I’m profiled on the school district’s literacy website:

Karina Strong is the creative mind behind VestaFire Entertainment, a circus performance troupe out of Nanaimo BC.  Not only does she run Vestafire, but she performs too! She has a degree in Social Work and is trained in workshop facilitation and community development. She teaches Circus in the Nanaimo and surrounding area and she loves working with people of all ages, abilities, health challenges – really anyone who dreams of running away to the circus. Karina is a mother of two, she plays with poi, staff, and flow wand.  She began VestaFire Entertainment as a way to share her knowledge with others in order to create joyful community.

I am a business owner, a mom and circus lover! I try to find fun and engagement in all that I do. That include the books I read for me and for my children. The books I am reading currently falls into two categories: business development, and children’s books. My children are 7 and 2 ½, and we spend a lot of time reading together. Our current favourite book is “RatsMagic” by Wayne Anderson. This was one of my favourite books as a child.

Ratsmagic is both dark and delightful, with gorgeous pictures. It is a mythical tale where Bluebird is going to lay a magical egg, but the evil witch Dole kidnaps her. It’s up to Rat and the other animals to rescue her before the egg hatches! This book is filled with magic, riddles, monsters, dragons, and fairies, but it’s not your typical fairy tale!

I truly enjoy reading books that present an alternative point of view or twist to them. I definitely prefer fantasy, and if the book has a dark twist, even better! I love reading books that widens our point of view and creates empathy for ‘the bad guy’- I always find the villains to be the most interesting characters. Books that take an opposite point of view, such as Wicked by Gregory Maguire, or Once Upon a More Enlightened Time by James Finn Garner, challenge accepted societal norms. I believe children raised with these types of stories will learn to be critical thinkers, and less polarized in their beliefs.

As a social worker, it is my tendency to look at the society structures that contribute to, or even create, the social issues that we face. Being able to read a story, look at it from a different point of view, and make our own decision about what’s going on, is instrumental in critical analysis.  I believe that children who learn this skill early are able to apply this skill throughout their adult lives, such as with news stories, advertisements, public policy, or political debate.

I am sure that Ratsmagic will be on my bookshelves for a long, long time and it will be a book I send with my kids when they move out. A touch of home, magic and mom – a comfort book I am sure. Books bring comfort and safety – it is a gift for one and all. It is an honour to share stories – and magic.