Saturday, April 30, 2022

THE CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTERS- PART II: An Interview by Guest Blogger Elliott Kurta with Author Doreen Berger


If you missed Elliott's review of The Captain's Daughters click here.



INTERVIEW

ELLIOTT: What inspired you to write The Captain’s Daughters?

 

DOREENThe Captain’s Daughters was inspired by my life-long friendship with my best friend Robin.  As kids, we were always getting into some kind of mischief. We met in the third grade and we both loved science-fiction and dreamed about living on a starship and how cool that would be. That became the basis for the book. 

 

         ELLIOTTI didn’t know The Captain’s Daughters had such a fascinating origin story. This novel must have been in the brainstorming phase for quite some time!

 

ELLIOTT: Is William Marsh, Diane and Robin’s father, based on a person you know? For that matter, are any of the rest of the characters?

 

DOREEN: Since the book was inspired by my friendship with Robin, and a few of Diane and Robin’s escapades actually came from some of the trouble we got into, it only seemed natural to base some of the other characters in the book on people we know. Captain Marsh is based on my dad, who was my hero, with a lot of other influences thrown in! He was a fun character to write.

 

ELLIOTT: How long did it take you to write The Captain’s Daughters, and how has the book changed during the writing and publishing process?

 

DOREEN: The Captain’s Daughters took about six months to write.

 

ELLIOTT: What inspired you to name the Polaris—The ship that Robin and Diane’s father pilots—after the north star?

 

DOREEN: Polaris can be found almost directly above the North Pole and is nicknamed the North Star. It is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Bear). As the Earth turns, Polaris appears to remain stationary and all the stars appear to rotate around it. It is the only star in the sky to have this unique characteristic, and since its stationary position points due north, Polaris can be used for navigation in the Northern Hemisphere. As it says in the introduction to the book, “For centuries, explorers need only look to the heavens and to Polaris, to find their way safely home.” It seemed appropriate to name the starship Polaris, as Captain Marsh will always bring his crew, and his daughters, safely home.

 

ELLIOTT: How would you describe The Captain’s Daughters in one sentence?


DOREEN: A fun romp through the cosmos with two mischievous sisters!

 

ELLIOTT: What scenes were the most fun to write? Do you have a favorite scene out of the whole book?

DOREEN: Without a doubt, the scenes when the girls get themselves into trouble were so much fun to write! I especially like the one where the girls sneak into the secondary control room and send out emergency orders for pizza. It always makes me giggle.

ELLIOTT: What does your writing process look like, from start to end?

 

DOREEN: I am an undisciplined writer! I only write when the mood strikes, but when the story starts to fit into place, I can’t stop and will sometimes write from morning to bedtime. 

 

ELLIOTT: Robin and Diane don’t get to spend much time with their father because of his responsibilities as captain of the Polaris. What does a typical day look like for Marsh, and what are his responsibilities as captain?

 

DOREEN: The second book, Beyond the Stars, describes more of Captain Marsh’s routine. He is an early riser, spends at least an hour every morning in the gym and then meets his daughters and senior staff in his private dining room for breakfast. His day is spent navigating his ship and overseeing the 2000+ crew members on the Polaris. He is renowned for his negotiating skills and the planets he has brought into the LUP (League of Universal Planets). If all is calm on the Polaris, he has dinner with his daughters and senior staff. Before his last shift on the bridge, he stops in to say goodnight to his daughters and chat about their day. 

 

ELLIOTT: There are mentions of a third world war, the League of Universal Planets, and a war with a species called the Frazons who take over other planets. These events aren’t explained but seem to be important. Could you give us a brief history of the universe in which your book takes place?

 

DOREEN: In my imagination, there is a third World War sometime in the twenty-second century. Almost 900 million people die in that war and there is hardly a family on Earth that does not lose a loved one. Society finally realizes the need for global peace, and though it takes a while, the goal is realized and war on Earth ceases to exist. This peace brings global cooperation and through joint efforts, space exploration is finally realized. Other planets and alien races are contacted and the LUP (League of Universal Planets) is formed. But, there has to be an enemy to make life interesting (at least for a book!), and that is where the Frazons come in. 

 

ELLIOTT: Could you give us a summary of the sequel to The Captain’s Daughters?

DOREEN: The sequel is Beyond the Stars. Mischievous sisters Diane and Robin are already in trouble with their father for a stunt they just pulled. Their punishment (grounded…again!) is cut short with the arrival of Jannel, a soft-spoken, shy girl roughly their age, and the future ruler of the planet Lasusia. Jannel has been sent to the Polaris for safekeeping from a deadly virus running rampant on her home world. As Diane and Robin learn about their new friend and the problems she faces on her war-torn planet, they vow to help her, even though they understand it means getting deeper into trouble with their father. But they are soon in over their heads, stricken by the virus, and trapped by their father’s mortal enemy. They must use all their instincts and resources to escape before they perish from the virus, along with all hopes of planetary peace.

 

ELLIOTT: Who designed the cover for The Captain’s Daughters? How much of a role did you play in the design process?

 

DOREEN: The cover for The Captain’s Daughters was designed by a company in New Zealand called Damonza. In my mind I knew basically what I wanted (the Santa Fe landscape fading into a night sky, horses that resemble Pepper and Cloud, the different planets, and the space station). I gave them this info and they ran with it. I think they did a fabulous job…I love the cover! And the cover for Beyond the Stars is just as nice!



GIVEAWAY


Leave a comment by May 5 to enter this giveaway. (If you already entered the first part you'll have 2 chances). Please leave your name and email address if you are new to my blog. Continental US addresses only. 

REMEMBER! You'll find more great MG reviews on Greg Pattridge's ALWAYS IN THE MIDDLE blog. 



Thursday, April 28, 2022

TAD LINCOLN'S RESTLESS WRIGGLE: A Informational Picture Book Review, Giveaway, and Author Interview

 "I don't know but I may succeed in governing the nation, but I do believe I shall fail in ruling my own household." Abraham Lincoln

Author Beth Anderson uses that quote to draw readers into the life of Abraham Lincoln's boisterous son, Tad. You'll see why that quote is a fitting preface to another great picture book published by Calkins Creek.



REVIEW

Thomas Lincoln wriggled from the moment he was born. 
Like a tadpole, thought Abraham, and he called his son "Tad." 
The name stuck. 
So did the wriggle.

In that simple manner we meet Tad. 

Since he was born with an opening in the roof of his mouth, Tad's words were hard to understand. Although he had difficulty communicating clearly, his energy was quite obvious. 

Tad careened through the East Room in his chariot, scattering shrieking ladies not corners. "Get out of my way!" 

The staff huffed. Children should not be seen--and certainly not heard!

I LOVE the horrified looks on the ladies, don't you?

 The same was true in the classroom:

Illustrator S.D. Schinder captured Tad's movement!

Tad ran through the house, yard, and stables, tore through his father's important meetings, and even went to a soldier's camp. 

Unlike today when presidents are closely guarded, Abraham Lincoln walked Washington's streets accompanied by his son. Tad learned how to comfort wounded soldiers and listened as his father chatted with storekeepers and war volunteers. 

Visitors poured into the White House requesting time with the President. Lincoln didn't turn anyone away. 

Women requested passes across enemy lines. 

Families begged for money. 

Politicians wanted favors.

President Lincoln watched his young son's compassion for soldiers, homeless men, stray dogs and kids, and even for the Christmas turkey (who had become one of his pets). Despite his difficulty with language, Tad managed to convince his papa to rescue the turkey from being served as dinner. 

When Tad received more books as Christmas presents than his father would have time to read to him, he decided to share them with injured soldiers. He filled a big box with books and goodies and delivered them to the hospital. 

Although he couldn't write, "his message was clear as he filled the very big box... 

 

S.D. Schindler's illustrations are magnificent and highlight the story in a superb manner. 

BACKMATTER

Beth Anderson shares an interesting assortment of information in her Author's Note. She began researching the first presidential turkey pardon and became entranced with the close father-son relationship between President Lincoln and his fourth son, Tad. Readers will learn about how Tad's partial cleft palate would be surgically repaired today. Personally, I was intrigued by Beth's bibliography. Her primary sources include several books written in the 19th century as well as those published in the first part of the 20th century. 

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

CAROL: You started to write a book about pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey and that concept changed as you got to know Tad better. Can you explain how that happened?

 

BETH: The turkey pardon story was a tender bit of father and son with some humor that resulted in the national tradition, but…I wasn’t finding a special heart angle to make the story resonate and matter in a special way. As I learned more about the antics of Tad Lincoln, how his mother referred to him as her “troublesome sunshine," his executive mansion adventures, his disabilities, rejection by others, and his joyful heart, I knew there was so much more to this little human than met the eye. As a teacher who has experienced the discovery of unexpected talents, depth, and humor beneath challenging behavior, I wanted to know more about this complicated child and showcase the contradictions he seemed to embody. Because we’re all complicated, right?

 

CAROL: Your bibliography is fascinating. Can you speak about your research process and how you found those primary sources?

 

BETH: Once I start digging in, I follow the trail of breadcrumbs from sources in bibliographies and search out the various names I encounter. It’s fortunate there are so many resources about Lincoln and so many accounts left by those who spent time with the Lincoln family. Most of those sources are people who were on the staff or frequently there covering the President. Tad never failed to make an impression of some sort, so he is often mentioned. A few of the officials loved him and doted on him, like Stanton who gave him a Union uniform. Tad often accompanied his father on outings, so journalists often noted incidents with Tad. There are Tad anecdotes sprinkled through writings from Lincoln’s secretaries, the boys’ baby sitter, Mary’s dressmaker, and more. Once you find who was with the family in the President’s House, you can search out those, and most are referenced in other books about Lincoln. 

 

CAROL: Why did you pick 1863? 

 

BETH: Scope is always an issue with an historical picture book. I like to take a short piece of time if possible so I can really delve into character. As I gathered the stories about Tad, and looked at how they fell on a timeline, I could see that during the year 1863 he transformed under the loving guidance of his father. Once I saw that, I dug for more from 1863, looking for the pieces of the puzzle, choosing the most meaningful, to make my heart thread sing. That was the year after Willie’s death (Tad’s brother), so both were grieving and they needed each other more than ever. Their relationship was intense and vital, humorous and joyful, tender and nurturing. 1863 also allowed me to focus on the relationship and all they brought to each other without having to bring in Willie’s death or the assassination. And at the end of 1863, Christmas, I had the climax moment with the turkey, and I found the perfect incident to use as the ending to tie that heart thread tightly and let it resonate. 

 

 

CAROL: How have kids reacted to the book?

 

BETH: Kids have really loved the book! They totally understand the WRIGGLE! And some of the historical details are great surprises for them. I haven’t been able to experience their reactions in person due to the release during the pandemic, but the feedback I’ve gotten virtually has been wonderful!

 

GIVEAWAY

Leave a comment (along with your name and email address if you are new to my blog) to enter the giveaway. If you follow my blog, I'll enter your name twice. Become a NEW follower and you'll also get a second chance. Giveaway ends May 2. Continental U.S. addresses only. If you're uncomfortable leaving your email address, please email me. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

THE CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTERS- Part I: A Review by Guest Blogger, Elliot Kurta

     The Captain’s Daughters is a sci-fi novel about twins, Robin and Diane, who are kidnapped by aliens while on a vacation with their father. While Robin and Diane try to find out who kidnapped them and where they’re being taken, their father uses his position as captain of the starship Polaris to search for his missing daughters. Using help from various unexpected allies, the two sisters and their father are able to regain their bearings and begin to make their way back to each other.

REVIEW

Robin and Diane spend most, if not all of their time aboard the Polaris, doing homework and pulling pranks on crew members while their father captains the spaceship. Which is why they jump at the opportunity to spend a week at their grandparents’ ranch to get quality time with their father. Unfortunately for Robin and Diane, a few greedy aliens (the Mogs) have other plans and kidnap them during a horse ride. Now at the mercy of the vicious Mogs, Robin and Diane must rely on their tricks and story-telling abilities, the same attributes that got them into trouble aboard the Polaris, to get them out of the hands of their captors. But while the two sisters and their father try to find each other, the three quickly realizes that they may be far further apart than previously suspected.

            With a combination of space battles, drama, adventures, and undeniably entertaining sisterly antics, The Captain’s Daughters will appeal to many audiences. Middle schoolers and young adults will be sucked into this novel as they read about Robin and Diane’s adventures. However, some parts of this story might not be appropriate for younger readers. In particular, chapter nine, “Looking Back”, where it’s revealed that Robin and Diane’s parents were killed, and their father’s brother, Uncle William, was entrusted with their care and well-being. However, this chapter isn't graphic and ends up being important to the plot.

Even though The Captain’s Daughters starts with Robin and Diane being kidnapped, readers also get to glimpse their childhood. The author, Doreen Berger, uses a series of Captain Mark’s flashbacks to present some of Robin and Diane’s defining moments. From hijacking the Polaris’ transmitters for the purpose of sending out pizza orders to learning the hard way why it’s important to listen to your parents, there’s no shortage of interesting memories. For example, takethis passage from page 287:

“He’s quite rude,” Keeran said to Diane and Robin.

Diane sighed, exasperated. “Yes, he is, isn’t he? It’s so hard to get good help these days. Sometimes we just don’t know what to do with him.

“Will he be reprimanded?” Rarten asked, so seriously that neither Diane nor Robin knew how to respond.

            “When we return to the ship,” she said sadly, “I’m afraid he’ll have to be given… ice cream.”

            “Ice cream?” Keeran asked. “I am not familiar with that term.”

            “An old earth punishment,” Robin explained… “Very, very unpleasant.”

            Rest assured, the quote is much funnier in context, and is only a small sample of the novel’s humor.

            While Robin and Diane easily endear themselves to the cast of this book, observing their own special bond is one of the highlights of the story. It’s clear either sister would do anything for the other, and throughout the story their relationship only continues to strengthen. This duo is the selling point of this novel, and throughout the book their laughter, tears, and bold humor seeps through the pages. With an emotional story that plays out in the stars, The Captain’s Daughters is a must read for adventurers of all ages.

                                            


Stay tuned for Part II in which Elliott interviews the author.

GIVEAWAY

If you are interested in winning this book, Doreen will send you an autographed copy. Leave a comment (with your email address if you are new to my blog) and I'll enter your name once. Leave a comment after Part II and you'll be in twice. 

Congratulations to my new follower, Carol Doeringer who won HELLO BABY, I'M YOUR MOM from last week's blog. 




Don't forget to check out the other wonderful middle grade books on Greg Pattridge's MMGM site!

Monday, April 18, 2022

HELLO, BABY! I'm Your Mom and BEVAN, A Well-Loved Bear: 2 PICTURE BOOKS, 1 Giveaway

Today I have two books that are perfect for the very youngest readers who you hold in your arms and cuddle on your lap. Both books are courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

HELLO, BABY! I'm Your Mom



This simple but beautiful rhyming book written by Eve Bunting with vivid illustrations by Jui Ishida, will be a family bedtime favorite. The sing-song repetition will delight toddlers too!

Here is the first page:
"Baby darling, you're so sweet!
Your tiny hands, your tiny feet!
I love you. I'll take care of you
like other loving mommies do."
From there, the book goes on to show ten sets of mommies and babies. Here are some of my favorites:


"Hello, my little kitty-cat.
I'm your mom. Imagine that!
I'll share my nice soft bed with you.
It's cozy and there's room for two!"

 

Mama Porcupine-


And Mama elephant surrounded by her baby's family.



From a furry Mama-


"My precious, tiny polar bear, 

it's could outside, but we don't care.

Our den is warm, and when you grow,

we'll hunt together in the snow."

The book returns to where it began, with a baby who has grown!


    

   "Ever since the world began 

    this has been the perfect plan.

    Hurrah for moms and babies, too!

    I was a baby. So were you!"

Back matter includes two spreads with photographs of the animals and more information about each one.  


Bevan, A Well-Loved Bear



Petra Brown, the author illustrator of this sweet generational tale, has created a story that like Bevan, may be passed down from one family member to another. As I read this opening line, I imagined the scratchy fur of my well-loved childhood stuffed toy. 

"Bevan is a very, very old bear. His fur is a little patchy and his paws are rather scrappy but he still smiles."

"When Bevan was a brand-new bear, he lived in a large nursery with three children and Nanny."

Bevan passed from Nanny to her granddaughter, who cherished Bevan and treated him like a king. When her father gets a job at a light house, Bevan enjoys feeling the wind ruffle his fur from the top of the tower. The girl marries and Bevan shares a saddle with her son as they ride around their ranch. 

The boy grows into a teen and gets a job at a local soda shop.




The boy and his friend save money and take off in a colorful bus. Of course, Bevan rides in the front seat.


Bevan gets his picture taken all across the United States, but then one day--he gets left behind! A scruffy dog brings him home to his owner, an artist. Bevan is getting a little worn by now, but still has the job of greeting a new baby.


Baby girl grows up, goes to camp, and takes Bevan along. But, he falls down behind her bunk and is forgotten. 


Bevan gets cleaned up, and taken to a thrift store. There, he doesn't have to wait long. "My mom saw him on display in the window looking very dapper. She fell in love with him and brought him home to me!"

"His fur is a little patchy and his paws are rather scrappy, but he still smiles. And I love him very, very much!"



I love how the narrator of the book is a little girl who has imagined her bear's life before he comes to live with her. 

A GIFT AND A GIVEWAY

Both of these books would make wonderful baby gifts-- or in my case, a grandma gift! I'm saving Bevan for my new grandson who will be making his debut in June--I think his big sister, Eleanor, will love reading this to him and her other brothers. 

If you are interested in winning Hello Baby, I'm Your Mom, please leave me a comment by April 21. PLEASE LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS if you are new to my blog. NOTE: Marci - can you please leave your last name and email address? I don't have it on file and I need it in case you win!

 

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

UNICORNS OF THE SECRET STABLE: Early Chapter Books Review and TALKING STORY


REVIEW OF UNICORNS OF THE SECRET STABLE

I'm joined by my granddaughter, Eleanor Edgar, in this review.


Almost 7-year-old Eleanor, with
her new books, unicorn, and favorite dog. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve read early chapter books. But when my fellow SCBWI-Carolinas friend, Laurie Edwards, reached out to me with the promise of books, how could I say no?

Below you’ll find a review of four of Laurie's newest stories (Books 9-11) in the Unicorn of the Secret Stable series. Each book includes this introduction to the series, so the books can also be read as stand alone books. 

The books are perfect for girl readers who are new to chapter books; they're each around 70 pages. The large font, few words on the page, and occasional illustrations by Jomike Tejido, help readers make the transition from picture books to chapter books. 

The stories are an interesting mix of fantasy and reality. The two protagonists, Iris and her younger sister Ruby, received the key to the Magic Gate from their mother, who no longer remembers the unicorns. She insists that her daughters have active imaginations--which is a wonderful theme within all the stories. 

The author does a good job of differentiating the "real" world from the fantasy world as the characters must unlock a gate and go into the Enchanted Realm to interact with their unicorns. There's a C.S. Lewis feel to the books as the characters go through this portal into an imaginary world. In the "real" world the girls experience modern-day problems and have typical sibling and friend issues. 

Each book ends with three sets of "Think About It" questions that encourage readers to delve more deeply into the story's message. 



UNICORNS TO THE RESCUE

Carol's thoughts: Ruby and her favorite unicorn, Tempest, is gone! Iris is desperate to find her and asks the flying unicorn, Ember Shadow. to help with the search. After a time of worry and distress, Iris finds Ruby imprisoned in a cave. Iris uses her wits and the unicorns' help to engineer her sister's rescue. 


Eleanor’s thoughts: “This story is about a unicorn and a dragon. The unicorn, Lucky, defends the herd of unicorns from a dragon, Spitfire, who flew down and tried to hurt the unicorns.  But he did not hurt him because Lucky scared him by standing on his hind legs and looking like he would fight. In the end they got along well because Spitfire said he was sorry and Lucky forgave him. I loved it!” ❤️❤️❤️

Carol's thoughts: This story had an interesting parallel between the
unicorn story and Ruby's struggles to make a new friend. 


Carol's thoughts: The "real world" problem in this book is a nosy reporter who wants to obtain a unicorn horn.  He says he wants to find out if they have magic healing powers, but the girls don't trust him as he shadows them and tries to get into Magic Moon Stable. They outwit him (of course!) and the end questions reinforce messages of protection and true friendship. 


Carol's thoughts: Ruby is sad when her best friend leaves for summer vacation. Iris encourages her to keep an open mind about their vacation. When the girls meet two new unicorns, they're surprised at the places their new friends take them. They explore the snowy Northlands and discover--of all things--a mermaid and narwhals. 

I wish I had these books when I was a first grader! The interaction of imagination with the characters' "real lives" is clever. I hope many readers stretch their imaginations as they enter into the Enchanted Realm and the adventures that lie there.

Since Eleanor is now enjoying these books, I have three different giveaways for you instead. As promised, the spring issue of Talking Story, is on "How to Empower Disability Through Kid's Lit." Here's another chance to win Monica Roe's book, AIR; A.B. Donahue's book, NO CLUES YOU LOSE; and a picture book illustrated by SCBWI-Carolina's own Vanessa Brantley Newton, MY THREE BEST FRIENDS and ME, ZULAY. Giveaway ends April 16,--Make sure you leave a comment through the email address in the newsletter. 

Congratulations to Theresa Milstein who won a copy of No Clues You Lose from my last blog. 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

NO CLUES, YOU LOSE: A Review by Guest Blogger Elliott Kurta and a Giveaway

 REVIEW

Perfect for any wannabe sleuth or basketball fan, No Clues, You Lose is an elementary school novel unlike any other. Josephine Jacobs, also known as Joey, is more than proud to be on her local wheelchair basketball team, the Rollin’ Hornets. After a rebranding, her team has ordered new uniforms to avoid risking disqualification from the upcoming tournament in Atlanta. However, a stolen delivery threatens to derail Joey’s dreams. How will she find the missing uniforms? None of the clues make sense, Joey can’t use her computer because of an incident with her sister, and Coach Mike, as well as most of the parents, want to forfeit the tournament. Using the help of her friends and family, Joey moves past these obstacles to discover both where the missing uniforms went and how she can be a better team-player.

Despite being a lighthearted novel, A.B. Donahue, the author, brings realism and relevance to the book. This story doesn’t shy away from showing how Joey is treated differently by some people. Still, with a combination of determination and optimism, she persists in proving that she’s just as capable as anyone else. While she solves the mystery of the disappearing uniforms, Joey also learns the importance of acceptance, sportsmanship, and taking responsibility for your actions.


Not your average children’s book, No Clues, You Lose sets itself apart from the pack with red herrings, a plot twist, and elevated vocabulary. This novel is meant for seven-to-eleven-year-olds, but it isn’t reminiscent of the writing typical of elementary school mysteries; this is a novel for readers that have progressed beyond picture and phonic books and are ready for a challenge. Even between dubious online auctions, a dangerous snoop through a landfill, and nearly getting trapped in a house with a criminal, A. B. Donahue writes an easy to follow and age-appropriate story which will leave you guessing—but not confused.


Educational yet engaging, No Clues, You Lose is perfect for read-aloud sessions. There’s a lot which young readers can learn from this novel. Managing your emotions, respecting your friends and family, and accepting others’ differences are all examples of takeaways. With writing that will challenge but not stump budding readers, it's no question that No Clues, You Lose is a parent’s first choice for any story time. Joey’s narration does not disappoint, and neither does the unexpected ending to this elementary school thriller for both boys and girls. 



Elliott is a prolific reader of various genres who is more than happy to share his opinions on books. 
In his free time, he enjoys writing, reading, and running. 
He is an 8th grade homeschool student in Charlotte, NC. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A.B. Donahue has a degree in music therapy and psychology from Queens University of Charlotte, and worked with children and youth with special healthcare needs for over 20 years. She and her husband and have four children; and all of them have some kind of special healthcare need. She also founded a nonprofit, Signposts Ministries, in 2010, to serve families that have children and youth with special healthcare needs.

GIVEAWAY

I have an autographed copy of No Clues, You Lose for one winner. Please leave a comment by April 13 along with your email address if you are new to my blog. U.S. addresses only. I will be giving away a second copy through the Talking Story newsletter which Joyce Hostetter and I co-publish. Our spring issue is on "Empowering Disability Through Kidlit" and will publish on April 13. Haven't signed up for our quarterly newsletter yet? You can do it here--great articles, activities, and most of all--more BOOKS! 

Congratulations to Esther Bandy who won A Penny's Worth.

MAKE SURE

You check out other marvelous books on Greg Pattridge's MMGM blog on Monday! 

Saturday, April 2, 2022

A PENNY'S WORTH: A Picture Book Review, Giveaway, and Mini-Author & Illustrator Interviews

 



"Hot off the minting press, Penny sparkled." That's the first line of Kimberly Wilson's debut picture book, A PENNY'S WORTH (Page Street Kids, 2022). With engaging illustrations by Mark Hoffman, this STEM story of a pretty copper penny will find a special place in a preschool - second grader's heart. 

REVIEW

Penny launches into life ready to be spent. But she soon finds out that while other money appears useful, she is ignored, forgotten, or worse--stuck to a piece of gum. "This is non-cents! she thought."

She sets off on a journey to prove her worth. 

First she tries her hand at following Quarter into an arcade slot. CLINK, CLANK, CLUNK Penny is returned. "I wish I measured up, Penny thought."

Next, she tries her hand at buying some penny candy. 




But, as Dime points out, a penny won't buy a lollipop like it used to. 

Penny takes a tailspin and goes over the edge when she reads this headline:


She peers down and imagines life as a sewer cent...



"....Ignored. Forgotten. Stuck." (I assume if this was a novel this would be her "Dark Night of the Soul" moment.)

A friend comes alongside and leads her out of despair. "Heads up," another penny said, "we're good luck when we put our best face forward!" 

Penny follows and finds herself by the side of a fountain filled with pennies. A little boy picks her up and she listens to his whispered wish. 
"She beamed. He can count on me!"





As you can tell, Kimberly is a punny writer (Sorry! I couldn't help it!) and includes world play and puns so that adults will enjoy reading it also. To find out more of Kimberly's "Two Cents on Picking the Perfect Pun," click here for her recent SCBWI-Carolinas post.

AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR INTERVIEW

Carol to Kimberly: How did you come up with the idea for A Penny's Worth?

Kimberly: A Penny’s Worth began as a Storystorm 2019 idea. I looked at the coin jug on my kitchen counter and saw something more––a plucky penny on a mission to prove she’s cent-national, despite her face value. Through Penny’s journey, I realized I not only had the opportunity to make readers laugh with countless puns and introduce them to money math, but also to show them the importance of self-worth.

Carol: What was your path to publication?

Kimberly: The writing journey for this book took me to a NJ SCBWI conference in June 2019 where I was asked to revise and resubmit to Page Street Kids. I was thrilled, and after working with them on a few rounds of revisions, they made an offer approximately a year later!

Carol: What did you think of Mark Hoffman's illustrations?

Kimberly: I am a huge fan! When I first saw the character sketches, I was captivated by the colors, dimension, and expressions––and who doesn’t love a penny in pants! When I saw the final art, one of many things I was taken with was the retro feel Mark gave to the arcade and candy shop. 

Carol: What's next?

Kimberly: A DOLLAR'S GRAND DREAM (Spring, 2023, Page Street Kids).

                                                                                ****

Carol to Mark: What medium did you use?

Mark: Acrylic.

Carol: What was it like illustrating this book?

MarkThe book was a lot of fun to work on because it had so much going on with each spread. This meant I got to think of the page like a collage of moments. Hopefully that comes across in the reading of it. 

CarolWhy did you use green so much in the illustrations?

Mark: I wanted to capture a hint of the oxidized copper.

(Carol to herself: And I thought it was because the book was about money!)



A Penny's Worth comes out April 5! Join Kimberly and Mark for their virtual launch which will be moderated by SCBWI-Carolina's own Ashley Belote. And, if you're in Charlotte, NC, come meet Kimberly at Park Road Books (THE independent bookstore in Charlotte) on April 24 for story time and reading. 



GIVEAWAY

To enter this giveaway, just leave me a comment. MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IF YOU ARE NEW TO MY BLOG! If you already subscribe to my blog, I'll put your name in twice. If you don't already subscribe but decide to follow my blog, I'll add your name for a second chance. Giveaway ends April 7.

Congratulations to Gail Cartee, who edged her way to the front of the crowd last week and won THE VERY OLDEST PEAR TREE.

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