Local Author Brings Adventure to the First Friday in August with Relaunch of Zany Zia’s Children’s Book Series | Local News


Local author Erin Casey takes children on a new adventure aboard the Titanic in 1912 as she publishes the third installment in her ‘Zany Zia’s Hats to Where’ book series.

The series follows children who choose a magic hat during a visit to a traveling circus that transports them to a historical moment. The final book, titled “A TITANIC Adventure”, follows Danny into the belly of the once unsinkable Titanic.

The first book in the series, “An All Knight Adventure”, sees a boy named Evan visit a castle in the Middle Ages where he must battle a fire-breathing dragon. The second, “Lost in Comanche Country” follows Mariana in the Wild West where she encounters Comanche warriors and cowboys.

“I describe them as part historical fiction and part adventure and it’s all fun,” Casey said, adding that the boat numbers and names are factual, but not all of the stories are true. “I want teachers to be able to use it in their classrooms.”

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Each of the characters, Casey said, must complete their adventure before returning to where they began in Zany Zia’s magical hat shop at the circus.

The books also feature illustrations by young artists. Callie Hanna, who illustrated the latest book, is in the Texas A&M visual arts program but was among the first kids to read Casey’s Zany Zia books when they came out. Casey said Hanna told him she still had the books on her shelf at home.

Due to the long gap between the second and third books, the Bryan-College Station native and 1991 A&M Consolidated High School graduate said she was both releasing the third book on Friday and also relaunching the entire Zany series. Ziya. A public launch party is scheduled from 4-7 p.m. Friday at the Whimsy and Wild Emporium in downtown Bryan.

Along with the adventures that each character goes through, each of the chapter books includes an encouraging and inspiring message for young readers to glean. The first two books dealt with courage and intimidation, then with friendship and prejudice.

When she started researching and writing “A TITANIC Adventure” in 2013, Casey said she thought the message would imply pride, but as she continued to write the story, the message of kindness came down to the surface.

“Then after going through all of this stuff with COVID, and the political landscape, and just the ugliness that has been the world for the past few years, the idea of ​​kindness came back to me again and again and how little kindnesses can make a difference” , she said.

Casey said when big things happen in the world, like COVID, kids can feel helpless; however, the only thing they can control is if they are nice.

“They can make a difference in someone’s life with small acts of kindness. … That’s kind of the message here,” she said.

Casey, who operates her own publishing house called My Writers’ Connection, said the idea for the series began when Casey’s sister came up with the idea for a magic hat picture book series. . She said she liked the idea of ​​a magic hat, but not a picture book.

“I just percolated for a really long time, probably five years,” she said. “It’s one of those ideas that I just couldn’t let go of.”

Her children, who are now 28 and 18, were 12 and 9 then, and the readers she asks to view the book are in the target age group of 8 to 12. It was these “beta readers” who suggested focusing a story on the Titanic.

Casey said her eldest son was a reluctant reader, so she wanted the books to be less intimidating than books of 500 or more pages, but still fun and with an intertwining message.

“I think if you can get the kids to read anything, get them to read anything, but if I can also give them a little encouraging or inspiring message, that’s great too,” he said. she declared.

Casey, who has written nonfiction most of her life in journalism and content development, said she loves being able to exercise the creative side of her mind with the book series.

She completely separates the two writing processes, saying she has to write the Zany Zia books first thing in the morning.

“If I go into the analytical editing side of my brain, there’s no turning back,” she said. “It just doesn’t work. If I get into something else for the day, it’s really, really hard for me to get back into creative writing.

As part of her writing process for the third book, Casey said she reread the other two stories and believed in them as much as she did when she wrote them.

“Really, what I love about these books is, one, it’s fun to write stories, just the fantasy part,” she said. “But what I really love is going to schools and talking with the kids about stories, but also about writing in general.”

Originally, Casey said she wanted to be a teacher, but then realized it was not a career she would enjoy. With these books, she says, she can still go to schools and speak to students about writing, publishing, and the importance of writing, whatever their goals in life.

She said the students she talks to in schools also have some of the best questions.

” They are funny. I think they are great fun and have a great story. They have a big message for them. … I just wanted something that was good and helpful and encouraging for kids and families and uplifting people.

The launch party is part of the First Friday activities and is open to the public from 4-7 p.m. at the Whimsy and Wild Emporium at 214 N. Main Street in downtown Bryan.

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