Fine artist Efi Kokkinaki paints a language we can all understand. The feelings that arise from her works provide a balm for the sin sick soul. A kind of innocence overlying the harsh realities of another world combines in a way reminiscent of early works by Marc Chagall and his paintings of his little Russian village.
As the eye flows through and around the soaring textures and soothing colors in Efi’s work, a sense of peace and weightlessness emerges and helps breed our belief that in fact, we have reached another dimension, a dimension we may have experienced only in a dream.
By Jan Kirstein, writer and visual artist
More Works by Efi
I am a painter, an art teacher in school and I also illustrate books for children.
Painting is my language to express the world as I see it…
Efi is an artist from Greece. Her Facebook Painting Page and Instagram are listed below.
Official Review: Fantasy Animals by Janis Kirstein#1 by Shelle
» Feb 14, 2017
[The Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Fantasy Animals” by Janis Kirstein.]
3 out of 4 stars
Review by Shelle
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Learning to get along with someone you don’t share similarities with can be tough. In Fantasy Animals, a children’s book written and illustrated Janis Kirstein, we follow two very different characters who must learn to work together and learn to appreciate their differences. I rated this book 3 out of 4 stars. The story is sweet and fun for kids, but there were some spacing irregularities, odd formatting errors, and strangely-worded sentences that led me to believe the book was not professionally edited.
Fantasy Animals introduces us to Vortex, an anteater, and Scoop, a lion. These two don’t have much in common, aside from the fact that they were born joined together at the torso. Scoop must endure Vortex’s loud ant eating and Vortex has to put up with Scoop’s need for speed as they race through the jungle. The conjoined animals do not always get along and often become quite annoyed with each other. They often complain loudly, argue with each other, and disagree on pretty much everything. When the duo learns it’s possible to be separated surgically, they jump at the chance to be free. However, once they begin to work together and appreciate the positive attributes of the other, they aren’t so sure being separated is the best choice.
This story is sweet and has a great lesson about getting along. The author and illustrator, Janis Kirstein, is an educator and likely drew from her own “getting along” experiences for this book. The importance of appreciating another’s talents and skills is highlighted, as well as the importance of friendship and compromise. The illustrations are bright a fun and make the story feel like an old-fashioned folktale. I liked the lesson this book taught and think the story was very creative and imaginative. A helpful links for educators section included at the end of the book is a nice resource for teachers wanting to expand on the book’s themes.
My second-grade daughter read this book along with me and she liked it very much. Her favorite parts were the illustrations and the funny arguing the characters did. She was also very happy with the ending and seemed to understand lesson of the story. Some words in the story were too difficult for her (anesthesia, proboscis, nauseated) so I think this book was likely intended for readers in grades 3-5.
I would recommend Fantasy Animals to anyone who appreciates fun and creative children’s stories. Kids will like this story and anyone with a sibling will identify with the characters. This would be a fun book to read aloud to younger kids and would definitely inspire some deeper conversations about appreciating differences and getting along.
Sunday afternoon teatime is always better with a little story, don’t you think? So here is a little excerpt from my story “Fantasy Animals.” To read more of this delightful modern day parable about today’s world problems click here.
NOT ALWAYS IN HARMONY
Not necessarily in peace, did these two very special
animals live. You see, from a very early age, Scoop and
Vortex got on each other’s nerves almost constantly.
Every time Vortex would take great delight in placing
his long proboscis upon the earthen floor to suck the ants up
his snout, Scoop would rage at him: “Oh Vortex, there you
go again! Do you have to wheeze and suck with so much
gusto? It sounds like you are cutting down the entire Amazon
with an electric buzz saw blade.” This was most definitely her
favorite way to chide Vortex into active battle.
“I eat ants and termites. That’s what I do so just get
over it Scoop!” Vortex was always very offended to be compared to the electric buzz saw that they sometimes could
hear in the distance that filled them all with deep terror as it destroyed their beautiful habitat.
Reviewed By Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite
Vortex is an anteater; Scoop is a lioness. What’s unusual about the two is not that Vortex likes to count how many ants he eats each day, or that Scoop likes to measure how fast she runs because she’s the fastest runner in the jungle. What’s unusual is that Vortex the anteater and Scoop the lioness were born together, attached at the shoulder and torso. Vortex and Scoop are one, even though they’re also two different animals. And this has become a problem. While Vortex wants to eat all the ants he can, Scoop wants to run as fast as she can, so neither one is happy with how the other goes about their business. So, what do they do? Do they seek surgical separation? Or do they learn to accommodate each other and live together in harmony?
Author and artist Janis Adrian Kirstein has written a charming, fantastical story in Fantasy Animals (Volume 1), complete with her own illustrations. The story reads like a treasured parable, a storyteller’s treat that also teaches valuable lessons. In this case, the lessons to be learned are about understanding, cooperating, resolving differences, and learning to live together without conflict in spite of differences. Everyone is born different, unique, and we all must learn to respect these differences, not criticize them. Vortex and Scoop had to learn how to negotiate, how to find something good in each other, and how to make allowances for the other’s differences. These are important lessons for all of us, young and old, to learn over and over again. A great story to share many times.
If you read this book and feel so moved, please feel free to write a review on my Amazon author page!