Our Exclusive Interview With Zeena Kandalaft Of Blooming Books
Blooming Books is a world of imagination with a growing children’s book collection, where they can have fun while learning something new.
What drew you toward writing children’s books?
I’ve always relished and found solace in the writing process; as a very young girl, I journaled and wrote my own poems as a way to relax and reflect. Once I started teaching elementary grades, I noticed that many children I came across didn’t read or write enough, and when they did have to read or write something, they were so disinterested. Hence my desire to write for younger children arose. I thought let me create a series of beautifully illustrated books, that include simple stories with the intention of teaching basic writing techniques.
What was your favorite childhood book?
EB White’s Charlotte’s Webb was a book I really enjoyed. I think I loved it so much because of the animal characters… I’ve always had a soft spot for animals. I also think I was drawn to the true friendship between Wilber and Charlotte, the spider. I recall being so sad when Charlotte died, and felt so sorry for Wilber. Anyway, Wilber struck everlasting friendships with hundreds of Charlottes babies, so he was never really lonely again. The story is beautifully descriptive.
How has your love of poetry influenced your writing?
Greatly. I’ve always written, and I feel poetry kicked off this journey of writing for me. The poems I’ve written convey my deep feelings and thoughts. I’ve been able to grow as a writer through my poetry, giving me the opportunity to express my opinions about anything really. It’s also expanded my creative thinking. Poetry writing has awakened my word usage, and opened the doors to be more daring.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration flows from my personal thoughts and emotions, from my own childhood experiences, from my experiences as a mother, from my own children, and from general behavior. Global issues and everyday events inspire my stories.
What is the secret in keeping the young readers entertained?
I strive my best to use colorful and playful illustrations, and relevant topics, like self-confidence for example. I try my best to keep my language simple yet stimulating. There’s nothing wrong with allowing young readers to be inquisitive when it comes to new words or even topics they’re unfamiliar with. Children should be able to ask questions without judgement, so they can learn in their own unique way.
You have published 5 books on literary devices, what is the purpose of literary devices?
Literary devices definitely add another layer to writing; they add imagery and life to a piece of work. To me, literary devices make writing and reading more fun. These devices are a very powerful tool which allow the reader to visualize a character’s actions or feelings, for example. They allow writers to use words in certain ways in order to communicate a theme or message, and basically provide the path to a clearer story.
What elements are important in a child’s literary development?
I think creativity and allowing it to flourish is very important to a child’s literary development, as it allows the child to enter endless worlds. Reading is obviously important, and it must begin at the very beginning, where a baby or a toddler are read to regularly. Looking at illustrations, reading a story and then predicting what will happen next is extremely important, as well.
Who is your favorite children’s author?
Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) is a one-of-a-kind author who cleverly uses rhythm and rhyme, similar to poetry, in such a creative way. His ability to create such imaginative characters, settings and even words is quite intriguing and so enjoyable, in my opinion. His stories always seem to put a smile on my face.
What are your favorite book genres?
This may surprise you, but I mostly enjoy mysteries and suspense. I thoroughly enjoy my curious self to be thrown into a fictional crime scene where all I have to do is read on to solve a puzzle. To dig a bit deeper though, I think it’s more about observing character behavior, and analyzing how and why certain behaviors or actions occur.
What book do you find yourself recommending repeatedly?
That is such a difficult question for me to answer because books are such a personal and individual experience, right? So, I would recommend Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander to someone who is interested in an autobiographical book written by a neurosurgeon about life after death. However, I would recommend the classic novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelly for someone who is interested in a gothic tale, and in my opinion one of the most passionate stories I have ever read. You want a book masterfully written by an intellectual clinical psychologist and professor? Jordan Peterson 12 Rules for Life. You want to read a well written novel and laugh? Read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. So, personally, I find it quite challenging to recommend just one book; there are way too many out there!
Other than reading and writing, what are your hobbies?
Gardening. I try to make time to venture out into my garden daily to take care of my plants and flowers. I can literally spend hours on end outside. I also find spending time playing with my two cats, and walking my two dogs such a pleasure.
What book would you pass on to your children?
My book of poetry, Revelations, which I published a few years ago. It’s composed of all the poems I’ve written, from my early childhood until the present.
A book you finished in one sitting.
Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. It’s basically about achieving success, and how we define success.
What’s next in Zeena’s book series?
The series is done, but I do have a book coming out next year about a very lazy bee who doesn’t want to participate in any team work with her other bee friends.
Any advice for aspiring children’s book authors?
Yes! Read children’s books to familiarize yourself with various story lines and themes. Analyze different illustration styles. Observe and study the diction used in various children’s books, to get an idea of how you want to present your book in the simplest way. Do you want to be light and funny, or not? Be very clear on what you want to focus on by asking yourself what the purpose of your book is, and what your target age group is. It’s so important to be alert and aware of issues our children are facing. Write them down. Note them. Comment on them. Find out what you want your young readers to learn and take away from your book. And most importantly, enjoy the process; it’s a long one, but with your passion and persistence, it will be a success!