Longtime Chicago educator Maureen Stolar Kanefield is celebrating the release of a new series for kids that teaches life lessons through entertaining stories.
One mouse brings magic to the pages of a new children’s book from longtime educator Maureen Stolar Kanefield to be released this September titled The Magic of Maxwell and His Tail.
Maureen attributes her inspiration for writing the first Maxwell book of a planned series to her personal philosophy. Maureen believes that children should be surrounded with opportunities of all kinds at all levels, and that they should seek and find what interests them. But what is just as important, is having the confidence to rise above anything that impedes their dreams.
Maureen answers some questions about her career and new book.
You had a long, gratifying career as an educator at schools in the suburban Chicago area. How did that experience help you write “The Magic of Maxwell and His Tail?”
My career as an educator fashioned a perfect avenue for writing the book. I saw children’s vulnerabilities. School expectations and peer pressure creates an anxious period in children’s lives. I chose to let my students know that we all have differences that we might equate as weaknesses. We need to rise above those differences by finding inner strength, as did Maxwell. From there they have a worth of opportunity to find what makes them happy and fulfilled. That is the meaning in Maxwell and the message I want all children to hear.
Your main goal with the series is to tap into a child’s educational, social and emotional needs. Can you talk a little about the importance of those three things?
We need to create a safe and supportive atmosphere where children look forward to coming to school. I exposed my students to a variety of learning strategies. Children experience a lot of academic and social pressure in school, which in turn, affects their emotional steadiness. It is crucial that as educators and we find what works for each individual child. The better I was able to make students feel about themselves and their abilities, the better able they were to perform.
The Maxwell stories are perfect for kids around 4 to 8 years old. Why did you want to write books for that age group?
I wanted to write for students around that age group because these are the first full days of school for most children. Children are extremely worried about making friends and pleasing their teachers. Exposing them to Maxwell’s story gives them a bit of self-assuredness and comfort in knowing Maxwell had to overcome a tough time in his young life, but he made it, and they can, too.
With your experienced background in education, you must have also written “The Magic of Maxwell and His Tail” with parents and teachers in mind?
Absolutely. As parents, we attempt to build strong character in each of our children. However, we all see times in their young lives when school and peer pressure disturbs the steadiness in their lives. We need to bring back that reassuring message about finding your own personal strength to overcome adversity. As teachers, we have to be watchful. Notice changes in your students. Sudden shifts are indicative of personal struggles. I always said that my classroom was a classroom of one, because each student was his or her own person and should be regarded as such.
What do you think makes Maxwell such a relatable character for kids?
Kids will easily relate to Maxwell. They will be able to connect to the struggles that Maxwell is experiencing. His classmates are making fun of him. He even has a best friend that is losing patience with his pal.
What other life lessons do you envision Maxwell – and your readers – learning as the series develops?
My intention is to blend a fictional plot with nonfiction components. Children will be exposed to stories that tap into all areas of learning with a theme running through each story. The themes of acceptance and self-determination will reappear in other stories along with friendship, honesty, sharing, change, and many others as part of a lessoned series.
Maureen and Maxwell have two events coming up in Chicago:
Sept. 26 at 10 a.m.
Author event for "The Magic of Maxwell and His Tail" with Maureen Stolar Kanefield
Little Green Treehouse, 3111 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL 60657