'Peppermints' announced in Community section of Wayne Magazine this March!

There is a new children’s book author in town that will be sure to take you back in time. Nikki Maloney, author of the newly released book The Peppermints: A Ski Vacation, found her inspiration through her very own father who enjoyed reciting bedtime stories to Nikki and her siblings as children. “When I was a little girl my father told my sister, my two brothers and me bedtime stories about a family called The Peppermints. They were about two boys and two girls named Pete, Patty, Peggy and Philpot,” explained Nikki. “The stories would be about things that coincidentally we had done as a family such as taking a ski trip, going to the swim club or traveling to see our cousins.

As children we were listening to them as stories. We did not realize they were actually about us.” Nikki realized this was her father’s way of connecting with each of them, teaching them lessons about their own lives and doing something that his own father had passed down to him, storytelling. It was only until years later when Nikki overheard her father, who her own children call ‘Goodie’, telling the same stories to her three kids. She could hear her father laughing as he went back in time to recount stories about the Peppermints. “I felt as though something truly magical and organic was happening and I wanted to preserve it somehow,” said Nikki.In the last couple of years Nikki has worked hard to compile all of these stories told by her father into their own individual vignettes.

Each story stands alone and highlights a specific character in the book that ultimately connects the dots for the reader to understand them as individuals and also as an entire family. A Ski Vacation is the first book in a series of 9 that will be released throughout 2014 and 2015. The characters are all extremely personal to Nikki as each name has reminiscent ties to a family member of hers. The breakdown of the characters are as follows: Mr. Peppermint: Goodie (Nikki’s father); Mrs. Peppermint: Nancy Schane (Nikki’s mother); Pete: Fran (Nikki’s brother); Patty: Chrissy (Nikki’s sister); Peggy: Nikki; Philpot: Tim (Nikki’s brother). Here is an excerpt from www.NikkiMaloney.com where you can find out how to purchase her book, learn more about the characters and The Peppermints: A Ski Vacation. “Winter brings colder weather and Mr. and Mrs. Peppermint know just what to do when the temperature plummets. A Ski trip to the mountains of Vermont is in store for the family. Pete, Patty, and Peggy are excited to get back on the slopes, but it is Philpot’s first time. He will do almost anything to keep up with his older brother and sisters. Come join the Peppermints as they make the most of the winter season!”

There was a clear vision in mind when Nikki began writing this book and the ones that follow. She wanted to re-create a time in place when children had more freedom and independence to solve their own problems and make decisions for themselves. “I wanted to tap into the need to be independent as a child and honor that. Kids today are not allowed the freedoms that I had when I was younger, and certainly not the freedoms that my parents had when they were younger,” said Nikki. “This is why I chose to have these stories take place in the 1950’s, so I could recapture those moments for children. It was very important to me that each story ended with a lesson. It was my way of indirectly modeling good behavior and good choices.”

Nikki chose to go down the path of self-publishing her own book alongside her talented illustrator Ted Layton. She wanted to assure that they would be able to have their own creative control when developing every aspect of the stories - a strong stance in these times of book publishing. “We have enjoyed this journey together free of procedure and standardization, allowing the creativity to be the focus of all efforts. We are realizing this freedom of taking a timeless story and changing the paradigm of how books are traditionally published and embracing the entrepreneurial spirit,” said Nikki.

Between the prolific storytelling told by Nikki Maloney and the imaginative artwork that brings all of these characters to life by Ted Layton, they were able to stay true to their vision throughout the process.The Peppermints: A Ski Vacation is available for purchase now at www.NikkiMaloney.com. So take part in the children's joys, challenges, trials and tribulations of growing up in a large family. Jump into Mr. and Mrs. peppermint's station wagon and get to know each Peppermint as they invite you on their many adventures: whether it be a ski vacation, summer camp, a day at the parade, a family outing to the zoo, a trip to Disneyland or the thrill of getting their first pet. Share intimate moments with each family member and embrace the many lessons there are to learn in life.

 

 

 

 

The Value of Children’s Writing

by Peppermint fan, Daniel Olivieri

 

            The thing about great children’s writing is that it doesn’t leave. Not after five years and not after ten. It welds itself to your psyche and makes itself at home in your cerebellum. The best of the stories and characters that you meet every night before bedtime will hitch a ride with you for the rest of your life, if you let them.

The reason why children’s literature can stay with you is that it shows you the whole universe through the lens of just a few pages. For example, look at the Hundred-acre Wood that housed the stories of Winnie-the-Pooh. A. A. Milne, the author of the Winnie-the-Pooh books, doesn’t tell you that a community of friends makes life worth living because he shows it to you page by page. He shows it when Winnie the Pooh encourages Piglet to stand up to his fears. He shows it when Winnie saves Eeyore from the river. In this character of Eeyore he shows that some people may be pessimistic but that doesn’t mean that they don’t make good friends. Authors create characters and worlds within the covers of their books that show us pieces of ourselves people are going to fall in love, whether they are reading about the Hundred Acre Wood or Middle Earth. These stories have the power to put people on the same side, to have different people all go through the same journey.

            This is one of the most powerful abilities of the story: bringing people together. Children’s writers have the opportunity to help draw similarities between the parents who are reading the books after a long day at the office and the children who are hoping they will be allowed to stay up for one more chapter. These books are vessels that do not teach, but rather show their reader lessons. They display morals that children need to hear because they are young enough to remember them and parents need to rehear because they are busy enough to forget them. For example, “‘What day is it?’ asked Pooh. ‘It’s today.’ Squeaked Piglet. ‘My favorite day,” said Pooh.” This doesn’t outright tell you anything about enjoying life. Rather, it puts two characters who love life front of you and allows you to decide whether you want to be like them or not (hint, the correct answer is “Yes, I do want to be like them”). It’s easy to lose touch with these little philosophies of life between your 7:30 latte and your 8:15 meeting with accounting. Experiencing them with your children can remind you of how important they are.

            The best children’s writing also helps people to deal with the problems of life. In the poem “Whatif” Shel Silverstein confronts nocturnal anxieties not with logic or with anger, but with humor and rhymes. He shows the reader about the fears people have before falling asleep.

“Whatif I get beat up?

Whatif there's poison in my cup?

Whatif I start to cry?

Whatif I get sick and die?

Whatif I flunk that test?

Whatif green hair grows on my chest?”

            This gives us the chance to laugh at our worries and use laughter as a way to banish them, or at least begin to deal with them. As Mark Twain wrote, “Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand.”

            But not only does Shel Silverstein convince his readers that their fears can be seen as funny, he also shows us that our fears are universal. Once you know that you aren’t the only one who stays up worrying it isn’t so daunting to do so. You know that even if you are the only one in your bedroom as you lie awake, you are not alone. You have Shel SIlverstein and everyone else who understands that poem on your side.

            Shel Silverstein’s rhymes and humor don’t only appeal to kids and soft-hearted adults. In fact, they appeal to people who are seen as quite the opposite of children and soft-hearted adults. His song, “A Boy Named Sue” was an absolute hit at the San Quentin prison when Johnny Cash performed it there. This shows that the roughest sector of society,prison inmates, have that same love of stories and rhyme that made The Giving Tree the classic it is. The only difference is that the song came packaged in the cowboy hat and square jaw of Johnny Cash and contained a swear word or two to make it accessible.

            So there are some of the many powers that belong to children’s writing. It can introduce you to new friends, even if those friends are fictional characters. It can remind you of the simple lessons that drip through the cracks of your life. It can be a window for looking at your fears. It can even bring out the same emotions in convicts as it does in first graders. But most of all it’s just fun to sit beside a kid and let the words kidnap your mind and hoist you up into worlds full of anthropomorphic bears, silly problems, and boys named Sue.

 

 

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