Book Title: Bentley and the Magic Sticks by Claire Eckard
Category: Children’s Fiction (Ages 3-7), 38 pages
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Publisher: Mill City Press, Inc
Release date: April 2021
Content Rating: G for everyone.
Bentley and the Magic Sticks follows this extra-large canine as he finds out that his favorite sticks have magical powers, thanks to a wonderful Fairy Dogmother called Tia! Because other dogs are afraid of his large size Bentley has no one to play with. However, with his magic sticks he manages to make new friends and he also discovers the special secret of why he is so big.
Claire Eckard is an animal lover and believes in volunteering to give back to her community, especially to the homeless animals that need to find their forever homes. Her animals often inspire her writing, weaving their way into the stories that she writes, blending reality and fiction to entertain, teach, enlighten, and share the joy that animals bring to our lives! Claire is an author, poet, songwriter, wife, mother and grandmother! She lives in Arizona, splitting her time between her home in Yuma, Arizona and her ranch in the mountains of Prescott. Claire has three dogs, eight horses, and a miniature mule!
connect with the author: website ~ facebook ~instagram ~ goodreads ~ bookbub
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An interview with award-winning author, Claire Eckard.
Bentley is such a loveable character! How were you inspired to create him?
Bentley was actually a dog that I adopted from The Humane Society of Yuma back in 2019. He had a troubled beginning and was not socialized with other dogs or humans, so he had a lot to learn. Once he learned how to become a part of our family he turned into the funniest, kindest, most loveable giant of a dog ever, and I just had to share him!
Did he really have difficulty making friends?
Yes! There was something different about him that other dogs were wary of. He was really big! However, once they gave him a chance, they realized that he was just a big goofball that wanted to play, go on walks, and make new friends wherever he went. It was always fun to see other dogs finally welcome him into their ‘pack’ and realize that he didn’t mean them any harm.
What about the other dogs in your story?
All the dogs except Rachel, the pink poodle are dogs that I know. Rex and Freddie belong to my son and daughter-in-law, Zeus belongs to my other son, and Stetson belongs to a neighbor. He is just too cute not to include! I created Rachel because I just thought she would be fun, and her pink color really pops on the page!
Do you have any other books currently published?
Yes! I have one called Geribo, The Shelter Cat that has just come out. I was a volunteer and board member for my local animal shelter for several years and this book was written to help children understand how a shelter works behind the scenes, through the eyes of a wonderful kitty called Geribo who is waiting to be adopted. It’s an entertaining story but also an educational one. I was fortunate to get endorsements from many educators in the shelter industry that felt it would help to promote awareness and the importance of adoption.
Are you focusing mainly on the three- to eight-year-old age group?
No, I like to write for all ages. I started with the children’s books because I really like the collaborative process with the illustrators, and I love to write about animals which children happen to love to read about, so it was a good fit! However, my next book series, The Gallant Series, is for middle graders and young adults, so a lot more words and a lot less illustrations! It is a coming-of-age story set against a backdrop of endurance riding which is a long-distance, cross-country horseback riding sport. That took several months to write and Book One should be going into production any minute!
What has been the most exciting thing about becoming an author?
So many things. Seeing the joy on children’s faces as they hold a copy of my book, getting recognized by the industry with great five-star reviews and awards like the Mom’s Choice Award we received in early June. I am also excited to have truly found my passion in life. Writing is something I cannot imagine not having in my life now. I love the challenge, the wonderful team of people I have met along the way who make so much of this happen for me, and the feeling of accomplishment when it all comes together. I am truly blessed!
And what is next for Bentley? Will there be a sequel?
There sure will! It’s called Bentley’s Best Birthday Ever! and is currently being illustrated by Anne York, the wonderful illustrator who did the first book in the Bentley series. There is a sneak peek of the cover on my author website, and I’m hoping it will be out in time for Christmas! Kids just love Bentley, so I’m sure there will be many more in the series!
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