Venus & Her Fly Trip - Books to Prevent Self-Hatred in Kids
A book series that reflects the power of kids to be wise, loving and kind - all of which prevent self-hatred and promote inner peace.
Venus & Her Fly Trip - Books to Prevent Self-Hatred in Kids
A book series that reflects the power of kids to be wise, loving and kind - all of which prevent self-hatred and promote inner peace.
We believe in the power of collective positive intention to heal communities.
As many parents, teachers, and child psychologists know, the amount of self-hatred and lack of self-esteem — which can manifest as “disruptive” or “anti-social” behavior — in kids is deeply troubling. Kids grow up in increasingly toxic environments where they feel the intense burden of various forms of violence on a near-daily basis, including bullying, cyber-bullying, and the ever-present risk of school shootings. Interestingly, while the perception of violence is at an all time high, the actual amount of violent crime is at an all time low.
Is there something about our modern media culture that creates a fear-based reality and leads us to believe negative messages about ourselves? How are the environments in which children live, play, and go to school contributing to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)?
The plague of self-hatred starts at a very young age, but the good news is that self-hatred is entirely preventable. There are countries on this planet, including Tibet, where self-hatred does not exist.
The Venus and Her Fly Trip books are trauma-informed children’s books that nurture the whole child by promoting individual-level social, emotional, and mental health, while also contributing to supportive family, school and community systems. The main character and her friends act as media literacy warriors who transform the toxic media environment!
Imagination is one of the most powerful tools we possess as humans, and it needs to be cultivated with care. This series helps kids explore the full spectrum of possibilities that life offers, exposing them to a variety of experiences that help them develop self-confidence, self-respect, and most importantly, self-love.
Jean Kilbourne is a pioneer in the field of media studies. Her groundbreaking work regarding the connection between advertising and public health issues such as violence against women, eating disorders and addiction launched an international media literacy movement to prevent these problems. She is an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame, creator of the renowned Killing Us Softly film series (now in its 4th iteration!), and the author of Can't Buy Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel and Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids (with Diane E. Levin).
Beth P. Riley is a leader in the field of Somatic Social and Emotional Learning and passionately engages embodiment as a core component of living a fulfilled life. A visionary somatic movement activist, she has taught Continuum, Ashtanga Yoga and mindfulness meditation workshops around the globe for over 40 years. With a degree in Dance Education from Stanford University, much of Beth’s life work has been transmitting Continuum, a form of mindful movement that deepens our capacity to innovate and participate with our bodies and ourselves. Her latest project, "The Embodied Generation,” focuses on teenagers and re-imagines true physical education in the 21st century. For ten years she has run a program for teens in Santa Cruz, CA, combining mindfulness, yoga, and nonviolent communication to help alleviate the epidemic of student stress and teen anxiety. Beth is also president of the board of the International Somatic Movement and Therapy Association.
We are deeply honored that Ms. Kilbourne and Ms. Riley recognize the value of our book project.
The book trilogy begins underwater in Mermadia (located 152 “unfathomables” under the sea), where all beings are equal, loving-kindness is the norm, and self-hatred does not exist. Over the course of the trilogy, readers will follow Venus and her best friends, the Pistil Whipsies, as they shape-shift into earthwalkers, explore new lands full of magical animals, and learn to live under the Logic Spell which has taken over the Earth, making earthwalkers forget they are rooted in intuition and loving-kindness.
Venus and her friends encounter increasingly confounding challenges on their magical adventures that match their ever-increasing intelligence and personal growth. In each book, Venus overcomes a self-limiting concept of herself, promoting her self-esteem, and also learns how to work harmoniously with groups in complex situations:
- In book one, Venus Underwater, Venus the mermaid yogini is born amidst music and soon begins to study magic at Charm School. One day, during a field trip to an amusement park, Venus and her best friends, the Pistil Whipsies, encounter the impact of the Greed Curse on their home, Mermadia. The Pistil Whipsies are a pair of opposite twins who see reality in different ways and help Venus navigate life’s shades of gray. While on a ride at the park, the class time-travels to Mermantis, where Mermaids and earthwalkers used to live in harmony. They witness Creepy Crawler the Trawler, which Greedy Hughmans created to steal allgood energy bubbles from the Mermaids. Venus and her classmates work together as a group using mindfulness, imagination, and positive intention to create a remedy. Venus Underwater contains two volumes: a songbook followed by a storybook.
- In book two, Venus Made-of-Light, Venus ventures onto land and has her first dose of the Logic Spell, which enables her to shapeshift into an earthgirl and to “think logically” while retaining her mermaid intuition. While on land, she helps a group of cows who are being held captive by the Overrancher, who has brainwashed them to believe one type of cow is better than the other. Working together with Harriet the Flying Fox, hummingbirds, Cooper’s hawks, and three mice who might be blind, Venus and her friends outsmart the Overrancher with love and kindness, and Venus learns conflict mooodiation skills that promote inter-species harmony. Venus Made-of-Light contains two volumes: a storybook followed by a zentangle style coloring book.
- In book three, Venus and the In-Betweens, Venus takes a “solo” trip to earth — a type of vision quest — for a few days. There she ventures into Paradox Pond, where things are not quite what they seem, nor are they otherwise. Venus, a fish out of water, becomes so affected by the Logic Spell that she forgets she is a mermaid. She encounters the 14th Billion Mosquito of Great Compassion, meets various enchanted animals, plants, and gems that gently remind her of her true nature as she struggles to find the right balance between logic and intuition. Venus and the In-Betweens contains two volumes: a storybook from Venus’ perspective, followed by a storybook from the animals’ perspective.
This children’s book trilogy sets the stage for when teenage Venus’ adventures continue in a young adult series (scroll to the very bottom for a sneak peek).
Want to learn more about the stories? Visit www.venusandherflytrip.net for a complete synopsis!
The Venus and Her Fly Trip books mirror psychological developments for each age, offering readers practical tools for navigating common challenges as bravely and with as much humor as the mermaids in the book do. By seeing positive qualities embodied in the characters, kids will learn that kindness is cool, compassion helps you make friends, and that healing happens in communities.
The superpower skills include wisdom drawn from both Western and Eastern Psychology:
- Emotional intelligence / emotional awareness
- Compassion and empathy
- Conflict mediation, conflict resolution and restorative justice
- Critical thinking / problem solving
- Somatic emotion maps / Chakra systems
- Tonglen, “bravery breath”
- Energy protection
- Non-violent communication
- Shamanic journeying
- Dream yoga / dream analysis
- Feng shui
- Animal therapy
- Flower essences and plant healing
The problems that Venus and her friends overcome in the books are universal issues faced by ALL kids, regardless of gender.
However, we need more female characters to promote a balance in representation of girls and boys in creative media. In the top 100 movies in 2017 for example, females comprised only 24% of the protagonists.
This series will be written with a female-dominant perspective, simply to show kids how utterly normal it is that girls (and non-binary/trans/fluid people) can do everything boys can do. The more well-rounded heroines (and heroes) kids can read about and relate with, the more likely they will be able to grow heroic qualities in themselves.
Venus is a shapeshifter who will look different in every book. Venus is all kids and all kids are Venus.
Because the books will be set in a fantasy world, the characters are not constrained by “human races” and as such Venus and her shapeshifting mermaid friends can be any and every color. All mermaids are “full spectrum beings” and are not defined by any OUTER features like size, shape, physical ability, hair, or skin-tone. All mermaids know that what really matters are your INNER qualities.
This storytelling innovation enables ALL children to connect with the protagonist, and also creates an imprint for kids about the ultimate nature of reality and a fluid understanding of “self.”
These books are created through the collective effort of the Mermaid Brigade, an incredible team of healers, therapists, teachers, artists, musicians, and thinkers who are concerned about the inner life of young people and want them to remember the magic of life. The Mermaid Brigade seeks to give kids tools that will help them not only survive but thrive by enchanting them with stories that reflect their own positive inner qualities.
You can read the complete bios of each Mermaid Brigade member — as well as a description of why they care about this project — on www.venusandherflytrip.net
Julia Hengst is a licensed psychotherapist, bodyworker, and media studies major who has been helping young people find inner peace through insight and self-awareness for almost twenty years. Venus and Her Fly Trip is her first venture into writing stories for kids and teens.
The inspiration for this series is personal. Julia’s brother once asked her what are some of the biggest issues facing teens. Julia said, “self-hatred,’’ to which her brother replied, “How can my wife and I help prevent self-hatred in our daughters?”
This series is an attempt to answer that question, and is furthermore inspired by an intriguing exchange between meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg and Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama, who holds the equivalent of an advanced PhD, and who regularly meets with the world’s top psychologists, physicists and neuroscientists, told Sharon Salzberg that he felt "quite ignorant” when it came to self-hatred, and that he finds self-hatred “very, very strange” as a concept. As it turns out, the concept of self-hatred does not exist in Tibet, meaning it is not inherent to us as humans. The fascinating exchange between Sharon Salzberg and the Dalai Lama inspired Julia to begin creating a world that children can consciously enter in which self-hatred does not exist and all beings live by the heart rule of loving-kindness.
You can read Julia’s complete bio on www.venusandherflytrip.net.
Each artist will create a different Venus who will explore different worlds. While her appearance and her environment change, Venus always possesses the same inner qualities such as loving-kindness and compassion,which are universal to all kids regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, or any other distinguishing factor.
The visual artists who have joined the Mermaid Brigade are an amazing mix of both new and experienced children’s book illustrators. Each of these women is deeply committed to using visual art as a medium for individual and social change:
We are looking for additional artist collaborators for the series! All “fem-positive” individuals are welcome, regardless of what physical form you currently inhabit! If you are interested please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Like all mermaids, Venus’ life begins with music — an expression of the joy of inviting a new being into Mermadia. Like mermaids, Earth girls and boys (who are born 80% made of water) also benefit deeply from early exposure to music: Music accelerates brain development, helps the mind and body work together, improves motor skills, language, and overall literacy.
Volume 1 of Venus Underwater, “Wisdom Eye Songbook,” will contain 4-5 original songs along with musical notation. Our songstress, Rachel Panni — who composed the original music for our Kickstarter video — is a formally-trained musician and music educator with many years’ experience working with kids.
You can read Rachel’s complete bio on www.venusandherflytrip.net.
Venus and Her Fly Trip will be told in 3 books, with two volumes each, making a total of 6 individual books.
Each book can be read independently, but the stories are interconnected and form a series.
Each book will contain original artwork, illustrated in full color and printed on Mama Earth-friendly 100% recycled paper with soy-based inks.
The final trim size and number of pages will be designed during the implementation of the project, however we’re aiming for a “standard” 32-page layout.
While it is more expensive to print these books in an eco-friendly way, we feel strongly this is the only way to go! Any donation to this project is a pledge to the Earth as well as a pledge to help prevent self-hatred! Demand creates supply, and we want to show suppliers that we demand earth-friendly printing practices.
Each book will be designed following a “pages for all ages” concept that responds to the developmental needs of each child in the range of 4-10 years old. Kids of different ages can all enjoy the illustrations even though they may understand different aspects of the story. Our intention is for bigger kids to be able to read the story to their younger siblings and friends as well.
Bringing SIX books into the world (each trilogy has two volumes!) requires a tremendous team effort. We've already been planning this project for the last YEAR and are so ready to hit the ground running!
Out of our total goal of $111,111 (an auspicious number), the major budget categories will be allocated as follows:
The books are 80% written and the character design has already begun! In the coming year and a half we'll be finalizing the words, illustrating and designing the books, and picking an eco-friendly printer!
We have a grander vision for Venus and Her Fly Trip beyond the creation of the initial children’s book trilogy.
- Venus and Her Fly Trip in the Classroom - Curriculum Development: If we unlock $130,000, we will create an elementary school curriculum that provides lesson plans and classroom activities that educators can implement to cultivate age-appropriate emotional and social skills that promote self-esteem. Educators will also learn concrete practices for how to make the classroom “trauma-informed” and effectively respond to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The lesson plans and activities will be developed in consultation with K-12 education experts and will begin with elementary school level, followed by junior high and high school as we create the Venus and Her Fly Trip teenager series.
- Venus and Her Fly Trip Young Adult Series - Seed Fund: If we unlock $150,000, we will continue the storyline development into a Young Adult (YA) Trilogy, with 2 parts each, for a total of 6 books. The basic layout of the YA series has been laid out already, so this seed money will fund exploratory meetings and brainstorm sessions with potential collaborators. Using the model of how several writers collaborate on a single TV show, the YA series will be written by the lead writer working in conjunction with collaborators who have studied the topics that Venus will explore in depth. Scroll down to the end for more details on the teen plot.
We believe the natural condition of humans is compassionate and kind, and with positive reinforcement offered through these books, we can support the good work already being done by families, teachers, and communities to promote social, emotional, and mental wellbeing.
We sincerely need your help! This has been a labor of love in large part, and we are relying on you to bring it to fruition. Everyone who donates gets the karma of promoting love and kindness in kids, so it’s a win-win!
On a practical level, the world is in crisis, and many people are triggered by increasing violence, climate change-related traumas and political-PTSD. Each and every pledge is a sign of support and love for the next generation, to bring these inspiring, magical and uplifting stories to kids.
The kids books set the stage for Venus to enter young adulthood, where she and the Pistil Whipsies bring the wisdom and compassion they developed as kids into their teen years. This series will be set in the near-future, when psychic warfare is the new norm and human intelligence is found to be more powerful than AI.
The teen series takes place in part on Venus’s home planet, Organica, which resides deep in Inner Space, and Earth, where Venus is learning alternative healing arts. It turns out Venus came to Earth on a mission to gather intelligence in order to help Organica, which is slightly out of balance. Venus took birth in Mermadia to get the final clues to help her home planet on what will be her final fact-finding mission. Reincarnation is normal on Organica, so this book series covers only one of Venus’s many lives.
The teen series, which will span 6 books, takes place at Higher School. At this Earth-based wilderness school, Venus and the Pistil Whipsies are doing a study abroad program, where they live, work, and study for three years. Topics at Higher School include but are not limited to: Advanced Compassion Training, Feng Shui, Healing through Food, Chinese Face Reading, Subtle Body Sciences such as the meridian system of Chinese medicine, and the chakra systems of Indo-Tibetan tantra/yogic practices, Astrology of many kinds, and Plant Medicine.
Using magic, dreams, and telepathy, Venus and her friends fluidly transition between life on Earth and life on Organica. Eventually they will be able to exist in both worlds at once.
Higher School students train to graduate with the Switchy Witch degree. Switchy Witches possess advanced skills in loving-kindness. As part of an AP program, Venus and the Pistil Whipsies are in the School for Troubled Girls: Advanced Empathy Training. The girls, troubled by the sufferings of the world, are part of a secret, elite training team of psychics, healers, animal whisperers, face readers, and mystics. This group will go on seven epic adventures as they race to help both Earth and Organica.
As a group, Higher School students are dedicated to healing both Earth and Organica simultaneously by developing their innate powers of love, kindness, wisdom and the knowledge that all of life is connected.
Risks and challenges
We understand and acknowledge that no project comes without risks and challenges, but we have planned and researched this project for over a year and are ready to roll as soon as we hit our goal thanks to you, our community. Although we don't foresee any obstacles or delays, if we encounter them due to normal life challenges, we will communicate with full transparency to you, our backers, and work to resolve all issues in a timely manner.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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