While studying the martial art of Tae Kwon Do, children’s author Diane DiRoberto (dianediroberto.com) was impressed by the young students’ focus on the sport and their respect for their teacher and each other.
From this, she was inspired to give young readers insight into some of life’s important lessons taught through the sport by creating her fun and appealing middle-grade adventure series, Tae Kwon Dog, featuring—you got it—a talking dog who teaches the skills and principles of Tae Kwon Do. The books explore topics of self-confidence, kindness, bullying, gratitude, friendship, and teamwork.
Diane believes a good story is one that is made up of believable and engaging characters. She hopes her Tae Kwon Dog books empower her young readers to be the best version of themselves.
When she isn’t writing inspiring and entertaining stories for kids, Diane is a photographer, longtime copywriter, and published poet. The year of 2020 afforded her the quiet pause to put everything else aside and focus on writing her children’s novel, a dream come to fruition.
Diane lives in western New York with her dog Ella, a mini dachshund puppy that is her latest inspiration following her original muse Otto, a sleek black-and-tan Miniature Pinscher who was small but fierce, just like Tae Kwon Dog.
"One day while I was doodling with my dog Otto by my side, I imagined him as a superhero with a secret power. A sleek black-and-tan Miniature Pinscher, Otto was a sweet and funny character, but fierce to the bone. Ten pounds of solid muscle and determination, he reminded me of a canine version of a Tae Kwon Do black belt. I loved dressing him in costumes and thought he'd look great in a martial arts uniform so I drew him in a dobok—and Tae Kwon Dog was born! Now, years later, the wonderful artist Susan Szecsi helps bring Tae Kwon Dog to life in The Power Within."
—Diane DiRoberto, Author
Diane and Otto © Diane DiRoberto
Susan Szecsi (say-tsbee) is an award-winning illustrator and graphic designer. Susan grew up in Hungary, where she completed her studies in classical art at two prestigious Hungarian Art Studios. During her childhood, her family had several dogs and Susan also had pet parakeets, cats, bunnies, and even a pet chicken—she has always loved animals and appreciated their many different qualities and quirks. Today, she finds companionship in her drawings of whimsical animal characters while never missing the opportunity to make friends with the many non-human inhabitants in her city and countryside. Susan's clients include Scholastic, Stanford University, University of California San Francisco, Blue Dot Kids Press, Chicago Review Press, Santa Fe Writers Project, and many others. Susan has two sons and currently lives with her husband in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area of California.
Visit Susan's portfolio on www.brainmonsters.com, follow her on Instagram @susan_szecsi
Susan in Australia feeding a wallaby