Learn virtues from nature at book signing Friday at Parallel 45
ALPENA — Magic lives in nature, and comes alive in Julie Gandulla’s new chapter book.
The Bozeman, Montana author will be signing copies of “The Magic: Beginnings” from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday at Parallel 45 Books & Gifts in downtown Alpena.
If the name Gandulla rings a bell, it’s because her sister Stephanie lives in Alpena, where Julie Gandulla is visiting this week.
“The Magic: Beginnings” is the first book in a 10-book series for young readers.
“It is about a young boy in Montana who has a worry rock as a gift from his aunt, and he ends up awakening this magic from within this rock,” Gandulla said. “It’s an ancient magic tied to fairies and folklore … it shows him how nature can help him through his worries.”
The book is available at Parallel 45 and online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a variety of other booksellers.
“After the rock’s creator appears with a warning and instructions, Paul finds himself racing against the clock,” a story summary states. “For Paul to succeed he must learn what the stone wants through creativity and unconventional thinking while he is enmeshed in the wilderness.”
The book series is not just a fairytale, however. It’s very educational.
“It uses philosophy, science, even biology, to showcase how nature is truly this intrinsic teacher,” Gandulla said. “But then it also incorporates a lot of fun and fairy magic, and imagination and humor. It utilizes all those tools to be really entertaining, but, at the same time, has those lessons.”
She explained that the reader has a list of questions at the end for book clubs to use as discussion topics.
Each book in the series will showcase a new animal or force of nature, and a virtue. The first book highlights the owl and the virtue that often accompanies that bird of prey: patience.
“For example, the reader will find out that the owl has tubular eyes, not orb eyes, like we do,” Gandulla explained. “Or, that when an owl gets wet, it has to clean itself in order to fly again. Little things like that are all incorporated in, along with mythical traditions in the Gaelic origin of fairies.”
At the book signing, attendees will enjoy an interactive experience, including worksheets and an opportunity to dissect an owl pellet, which, by the way, is not poop. It’s more like an owl “hairball,” if you will. If you won’t, Gandulla can explain it better…
“An owl pellet is just that crushed-up remains that an owl can’t digest in their stomach,” she said. “They can’t do a lot of the fur, feathers, bones, so the stomach will compress all that, basically, into a fur ball, and they cough it up. And it’s a really good way for scientists to know eating patterns, nutrition, location of owls, all sorts of stuff.”
The book features illustrations by Gandulla and her son Aidan, 17, and daughter Fallon, 9.
“They both helped me write the book,” Gandulla said of her children.
For many of the illustrations, Gandulla took photos and modified them digitally to make them look like drawings.
She originally started writing the book for her son Aidan about seven years ago, but she took the opportunity to dive back into it and get it published when she had time off during the pandemic. She had it self-published through BookBaby, which she said was an excellent experience.
“The story’s ‘factual fiction’ structure makes it dynamic, appealing to children of all ages, as well as parents, and educators,” the story summary noted. “Whether for the recreational reader, parent or teacher, ‘The Magic’ is a truly holistic piece of fiction that promises to be an entertaining and educational experience for all.”
In addition to being a writer, Gandulla is Mom to Aidan and Fallon, two dogs, Fox and Night, and four frogs, Max, Ruby, Shakespeare and Hathaway. She is also a philosopher, natural wellness educator and outdoor enthusiast.
“My business is called Rewild,” she said. “I do a lot of work with evolutionary-based health. So it’s really dialing people back to approaching exercise, diet, pretty much every element of your life, socializing, back to what is best for us as a species.”
Reconnecting with nature is a huge part of overall wellness, she said.
“That’s why this book is kind of an extension of that,” Gandulla said. “Really showcasing to children, in particular, how important that is, for us, on every level, to be connected to nature, but also, that it’s such a simple and clear teacher.”
For more information about the book series and the author, visit themagicbookseries.net.