years of tests and troubles to no resolution. In addition, many kids with autism are taken off gluten for a very good reason. With all this knowledge, I feel the need to help to raise awareness.

On your audio book, "Dreams" (which has Danny the Dragon story, and then is followed by 10 classical pieces) why did you choose someone else to read your story? (It is read by Janis Welch)
She does this for as living as a voice over actor and I loved her gentle soothing voice for the audio book. I auditioned about 30 people.

What's your favorite part about meeting your fans when you do school interviews? The kid’s smiles, big eyes and love of the characters. All their very intelligent questions as well.

What has been the biggest blessing that Danny the Dragon, Skipper and Jimmy (& family) have bought into your live?
The satisfaction I set out to do my writing and I am doing it. It is a lot of work, believe me. 

Tinas book and CD will hit stores in April, & I'd grab a copy before they're gone. This book will be treasured by your kids - or someone elses' if you choose to pass it on as a gift. I have at least three people who I'll be buying a copy for, Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy is a great addition to any child's book shelf.
I want to thank Tina for her time and effort in raising awareness, advocating for so many worthy causes, and getting my daughter to sleep. And also a big thank you to those working with her, aiming for the same goal.

Here are the links to Tina's website, Danny the Dragon, and other reputable organizations that Tina aligns herself with.

Danny the Dragon:

Tina Turbin:

Tina's Gluten Free info site:




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Montessori School for the Deaf:

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