San Francisco, CA, December 08, 2011 --(PR.com
)-- Ben Not a Puppy is intended to encourage preschool and young elementary readers to learn by playing their own games of “guess what I am.”
A young child “Ben” asks his mom to guess what he is – when she suggests that he is a Photographer because she sees him taking pictures of the dog and telling him to “Say Cheese” – Ben insists that he is not a Photographer.
Mom plays along, but Ben is never quite what he seems to be. In the end, Ben reveals that “I am me! I was just pretending to be all those things!”
Michelle, a former Preschool teacher, says the book was inspired by actual games of pretend she would often play with her students. “Symbolic Play is the earliest exploratory form we have to discover ourselves and the world around us.
“When a child engages in Symbolic Play, they aren’t just goofing around. They are learning new vocabulary, speech, and the foundations of communication and interpersonal relationships.
“When they pretend to make a shopping list, they are practicing writing. When they play with blocks, they are learning mathematics. When they play pretend with potions, they are priming their brains to learn science and chemistry.
“When we are very young, we are constantly absorbing the world around us - and in Symbolic Play we get to put into all of that into practice and explore what it’s like to be an adult, or a car, or an airplane...” says Michelle.
Michelle and her husband Ben formed their own publishing company, called CannonBooks, LLC. “I wanted total control on the project from start to finish. Often when you go to a publisher as an author, they put you with an illustrator of their choosing, it can be someone you never even meet or communicate with.”
Michelle says that it was difficult to form their own company “Actually writing the book took about 3 days. The rest, including typesetting, scanning, color corrections, digital proofing, printing and shipping took an entire year. Thankfully my husband has experience in the prepress and tech sectors, but even so this is a lot of work.”
There are perks to doing it all – “We got to work with our friend Beverly Sage on the illustrations, she’s in Children’s television at a major network in LA. Aside from being a great artist and a wonderfully playful spirit, she’s an extremely gifted animator," says Michelle. "Her dog character was so good, that we decided to include him in every page of the book, he was originally only set for one or two pages. He may even get a book of his own someday!"
The Cannons will be publishing other books by Michelle, and select works from other authors in the Children’s genera.
In the end, Michelle and Ben are proud of their efforts. “We forged our own path, and though we weren’t able to finance a large initial printing of the book, we learned an entirely new industry and got to do it all our way.”
Michelle says that she wanted to write her own books, because she was frustrated with the status-quo of Children’s literature, which she says is largely written from the perspective of and with the vocabulary of an adult preaching to children.
“When you address a child on their level, you empower them to feel like they can make decisions. They more readily accept the material, and take ownership of it,” Michelle says.
“They want to read, they want to play, they want to engage in it, as opposed to just listen to another adult telling them what to do. Especially between the ages of 2 and 3, meltdowns and tantrums are all about control over their world. It is important to write a book that speaks to them directly.”
Michelle finds that even the most rambunctious 2 and 3 year olds will sit with rapt attention when she reads her book to Preschool classes. They remain engaged and focused on the subject matter. A prominent educational professional told Michelle that she saw something she had never seen before, the children days later were still playing “Guess who I am.” “I have never seen a book have that kind of lasting effect days later,” she said.
Michelle is already hard at work on her second book, tentatively titled “Remember When” – it’s about self esteem and overcoming adversity.
Ben Not a Puppy is now available in every independent bookstore in San Francisco, nationally in every Barnes and Noble, and online at Amazon.com, Bennotapuppy.com, and Barnesandnoble.com.
About the Author
Recently featured in a front-page article in the Noe Valley Voice, upcoming author Michelle Diaz Cannon has worked with children in and out of preschools for most of her life, and believes in never giving up your inner child. Currently, she resides in San Francisco with her husband Ben and their two dogs - Buster and Rosco. For more information, or to schedule an author signing or reading, please visit http://www.bennotapuppy.com
Review copies and interviews available upon request