Bunnies that are taekwondo experts, penguins that make and eat sushi, and multicolored hamsters are among the characters that grace the pages of Eileen Wacker’s new book series.
Living in Korea for several years and having a blended family with two biological children and two adopted children, one from China, provided an abundance of inspiration, she said. “I always felt it was important for my children to know, understand and appreciate their siblings’ culture. Being exposed to Asian culture had such a positive impact on my life and my children’s lives,” Wacker said. “There’s a lack of lovable Asian characters in children’s stories. Yu-Gi-Oh and Bakugan are cool but they are cartoon characters.”
Wacker, a Hawaii Kai resident, has planned 12 books for the Fujimini Adventure Series, illustrated by Alan M. Low. So far three have been released: “Red Penguin and the Missing Sushi,” “Green Hamster and the Quest for Fun” and “Silent Samurai and the Magnificent Rescue.”
Wacker didn’t stop with the series, though. The stories have been transformed into iBooks ($2.99) and game apps (99 cents) available at iTunes. Animated books ($2.99) are being developed and should be available in mid-June.
The animated books feature voice actors who read as the text is highlighted. “It is a cross between a cartoon and an ibook,” she explained. She also created an interactive website, www.oncekids.com/games.html.
“My husband calls me the mad scientist. I’d close myself off in my office. It took more than a year to develop the line,” she said. “I didn’t want to just write print books. In Asia they are so tech-savvy.”
FUJIScene, her iPad game app, allows players to create email postcards by choosing from various backdrops and adding animals, food and props, like firecrackers, lanterns, tea and umbrellas.
The books are designed for preschoolers, kindergartners and first-graders. She received a 5-star rating from ForeWord Clarion, which lets her sell the books to schools and libraries.
After attending Harvard Business School, Wacker honed her global perspective by living and working in seven countries, including the United States.
“Even if the kids don’t know stuff about Asia, they can still enjoy the book. If they are Asian, they will be able to pick up the subtleties in the book,” she said.
Last month her books were packaged with pajamas and socks and sent to children in Japan who were affected by the earthquake and tsunami through a “Socks for Japan” drive hosted by Punahou School.
Most recently, Wacker received the Mom’s Choice Award, recognizing a benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services created by authors, inventors, companies and parents.
Books are available for $10.99 at www.oncekids.com or www.amazon.com.