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Book Review: Kili and Nakoa

A book review of Kili and Nakoa – a children’s picture book about the presence of God during the hard times of life.

Anxiety workbook for kids

I am excited to review Kili and Nakoa a new children’s book for 4 to 8 year olds by Conner Derelioglu (Release date: February 2024). In this post, I provide a brief overview of the book, some reflections, and my interview with the author himself.

About Kili and Nakoa

Kili loves to surf. He doesn’t even mind getting up early to pursue his passion for finding the perfect wave. He usually surfs with his friends, but one morning they all wanted to sleep in. Unaccustomed to surfing alone, Kili steadied his nerves and decided to go anyway – the ocean was calling him.

As Kili sat on his board, waiting for the perfect wave, Nakoa, an older man with a white beard and a slight frame, paddled by and proceeded to ride a small, imperfect wave with ease and skill that surprised Kili. He wanted to know the secret. He needed to know the secret.

With kindness and patience, Nakoa shared the key to riding any wave. It wasn’t about waiting for the perfect wave or perfect conditions. It was about “embracing the chop” and choosing to keep at it even if it was hard. The decision to do so wasn’t easy for Kili, but Nakoa stood by him and encouraged him to keep getting back on the board, over and over again.

Kili’s encounter with Nakoa changed the way he viewed the sea. And how he viewed himself. Instead of thinking that the ocean had to be “just right” in order to succeed, Kili learned that he could work with whatever the sea offered him. That didn’t mean it would be easy and it didn’t guarantee success, but with the support of his new friend, he learned persistence, acceptance and that he wasn’t alone.

As a therapist who integrates theories and theology, I enjoyed this beautifully illustrated book that subtly explores themes related to the presence of God and acceptance of our circumstances. We don’t have much control over what life throws our way, but we can control how we respond. We can either sit back and wait to engage in our life until conditions are perfect, or we can “embrace the chop” and head out into the difficulties, anchored by knowledge of the ever-presentness of God and an eye towards the plans He has for us.

Jesus says in John 16:33 that in this world, we will have troubles, but we can take heart because He has overcome the world. The seas of life are often rough, but when we “embrace the chop” instead of fighting it or waiting for it to go away, we can live a life that is full of meaning and hope.

Interview with the author

1) I understand this book was birthed from a difficult period in your life. What did God show you about Himself during that time and how has that impacted you?

I grew up in church and accepted Jesus into my heart at a young age. In the difficult period of my life that this book was birthed from, I learned that God really is an ever-present help in times of trouble. I learned that a relationship with God is not just a checklist of dos and don’ts rather the key to a full and abundant life. After I began to experience the fragment of hell that is anxiety and depression, turning to The Lord was the kickstart that I needed in my life to become who I have always wanted to be. I would not be who I am today without the ever-present help of the Holy Spirit.

2) What are one or two messages you hope kids will take from this book?

I hope that kids and adults alike will learn that the goodness of God is experienced the most through the “choppiness” of life. In addition, I would love for all ages to learn that Jesus wants our heart, not merely our compliance.

3) Any plans for other books?

I have an idea for another book of this style along with an idea for a more lengthy project. That being said, I believe that good things take time to build so only God knows when and if those projects will ever come to fruition.

Thank you Conner for sharing your book with my readers!

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual therapy to women and moms in Connecticut. She is the author of More Than a Conqueror, A Christian Kid's Guide to Winning the War on Worry. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of the things she is most passionate about: God's word, parenting and mental health.

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