A child who may go blind. A big sister who is a light catcher for her brother with special needs. An actor who loves to speak in puns. A boy from the Philippines who started the Happy Animals Club. These are a few of the stories in the Gnat & Corky Series that celebrates the spirit of children; all colors, all creeds, all abilities- in one collection that shows us just how alike we are, and how much our differences unite us.
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Welcome to the professionals and Animal Rescue podcast. Where goal is to introduce you two amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This’ll Podcast is probably sponsored by do bert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Now on with our show today, we’re speaking with Courtney Cut Lasky and Natalie Sorrentino, who are the author illustrator duo known as Matt and Corky. That book series is based on real kids, Nat Paints and quirky rights. They make a wonderful partnership telling real stories can The Keeper is about a boy who created the Happy Animals Club, which is a nonprofit no kill animal shelter in Southern Philippines established back in 2014. Today we’re gonna meet Nat and Corky, who do what’s never been done before. Ah, book series that is based on the spirit of real kids. Hey, Natalie. Hey, Courtney. Welcome to the program. Oh, yeah. So excited. I know I’m excited to have the due of you, so I’m gonna have to ask you guys t tell us about you first, so I don’t know. Wants to go first. Courtney, you want to go first? Yeah, he’s the words. So we usually always should we say she’s the lead singer and I’m the backup. So get it corks. Although I can’t sing and you can sing, but we’ll get into that. Oh, well, that’s a whole nother conversation that you have this thing. I’m no, we are an author, illustrator Duo. I am the words, Natalie’s the paint. Um, and we have a series that is based on the spirit of riel Children from all over the world, and that’s it. So thank you for your time. No, it’s the shortest podcast of it. And we’re out right now. Yep. No. Absolutely. So now will you tell us a little bit about you? Um, well, I like Courtney said, I’m the illustrator. Part of our duel. I’ve been a painter for a CZ, long as I can remember, And you know, it’s always been a dream in there to illustrate Children’s books. And I have been fortunate in life to cross past with the lovely words which is Corky, and we created this together. So yeah, and then that’s what I think is really so cool is you guys have got this whole Siri’s. And the reason we have you on the program today is for a particular book that you guys did called Ken the Keeper. So tell us a little bit about that story. I mean, how did you find Cannon tells share his story? Yeah. He’s an amazing, amazing young man from the Philippines and Elavil region there. And, um, at the age of nine, you know, he would walk around this town and see saw, you know, homeless, starving dogs, animals and decided to do something about it. So he slowly, you know, would collect money to get some food and shelter and started posting things on social media and just got this following going of people helping him fund his shelter, which is so sweetly named Happy Animals Club. It’s a curious name. Ever think it just makes you happy, right. That’s only wants to do is make the animals happy. Um, so he started taking in, um, animals, literally every living thing right now. Like from literally a gnat to an oxen. Yeah. You’ve every creature, great teacher earns none away. And that just speaks to his heart. Absolutely. Yeah. He saved a pig named Rocky and all of his, um, stories with the animals. Are you confined him on Instagram at Happy Animals Club, And he has little videos and stories, and we’ll tell you about their progress. So this pig that he had rescued was in terrible shape and, you know, he just chronicled his story, and you just see the healthier and half year and hopefully adopted. All right. Apted? Yeah, his It’s a no kill shelter. So his, um efforts are all to just get them healthy and give them good homes. Um, so really, when we saw his story, I think on instagram Yeah, I think from other things you were following and you you brought to my attention and we couldn’t even stand ourselves. Yeah, I was like, It’s called Happy up in. This kid is totally rad. And he started this at nine. I know. You remember what you were doing at nine years old? I don’t think I was starting an animal rescue for sure. That’s saving me. I was collecting animals and things and potato bugs taken. I know it’s an eating paste. So that happened. I definitely had had a roly Poley collection. I mean, I know that much, but yeah, yeah, now is he is honorable. How did this work? So, I mean, because he’s over. You said it in the Philippines area. So did you. How did you interview him? How did you learn about the story? Yeah, so typically, like, kids can go to our site and they can fill out, um, what started as a blogged with a series of questions. And kids go there and fill out our answers. And from there, we, def, through them and then create the stories. And there are a few in our collection that we have gone after. And this is one that we went after because we feel animal advocacy is, you know, a tremendously important thing in what he was doing was so profound and so simple and beautiful that we wanted to get to know him and tell his story in a way that was over our king for the masses. Right? So, um, we wrestle him directly and then just interviewed him about what he was doing about you know, the why what made you You know what compelled you to start this, Um, and then just some of the animals that he’s taking on its his own. And it just his spirit in general right now. Yeah, absolutely. And like you said, usually Children come to us, which is such a blessing. But there are a few times where you know, there’s something that speaks directly to Courtney in my heart that we feel the conversation needs to be had. And yeah, it was like double amazing, because when we did communicate with him his spirit, his little person is just one of the kind of souls. Um, and it just speaks to the work he’s doing, and yeah, yeah. So tell me. I mean, how do you go about these stories? Because I think one of things I really love about these is I felt I could feel the passion in the words I could feel that story coming to life and and yet they’re very little words in here. This isn’t like a novel. It’s a reference book. And so I mean, Courtney, tell me about how how do you go about bringing that out? So it’s funny if you boys, that’s like, how do you write for Children. You’re right. It’s great way. We have always wanted just stories, right? That’s all we have. We have stories in each other, so I really try to, especially with this series. It’s so unique that you really it’s like to write anything or do anything that your podcast start. You have to truly listen to people right to be ableto tell that story in a way that honors who they are. And, um, it’s whatever message across is trying to get across. So I tried to to sit with the notes from that person and the voice of that person and try to tap into them in a universal way that connects everybody because these stories aren’t biographies, right? Like Ken the Keepers, not a story about how can started a shelter. It’s really a story for all people about helping the helpless, which is what you do in your effort. So it’s trying to speak universally to the world one voice and honoring that voice as the spokes spokes person, if that makes any sense at all. But you know, the best part for me is passing those words, you know, a blank page with just words over to my partner, Natalie, who brings it to life in ways that you know I could never imagine. What do you think that the partnership between the two of us it’s really soulful work in bringing that spirit alive for the world wellness Natural pet food is for pets and their parents who believe, as we do, that good nutrition and healthy food are the building blocks of a long, happy life created by a nutritionist, veterinarians and animal lovers. Wellness recipes provided an ideal balance of nature’s finest ingredients. I won this. Recipes include lean meats, whole grains and fruits and veggies with no wheat, corn or soy, and no edit artificial flavors, colors or preservatives from head to tail. Wellness is nutrition with a purpose. You can learn more at wellness pet food dot com and follow them on Facebook and instagram at at Wellness Pet Food. I think you really nailed it, Courtney, because I think what I really love about it is with just so few words. I mean, I just read a couple of quotes from the book A day in my cans and their hearts begin to heal. Every animal is a gift. Each creature shows us something that we can treasure in each other. And it’s like you nailed the whole concept animal rescue and in the belief and sent him beings. And the belief that animals can care and feel and love and you did it in so few words is very, very profound. And but for Children, those lessons can really resonate. Thank you for those kind words, but really, the the two full message there is exactly what you’re talking about. It’s like, you know, things are learned along the way in life. And if you can catch people wherever they are in their journey and a message can resonate with them, it’s a simple, profound message. You can change the world you can change like this little boy. This little boy’s nine years old. He has rescued thousands and thousands of animals. And because of what he chose to d’oh, you know what inspired us to write a book about him? Because we wrote a book it in spite schools that we go to one little boy, particularly weird school the other day and read, Can the Keeper and we always ask, you know what are some of the messages in here that can shares with the world, and one little boy said, Do something about it, that is this gonna trees got in that he’s had it figured out. But that’s the beautiful thing. When you speak to Children, you know just what you’re saying. It’s catching them or like you said, any time if you can just catch somebody when they’re open to receive the message right, It is such a powerful thing, and that’s what is such a blessing. According I with what we’re doing. And e think you hit the nail on the head with how Courtney writes, it goes right to the soul. I mean, right to the soul and the message of what is being delivered. And you just hope that it resonates and just opens up a door of dialogue so we can connect and understand and further grow. That’s why we’re here now. How do how, Natalie, how do you go about even trying to come up with the images for these? Because I really I think your images in these air so unique and I really love your style. It’s a quirk. Thank you, but I’m looking. I’m going like I could read the book just by looking at the pictures, right? I could send us the message, the story, the the lessons. And that’s something that I think the two of you guys has a partnership really bring to light. And some curiously, obviously, she writes the words first and then you’re trying to create the illustrations. You know much of what Courtney said, but in the nonverbal way, it’s really thinking and listening to the spirit of that child and trying your best for me to creatively and visually honor that spirit the best that I can in a way that is universal as well. And you know, there’s such a fun lighten Quirke. I do get some of their photographs to give a sort of likeliness of their car person, but it’s it is just spending a lot of time, you know, once those beautiful words come over living in the space in the place of that child’s spirit, you know, and what it would visually look like. And then you just start drawing any racing and hoping that, you know, it really comes to fruition. To my favorite part, I got a time out of the cage was this Doc the Doc Stop, Stop with the duck. It’s making my right out like it makes my eyes water. There’s a baby and it says this one lost its way. That one, what was given up. And there’s a picture of a bunny who’s kind of at a crossroads like this way or that way. And then on the other page is this Doc and he is absolutely I can’t think of the word. What’s the word Natalie that would describe this Duck is downtrodden. Sad heart. Is that the word? Yeah. Did I think of the word? Oh, my God. I know. I didn’t know you mention of like this one less this way That way, given up with the we’d given Duck is drawn. I I said, Natalie, we have to save this doc like we have been there for just out of his doctor so that he could live because I can’t handle the drawing. It’s the swimming, a little drawing, and it says like 1000 things in that one illustration like to my heart like made my heart explodes like this is what this story is. It’s like, Yeah, well, I hoping this helpless little fuck Oh, that Thank you for those kind words. And you know what it really is, You know, to answer a question even further is when you really listen. When you try to hone in on that spirit like court, you sing with her words. It’s each. Even though there’s such a similarity to all the books were doing And, you know, a common thread that runs through the spirit of those Children run through the pictures and the words so crazy. I mean, right, Courtney from Addison, the light catcher and how it’s kind of more fast paced and quick and the images that speaks to the spirit of that child. But with Ken there was such a stoic like strength but quiet, you know, And he didn’t. He doesn’t say a lot right, But he he has profound message messages within that silence and just his actions. So yeah, it’s really neat how that manifests in the words and the images to its kind of rhythm. The rig up each is so different in his rhythm was very much I know that keeper spirit right, the universe that all of us have in us. Um, but that stoic, caring, very Hubble, Yeah. Less lessons that we can learn. And that’s what I think is so neat and amazing about this. Siri’s is you’re really bringing out the best and Children. And you’re teaching them about all sorts of lessons that these are these air learned things, that you have to be nice to other people and animals and talk to me about kind of how you you’ve gone now, 16 books that you guys have written. We’re on number four of 16 is in process as we speak to come to the shelves within the next month or so, right. Clarky. Yep. So what have you guys learned from from doing all these and interviewing all these Children? I I think the main thing you said before, it’s just a sense of humility and humbling. I mean, everybody has something they’re fighting for, or fighting with, or to to be able to. Well, first of all, that they let us in, right? Courtney, incidentally, life into their journey and the fact that we get to share it, we get Thio, you know, share their messages. And, you know, we always say it’s twofold. we get to do the bigger one, whether it’s empathy, kindness, acceptance, you name it. And then there’s this, you know, at the very end of our book, this riel autobiography where it’s this real educational moment, right? Course that, you know, it’s like a twofold educational journey that were just so humbled to be on when you say, like, what have you learned through all of us? Like, honestly, I like I’m learning speaking with you, Chris, I research you’re doing It’s a constant learning and like a broader appreciation for the world, I guess I don’t know. It’s opened up so many different doors that you don’t think about when you start the journey. But even with animal advocacy, when we launched Can The Keeper? We did a community of keepers event in my community and brought, like multiple groups of people animal advocates together or just a celebration of launching the book, but also of who they are, right? The’keeper’s in our communities who are keepers in your community, and what are they doing? Let’s give them a voice, you know. So it’s been a privilege and a joy and an adventure that I feel like just beginning. You know, we launched the first book in June of 2018 and will launch the 4th 1 this coming June end of May. So within the year, that’s been just an amazing adventure. We’re talking to the Barter Beato Foundation, Yeah Syndrome communities, School after school, just like you said. Yeah, it’s just been just unbelievable experience of new connections, new growth, new education every day and like we always say, just sharing stories, right? Like what you were saying, giving the keepers of our local community of voice but then giving you no other groups of individuals voices and within that, our ability to find the similarities within. Because I think you know, Courtney and I. A lot of times when we’re talking so often focus on what separates people, what makes them different, or that, And yes, our uniqueness is fabulous. But really, we’re more alike than different. And the second you start talking and sharing, you realize that so, yeah, it’s been probably one of my favorite parts of our journey so far. I think so, too. You just people recognising themselves in someone’s story that they that they wouldn’t naturally be like, Oh, that’s about me. There’s 11 of the stories, the one we just like Felix. You know what it’s about. A boy who is the teenager and he’s facing blindness. But his story is not about blindness. It’s about living, you know, like fiercely or going towards streams, you know, facing things that you might think are going to be difficult. But realizing that the worst thing that could happen is that it’s too late, that you didn’t do those things that you set out to do or wanted to do, or that was your purpose. It’s been an amazing journey. Some curious What? What is the average week look like for you guys? Now that you’re famous, you got this book series going teaching all these life lessons. What is your average week? Look way Just hang up our hats. No, crazy. We’re lousy. Yeah, yeah, a lot of hustle. You’re exactly right. Lot of you know, pulled in different directions where wives were mom’s where, like Courtney said, work, work the day job and then do this in the evenings and one of the I think for me personally, one of the joys is is getting up in front of students having nothing. Try to get through that without crying. But yeah, so many of these messages, you know, they resonate with them and they resonate with all ages, like people ask us what what age group are your books for sure, you know, And we say, Hey, everyone, everyone there for everyone there are The stories are very different, but the message is inside those spirits and stories are universal. I don’t think you can put them like, Well, this is good for a second grader. This is good for 1/5 grader. This is good for like an eight year old or a two year old hee. I have to say I I actually really enjoyed reading it because I, like the pictures, were really so compelling in the words There’s there’s so few words, right? It kind of forces you to stop and think. And I can tell you guys put your heart and soul into these books and into these stories. So come after you for that. I mean, I think these were gonna be amazing. Ah, think, Chris. That’s just the stuff that helps keep us going. I’m telling you, that means the world Thank you. So, you know, you just hope that you can touch one person, right? Right? With what you’re doing so well. Hey, you touch me and I have to agree. I love the duck. The ducks is a sad downtrend, Duck. And I’m happy knowing that. Can the keeper welcomed him with open arms. Hey, so that’s E, I have to say in an animal rescue. I mean, there’s a lot. There’s always a lot of sad images and things like that. But it warms our heart inner spirit to know that we can help these animals. And I think you captured that sentiment so perfect. I could just cut that duck out and put it on social media. And I guarantee you, all of my followers and every day would be like, That’s somebody say that, Duck. Yes, somebody say that duck is like a whole mojo movement on the ducks. Exactly. Say the ducks. So what’s next for you, ladies? I mean, I know you. You just released book number four. You’ve got this whole Siri’s me. What’s next? Oh, there’s a lot with a lot of passion projects we have behind the scenes possible products in the making, which is incredibly exciting for us. And Courtney, I know if you want to speak to the book of the answers, that’s something we it’s really important to us just because of, you know, honoring all the kids. I don’t know so many so many Children. They go to our website and quirky dot com, and our questions are there, right so they can answer the questions. And then those comes straight to us on. Hundreds of kids have taken the time Thio answer these questions, and it’s anything from like, What is the tooth Fairy do with the teeth? What are the stars do when the sun comes up? If you went to the moon, what would you do up there? So they’re the greatest dancers, but obviously we can’t make a book out of every kid that ever submits or we were You know where to start gonna be that old not gonna lift that one. So we’ve decided to make a book of answers like Nat and quirky Book of Answers that would honor each of those little voices so kind of parsing that out in two, like a little book of wisdom from the voices that have taken the time D’oh. Visit our site and share their thoughts with us, So yeah, and that’s our way of honoring and being able to say we see you. And we’re so appreciative. So I absolutely love that. And that’s a great idea. And I look forward to seeing how that one comes together. Me too. Yeah, right. Let me know how it gets Illustrating. Well, Natalie Courtney, I’m so excited that you came on today has been so great to talk to you. Is there anything else you want to share before we wrap things up? No. We just want to say what you’re doing and what your community does is amazing work and want absolutely. For people like you And just thankful we got to talk to you right for your time. And your efforts in putting your podcast together and doing what you do is amazing work. And your light shines very brightly. So thank you. Absolutely. Thank you very much. Another great conversation in the books. That’s right. Yes, I did. So I’m here all day, guys. And so glad you ladies came on today. I want I want to remind our listeners that they could go to orange hat publishing dot com um, and purchased the book. And if they put in the code arpa Air p a, then they’ll get free shipping so and they’ll get a dollar off a swell. So I’m so glad. Thank you very much. Courtney and Allie for coming on the show today, and we look forward to see the new books so much. Thanks for everything. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you’re not already a member, join the Air P A. To take advantage of all the resources we have to offer. And don’t forget to sign up with do bert dot com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue.