(Dec. 25, 2020) Two local authors have recently released children’s books that could make great presents or stocking stuffers this holiday season for young readers.
Ocean Pines resident Ellen Krawczak has released her second children’s book, “Zo Zo Loses Her Stripes,” which is about a zebra who wakes up one morning and discovers she has lost all her stripes.
“The story is about how she has misplaced her stripes and how she gets them back,” Krawczak said. “Essentially, she has loaned out her stripes to help people who need a stripe, such as the barber, whose barber pole’s stripe is ripped.”
“Zo Zo Loses Her Stripes” targets children between the ages of 4 and 6.
“I hope children like it,” Krawczak said.
The title of the book, which was published by Time Flys, was inspired by Krawczak’s second granddaughter, Zoey, whom she affectionately calls “Zo Zo.”
Krawczak’s first children’s book, “Ollie Gives a Hoot,” which was published in September 2019 by Salt Water Media, features a monkey named after her first granddaughter, Maggie.
“So, when the second granddaughter, Zoey, came along, I felt I needed to write something for her,” Krawczak said. “It just came to me. I kind of ruminate on what I want to write and eventually an idea pops into my head and then I write about it.”
Prior to her literary adventure, Krawczak had a varied career as a paralegal, a substitute teacher, and then she worked on real estate settlements.
She retired in 2009 and moved to Ocean Pines.
Her short story, “Seven Postcards From My Unmarried Aunt Betsy,” was published in “30 Ways to Love Maryland,” a 2019 Maryland Writers' Association Anthology.
Krawczak has been on the editorial board for the Bay to Ocean Anthology, which contains fiction, poetry and nonfiction by members of the Eastern Shore Writers Association, for the last two years. She has two short stories being published in 2020 Bay to Ocean Anthology as well.
“Zo Zo Loses Her Stripes” and “Ollie Gives a Hoot” are available in paperback at The Greyhound Independent Bookstore and Fine Art Gallery and on Amazon for $10.
For more information about any upcoming book signings or her books, contact Krawczak at email@example.com.
Meaghan Axel, a librarian at Snow Hill Elementary School, published her second book, “The Power in Words: An Empowering Guide to Speaking With Purpose” on Nov. 24.
“I was inspired to write it because I read this book years back – I read it a few times – called ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz, and the first agreement is to be impeccable with your word, which means that you don’t speak out against other people or yourself,” Axel said. “I loved the book, and I loved that concept, but reading it as an adult you can go back and say, ‘Wow, I wish I had applied this earlier in my life.’ So, I wanted to take that concept and make it kid-friendly.”
Axel’s narrative encourages children to choose their words and actions kindly. Through rhyme and thought-provoking illustrations, young readers will learn how broken promises, gossip and inconsiderate words affect others and themselves.
She hopes children read the book and realize what they say matters.
“I hope they think about what they say to others,” Axel said. “I hope they think about gossip and the way it makes others feel. I see that a lot in elementary school around the end of second grade and third grade. You start to see the way that young people start to feel negatively when they feel that others are speaking about them behind their backs or they know that others are speaking behind their backs. And I hope they feel that they deserve to be spoken about positively.”
Axel has incorporated “Your Powerful Words in Action,” which is a list of compliments for others, in “The Power in Words.”
“When I read out loud to students, I say, ‘You can say these kind things to others, but you have to mean them.’ People will know if you say something and you don’t mean it,” she said. “So, your compliments have to be genuine.”
To teach young readers about positive self-talk, Axel has included affirmations in the back of the book that are “I am” statements.
“You want to start speaking confidently early, so that you don’t kind of get used to talking negatively about yourself and putting yourself down,” Axel said.
She practices affirmations with her 3-year-old daughter, Sloan, at home.
“Sometimes we practice saying ‘I am brave’ when she’s nervous to do something, so that she can kind of channel that inner braveness,” Axel said.
“The Power in Words,” which targets children between second and fourth grades, was self-published through Axel’s imprint Joyful Breath Press.
“But adults are also learning from it,” Axel said. “That’s the funny thing with picture books is that adults get reminded of concepts by reading them.”
The book is available at Barnes & Noble as well as on Amazon and Bookshop for $17.99 in hardcover and $11.99 in paperback. “The Power in Words” is also available on Kindle for $3.99.
Parents and educators can find free downloadable resources to accompany the book at the author’s website.
Axel’s debut children’s book, “The Power in Me,” teaches young readers how to control anxiety and fears through breathing exercises.
The book was published on Jan. 6 and is available at Walmart and Barnes & Noble as well as on Bookshop and Amazon.
“Because I am a school librarian, I always like to say how children can lose themselves and find themselves in books,” Axel said. “Reading is a healthy way to escape pressures of reality, but then when children connect with characters in books, they can learn life lessons through witnessing the characters’ experiences. So, I think a lot of social emotional learning happens when children read books and discuss them.”
Axel grew up in rural Connecticut and moved to Salisbury in 2014 with her husband, Justin Axel, the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the men’s lacrosse team at Salisbury University.