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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Kika the Upside-Down by Jessica Tudos Book Tour Book Review and Giveaway

Book Description:

Kika always seems to accomplish things differently than others and tends to get into trouble for it. She reminds us that choosing to be different is more than okay, and finding others to join in her upside down adventures makes her heart feel huge - especially when it involves somersaults, vaults, flips and kips! Join Kika, a girl who loves living upside down in a right side up world, on her unique journey to a fliptastic world! Kika reminds us that choosing to be different is more than okay, and finding others to join in her upside down adventures feels fliptastic - especially when it involves somersaults, vaults, flips and kips in the Gymnastics Emporium!

Author's Bio:

Olympic gymnast turned author, motivational speaker and experiential educator Jessica Tudos (JessicaTudos.com) is on a mission to empower kids, youth and adults to develop the confidence and resiliency required to lead active, healthy and creative lives. In organizations around the world, Jessica empowers audiences through engaging stories, insights & reflections drawn from her upside down life, including her Olympic gymnastics adventures. Jessica is a sought after speaker, facilitator and professor in experiential education, physical literacy, leadership & elite sports.


Jessica Tudos is an Olympian turned educator, motivational speaker, author and creative Toronto-based mother whose mission is to empower upside-down ninjas everywhere to be more confident and resilient so they can lead active, healthy & creative lives. JessicaTudos.com
  1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
As an Olympic gymnast who spent 10,000+ hours upside down, I felt I had a story to tell that could be a platform from which to engage, inspire, and entertain kids as they explore what it means to really love something – even when it’s a bit upside down and hard for others to understand. Kika the Upside-Down Girl a story about adventure, persistence and courage, and for anyone who has ever jumped on their bed, bounced on a trampoline or swung on some bars, this story is handstanding! Deciding to create the story and publish it brought me into the world of children’s writing, a new world for me, and I am so excited to be continuing on the journey.
  1. How long does it take you to write a book?
I had the idea for this story about ten years ago – while talking to a friend about my Olympic experience when I was a teenager. It was a good chat and for the next 8 years nothing happened, Once I started reading picture books to my son, I was looking for gymnastics-themed books and realized there wasn’t one out there so I figured I better do something about that. For the next year I thought about it and then decided that crowdfunding was the tool I could use to self-publish. It took 4 months to plan my campaign and I launched my 30-day campaign in Oct 2014.  On my website I share the steps I took to raise over $11K. The key is to commit completely to your project – live it, breathe it and love it before, during and after. It’s not easy to ask for funding, and what I found most helpful was building a community around Kika’s inspiring story through my upside-down photo gallery, story swaps, live events and readings. I’m so grateful for all the support we’ve had
  1. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Never the same!   Publishing my book was a full process that involved my writing, working with an illustrator on sketches and final images, picking a cover image, finding a book designer, preparing and delivering my crowdfunding campaign, building my online social network, etc. So all of that had to fit into my other roles of being a mom, partner and part-time educator and speaker.  Schedules are like puzzles, you work with the pieces and make them fit!
  1. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to think, write and edit while listening to classical music and snacking on red licorice. My work area is in the basement, where it is dark and quiet, which I like - only my papers and computer are around me and I can focus on my work for a few hours before taking a break. 
  1. How do books get published?
After running a successful 10K crowdfunding campaign to initially self-publish the book, I started sharing Kika’s message at many events, including Toronto’s annual Reading for the Love of It Conference.  After Domnizelles Publishing CEO Genevieve Rossignol read my story at the event, she acquired  Kika the Upside-Down Girl and we are now working together to extend Kika’s message far and wide.
  1. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
The real “get off my bum and do this” came when I started reading to my son. I realized that there were no picture books with a strong gymnast character in them, so I figured I could actually do something about it – if not me, then who? I considered writing a book about a little boy upside down, but as they say, “write what you know,” so moving forward I decided that Kika (my nickname growing up), was going to be the main character!
7.      When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was 43, and my son was 2, when my first book, Kika the Upside-Down Girl, was published
  1. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
As an experiential educator, motivational speaker, mom and partner, I do a balancing act everyday to keep everything organized and moving forward. I love my lists and flexible work schedule which allows me to focus more on certain tasks when need be. When I’m working on Kika the Upside-Down Girl, I work at night after my son is asleep and in the pauses of the day.  As long as things engaging and moving forward, I feel successful and satisfied. 
  1. What does your family think of your writing?
My family are my biggest fans! My son was the initial inspiration and he loves Kika – shows me his upside-Down moves all the time. My parents are proud and can see the connection on the bookjand my life. I am so grateful for their support!
  1. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
An interesting thing happened with the release of this, my first, kids story. As I shared Kika’s empowering story with many kids and adults, my work shifted too. I realized Kika was an inspirational force for everyone, affecting how I teach college, motivate audiences through speaking gigs and parenting my son. Like Kika, we all need to feel confident in who we are and what we love to do, no matter what others think.
  1. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
This is my first book and has to be my favourite!!! There is something about sharing your message with the world in the form of a picture book that is so satisfying! 
  1. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
My advice relates to getting a book project off the ground and out into the world. Often people ask me how I did it, and I will say this; If you have a story idea there is a way to do it! I think what really helped me was to imagine reading my book to actual kids and parents, educators, coaches, etc, - real people in real time. Imagining my son’s reaction was a big motivator, I want him to know that his mom did it, and you can do it too. Stay the course when the going gets tough; people are waiting for your story!
  1. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
As the author of Kika the Upside-Down Girl, my first kids book about an adventurous girl who loves living upside down while the rest of the word is pressuring her to stay right side up, one of the greatest joys has been the discovery of so many other upside-down people all over the world! I mean that metaphorically, as well as literally, as demonstrated by the collection of photos sent to me at JessicaTudos,com/gallery
As an author, you spend a lot of time wondering whether readers will understand your story, and so when you can communicate ideas through a visual medium like photos, you feel like there is a universal appreciation for your story and intent, and that feels great. Photos powerfully represent who we are and how we relate to the world.

When I asked for photos of “anyone enjoying their upside-down life” certain pictures were to be expected - lots of gymnasts, kids in backyards hanging from trees, moms with kids holding them up – and then there were the surprises. The upside-down cat, the stuffed animal who had previously been “pressured to be right side up” and the father who had not been upside-down since he was 8!

When a grandfather from Alberta sent in his photo of his granddaughter Abby, explaining how much she loved gymnastics and being upside–down, I felt so proud knowing my book was making a difference. Or when Sam from Belgium sent a picture of himself with his girls upside-down on the couch, explaining how their love for gymnastics got him into shape, out of an unsatisfying job and on the road to becoming a gymnastics judge – so inspring!

The pictures not only evoke memories and emotions in you, they also capture a moment in time, a moment you don’t want to forget and want to share with others. On a public website, people can view your images in a non-judgmental, safe and fun way as well as participate in the evolution of your bok.  There are also no barriers to enter - just take a photo and send it!  What started out as a way to share and promote Kika’s story, turned into an amazing exchange between myself and an amazing group of diverse Kika fans from all over the world!
  1. Do you like to create books for adults?
I have been thinking about creating a book for adults that has a similar message to Kika’s - finding the courage and confidence to stay the course and do what you love - and I really want to create a unique book that is beautiful to look at, inspiring to read and impactful for all readers.  I am in the “collecting good ideas” phase right now.
  1. What do you think makes a good story?
I think a character that captivates our attention and our hearts is the start if a great story!  From there, the colourful environments and unique adventures make us follow along and care about what happens next – this makes a compelling read for all ages.
  1. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I remember wanting to be an astronaut – I loved the idea of floating in space and fixing things. It was mesmerizing. Little did I know that you had to be good in physics and science, not my best subjects, so my dreams changed in high school!
  1. What Would you like my readers to know?

I’d like people to remember how hard it is to really be yourself and stick to your guns. Kika loves living upside down despite the pressure she feels to be right side up, like everyone else. We all feel a version of this in life, and I’d like people who meet Kika to feel empowered to stay the course and be confident and courageous in the face of the pressure to conform. When one follows their true path, it is so worth it!

Connect with Jessica:  Website  ~   Twitter  ~   Facebook

Where to buy the book:


Prizes: ​ 
 Win a copy of Kika the Upside-down Girl and a $20 Amazon Gift Card (Open to USA & Canada) Ends June 20

My review;
When I first looked at the cover of "Kika the Upside-Down Girl" I thought it was adorable. This is a beautiful story told about a young girl who feels different from everyone else around her. But, she realizes that there are others that feel the same way that she does. The book tells young girls that they can be different and still be like others and that they should be proud and happy about who they are. This book is told by using words that young children will understand. I really enjoyed this book and think that all girls should try to read this, I give this book a 4/5. I was given this book for a honest review and all opinions are my own.

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