Kika the Upside-Down Girl is an entertaining and empowering story about an adventurous girl who loves living upside-down despite the pressure to stay right side up. Kika ultimately finds her inspiration in a fliptastic place, while building more confidence and resiliency along the way.
What if we could all explore being upside-down, shifting our ideas and views to discover our true passion?
Written from my perspective as an Olympic gymnast turned educator, speaker and mom, Kika the Upside-Down Girl is a unique gymnastics-themed picture book geared to kids ages 4 – 10. Kika’s message, however, transcends age, resonating with anyone who’s ever felt upside-down in a right side up world.
Originally self-published in December 2013 after a successful Kickstarter video campaign, Kika the Upside-Down Girl nearly sold out in its first year of publication. In late 2014, Domnizelles Publishing Inc. acquired the rights to Kika the Upside-Down Girl, expanding the book’s reach. Currently, Kika is looking for a new publishing home, a fliptastic place to make an even bigger impact on kids around the world.
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Reviews & Testimonials for Kika The Upside-Down Girl
“As a young female athlete, others pressured me to not do what I loved – playing hockey. Now, as a parent, and sports advocate, I know how important an encouraging message like Kika’s is for kids.” ~ Hayley Wickenheiser, Canadian hockey heroine, 4-time Olympic medalist
“As a fellow upside down girl, I know Kika’s adventures will inspire kids to see the world from a new perspective!” ~ Rosie MacLennan, 2012 Olympic trampoline gold medalist
“Jessica has done a great job in creating a story that captures a necessary message about being a unique individual in our cookie-cutter world. Fun for kids, it also nudges parents to consider how they are dealing with their children’s attempts at being themselves, changing perspectives and just having fun! Kika wants to experience the world upside down and why shouldn’t she? What if we were to hang from a tree limb by our legs and take a different, upside-down look at the park, our backyard and schoolyard? Follow Kika’s charming adventures and find out! If you’re looking for something that empowers your child to be who they want to be, then I recommend you grab a copy of this special, well-illustrated book…and you’ll learn a whole new set of fliptastic words in the process, too!” ~ Jamie Good, social media expert
“I truly enjoyed reading “Kika the Upside Down Girl”. As an educator I always look for books that relay key messages to children. Kika demonstrates that we don’t have to be like everyone else. It also shows that by not giving up on our dreams we can achieve what we set out to do. I believe that due to the expressive wording and fun illustrations, children will be able to relate to the story. I would recommend this book to children, young and old!” ~ Cathy Indig, Director of Early Childhood Education, Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre
“I grew up feeling slightly upside down in a right side up world. Kika the Upside Down Girl’s inspiring story and playful images will empower all kids like my daughter to dream big and be who they are meant to be.” ~ Erica Ehm, Publisher, YummyMummyClub.ca
“Kika the Upside Down Girl is an easy-to-read, fun story that carries a very important message that kids can easily understand. My sons and I were able to discuss the importance of staying true to oneself, which is such a critical message for them to hear. Kika’s story is definitely relevant to both girls AND boys, as we all feel inspired by Kika’s positive message. Kika’s story will inspires kids to explore what they like to do despite the pressure they may feel to conform.” ~ Kathy Ertel, Mother of 2
“Kika’s upside down adventures encourage physical literacy through play, which, as a mom and gymnastics club owner, I try to encourage everyday!” ~ Elfi Schlegel, Canadian gymnastics icon, sports broadcaster
“I’ve spent so much time in my life being upside-down that it’s really the only way I feel right side up. If I need to solve a problem, a few minutes in a handstand against the wall always inspires a new perspective!” ~ Kyle Shewfelt, 2004 Olympic gold medalist, gymnastics
“We were fortunate to have author Jessica Tudos read “Kika The Upside Down Girl” to our kindergarten children, which they loved! They closely identified with Kika’s passion for being upside-down, so much so that during the reading most of the group turned themselves upside-down to see the world from Kika’s perspective and demonstrate their own “fliptastic” abilities! The illustrations are colourful, fun and show movement in a way that captivates the imagination of children and adults alike. Parents and children will identify with, and delight in, Kika’s flips and flops on her journey to fulfil her heart’s desire.” ~ Joy Ryman-McCann, Phoenix Child Centre
“Kika the Upside Down Girl is a simple, easy to read story with a HUGE message! This book reminds kids how important it is to follow their heart, even if others don’t completely understand. The colourful, very cute upside-down illustrations caused many giggles, as Kika sees the world from her unique standpoint before discovering the best place to be upside-down, ever! Children can also sing along with Kika as she marches, sings, and learns (all upside-down) to the beat of her own special drum! ~ Danielle Soucy Mills, Author of Tina Tumbles
“This book is great for kids as it shows them that it’s okay to be different and that you can always find a place where you feel at home. The illustrations are fantastic and project the energy of the story. This is a story that comes from the heart and from the experience of the author. I love the message that it is more than okay to be upside-down in a right side world. In other words, do your own thing and don’t cave to the pressure of peers or society. It celebrates uniqueness”. ~ Susan Bano, Greece
“My daughter and I love this book. The illustrations are delightful, and the story is very inspiring. There’s even a little tune in the book, which my daughter loves and sings often. A great read for kids.” ~ Avery Swartz, Web Designer, Camp Tech Founder & Lead Instructor
30 days, 168 backers, $11,168 raised, 117% success – Kika the Upside-Down Girl’s Crowdfunding Journey
Crowdfunding, the collective effort of individuals networking and pooling their money online to support individual and/or group creative efforts, has helped Kika the Upside Down Girl come alive! Kickstarter’s goal is to crowdfund the creation, publication & distribution of creative projects that change the world and now my book is now one such successful project.
Crowdfunding has become a vital way for individuals like myself to raise necessary funds to bring creative endeavours to life. As a successful crowdfunder, I am eager to help others achieve success so if you are ready to create a successful campaign and need some expertise, please get in touch.
Read my blog post on this topic: Forget Hiring a Business Coach, Commit to Kickstarter
Kika The Upside-Down Girl’s Crowdfunding Journey
- Rewards fulfillment and planning of next steps
- Follow up communications and preparation of rewards fulfillment
- Receipt of backer funds
- Campaign runs Sept 29 to October 31
- Research selling book on Amazon
- Draft email “ask” to send to “endorsers”
- Update and maintain email and mailchimp lists
- Source and choose music for pitch video
- Sort and edit video footage for updates
- Get a professional photo for back cover
- Draft dedication text
- Get revised bar code for Canada
- Submit project to kickstarter for approval
- Keep connecting through social media
- Plan and carry out kick off event
Late August 2013
- Film kickstarter promo video
- Find designer/printer for promotional bookmark, finalize & print 1000
- Design Kika banner for web and print-based promo
- Gather and send potential royalty-free music to videographer for my campaign video
- Order ISBN number and barcode
- Determine pricing for book
- Connect with current and emerging new network > provide relevant content
- Edit rewards and send to friends for feedback
Early August 2013
- Tweet, facebook, instagram and email updates to my contacts
- Think big – connect to Mary Lou Retton, Olga Korbut, Nadia Comaneci & Elfi Schelgel
- Reach out to wellness organizations – Active 4 Life, Clean Air Champions
- Set up my kickstarter Canada account
- Finalize sketches through Mike – give the go-ahead for colouring images
- Discuss ideas for promotional bookmark
- Confirm book printing plan with printer and send template to book designer
- Send draft text for actual book – bio, dedication, etc.
- Blog about the process of self-publishing a gymnastics-themed kids story
- Create photo gallery of upside down photos
Late July 2013
- Organize all my contacts in mailchimp – will I email to all? Create an e-news?
- Make a list of potential content ideas for next 23 months – seems overwhelming
- Meet with my KS coaches to go over plan – video to be filmed, content to be created, people to connect to, etc. Feels great – they are so in-tune with what is needed!
- Meet with edupreneur Aron Soloman who has great advice on creating kickass rewards
- Connect with Canadian Olympic Committee & Gymnastics organizations and ask for advice on how best to spread the word and engage my gymnastics audience
Early July 2013
- Things are getting busy. I think about this project all the time. I’m nervous and excited…
- Ask book designer Naomi for advice re: pictures & text. Story now feels 99% done. Phew.
- Mike sends some sketches which I like – just need a few tweaks. I pay Mike 1/3 of $3K fee
- For someone who thought she could do it all, submitting to paypal is hard – and then I’m relieved. Get over yourself – you need help with this – you’ll recoup it through kickstarter!
- Send out my first tweet ever! Start following gymnasts, parents, sports people, people living life full = a whole new world. Gain new followers.
- Gather relevant content – start planning when and where to send it. Intimidated. Write some silly stuff. Delete it.
- Add 100 new facebook friends in 3 days….see lots of baby pics online. It’s fun to connect with old friends – THAT is what this FB thing it huh? Always the reluctant techie…
- Keep updating my website — add blog posts, pictures, content, etc.
Late June 2013
- Loose Paul Watson to his other work. Once again, no illustrator – what is the message here? Do it myself? I tried, more than once, not happy. Now what?
- Start googling and find www.mikemotz.com. Mike and his team illustrate kids book for authors who want to self-publish. Mike found a niche and turned it into an online business. It’s not how I imagined I would proceed, but I admire his entrepreneurial spirit and want to get this book done by September.
- Mike and I chat. He understands Kika, we decide to go for it. 3rd time’s a charm right?
- Send Mike a DETAILED page-by-page description of the images and text – shit, this is hard work! Spend at least 10 hours on this – I use LOTS of sticky notes.
- Find out I need a book designer to piece actual book together (who knew?!) and start asking around. Find Naomi Rose in Arizona, an award-winning kids book author and successful kickstarter creator. Naomi gets Kika. We are on.
- Start taking lots of pictures of kids and gymnasts upside down.
- Write my first blog post about Kika the book and press send. No turning back now. Feeling nervous…like it is not good enough yet….
Early June 2013
- Ask friends for suggestions re: an illustrator and find Paul Watson, a talented guy dabbling in all kinds of visual work. We meet, he gets Kika and we decide to go for it.
- Meet with Jamie Good, a social media educator. He holds my hand discussing what is possible on social media and I get hooked up to Hootsuite – my new best friend. Link link link!
- Realize that the more I network, the more people will visit my kika creative site – shit, gotta update it. Tash Jeffries puts me on to fivver.com where I get a funky new banner.
- After much internal debate, decide to create a new website for all things Kika. Work with Avery Swartz to get it going. Kika will come alive here…I hope!
- Update my 10 kickstarter success components and stick it on my bulletin board.
- Visit printer (MCRL) recommended by Tamara Levitt in Vaughan. Walks me through the process. 1000 books costs $4000. To get in time for Christmas, files need to be done by October
- Start panicking about illustrations that need to be done by Sept.
- Decide to take 2 days off for a personal retreat to create illustrations myself.
- Try, fail, it is not right. What is in my head I am not able to translate onto paper. Now what?
- Realize that to be a successful crowdfunder, I have to engage my diverse network, which is broad and interesting, but not connected! Decide to jump in (yup, I’m late adopter when it comes to technology) and get some help from a friend of a friend Jamie Good.
- Update my to-do list – which now has 10 clear categories. There is so much to do if I am going to pull this off successfully. Will need to seek out, ask, and pay for help. Revolutionary.
- Reach out to seek advice from other kids book authors/supporters – Joanna at Type books, Debbie Ohi of I’m Bored, Hilary Leung of Ninja Cowboy, Tamara Levitt of Happiness doesn’t Come from Headstands – start to feel hopeful this can be work.
- Feel fear around “What if this just is a good concept and nothing more?“ remains.
- Meet with Insight Project duo and love their energy and enthusiasm. Leave our meeting feeling confident I have something worthwhile. They insist I believe in it too. Feel confident for the first time in a long time. This is the right decision.
- Make an outline of what I will need to focus on – platform, printing, illustration, distribution, video, photos, network, etc…tell people, out loud, that I’m going to do a kickstarter campaign
- Decide not to pursue teaching career and stick with entrepreneurial project work.
- Make time and space for this project to be realized. “Don’t mess it up, don’t waste this opportunity” I hear myself saying.
- Email The Insight Project creators and ask if they will be my kickstarter coaches
- Get inspired to back a great video project on kickstarter – The Insight Project – and realize creators are young dynamic duo based out of CSI.
- Love their work and decide to contact them – start thinking about crowdfunding option again.
- Lauren tells me she is too busy for this project and we part ways. Feeling discouraged, maybe this is not meant to be after all….
- Think that maybe I should create the images – but how?
- Collect names of publishers (and tips) from Canadian Children’s Book Centre and decide to send out 8 promotional packages to potential publishers.
- Hear back from one other publisher (a friend of a friend I hound slightly) who respectfully declines by saying, “great idea just not for us…”
- Send promo package to Lauren’s agent who also declines but does offer some practical and useful suggestions. Feel deflated. Now what?
- Realize I need help with writing a pitch letter so I email the Humber College publishing program to ask for help. Several students “apply” and I ask Jenna (aka J. P. Jevanael) to help.
- For $50, she reads my story & pitch letter and offers suggestions. Together with Lauren’s illustrations, the package is ready to go – feel I have something special and ready to get it published!
- At the Centre fro Social Innovation, see a really cool postcard for an upcoming event and think,” this style could work for Kika”
- Connect with postcard illustrator Lauren and decide we can create a sample spread for Kika.
- Lauren understands the concept of Kika, has published before, and has an agent. I am feeling confident – this is going to work out!
- Decide I need some web presence so I purchase my URL and attend a one-day wordpress workshop led by Camp Tech’s Avery Swartz. Figure out the basics of updating my new site and we add Lauren’s banner – all looks great!
- Wow, I have a website – does this mean I have a real project now?
- Lauren and I decide to create a promo package for agents/publishers
- Start to think that teaching in the system is not for me. So now what?
- Maybe the book I have been thinking about for years…but how?
- Back my first kickstarter project – What Makes A Baby? By Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth. Great story, amazing campaign – they raise $65,000!
- I start to think about crowdfunding as an option, although it seems like SO much time and energy – can I realistically do it?
- Start visiting the library regularly to check out books for my son as well as ‘research” how others have put stories into book form. Feel a bit overwhelmed but manage to make notes, count pages, write down publishers, etc.
- Start dreaming about my name on the cover of a kids book!
- Decide to give it a try and work on editing my story and figuring out the illustrations.
- At teachers college graduation, I am asked what plan to do next and I say, “get a teaching job (which seemed right at that time) and publish my kids book.” Which is followed by, “how to hell is that going to happen?!”
- Ask my friend and fellow aspiring writer Stephanie for advice and she encourages me to just START somewhere and email her something. So I do.
- Decide the most responsible thing to do is go to teachers college so I can have a stable education job – free time options decline rapidly for next 18 months.
- Give birth to my son Sebastian and life revolves around him 99% of the time. In that new mommy fog so not feeling creative or inspired to work on new projects.
- In the back on my mind is the thought, “do something about your story Jessica, it’s good” which is often followed by, “Just as soon as I get enough sleep” – and so it remains a good idea.
- Am pregnant for the first time and start thinking about how I will balance everything. I think about kids books again and wonder how I could actually publish this story. I have positive feedback, but now what?
- Focus on a healthy pregnancy and the story disappears into the “one day I’ll do it” category.
- Take part in the Evolution Group – a 6-week self discovery program led by Stuart Knight. We are asked to share with the group a project that we are passionate about and need help with. In front of 75 people, I mention my story about an upside down girl named Kika.
- Based on positive responses received, my confidence goes up and I start asking for more feedback from friends. I take their advice and rework the story as well as commit to the working title – Kika the Upside Down Girl.
- Idea percolates….draft remains on my computer for months….
- Kika character emerges over dinner in the Kawartha’s with my friend Kevin Riddle (so happy to reconnect with Kevin to share this news!) and I decide to capture it on my napkin.
- Transfer ideas into my journal when I get home…and throw the napkin away.
- Forget about the idea for 6 years
Thank you to my incredible Kickstarter backers!
Naomi Rose, Mike Motz, Riad Husein, Ayah Norris, Vanessa Tudos, Linda Clifford & Birchmount Gymnastics, Jewan Harbaran, Sarah Smith & Evolution Aurora Gymnastics, Brent Wagner, Karl Balisch & Tumblers Gymnastics, Dave & Liz Brubaker & Bluewater Gymnastics Club, Kathleen van Graft, Elena Davydova & Gemini Gymnastics, Rudy Massimo, Kellie Hinnells & Ottawa Gymnastics Centre, Gymnastics Canada, Dave and Judy Holmes & Stampede City Gymnastic Club, Jeremy Bowes, Robin Mednick, Nigel Gore, A Mighty Girl, Harry Forsyth, Suzanne deValk, Amanda MacKenzie, Jan Silverman, Karin Comstock, Stephanie Chapelle, Ben Tanenbaum, Catharine Pendrel, Katharine E. Hura, Corry Nicholls, Ceilidh Price, Risa Shearer, Brenda Lanois, Isabelle Baird, Tara Hunt, Andrea Thomas, , Frederick Metcalfe, C. Casselman, Phoebe Lo, Walter Gomes, Christine Casselman, Sam Serrien, Lori Strong Ballard, Kalman Fejes, Peter Gombos, Downsview P.S., David Kimura,, Chantel Kowdrysh, Sayaka, , Mandy Wintink, Russ Schoen, Hope Paterson, Janae & Brian Earley, Lise Goertz, Johanna Bertin, Fiona Smyth, Margaret Downer, Deirdre Laframboise, Diane Eaton, Karen Lang, Shannon Maguire, Terrie Kroeker, Stephanie Way, Joy Ryman-McCann, Judith Matheisz, Kitty McKechnie, Sue Mitchell, Patricia Conlin, Dana, Lee & Brenda Browning, Marti Fessenden, Alpa Shukla, Gen Tudos, Janet Nish-Lapidus, Wossene Feleke, Avery Swartz , Aron Solomon, Carolyn Taylor, Chris Fraser, Alexandra Psica, Nadia Hendricks, Zoe Brook, Eric Ouellette & Stany Bergeron, Isabel Gomez-Moriana, Cassandra Nicolaou, John Gross, Heather Gardner, Gabriella Fabik, Eric Gibson, Kristina Wilson, Esther Cieri, Renate Tomasella, Kathy Crawford, Eniko Matteson, Michelle Welsford, Terri Lynn, , Jennifer Landry, Lisa Fera, Beth Birmingham, Kyle Shewfeldt Gymnastics, Stephanie Pollack, Holly Pagnacco, Ashwini Gupte, Jacqueline Fitzmorris c/o WFG, Thomas Fejes, Geoff & Mary Lea Palmer, Carol-Angela Orchard, Markham Gymnastics, David Knechtel c/o The Client Counsel, Monique Allain, Christa Williams, Bill Affolter, Karen Donahue, Carol Reader, Laura Pino, Mike Motz, Wyatt Chen, Dave Sachs, Lori Tesolin, Amy McKie, Eva A. Pfendt, Jamie Good, Libby Dalrymple, Melissa Felder, Debbi Arnold, Sean Cross, Naomi Rose, Mary Landry, Matt Tighe, Josephine Henault, Justice Balfour, Katherine Handcock, Krista Moloney, Susan Bano, Michael Bungay Stanier, Kyle, Donna Blanco, Katerina Ertel, Beatrice Radu, George Skene, Aaron, Linda Stewart, Ayah Norris, Christine Haldane, Indiana & Picabo Chapman, Ann Shin, Jay Pangilinan, Jennifer Philbrook, Judy Philbrook, Joanna Jackson, Lori Cheeseman, Shannon Keating, David Braun, Sharon Alton, Erin Palleschi, Deborah Knight, Norma Columbus, Marion & Larry McBrien, Sharon Williams, Mary Joan De Valk, Audrey Masson, Joyce Hum, Sigrid Angell, Riad Hosein, Laurel Sutton, Kathy Rhodes, Lauren Altbaum, Kerry Helston, Lisa Thacker, Carol Spratt, Jesslyn Truax, Joanne Sokolowski, Carmelle, Susan & Chuck Gleed, Lorraine Hopkins, Liz Guthrie, Lenore, Tracey Missen, Lori Foreman — – and Kyla Zanardi, Hayley Wickenheiser, Elfi Schlegel, Rosie MacLennan, Erica Ehm and Marnie McBean.