The Orange County Children’s Book Festival, in it’s 8th year with up to 30,000 visitors, promotes literacy and features books and activities for kids.

Award-winning children’s author and Grammy Award winner Bunny Hull will perform and read from the award-winning Young Master’s Little Wisdom Series at 11:50 on the Story-telling Stage sponsored by PBS-SoCal.

Hull, currently conducting the “Secrets Of The Heart” arts residency program for Dream A World Education, Inc at Selma Elementary in Hollywood takes a break from three classes of kindergarten students, to make a rare author appearance where she shares one of her secrets from Young Masters: The Little Light. Hull’s background in the music industry as a songwriter and top vocalist for entertainers like Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, David Foster, Celine Dion and more make for a rich addition to her role as children’s author and educator.

The O.C. County Children’s Book Festival is on Sunday, October 2nd from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Admission and parking are free.

Etan Boritzer is the best-selling author of the WHAT IS children’s book series.  Find out about his creative process and how he makes his dreams come true.

Visit Etan Boritzer and Bunny Hull on April 30-May 1st at the L.A. Times Book Festival at UCS, Booth #543.

Etan Boritzer is the best-selling author of the What is? series of children’s books on character education and difficult topics. Currently there are 12 books in the series. His books are available in any bookstore in the US, and they are distributed and sold globally wherever English is spoken (UK, Canada, AU, NZ, South Africa, Singapore, etc). To date, Etan’s books have been translated into 13 languages.  Etan also teaches yoga and meditation in Los Angeles and guest teaches at various studios around the US.


I write books for children, not children’s books. Important difference, right? Children are smart people, only they are smaller than adults and not as experienced on this plane as adults. Some children though are much smarter than adults. Krishnamurti used to say that the highest form of intelligence is compassion. Most children are compassionate, unless some adult has robbed them early on of their innate goodness. Anyway, when we write for children, why not direct intelligent thoughts to them? That way they can start early to develop the critical thinking skills needed to navigate through the dangerous waters of today’s crazy world.

Rev. Michael Beckwith says that Americans are the most over-entertained, under-educated people in the world. The books I write for children are educational but I try to make them entertaining too, particularly with the help of my very creative illustrator Jeff Vernon. I mean, there is nothing wrong with kids being kids, having fun and playing, etc but really, there are a lot of parents living out their missed childhoods through their children, keeping them within a limited intellectual sphere. The average American family buys 5 books a year. Come on, when are we going to really get serious about early childhood education, starting in the home? You parents who are reading this blog are not the average American parents. You buy books or get them from the library, read with the kids before bedtime, you care about your kids’ education. Thanks for being serious.

Hmmm, the journalist’s 5 W’s… I am talking mostly about why. Why I write the books. All of the above, but also that I am working from Purpose (yes, capital P). I mean, the Purpose of a evolving a wholesome and beautiful earth plane that we find ourselves inhabiting this lifetime. I think we can agree that in order to create Beauty, Generosity, Art, Respect, Peace, Health, etc (all in caps too) within ourselves and our children, and with our global neighbors, the key is knowledge, understanding, insight and other names for education. The Buddha advises us “to know things as they are.” KNOWING! That’s the why, why I write the books, to give children the tools needed to know things as they are.

How do I work? Well, I really don’t want the books to be ‘Etan’s opinions’ or to ‘teach.’ I really try to keep the didacticism or moralizing out of my books. Maria Montessori said, “Don’t teach, allow the child to learn.” She also said “Get out of the child’s way!” So, my books are filled with questions. Sometimes a Mom or teacher will say, “I see a lot of questions. Don’t you give any answers?” OK, sometimes I use the word “maybe” to suggest an answer but I am really more interested in the child and adult engaging in the discussion on the difficult topics I cover and letting the child reason out her own conclusions. Maybe the adult disagrees and a meaningful discussion can ensue.

What Is MoneyAnother part of how I work, I am very receptive to other people suggesting titles for the series, so that these books are not necessarily all my books. For instance, What is Money? was suggested by a Mom I was sitting next to on an airplane pointing to her 8 year old daughter and telling me I should write a book about money because her daughter was completely confused about the concepts of money. What is a Friend? was suggested by a teacher explaining to me the difficulties involved in the early socialization process of children. Our new title What is a Family? was suggested by a friend who is Exec Director of a family counseling center, pointing out all the diverse families in our society today. I mean, why should I hold on to a typical author’s conceit that these are my books. Again, back to the why. Why I write the books is not about me.

Once I get started with a title, I do a lot of research. I read through articles and books about let’s say about families; that is, I do anthropological research, historical, contemporary, political, religious research, etc on families. I slop through a few versions of the standard 16 pages of text in each of the books in our series. Then, I have different experts, parents, teachers or child-life professionals in the subject area I am writing review the text, make suggestions as to what I missed with content, edits, even typos. I stopped using a “real” editor a long time ago as this process of editing the books with experts is much more comprehensive. Also, again, these don’t have to be my books. When What is Peace? was released a Mom pointed out a serious conceptual flaw in the text that I had to agree was definitely not right for our kids. In the next printing, I changed the offending wordage. Hey, when you are an independent publisher as I am, you can do that!

I work out the concepts for the illustrations with my illustrator, we go through a few sketches, then a line drawing, then the watercolor painting. I owned an art gallery in a previous lifetime, so I know quite a bit abut art. The paintings sometimes have fun and subtle elements that the kids pick up. The books always have surreptitious messages both visually and conceptually for the adults too.

Oh yeah, another reason why I write the books is that I get to read them to many little kids in schools, libraries and hospitals—all of which is a lot of fun! I get to meet my little readers at book fairs and festivals and to have serious, impromptu discussions with them there also. Writing the books allows me to go to conferences and meet with teachers and principals and to understand kid issues. My only regret in meeting all the nice Moms at the various venues I go to with the books is that their husbands are mostly missing from the educational activities of the children. That should be corrected, Moms!

Sometimes I write the books on the beach in Marina del Rey, CA in front of my house. Sometimes I write them at home or in a café, or on a plane. I am not one of these sensitive writers with a routine who needs a consistent place to sit and write. Actually, it’s better on a writer’s back to stand with your computer say, on a kitchen counter, and not put so much pressure on the lower spine discs sitting for hours on a chair. Anyway, enough about me. Let me just conclude by saying that writing books for kids is a great day job!

To learn more about Etan’s books or make a purchase click here to visit Amazon or

When you were a child did you ever have moments when you decided that you were going to be a writer when you grew up?

*I was a happy dreamer as a child. My mother always lovingly told me that she believed that I would someday be a writer. She originally thought that I would write children’s books. Even though my first books were not of that genre, they were still the result of her early influence. She and my father instilled in me the notion that I could be and do anything I put my mind and heart to. In fact, my first published book is a direct result of that enduring faith. For 25 years, my parents kept the letters, journal entries and official documents that I sent home from my first leap out into the big world. Their sincere belief was that I would someday commit what turned out to be that fantastic adventure to print. And so I did, in my book Sailing To The Far Horizon; The Restless Journey and Tragic Sinking of a Tall Ship. Later, I wrote another nonfiction account, this one of a more recent adventure, my solo journey to both live and work in Africa. That book is titled Muzungu. That same experience also gave birth to my children’s book, When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read; A Story of Hope and Friendship for One Young Kenyan Orphan, the subject of this interview.


If you didn’t write as a child, then when did you start writing and what inspired you to start?

*I began writing for my own children, actually. The fantastic experience that had brought their father and I together and had influenced their lives in far reaching ways that they might never otherwise realize was the impetus for my committing my first book to print. Of the legions of wayfarers who shared in our incredible experience, only a handful were present at the end, and survived to tell the tale. In the quarter century since, no one had. I feared that no one ever would. And so it fell to me.

How do you choose the topics for your books?

The topics of my books seem to choose me. I write when I cannot help it. I write because I have something I feel needs to be said. If my heart wasn’t in it, it would be a much more difficult endeavor for me. In that respect, I guess I am quite lucky. Consequently, I rarely suffer from writers block. Just the opposite, in fact!

What kinds of things inspire you to write?

Life inspires me to write. Life, and happiness, and sadness, and good and bad fortune, and questions that need asking but may never find answers. I write from my heart. Of course, to write for children is then a natural evolution of that process. The homily, Child, You Are Miracle that was published by World Vision, was inspired by a recent natural disaster that left thousands of children abandoned and alone. The writing poured out of me in a matter of minutes. It was meant to be a lifeline cast out to children who felt they had lost everything and had nowhere to turn and no reason to hope. It was a promise of the innate strength and beauty that is inherent in each and every one of them, and the hope that, at the risk of losing all else, if they can hold onto the certainty of their own individual magical special gift, perhaps they could feel safe.

Have any of your books earned special recognition?

When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read, has been nominated and is presently being considered for several awards! Fingers crossed. Any attention brought to the plight of these children is potentially life saving.

Have any of your stories been inspired by real people or events?

*So far, real people and events inspire all of my stories. I have written primarily nonfiction. Real human stories and actual events that need to be exposed, explored, examined, and/or simply enjoyed are my inspiration both for how I live my life, and subsequently how I immortalize those experiences in print. I would like my writing to make a difference. This is particularly and poignantly true in the case of my children’s book that is the subject of this interview.

Do you do school visits, if so what question do children ask you most?

I would love to do school visits for this currently published children’s book! I have worked extensively both personally and professionally with children throughout my lifetime. I have taught, and I have been fortunate enough to be a credentialed instructor in the Junior Great Books program. And my newly published children’s book is, I sincerely believe, very special. It is a true story, told in the voice of one very real little boy, and he speaks for all the children of Kenya. This book is unique in that it is entirely the product of my personal experience, the photographs were taken by me while I worked and lived in Africa, and the illustrations for the book were done by the village youngsters in a tiny school on the grounds of the project where I lived. I would ask them to draw me a picture of “mother”, or of “family” or of “love” or “what frightens them” or “what they hope for in life.” Their responses are a window into a vastly separate reality. With this story, a teacher (or a parent) can share with a classroom (or a child) a wonderful warm, human story, have an educational experience, learn a new language – there are simple Swahili words with their English translations interspersed throughout the story – open their little hearts and eyes and minds, relate to this very lovable protagonist and his family, and make a charitable donation, all in one fell swoop. 100% of my proceeds from the sale of this book are promised to the children who created the illustrations for it. They trust me, and they wait.

Has anyone ever written you a fan letter that you’d like to share?

Yes, I am honored to say that I have received many of which I am very proud. One in particular that I’d like to share was this one: “After I closed your book Pam, I was left with the strong unyielding sense that I needed to be more, see more, feel more, do more with my life.”


About the author:

Pamela Bitterman lives in San Diego, California.  Her first book, Sailing To the Far Horizon, her own story of life, loss, and survival at sea is graphically biographical. It encapsulates the author as product of the first thirty years of her life.

Muzungu, the story of the author’s unlikely escapades throughout Kenya, picks up on that journey a couple decades later.

She has also written a children’s book titled When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read; A Story of Hope and Friendship for One Young Kenyan Orphan. Finally, the author has penned a homily entitled, Child, You Are Miracle. Links to these, plus trailers to her three published books can be found on her website:

Bitterman’s writing has emerged amidst her travels, adventures, and finally her marriage and children, her persona as wife and mother – the heart of her; the author as her best self.

Her future remains to be seen, and to be told.