Hi Everyone! This week, I’m delighted to introduce you to another “Indie Children’s Author,” Melinda Kinsman. Melinda is from Northwest England. She’s a prolific writer – 22 children’s stories to date! She writes about a group of cuddly toys she calls The Top of the Wardrobe Gang. So here she is – along with The Top of the Wardrobe Gang – plus introducing “Thingy” – the main character of the Christmas story, On the Run from Santa!
Grammy Pags: Hi Melinda! I’m so happy you could stop by and tell us about The Top of the Wardrobe Gang! So where did you get the idea for the Wardrobe Gang? What’s their back story? I hear this group of stuffed toys has some very interesting and unusual talents!
Melinda: For those of you who haven’t met them yet, The Top of the Wardrobe Gang is a group of cuddly toys. They write AND illustrate their own children’s books, with a bit of help from me! When I was little, I loved books about teddy bears that came to life, so I guess that had a lot to do with me originally creating this gang of characters. They are based on a number of my own cuddly toys, who did indeed move to live on top of the wardrobe in my spare bedroom when I grew older.
I wanted the gang to represent typical cuddly toys that might be found in any young child’s bedroom. I started imagining what living toys would get up to once their human owner started school. Suddenly they would have no one playing with them all day, so it made sense that they’d get bored and need a new project to keep them busy and out of trouble!
There are six different characters, all with very different skill sets and interests. However, they all pitch in together to work as a team. That was what I really wanted the gang to show to young readers – the idea that, “we are all different, but everyone can play their part and work together to take on tasks that might at first seem impossible.”
Grammy Pags: I love these concepts – great for kids and adults! I understand that you and the gang have had some challenges when you write and illustrate.
Melinda: Over the last 3 years, I have learned to write and illustrate from scratch, all while lying on my side using an iPad. (Neck issues prevent me from being able to sit at a desk.) I think that may also have something to do with why I can easily relate to a group of ill equipped toys learning to overcome their own difficulties in order to write and illustrate children’s books!
Grammy Pags: That’s amazing! If we didn’t know this little back story, no one would ever know that you are illustrating and writing lying down. You – and the gang – are very talented! So can you give us the special scoop for On The Run From Santa? I love the title and I think kids will too!
Melinda: This book really developed from a Christmas story that I’d published about the gang the previous Christmas called Odd Sock Learns about Christmas. It introduces kids to the idea of what really matters at Christmas time: time spent with our loved ones and kindness to others. Any presents we might receive for Christmas are just an added bonus.
So in On the Run from Santa, Santa delivers a tiny, cuddly toy called “Thingy” to his new owner. My imagination didn’t
want the story to end things there, so, you see, Thingy wasn’t going to be at all well behaved, unlike the other toys.
I asked myself, What if the gang spent a whole year living with a very naughty toy? What would happen if Santa found out just how much trouble one of his presents had been causing?
I had lots of fun dreaming up and illustrating this Christmas story. It’s meant to be read aloud and laughed about, but it may also start kids wondering whether they themselves have been “naughty or nice” this year! Although it involves a bunch of cuddly toys, the story is very much about human compassion, and the idea that families, however dysfunctional, can learn to love one another and to stick together, no matter what happens. Thingy is the “wild child”, who sadly, may never learn how he’s supposed to behave, but who finds unconditional love anyway.
Grammy Pags: Melinda, I laughed out loud when I read On the Run from Santa and I can’t wait to read it to my grandchildren. They will love “Thingy” and his antics! Thanks for sharing the back story and the wonderful message. Is there anything else you would like to share?
Melinda: In the build up before Christmas, I hope this rhyming story will be enjoyed by families at bedtime. I also hope it will spark the imaginations of young readers and get them asking their own, “What if…?” questions. After all, Christmas is very much a time about believing in magic, when anything becomes possible!
Grammy Pags: So where can readers purchase your books?
Readers can find On The Run From Santa here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017ZI9N84
and the whole “Top of the Wardrobe Gang” rhyming picture book series here: http://topofthewardrobegang.weebly.com/
Grammy Pags: Thanks Melinda! It’s been so much fun learning about you and your adorable gang! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, your family, AND The Top of the Wardrobe Gang!
Guest #1 – Laura Lee Scott – The Santa Switch & A Trip for Mrs. Claus
Readers can order hard copies of the books through my website:jessicaclaus.com, and https://www.facebook.com/TheSantaSwitchChildrensBook/
AND – from Rhonda Paglia’s ~ Grammy Pags Stories for Kids: The Woozler’s Christmas (Book #3 in the Meeda and Me series.)
Synopsis: Sofie and Meeda are excited! Christmas is coming and it’s time to get ready! The girls are having fun when Sofie starts to think about the Woozler. That old, grouchy Woozler lives in a hole under the apple tree in their backyard. It’s cold outside, the snow is falling, and Sofie’s worried. Will the Woozler be okay? Will he ever become friends with Sofie and Meeda? Well, Sofie and Meeda have a plan to brighten the Woozler’s Christmas! For kids 3 – 8, beginning reader, includes extended learning activities in the back of the book.
Available on Amazon for Kindle & Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/150564223X
Rhonda Paglia ~ “Grammy Pags” ~ is a retired elementary teacher from Pennsylvania. She and her husband have three grown children, five grandchildren, and a little pup named Bella. To date, Grammy Pags has penned 13 stories for kids. She has received awards for several of her stories: a “Moms Choice Silver Award,” a 2015 “Gittle List Top 10 Children’s Picture Book Award,” a 2015 “Inkspokes Select Book Award,” and a 2016 “Readers’ Favorite Book Award Winner, Honorable Mention.” Ms. Paglia is a member of SCBWI, PennWriters, and WestPA Authors.
Visit Grammy Pags Stories at: Grammy Pags Stories Website
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Twitter: Rhonda Paglia @grammypags1