Brian Russo and Yoga Bunny Honor Mother Earth

Happy Earth Day everyone! I’m excited to welcome children’s book author/illustrator Brian Russo to Frog on a Blog! Brian’s book A Friend for Yoga Bunny was published on February 22, and is a follow-up to Yoga Bunny, a book that features an adorable little bunny in yoga poses, and encourages kids to wind down and relax. Brian is passionate about helping animals and the environment through his art, which I think is fantastic and something I can really get behind. Let’s hear from Brian!

Hi! My name is Brian Russo. I run a little shop on where I sell t-shirts featuring Yoga Bunny, a character I created back in 2010 during my Yoga Teacher Training. Yoga Bunny now has two children’s books available from HarperCollins. Making these books has been such a joy, because it’s given me the chance to work with a small creative team. At the same time, I love running my own online shop because I have the opportunity to come up with designs on my own and then put them online as soon as they’re ready. Each t-shirt design feels like a little story that I get to tell all on my own.

In addition to bringing in a little extra income, the Threadless Shop gives me a chance to build a personal brand, based on my beliefs. As a Children’s Book Artist, I believe I must have some responsibility to the animals I represent in my stories. Based on this, I had the idea that a portion of my earnings from the Threadless could go to support Rabbit Rescue Houses. Although this wasn’t an option on the Threadless list of charities, the ASPCA was. So, for now, I’m donating 5% of my earnings from five of my first designs to that organization.

Then, with Earth Day coming up, I wanted to create a design that reflected my beliefs about the environment and contributed a small amount of my earnings to an environmental cause. One of the options on Threadless was the Eden Reforestation Project, which combats deforestation. I only learned about the organization through Threadless, but as you can see on their website and by searching their charity score, it seems that they do good work.

I don’t consider the way I live to be especially green, and I’m not an activist by any means. Yet, I do believe that the Earth is alive, and full of actual magic that I’ve witnessed firsthand. I’m very interested in, and believe in the existence of, animal spirits. I was recently reading about the Rabbit’s symbolism and mythology, and learned that in many cultures, the Rabbit is heavily associated with the moon. So, I recreated another version of my Earth Day design where Yoga Bunny represents the moon, as contrasted with the sun, behind him. I’ll also be giving 5% of my earnings from this design to the Eden Reforestation Project in honor of Earth Day.  I read somewhere that the rabbit symbolizes humans’ connection to the Earth, and I believe that to be true. I’m grateful to both the Rabbit Spirit, and to Mother Earth on this day. 

Happy Earth Day to everyone, and thank you for reading!

Brian Russo has been drawing since he can remember. He grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey, then moved to New York, where he earned a degree from NYU. Afterwards, he discovered something he loves just as much as drawing: doing yoga. He earned a teaching certificate from Yoga to the People in 2010, during which time he developed the Yoga Bunny illustrations. He now lives in Lehi, Utah (the setting of the film Footloose) with his beautiful wife, Emily, adorable son, Quill, and loyal dog, Spike. His favorite film is Spirited Away, and the celebrity he’d most like to meet is ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.

My View Book Review: The Santa Corner by Jakie Rodriguez + Supporting Worthy Causes

Title: The Santa Corner

Author: Jakie Rodriguez

Illustrator: Bee L. Hannah

Publisher/Year: Mascot Books/2016

Back Cover Blurb: Santa is afraid he will not have enough presents to deliver to all the boys and girls, so he is asking for help. He is sending out letters asking children to collect toys they no longer play with. Gracie and Meghyn are ready to help, are you?

When Meghyn visits her friend Gracie’s house, she wonders why there’s a pile of toys in the corner and why she can’t play with them. Gracie tells her that the toys are in the Santa corner. Toys in the Santa corner are toys that kids no longer play with. Santa sends his helpers to pick them up in the middle of the night. They take the toys back to the North Pole, and they repair them too, if necessary. On Christmas Eve, Santa delivers the toys to children all over the world. Meghyn is excited to go home and start a Santa corner of her own.

I know it’s not Christmas, but what’s special about The Santa Corner is that it teaches kids, through a delightful story and sweet illustrations, to be generous and giving–qualities that can be encouraged anytime. And what young child wouldn’t want to help Santa if given the chance? Parents who want to cultivate a giving nature in their children, while at the same time, clear away the clutter of too many toys, will find the message of this book to be just what they need to succeed. Though not expressly stated in the text, parents might want to discuss with their kids how putting their toys in the Santa corner helps not only Santa, but also children who are less fortunate than they are. Creating a Santa corner is an excellent way to help others, and it can be started now.

I like to help others too. I often donate money or clothing to the Syracuse Rescue Mission, a local organization that’s working hard to end hunger and homelessness in our community. I donate to animal welfare organizations as well. And I’ve donated copies of my book The Peddler’s Bed to libraries and literacy organizations. There are MANY wonderful causes out there. I’m sure, just like Meghyn and Gracie in The Santa Corner, kids everywhere want to help others. Find a great cause that you and your children can support together.

WOW Blog Tour: A Dog Dreams of Paris

This is Java. Since he’s part Lhasa Apso, I think he may be dreaming of Tibet. What do you think?

I love my dog, Java. He brings so much joy into my life. My husband and I adopted him from a local animal shelter about five years ago and I can’t even imagine my life without him now. He’s inspired several of my stories including one that is currently being considered by a publisher.

As a dog lover, when I heard about the blog tour for Barbara Barth’s A Dog Dreams of Paris, I was curious to learn more about the book. It’s all about a real rescue dog named April, the sixth dog to be adopted by Barbara! And when I discovered that a portion of all book sales will be donated to animal rescue, I signed up for the tour without hesitation.

Barbara’s had some success with raising funds for charities through book sales, a topic I’m very interested in, and has written an article for Frog on a Blog about three positive experiences she’s had doing exactly that–Earmarking a Portion of Your Book Profits for Charity. Before we get to the article, let me share Barbara’s sweet book A Dog Dreams of Paris with you.


Title: A Dog Dreams of Paris: From Rescue Dog to Diva

Author: Barbara Barth

Genre: Gift Book/Children

Publisher: Gilbert Street Press

Publication Date: May 5, 2015

Paperback: 52 pages (also available as ebook)

Synopsis: Meet April, a rescue dog turned Diva, in this charming picture book for dreamers of all ages. This fantasy dog memoir is April’s travel diary on places she would visit in Paris. April was the sixth dog adopted by author Barbara Barth. She had trouble finding her place in the pack and sat quietly watching the other dogs. During a photo shoot for an Easter blog post, a vintage pink hat, complete with a large silk rose, was placed on April’s head. She wore the hat with style and transformed from April to Miss April in Paris. For a few months she had a blog of her own, where she dreamed of visiting the city of lights. April has completed her Paris diary and is sharing it with you here.

Earmarking a Portion of Your Book Profits for Charity

by Barbara Barth

I love the idea that a book will bring pleasure to the person reading it and help a great cause with its sales. The two together are a win-win situation. I am not a professional fundraiser, but like to feel my sales can help my favorite charities. In my case, mostly animal rescue groups, since I live with six dogs from my local shelters. To be honest, I confuse myself with some of my ideas, because I wing it many times. There are no set guidelines; I just do what pops into my head at any given moment. I will share the three experiences I’ve had and the great outcomes from all three.

The book that started it all for me (my calling myself a writer) was my memoir on my first year as a widow. The Unfaithful Widow, published in 2010, was a series of essays over a year on finding a life of my own again. Dogs played a huge role in my healing process. I adopted five dogs in nine months, giving me six dogs at home, with my old dog Foxy. My book launch was at a friend’s huge Victorian bed and breakfast, complete with a silent auction to benefit the agency that brought me most of my dogs, Animal Action Rescue. The evening was a gala for me and for the rescue group. I planned on keeping the wholesale cost of each book I sold and then donating the profit to the group. The first person who bought my book wanted to write a check. “Who should I make the check out to?” A simple question, but it kick started a thought in my mind. I didn’t want to figure out the profit at the end of the evening. Right there I decided to donate the entire price of my book to my rescue group. I gave the woman the animal rescue groups name for her check (which also allowed her to claim a charitable deduction) and to my surprise, she wrote a check for twenty dollars for my $15.95 book. The rest of the evening went like that. As soon as I told a customer all the money went to the rescue group, they paid more for my book, both in cash and check. One woman, who was a huge dog lover, wrote a check for $100. I was amazed at the generosity of people when it came to donating to a cause, rather than just buying a book. The evening was magical.

In December 2014, I published a Christmas anthology that include stories from thirty authors. Originally, it was going to be a free e-book on Kindle. The perk for the authors, they had their bio and web links at the end of their piece. Again, things did not go as planned. The book had to have a price to be uploaded to Kindle, and then I could put it in KDP select for a short free promotion. I didn’t want to profit from the work of my fellow authors, and if we had sales, the money needed to go to a charity. A quick e-mail to everyone took care of that. We would donate any sales to a children’s literacy group. I chose First Book, a group that provides access to new books for children in need. I contacted their home office; wanting to be sure it was okay for me to link back to them in the e-book. The bottom line, I explained to them, we may not have many sales, but with thirty authors involved, First Book would receive additional press and let others know of their work. First Book is a huge charity, but you can never have too much great PR. The sales for our e-book were not great, but the response from the authors who were in the book was awesome. Some donated directly to First Book, and I donated the sales and a contribution of my own. Disney matched all donations made by December 31st by tripling the number of books donated to children. We met that deadline, so our small amount of sales plus personal donations escalated thanks to Disney’s generosity and that of our group. 

A Dog Dreams of Paris is my dream of the perfect book to help raise money for animal groups. I am still working on a plan for it. The book had a quiet launch with all profits in May going to Friends of DeKalb Animals, again a group close to my heart. Immediately after the book was available for sale I went into the hospital for hip replacement surgery. I have not had a chance to get the book out for book signings or to local shops. That is next month’s goal after my physical therapy is completed and I am mobile again. The picture book is based on Miss April in Paris, the last rescue dog to come to me at the beginning of 2011. It is her story on finding her way in the pack. I donated books to the group that brought me April, Atlanta Canine Adoption Project as a thank you for my lovely dog. In addition, it states in the book and in my promotional material, rescue groups can buy the book at my wholesale costs for fundraising.

I am sure there are professional guidelines on how to donate part of your book sales to charity, and you can Google them. I just wanted to share my experiences in this post. I have never figured out how to make money for myself with my books, but I write for the love of writing, pulling a project together, helping other authors with publicity, and finding a way to give to the folks who give to others of their time and energy. It isn’t about the money; it is about doing what feels right.

Barbara Barth with a few of her dogs.

About Barbara Barth:

Barbara Barth likes a lot of things: turquoise jewelry, surfing the ‘net, and margaritas, to name a few. Then there are the dogs. As many as her house can hold! After her husband died she recorded the year that followed in a series of essays that became her memoir The Unfaithful Widow. When she isn’t writing you can find her at the local thrift shops or pounding another nail into the wall to hang the paintings she can’t resist. She published a romance novel Danger in her Words before one of her dogs, Miss April in Paris, insisted it was HER turn to write a memoir. Miss April in Paris now refers to Barbara as “my secretary”.

Barbara Barth’s website:

Barbara Barth’s blog:

Barbara on Facebook:

Barbara on Twitter: @writerwithdogs


Organizations referred to in the article:

First Book

Animal Action Rescue

Friends of DeKalb Animals

Atlanta Canine Adoption Project


Please visit the other stops on the tour:

Monday, June 29 @ The Muffin
interview and giveaway

Tuesday, June 30 @ Bring on Lemons

Wednesday, July 1 @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews

Friday, July 3 @ Deal Sharing Aunt

Monday, July 6 @ Frog on a Blog
guest post

Wednesday, July 8 @ Building Bookshelves

Thursday, July 9 @ Words by Webb

Friday, July 10 @ Oh My Dog!
interview and giveaway

Tuesday, July 14 @ Writer with Dogs
character interview

Wednesday, July 15 @ Hott Books

Thursday, July 16 @ Margo Dill
guest post

Friday, July 17 @ Renee’s Pages

Friday, July 24 @ MC Simon Writes