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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

Amanda Bannikov’s “The Sleepy Dragon”: Bedtime’s Best Friend

{Image Credit: Amanda Bannikov/Black Rose Writing}

Whether they are the books you have grown to love, or tales that you share with one another, it’s clear that stories have the power to bring us together and are one of the primary ways children learn to enjoy reading at an early stage. There is a particular charm found in books because the characters in them are not just two-dimensional on a page, but assume life-like qualities in the hands of the author that transports them to an alien and mystical world.

Fairy-tales are a big part of our literary culture. Not only are they stories about magical and imaginary lands and beings, but they evoke a great youthful nostalgia—that part of us that still believes in fairy tales. Fairy tales give children the chance to understand themselves, their feelings and how to cope with real-life situations; and so what we see in the fairy tales is in one sense a reflection of our culture in a more practical sense.

In Amanda Bannikov’s debut children’s book, The Sleepy Dragon, the Canadian born author shares that though children inspire her, the great appeal of writing such a fairy-tale is when the young reader can make new friends through the pages and illustrations.“Creating Kimothin and Tippy made me so happy because I knew it would make other children happy,” Bannikov smiles. “Giving them adventures where they could meet new characters and make new friends is something that all children enjoy.”

The Sleepy Dragon published by Black Rose Writing, finds young Kimothin, a brave knight on an adventure to find a scary beast to slay in the Kingdom of Smesselleo. While on her journey, she explores the magical land and meets Tippy, a dragon that needs her help because he hasn’t been able to sleep in days. With aid from the generous, big-hearted knight, not only does the dragon get a good night’s rest but the two embark on a new found friendship.

“My partner and I have young nieces and nephews that love reading,” Bannikov says. “They love seeing characters come to life and I wanted to give them characters they could fall in love with. Writing this children’s book came quite naturally to me.”

The Kalamazoo, Michigan attorney by day and writer by night shares how this particular story was in her head for a few years, revealing The Sleepy Dragon was a tale she had made up on her own and was sharing with many. “I thought it would not only be a great bedtime story for one person to hear, but a great bedtime story for many children. I wrote it so everyone could experience it.”

Bannikov’s debut is a brightly crafted tale of bravery and perseverance, with an endearingly delightful touch of friendship. The grit showcased by the main character, Kimothin is admirable and a character which a lot of young readers, especially little girls will appreciate. There is a brief part in the tale dealing with the main character being made fun of by her peers, touching lightly on the subject of bullying. However, with Kimothin’s fearlessness, she’s able to overcome the obstacle and reach her goal of finding a beast to slay by looking into herself. By story’s end, she has discovered who she is and instead of slaying the dragon found in the cave, she befriends the green beast.

{Image Credit: Amanda Bannikov}

Like Kimothin, Bannikov discovered another part of herself while on her own journey when writing the bedtime tale. “I discovered that a big part of me doesn’t want to stop being a kid,” she laughs. “I want to continue imagining stories about friendly dragons and brave knights. I want to continue imagining what can happen in far away kingdoms, I want to continue loving magic, [and] I want to continue writing stories that everyone can enjoy for years to come.”

Growing up, the 28 year-old author reveals she wasn’t an avid reader but when she found a book she really enjoyed, she would read it over and over again. Ultimately, the repetition made it easier for her, an aspect to the exploration of literature she appreciated. As a young girl, Bannikov would dive into the world of children’s books but discloses that the works of Roald Dahl were her absolute favorite. “I just loved how the characters came to life, and I loved imagining myself in their places,” she says. The Sleepy Dragon in this sense is full of the writer’s own discoveries, which she openly wants to share with the reader—as her friend—and she has a lot to share.

Bannikov says that during her elementary school years, she would love writing stories in English class, revealing how she would lay in bed at night and think up new adventures she could write about the next day. “To be honest, I still do that now. It’s a habit I don’t ever want to break,” she says.

As she first had imagined the tale of Kimothin and Tippy years ago, Bannikov shares it wasn’t exactly an easy process to translate her thoughts to paper. With working towards the intent of including everyone into her vision, she says, “I feel that telling a story and writing a story are different, but at the same time, the telling and the writing need to come together. I think I did just that [with] The Sleepy Dragon.”

With the publication of her children’s book, Bannikov hopes to help parents with the traditional bedtime hour but conversely felt it was important to write about a brave female knight. “I often see children’s books with brave boy knights, and it was time that we saw more girls being knights. I want girls to see that they can also go on adventures as knights in shining armor—that it’s not only for boys. There are no adventures too big or too small for any girl out there and brave Kimothin proves that in this book,” she says.

The publishing process took time for Bannikov as she shares there was a lot of waiting. With The Sleepy Dragon being her first book, she chose not to go with an agent or a major publishing house, but rather through a smaller yet growing publisher like Black Rose Writing in Texas. “[Smaller publishers] pay extra close attention and really help new authors like myself through the whole process. It is definitely something I really appreciate,” she reveals.

It’s essential to understand throughout the publishing process the significance illustrations hold in a children’s book where visual drawings are essential to drive an idea forward. Not only do they have to be amiable and appealing to the eye, but in many ways, they must mimic the content in such a way that they can tell the story themselves. It’s been known through research and studies that illustrations play a big part in children’s books as they not only stimulate one’s imagination, but have the ability to arouse perception and develop potential. Bannikov recognizes such importance, saying, “Before a child can read words, a child reads images. [They] judge books based on their covers because that is the first thing that they see and understand.”

The Sleepy Dragon 02

{Image Credit: Amanda Bannikov/Black Rose Writing}

With illustrations by Holly N. Wright, Bannikov’s story comes together quite captivatingly. Wright’s drawings are perfect for setting that bedtime mood, complimenting the story ever-so perfectly. They are light and soft, but equally vibrant and cute; and able to expand the story line while bringing significance to the words. Wright’s art work is able to turn the fairy-tale into an instrument of attraction for all readers, while conveying a sweet and simple story that ties into the magnetism of friendship.

Bannikov shares that finding the right illustrator was a long, rigorous process. With the book being her first, she didn’t realize it would take that long to find the perfect artwork. “I didn’t know what to expect from different illustrator’s styles and colors, nor did I know how to choose the perfect one,” she says. “Until I got one email—as soon as I saw the sketch she had sent me of how she pictured Kimothin and Tippy in her head, I knew Holly was meant to by my illustrator. She knew what I wanted with little guidance or questions. We just clicked when it came to The Sleepy Dragon.”

As her book released earlier this month at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online retailers, Bannikov shares how exciting the whole experience has been for her, and that there will definitely be another adventure ahead for Kimothin and Tippy. “There may be a sea adventure in the works for them. Neither has met a pirate before—but I don’t want to say too much quite yet,” she smiles.

She shares how one of the most fulfilling parts about being a children’s author is seeing children and adults smile when they read her books and see the illustrations. “Making people happy is what a children’s book should be about,” she says. “With The Sleepy Dragon, making children sleepy is also what I wanted. If I get even a couple of parents who read this book to their child, [and] tell me that this book has made bed time easier, I will be one very happy author.”

Though she is embarking on a new journey in her life with a path full of creativity and unwritten stories ahead, Bannikov says she won’t be leaving behind her duties as an attorney any time soon as she is passionate not just about her writing, but helping others as well. “I am just enjoying my life as a writer, as an attorney—as a person in general, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. Things are just as they should be”.

With an entertaining blend of fact and fantasy, Bannikov’s The Sleepy Dragon will strike a spot in the hearts of young readers.

The Sleepy Dragon is now available in paperback at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. For more information on Amanda Bannikov, visit her official site, and connect with her via Twitter and Facebook.

 Connect with Tania Hussain on Twitter and Google+!

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  1. Amanda Bannikov’s “The Sleepy Dragon”: Bedtime’s Best Friend | westlifebunny - June 16, 2014

    […] Continue reading… […]

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