1. How does constructing movable figures help children learn?

As a parent or educator, you already know that many children quickly forget what they learn about famous people. However, by engaging children in the learning process through hands-on activities, the people who played a key role in shaping our world seem more real, and history comes alive. Through the process of constructing movable figures, children benefit from a hands-on manipulative that makes each person more real and memorable. They can envision what the person may have looked like and see how he or she dressed. They can also play with the movable figures and act out historical events, using their imagination to explore the lives of people who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago. A brief biographical note on each famous person is included in the books, explaining a little about each character. With this background, children can create their own stories about other civilizations, including Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. In addition to the ancient civilizations, children can study the Middle Ages and the history of the United States, with our activity books that cover Medieval Times, the American Revolution, and the Civil War. The children have a lot of fun putting the figures together. After coloring, cutting and assembling the figures, children have a sturdy moving figure that they can play with again and again.

2. What ages of children will benefit from your books?

The books are created for children ages 6-12. Younger children may have difficulty building the historical figures, but children as young as 4 or 5 years old will learn from interacting with the figures, once an adult builds the figures for them. Even very young children can have a lot of fun with these figures.

3. How big are the figures? Are they sturdy?

Once constructed, the figures stand from about 12 to 13 inches tall. Because they are made from card stock, they are durable, allowing children to play with them over and over again. The assembly instructions are very easy to follow. Each figure has a letter key on the back that makes it simple to put together.

4. How do you choose the historical figures that are featured in each of your books?

For Famous Figures of Ancient Times, I selected 21 of the most influential leaders, including Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Jesus, King David, and Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (builder of the Great Wall of China). All of these individuals played an important role in world history, and they are still remembered today, even though they lived thousands of years ago.Why did I include an elephant? Hannibal’s elephant is such an integral part of the story of this well known military commander that it had to be included!

It is very difficult to limit the number of people included for each time period, but I try to choose the most well known historical characters that had the most influence on how our world is shaped today.

5. How do you make the figures in your book? How do you make sure that your figures are historically accurate?

To make each historical figure accurate, I research costumes for the time period in which the person lived. In addition, I locate statues, mosaics, or paintings of the famous person and refer to them as I create the figure. I also study literature about each person to learn about the color of the person’s eyes, hair, etc. One of my favorite books for costume research is The Complete Costume History by August Racinet. This book was originally published in France between 1876 and 1888 and is an excellent resource. Once I complete my research, I make several sketches of each figure in various poses, and then I choose one to best represent the figure in a movable action pose. This sketch is transferred to the computer through the use of a digital tablet and Adobe Illustrator. The sketch is optimized and sometimes stylized to simplify the lines. Then I add color. After the sketch is completed, I break it down into movable pieces and test it. This is done by printing it and adjusting the drawing to optimize the way the parts move. I usually repeat this process several times in order to create an interesting, movable figure.

6. What are your titles? What other books are planned?

The Famous Figures series includes Famous Figures of Ancient Times, Famous Figures of Medieval Times, Famous Figures of the American Revolution, and Famous Figures of the Civil War. Famous Figures of the Renaissance will be available in early 2015. The Footsteps of Faith series incorporates Bible history with movable action figures and scripts that can be used to act the stories out. Queen Esther: Movable Paper Figures to Cut, Color, and Assemble (available early 2015), and David and Goliath: Movable Paper Figures to Cut, Color, and Assemble are the first two titles in the series.

The first in the moving animal titles, Dinosaurs on the Move, is a lot of fun for children.This book provides children with an opportunity to build, touch, and interact with ten different dinosaurs that capture their imaginations, and give parents and educators new tools to engage children in learning.

7. When did you become interested in drawing? Where did you learn how to draw?

Drawing and creating art for others has always been a part of my life. I began drawing people when I was very young. Besides drawing with pencil, colored pencil and charcoal, I have experimented with water color, oil, and acrylic painting, scratchboard, pen and ink, and airbrush painting.

My first formal education in art was at the Toledo Museum of Art. I was also fortunate to be tutored in high school by a fine artist and an illustrator who took an interest in my work. I was commissioned to create paintings in my high school art classes and had art exhibitions at various libraries. In addition, I attended classes at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.