Saturday, May 30, 2015

Whoo Knew Owls Would Play Such a Large Part in Children's Literature?

Children's Literature is awash with owls.  From Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel to Harry Potter's loyal Hedwig, owls have appeared regularly in the genre.  The question is why?

I have always felt owls posses a mysterious majesty and believe many people are affected by their presence in the same way.  Within many cultures, owls symbolize strength and wisdom, due in large part to wings that allow soaring, claws that effectively clinch their prey, and laser eyes of field and forest, allowing nothing to go unnoticed.  These are all aspects admired by most children who, by virtue of being young and therefore, powerless, use vicariously.

Let's take a look at some, albeit some of this blogger's favorites, illustrate the love and admiration in kids' hearts for owls.  Owl Babies is a charmer, warm and fuzzy, by Martin Waddell.  These babies are as close as human babies as it gets.  All claws tucked away, this is a dream of a night time read!  

Another favorite of mine is The Owl and the Moon, again by Arnold Lobel.  I used to read this book to my boys, and they loved it, the soothing funniness of Owl's reaction to the moon and his environment.  Still a must-read for tucking-in time.

My all-time favorite owl book was written by my friend, Jane Yolan.  Owl Moon not only is a classic in the true sense of the word, it is biographical.  Jane's daughter loved to go owling with her dad, and the story comes directly from those adventures.  A delight for everyone, Owl Moon is a poem to nature, and love, and life.

Maybe there is something after all to the wisdom of owls.  After all, most cultures that validate these birds believe it to be true.  Or perhaps their most amazing eyes give an expectation of wisdom, all judicial, impartial, unbiased. Perhaps allow us humans a glimmer into a mysterious world of non-judgmental behavior that makes and keeps kids emotionally whole.   Who knows, but one can hope.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sequel to Winnie-the-Pooh Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You

Here comes a sequel to Winnie-the-Pooh!  It is being published by Egmont and is an "official sequel" to 2009's  Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, by David Benedictus, itself the first authorized sequel to Milne’s tales. 

New writing ... a still from the animated film of Winnie-the-Pooh.This edition, an anthology, will coincide with the 90th anniversary of the first Pooh book in October 1926, the adventures of Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh would be continued by four “outstanding writers with a real understanding for AA Milne’s characters and world”. Out next year, the book will be illustrated by Mark Burgess, who also worked on Benedictus’s sequel.

It appears that the authors' names will be announced closer to publication. We’ve a while to wait until then, so let’s pass the time by speculating about who the best authors writing today would be to pick up Milne’s baton.

'Winnie-the-Pooh' was originally published by Methuen on October 14th, 1926, the verses 'Now We are Six' in 1927, and 'The House at Pooh Corner' in 1928. All these books were illustrated in a beautiful way by E.H. Shepard, which made the books even more magical. The Pooh-books became firm favorites with old and young alike and have been translated into almost every known language.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Samantha Newark Lends Her Voice to LGBT-Themed Kids' Book

Samantha Newark
Samantha Newark
Samantha Newark, the original speaking voice of Jem from the beloved 1980s cartoon series Jem and the Holograms, is lending her voice to raise awareness of a new LGBT-themed children’s book that teaches acceptance.
The actor and recording artist has recorded an audio book to support the Kickstarter campaign for Square Zair Pair, a story set in the magical land of Hanamandoo, occupied by creatures called Zairs. Zairs do everything in pairs — one round and one square. But one day two square Zairs pair for the first time, and their fellow Zairs reject them — until they learn a lesson of acceptance and strength in diversity.
The Kickstarter campaign for the book, written by Jase Peeples (who happens to be The Advocate’s entertainment editor) and illustrated by former Disney artist Christine Knopp, seeks to raise $10,000 in the next month to cover costs of illustration, printing, and shipping for the book’s initial print run. Publication is expected by September.
The audio book by Newark is offered as one of several rewards available to those who back the project.
“The story came to me years ago, after a friend told me he and his husband were having trouble finding many children’s picture books with positive LGBT themes they could share with their daughter,” Peeples says.

 “I wanted to help by creating a new, unique tale for families that might be looking for just such stories, and so I sat down to write Square Zair Pair.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Princess Who Saved Herself-A Princess for a New Generation of Girls

When songwriter Jonathan Coulton's daughter got really into her princess phase, Coulton wanted to be sure she knew she didn't have to behave like some of the princesses she was obsessed with (for example, being super dependent on other people). Coulton told BuzzFeed this was the inspiration behind his song "Princess Who Saved Herself," which was then turned into a lovely comic book.

Coulton teamed up with comics writer Greg Pak and artist Takeshi Miyazawa to make the book become a reality. Pak created a Kickstarter in March asking for $50,000 to print and ship the completed book to anyone who supported the fund. They've since raised $111,759.

"The Princess Who Saved Herself reinvents the princess myth for a new generation of proactive girls, telling the story of an awesome kid who lives with her pet snake and plays rock 'n' roll all day to the huge annoyance of the classical guitarist witch who lives down the road," the Kickstarter page explains.

Coulton and Pak told BuzzFeed they hope Gloria Cheng Epstein Takahara de la Garza Champion, the protagonist, will be a role model for everyone, not just little girls. "I also love the idea of parents reading this book to their little boys as well. Fiction is one of the best ways for people of different backgrounds to learn how to identify with and empathize with each other," Pak said.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Pinkie McCloud and How She Saved Ballooze by Eileen Goldenberg

Eileen Goldenberg has done it again!  This time she has written and illustrated a gorgeously rich and textured children's book, Pinkie McCloud and How She Saved Ballooze.  A confection of poetry, pictures, and prose, Pinkie's story reads like an allegory that kids will understand and love.

Pinkie McCloud and How She Saved Ballooze | eBooks | Children's eBooksPinkie is a happy girl who happens to have been born a wingbling, a rarity in the land of New Skyland.  Not only that, Pinkie has pink wings, a double rarity!  In her land, everyone is happy, and contented, and good.  Wingblings especially, are kindhearted, and willing, and able to help others.

Alas, Pinkie is told the grim news that the family must move far away to a place called Balloze.  There are no wingblings in this place, and others make fun of Pinkie and consider her a freak.

Eileen's Pinkie Doll
When, however, an evil storm rages through Ballooze, the residents think all is lost.  The only one who doesn't is Pinkie.  She knows what to do. She does it and saves not only the day but the entire town!

Kids and their caregiver readers will love the luscious book, illustrated throughout in rich colors--until the storm appears.  With Eileen's dark and ominous illustrations, one can feel--almost taste--the danger at hand.

This is a book that can be read again and again.  The illustrations call for repetition to be sure one captures every aspect of the  fine artwork.

This blogger would urge you adult readers to acquire this idyll of a book not only for your children, but for your selves as well!

Eileen Goldenberg has been a working artist in the Tampa area for over thirty years. Her paintings and other works are widely collected here and elsewhere.  Her paintings on canvas and board have been commissioned by individuals and organizations and have graced book and magazine covers.

Pinkie McCloud can be purchased through the publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing as well as through Amazon and Barnes and

Eileen's art can be found at:

Eileen will sign her new book, Pinkie McCloud and How She Saved Ballooze on Monday, May 9 at 4PM at Inkwood Books, 
216 S Armenia Ave
33609-3310 Tampa

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman Cover Reveal and Reese Witherspoon

The book cover for Harper Lee’s upcoming novel “Go Set a Watchman” has been revealed. Lee's book will be released this July from HarperCollins.

The book is a follow-up by “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Lee and reportedly centers on now-adult “Mockingbird” protagonist Scout.

“Mockingbird” fans will note that the cover of “Watchman,” which is being released this July, echoes the 50th anniversary “Mockingbird” cover that shows a leafy tree. As you can see, the “Watchman” cover also has a leafy tree standing next to what seems to be train tracks. 

Michael Morrison of HarperCollins explained the presence of the train on the cover in a statement

The book begins with Scout's train ride home, but more profoundly, it is about the journey Harper Lee's beloved characters have taken in the subsequent 20 years of their lives.

Actress Reese Witherspoon will soon be bringing to life some of the most beloved characters ever created.

“As a Southerner, it is an honor and privilege to give voice to the Southern characters who inspired my childhood love of reading, Scout and Atticus Finch," Witherspoon said in a statement. "I am eager for readers to be transported to a pivotal time in American history in the manner that only Harper Lee's gorgeous prose can deliver.”

The audiobook will be released at the same time as the print version of “Watchman” – both will come out this July.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Children's Book Penned by the Young Queen Victoria to be Published

A story written by the future Queen Victoria when she was 10 years old is to be published for the first time.
The Adventures of Alice Laselles by Alexandrina Victoria, Aged 10 and 3/4, tells the story of a girl who is sent away to Mrs Duncombe's School for Girls when her father remarries.
Far from the sober image that we are familiar with from her later years, Victoria shows a child's flair for the dramatic.
One passage reads: "'Oh do not send me away dear Pappa', exclaimed Alice Laselles, as she threw her arms around her Pappa’s neck; ‘don’t send me away, O let me stay with you.’ And she sobbed bitterly."
The scratched-out title, replaced with Alice (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)
The story was originally called The School, until Victoria decided to name it after her leading character.
Alice's schoolmates include Barbara, the clever daughter of a wealthy banker, whose pride "spoiled her otherwise fine expression"; Ernestine Duval, a "poor little French orphan" who had suffered from "the small pox, by which malady she had lost one eye"; and Diana O’Reilly, who was raised by a nurse after the death of her mother, and dispatched to Mrs Duncombe's when her father returned from India after 10 years to find a "tall girl of a most uncouth appearance" who spoke in an "unintelligible" brogue.
Illustrations are based on Victoria's paper dolls (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)
Alice is illustrated with a combination of digitally manipulated copies of paper dolls made by Victoria and her governess, Baroness Louise Lehzen, and etchings by Cristina Pieropan.
Queen Victoria's paper dolls (Royal Archives/Her Majesty Queen/PA Wire)
It is a rare example of Victoria's early writing. A prolific diarist, she kept journals from the age of 13 which have been collected into 141 volumes totaling more than 43,000 pages.
Victoria's red composition notebook, kept at Windsor Castle (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)
Victoria wrote Alice in a red notebook and dedicated it to her mother. The book is now in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle.
The dedication reads, "To my dear Mamma, this my first attempt at composition is affectionately and dutifully inscribed by her affectionate daughter, Victoria."
The author Jacqueline Wilson, who provides the book's introduction, said: If Victoria hadn’t been destined to be Queen, I think she might have made a remarkable novelist.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Eileen Goldenberg-Illustrator of Children's Book-Rainbow of Friendship

This past week I showcased author Joni Klein-Higger's children's book, Rainbow of Friendship, published by Guardian Angel Publishing.  Today I want to turn to the multi-talented illustrator of the book, Eileen Goldenberg.  Eileen does not only illustrate books but is a sculptor as well as a mosaicist.  Her interview is fascinating.  Enjoy!

  When did you discover your artistic gift?

As far back as I can remember, my two favorite activities were drawing and reading. I loved the classic fairy tale books, and the Oz books, not only for the content but also for the fantastic illustrations. A teacher called my parents in when I was in second grade to show them an illustration I had created and a big deal was made of it. 

At seven I decided I was an artist, and I was determined to make that my career. I definitely got into trouble a few times for drawing when I should have been doing something else. I won a few art competitions in middle and high school and that helped cement the idea in my head. Of course, not having to support myself at that time in my life, little did I know how financially hard it would be! Nobody ever told me the term “starving artist” when I was seven! 

After majoring in Fine Art in college, I realized that it was going to be challenging to pay the bills and had a five year detour working in retail. However, I knew I wasn’t happy and finally I went back to school for graphic design and became an art director for a major organization. I did this until about 1988 when my daughter was born and then slowly built up a career as a fine artist and illustrator.

You are a busy, working artist and author.  How do you organize your day in a studio and at the computer?

Thank you for this question, and for that word organize! I wish I was better at this actually. My studio draws me in each morning and then it’s hard for me to leave. My new strategy is to first spend two hours each day on my computer- and this second career of writing and illustrating in the children’s literature field. Only then will I allow myself to go into my studio. It is a challenge to keep up with commissions and creating work for shows , and still devote the necessary time to this longtime dream of being a successful author-illustrator.

Tell us how you came to illustrate the lovely book, Rainbow of Friendship.

 I’m very grateful to Joni Klein-Higger for suggesting to her publisher that she take a look at my artwork. The publisher was then very open to the idea of having me illustrate Joni’s book, and offered me a contract. I in turn, was very inspired by Joni’s wonderful characters. Joni had a wonderful vision that the characters would be all very different colors and shapes- based on geometric shapes! So that proved a bit of a challenge, but I think the end result is fun and whimsical, and provides an additional learning tool for little ones. I’ve been to readings with Joni and the children are very excited to identify the shapes of the various characters in the book.

Eileen's Stunning Fish 

 What is your next project?

I’m just finishing up the illustrations for Joni’s next book, I have A Voice. These illustrations have a looser, more watercolor style, and I’m really enjoying this process as well. It’s a very touching story, and I think the style suits the subject matter quite well. It will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing and be out later this year. Guardian Angel is also publishing a picture book I both wrote and illustrated, entitled Pinkie McCloud and How She Saved Ballooze.

 Where can you be found socially?

My website is currently being revamped, but will be found by the end of the month hopefully at I also have an author illustrator page on Facebook.

Thanks, Nancy, for the opportunity to be interviewed on your wonderful blog. I very much admire you for all your success and appreciate the encouragement I receive from you and our other critique group members. 

Likewise, Eileen, it is always such a pleasure to have such talented artists and authors on this blog!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rainbow of Friendship: Wonderful New Children's Book by Joni Klein-Higger

It is always such a great pleasure to feature the books of people I know and admire on this blog. So it is with Joni Klein-Higger, the author of the lovely new kids' book, Rainbow of Friendship, published by Guardian Angel Publishing. 

My next blog will feature Rainbow's illustrator, Eileen Goldenberg.
You are a musician and an author, Joni.  How did the two come about, and when did they fuse?

As a girl I was always making up songs and continued doing so throughout my life. Being a children’s book author, however, was much more of a challenge. Unlike songwriting, which came naturally to me, the children’s writing bug “bit me” later in life. It started when I was a Co Girl Scout Troop Leader for my daughter’s troop. Each Girl Scout had to create a book to earn a Literature Badge. We ordered a set of blank books by the dozen. Ten Girl Scouts, twelve books, two Troop Leaders.  The stage was set, and my first book, Rainbow of Friendship, catapulted into motion. That was over fourteen years ago. Needless to say, I’ve done quite a bit of writing and revision since its inception.
 Where did you get the idea for Rainbow of Friendship?

When I received my "blank” book at our Girl Scout gathering, I needed to think of an idea, and fast. I looked around at our beautiful troop of girls, each with unique physical and personality traits; each adding their individual gifts to the group as a whole. I found my story.

 Do you think your love of rhyming books come from the musical side of you?  Tell us a bit about that, please. 

Yes, a good rhyming book is very much like a song. Though, I must confess, I often struggle with meter when writing rhyming books – with songwriting, a melody can be stretched to fit my lyric/rhyme. Much to my critique group’s dismay, (“You should try it in prose, Joni!"), I love the fun words, rhymes and rhythms of rhyming picture books and can’t get enough of writing them.

 What’s in store next for your readers?

       Later this year Guardian Angel Publishing will be releasing a picture book I co-wrote with Dr. Flora Zaken-Greenberg, Ph.D. entitled, I HAVE A VOICE. It is the story of a girl who is afraid to speak; with the help of a “feelings doctor”, she discovers ways to overcome her problem. This book is being illustrated, as well, by Eileen Goldenberg (Yay!). Guardian Angel Publishing will also be releasing RED, a children’s musical I co-wrote with Jane Tesh.

And speaking of readers, where socially can they find you?

First, Nancy, I want to thank you for interviewing Eileen and me today. I’m a big fan of yours and am honored to be a part of your blog.  Readers, you can find me at my website,, or on Facebook at my Joni Klein-Higger Music and Joni Klein-Higger Author pages.  Please stop by and say, “hi!”

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Charlotte's Web-Most Popular Children's Book Ever

What are the most popular children's books ever?  

charlotteswebCharlotte’s Web by EB White has been voted the most popular children’s book ever, according to a new survey from 
To come up with the list, Culture’s Jane Ciabattari polled dozens of critics from around the globe. These experts were asked to name the best English-language children’s books of all time for readers 10 and younger. 
The survey included feedback from NPR’s Maureen Corrigan; children’s books editor of the Sunday TimesNicolette JonesLev Grossman, books editor at TIME, among others.
The critics named 151 titles in total. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne;  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, also made the top 10.

Which book do you think should be included?  Would love your opinion on the matter!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Fancy Nancy to Come Alive on Disney

"Fancy Nancy," the New York Times bestselling book series by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser, has been optioned by Disney Junior for development of an original animated TV movie and series, as well as for related role-play items and other consumer products licensed by Disney Consumer Products. In addition, HarperCollins and Disney Publishing will collaborate on book editions based on the television series.

The stories, geared towards kids age 2-7, have an underlying theme of self-expression and love of family as they follow the adventures of a girl who likes to be fancy in everything from her creative, elaborate attire to her advanced vocabulary.

Nancy Kanter said, "Children have been captivated by Fancy Nancy's wit and irrepressible spirit for a decade, and we are very eager to give her an even bigger stage on which to perform."

O'Connor said, "This is definitely one of those 'pinch me' moments. When Robin and I met Nancy Kanter and her team, we knew instantly that Disney Junior was the plus-perfect home for Fancy Nancy."

Preiss Glasser said, "After the thrill of seeing my two-dimensional drawings of Nancy and her 'world' come alive in spin-off musicals and ballets, the opportunity to see her animated by Disney is a dream I never would have dared to dream!"

"Fancy Nancy" is now ten years old and over 60 titles, has sold more than 28 million books and has been translated into 20 languages. The series was named 2008's Book Character of the Year by Global License. The series has received two Toy Industry Association's Toy of the Year Award nominations, two LIMA International Licensing Excellence Award nominations and was named the Best Character Brand Program of the Year in 2009.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Heather Has Two Mommies (A New Look and a New Cover)

A twenty-five year milestone has been reached in the telling of a sweet children's book called "Heather Has Two Mommies. Those many years ago, no one wanted to publish the book, but that did not stop its author, Leslea Newman. The book's topic was a cultural and legal flash point 25 years ago, angering conservatives over the morality of same-sex parenting and landing libraries at the center of community battles over placement in the children's stacks.

AP Exclusive: Watershed picture book 'Heather Has Two Mommies' reissued with a new look Today, Heather — of "Heather Has Two Mommies" — has a lot more company in books for young kids about different kinds of families, but hers was out of print and seemed visually dated. That's why creator Leslea Newman decided on a new version, updating the look of her watershed story with fresh illustrations from a new artist and tweaking the text to streamline.

There's one big change, but you have to squint to notice: Heather's Mama Kate and Mama Jane wear little matching rings on their marriage fingers
I don't specifically say that they're married but they are.  I don't know where I could have smoothly inserted that into the text. That's not what the story is about. The story is really about Heather.

Heather has two mummies... and now they're married!Heather was Newman's first picture book and is certainly her most well-known. The latest edition, out this month, is from Candlewick Press, with illustrations by Laura Cornell replacing those of Diana Souza.

Newman wrote the story in 1988 after a chance encounter in Northampton with Amy Jacobson, a lesbian mom who was looking for reading material that better reflected her life with her partner — now wife — and their young daughter — now grown.

"Every step I was educating people about our family because there was nothing else," recalled Jacobson. "If I hadn't done it somebody else would have found an author. The book needed to happen."

Newman, a full-time writer and poet at the time, chronicles Heather's love of all things "two," including her moms, one a doctor and the other a carpenter. When Heather joins a home-based play group — changed to "school" in the new version — she is saddened when teacher Molly reads the children a story at nap time focused on a daddy.

Original Cover
As the children chime in with their fathers' occupations, Heather bemoans, "I don't have a daddy," when asked what hers does for a living. The original story has her tearing up as she wonders if any other family looks like hers. The update has the children chiming in with the work of their mommies AND daddies, and it eliminates Heather's tears.

The process of getting Heather published in 1989 was a slow one:

After I wrote the book I sent it to many, many publishers. Small presses, large presses. Children's book presses told me to try lesbian presses. Lesbian presses told me to try children's book presses. Nobody was really interested.

There were about 50 turndowns. That's why she co-published the book with a friend who had a desktop printing business. The two found an illustrator and financed the endeavour mostly from $10 donations, promising each contributor a copy from the 4,000 they printed up.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Passover Kids' Book-Escape from Egypt

I am showcasing a terrific new book for Passover which begins this year with the first seder on the evening of April 3.

Twins return to the Egyptian desert in Kimmel's time travel adventure "Scarlet and Sam." (Courtesy of Kar-Ben Publishing)When twins Scarlett and Sam bicker about who is going to recite the Four Questions at the seder, their magical Grandma Mina cuts the squabbling short: “Tonight, at the Seder, we don’t just tell the story of Passover. We become part of it.”
This set-up begins Eric Kimmel’s time-travel Passover adventure that transports the duo to the Egyptian desert, back to the time of Moses and Aaron as they prepare to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. The Ten Plagues, Pharaoh’s palace, and the suffering and indignity endured by Israelite slaves come alive for the siblings, who manage to make a podcast of their experience.
Older readers familiar with Kimmel’s hugely popular illustrated books (“Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins,” “Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock” and “The Chanukkah Guest”) will again enjoy his flair for storytelling in the illustrated chapter book that will appeal to school-age kids. It’s a terrific pairing with Kimmel’s earlier “Wonders and Miracles,” a lavishly illustrated seder companion that explains and demystifies the customs and traditions.
Scarlett and Sam: Escape from Egypt
Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Ivica Stevanovic
Kar-Ben ($15.95 hardcover, $5.95 paperback, $6.99 eBook); ages 6-9

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Harper Lee's Words to Reporter: 'Go Away!'

Here is a little Saturday morning bit of news about the acclaimed literary recluse, Harper Lee.

Lee, of  To Kill A Mockingbird fame, has been in the spotlight perhaps more than she'd like recently.  Last month, her publisher announced that a prequel to her classic titled Go Set a Watchman will publish later this year.  It is narrated by an adult Scout.

Photo Flash: Book Cover Unveiled for Harper Lee's GO SET A WATCHMAN
The Alleged Book Cover
 The announcement was a surprise to Lee's fans, as she has stated for decades that she doesn't plan to release another novel.

It also has also spurred a resurgent interest in Lee, who appears to decline contact with journalists on principle. But that hasn't kept some from trying. While most attempts to reach out result in crickets, one Alabama reporter finally got a written response from Lee: his crumpled letters, with "Go away!" scrawled across them.

Connor Sheets, a reporter for wrote: 
I hoped she would confirm that she is in fact lucid and fully in control of the destiny of Go Set a Watchman...I hoped she would help clear up all the questions the world has been waiting to have answered about the circumstances of the book's planned release. [...] It appears that Nelle, as her friends call her, is very much with it, that she is still lucid and that her acerbic, press-averse side is fully intact

Friday, March 6, 2015

World Book Day was Yesterday! Not Too Late to Do Great Things with Books

Yesterday was  World Book Day, an event designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and is marked in over 100 countries around the globe. 

PrintBringing together publishers, booksellers, schools and other parties to work together to promote books and reading for the personal enrichment and enjoyment of all, one of the main aims of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.

There’s nothing quite like losing yourself in a good book.

What's Your favorite book?  I'd love for you to leave a comment here with your choice.  What a better way to begin the day than giving thought to books that have made us laugh, cry, think, dream, learn, and make good decisions about our lives.