Thorbjørn Hartelius is ReadersMagnet’s Author of the Week

by | Sep 30, 2020 | Author of the week | 0 comments

Sticking Together by Thorbjørn Hartelius 1

“Sticking Together” A children´s book about finding joy in sharing a passion for Filipino Martial Arts with a friend and enjoying cultural diversity

  I started to write about Filipino Culture two years ago. I have always been very interested in learning more about Filipino Culture and heritage. I wrote small pieces of text and eventually it became a story and I started to look for an illustrator. I found a Filipino illustrator, Edralin Laurilla, who lives in Manila and he understood the idea and created these beautiful pieces of art.

 When I was 16 I lived as an exchange student in the north of Alberta, Canada and here I saw a local tv station presenting Arnis, the Filipino Martial Art of Stickfighting. And already the next day I went to the club and asked the chief instructor for permission to train. Grandmaster Fidel Bonifacio introduced and taught me the basics of Filipino Martial Arts and it has stayed with me ever since. I have been to the Philippines many times to train and learn from the best Grandmasters and every time I was amazed by the friendly people and cultural heritage wherever I went in the Philippines. I love the people, the friendly and happy smiles, the open arms, the delicious foods and not to mention the amazing landscapes – beaches, jungle, cities, islands.

 The book is all about cultural diversity, the passion of teaching and learning new things in life, the friendship and bond between two young children meeting within the community of Filipino Martial Arts. But it is also a book about Filipino Culture, the openhearted Filipino People, the beauty of the Country. The story takes place on the island of Bohol, where the young boy Bayani is training under his father – The local Grandmaster of FMA. On the other side of Earth – Martin is a young boy travelling to the Philippines for the very first time together with his father. They travel to Bohol because Martin´s father wants to learn FMA from Bayanis father. Martin sees FMA for the very first time, and he is amazed by the atmosphere and sportsmanship. Bayani and Martin meet up and they become close friends. Bayani introduces Martin to the basics of FMA, but at the same time the story takes the two boys to see the natural wonders of Bohol. They train in front of Chocolate Hills and they visit the endangered Tarsier at the Philippine tarsier wildlife sanctuary, they swim in beautiful waterfalls and have fun at the amazing beaches. Bayanis mother creates a traditional Boodle Fight the night before Martin and his father are returning back home to Denmark. The two boys learn and share so much about each other – so they will meet up again in – book nr. 2 “Sticking Around in Manila” coming early spring 2021.

 My inspiration comes from my own son. He is also called Martin and he is also training FMA. We have travelled together teaching and learning FMA and my son loves the Art. Hopefully one day I can bring him and my family to the Philippines. The other main book character is Bayani and I found my inspiration from my visits to the Philippines and my many stays at the friendly and openhearted Grandmasters and their families. I have met and seen so many young boys and girls training and learning from their elders. And I love the strong Family bonds they have. Bohol is such a beautiful island and it has so much to give to visitors. This is my way of giving back to the Philippines – the country that has formed my life and has given me and my Family so much!  I have made a huge effort to make this book as genuine and true as possible. My illustrator is Filipino. I have a pledge for my Kickstarter campaign where 1 euro goes directly to the Philippine tarsier wildlife sanctuary in Bohol to help and honor the work of the professional staff there. They do such an amazing work every day and the tarsier is an endangered species I feel must be protected. ( )  For another reward I found the Anthill Fabric Factory on Cebu  it is a social and cultural enterprise working on elevating Filipino culture through contemporary and circular design. Here I found their Artisan Mother Community program and three local Mothers created my two main book characters into beautiful plus dolls, as part of the Home Plush Toys. ( these dolls come with the reward and is also part of giving back to the philippines. And off course being a Grandmaster of Filipino Martial Arts myself  ( ) – I want to introduce all children to this amazing cultural and amazing sport. Filipino Martial Arts is also about family, friendship, being the best version of yourself and caring.

Here in Denmark I teach Filipino Martial Arts to schoolchildren, it improves their self esteem, their body control, their cognitive competences and helps them to concentrate in other school subjects and it even helps them improve their performance for the final exams.

 I have created this book as the first book in a series of six. The series is called “Books That Stick With You” and in this series the two main characters will take the reader around the Philippines. ( )

 My wife is also writing a children´s book which is a cute fairy tale about travelling – her first book is “The little ladybug travels to Paris” but later she will also let the main character travel to Manila.

“Sticking Together” can be bought right now via my Kickstarter campaign – and in November it will be via – It will also be available in German and Danish.

My goal is to give back to the Philippines. I want to show and inspire children around the world about the Philippines and Filipino Martial Arts. To give kids all over the world a possibility to read and learn about Philippine customs, traditions and the beauty of the country and its people.

All the best from Denmark, Thorbjørn Hartelius

Sticking Together by Thorbjørn Hartelius


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