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Santa Clara Friends Collaborate on Award-Winning Children’s Book Series

Santa Clara Friends Collaborate on Award-Winning Children's Book Series

“My son didn’t want to read in the fifth grade, so he asked me to write him a book,” says D.J. Carroll, explaining the inspiration for her award-winning “Sir Licksalot” adventure series about a spunky boy and the shelter dog he rescued.

“Sir Licksalot & the Maverick Fools,” the first book in the engaging and educational series for reluctant readers, begins as 10-year-old Blaze N. Haught, an only child, leaves his friends in the city and moves with his family to a northern California coastal town near Mavericks, the world-famous surfing spot.


As Blaze faces a lonely, two-month summer vacation, he is comforted by his new dog, Sir Licksalot. Blaze embarks like Indiana Jones on a fantastical, friendship-forging adventure that befalls him, Sir Licksalot, and the at-first-stand-offish neighborhood kids when they tumble into a magical water fountain in Blaze’s backyard.

Carroll’s first book encourages children to be caring and inclusive and slips in socially-responsible actions such as having Sir Licksalot micro-chipped and neutered. And the children learn about marine life while on a death-defying water journey at Mavericks.

Each of the three books in the “Sir Licksalot” series – all honored by awards from The Family Review Center – recounts one adventurous day of summer vacation.

In “Sir Licksalot & the Island Fools,” the new friends land in the crater of a Hawaiian volcano and learn the Hawaiian language and legends. In “Sir Licksalot & the Arctic Fools” (January 4 release date), they find out about global warming as they explore an arctic glacier and encounter polar bears.

No children’s book is complete without illustrations. After Carroll, born in Redwood City and now living in Santa Clara, took up a contest challenge and wrote what turned out to be the first draft of “Sir Licksalot & the Maverick Fools” in 30-days, she realized she would need an illustrator.

Carroll turned to her friend Teri Cuneo, whom she first got to know about 10 years ago when their sons played on the same Briarwood Little League baseball team in Santa Clara.

“Darlene had trust in me to illustrate her book. I thank Darlene every day for letting me go on this wonderful adventure with her,” says Cuneo, who was born and still lives in Santa Clara. “She’s good to collaborate with.”

“I’ve been drawing for a long time,” says Cuneo, “and it felt incredible to be published for the first time. To see someone else enjoy something you create is a feeling you can’t put into words.”

“I am blessed that Teri can visualize my imagination,” says Carroll, whose imagination could potentially extend the adventures of Sir Licksalot and Blaze through all 65 days of their magical summer vacation.

“I find myself giddy like a little child on Christmas morning. Meeting [this class of fifth grade] children and being a part of their literary world, is a gift I will forever treasure!” wrote Carroll in a 2008 blog, at the beginning of her own magical adventure as an author.

The “Sir Licksalot” books are available in print and electronically through and Visit Carroll’s website and Facebook page for more information: and


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