Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Emily Wilde's Encylopaedia of Fairies, by Heather Fawcett

Well, this was an utter delight! All the hype I’ve been hearing about Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is justified. It’s funny, clever, atmospheric, sweet and beautifully-written. Emily and Wendell are fantastic characters, and their relationship is a treat.

I should start by saying I’m not a huge fan of Faerie. Beautiful but cruel aren’t characteristics I’m interested in, and I find most books about the fae boring or distasteful. Emily’s fairies, though, are fascinating, intriguing, fun—while still often being beautiful and cruel, and fitting in perfectly with familiar legends and lore.

Most of the book’s appeal is down to Emily herself, the “curmudgeonly professor” with her single-minded pursuit of fairy scholarship. I love the idea of “dryadology”! Practical, intelligent, introverted and awkward around people but confident and clever while studying the Fair Folk “in the field,” Emily narrates the story in hilariously academic prose, complete with footnotes. Her ostensibly objective, multisyllabic discourse does nothing to hide her feelings from the reader, however, and she charmed me as completely as she ultimately charms every other character (and, yes, the metaphor of enchantment is intentional!)

Wendell I will not spoil for you; you’ll just have to meet him yourself when he swans in with his minions in tow and upends Emily’s painstaking plans.

I get a grin on my face just thinking about these two and their exasperation with each other!

All the characters jump off the page; every one of the villagers a distinct individual. And the wintry northern landscape is a character in its own right. I am quite convinced that Hrafnsvik is a real place and the Hidden Folk really do live in those mountains.

There's also a great dog!

A satisfying conclusion, with the promise of another book to come. I am hooked on Emily and can’t wait to see what other surprises she has up her sleeve!

Heather Fawcett is Canadian, by the way: I'm happy to claim her as a British Columbian!

Don't forget to tell me about your favourite dragon in the comments on my previous post, and you could win a free e-book. (Contest open until June 30, 2023)

Friday, June 2, 2023

Author Interview and Giveaway: Vanessa Ricci-Thode and the Fireborne series

Vanessa Ricci-Thode has just released the second of four books in a very cool fantasy series (just look at those covers!) It's about three generations of powerful women and the dragon they befriend. I've read Dragon Whisperer, and it's a unique story of a newly married young woman trying to negotiate her new relationship with her husband while learning more about her fire magic; then she has to deal with some truly obnoxious aristocrats who are trying to exploit dragons for their own profit. I love that the romance is the stage after the starry eyes and butterflies, the getting down to how to make a life together. And magic and dragons just complicate things further! 

I had a chance to pick Vanessa's brain about dragons, families, writing a series, and self-publishing:

What/who is your favourite dragon?

You know in Sleeping Beauty where Maleficent turns into a dragon in the final battle? Yeah, probably that. Or Toothless. 

Totally different question: what’s your favourite book/series with dragons in it? 

In the book world, it’s definitely the Enchanted Forest series by Patricia C Wrede! I love what she does with the series, which begins with Dealing With Dragons, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. In wider media, I absolutely adore the How To Train Your Dragon franchise. It’s so much fun!

What do you think is the appeal of dragons?

I think a lot of it is in the impossibility of them. They’re often depicted as incomprehensibly huge. And even when they’re basically just dinosaurs that breathe fire… they breathe fire. Which is immensely cool and deeply terrifying. Flying, sentient, magical flamethrowers. They have the potential to be the ultimate enemies, but also the ultimate allies.

What aspect of dragons appeals most to you?

Definitely all the fire. They’re like flying volcanoes, ha!

Dragon Whisperer was originally written ten years ago. How long have you been playing around in this particular world? Tell us a bit about it: what are some of the fun things you’re exploring (other than dragons)?

I’ve been knocking around in this world since just a little while after Dragon Whisperer was written. I’d never intended for it to be a series, but people started asking when I was going to write the sequel. And it took some noodling to figure out how to keep the worldbuilding but have more adventures. I’ve done a lot to explore family dynamics and also to expand the magic system. I hadn’t actually put much thought into that part when I wrote the first book way back in 2009. Playing around in this world with all the new things I’ve learned as a writer since then has been really fun!

Can you tell us more about the connections between the four books and why you decided to write about multiple generations?

Like I mentioned, I didn’t intend for Dragon Whisperer to be part of a series, and in thinking about a sequel, I was looking for ways to keep as much worldbuilding as possible but to do something new. That was how I came up with multiple generations. Book two features Dionelle’s daughter, Neesha, and book three features Neesha’s daughter. Each of these three books is I guess a coming of age story, each a different generation with different challenges. Dionelle was essentially looking for work-life balance. Neesha is a queer woman struggling to make her way amidst regressive societal norms. Her daughter faces similar issues in book three. Then for book four, I’m bringing them all together because I’m ready for a multi-generational, ass-kicking team up!

Dragons work very well as an Other in your stories: there is prejudice against them, they are misunderstood, treated with hostility and even exploited, despite being very powerful. Was this part of your original intention, or did this theme develop as your stories developed?

While I’d planned for dragons to be misunderstood from the outset with Dragon Whisperer, the hostility was something that developed with the next two books. It became the backdrop required to make those stories work the way I wanted to tell them. 

You also deal a lot with family relationships, which is a little unusual in fantasy stories. In Dragon Whisperer, the main character is recently married, completely upending the Happily Ever After = walking down the aisle trope. How does a fantasy setting help you explore the complexities of a marriage, or parent-child or sibling relationships?

Book one had a lot of exploring the hard work of making that HEA work. I like writing in fantasy settings because I’m not limited by the constrains of reality, which makes it easier to construct different norms that I hope can serve as a roadmap to something more egalitarian for those of us constrained by reality. And then I’m less into traditional romance and like looking for different sources of conflict for subplots. Family has always been very important to me, and also probably the main source of drama too! So it was a natural place to draw from in constructing new stories. There’s plenty of romance out there, I wanted to see and write something a little different.

You’ve been learning-on-the-go how to self-publish. Do you have any advice or words of warning for someone considering that route? 

Haha it’s probably better to figure out more of it before actually getting started. I’ve been doing some building my parachute on the way down sort of stuff and it’s more stressful than it needs to be. It’s a lot of work! Self-publishing is definitely the right option for me at this point, but I wish I’d taken a little more time to work out the marketing side of things before jumping into it.


Vanessa has kindly agreed to give a free e-book to the winner of a random draw: to enter, just comment below and tell us your favourite dragon. Contest open until June 30, 2023.

Vanessa is a word sorceress who loves a good story. She’s a NaNoWriMo veteran, a Halloween enthusiast, and a bookish geek who loves dragons, dogs, astronomy, and travel. If she’s not hibernating, she can be found in her butterfly garden, achieving her final form as a forest witch. To learn more, visit her website www.thodestool.ca or follow her on social media @VRicciThode

Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/bqD9gL

Dragon Whisperer buy links: https://books2read.com/u/b5qgYk

Trueflame buy links: https://books2read.com/u/bPL0l7 

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Witch King and new Ann Leckie! Plus a few other books I'm looking forward to.

Look what just arrived on my Kindle! Martha Wells' new fantasy. I have no idea what it's about and I don't care!

I've pre-ordered Translation State, by Ann Leckie, an Imperial Radch novel that features a Presgr translator (that culture was so interesting in Ancillary Mercy!) It will drop on June 6.

So I'm going to have a lot to keep me occupied while I travel for the next month! (Yes, I'm travelling again.)

What else is on my Kindle right now? 

A couple of romances:

Lucy Parker, Act Like It

Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner, Star Dust

An East of the Sun, West of the Moon retelling: Troll-Magic, by J.M. Ney-Grimm

Rachel Neumeier's Tarashana, which I've already read; it's in the Tuyo series, which I love.

A couple of famous philosophy books I figure I should read one day.

And some Victoria Goddard short stories.

Here's my Libby app, if we're going to be complete about this:

I'm reading Little Thieves right now, and it's excellent! Sort of a Goose Girl retelling, with a likeable unlikeable heroine (she's the maid!)

The Things We Leave Unfinished is a contemporary romance

Chilbury Ladies' Choir is historical I think

Merci Suarez is middle-grade contemporary

Oh, and C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner, (not in the picture) because I am definitely going to read it this time!
Does anyone else want to post a snapshot of your reading apps right now? Or a photo of the pile on your side-table? I'm curious!

Monday, May 29, 2023

MMGM: The Grace of Wild Things, by Heather Fawcett

The Grace of Wild Things is billed as "a fantastical reimagining of Anne of Green Gables," and that made me jump up and put it on hold at my library immediately. (So: excellent marketing strategy!) But, in retrospect, I wish I hadn't known that going into the story, because it set certain expectations in my mind and then the book kept knocking against those expectations. I would have preferred the experience of reading the book, feeling that it reminded me of something, and then figuring out or finding out at the end that it was Anne of Green Gables with witches.

But if I can get that out of the way, this was a lovely story, a worthy homage to Anne-with-an-E, and an enjoyable read.

I loved Grace: she's proactive, creative, fearless and positive, just like Anne. When she realizes that no one will adopt her because she's a witch, she goes herself to the witch's cottage in the woods and refuses to be intimidated by being shut in the oven.

The witch grew on me, and by the end I was really enjoying her reluctant relationship with Grace. I have a few niggling issues with how she was portrayed: (slight spoiler, you can read it if you highlight it)  I choose to believe she never actually cooked and ate any children, because that seems inconsistent with both her actions in the story and with the way magic seems to work—actually, I think my niggle is that the magic is fun and whimsical but isn't really developed beyond "oh look at all the crazy ingredients we have to gather for this spell."

My favourite part of the book was the friendships, which I don't want to spoil, and I did love the magic and wish there had been more of it. It was quite fun seeing how Fawcett translated many of Anne's escapades into magic spells with unexpected results.

There were a lot of things I wish had been developed further (even though it's a fairly long book), so I felt a little unsatisfied with certain aspects of the plot, but the setting and characters were delightful, and the book has so much heart! The themes of friendship, tolerance, helpfulness and forgiveness—not to mention trusting yourself and a healthy dose of girl power—were true to the spirit of Anne of Green Gables. So for Lucy Maud Montgomery fans, you won't be disappointed. Just check your expectations at the door and let Grace take you into her world.

I would recommend this for an older middle-grade audience, just because of its length and complexity.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg at Always in the Middle, where you can always find great middle-grade recommendations.

If you like dragons, come back this Friday for an interview with the author of Dragon Whisperer, a New Adult book about fire magic, dragons, and work-life balance when your fire magic means you work a lot with dragons! You could win a free e-book copy for yourself!

Monday, May 22, 2023

Recent reads

I had a lot of books on my phone for my recent trip: did I read them all? Did I like them? I have zero memory and must go back to Libby and Kindle and check ...

The Beekeeper's Apprentice, or, the Segregation of the Queen, by Laurie R. King. 

This one was promising, but I just can't do audiobooks. The main character is a precocious teen who befriends Sherlock Holmes, and I think I would have liked her if I had been reading, but on audio she seemed to go on and on about how clever she was, and it started to bore me. I might pick this one up as a book if I'm in the mood for a nice setting and what will probably turn out to be a cozy mystery. Verdict: successfully put me to sleep on the plane!

Castles in Their Bones, by Laura Sebastian.

This was fun, if a little predictable. Three princesses trained to be spies and assassins head to three different kingdoms to marry princes and bring down the kingdoms from within. I didn't end up finishing it because a book on hold arrived on my phone when I was three quarters of the way through this one, and it looked way more interesting. Verdict: if you like the idea of assassin princesses, this fits the bill. An easy read, suitable for the end of a long flight.

This was the way-more-interesting-looking book. And it was! I was a little afraid that a book mashing demons with aliens and a donut shop might be trying too hard, or being too obvious in its metaphors, treating the spec fic elements as cute props. But I thought it was all handled quite deftly; it was funny and heartfelt. Gorgeous writing. Verdict: Compelling enough to blot out several hours of travel.

Republic of Dirt, by Susan Juby.

This contemporary humour novel set on a BC island was as funny as expected. A mule provided much hilarity. Themes of responsibility, parenting and found family were explored with some truly endearing characters. Verdict: Juby never disappoints. Excellent laugh-out-loud-so-the-people-on-the-airplane-look-at-you-strangely choice.

Chalice, by Robin McKinley.

An easy re-read. Not my favourite by her, but the bees and honey magic are lovely. Verdict: Robin McKinley can always take me out of whatever tedious circumstances I'm in and send me to a beautiful place. Great for delayed flights.

This was exactly as advertised: lots of detailed engineer-solves-problems-while-enemies-shoot-things scenes, and a very snarky, self-hating, unreliable narrator to tell us what's what (except that he never tells us what's truly important: we have to figure that out.) Not sure how I feel about the ending. Verdict: highly entertaining, and I probably would have got more out of it if it wasn't being read in little snippets here and there.

Strong Wine, by A. J. Demas

I think I finished this one before I even got on the plane. This is the most feel-good series ever! Romance, family dynamics, kidnappings: it has it all, in an awesome fantasy-Mediterranean world. Verdict: Makes any situation better. Must always have all three Sword Dance novellas
available on my phone.

That's not the total list: stay tuned for more!

Also stay tuned for another author interview, with dragons!

One of the Louis Vuitton stores in Paris:

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Unraveller, by Frances Hardinge

My hold on the newest Frances Hardinge came in! [Insert more gushing about the wonders of libraries.] I shall settle in my chair with it and not come back to reality for a good, lovely while.


I don't even know why I try to review Frances Hardinge's books. They are so hard to describe. And also, you should just read them because they are always brilliant and wise and will wind their tendrils around your heart and into your brain and leave you feeling like the world is more magical and people are more multi-dimensional than you had ever understood.

Unraveller is about curses and hatred and despair, and loyalty, healing and love, and how all those things can exist within one human heart, and that's what makes us human and worth the time and effort and love it takes to understand and heal us.

"I'm good at hate. I'm better at it than anything else I've ever done! This is the only power I've ever had!"

Every Hardinge book is completely different from every other Hardinge book (I'm pretty sure I say this in every review, but it's important to remember), but Unravelled reminds me most of Cuckoo Song. It has the same creepiness, and the inhabitants of the Wilds have a lot in common with the Besiders. Hardinge is wonderful at taking folktales and teasing out the logic behind all the weirdness to create a coherent, shiver-down-the-spine otherworld with its own terrifyingly logical rules. The Wilds are a swamp-forest, spooky and dripping with menace, inhabited by beautiful and terrifying monsters that are almost familiar.

As I was reading, I found a scrap of paper and wrote down "wildly inventive" and "stunningly coherent," because I think those are the best ways to describe a Hardinge novel. The curses in this book are folktale weird, like being turned into a tree that's then cut down and made into planks which are made into a boat. Kellen is the unraveller, because he can sense the nature and origin of a curse and unravel it, transforming even the planks in a boat back into a person. He is travelling with Nettle, who is having trouble readjusting to being herself again after Kellen unravelled her curse. (No, she wasn't the boat. I won't spoil the reveal of her curse.)

At first it seems the novel will be about Kellen and Nettle finding cursed people and learning their stories so Kellen can fix them. But it turns out that people, and curses, are a little more complicated than that, and so is the novel. But it all makes so much sense—that's what I mean by coherent. It's quite delicious and satisfying the way everything comes around in the end. You recognize the character and story elements because you've seen them in folktales, but also because you've seen them in yourself and the people you know. Everything is a brilliant metaphor for the workings of the human heart. Anger and trauma and patience and forgiveness.

Hardinge's books have a darkness in them, because she doesn't shy away from the hard things in people's souls; she sees them so clearly; but she sees them with deep compassion. She's a lot like T. Kingfisher that way. That's what keeps me eagerly waiting for the next Hardinge novel; her ruthless compassion, and her brilliant writing.

I do not like humans. Your hearts smell of earth and sweat. you miss notes when you sing. You bleed too easily. You walk in with stories tangled around you like briars and do not notice. You trip over everything and break it. You are too real, and it is wasted on you. I lose patience.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Author Interview: Michael Roth and River's New Friend

I'm excited for you all to meet Michael Roth, picture book author! I met Michael at a writer's conference, and I've been privileged to watch the development of his very cute book, River's New Friend. Michael kindly agreed to answer a few questions about dogs, llamas and writing picture books.

Did you grow up owning dogs? Do you have a favourite childhood memory of a dog?

As a kid, I had asthma and a dog allergy. As a result, I grew up afraid of dogs. 

Then, one summer, when I was 16, my father (who also did not like dogs) and I took a trip out of town together. While we were gone, the rest of the family held a vote and with the two dissenting votes absent, unanimously decided to get a dog. When we returned home, we were greeted by the new family dog, a miniature schnauzer named Hans Von Schnauzer.

It took me a while to warm up to Hans. Fortunately, schnauzers were a breed of dog that I was less allergic to. Somehow, I was appointed the head dog trainer of the family, which helped me get over my fear and discomfort with dogs. By the time I left for University, I had grown to love Hans quite a lot.

At the time, the moment of getting out of a car and being greeted by a surprise puppy was upsetting, but now looking back and thinking of the good times I had with Hans and with all the dogs in my life that he paved the way for me to love, my first meeting with Hans is now one of my favourite childhood dog memories.

I understand this story was inspired by your own dogs. Tell us about the real River and Willow. How much of your story was based on Willow's actual behaviour?

River (age 7) and Willow (age 4) are both 65-pound goldendoodles. They are half-sisters, so they share many of the same physical features and mannerisms, but at the same time manage to be completely different dogs. 

River is calmer, more dignified (a bit uppity even), loves people but is “meh” about other dogs, and enjoys sitting outside in the yard for hours watching the birds. Willow is a mischief maker, loves sneaking food from countertops and hunting for used Kleenex tissues in the trash, is over-eager and a bit anxious, and loves all the attention.

In the story, “River’s New Friend”, River is excited when Mom and Dad bring home a new sister, but very quickly realizes that sisters can be challenging when they eat your food, play with your toys, make messes, and take away from your time with Mom and Dad. This is all true to what happened in real life. River was initially very excited, but then learned that having a puppy disrupted her routines and meant sharing food, toys, and attention, which she was displeased with to say the least.

Four years later, River and Willow aren’t really what I would call friends, but they peacefully coexist. They play together occasionally and every once and a while I will even catch them snuggling. To me, they are a good representation of many human sibling relationships where there is “love” but not always “like”. 

Part of my inspiration for writing the story was to present a sincere and honest look at this type of sibling relationship and let kids know that the mixed feelings they may have for a sibling are normal and that they are not “bad” for feeling sad, frustrated, or lonely when a new sibling arrives.

Do you have siblings? Are any of them monsters?

I have two, a younger brother and a younger sister. In the story of “River’s New Friend”, River describes Willow as a monster because Willow steals food and toys and takes away from River’s time with her parents. Based on this definition, yes, my siblings were both monsters. My brother especially, who is the older of my siblings and four years younger than me, struggled with health issues and learning disabilities, which meant he required a significant amount of my parents’ attention as a child. This was a difficult adjustment for me.

Funny enough, even though “River’s New Friend” is all about the challenges involved with the arrival of a new sibling, my own experience as an older brother and my relationship with my siblings never once crossed my mind as I was writing it. This was a story about River and Willow, not me. It was only as the story was nearly finished that I realized I had written a story that spoke to many of my own struggles and feelings as a child. This discovery was strangely cathartic and actually helped me process some of my childhood experiences in a new way.

I think that is the cool thing about art, whether we recognize it or not, we are pouring ourselves into it and it becomes a reflection of us. It is one of the reasons I am not overly concerned about artificial intelligence replacing artists as storytellers.

Have you ever met a llama?

I have! My wife had a coworker who lived on a llama farm. Every year, they would throw a giant party called “Llamapalooza”, where you could come and hang out with the llamas. We attended one year and met many llamas.

Did you have any idea how hard it is to write a picture book when you started? How long did this one take you, from first concept to finished book?

I wrote the first draft of “River’s New Friend” in an afternoon. I shared it with a few family members and friends who said, “hey, this is pretty good!” I could have stopped there and said I had written a picture book. Based on my experience reading many self-published picture books, I think this is where a good number of people fall into the trap of calling the book “done” and move ahead with publishing. But I wasn’t happy with it yet. 

After writing the first draft, I decided I wanted to improve as a writer before continuing, so I started taking online writing classes, reading books on craft, and watching countless YouTube videos on how to write. I joined a critique group to get honest, unbiased feedback on my writing. I revised the story again and again. Hired a professional editor and revised it some more. By the time the story was finished, I had been working on it for a year and a half, not including the year off I took to level up as a writer.

Did you write stories when you were a kid? What were your favourite kids books?

Nope. Not at all. I didn’t start writing until I was 34 years old, which makes me quite an outlier as a professional writer.

My favorite kid’s books were a series of middle grade sports mysteries written by Matt Christopher. The protagonists were always some young athlete investigating a strange happening that was impacting their team. Sometimes the stories were even a bit supernatural, like a magic goal-scoring hockey stick or a batter who could only hit home runs. As a kid who loved sports, I read these books over and over again.

What's one thing you wished you had known before you started the self-publishing process?

Don’t worry so much about social media. I spent a year trying to develop Instagram and TikTok accounts in advance of my book launch, hoping it would be helpful in marketing the book. But social media algorithms are fickle, the sites are unreliable ways to reach your target audience, and just because you have “followers” it doesn’t mean you have potential customers. 

At this point, after a year of work and the lucky break of having a video go viral, I have 4,200 Instagram followers. But I can only point to a couple of book sales that have come from my Instagram marketing.

If you enjoy social media and do it well, then by all means, lean into it and use it to your advantage. But if it isn’t something you enjoy or that comes naturally to you, your time and energy will be better spent writing books than composing social media posts. And most importantly, never feel guilty for not doing social media if it isn’t something you want to do, your writing career will go on just fine without it, I promise.

Why do you think llamas are so appealing?

First of all, they are fluffy and humans, in general, are a big fan of fluffiness. Second, they have a comical appearance. They look like sheep doing a giraffe impression. And their faces have a dopey cuteness that makes them look like they are perpetually in a state of having just woken up from a nap. Third, we have all fallen for the pro-llama propaganda pushed on us by Disney’s “Emperor’s New Groove” which depicts llamas as a vehicle for spiritual redemption of the morally bankrupt, when in reality, not a single Incan emperor was ever redeemed through llama transformation (a seldom known fact).

What did you love most about the whole writing-publishing process? What was the hardest thing?

There were several moments in the writing and illustration process where things felt like they just clicked into place. During writing, my story was feeling broken, but then I tried moving a piece from the end to the beginning and suddenly everything worked. That shift from “it’s not working” to “that’s it!” was the coolest moment of my writing career to date. There were similar moments during illustration where my illustrator, Zoe, would send me a character sketch or an storyboard for a page and I would have a sense of, “yep, that’s exactly it.” Those were the moments I loved the most.

The hardest thing about publishing was overcoming some of the self-doubt, much of which is tied to my decision to self-publish the book. When you traditionally publish a book, your work passes through several gatekeepers: a literary agent, editor, the publisher’s internal marketing team, etc. and each time you pass one of these gatekeepers, it can serve as a validation of your writing. An industry expert gave it their stamp of approval as being “good enough”. But when you are self-publishing, you don’t receive that same validation. To compensate, I surrounded myself with critique partners, beta readers, and a professional editor so that I would receive honest feedback and hopefully, once the book was good enough, validation that it was ready for publishing. 

Honestly, even now with the book completed, I still struggle with self-doubt. I worry if the story is good enough and how readers will respond. But I tell myself that I put in the work, listened to and incorporated feedback from smart and knowledgeable sources, and made the best book I could make, and I can feel proud of what I created.

Would you consider writing a spin-off series starring Rhama the llama?

One of the things that has surprised me about the early response to the picture book is the degree to which readers are enthralled with River’s friends in the story. The list of friends includes Basanti the shy bunny, Kameko the hungry cat, Earl the overwhelmed squirrel, Gustavo the grumpy goose, and Rhama the sleepy llama. Already, I have had requests for spinoff stories about the goose, the squirrel, and the llama. Spin-off books were never a consideration when I was writing the story, and the fact that people are asking for them (even if jokingly) is a testament to the incredible job my illustrator did bringing these side characters to life. Who knows, in the future there may be an extended River-verse with spinoff stories for everyone, including the llama.

Michael currently has a Kickstarter running to fund publishing River's New Friend. If you're interested in the book, or just interested in what a picture book Kickstarter looks like, check it out here. (It ends on April 15, so you have a week left!)

As part of the Kickstarter, Michael has organized a book donation drive to get donated copies of "River's New Friend" into the hands of kids and teachers in low-income communities. In addition to being able to pre-order a copy of "River's New Friend" for yourself, there is an option on the Kickstarter page to purchase copies of the book when will then be donated to a preschool or childcare center. If you would like to contribute, look for reward tiers on the Kickstarter page that mention a "Donation Book" in the description."