CASA GRANDE — Two Phoenix-area children’s book authors will visit the Casa Grande Public Library this month to share their work with children during Storytime sessions.

“Fast Freddy: The Legend in a Shell” author and illustrator Michael Hale will lead an outside children’s Storytime event in Peart Park beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday.

On June 27, Rita Goldner, author of “Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest,” will be featured at Storytime, also in Peart Park, beginning at 9 a.m.

Storytime features stories and songs and other activities for young children.

Both Hale and Goldner have been featured speakers at the library before.

“I’ve been visiting for four or five years. It’s always a pleasure to be invited,” Hale said.

Hale has written and illustrated two children’s books of his own — “Fast Freddie” and “Bad Monkey Business” — and plans to soon release a third.

“Bad Monkey Business is the winner of the 2017 SCBWI Spark Honor award.

A drawing instructor at Grand Canyon University, he has also illustrated dozens of other children’s books.

At Storytime, he’ll read from his two books.

Both are inspired by his life growing up in Arizona and his experience working as a creative director at the Phoenix Zoo.

“Fast Freddie” is about a desert tortoise.

“He doesn’t want to lead a slow and boring life,” Hale said. “Growing up in Arizona, the desert was my playground and I always wanted to explore and share my experiences with readers.”

“Bad Monkey Business” is about a woman who lets a monkey into her house, only to find that in turn, he begins to fill the house with animals.

“I’m a huge Curious George fan. He’s always called a naughty monkey but he never really is, he’s just curious. In ‘Bad Monkey Business,’ we think the monkey is bad but it has a surprise ending,” Hale said.

He will also read from his latest book, expected to be published soon, “Found, One Dinosaur,” about a girl who finds a dinosaur on her way home from school one day and tries to find it a home when she realizes she can’t keep it.

More information about Hale is available on his website,

Goldner has presented her work at the library before too and she has also led a class teaching attendees how to illustrate children’s books.

An artist and painter, she has also participated in the city’s annual plein air painting competition, in which artists disperse throughout the city on a set day in February and paint a Casa Grande-based scene on a time limit.

During Storytime, she’ll read from her book “Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy,” which is about a young orangutan who wakes up in his nest and begins to go about his day. In the tale, he searches for food and encounters other Borneo wildlife before settling down again for the night. The book includes fun facts and other information.

The book won a 2016 International Book Award.

Goldner, who has a background in elementary education and art, will also show children how to draw an orangutan.

“I’ve always had a passion for the natural world, sustainability and environmental responsibility,” she said. “This agenda, coupled with a love of drawing and writing, made picture book writing and illustrating a great fit.”

She has written several other books including “Agent H20 Rides the Water Cycle” and two titles in the “Jackson’s History Adventure” series.

Through her written work and illustrations, she aims to show her love of nature, endangered animals in their habitats and global ecology, she said.

Goldner served in the Navy and describes her writing style as “whimsical and fun” while her illustrations aim to be colorful.

“I like to educate children with my books, but not at the cost of high-spirited adventure,” she said.

Her books may be found on


Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at

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