Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Book Nook: Azure House

I recently had a chance to review Azure House, a charming and colorful book by Lisa J. Becker. It's written in a poetic style, with rhythm that makes it fun to read. It's also a more sophisticated alphabet book, with each character having a slight nod to a letter. Even the name of the apartment was carefully chosen, with the letters A and Z.

The drawings are detailed and full of personality, and it's a great book for kids who are a little more grown up than quick picture books but not quite ready for early chapter books.

Becker’s main goal for her work is to encourage children as well as adults to love reading. She remembers how her mother fostered that love by teaching her how to read at age 2 and taking her to the library with great regularity. Becker is asking those purchasing “Azure House” to donate a copy, have a fundraiser or make a financial contribution to Shriners Hospitals for Children on behalf of her father, Sidney Kulek, a Shriner, for the miraculous, life changing work performed at the 22 hospitals in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

I had a chance to interview Lisa to learn more.

Why did you decide to write this book? 
I was actually working on another book for toddlers about backyard animals and insects when one of the characters of Azure House popped into my head; Amos Abernathy! Once I started writing about him a few more characters came very easily and before I knew it, I had a concept, structure and all of the residents of Azure House! The whole process was quite magical actually. I really wanted to put my book out there to encourage children to read. The poetic prose is very rhythmic and fun for children to read and adults will enjoy reading the book to little ones as well. 

Do you have a favorite character in the house? 
I honestly LOVE all of my characters very much, but Francine Fillmore was modeled after my beloved mother Francine who passed away in 2000 after an an epic, hard-fought, multi-year, cancer battle. She was the epitome of unconditional love. In “Azure House,” the character Francine Fillmore is an animal lover who used her lottery winnings to open Animal Circuit to save the lives of cats and dogs. When you look at the gorgeous illustration that Karen Light did of her, you can see that love, light and kindness all around her - surrounded by her rescue cats and dogs. I am a huge animal lover as well and believe all pets deserve a loving home. 

Why do you want people to support the Shriners? 
Shriners Hospitals for Children perform life-changing miracles every day! I adore children and am the daughter of a Shriner. Anything that I can do to promote support for the Hospitals and the children, whether it be a fundraiser, a cash donation or a book donation, is awesome. Did you know there are 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children in the United States, Canada and Mexico? It takes $1million dollars a day to keep these hospitals running. In addition, if the procedures can’t be covered financially or through insurance by the family, the Shriner’s pick up the balance! Isn’t that wonderful?

Lisa J. Becker is a native New Yorker, born in Brooklyn but raised across the country. She moved with her three siblings and parents every three years for her Father’s work assignments. She has lived in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, Hawaii, California, Texas and Illinois.

Lisa has been writing poems and stories for her entire life; it is her passion and heart’s desire to tell stories that stir the imaginations of children and encourage a desire to read for the shear adventure each new book holds. While dreaming of being a published author, Lisa has had diverse work experience throughout her adult life as a waitress, a certified medical assistant, an examinations coordinator, a school secretary and then thirty years in finance - climbing the ranks from secretary to Vice President.
Lisa is married and lives with her husband, Mark, and their dog, Taffy, in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

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