SYCAMORE — She may have grown up a small-town girl, but Kristina Thornton has lived and taught in Taiwan and Singapore, and now she's a published author.
"The Wee Adventures of Shabu Shabu," introduced at an event in her parents' Sycamore home, tells the story of a young rabbit's epic adventures around a fantasy world. "The Jade Legend" is the first in a series of eight books.
Shabu Shabu is a young rabbit, the granddaughter and protege of a famous inventor. She spends her days tinkering in the lab and dreaming of joining her grandfather on his mysterious adventures.
One day, she receives a strange invitation that starts her on an adventure to the moon to uncover the mystery of the Jade Legend. While seeking materials to build a space-worthy ship, she meets old friends, develops new allies and faces a dark element determined to beat her to her goal.
Thornton said the series subtly encourages curiosity, innovation, perseverance and strength of family while providing hours of entertainment and inspiration for kids ages 6 to 12. The spirit and art have ben influenced by the global steampunk movement.
"Resourcefulness, creativity and a thirst for adventure are qualities that steampunk characters exhibit while voyaging through worlds caught in a Victorian aesthetic of gears and goggles, brass and wood," Thornton said.
The technology of these worlds is typically based on steam-powered machines such as those invented during the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s.
"The spirit of steampunk is what I love," Thornton said. "I think the styles are gorgeous and I love the DIY [do it yourself] attitude."
Thornton's co-author is Michael Csokas, who also provided the illustrations.
In addition to the books, Thornton and Csokas have partnered with Ola Olaniyi to create Steam Powered Productions to provide a website and interactive apps available at the AppStore and Google Play Store.
Riddles, puzzles, an interactive storybook and more serve to entertain and promote child engagement, Thornton said.
A writer inspired
"Shabu is a coming-of-age adventure story that spans cultures and warms hearts of all ages. Michael and I developed the original concept for this story years ago, based on a pet rabbit that grabbed the attention of my students," Thornton said.
Her rabbit was named Shabu Shabu, just like the fictional bunny. Thornton said she shared stories she had created about Shabu with her second-grade students.
"They were just silly little adventure stories," Thornton said, but the children loved them.
A 2000 graduate of Sycamore High School, Thornton said early inspiration came from middle school English teacher Barbara Leach.
"She was a huge influence," Thornton said.
"She's always had a way with words," said her proud mother, Jenny Thornton, with a big smile.
For more on "The Wee Adventures of Shabu Shabu: The Jade Legend," visit www.shabusworld.com or find The Wee Adventures of Shabu Shabu on Facebook.
Interactive apps are available at the AppStore and Google Play Store.