Children’s Books Teach about numbers and parental love

Raquel Dorf

Award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Jeanne Styczinski is back at it again, gearing up to publish her third book, Who Will Be My Friend?, in 2016. Styczinski, a UW-Stout graduate and Menominee kindergarten teacher, is the two-time recipient of the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for her books Mama, How Does The Wind Start To Blow? and Papa, Why Does The Sun Shine?

In these whimsical counting stories, children use their imaginations to explain why the wind blows and how the sun shines. The books, targeted for children ages 3 to 6, use repetition in a song-like way to help teach children numbers as well as to teach them about parents’ love for their children.

“I teach ... that you can only write about what you know, how you feel or what you have experienced in life,” said Styczinski, who was inspired to write her first story, Mama, How Does The Wind Start To Blow?, because of the love she has for her own four children. “All of my stories come from my life experiences of things I have done and hold dear in my heart,” she said. “I wrote the Papa book because I feel a papa’s love is just as deep.”

The pages of both books are adorned with a distinctive illustrative style unique to Styczinski. The mixed media and collage-like pictures are made with recycled newspapers and images that are painted over with bright colors. “I sometimes let some of the print show though. I like to capture the culture that is happening in western Wisconsin with a word or a phrase,” Styczinski said. Each page has a cheerful border, and depicts fun scenes such as leaves falling, fireflies blinking, horses swishing their tails, frogs leaping, and sunflowers shedding their seeds. “My collage technique is fun to look at for young or old,” Styczinski exclaimed.

Styczinski’s forthcoming book, Who Will Be My Friend?, will follow the same lively illustration style, but instead of counting, this book will be designed to teach children about colors. Who Will Be My Friend? is about friendship and diversity as an owl forms an unlikely friendship with a firefly.

Styczinski has read thousands of children’s books during her 30-year career as a kindergarten teacher. “With my educational background and my creative ability, writing and illustrating books seemed a perfect fit,” she said. Styczinski has written many similar books for her classroom to teach a skill or tell a story, and decided to finally begin publishing them. “It sounds crazy, but I just started and here I am!” she said. “Learning how to publish a children’s book has been a wonderful experience for me, and I continue to learn about it everyday.”

Styczinski’s books are available at The Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St., Eau Claire, as well as online at Amazon.com or jeannekaypublishing.com.

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