Although winning may feel great, it can often be taken to excess.
And author Sasha Graham’s “Whitney Wins Everything” – the latest edition to her collection of children’s books titled “Tiny Ninja Books” – addresses that point.
The book is centered around a little girl named Whitney who is obsessed with winning and ostracized by a classmate who is hosting a birthday party out of fear that Whitney will win all games.
Confused why she was singled out, Whitney begins to reflect on her behavior.
Enter her “tiny ninja,” a concept Graham developed from her own children.
“Before my daughter was born, her big brothers nicknamed her ‘Tiny Ninja’ because they were looking forward to her completing their trifecta of ninjas,” Graham said. “They knew that she would, at least at first, be very little so they called her her ‘tiny ninja.’”
Inspired by the new term, Graham put her creativity to the task in incorporating the term into literary works.
“As our kids get older and spend less time at home, I think it’s really important that we’ve given them the confidence to trust their own inner voice,” Graham said. “Reminding them to “listen to their tiny ninja” is a shorthand way of saying, ‘You’re strong, smart, brave and compassionate and you know in your gut the right thing to do.’”
Although the book is geared toward a younger demographic, the inspiration for it came to Graham while playing recreational sports as an adult.
“One night after a tough loss I was pretty bummed and I realized that my own competitive nature and desire to win had made me lose sight of why I was playing the game – which, ultimately, was to have fun,” Graham said.
“I had been playing sports for so long that I was really startled to find that this realization actually changed the way that I experienced the game from that moment forward. I still think it’s a lot more fun to win, but now when I play, I actively recognize how wonderful it is to be out there with great friends, building each other up and working towards a common goal.”
Graham felt this was a lesson everyone could learn from starting at an early age.
“Too often we just keep doing things out of habit even when they are no longer making us happy,” Graham said. “In Whitney’s case de ella her de ella Tiny Ninja helps her realize that she does n’t need to give up the thing she loves, which is winning, but that there’s a way to do it that is going to bring her a whole lot more joy.”
That is not the only takeaway from the book, though.
“I would love for readers to take away that we all have it in us to change course when we realize that the way we’ve always done something no longer serves us. Graham said.
“I also hope Whitney helps readers remember the life changing magic of being part of a team. Working together for a common goal, having people to cheer you on, and also cheering other people on is incredibly important and feels great.”
Although this is the second installation of Graham’s “Tiny Ninja” books and the books stand alone, there is an element of continuity that a keen eye may detect.
“Each of the books in the collection stand on their own, but eagle-eyed readers may spot Milo from ‘Milo Does Not Like Mornings’ in the pages of ‘Whitney Wins Everything,’” she said.
Graham is donating a portion of the proceeds from the book to the Phoenix FC Rising Youth Soccer Foundation to fund scholarships.
“Supporting the Phoenix Rising Youth Soccer Foundation gives me a chance to ensure that a few kids whose families may not otherwise be able to afford it are able to play and feel that same magic on uniform day and beyond,” Graham said.
“I hope that the money that Tiny Ninja Books contributes to the Phoenix Rising FC Youth Soccer Foundation enables a few more kiddos to experience the life-changing magic of being part of a team.”
The book is now on sale at Kidstop Toys and Books and tinyninjabooks.com.
Graham will also be doing an exclusive book signing April 9 at Cochise Elementary School.