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"The love that Max's family feels for him leaps off the page, in part due to vibrant watercolor illustrations and clever page compositions. In clear, charming language, the authors have Xander describe the excitement that he shares with his parents as well as their joy in watching Max grow into an exuberant little boy. The Garcia-Halenars also emphasize their gratitude and admiration not only for Max's birth mother, but also for their large extended family. The result is sincere, approachable, and heartwarming glimpse into the adoption experience.

A sweet, lovingly rendered tale with delightful images." - Kirkus (starred review)

"The Journey to Max is a lovely adoption chronicle that stands out from other picture books on the subject. It embraces the journey, the results, and the wider range of love that evolves from the quest, as well as the loving relationship between two men and their children. These heartfelt moments inject emotion and caring into the journey and celebrate not only the new bonds created by the adoption but the expansion of love into their extended family, including Max's birth mother." - D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

"The book is written for children and through it they can learn about love, tolerance, and the value of every human life." Reader's Favorite

"The Journey to Max is a particularly beautiful story because it both normalizes and celebrates the many ways we craft our families -- which is not through blood alone, but through love, care, and sharing.  Punctuating the story with moments of humor, the soft watercolor illustrations do a great job of depicting the ups and downs of family life, making this an easy story for readers to relate to.


This is a great read for families of all shapes and sizes."


- The Children's Book Review

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Max's Journey 

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Christopher Garcia-Halenar

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XanMax Books

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Xander's Story

  The Adventures of Little Miss Crazy Hair

                          The Girl with Curl

The catalyst which launched Xander's Story started a few months after Xander's 4th birthday.  Xander started to ask questions about his family:  "Why do I have two dads?", "Do I have a mommy?"

The discussion about his two dads was the easy part.  Explaining gestational surrogacy required a more thoughtful dialogue.

At this time, the movie, "The Good Dinosaur" had just been released.  He fell in love with the movie and the character, Arlo.  Xander understood the concept of an egg being hatched which represented 'the state of birth'.  We used this and applied the concept to surrogacy.

The language in the book is simplified.  We do not go into the biological details of surrogacy like embryos and/or embryo transfers, etc.  Nor do we describe the birthing process.  Instead, we focus on the main actions which brought Xander into our lives:

          Boy meets boy

          Boy loves boy

          Boys finds egg donor

          Boys find surrogate

          Boys become a +1

All these actions are guaranteed to include LOVE.

The book was written to be a 5th birthday present.  Not surprising, Xander's  reaction to receiving a book as a gift was 'meh'.  His book competed with Lego sets and Minecraft videos.  It didn't stand a chance of generating least initially. 


But over time the book grew roots.  Today, he requests readings several nights a week - many of which are him reading the boo book to us.

He was thrilled when his Kindergarten teacher read his book to the class.  He even attempts to read the book to his younger brother, Max. 

The was written specifically for Xander.  It is Xander's book.

The inspiration behind the title character, Little Miss Crazy Hair, comes from our niece, Vivian.  When Vivian was 5 she was preparing to embark on a new life experience – a new school.  As any person at any age would be, she was nervous.  She was leaving behind the comfort of her Montessori pre-school and entering a land of unknown and scary Elementary School.  She questioned, “What if they don’t like me?”, “What if I am different?”

Of course, that is ridiculous.  Who wouldn’t love our beautiful and talented Vivian?

One of Vivian’s many special characteristics which makes her so unique is her thick, beautiful, curly hair.  Vivian and her mom have a daily bonding ritual where every morning she and her mother work Vivian’s hair until a masterpiece is created.   Time, trust, patience, and sometimes tears produce results that only make you smile.  During these daily sessions Vivian earned the nickname, Little Miss Crazy Hair.

The Adventures of Little Miss Crazy Hair – The Girl with Curl, is the story of a girl and her best friend, her dog Duke, who go on daily adventures created by how Little Miss Crazy Hair decides to wear her hair for the day.  This book captures 7 days of hair choices which power Little Miss Crazy Hair’s ability to fly through the air, roar through the jungle, and even command crocodiles to move out of the way.

But this book is not only about hair styles and imaginary adventures.  It also quietly provides learning and growth opportunities as Little Miss Crazy Hair demonstrates how her adventures can lead to BEEing a better person. 


Embedded in the illustrations for each adventure is a BEE who quietly highlights the daily learning.  Little Miss Crazy Hair learns to BEE Brave by commanding crocodiles to move out of the way.  She discovers how to BEE Determined by practicing her ballet moves until they are perfect.  She learns to BEE Adventurous by flying through the air and exploring her city from the clouds.

Little Miss Crazy Hair’s 7 BEEs are not called out in the text of the book.  They are creatively placed within the illustrations.  The child is encouraged to find the BEE and identify the learning.  Any discussion that follows is determined by the reader and the child.  The length and depth of the discussion is relative to that child’s personal story.

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Welcome to XanMaxBooks.  Not only can you find information about our library of books (current and future), it is also a great place to review some of our other CREATIVE non-book projects.  Projects can be defined very broadly this site.  It can include children’s books, Halloween costumes, house renovations, blogs, vacation plans, Renaissance Fairs, Trunk-or-Treats, Furniture re-designs, etc.  If you have questions about anything you see, drop us a line in the Contact Us section of the site.  

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New Addition to Family

Halloween 2018 Max and Xander at
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Halloween 2018 Wicked Manors winning pri
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