BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: David A Adler

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Title: Satchel Paige Don’t Look Back
Author: David A Adler
Illustrator: Terry Widener
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc
Ages: 9-11

 

Synopsis:

 

Satchel Paige as one of the greatest pitchers of all time. He wanted more than anything to make it into the “big show” but hen he began his career in the 1920’s, African Americans were excluded from the major leagues. That didn’t stop him from playing until he got the chance he’d been hoping for. And that was just the beginning…

 

Why you should read it:

 

Growing up and all the way through high school I played softball whenever I got the chance. Whether as a part of neighborhood kid gatherings or physical education roundups, I was good as shortstop or second base. But growing up in the 60’s & 70’s, I’d only heard of the great Babe Ruth…not Satchel Paige. Now kids of all ages can learn about one man’s determination to make the world look beyond the color of his skin to see his amazing talent as one of the best pitchers the game of baseball has ever seen.

Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 4 out of 5…think about it.

**Rating scale**

5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

FLASH FICTION TUESDAY: Lacey’s Bridge

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Now on Tuesdays…at least for the foreseeable future…welcome to Flash Fiction Tuesday. In case you don’t know what flash fiction is, it is an extremely short story (sometimes created in 100 words or less) with a beginning, middle, and an ending.

 
But my case, I write flash fiction with an open ending. I allow my readers to draw their own conclusion as to what happens. Sit back, relax, and take a moment to find out what happens at Lacey’s Bridge…

 
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Tears streaming down her face, Lacey raced to the bridge. She was numb to the feeling of branches scratching her arms and the winter wind tangling her hair. Her attention was focused on the destination. She had to get to the bridge in time.

 

Lacey broke through the trees just as the sun slid from behind dark clouds. Ahead of her were moss-covered posts and snow stung her eyes as she stumbled toward the bridge’s edge. Exhausted, she paused a moment to rest her head against the rough stone as memories of Tommy washed over her.

 

“You promised!” He said.

 

Lacey looked at him with tear filled eyes. “I know, but now I’m not so sure.”

 

He pulled her to him and kissed her softly, almost apologetically, before saying, “You know she will never stop. This is the only way. If two people believe in something strongly enough then even the impossible becomes possible.”

 

She hung her head, “Yes, I know.”

 

Lacey’s thoughts returned to the stone beneath her hands as his voice echoed into the night, “I’ll love you forever.”

 

Slowly she made her way to the middle of the bridge. Stopping long enough to register the sound of hounds barking in the distance, she reached into her pocket. Trembling fingers closed around cold steel as Lacey drew the gun to her lips for one final kiss before letting it slip into the dark waters below.

 

It was done…

 

Okay, it’s your turn! What did Lacey do? Why are the hounds after her? Why does she have a gun? Put your creative cap on and add a sentence or add a paragraph. Continue my story or start one of your own and leave a comment below…

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

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donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: A Cup of Love

 

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My mother was a very strict disciplinarian. Many, including a younger version of myself, would have labeled her an abusive parent. But with age comes wisdom, and over the years I have come to realize that upbringing and circumstances molded my mother into the person she had become by the time I had joined an already crowded family. I hold onto some of the better memories and recognize now my mother’s attempt to show her children how much she cared…like when we came home on cold, rainy school days.

By the time I was in first grade, I pretty much knew what would be waiting for me after walking home in the pouring rain. I was the youngest of four siblings and as a toddler, watched as Mother would go through the same ritual every year for my two sisters and brother as they walked through the back door in their rain-soaked clothes.

Hours before Mother would be in the kitchen with her trusted collection of recipes and whip up a huge pot of homemade hot cocoa. Food in our home was always carefully rationed out…except for on Hot Cocoa Day.

On Hot Cocoa Day a bone-chilled, dripping wet kid could always count on two things. A towel warmed by a gas space heater to wrap up in and an endless mug of Mother’s hot cocoa. I wouldn’t be far off saying I lived for Hot Cocoa Day. As a pre-schooler I would watch as she mixed all the ingredients into a huge stock pot and impatiently waited as it slowly simmered into a rich brown vat of childhood delight.

Once I began school I would walk home a little faster on rainy days because I knew what was waiting for me. After stuffing newspaper inside our wet shoes to help them dry, we would hover in front of that one tiny heater in the living room while Mother took turns holding the towels up to the flames to reheat them until we were dry. Then, and only when she made a new batch of hot cocoa, we were allowed to fill our mugs with as much of that chocolate goodness as we wanted. Any leftovers was stored in pitchers to be rationed out for days afterward. If we were lucky, there would be slices of homemade bread straight from the oven, topped with fresh churned butter or maybe even some snickerdoodle cookies to nibble on.

While my mother was not one for showing much affection, I now know this was one way she showed her children how much she cared. And even though it’s been more than forty years since I’ve had my mother’s hot cocoa, every time I sit down to drink some on a cold, rainy day I think of her and realize there was a lot of love in that cup…

 

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Snickerdoodle Cookies
by Ferol Lavergne

1 cup shortening
1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
5 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix shortening, butter,sugar, and eggs. Blend all dry ingredients.

Stir in with shortening, butter, sugar and egg mixture. Roll into balls the size of a small walnut. Roll in mixture of 4 tablespoons sugar and 4 tablespoons cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown and still slightly soft. Allow to cool completely and store in airtight container. Makes 16 dozen.

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

**************

 

donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

 

 

WRITERLY WISDOM: Judy Cox

 

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Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. This week we learn about the “humanistic” personality traits in things other than people…

 

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ANTHROPOMORPHIC CHARACTERS
By Judy Cox

 

Grumpy bears, curious mice, lost toasters—the world of children’s literature abounds with animals and objects that act like people. Giving “people” traits to things or animals is human nature—just eavesdrop on a child playing with a favorite toy, or a doting pet owner speaking for her pet. People love to pretend that non-humans think and talk and feel just like we do.

Here are a few of the reasons why children love books with anthropomorphic characters:

Anthropomorphic characters are gender, age, and ethnicity neutral, allowing a child to project their own image on them.

Anthropomorphic characters can be stand-ins for adults, allowing children to engage in grown up activities like living by themselves, driving, cooking, or throwing parties.
Anthropomorphic characters can be stand-ins for children—behaving in exaggerated ways that real children could not.

Children’s literature reflects our love of anthropomorphic characters, whether they are animals, toys, or objects. Animals make particularly appealing characters, and I have used many in my books, both picture books and those for mid-grade readers. Anthropomorphic animals fall into three groups:

1. ANIMALS THAT ACT LIKE CHILDREN:

 

Franklin by Paulette Bourgeois, Arthur by Marc Brown, Frances by Russell Hoban, Olivia by Ian Falconer, Kevin Henkes’ mice, One is a Feast for Mouse by Judy Cox

 

2. ANIMALS THAT ACT LIKE ADULTS

 

Babar by Jean de Brunhoff, A Visitor for Bear by Bonnie Becker, Go to Sleep, Groundhog! By Judy Cox, Redwall by Brian Jacques, Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham

3. ANIMALS THAT ACT LIKE ANIMALS, BUT WITH HUMAN TRAITS

 

Watership Down by Richard Adams, Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, The Case of the Purloined Professor by Judy Cox.

 

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Of course, animals aren’t the only anthropomorphic characters in children’s books. Here are some other examples:

TOYS — Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, Corduroy by Don Freeman

OBJECTS—The Brave Little Toaster by Thomas Disch, The Spoon by Amy Rosenthal, The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg, The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

MACHINES—Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton, The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper, Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. W. Awdry

WRITING ANTHROPOMORPHIC CHARACTERS

 

First, decide how human to make your character. There is a spectrum of behavior to consider—will your characters be completely human? George and Martha in James Marshall’s series never behave like real hippos.

Maybe you’ll want your characters to act more like animals, like the duck family in Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. Mrs. And Mrs. Mallard have human feelings, but they always behave like ducks.

Perhaps your characters will be somewhere in between, like Frederick and Ishbu, brother rats, in my Tails of Frederick and Ishbu series. My rats climb, jump, swim, and gnaw—like real rats–and I use these attributes, as well as animal behaviors like brushing whiskers, scratching, and marking territory, in all of their adventures. Unlike real animals, however, Frederick and Ishbu also talk to each other (although not to humans), and Frederick can read.

Sometimes, the choice is up to the illustrator, not the author. Initially, I imagined Mouse (One is a Feast for Mouse) as a real mouse. The illustrator chose to dress him in a striped T-shirt and glasses—a brilliant move, by the way!

 

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Whether you choose to clothe your character or keep them au naturel, balance animal characteristics with people characteristics so you don’t end up with the dreaded “people in animal clothes” syndrome in which the animals do nothing animal-ish. Keep characters true to their animal nature—fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly! Besides curious mice, cuddly bunnies, and grumpy bears you can also play against type—a shy lion or an owl who isn’t as wise as he thinks.

Your anthropomorphic characters must be as three dimensional as human characters. They need charm and personality, as well as a goal and a conflict.

WHAT NOT TO DO

 

Avoid overdoing the cute factor. Too much sugar becomes cloying.
Avoid alliterative names. They’ve been so overdone that they are clichéd.
Avoid strange or unappealing beasts that children find repulsive.
Avoid following the above guidelines too closely!

Be thoughtful about inanimate objects. When I first started writing, I was given the advice to never use non-toy objects as main characters. The reasoning was that inanimate objects are not as innately appealing as animals or toys. That said, there have recently been a number of successful children’s books that feature objects—leaves, tableware, machines–as main characters, proving (once again) that rules are made to be broken!

Whether toy, animal, or object, the only unbreakable rule is that your characters must appeal to readers, both children and adults. A main character must be someone the reader can identify with, someone the reader can root for through trial and tribulation. In the end, it’s the quality of the story and the writing that are important—traits that are true for any good children’s book.

 


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Judy Cox is the author of twenty-six award winning children’s books, including many with animal characters. In 2009, the first book in the Mouse series (Holiday House), One is a Feast for Mouse, won an Anne Izard Storytellers Choice Award. Her latest book is Sheep Won’t Sleep was released in 2018. For more about Judy and her books, check out her website at www.judycox.net.

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: The Ripple Effect

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If you have been writing for long, I think you may certainly agree with what I am about to say. If you are new to writing, you may come to realize my words are true.

 

WRITING IS A LONG, FOREVER JOURNEY.

 

There, I’ve said it.

To the ill informed who think writing a book is as simple as throwing some words down on paper, I say writing is like planting an acorn and having the patience to wait for the mighty oak to mature into something beautiful.

To the ill equipped who think writing a book doesn’t mean they need to know the basics of plot, sentence structure, characterization or the dozen other parts which make up a good story, I say take away those things from classical writers like Shakespeare or Chaucer and all you will have are kindergarten tales best told around a cozy campfire.

Great writing takes time…lots of it…and a big ol’ heaping of patience to carry you through during those dark moments when you doubt your ability to create. And those moments will surely come if you are truly a writer at heart. Perfectionism will sometimes override common sense and you might begin to wonder why you are on this journey in the first place.

But then you will start to remember all those who came before you…other travelers on the path to publication who, while in the dark uncertain moments of their own beginnings, also took a moment to wonder about their own journey. And the one thing which made them stand out amongst the crowd of hopeful want to be authors? They managed to take that leap of faith, to cast one small pebble of belief into the water and watch the ripple eventually turn into something bigger than themselves. They nurtured a core belief in themselves they are good enough, strong enough to be on that path. And in this one defining moment they lit the way for the rest of us.

All we need to do now is toss our pebble in as well and have the patience to let the ripple effect takes us wherever our writing journey may lead us…

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

****************

 

donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in ebook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Daisy Corning Stone Spedden

 

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Title: Polar The Titanic Bear
Author: Daisy Corning Stone Spedden
Illustrator: Laurie McGa
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Ages: 9-11

Synopsis:

A young boy’s toy bear begins a journey all the way from the shelves at F.A.O. Schartz toy store in New York City to far off places halfway around the world before ending up on the Titanic. Will Polar and his young master make it off the great ship alive?

Why you should read it:

During my research for my own creative nonfiction book about the Titanic, I came across this cute book based on the true story of a toy bear’s journey around the world. Young readers will not only learn about a little boy named Douglas Spedden, but will also have a peek into the lives of the rich during the Edwardian era where the latest adventure was a gangplank away.
Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

**Rating scale**

5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

FLASH FICTION TUESDAY: The Thunder of Sea Horses…

 

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Now on Tuesdays…at least for the foreseeable future…welcome to Flash Fiction Tuesday. In case you don’t know what flash fiction is, it is an extremely short story (sometimes created in 100 words or less) with a beginning, middle, and an ending.

But my case, I write flash fiction with an open ending. I allow my readers to draw their own conclusion as to what happens. Sit back, relax, and take a moment to find out if sea horses are really real…

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Fionna hid just inside the cave’s entrance as the first hooves cautiously entered the foaming waters. She watched as a dozen wild horses splashed through the rolling waves, at first oblivious to the young girl who watched in fascination from a distance.

It had been three weeks since that first meeting. Collecting shells in the early morning light, Fionna was stunned when a lone stallion stepped into the waters. Frozen in surprise, she could just watch as the horse traveled further out until its head disappeared beneath the waves. Fionna knew well the village tales of the mythical beast that strode into the ocean to heed the mermaid’s call.

In a land full of wee folk and fairies, why then would she not believe in the magical Capall Mara? Especially since she had now seen it with her own eyes.

Fionna watched every day from a distance as more and more creatures  followed the great stallion into the waters. “It’s the Capall Mara,” she whispered as their hooves kicked up sand and sea spray high into the air.

Finally, this morning Fionna told herself today was the day she would go out to meet them before their daily journey beneath the waves. Gathering her courage, she slowly moved away from the cave’s entrance and walked until her bare feel curled around the cool, wet sand at the water’s edge.

She held her breath as the stallion suddenly caught her scent, jerking its head high, nostrils flaring as it tried to identify the strange smell wafting toward him. Fionna could see a wariness in his eyes as he stood staring in her direction…as if the Capall Mara was deciding if this small human could be trusted?

Slowly the stallion made its way closer to her, stretching out a nose until Fionna could reach out a hand and touch the velvety softness with trembling fingers. As if a spell was broken with that touch, the stallion threw its head high before whirling away from her and thundering into the foam, taking the other sea horses with him.

Sinking to her knees in the sand, Fionna wrapped her arms around her body to try and stop her trembling. The people of the village would never believe her. Heck, SHE didn’t even know if she believed what just happened. Looking out over the water, she could just make out the head of the stallion as it slowly dipped beneath the waves…

Okay, it’s your turn! Did Fionna ever see the Capell Mara ever again? Did she follow them to answer the mermaid’s call? Put your creative cap on and add a sentence or add a paragraph. Continue my story or start one of your own and leave a comment below…

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

**************

 

donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.