More than ever kids love cats but it’s up to adults to teach kids about cats. The easiest and most fun way to learn is by reading books with kids and casual chatting while doing crafts. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Helene Sola, the author of a meowvelous new children’s book Loo Loo and the Fabulous Marvelous Rexxaroo. There are two optional craft kits available and I fell in love with all of them. Everything is beautifully designed and packaged.
Our feline book reviewer Merlin agreed with the sunny colors and message about a girl who overcomes her shyness with the help of a feline friend.
Helene is a Registered Nurse specializing in Neonatal Intensive Care and teaches clinical Pediatric Nursing. She shares her Hudson Valley home with her husband, two children, one dog and three cats.
Author Q & A With Helene Sola
LMW: Rexxaroo, the character in your book is inspired by a real cat. What
can you tell us about him and how this project came about?
HS: Rexxaroo is a real cat, he is a beautiful orange, white and cream
swirly tiger. I adopted him as a kitten 3 years ago from the Mid Hudson
Animal Aid shelter in Beacon, NY.
He developed an intestinal illness two days after we brought him home; he was quite sick and dehydrated, the vet did not think he would survive. He
was one of a large litter found in a barn and brought to the MHAA, he
is the only survivor of that litter. My husband and I gave him IV
fluids at home and syringe fed him bits of kitten milk and rice…it was
a slow recovery but needless to say he survived! I have had many cats
in the past but Rexxaroo is the most special. He is the most loving
cat. He kisses me good morning and good night and follows me wherever
I go, even into the closet to pick out my morning clothes.
The project came to be: I always wanted to write a children’s book; my
husband always says”do what you love and success will follow”. When I
was thinking of a subject for my book, I immediately thought of Rexxy.
LMW: What is the core message or take away you’d like readers to
HS: Children can benefit greatly from the bond between cat and child. Pets
teach children how to love and care for another living creature. They
teach them responsibility; they offer companionship, friendship and
love. Shelter cats in particular: children can see that helping a cat
that was lost or does not have a home…and giving that that a home and
love will bring them a sense of pride and this “feel good” deed will
lift their spirits and give a sense of self worth.
LMW: Tell us about the shelter outreach work you do with your book.
HS: I launched my book on December 6th as a fundraiser for the MHAA, the
shelter where I adopted Rexxy. I donate a portion of book and craft
sales to the shelter; I also reached out to local merchants for gift
cards, restaurant certificates etc and created beautiful gift baskets
worth $200-$300 that were raffled at the event. Artists and a local
jeweler donated pieces that were also won that evening. We raised $1000
in a little over 2 hours!!!
I am interested in doing other book reading/signing/craft events for
animal rescue organizations. I also plan to connect w/ the March of
Dimes to raise money for the fight against premature birth. I am hoping
to help organize a community event for children and perhaps involve
other authors as well.
LMW: There are two really cute optional Rexxaroo craft kits available. How do they tie in with the book?
HS: The crafts came about after the manuscript was written. I thought
about how cute it would be for a child to have their own Rexxaroo which
was made from a pair of socks…(Rexxaroo appeared in the book when Loo
Loo put on a pair of orange swirly socks she found amongst her things).
I developed the “Sew Your Own Rexxaroo Sock Cat Kit” for parents to be
able to create this for their child; a good parent/child bonding
Then I thought, when I was a kid I loved to do crafts. I developed the
“Sew Your Own Rexxaroo Felt Cat Kit” for children to be able to
complete w/ minimal or no assistance from an adult (depending on the
age). The felt has pre-punched holes, it includes a plastic safety
needle. I grew up making crafts like this; I thought it was more
special than just producing a custom Rexxaroo plush toy.
LMW: The book is beautifully produced and printed in the U.S. What
motivated you to choose the costlier route instead of the common cheaper
version printed in China?
HS: I was referred to a “hybrid publisher” to help me produce and publish
the book. The company is Book Bridge Press, located in Minnesota. They
were connected to a printer that they were accustomed to working with,
they assured me the book would be high quality. It is my understanding
that paper and ink products for books printed in China emit an odor. I
did not want to chance exposing children to harmful odors or chemicals
for the sake of saving money on the project; the difference in pricing
was significant but I felt it was not an option.
Merlin gives his highest rating of 4 paws.
Win a prize pack of:
- 1 autographed copy of Loo Loo and the Fabulous Marvelous Rexxaroo
- 1 Rexxaroo felt cat craft kit
- 1 Rexxaroo sock cat craft kit
To enter to win simply leave a comment any time before midnight PST January 19, 2013. The winner will be announced next Sunday. Good luck!
Last week’s giveaway winners.
1) The winner of Compositions in Green and Black is Jaetta Hall
2) The winner of Cooking With Cookie is Heather C.
Congratulations! Look for an email from Layla and Cat Wisdom 101.