Fun Fact Friday with Franky’s Fun Flamingo Facts

Franky's Fun Flamingo Facts 8
“Flamingo legs can be longer than their entire body. The backward bending “knee” of a flamingo’s leg is actually its ankle, the knee is out of sign further up the leg.”

Today is day eight of Franky’s Fun Flamingo Facts for Fun Fact Friday!!

I hope you’re enjoying learning more about these beautiful birds.

Can you imagine having legs longer than your entire body? What about if your ankle bent backwards? Crazy, right?!

Share this fun fact with your children and practice standing on one leg together! Then, try the other leg. Are you better able to keep your balance on one leg than the other? Did you know standing on one leg is a yoga pose? Try twirling around on one leg like a ballerina? How does motion change your ability to keep your balance?

Make up your own movements and questions together and enjoy some fun family time together.

Also, please share this post on your social media channels so everyone can have some flamingo fun!!





The Lilac Princess

Thank you, Mary, for a lovely review of my book, The Lilac Princess!

When Angels Fly

lilac princess 2018

The Lilac Princess (The Princess Series Book 1) by Wanda Luthman

My review follows the author’s blurb found on Amazon.

(“The story line is incredible! It is a story that teaches forgiveness can right many wrongs.”

A young Princess with too much responsibility and not enough freedom finds herself facing the greatest decision of her life. She is an only child to an elderly King and Queen of a Kingdom in turmoil. 

Upon her rests the responsibility to rescue her Kingdom one day, but for now, she is held within the castle walls for her safety. She longs to go outside just for a moment, to smell the sweet lilacs growing in the meadow. 

Come along on her adventure when she dares to escape the castle walls and meets a cursed dragon. Little does she know that while the dragon has an evil plan, she holds the key to bringing peace…

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Franky the Finicky Flamingo is Sporting a New Emblem on his Jacket

Mom's Choice Awards Honoring Excellence Emblem with a swish that looks like a parent holding a baby in its' arms shaped like a heart on a blue background


Hi everyone,

I have some great news to share!

Remember when I posted that Franky the Finicky Flamingo had been nominated for a Mom’s Choice Award?

Well, I told you I would let you know once I heard back and guess what? He won!!

Franky the Finicky Flamingo is now

the proud recipient of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award!!!

Franky the Finicky Flamingo picture book cover by Wanda Luthman and illustrated by Mara Reitsma showing Top Shelf Nomination Award and Mom's Choice Award emblems
Available on Amazon, only $2.99!

I’m so thrilled to have received this news!

You just never know when you give your precious baby (i.e.–book) to others who are going to pass judgement on it whether they are actually going to like it or not.

Here’s a link to the Press Release.

So, one down and two more to go.

You see the other emblem on the cover? That’s the Top Shelf Indie Book Award Nominee emblem. Franky has been nominated for that one too. I believe I’ll hear in September. And, of course, I’ll let you know once I know.

And Franky has also been nominated for the International Traditional and Independent Author Award (the same one that Little Birdie won a silver medal in). I believe I’ll hear the decision on Franky also in September. I’ll let you all know about this one too.

So, stay tuned!

Of course, if he places, I’ll be celebrating and if not, well, maybe you can help me drown my sorrows. I jest, it’s wonderful just to be nominated and hey, he’s already won one award!

Thank you for all your support on this author journey that I began just a mere 4 years ago. I have learned so much, met some awesome people in the industry, and have had more serendipitous moments than ever before in my life. I think that means I’m right where I’m supposed to be!

Oh, and let me just tease you here that the sequel to Franky the Finicky Flamingo is going to be coming out in late Sept/early Oct. It’s called Franky the Thirsty Flamingo. You’re going to love it!! It takes a little different twist than my usual books. I’m just going to leave it right there and tell you more about it later.

The Olivia Lauren Series of Children’s Books

Melissa Sue John, author of the Olivia books


Hi everyone,

Today, I’d like to introduce you to someone that I believe is making a difference in the world. Her name is Melissa-Sue John and I’m going to let her tell you about herself and her books…

My name is Melissa-Sue John. My primary motivation for writing books is to increase the diversity of characters in children’s books.  I want all children to be able to see characters that look like them. Representation matters! It is not just about skin color or race, but also culture, nationality, religion, weight, health, (dis)ability, and lived experiences. I have two daughters, Alyssa Simone and Olivia Lauren. Much of their childhood the characters they saw either in books or television did not look like them. This plagued me for over a decade. As a family, we decided to be part of the solution and we created a book series that had many diverse characters with my younger daughter, Olivia Lauren as the star!

Olivia Lauren John, a 10 year old that the Olivia books are written about


Olivia Lauren John is a ten-year old who loves to entertain and loved the spotlight since she could walk. When Olivia was 7 years old she started to model, act, and dance. During auditions, she met many people from different occupations such as casting directors, film directors, producers, sound engineers, hair and makeup artists, wardrobe artists, agents, and photographers. She went to school and told her friends about these different occupations and told me to write a book to teach kids about different careers. This is how Occupations A to Z was created.



Once Olivia started becoming noticeable on television and being featured in commercials, music videos and television shows, many people asked us how we got into the entertainment industry. Instead of saying it hundred times, we created a resource and told them about our simple ten step Guide to becoming an actor.

We visited London for a few months. Olivia told her classmates all about driving to the airport, taking the plane and riding in London cabs and double decker buses. This time she wanted to author a book about different types of transportation. So, Olivia Travels was born.

Most of Olivia’s acting and modeling gigs were in NY. In both industries clothing was important. However, NYC was rich in cultural diversity. Once we were walking from the park after a photo shoot and we passed Orthodox Jews and Muslim women. And we saw a little boy staring at the women in their hijabs. He asked his mother, “What is that woman wearing on her head?” The mother hushed him and told him not to stare. It gave us the idea that it was silly that we lived in a country filled with cultural and religious diversity, but things as simple as clothing weren’t taught in school. It gave us the idea to write a book called A Guide to the Things We Wear.

I am a psychology professor and a researcher by training. In my research, we teach the engineering design cycle to preschoolers using literature. Engineers are always looking to solve problems. One problem we have had prior to cellphones and emails was how long it took to get messages to one another.

Alyssa Simone, the older sister of Olivia John whose books Olivia are written about


My older daughter, Alyssa Simone and I wrote Olivia Connects to teach kids how communication devices have changed over time and the different ways people communicate if they cannot see, hear, or walk. Alyssa Simone is a brilliant 16 year old who enjoys art, playing instruments, running track, and learning languages. She is very instrumental to success, but prefers to work behind the scenes. She is helps in simplifying the language to be more age appropriate and gives ideas for how their illustrations should capture the text.


Overall, it is our personal experiences and our desire to increase diversity that have created these books. Our books are ideal for 6 to 12 year old children. 


Olivia Lauren's series of children's books

 Title of book:  Olivia Lauren’s Occupations A to Z: A Guide to Jobs and Careers

Author: Melissa-Sue John

Illustrators: Simonne-Anais and Zachary-Michael Clarke

ISBN:     978-0997952025

Publication Date: February 2017

Summary: Occupations A to Z is a youth illustrated children’s reference book about jobs and careers. Olivia Lauren and her multicultural friends go through the alphabet to learn about traditional and nontraditional careers in the arts, business, science, technology, engineering, and math. This book should be used as a child friendly guide book for parents to discuss career choices with their children.


Title of book:  Olivia Lauren’s Olivia Travels: A Guide to Modes of Transportation

Authors: Melissa-Sue John and Olivia Lauren

Illustrator: Niquey

ISBN:  978-0997952001

Publication Date: March 2017

Summary: Olivia Travels is a fun story about Olivia and her family that teaches young children about different ways that people travel. Olivia takes her readers on a journey through her own experiences with transportation. Children will increase their vocabulary, be exposed to rhyme and rhythm, and learn about homonyms.


Title of book:  Olivia Lauren’s Olivia Connects: A Guide to Modes of Communication          ISBN: 9780997952056

Publication Date: August 2017

Authors: Melissa-Sue John and Alyssa Simone

Illustrator: Lionel Emabat

Summary:  Olivia Connects teaches children about different ways people communicate. Olivia Lauren and her friends discuss communication styles and explore ancient and contemporary modes of communication. Children will increase their vocabulary, grow in curiosity about communication devices, and enhance their understanding about communication abilities (blindness, speech impaired, hearing impaired, wheelchair bound, cerebral palsy).



Title of book:  Olivia Lauren’s A Guide to Things We Wear

Authors: Olivia Lauren & Melissa-Sue John

Illustrators: Simonne-Anais & Zachary-Michael Clarke

ISBN:                978-0-9979520-1-8

Publication Date: September 2017

Category: Books- Children Books- Growing Up & Facts of Life- Friends, social skills, & school life multiculturalism

Books- Children Books-Art, Music & Photography- Performing Arts

Books – Health, Fitness & Dieting – Beauty, Grooming, & Style – Style & Clothing

Summary: Things We Wear is an introduction to the different things we wear. Olivia Lauren and her friends explore when, where, and why we wear the things we do. Children will increase their vocabulary and curiosity about fashion, tradition, culture, safety, and the significance of clothing.

Recommended Age: 6 to 12

Connect with Melissa-Sue John

Website :


Social Media links: Instagram @laurensimonepubs


Where to Purchase


Occupations A to Z

Guide to becoming an actor

Olivia travels

Things We Wear

My review of Things We Wear that I gave 5 stars!! ‘Things We Wear’ is a well-written, well-illustrated book that will help children and adults learn about other cultures and their type of dress as well as every day clothes such as pajamas and athletic wear. I especially like how the author explains what each person is wearing from the different cultures. This is what the world needs now as we need to learn more about each other and love and embrace each other in our differences. Again, as in another Olivia Lauren’s book, Elijah and His Invisible Friend,Elijah and His invisible friend (Madison and Elijah Book 1) there is a helpful glossary of terms used in the book. I think this book could be used by teachers as well as parents to help children learn more about other people.

Olivia Connects

Lauren Simone Publishing House:


several independent bookstores near you!


Fun Fact Friday with Franky’s Fun Flamingo Facts

Franky the flamingo pictured on a bright purple background
“In the wild flamingos live 20-30 years and sometimes over 50 years in captivity.”

Welcome to our seventh Fun Fact Friday with Franky the Flamingo!!

Franky is the main character in the children’s picture book, Franky The Finicky Flamingo.

I never knew flamingos lived this long! I wonder if they can still stand on just one leg when they are 50? Do they need glasses?

What about you? What do you wonder? Why not take a moment at dinner tonight and share this fun fact with your children and then ask them what they think a 50 year old flamingo would be like?

And please share this post on your social media channels so others can enjoy learning this fun fact and discussing it with their children.

Near A River Children’s Book

Near A River Book Cover by BJ Rae with two eagles flying over a still river with green mountains in the background and blue sky with white clouds above

Hi everyone,

Thank you for joining me today. I met Bobbie Jo on LinkedIn and read her beautiful blog post and asked her if I could share it here. She said yes! and so I’m sharing it in its’ entirety here. I hope it touches you like it did me and you purchase her book for your child.


It was a cold November day almost 20 years ago but I still remember it like it was yesterday.  I was driving to work and suddenly got the feeling I should try to reach my Grandma.

I pulled over and called her at the hospice house where she was staying.  She haltingly spoke, “Sweetheart, my time to go is very soon.  I will miss you so much!  Always know I

Bobbie Jo Rae pictured as a child with her Grandmother
I have a very important promise to keep!

am with you and I love you no matter where you go or what you do.  Promise me one thing. I  tried to share love, hope, faith, and encouragement with everyone I could.  Promise me you will continue to spread my message! And follow your dreams.  You will be a writer someday!”  She could tell I was crying when I replied, “You know I will!  I love you and will do anything for you!  You have been my world!  I will spread your message to the ends of earth if I can! Watch over me from heaven, OK?”  The call was short because my 94 year old Grandma was having trouble breathing and speaking at the same time.

She was put into a drug-induced coma by noon that day and she died a week later.  I have cried rivers of tears since she died.  She was my world!  She taught me how to love others and be loved back, how to be strong and survive.  Most importantly, she taught me to believe in myself, that I can make my dreams come true.

Well, I tried to spread her message with everyone I encountered everywhere.  I held doors open for people and smiled at them, I cooked food and delivered it to those who were down for whatever reason, and I volunteered at a nursing home.  But I felt I was not doing enough to spread her message to the ends of the earth.

Years later, I finally became the writer I have always dreamed of becoming!  I could not disappoint Grandma!  And I realized that I can spread her message much farther by writing and sharing my writing on social media.

Could you please help me spread her message?  Could you please share my posts and encourage others to do the same?

Grandma is watching over me from heaven right now, crying as I write this post.  I will not disappoint her.  When I get to heaven, I will hug her and tell her I did my best to keep my promise with help from many friends.

Spread a positive message every day of your life!


Let the encouraging words in these near a river posts help you

soar like an eagle above life’s storms.

Find joy in life again…

Two prayers for your life…

Deal with a dishonest person…

Hugging is one of the most powerful forces in the universe.  So is love!

If you enjoyed this post, remember that BJ writes children’s books.

Her encouraging children’s eagle

near a river common core reading book

is available on and

Buy BJ’s near a river encouraging eagle reading book

for a child you care about today!

Originally posted on her blog at

(Bobbie Jo gave me permission to copy and paste her blog post here per her Message to me on LinkedIn Monday, July 2, 2018

  • “Yes, I would love you to share my post on your blog. You can just copy the post onto your blog… I love your blog… Thanks for your support!… Bj Rae”)

Fun Fact Friday with Franky’s Fun Flamingo Facts

Franky the Flamingo pictures on a bright purple background
“The Greater flamingo is the largest species, at up to 1.5 m (5 ft) tall and weighing up to 3.5 kg (8 lbs). The Lesser flamingo is just 90 cm (3 ft) tall, weighing 2.5 kg (5.5. lbs).”


Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re enjoying Fun Fact Fridays with Franky’s Fun Flamingo Facts!

Today is our sixth one!

I never knew there were 5 foot tall flamingos!! I’m only 5 foot 5 inches–I would almost be eyeball to eyeball with one of those. I bet they are beautiful though.

Please share these facts with your kids and have a conversation about being friends with a 5 foot tall flamingo!! You could even think of fun names. I’d love to hear them.

And share this post with others!! Spread the love!


Writing as a Way of Helping People

Wanda Luthman, childrens author, with Mary Brotherton, the Editor in Chief of bUneke Magazine, sporting blue hair, and Roxanne Bellamy, an Ambassador for the Magazine
Wanda Luthman (that’s me!) pictured in the front, then Mary Brotherton, the Editor in Chief of bUneke Magazine, and Roxanne Bellmany, an Ambassador for bUneke

Ever heard of a magazine called bUneke?

No? Well, that’s because it’s brand new and with a wonderful vision and mission to celebrate all that is good in the world.

bUneke is said ‘Be Unique’. Don’t you just love it?

When I met these women at a recent book event, Space Coast Book Lovers Event 2018 (#SCBL2018), it was a serendipitous moment.

I was actually looking for someone else. I had intended to put one of my children’s books in a giveaway but apparently missed the deadline. Anyway, these ladies were packing up their table when I asked them about the giveaway table. Since my opportunity to give my book away had vanished, they explained who they were and what they did.

They have a magazine called #bUneke. They explained how they wanted to share positive stories with the world. They were going to offer their magazine for FREE to anyone who wanted it. Can you believe it?

Then, they said they were collecting books to read and write a review so I gave them the book I was going to use for the giveaway. So, my book found a good home after all.

Later, at the SCBL2018 Book Event, we talked again and they asked if I would want to write for them. Would I? Yes, yes, of course I would! I would love to be part of such a positive, world-changing organization.

But, that’s not even the best part. They wanted me to write about non-profit organizations doing great things. I explained how there were two I knew right off the bat and how I would love to help those organization financially but I’m not able to right now.

She told me, ‘maybe not, but you can help them with your pen. You can write their story and bring it to light for others to know about them.’ I about fell off my chair, only I was standing at the time. LOL

I never thought about using my writing as a way of helping people in this way. Sure, I know my children’s books help children learn to be better people, but I never thought about my journalism in that manner. She helped me see myself in a new light and I was excited to get started!

I reached out to the two organizations right away. I’m working on their stories right now, but another organization just fell into my lap (in what has become a serendipitous life I live being an author). It’s the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren organization (GRG). I know about them because of my work as a High School Guidance Counselor. We have many grandparents in this situation.

I reached out to GRG to donate some books, thinking maybe these grandparents could use a book to read to their grandchildren at night, and I met a lovely woman named Lil. As she was talking about their need for more funds, it hit me, I can help her and her organization by writing about it.

I reached out to bUneke and they actually knew the organization and were totally onboard.

So, here’s the link to my story on GRG in the bUneke Magazine (their 2nd issue).

bUneke Magazine July 2018

My article begins on page 26 but I encourage you to read the other articles as well. There’s some awesome people doing some awesome things in our world.

Let’s work together to share these stories with the world. Will you help?

Please like, comment, and share everywhere!

Thank you!

Coming Soon!! The Fairy Forest Book Room

Pipe & Thimble Bookstore's Fairy Forest Book Room Badge with little girl sitting with a book on her lap and a teddy bear nearby under a tree with a door in it
One of my favorite bookstores is Pipe & Thimble located in beautiful Lomita, CA.
They are opening a brand new room called Welcome to the Fairy Forest, on August 18th from 11am-4pm!
It will focus on fantastical and mythical creatures such as fairies, mermaids, unicorns, elves, and dragons. All my favorites!!

My books, Gloria and the Unicorn and The Lilac Princess, will be among the books stocked in that room.

Keep an eye out for more updates and photos about the room and the books in the room.