Shari Faden Donahue with her new book.

NEWTOWN >> A gumball, a decoration on a cake, a cherry on a sundae, a light on a flying saucer and a Zebra-Striped Whale with a Polka-Dot tale.

In her latest book, “Zebra-Striped Whale Polka-Dot Power,” Bucks County children’s author Shari Faden Donahue asks the simple question, “What can you create from just one polka-dot?”

Part of the answer can be found in her 32-page book, which takes kids on a trip through an imaginary world where polka-dots can be part of anything, including the polka-dot tale of a Zebra-Striped Whale or a blinking light on a flying saucer.

“As an artist, I think it’s so cool that you can take a dot and turn it into a flower, a Martian or wherever your imagination can take you,” she said.

“So much can grow out of one little dot on a page. It’s amazing what can be created starting with one little dot. That’s the power of the polka-dot.”

Each vibrant illustration inside the book is created from just one red polka-dot located at the center of each page, accompanied by humorous rhymes and whimsical artwork.

The cleverly designed children’s book features a die-cast hole cut through each page, which reveals the polka-dot in each illustration.

“I wanted the kids to see that it was the same dot creating each art page,” said Donahue. “I wanted it to stimulate their creativity and get them to think, ‘What can they create with this one dot?’”

In her new book, the polka-dot journey begins with a sundae “because it’s ice cream-oriented and everyone can relate to the cherry - the polka-dot - on top,” said Donahue.

From there, kids can follow the dot to the face of a clock, a doggie’s collar, a light on a flying saucer, a gum ball machine, a slice of pepperoni on a pizza, the “o” in a stop sign and eventually the Zebra-Striped Whale with a Polka-Dot Tale.

“I’ve always taught my kids to be creative and that you don’t always have to take the same path that everyone else takes,” says Donohue. “I think my message in the book is to give yourself some time, think creatively and do something at your own pace and kind of do it in your own way.”

She ends the book with a single red polka-dot on a page awaiting a child’s imagination and creativity to bring it to life.

The book, says Donahue, is designed to stimulate creativity as it tickles and delights the imagination of young readers, ages 3 to 8.

And maybe, just maybe it inspires one or two of them to one day author and publish their own books, said Donahue.

As an added bonus, Donahue said children can linger in the pages of the book as they hunt for the tiny zebra-striped whale embedded in each of the book’s colorful illustrations.

The artwork for her newest book was created by Shari and husband, Tom, who co-own and operate the Zebra-Striped Whale Ice Cream & Coffee Café in Newtown.

The new title is Shari’s 9th book and the third in the Zebra-Striped Whale series including “The Zebra-Striped Whale with the Polka-Dot Tail” (2001) and “Zebra-Striped Whale Alphabet Book.”

Her first book was inspired by her father, an avid, avid reader who has since passed away.

“Even though it’s a children’s book it has a heavier message. And certain people really loved it because it was spiritual, but with this book I wanted to do something a little more lighter and make it fun,” said Donahue.

The release of her “Polka-Dot” book coincides with the 15th anniversary of the Zebra-Striped Whale Ice Cream & Coffee Café (ZSW) in Newtown, which Shari and Tom opened four years and themed after her first book.

Inside the South State Street store, the imagery of the Zebra-Striped Whale is everywhere from the Zebra-Striped Whale sundae to the vibrant colors and images everywhere you look.

With its assortment of premium hand-dipped ice cream, freshly prepared crepes, real fruit Smoothies - not to mention shakes, malts, floats, grapes and a full espresso bar - ZSW truly “mixes it with love and makes the world taste good.”

Tom can often be found behind the counter using a frozen granite slab to make the stores signature “Whirlwinds” by hand-whirling an array of gourmet toppings into its luscious ice cream, yogurt and sorbet.

ZSW makes you wish you were a kid again with its fun, elegant, eclectic atmosphere with a children’s library, original art exhibit, and beautifully-wrapped chocolate pretzel gift trays.

Polka-Dot Power can be purchased at the Zebra-Striped Whale in Newtown, the Newtown Bookshop, Amazon and other bookstores in the area.


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