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Meet Riley,
The Girl with the Magic Ponytails

 You're invited to join Riley and her canine friend, Pup, as they travel through time and space on magical, fantastical ponytail-powered  imagination-fueled adventures! 


Grab your passport to fun & come on board for Riley's newest  thrilling journey...  

Let's go to France!

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From Huqua Press — publisher of Brandi Carlile's Caroline, Graham Nash's Our House, 

and Don McLean's American Pie, A Fable — The Girl with the Magic Ponytails series offers colorful imagery and engaging prose for children under eight, inspiring them to explore their own unique magic and vivid imagination. 


Where the adventure began...
the first book in the series!


Come along with Riley as she reveals her extraordinary secret kind of magic that can only be unlocked by her collosal imagination.



Riley is an imaginative child with a great big secret flowing through her extra-long, chocolate brown ponytails. They're not low ponytails. They're not high ponytails. They're in-the-middle just right ponytails.


With a flip, a swoosh, a twirl and a curl, Riley sparks a special kind of magic with her ponytails, allowing her to go on all kinds of adventures — she sets sail on the high seas with a canine pal, latches onto a shimmering star, skates on the ribbons of a rainbow, time travels to a pre-historic land where she meets up with a ginormous friend, hangs on to a star, helps her animal friends and so much more!

The Next Adventure
Available July 9

With a flip and a twirl, a zig and a zag,  and a whoosh and a wag, come along as Riley and Pup land in a faraway, long-ago place. 

An afternoon Parisian-inspired tea party in her grandparents’ garden soon gives way to a surprising and thrilling journey to France.


Who else but Riley can soar on a giant sunflower, cozy up in a gargantuan croissant or fashion a space age vehicle out of macarons? With a flip and a twirl, a swoosh and a curl, Riley and her canine pal Pup zoom through time and space to visit with Monet and Van Gogh, compete in the Grand Prix, dance in the French Alps and savor treats in Paris with unexpected visitors. ​

A story about sweet memories, old and new, and the magic we make along the way.


Karen Young is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor specializing in food, tourism, and human interest stories.  Do you want to know where to find the best grilled cheese in the world? Just ask!

A graduate of the University of California Berkeley, Karen's career has transversed through the worlds of journalism and entertainment as a newspaper and magazine editor, website founder, book editor and more. 

Karen is the mother of two grown children, Adam and Rachel, who often chide her for having a bad case of 'FOMO.' Among her favorite things: travel and urban walks, outdoor concerts, live theater, movies, bookshops, visiting open-air markets wherever she travels, shaggy dogs and panda bears. 

She can't imagine her world without cheese, tomatoes, ice cream, blueberries...and laughter. Her secret desire is to be a private investigator. The Girl with the Magic Ponytails French Tales is her second book, and the follow up to The Girl with the Magic Ponytails (October 6, 2020).

PHOTO: Ellen S. Pressman

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Riley, the protagonist of The Girl with the Magical Ponytails, was inspired by my daughter Rachel (seen here at age 4).

The Girl with the Magic Ponytails was inspired by my daughter, Rachel, who was born  with a full head of dark brown hair that from early on was styled into two symmetrical ponytails. As Rachel grew, so did her ponytails. Up until elementary school, Rachel would rarely leave the house without her hair secured in two ponytails.

And on that rare occasion when she would nearly be caught without her signature look, Rachel would quite literally take matters into her own little hands. The image of her quickly grabbing two bundles of untamed hair on either side of her head is forever etched in my memory. 

A coy smile, along with a look of determination, would cross her face as she held her hair tight—impromptu ponytails intact. She could never really say exactly why she was so attached to her ponytails. I always thought that for Rachel, the ponytails held some kind of “magic." The kind that spurs imagination, lifts the spirit, and ultimately, strengthens identity.

And so, I wrote a story about a little girl named Riley who wore ‘magic’ ponytails— and through them, she experienced a world of possibility. 

The idea for the second book in the series, The Girl with the Magic Ponytails - French Tales, was sparked while cleaning out my parents' home to help them transition into an independent living community. 

As I sorted through stacks of boxes, the most bittersweet farewells came from a travel treasure trove accrued from over 55 years and six continents that included domestic family trips, international adventures they shared as empty nesters, and getaways with  their grandkids — Rachel and her big brother, Adam. It felt as though by discarding any of these keepsakes, I was erasing a part of our shared history. 


As we perused the mementos piece by piece, stories emerged about their younger days. 

I grasped on to that premise and built in my love of travel and the indelible experience of traveling to France many years ago with one of my best friends.  Fueled by the enchantment of 'ponytail power,' I reimagined a fantastical adventure that could only be played out by the character of Riley and her magical, fantastical ponytails.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy Riley and her friend Pup's fun and imaginative adventures!


The Illustrator

Yoko Matsuoka is a professional fantasy artist living in Northern Japan, specializing in creating evocative worlds and intense imagery for book covers, fine-art posters, games, and other products. By daylight hours, a full-time illustrator, but when night falls, she transforms into a metal-working steampunk hobbyist with a taste for hot sauce and Cheetos. 

An Artistic Collaboration

Huqua  Press and Padaro Press publisher Judith A Proffer (aka Judy, who is one-of-a-kind  publisher/art director/editor hybrid)  has worked with artist Yoko Matsuoka  for over a decade to illustrate many award-winning books, including When We Stay Home, Bondi and Poppy, Broadway Baby, Brandi Carlile's Caroline and Don McLean's American Pie, The Fable. Her creative process for all the artwork is to create detailed mock-ups with all the design elements which she emails to Yoko.

Judy saw I had ideas for every page in The Girl with the Magic Ponytails and The Girl with the Magic Ponytails - French Tales so she encouraged me to share my vision for the illustrations.


I researched images and used Canva to create mock-ups for each page, which I emailed to Judy.  Together we discussed, made changes, and then she would send everything off to Yoko at her studio in Japan.  Our communication continued for months as Judy and I fine tuned the mock-ups which Yoko then turned into art.  Rachel had her hand in it as well— she created the design for Riley's signature denim overall outfit. 


It's a rare relationship to have with an illustrator and publisher. I am most grateful for such a joyful and uniquely rewarding creative alliance.


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