Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Book Nook: Whitney Wins Everything


From the author of the beloved children’s book, Milo Does Not Like Mornings comes the highly anticipated, second book in the Tiny Ninja Books collection by Sasha Graham: Whitney Wins Everything.

Every book in the Tiny Ninja Books collection centers on the idea that we are each born with our own Tiny Ninja who is the very best version of us; brave, strong, compassionate and kind. Our Tiny Ninjas are always there for us - all we have to do is listen.

Created for readers ages four to eight and bursting with humor, Whitney Wins Everything introduces themes of teamwork, friendship, self -confidence, and compassion. Fan-favorite Ninja Seek-and-Find illustrations first introduced in Milo Does Not Like Mornings also appear here in full-color spreads that enthrall pre-readers, their grown ups, and everyone in between.

You can learn more in this Q&A.

Question: Why and when did you decide to write children's books?

Sasha Graham: I think that almost everyone who enjoyed books as a child has at least a vague idea of a children’s book they’d like to write someday. 


Some of these ideas are content to curl up by the fire of your imagination like a cozy little kitten and never go much of anywhere. But others of them might start cozied up by the fire, but then they just keep growing and growing, and then they start scratching the couch and howling at the back door until you finally can’t stand it one second longer and you let them burst out for all of the world to see, and that’s what happened to me. 


 Q: What inspired your vision of a child’s inner Tiny Ninja?

Graham: Ok, so imagine you’ve just put on a new shirt. It feels great, you look in the mirror and you like what you see, then you turn to your partner and ask them what they think and you get a lukewarm response. What do you do? 


Every single day we each make countless decisions about how we spend our time, how we talk to other people, how we talk to ourselves….


A few years ago I got to thinking, what if we learned early on to trust our own inner voice as much as we do all of those outside ones? And further, what if that inner voice were personified as something quiet and smart and strong? 


Whether or not we wear the new shirt may not have a lot of impact on our life, but it’s easy to draw the line between learning to trust our inner voice, our Tiny Ninja, with the less serious things and listening to our Tiny Ninja when it comes to making much more serious or important decisions. 

Q:  What makes listening to that inner-voice especially relevant today?

Graham: It is impossible to deny that social media has had a massive impact on all of us. There are some really wonderful things that come from the opportunities for connection and information that we never had before, but there is also the darker side of its effect, particularly on our kids. 

Prior to the advent of Instagram and TikTok and YouTube there was just a lot less noise in all of our lives and it was easier to find a quiet moment to ourselves to reflect. Now there are so many voices coming at us all the time it can be difficult to take a breath and ask, “What do I think? Who do I want to be? How do I feel and what do I want?”

Q:  What do you hope readers will take away from Whitney’s story?

Graham: First and foremost, I want readers to have fun. Whitney is a firecracker and I hope readers fall in love with her and her ferocious passion for competition.

Second, I would love for readers to take away that we all have it in us to change course when we realize that the way we’ve always done something no longer serves us. Too often we just keep doing things out of habit even when they are no longer making us happy. In Whitney’s case her Tiny Ninja helps her realize that she doesn’t need to give up the thing she loves, which is winning, but that there’s a way to do it that is going to bring her a whole lot more joy. 

Finally, I hope Whitney helps readers remember the life changing magic of being part of a team. Humans are social beings and working together for a common goal, having people to cheer you on, and also cheering other people on just feels really, really good. 

Q: Do you have further plans for the Tiny Ninja Series?

Graham: So many plans!! My illustrator, Angelina Valieva, does a remarkable job of bringing the Tiny Ninja Books characters to life on the page. Now I would love to see them developed further as animated characters in a television series or a feature length movie. 

There is also another Tiny Ninja Book on the horizon. I have several Tiny Ninja stories ready to go and some of them are waiting more patiently than others. A couple of them in particular are really jockeying for position right now to be the next Tiny Ninja Book so we will see soon which one elbows its way to the front! 


Sasha is the founder of Tiny Ninja Books and is the author of Milo Does Not Like Mornings, A Milo no le gustan las mañanas, and Whitney Wins Everything. Sasha is a former executive at the Walt Disney Studios and her writing has appeared in magazines, newspapers and on television.

Sasha lives with her husband Alan in beautiful Arizona where they encourage each other, and their children, Finn, Indy & Odessa, to always listen to their Tiny Ninjas. 


Illustrator Angelina Valieva was born into the family of artist Vladimir Valiev in Uzbekistan, and it was thanks to her father that she chose this fascinating profession. From a young age, her father directed her hand and taught her to draw. In 2005, she graduated from Republic Art College, where she studied graphic design. In addition to illustrating numerous children’s books that have been published worldwide, Angelina has participated in various international art competitions and has won many awards.        

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