In fall 2011, author Lisa Manzione sent two Chihuahua siblings on their first international excursion in The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit Paris! The duo visits eight other cities in subsequent books in the series, which is illustrated by Kristine Lucco and published under the Bella & Harry LLC imprint. Their travels continue in the 10th installment, Let’s Visit Jerusalem!, due on July 1. Bella and Harry will be in the spotlight in August, when Manzione is scheduled to talk up the books on the QVC shopping network, and US Airways will include a two-minute video about the series as part of its in-flight programming on coast-to-coast domestic and international flights.
Manzione launched the series, which is distributed by Ingram, to educate young readers about the world. “My goal is to expose children at a young age to different places and customs,” she said. “I have traveled to all the places where the stories take place and have talked to children there, and many of them speak several languages and know so much more about the world than children in this country do.” To reinforce the educational components of The Adventures of Bella & Harry, Manzione includes lesson plans for teachers on the series’ Web site.
The invitation to appear on QVC was sparked by an advertisement for The Adventures of Bella & Harry that ran on Publishers Weekly’s January 7, 2013 cover. “Kristine Lucco provided the art and my son Michael, who’s a graphic artist, designed the ad,” said Manzione. “A couple of weeks later, I got a call from a consultant for QVC, who had seen the ad and said that he was interested in pursuing my appearance on the channel.” The fact that US Airways will also give the series exposure in its August in-fight programming highlighting children’s travel books, said Manzione, is “a wonderful coincidence that we’re very excited about.”
The Delray Beach, Fla.-based author is hoping to create plush Bella and Harry toys, and has coproduced a musical based on the series that has been staged at various performing arts centers.
Manzione, who has seven dogs of her own and based the character of Bella on her daughter’s Chihuahua, is donating a percentage of net proceeds form the series to ASPCA. “It’s always been a special cause to me, and this is something I really wanted to do,” she said of the donation. “Animals can’t earn money for themselves, and I feel we have some responsibility for them.”
The Adventures of Bella & Harry adds books on Dublin, Maui, St. Petersburg, and Vancouver in 2014. “There are so many parts of the world to focus on, including the U.S., ” Manzione said. “I want to continue to make travel fun for youngsters. I want to tell them things about cities that they don’t know in a way that will make them laugh and have fun while they’re learning. I hope the books stimulate kids’ interest in different places and encourage them to search beyond Bella and Harry’s adventures to continue learning about the world.”
The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit Jerusalem! by Lisa Manzione, illus. by Kristine Lucco. Bella & Harry LLC, $ 16.95 July ISBN 978-1-937616-7