BRISTOL â€“ Bristol native, author and director Nicholas Tana has written a new book, â€śThe Little Lion That Listenedâ€ť to encourage families whom, like himself, are raising a non-verbal child.
Tana, who now lives in Los Angeles, is a graduate of Bristol Central High School. Growing up in Bristol, he said he loved to read at Bristol Public Library. His first job was at Lake Compounce and he also formerly worked ESPN. He has signed copies of his books available at St. Joseph School, which is where he went to elementary school.
â€śThe Little Lion That Listenedâ€ť is dedicated to his daughter, Catalina, who is just under 2 years old and suffers from a rare genetic disorder that makes it difficult for her to speak. She is currently enrolled in an early start program designed to help her to develop her communication skills and catch up.
â€śTrying to help alleviate the stresses of parents of special needs children was something that I felt strongly that I wanted to do,â€ť he said. â€śA parent of a child who is struggling can often feel like things are spinning out of control as they try to foster growth and development. It is hard to not feel anxious, set expectations and make comparisons.â€ť
The book was published Aug. 10 by New Classics Books on â€śWorld Lion Day,â€ť features illustrations by Jessie Fox and creative story design by Matthew Molleur. Tana said the book is about â€śdoing things your own way in your own time.â€ť He said it also â€ścontains an inspirational message for children struggling to develop and the parents who care for them.â€ť He hopes the story will resonate with those trying to find their voice and who appreciate the value of listening.
The following is the plot synopsis for the book:
â€śLittle Leo is a great listener. His listening skills even save his family from danger. But Leo refuses to roar. His father worries that Leo will never earn the respect of the other animals. Only Leo's mother believes her son will roar when he is ready. Will Leo find his voice when his family needs him most?"
Tana said he has already received a lot of positive feedback for the book.
â€śIt has been a joy to see the response; itâ€™s inspirational,â€ť he said. â€śThere have been a number of parents who have reached out to me and said that they were very grateful. Iâ€™ve also heard from educators who have added it to school libraries. Psychologists who are dealing with anxiety therapy and child development have endorsed it as well.â€ť
Tana has written several childrenâ€™s books, including the Halloween-themed â€śMonsters Are Afraid of Babies.â€ť Two years ago, he was also hired by Disney to write a story about Snow White and a wishing well for the book â€ś5-Minute Easter Stories.â€ť He has also created the horror comedy story â€śHellâ€™s Kitty,â€ť which he has adapted into a comic book, web-comic, musical and film, available on Amazon.
â€śHellâ€™s Kitty is based on my life of trying to date in LA with a cat who is very possessive of me,â€ť Tana said. â€śMonsters Are Afraid of Babies is based on my nephew and dedicated to him. Itâ€™s about a child who finds that his baby sister is able ward off monsters.â€ť
Currently, Tana is directing â€śWe Are Animalsâ€ť, an animal rights documentary with Nikki Glaser, Patricia Manterola, Mya, Moby, Alison Pill, Elaine Hendrix, Alexandra Paul, Daniella Monet and Mallika Sherawat.
â€śAnimals are a big part of a lot of my stories,â€ť Tana said. â€śI've always had a good relationship with animals. Also always appreciated the idea of giving a voice to people who are struggling to find a voice. Animals lack a voice in society; they can't speak for themselves in a language we understand. I would like to see more underrepresented beings, animals being one, find their place in society and be respected. I see it as helping the underdog.â€ť
Tana said he was drawn to writing because he has always liked the ability to dive into different stories and worlds.
â€śIt's almost like living more than one life,â€ť he said. â€śYou can write about anything and almost time travel in a sense. As a kid, I loved to read. I thought the fact that even authors who were deceased were able to communicate with me through their books felt very surreal and magical. I write to reflect and understand the world and the experience of living. It allows me to be able to step out of my experience, put it down in a creative form and make sense of it all.â€ť
People can find â€śThe Little Lion That Listenedâ€ť at thelittlelionthatlistened.com and newclassics.com as well as Amazon, Target and Barnes & Noble. Tana also encouraged people to order it through their local library or bookstore.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.