Dreams Are Never Too Big for the Brave

coverWelcome to the worldview of Sonia Cunningham Leverette, author of BJ’s Big Dream, a work that more closely captures the way a child’s mind works than any I have read in a long time. That said, no doubt the writer’s insight into the young comes from more than 30 years experience in education. She is an assistant superintendent in Spartansburg, South Carolina, as well a parent. Her earlier children’s books, He Never Slumbers, about a bullied boy who seeks help from God, or What is that Stinky Winky EEEwww Smell? , which counsels against selfishness, add more to prove that Leverette earnestly wants to instill positive values and speak to the real issues that bedevil children in the early years.

Anyway, the author gave me a copy of the book for an honest review. Let’s get to it.

Bj’s Big Dream will be a hit in most story circles for early readers. The bright, colorful illustrations by artist Deanna M, blend beautifully with the narrative that on surface is about a little boy who wants dreadlocks. At first, the narrative seems a little hesitant. The author does not spend a lost of time on details or try to tie story elements together. Leverette provides an acceptable sequence of events, combined with beautiful images. That alone will rivet little eyes and minds.

Beneath the spare, straightforward paragraphs where the author blends BJ’s  actual experience with a daydream of a walk in the woods where he is threatened by three wolves and an angry bear, lies a tale that offers adults a chance to show and talk to young people about their power to make a dream come true. BJ’s Big Dream is a charming blend of fantasy and fact that urges children to strive with courage beyond what they see as their limitations. Yes, and there was that part that made me say, “Whoa! That’s how my grandson’s mind works.”

BJ, the main character, as the story is told drives a rides through the forest on an all-terrain vehicle. “BJ dreamed he was driving a four-wheeler when a huge snake fell from a tree and wrapped around his shoulders,” the book states. As I said, “Whoa!”

That small scene is the kind of fantastic story element that is likely spark in the mind of a child eight years old or less. My grandson is likely to tell me a story and have some thing like that happen, and I would be drawn aback to say, “What?”

The adult mind might find such “out of nowhere” events jar the way they see reality develop. That is the main reason most authors would have a number of steps that lead to the drop of the snake. The incident has to come together in a sequence that grownups see as “logical.” Sonia Cunningham Leverette taps into the fantastical and recreates that part of the stories and others in a child’s logic.

BJ’s Big Dream will bring great excitement when read to those whose mastery of books is about to blossom. The main character, BJ, is resourceful and quick-witted. The adults in the tale are supportive. Youngsters might gain a number of impressions from the story. Clearly, one is that daydreams happen, yet hard work – at times even a little effort and a plan – can make real desires come true.

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Change is Not just a Six-Letter Word

Change is More than a Six-Letter Word Available in  Kindle Edition and Paperback
Even as one glances at the cover, Mark Reklau’s 30 Days-Change Your Habits, Change Your Life echoes the kind of idle boast even a true expert usually wants to avoid. My first impression was that the book sounds like a bad infomercial. Yet, as is often wisely stated, you can’t judge this book by the cover. Page after page, the review copy provided showed me that  30 Days is more than a boast. The book delivers on its promise for those focused and ready to act on self-improvement, even as they try to keep pace with life’s daily shifts.

More than that, as I read the 204 pages, I began to wish the book had come to my attention sooner. The release date is more than a year ago. Even so, I choose to share the publication because the knowledge it holds remains in constant demand.
“Taking full responsibility for your life includes the risk of making mistakes and leaves you without the common excuses (society, my boss, my family, my age etc…), but it also creates options, space and power,” the author states on his website.  Change can never come too late.
As for tone,  30 Days is easily read, mostly because every chapter is topical. Readers can explore each of the 94 chapters in sequence, or as I, many readers might prefer to jump to the areas of greatest interest. That said I recommend anyone who gets a hold of the book read the Introduction and first chapter to gain a feel for the author’s views.

Reklau is clear from the start – the blame for our lives is on us. “Most people have no idea how they get what they get,” he writes in the Introduction. Some of us just blame it on fate and chance.,,,Everything that happens to you is created by YOU – either consciously by design or unconsciously by default; it’s not a result of fate or circumstances.”

Reklau, who uses the book in his pursuits as a life coach offers advice in a manner that one might expect from improvement gurus. The main difference, which makes this work worthy of a read, is that the book is complete in its message, not a come on. Those who follow the link above can check out his business website and find offers for ongoing consultation, but those who seriously want to redesign their lives will find the book a treasure trove.

He offers blunt advice in a direct, concise prose. “Every day brings with it the opportunity to start a new life!” he writes in the first chapter, Rewrite Your Story.  “You get to choose your identity at each and every moment! … It’s up to you to decide who you are going to be from this day on.”

As stated, the Table of Contents reads like an advice list – Choose Your Thoughts, The Importance of Attitude, Know Your Strengths, Avoid Energy Robbers.  When one steps back from the work, it is clear that part of the book’s attraction is its tight organization and design. Readers who want a quick answer to the life-change question will glean a lot from the browse. Those who take the few moments needed to read a chapter will gain ever more. For example, in Chapter 11, Get Comfortable with Change and Chaos, Reklau writes: ” For personal growth you have to be in a constant state of feeling slightly uncomfortable. Get into the habit of doing things that others don’t want to do. You have to choose to do what needs to be done regardless of the inconvenience!”

Readers who take the thirty days to reflect on their attitudes and behaviors will not be disappointed. In that effort, the book can be a guide and counselor. In the end, 30 Days will be one of those keepers on the shelf that is pulled down once or twice a year to refresh our thoughts on what it takes to achieve the lives we desire. If nothing else, the book will serve as a constant reminder that life we have is the result of our actions. Change will become more than a six-letter word.