Book Reviews

Lulu and Lainey…12 Days of Christmas Book Review + Spotlight

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Have you heard of Lulu and Lainey?

Children’s Book Author Lois Petren has written the most loveable children’s book series about a young girl named Lulu, who lives in Paris, France. She loves to spend time with her Grand-mere knitting, and baking, going on outings to the park and eating French treats at tea time. Illustrated beautifully by Tanja Russita, these storybooks will take you and your kids on outings throughout Paris, with Lulu and with her ball of yarn that seems to have the hardest time staying in her knitting basket, which she takes wherever she goes! Lulu loves to knit for fun and she creates the most wonderful creations for the people she loves.

Lulu and Lainey… 12 Days of Christmas by Lois Petren

“One day a thought came to me, that it would be fun to use the 12 Days of Christmas carol as the basis of a Lulu and Lainey book using knitted items as the gifts.  I started working on it and had so much fun that I really wanted to share the inspiration with the world.” – Lois Petren

Lulu and Lainey ... 12 Days of Christmas Book Review + Spotlight

Lulu is getting ready for Christmas, knitting and baking up a storm in the kitchen with her grand-mere and they start singing the classic 12 Days of Christmas.

Lulu and Lainey ... 12 Days of Christmas Book Review + Spotlight

Lulu soon wants to rewrite her own version to this song, and includes all the special gifts she had made over the last year for her family members! And of course, they are all knitted masterpieces.

Lulu and Lainey ... 12 Days of Christmas Book Review + Spotlight

This book is so fun to read with your kids during the holidays! Seeing all of Lulu’s beautiful knitted gifts has inspired us to learn how to knit, which we will be sharing this week on the blog, with our inspired French Knitting Tutorial for Kids + Parents!

Lulu and Lainey ... 12 Days of Christmas Book Review + Spotlight

And of course Lulu sings all the way up to twelve, with all of her really fun knitting projects, and my 4-year-old son loved to count all of them along the way.

Lulu and Lainey ... 12 Days of Christmas Book Review + Spotlight

When Christmas comes along, they go together to deliver all their amazing gifts to the ones they love. It is very lovely seeing Paris in the winter and read about coming together as a family to create hand-made gifts.

Overall, this book is a joy to read, and ignites the desire to share the joy and spirit of gift-giving this holiday season, and may even inspire you and your kids to pick up knitting!

 

Let me introduce you to the Author of the Lulu and Lainey Children’s Book Series…

Lois Petren

Lulu and Lainey ... 12 Days of Christmas Book Review + Spotlight

I recently sat down with Author Lois Petren, to talk about life, and what inspires her as a writer!

Lois Petren was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersy, and now lives in San Marino, CA, USA. She attended Fordham University in New York City and graduated with a B.A. in Communications and Art History. Lois shares that becoming a children’s book writer was never on her “bucket list”, although she did ‘consider becoming a journalist’ while she was at University.

Lois recalls that ‘the inspiration occurred in a very unusual way’ and that a few years ago she and her family went on a vacation to Paris. She is an ‘avid knitter and brought a project along’ with her on the trip. At some point during the trip, she lost the extra ball of yarn and only discovered it was missing once she returned back to California. She remembers chatting with a friend about how sad she was that she lost the yarn, and was not able to finish her project without it. Soon they began to make up stories about all the adventures the ball of yarn was having in Paris without her! She then said that ‘this would make a cute children’s book!’ and began to take it on as a creative challenge. She soon she ‘had all the pieces together to publish the book on Amazon!’

The family-oriented stories of Lulu and her yarn, of which seems to have the hardest time staying in her basket, have all become cherished books of ours.  We enjoy reading about how Lulu enjoys spending time with her grand-mere, baking, knitting, and going on outings together. Reading them out loud with my children creates the most relaxed and lovely atmosphere, that my littlest falls asleep easily when we read them at bedtime.

Lois Petren writes picture books for children ages 3 to 7 and she shared with me about the exciting upcoming project that she is embarking on, a new children’s series called Five Enchanted Mermaids, which celebrates diversity in our world and the belief that each child deserves to have a mermaid that looks like them. Through their individual personalities and traits, they weave stories that help teach skills for children in a fun but educational way, addressing emotional skills, such as making friends, resolving conflicts, coping with change, making their own choices and being good people, as well as educational skills such as reading, counting, learning shapes and telling time, plus the value of money.

You can find the coloring pages now available on Amazon, and we are waiting patiently for the release of the first book! The thing Lois loves most about being an author is ‘that she is able to take a story concept, develop the story, add beautiful illustrations and deliver it in an amazing package called a BOOK that other people want to read!’

Lois Petren shares with us her creative process:

Lois says that she ‘usually starts by working out the plot’ in her mind and once she feels she has ‘enough of the plot sorted out’, she starts writing in OneNote. ‘I plug in my earphones, turn on some soft music, turn down the lights and just write. I don’t get up until I have at least half the story done. Then I repeat for the other half. Next comes editing.’

Once she is close to a final story, she blocks out the text on a template, for a 32-page children’s book. ‘By this point, I usually have a good idea of the illustrations I want to support the story.’ She writes it all out on this template and sends it to her illustrator, Tanja. They have a very collaborative relationship and work together very well. After several iterations later, they are finalized and added to the template. ‘Lots of tweaking and adjustments follow until I feel the draft is complete.’ There is still more editing, and then it is sent off to her ARC Team!

Lois Petren’s Advice to the young Writer:

“Commit to writing every day. Read all the books you can. Don’t let frustration get the better of you – and, don’t quit!” – Lois Petern

 

To find more from Lois Petren visit her Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Good Reads, Pinterest and Ravelry!

 

 

Let me introduce you to the Illustrator of the Lulu and Lainey Children’s Book Series…

Tanja Russita

 

I have also sat down with Tanjia Russita, a Russian-speaking Sweden-based author and illustrator from Latvia, Riga, to chat about life, and what inspires her with her beautiful watercolor illustrations with the Lulu and Lainey series, and much more!

Tanja Russita started down one path of education and received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology when she became inspired to follow her intuition as a new mother, and she began a career with illustration. She now illustrates and writes children’s books, and her self-published stories are published in Russian, but can also be found in English on Amazon.

She works out of her home, and her latest book that she has illustrated is called a “BeARst Friends Forever”, and is a cute rhyming story about a boy who wanted a dog but got a bear instead. Tanjia shares that she ‘loves the parent’s characters in this book, they are charming!’

Before that, it was Lulu and Lainey… 12 Days of Christmas, a lovely a book which we love, about Lulu, the girl who is passionate to knit and has a wonderful relationship with her granny. She shares that the thing she loves most about being an illustrator is ‘the freedom’ and that she is the only one who is managing her working hours and the amount of work she chooses to do or not do.

Tanja shares that she gains all her inspiration for her illustrations from real life. ‘My family, friends, ice skating, cycling, and nature’ all inspire her and when it comes to what her creative process is like, she says that first, she  will ‘procrastinate for weeks’ and experience many emotions until she is able to begin to sketch, onto watercolor paper, then she traces over them with a waterproof pen, then adds in the color, and this process goes on until she finds huge inspiration and a surge of creative juices, that she thinks may come from all of the procrastination beforehand, which she admits may be due to enjoying tea, reading books, going skating and chatting with friends! She then scans her creations, chats with the client and begins to revise, revise and revise some more. Then, ‘Bingo the book is ready, and is sent to the world!’

Tanja’s Advice to the Young Artist:

“Just draw! And draw. And, maybe, google ‘looking for an artist to illustrate my book’ And apply:)”

To find more from Tanja Russita on her Website, Facebook, and Instagram!

 

PLUS! Coming Soon: More Lulu and Lainey Book Reviews!

We have four Lulu and Lainey books that we just love, so stay tuned for the next book that we will be focusing on in the new year, Lulu and Lainey… a French Yarn! The first in the series, and one of my favorites, you won’t want to miss it.

Lulu and Lainey ... 12 Days of Christmas Book Review + Spotlight

Let us know in the comments below if you have read this wonderful book, and in a couple of days, I will be sharing our Inspired Activity with Lulu and Lainey… The 12 Days of Christmas with you. Follow us on Instagram to get behinds the scenes sneak peeks!

Til next time,

Breathe deeply and enjoy building your masterpiece with scissors and glue and yarn too!

~Alexandra

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