Genre: Children’s Book
Content Rating: G. The book is designed for children between 3-7 years of age.
Adventurous friends Lulu and Malek make fantastic discoveries, take care of our planet, and meet new friends as they explore the wonders of the world under the sea. With vibrant illustrations and endearing characters, this fun-to-read rhyming book is sure to be a children’s favorite that they will want to read over and over again! Add this fun-filled and inspiring book to your home or class library! It will be enjoyed by children who love adventure, a good laugh, and want to learn more about the sea and conservation.
Just a bit about me. I live in Arizona, but for most of the year, I travel across our beautiful earth as a deckhand and yoga instructor in the yachting industry. I love the serenity of the sea, exploring treasured caves, hiking through lush green forests, immersing myself in different cultures, and meeting new friends. I recently launched an online retail store (www.yachtieinspired.com) that offers conservation and yachtie inspired designs through my Sea Our Love and Silent Whispers Collections. You can also purchase a Personalized Signed Copy of my books on my online store, or please visit junenfoster.com to learn more!
My co-author, Rob Scheer and I have completed two beautifully illustrated, heartfelt children’s books. Rob is the Founder and CEO of Comfort Cases. Since 2013, Comfort Cases set out on a mission to eliminate the use of trash bags and provide children entering the foster system with brand new essential and comfort items. To date, Comfort Cases has positively impacted over 110,000 children, and has recently opened a chapter in the United Kingdom. For each book purchased of Lulu and Malek Sail Off to Sea, we will donate one book to Comfort Cases.
- What genre do you write and why?
ROB: “Lulu and Malek” is my first children’s book. I’m so thankful that June invited me to write this with her. I have written one previous book, “A Forever Family” – it’s my memoir about growing up as a youth in foster care and my life after, leading me to meet my husband Reece and then eventually adopting our four beautiful children (we have one more son, who we adopted after the book came out!)
JUNE: I’m open to many different genres. Lulu and Malek Sail Off to Sea is my first children’s book as well. I’ve just completed a short-story collection tailored to young adults and hope to publish in 2023. My first novel, The Girl and the Golden Leaf was originally written with young adults in mind. However, due to some mature contents, I felt it best to promote it as a novel for adults. I’d like to write a mystery/suspense novel next tailored for young adults—I think that would be fun!
- Your book is set along the coast in South Africa. Have you ever been there?
ROB: No, I’ve never been to South Africa. YET. But it’s certainly on my bucket list!
JUNE: I’ve never been either but would love to love one day! The entire continent captures my interest and imagination. Their traditions, culture, people–rich in history dating back more than 5 million years. Its habitats from forests, jungles, deserts, and grasslands is home to the most beautiful animals in the world. Like Rob, a visit to Africa is on my bucket list!
- How did you do research for your book?
JUNE AND ROB: Our two main characters, Lulu and Malek are indeed unlikely friends, but Africa’s gentle giants and majestic lions are among our favorites and they were destined to become best friends. To ensure accuracy, we researched Southern Africa’s wildlife, coastlines, and species that live beneath the sea. The illustrations are based on the beauty and wonder of this area. The meerkats, as an example, are timid, yet fiercely protective animals often seen standing on their rear legs keeping watch. We researched one of the largest birds that could be found in the area–the osprey, in which we lovingly named Aren. The beautiful coral reefs located in northern KwaZulu-Natal of South Africa inspired Lulu and Malek’s scenes under the sea. Gill Guile illustrated the animals and settings beautifully.
- Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time?
ROB: I actually don’t “write.” I “read.” I record my thoughts and ideas into my phone and then have them transcribed (by someone who can spell much better than me!) I will record when I have time – in my car, outside at our farm or even in bed! Wherever I feel comfortable and ideas flow freely.
JUNE: My mind is most free and open to creativity very early in the morning, so I’ll go to sleep early the night prior and wake up around 3:00 am. There’s no other particular ritual only that the room needs to be very quiet, free from distractions.
- What made you write a book about a sea adventure of a young giraffe and lion?
ROB & JUNE: We were inspired for many reasons! Rob is the CEO and Founder of Comfort Cases. Comfort Cases’ mission is to eliminate trash bags from the foster care system by providing backpacks that are filled with comfort and personal care items. We wanted to add a children’s book to each comfort case and for each book purchased, we donate one to Comfort Cases. The theme of the story was inspired by our shared love of the sea, quirky sense of humor, conservation, and keeping our planet green. Despite their differences, we wanted our two characters, Lulu and Malek to be the best of friends, have fun, take care of others and the planet, and enjoy the beauty of the world. Our collaboration was a labor of love, and it fills our hearts knowing our story, filled with humor and friendship, will be read by so many precious children!
- What is your favorite thing about this time of year? And why?
ROB: My husband is an interior decorator, and he makes our house beautiful. We have multiple Christmas trees. Our tables and windows are decorated and outside our home is a true holiday-Winter-Wonderland! We love spending time with our neighbors and friends in our community. It really is a “wonderful time of year!”
JUNE: I love the winter, especially visiting my family who live in Minnesota and Indiana. Christmas traditions, like baking cookies, hanging ornaments, listening to Christmas music, wearing thick sweaters and romping in the snow are my favorite pastimes. I love the smell of hot cider, the crunch of ice and fallen leaves beneath my feet, and the vibrant blue sky contrasting with the pure white snow. It’s the time of year when our lives can slow down for a moment and in unison, can reflect upon what is truly meaningful in life.