Teaming up with the Rotary Club of the Santa Clarita Valley, the author of ‘“Junga the Dancing Yeti” held a book-signing event in Valencia on Saturday.
“Junga,” now a two-book series, is an illustrated children’s book designed to teach kids about the wrongs associated with bullying and how to accept differences among their peers.
With its colorful illustrations and uplifting words, the two books follow the story of young Junga and how he deals with discrimination and finding his individuality after leaving his home or interacting with new animal characters.
“It’s a series that teaches about anti-bullying and discrimination, trying to teach children kindergarten through third grade … about acceptance and to celebrate our differences,” said Stephen Tako, the author of both books. “We know that bullying is never going to go away, but what we want to try to do is give a tool to children so that they can learn how to have good self esteem, know how to be friendly to maybe the new kid at school, and just how to treat each other nicer.
For instance, in the first book titled “Junga the Dancing Yeti,” Junga is not accepted by his siblings for his dancing, something he does to keep himself warm. However, by the end of the first book, and after visiting a far away tropical island and being captured by the native condor army there, Junga overcomes his fear and self-doubt in his dancing and is accepted by all those around him.
In addition to meeting with local Santa Clarita Valley kids who enjoy the books, Tako said the signing was also functioning as a fundraiser for local school districts thanks to the Rotary Club.
“We bought about 100 books that we’re going to actually donate to the four elementary school districts out here, and we’re going to put these books in the libraries of the schools,” said Glenn Terry, the president of the SCV Rotary Club chapter. “Rotary wanted to show our support and make sure that we’re supporting anti-bullying, kids aren’t being picked on, and it’s promoting the right message to the kids.”
Tako, who lived in Santa Clarita for over two decades before moving to San Diego, said he returned to his hometown for the event because he felt it important to meet those who loved the book locally.
“Some of the people that supported this to Kickstarter and Indiegogo live here,” said Tako, saying he was able to publish the books through contributions made on crowdfunding websites. “They wanted to see me and they wanted to come by and actually have me sign the book in front of them. It means a lot to them. It’s exciting.”