Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© ​Experience is Coming!

Most everyone has experienced the disappointment of getting a bad gift. But, a new children’s book turns such an experience into a teachable moment, and a platform for building emotional intelligence.

Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain©, (ISBN: 978-1-4834-1930-5), is the story of a precocious little boy whose birthday goes terribly wrong when he receives the one thing he loathes — chocolate! Disappointed and angry, Isaiah storms out of the house and into adventure. In the end, Isaiah learns how resourceful he can be, and how much his Auntie loves him. 

The engaging tale is written by “Auntie” Valerie Williams-Sanchez, and features 26-pages of richly colored, hand-drawn images by illustrator Brooklyn Russell. Together, the narrative and images create a fun storytelling experience that is bursting with joy, emanating light and love, to be read at home, school, daycare or other places where kids, ages 6-8, meet. 

The story “features a mixed race child -- few kids’ books do –- who displays a range of emotions, ” Williams-Sanchez said. “Talking about the story can help kids learn to identify their own feelings and the consequences behind their actions, behaviors and choices.” 
Paired with the book’s companion “Emotion Commotiontm” Healthy Communications Workbook, the story becomes an Emotional Intelligence teaching tool that eschews didactic messaging, and offers a platform for adults to teach kids in middle childhood how to better communicate their feelings, in a fun, yet meaningful way. Such lessons are the foundation of building emotional intelligence, defined as the awareness, control, and expression one's emotions, as well as the ability to manage interpersonal relationships.



Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© is available as an 8x10.75 inch hardcover book, and e-book at the following locations:

  • A Nu Toy Store, Tarrytown, NY
  • Chocolations, Mamaroneck, NY

Shop the title online via:  Etsy, Lulu, and Purchase Black.com 

E-books are available through Amazon and iBookstore

Coming Soon! -- Look for Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© at the Nyack Library, N.Y.



Treat a special child (or children) in you life with an Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© Easter Basket featuring a new children’s book, written by Valerie Williams-Sanchez, and illustrated by Brooklyn Russell. 

In time for Easter, Holiday baskets are available through Chocolations in Mamaroneck, N.Y. and include the book, workbook and themed, craft gifts package. To order, call: (914)777- 3600.

Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© Easter Basket 

Each basket contains:

1 – Chocolations chocolate glove and baseball
1 – Easter egg with Silly Putty 
3 – Easter eggs with chocolate rocks
1 – Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© Hardcover Book
1 – Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© 
             “Emotion CommotionTM” Workbook, 
1 – Craft Tools Storage Bag and Assorted Craft supplies: 
Glue stick~Glitter pens~Watercolor paints (8) with brush~Crayons (36)~Fuzzy balls~Colored pipe-cleaners~Feathers~Googly eyes 

Pricing: $40.00 per basket         ______________________________________________________


Now that the weather is warming up, why not come and hear a live reading of Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© at one of the following locations. 

Pick up a copy of the book or buy a special  event poster, have it signed and personalized by the author, "Auntie Valerie". 

Contact the locations listed for reading times. Additional dates are anticipated. 

April 2015
  • Friday, April 17thA Nu Toy, 16 Main St., Tarrytown, N.Y. -- (914) 372-7144
  • Saturday, April 25th: *Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Pulitzer Hall Library, 116th & Broadway, NY -- (877) 854-2586
  • Chocolations607 E. Boston Post Rd, Mamaroneck, N.Y. -- (914) 777-3600
      May 2015
      • Saturday, May 2nd -- A Nu Toy, 16 Main St., Tarrytown, N.Y. -- (914) 372-7144
      * Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© appears

       Media Inquires, contact: Valerie Williams-Sanchez@(714)654-6453
      Valorena Online, L.L.C., P.O. Box 180, Palisades, N.Y. 10964

      Wednesday, February 25, 2015

      Calif. and N.J. Churches Embrace "Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain©"

      (Palisades, N.Y.) Feb. 25 -- In early 2015, signature Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© book readings and signings, Hot Cocoa Bar Parties and  “Emotion Commotion” Workshops have brought literary adventure, smiles and chocolate to readers, young and old, through churches in California and New Jersey.  

      Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© (ISBN: 978-1-4834-1930-5) is the story of a precocious little boy whose birthday goes terribly wrong when he receives the one thing he loathes — chocolate! Disappointed and angry, Isaiah storms out of the house and into adventure. In the end, Isaiah learns how resourceful he can be, and how much his Auntie loves him.

      Two churches: First Presbyterian Church Englewood in New Jersey (FPCE) and Christ Our Redeemer African Methodist and Episcopalian Church in California (COR AME), hosted readings and book parties, introducing children, their parents and members of their respective congregations to this new fictional character, Isaiah, 6,  his family and world.  

      The book’s author, Valerie Williams-Sanchez, who is also the Auntie character in the children’s book, gave a live reading and signed books, posters and other branded offerings to congregants of all ages. 

      “[Williams-Sanchez’s] reading of the book,” said Dorothy VanderWerf, Activities Coordinator at FPCE, “was so personably read, especially when [she] said, ‘that's me!’ That stood out so wonderfully! It was soooo good!”  

      The Author also hosted a signature ICM© Hot Cocoa Bar, featuring customizable hot chocolate drinks event goers concocted themselves during the event.

      The New Jersey appearance was the author’s first such event, held Sunday, Jan. 11th at the church located at 150 East Palisade Avenue in Englewood. 

      California was the venue for the second such event, held Sunday, Feb. 15th at COR AME, located at 45 Tesla in Irvine. The COR AME event, which was hosted by Children’s Church, Featured the author and her nephew, Isaiah, 7, the book's namesake who joined in on the fun, adding his autograph along side his Auntie for the signing. 

      Other kids got in on the act, too.  One COR AME child in particular made her debut with the crowd helping the author to display the book’s vivid pictures to the crowd in a fashion that would have made Vanna White proud. The pre-literate, youngster then feigned reading, speaking aloud alongside the author. 

      Her enthusiasm for Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© didn't end there. She also spoke up, actively engaging in the mini-demo of the “Emotion CommotionTM”: Healthy Communication Workshop.” She took her moment in the spotlight even further, and asked for and was given a cameo moment on the microphone to address the crowd, sharing how her emotions made her feel. 

      Children at both events were entertained by the story, and asked many of questions, thoroughly interested by the notion of a child who didn’t like chocolate. 

      “I really enjoy readings in these venues,” said Williams-Sanchez. “It also gives me a chance to promote reading out loud by parents and caregivers to kids, something that is so beneficial to the developing readers.” 

      About First Presbyterian Church Englewood, NJ
      According to its website (www.englewoodpres.org), the First Presbyterian Church of Englewood has cultivated a long and storied history of service to its community and congregation which is made-up of diverse people from distinct nations and ethnic backgrounds. The Rev. Richard Hong is FPCE’s Senior Pastor.

      About Christ Our Redeemer A.M.E. Church, CA
      The Rev. Mark E. Whitlock and First Lady Hermia Shegog-Whitlock, COR AME’s first family, have lead the church since 1991, according to the website (www.corchurch.org), which also names the church as the largest congregation of its kind in Orange County, California.

      On each of the days, event-goers took home autographed copies of the book, poster, and/or bought souvenir buttons and Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© “Emotion CommotionTM ”: Healthy Communications Workshop workbooks.

      To learn more, book your Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© Book Party or to buy the hardcover edition, poster, buttons or  “Emotion Commotion TM”: Healthy Communications Workshop,” workbook call (714) 654-6453, or e-mail Valerie@ValorenaOnline.com, listing “Booking” or “Buy” in the subject line. Hardcover copies are also available at www.lulu.com; PurchaseBlack.com; the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, Santa Ana, CA. e-books can be purchase on Amazon, and iTunes.

      Valerie Williams-Sanchez thanks Dr. Barbara Smith for her generosity in underwriting select copies of Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain for economically disadvantaged youths.

      For information about readings in your area, "Like" Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain on Facebook; and, follow @valorenaonline on twitter.

      Friday, December 26, 2014

      Something New for the New Year...

      In this, my latest creative fictional work, a delicate pink blouse is a symbol of womanly beauty and fate. The story (below) will be part of the 2015 anthology published by Visible Ink,  Memorial Sloan Kettering's writing program.  Thrilled another piece of my work has been selected, I invite you to also check out the first, Sisters of Circumstance, and other stories in the collection.

      Care Instructions for Love: Dry Clean Only

                 “Aurora, you saved the day!” said Lily.
      Lily wanted to wallpaper the foyer of the dry cleaning business.  Paul, her husband and business partner, wanted to paint it brick red.  It was Aurora’s suggestion to do both, a compromise that pleased her clients and got the project moving again. It was also when the Korean couple’s relationship with Aurora, their interior decorator, became a friendship. Aurora had even been part of the baby shower planning for the couple’s first child.
      “You and Paul make me believe there’s someone out there for me,” Aurora said. “You have such a beautiful family.”
      They were in Lily’s kitchen, having their odd, but usual lunch of Jamaican beef patties and kimchi. Aurora had brought with her a vintage, blush chiffon blouse that she wanted to wear to an upcoming charity event. Simple and elegant, the long-sleeve, collared top was whisper-sheer. 
      “Oh, that’s beautiful,” Lily said, approving Aurora’s choice. “It shows a little cleavage, too. Very sexy.”
       “Sexy?” said Aurora. “I’d planned on wearing it buttoned to the neck with a pearl broach. It’s for a breast cancer survivor fundraiser. I wanted you to add pearl buttons.”
      “A broach! That’s how you’ll die a spinster,” Lily said. “Come on, show some skin. You are a survivor! You and Michael are a very handsome couple.”
      “Maybe,” Aurora elaborated, “but he’s not ‘the’ one. There’s just something missing with us.”
      On her way home, Aurora couldn’t help but think of Lily’s idyllic life, and the sadness that her own had been so difficult.
      Stage II breast cancer had taken her left breast. Chemo and radiation had crippled her spirit and broken her confidence. A single woman who had dedicated herself to her work since her illness, Aurora’s relationships had been stymied, sabotaged by her inability to open herself to others. Guarded and defensive of her transformed body image and self-conscious of her reconstructed breast, Aurora had only recently and with great trepidation, started to date again.
      When her suitors got serious however, Aurora would immediately become un-available. This was the case with the man before Michael—Andrew.
      Andrew and she had hit it off magnificently until Aurora got scared. She stopped retuning Andrew’s calls, texts and e-mails.
      She took up with Michael who was also emotionally unavailable, still dealing with issues from his divorce. Michael was a safe choice.  But she knew she had to end it.
      So it was a surprise when Andrew tapped her on her shoulder one day outside the dry cleaners where she had picked up the pink blouse from alterations.   
      “Excuse me, but I think you dropped this.” Andrew said handing her the dry cleaning receipt that had fallen. “You,” he continued, suddenly recognizing Aurora.
      “Hi!” Aurora gushed, her heartbeat nearly stopping.
      These were feelings absent in her interactions with Michael.  She knew she made the right choice ending it with him.  Andrew was whom she needed.
      “How’ve you been?” she asked.
      “I never thought I’d see you again,” he replied. “You just disappeared.  I thought we hit it off.”
      “Oh no,” Aurora chirped back, mustering up courage. “I thought so too...”
      Andrew furrowed his brow slightly and smiled perplexed.  Aurora took a deep breath and made her move.
      “Would you like to come to a dinner thing with me next Friday? It’s for a breast cancer organization.”
      “Really?” Andrew replied, his smile growing wider. “Sure, I’d love to.”
      The evening was enchanting.  They laughed, danced and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. With Andrew by her side, Aurora felt loved, beautiful and confident, again. She decided to open up to him about her fears.
      He in turn confided that his mother had also had a mastectomy, a double, and that he had learned much about the challenges women faced in such circumstances.  It was this experience that prompted him to study medicine, in fact. Suddenly, Aurora felt everything fall into place. And after a few months, Aurora and Andrew had become serious.   
                 One day at the dry cleaning shop, Lily noticed a familiar pink blouse in the bin marked for donation to their church. Lily knew instantly that it was Aurora’s. She pulled the blouse from the bin and gave her friend a long overdue call.
      “You have reached Aurora and Andrew,” the voicemail said. “We’re not here at the moment – we eloped! Please leave a message. Beep.”
      Lily let out a cheer that brought Paul running to the front of the shop.
      “What’s going on?” Paul said worried at Lily's shouts.
      “Aurora and Andrew got married!”

      Weeks later, Aurora returned Lily’s call. She shared that they had moved to West Africa, where Andrew had decided to commit all his time doing relief work, and where they had adopted a child.  Aurora gave Lily permission to donate the pink blouse.

       “That blouse brought me back to Andrew,” Aurora said.  “Maybe it will bring the next owner similar joy. Besides, I only wear blouses with d├ęcolletage these days.”

      (c) 2014 Valerie Williams-Sanchez. All Rights reserved.