This month we're excited to introduce a new series in partnership with Omaha Family. Nebraska is home to authors of all kinds and this month Lauren from Omaha Family is interviewing Mandy Gray about her book series: The Adventures of Bunny. Take a look!
What could have been a parent's worst nightmare inspires a beloved children's book series. Introducing The Adventures of Bunny.
"While building a house across town, I took the girls with me to check on things," said Mandy Gray. "When we got home, I discovered that we left my daughter's stuffed bunny, Bun Bun, at the new house. It was raining, and I had to start dinner; so I started to tell her a story about Bun Bun having fun adventures with Jody, our construction manager."
When it came time to go get Bun Bun, her daughter said "no" so that she could hear more of the story. "I had to remember the story so I typed it down. My mom read it and said that I should be writing children's books. I had not considered writing children's literature, but it made sense."
Teaming up with college friend and talented watercolor painter, Lesley Lee Jones, Gray is educating and entertaining young children while helping their parents build a foundation for a lifetime of literacy.
"We had the goal of learning objectives and providing an aesthetic experience," said Gray. She and Jones chose a soft animal to be the lens of a child, to see the world as children do. Bunny observes, smells, listens, using all five senses and the books touch on all of them.
The first release in the series is entitled The Adventures of Bunny and Jody. It has a construction theme and features the construction manager, Jody. The second book The Adventures of Bunny and Kathleen focuses on gardening, produce and healthy eating and introduces Kathleen, Mandy's real life mother-in-law. The third book, slated to hit shelves soon, will have a bilingual theme that will show children how to relate to someone different.
"I would love to see Bunny become a recognizable character of literacy and comfort for children," said Gray.
For more information, visit www.thosebunnybooks.com.
Question and Answers with Mandy Gray
Omaha Family Magazine: You were born in Seoul, South Korea; however, you were adopted and raised in Omaha. What was that like?
Mandy: It was a myriad of experiences and emotions, both high and low for me. I have spoken out about growing up Korean-American in Omaha before, both for Expat Living Magazine, based in Singapore, and for NET Radio. I don't believe my view on it is exceptionally unique nor stereotypical - it is just based on my own personal experience and how I was able to handle it as a child. Though I struggled to define who I was versus who I believed society wanted me to be, my adoption itself and every part of my family life growing up was wonderful. I have much to be thankful for.
Omaha Family Magazine: What was your greatest challenge growing up? And, how did you overcome it?
Mandy: Probably just accepting who I was – and overcoming the fear that it would be disappointing. Through some great experiences and some bad ones, as I grew up, I realized that I was the only one holding myself back from my true potential. Letting go of the idea of having to be anything or anyone outside of everything I naturally am, I found the path to both happiness and success.
Omaha Family Magazine: In the article, you say that you want 'Bunny to become a recognizable character of literacy and comfort for children.' Did such a character exist for you?
Mandy: I can think of so many characters I continue to love today: Madeline, Arthur, Curious George, Nut Brown Hare… The best part is recalling my own memories with these characters/books, and creating new ones as I introduce them to my daughters today.
Omaha Family Magazine: What are the benefits and drawbacks of technology when it comes to achieving a lifetime of literacy?
Mandy: I think you can find drawbacks in anything if it is misused or not held in moderation. Technology benefits us in our pursuit of literacy for a lifetime, as we can transfer books (both audio and digital print), and share reading experiences now so quickly (reviews, online book clubs, parent discussion boards, author pages, etc). Like anything, it keeps us connected, and when utilized correctly, it can be of great benefit.
Omaha Family Magazine: You are a business woman, author, student, and mother of two... How do you find balance?
Mandy: It sounds crazy, but I actively think about prioritizing... a lot! Writing in a planner, scheduling on both my phone and laptop, and making endless 'to do' lists, I think I schedule out just about everything except reminding myself to breathe some days! I am not perfect, and I highly recommend visitors do not stop by my home without at least a day or two heads up (you don't want to see my laundry piles at the moment!) - but at the end of a day, so long as my daughters are happy and cared for and I am able to finish my work/school priorities, I would say the day was a success!
Omaha Family Magazine: Where is the most interesting place you have ever traveled?
Mandy: Singapore was without a doubt the most interesting thus far. At the time, I don't think I appreciated it as much as I am able to now, for all of the culture I think I took for granted when living there. Vacationing on Sentosa Island and just surrounding yourself with a completely different way of life – I look forward to visiting again one day.
Omaha Family Magazine: Other than living abroad, what else is on your bucket list?
Mandy: I don't think there is room in this article for me to write out my entire list, but here are a few that have been on my mind recently.
- Travel through Western Europe for a summer.
- Finish and publish my current novel.
- Make a cookbook of recipes for E and C.
- Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, from a view in the Ritz.
- Run a full marathon.
Omaha Family Magazine: What is your greatest wish for your daughters?
Mandy: Their safety, health, and happiness are constantly on my mind. Outside of those primary necessities, I hope they never lose their carefree and fearless love of learning and experiencing the world around them.
Omaha Family Magazine: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?
Mandy: You always need to go after everything you want – it's never too late to have the life you want to live :)
Omaha Family Magazine: What is your favorite book of all time, and why?
Mandy: Wow, this is a hard question for me. I think I would have to say, as a child, Madeline, and as an adult, Brida or The Alchemist – both by Paulo Coehlo. All of the books have strong protagonists – all of the books inspire me to be fearless.