Welcome to #TheQuickSixInterview with Jeremy Kalbstein!

It’s a pleasure to welcome debut picture book author, Jeremy Kalbstein, to our blog, to discuss his important, relevant and engaging new title on cyber safety, It’s Up to U! This book has a deeply meaningful message that captures the raw emotions of sadness and isolation, experienced by the fictional ‘I’ as a result of online bullying from ‘N’. With an uplifting and encouraging finale, children will understand that being kind and responsible on the internet, and making a positive difference to help others is ‘up to U!’

Thanks for joining us, Jeremy! 🙂

About the Author

Jeremy Kalbstein photoJeremy is a MakerDojo Childcare Service Director, an eLearning Designer, Strategist and educator, and an education technology consultant. He facilitates holiday and after school programs, incursions and professional learning for educators in STEAM learning, the Digital Technologies curriculum and Cyber Safety.

Jeremy is passionate about cyber safety and his goal is to make using and learning with and without technology engaging, relevant, creative and safe for children, families and schools.

Jeremy lives in Melbourne and can often be found playing sport, or pretend wrestling and playing Roblox with his two energetic and creative children, Zabi and Amalya.

 You can find Jeremy and his work at the following links:

 Website: https://jeremykalbstein.com.au/

Facebook | Instagram


WHO wrote, illustrated and published this book?

The book was written by Jeremy Kalbstein

Leigh Brown has been drawing for as long as she can remember. From multimedia, chapter books and educational illustration, the path has been varied and fascinating. Finally pitching up at children’s picture books where she is very happily settled.

Empowering Resources publish children’s picture books and junior novels that nurture, educate and empower children, with the goal of encouraging meaningful conversations in homes and in classrooms.


WHAT is it called and what is it about? What is your favourite part of this book?

The book is called, It’s Up to U! and is about encouraging young people to be upstanders and make the online experience a positive one for those around them.

The importance of being an upstander and being safe online have been emerging as points of focus for parents and educators in recent years and are even more relevant during the pandemic when children are required to be online more than ever before.

My favourite part of the book is how the colour of the main character, “I”, changes according to how “I” feels. I think this gives the character another layer of depth and encourages the reader to feel engaged and connected with “I”. I’m hoping this promotes a feeling of empathy in the reader so they can better understand the effects of the online bullying experienced by “I”.

WHEN is its release / launch date?

It’s Up to U! was released on 01 September 2020.


WHERE did the inspiration for this book come from?

As a child, I was a victim of school-yard bullying but in those days, we were taught to follow the idea of “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me”. Of course, we now know that “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will always harm me” actually rings truer.

While bullying may take place via a different platform today, the consequences of this experience for a bullying victim can be just as profound, particularly with the 24/7 nature of the internet and social media.

I wrote this book with the hope of promoting open communication about this important topic and ultimately to build a global community of upstanders.

I wish that I had an upstander in my corner back in my school days.


WHY is this book meaningful to you and why would its message resonate with readers?

Essentially, I want to empower young people to be upstanders. Upstanders is a relatively new term meaning to stand up for a cause, or to speak up, or support, or intervene for others who are being attacked or bullied.

This book is meaningful to me because it is only as an adult and in retrospect, that I can fully appreciate the effect that bullying had on not only my school experience but my life as a child and an adult. I would like to turn my negative experiences into positive experiences for young people.

So, I hope that this book is a catalyst for improving the online experience for many children and their families and to inspire children to have the courage to stand up for others. We need to start early and develop good behaviours and habits. Our end game is for our children to be tech savvy and safe and to make good decisions and be independent.


HOW do you feel about the illustrations? Do they convey the feeling or mood you envisioned?

I absolutely love the illustrations. When I first came up with the idea for It’s Up to U!, I wasn’t sure that someone else would be able to capture the images I held in my head but Leigh has managed to do that and more. I appreciate and love what she has created. She is such an incredibly talented illustrator. With her wonderfully expressive illustrations she was able to make my dream become a reality.

I think the illustrations bring the characters to life making them relatable to readers.

How have you promoted this book and how can we find it?

It’s Up to U! has had some positive online reviews from some organisations such as the Anti-Defamation Commission and Impact for Women. I’ve just finished an interview with Josh Langley which I believe will be posted online on the weekend (29-30 August) and I’m booked for a couple more interviews following this one. Additionally, I have a YouTube Channel that I have just launched with eSafety Tips for Parents: https://www.youtube.com/c/JeremyKalbstein/playlists

 Website: https://jeremykalbstein.com.au/

Facebook | Instagram


It’s Up to U! is available for purchase from Empowering Resources | Booktopia

#onlinebullying #cybersafety #kindness

2 thoughts to “The Quick Six Interview with Jeremy Kalbstein on It’s Up to U!

  • Norah

    What an important topic. Jeremy seems to have found a good way of presenting it to children. I like the term ‘upstander’. We all need to be upstanders.

    • Just Write For Kids

      Thanks for your comment, Norah. Jeremy’s book certainly raises an awareness to younger children.


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