The Children’s Book Review Interview in partnership with Bukky Veronica, author of Fiona, Max and The Kingdom of Vasera.
Bukky Veronica is a humorist, storyteller, entrepreneur & PASAC (Life Purpose, Authentic self, Authentic Career) Coach, With over 8 years of work experience in direct patient care in Memory/Assisted Living Facilities & Hospitals in the United States.
She earned a Bachelor of Science Hon. Degree in Biochemistry, a former Network Marketing Director, Founder & C.E.O of Vogue Citi LLC, Discover PASAC, and BES (Bukky Entertainment Studios) that includes: Children, Yoruba, English, and Bible Stories.
She is a child at heart. At the age of 8 years old, she started writing and telling stories to her family, neighbors, and friends in school. When she grew up and became a mother, she resumed storytelling to her lovely daughter, Rachael.
In this interview, Nukky Veronica discusses her passion for writing children’s books, the inspiration for Fiona, Max and The Kingdom of Vasera, and more!
Where did you find your passion for writing children’s books with life lessons? Have you always wanted to write for children?
Bukky Veronica: I think the passion began from reading, I read a lot, and my mum encouraged me to always read at a very young age, I developed my love for reading, writing, and of course storytelling, then.
I can remember always telling my mum, “I have finished the storybook you bought for me yesterday, when will I get the next book, please?” Lol! And my mum will be like “what?” Yes, I read that fast, and it got even faster.
So, after I finish a story, I can’t keep the emotions and lessons from the story to myself. I am eager to share it with whoever cares to listen.
I have a very wild imagination. After a while, I realized that I could create and write my own stories. I started writing and telling stories at the age of 8 years old, I write and tell stories to my family and neighbors at home, and friends in school. My friends usually gather around my seat during break/lunch/recess time.
I can remember them, laughing and giggling, to my stories, which are always spiced with humor. I enjoyed watching the range of emotions in their faces, gestures, and body language throughout the story. My friends and I always look forward to story time together.
After middle school, I stopped. Not because I lost the passion or talent, but I guess because no one told me, and I did not realize how important that talent was.
Years later, when I became an adult and gave birth to my precious daughter, Rachael. I resumed telling her stories, I started doing it, because I believed it was one of the roles of a parent, not even because I remember that I can do it. you can imagine!
Starting from the day I read and narrated her first story to her. It was the beginning of a life-transforming moment. It’s always a beautiful experience for both of us when it’s story time.
Since it was something, we do often, it did not take long before I started telling her original stories that I created myself.
Each time I tell these stories, I realize how I come alive and feel completely in my element.
Also, watching the priceless excitement on Rachael’s face as she listens to these stories, always wanting more, rekindled my inspiration, talent, and passion to tell and share stories with the world.
I want as many children as possible to experience this joy and excitement.
How did you choose the title for your new story Fiona, Max and The Kingdom of Vasera?
The title is from the main character and plot of the story.
In the story, a once peaceful, beautiful Marine Kingdom, The Kingdom of Vasera, the Kingdom of Fishes is suddenly hit by a tragic storm. This tragedy was the beginning of what forever changed life and family. family of a lovely young fish, Fiona. What was the specific inspiration for this tale?
I believe children connect well with stories involving animals and water.
Children have been delighted with stories about animals for centuries. Children are fascinated with creatures that are not human. Thus, when a child sees animal characters behaving as they do, a connection is formed in their brain. It helps to develop their imagination. It teaches them compassion and makes the story memorable.
So, it’s easy to illustrate themes and concepts by animals in stories, such as morals, lessons, or etiquette.
The main character is an unprepared, shy young fish who must navigate sorrow, responsibility, and challenges. What was it like telling a story from the perspective of a fish?
When you look at the adjectives, “young” “shy” and “unprepared”, they portray a fragile character that needs compassion. The condition and situation of that fish, Fiona, can be easily understood from a child’s perspective as well.
In their imagination, that character is like themselves, they can easily picture themselves in that character. So, that helps them to connect with the situation.
In the real world, a lot of children are shy and or dealing with a lack of confidence. If any child reading this story is dealing with a lack of confidence, the progression of events in the story will help them to:
- Believe that it is possible for them to overcome that challenge of lack of confidence.
- To know that behind every challenge you overcome in life, there is progress, greatness, and sometimes amazing reward.
- If they are not the ones dealing with being shy or lack of confidence personally, if they know any other child dealing with a lack of confidence around them, either in their family, community, or school. It will give them the awareness to have compassion toward that child.
In the story, there was a scene where Fiona, the main character, was selected by her teacher because she is intelligent and smart, to participate in a spelling competition, in front of the whole school, but she was nervous and shy.
Although she prepared and studied for the competition, on the day of the competition, her anxiety was over the roof, she was trembling, her stomach was rumbling, and she could not even open her mouth to answer any question, she was just staring at the floor. To anyone seeing her for the first time in this competition, they might think she is dumb, but she is not, she knows the answer to the question, but the anxiety, nervousness, shyness, and lack of confidence, masked her strength.
We have heard, seen, or experienced several situations where a child is called upon to say something among their peers, and the child was overwhelmed, nervous, and showing signs of fear, maybe the child starts crying, annoyed, looking down, or just couldn’t speak up or say anything. And the peers booed, bullied, or label such a child because they don’t know the impact of what they are doing. If care is not taken, such a child may never recover from such stigma. That is not helping the child, anyone, or the situation.
So, this lesson is important.
There is also Max, the bone-loving dog. What would you like readers to know about this character?
I mean, this story is loaded! You just must read it.
Most people love dogs. And have them as pets. Max the bone-loving dog is one of the main characters in the story, he was adopted, and was not being treated right by the fisherman, “Faco” who adopted him.
As fate would have it, Max found himself in a situation, the first time he met Fiona, He was not compelled to take any action, he had 3 options, he could either get scared and run away, or be passive, unbothered and do nothing, or help.
He chose to help, without expecting anything in return, and that action changed his life forever.
And once again! that teaches children and all readers of this story to help and serve others, you never lose by helping and serving others. You might not get an instant reward, or be rewarded directly from that situation, but first, there is an instant feeling of joy from the act of kindness.
And, sometimes you never know which act of kindness can or may change your life as well, just like in this story.
Another important lesson from Max, even though Max was not in a good place personally in his life, didn’t stop him from showing kindness. So, no matter what you are going through personally, try to show kindness to others. And don’t say “I’m sad today, and I will be frowned upon, and whoever crosses my path today will get it” lol!
You know how we often are when we are not really having a great day!
Always remember, that it’s just a bad day, it’s not a bad life.
What is your favorite part of this story?
Honestly, I love every part of the story, it’s just awesome, you don’t want to miss this story, it will keep you at the edge of your seat, as you flip every page.
Do you have a quote or an excerpt that you could share with us?
My favorite quote was towards the end of the story when Fiona’s life became so great, it was beyond herself and anyone’s wildest imagination.
She couldn’t see it, no one believed that her life was going to turn out that way.
And she gave a short speech, in the speech, she said:
“Let everyone in Vasera kingdom and the whole world learn from my story:
“That COURAGE is not the absence of FEAR, but mastery and resistance of FEAR”
And that is true and powerful!”
I will also define the word courage, for the benefit of the children listening to this.
Courage is defined as the willingness, ability, and strength to do things or something that frightens us. To be brave in the face of hardship and harness the drive to keep moving forward and overcome our fears.
Courage is grace under pressure, it starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.
And I will add to this with a quote by Walt Disney that says;
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”.
What do you hope kids will take away from reading your story?
Wow! This story is lesson-filled! I want children to take these from the story:
- Believe in yourself and go for your dreams.
- Show kindness all the time, it’s rewarding.
- Show compassion to others.
- Be brave, Be courageous.
- Don’t be scared to try new things.
- Be confident in yourself, you have greatness within you.
- You are unique and special.
At the beginning of the story, when you look at the family of Fiona, even though they are poor, Sonto, Fiona’s father, and her mum, raised their children, Fiona and Lily with love and contentment, everyone in that family always looks forward to dinner time, sounds of laughter can be heard from their home every night.
That teaches children that genuine happiness does not come from having more, but from contentment and gratitude with what we have now, by so doing we can achieve everything we want.
Finally, to all the kids, listening to this or reading the book, if no one has ever told you, I am telling you that you are limitless and far greater than you could ever imagine. Continue to believe in yourself, and never allow anyone to downplay you, dim your light, or label you negatively. Because you are awesome and amazing, you are a gift to the world. And a beautiful life awaits you.
Who do you imagine reading your book? And how might they add extension activities to maximize their reading experience?
Get a piece of paper or cardboard, and a pencil, and write the following:
I believe in myself,
I am confident,
I am brave,
I am unique and special,
I have greatness in me,
I will show kindness and compassion to others today.
Paint it or decorate it, place it somewhere you can see it in your room or space, and say it to yourself every day.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about Fiona, Max and The Kingdom of Vasera, yourself, or your writing?
I want everyone to grab a copy of this book and enjoy it. We have a new release date; it will be available on amazon on the 17th of April 2023.
Save the date, and don’t be left out of the fun. Also, don’t forget to leave reviews, it means a lot to me. *winks*
Follow me on my website bukkyveronica.com and my social media to get notifications of the new release.
I love you all!
This interview—Bukky Veronica, author of Fiona, Max and The Kingdom of Vasera—was conducted between Bukky Veronica and Bianca Schulze..