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The Children’s Book Review
Gizmo 4 President! is a summer-fun picture book packed with surfing, doggy pals, messages of eco-conservation and activism, and even includes a lesson in civics. What inspired you to write it?
Living in Florida, where our favorite beaches are frequently closed due to pollution, made us pay attention and get involved in coastal conservation. We thought the upcoming election is perfect timing when writing about this little surfing dog who wants to help his sea buddies.
The book aims to empower children by sharing innovative ideas about recycling, protecting our oceans, kindness, compassion for others, and sea life.
As mentioned above, your book is packed with lots of themes, but done so effortlessly. How did you manage to do this so well without it coming off as being preachy?
Gizmo is the protagonist in the story who contemplates and crafts a positive approach to helping his sea buddies to make a difference by running for canine president. We kept the story fun with the illustrations to portray Gizmo’s confident, kind, and light-hearted character.
Since the story is co-written, can you describe how the writing process works between you both?
Both of us offer a unique blend of storytelling, even though we come from vastly different backgrounds and life experiences.
Dulce brings wisdom to creating characters from working with families in private practice as a certified clinical hypnotherapist and licensed family therapist. She counsels children who face ongoing challenges with peer pressure, cyberbullying, and technology use. Her experience adds valuable insights into developing fun animal characters as metaphors for life. Modeling behaviors through storytelling and using animal puppets is a non-threatening way to help children tap into and express their feelings.
Suzanne spent many years volunteering with pet therapy on a children’s oncology unit following a severe auto accident in 2004. While recovering and relearning to read again, she discovered how valuable the proven practice of mindfulness is for calming, focusing, and well-being. Weaving this concept into Gizmo’s surfing adventures inspires countless children in hospitals and classrooms to incorporate inner resilience and strength through mindfulness.
The result is Gizmo 4 President! An engaging story that parents, educators, and clinicians can use to spark a meaningful conversation about navigating vital life issues.
Riley is not a popular choice for becoming president. How did you come up with this particular character with his bullying tactics?
Riley is an unpopular and not-so-kind surfer pup at Tide Rider Beach. Riley didn’t learn much about playing fair from the previous book, Beep, Beep, Gizmo!, where he resorted to bullying and cheating to win. Returning his character to this newest adventure helps kids discover what bullying looks like when Riley shares mean social media messages to create mischief.
Gizmo makes it a mission to spread happiness, however, he can’t do it alone. Can you talk to us a little about the importance of including the characters Kaia and Professor Otty in the story?
Gizmo is the hero and realizes he can’t run a campaign without his friends and supporters. Kaia shines as Gizmo’s confident surfing pal. She supports Gizmo’s bid for canine president as a super-smart, kind, and compassionate best friend.
Professor Otty debuts as the newest surfing pal on the scene. He’s very wise and becomes Gizmo’s trusted mentor in the story. Both characters encourage and support Gizmo in his mission to become president. Everyone’s invited to join in the campaign by making a difference.
You’ve created an entertaining and exciting tale that will have kids feeling inspired to stay involved and make a difference in their communities. Is this your goal? Or, what do you hope readers will take away from reading Gizmo 4 President!?
We hope this book serves to create a colossal wave of awareness about the importance of an election for president. The 2020 election will impact the oceans and sea life, along with the future of the planet. Gizmo’s presidential leadership campaign invites children and grown-ups to get on board and become ambassadors for marine life.
Jim Hunt’s cartoon-style illustrations add to the fun with a joyful beachy feel. The artwork and text also provide extra giggles to the adults who may pick up on similarities to current world affairs. Do you have a favorite illustration that he created for the book?
We decided that the illustrations would feature animals that are light-hearted, fun, timely, and endearing for the reader. Jim Hunt sketched lots of detail in every scene of the book. It’s no surprise the artwork brings smiles and giggles! A few of our favorites are the clam committee as the lobbyists who are especially useful for funding the ocean cleanup. We also love the congress scene because it’s a diverse group of animals with fun names to match their zany personalities!
The vibe for the story is decidedly summer. Is summer your favorite season of the year?
Sunny Florida is a great place to live and enjoy the beaches and the ocean. The abundance of blue skies, sunshine, and people always on vacation add a great vibe to sharing fun beach time with family and friends.
I like that you have included the glossary to cover words from ambassador to kook to lobbying to pristine. How did you decide on the particular terms you wanted to highlight and explain?
Kids immediately relate to Gizmo as a surfer dog, so they enjoy learning all the new, cool surfing terms and meaning. We decided to include a glossary in each of the Gizmo’s Awesome Adventures books to provide word definitions to clarify and teach new concepts in the stories.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us about Gizmo 4 President!, yourselves, or your writing?
We are releasing the Gizmo 4 President! in an augmented reality book, which is a fun and interactive way to keep children engaged in reading. Also, we have created Gizmo and his sea pals as lovable puppets to model scenes from the story.
Gizmo can be spotted cruising around town in his cartoon character wrapped Jeep Wrangler. Adults are surprised to see the Jeep and quite often share, “I’ll vote for Gizmo! He makes the election fun again!”
Kids inquire, “Is Gizmo driving?”
Every day is a brand-new adventure with our fun-loving canine, so stay tuned for more of Gizmo’s Awesome Adventures!
Publisher’s Synopsis: How can one little surfer pup begin something as big as the campaign for president?
America, meet Gizmo, the fun-loving canine candidate who is cruising the campaign trail and joining paws with his best pals to save the seas.
Gizmo 4 President! is a new children’s election-themed book sending a refreshingly positive message for parents and educators to discuss the election with their children while also diving into topics like recycling, ocean cleanup, bullying, and overcoming challenges.
Gizmo’s presidential platform reminds children about the importance of coastal conservation, an issue that is of significant concern to millions of citizens worldwide.
Powered by a desire to clean up the oceans and help his sea buddies, Gizmo invites the reader to become ambassadors for marine life and be leaders in their way.
“While Gizmo 4 President will make a strong connection with dog lovers and young beach bums, this swell book is excellent for all young readers heading into an election year.” — The Children’s Book Review
Ages 4-13 | Publisher: 2 Paws Up Studios | April 3, 2020 | ISBN-13: 978-0999234822
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About the Authors
Suzanne Kline is a champion for volunteering with children s reading and literacy programs, actively promotes pet therapy awareness and social and emotional learning initiatives.
Kline’s inspiration to co-author the newest book, Gizmo 4 President! was born out of a mission to empower children to share their innovative ideas to help the environment. The book encourages kids to use their voices to become leaders in their way.
She hopes that America’s children will join in Gizmo’s leadership campaign and become ambassadors for marine life conservation.
Suzanne, along with surfer pup Gizmo, is committed to expanding efforts in donating books to more schools in this crucial election year. She is giving her book royalties to support The Surf’s Up Gizmo Children’s Foundation, Inc., so every child can have the opportunity to discover the love of reading.
Dulce Da Costa, LCSW is a Florida-based family psychotherapist.
Dulce has over twenty years of clinical experience working with children, adults, and families in public and private practice settings. She was born in Portugal and has traveled, lived, and worked in several European countries. She enjoys working with diverse populations, different ethnicities, backgrounds, and lifestyles and is proficient in Portuguese, Spanish, and French.
Dulce lives in Florida and most recently teamed up with children s author, Suzanne Kline, and co-authored Gizmo, 4 President! The book is a fun adventure about Gizmo, the canine surfing presidential candidate!