BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: William Wise

 

zoo.jpg

 

Title: Zany Zoo
Author: William Wise
Illustrator: Lynn Munsinger
Publisher: Walter Lorraine Books
Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

 

Welcome to the Zany Zoo!
An unusual bunch in here,
It’s true,
But if fun and silliness are
What you seek,
Turn the pages, take a peek…

 

Why you should read it:

 

What kid (or adult for that matter) doesn’t enjoy visiting animals at the zoo? Young readers will be in for a huge surprise when they turn the pages to discover the delightful antics from the menagerie of animals hiding within the pages of Mr. Wise’s engaging book. You can meet Carlotta the Cow or even Wally the Whale as well as a multitude of other creatures all featured in this children’s book featuring kid-friendly poetry.

Ms. Munsinger’s vibrant illustrations are a whimsical backdrop to the fun poems and I wouldn’t be surprised if some readers don’t join in the fun come party time!

 

Like-o-meter Rating scale **: 5 out of 5…grab it!

**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!

 

***********

 

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: Aaron Zenz

 

hiccupotamus

 

Title: The Hiccupotamus
Author/Illustrator: Aaron Zenz
Publisher: Scholastic
Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

 
There was a hippopotamus
Who hiccupped quite-a-lotamus
And every time he got’emus
He’d fall upon his bottomus

 

Why you should read it:

 

All I can say is everything about this picture book is cute! Cute illustrations, cute rhyme, cute premise. Who hasn’t struggled with a bout of hiccups that just wouldn’t go away? Oh how I laughed as I eagerly turned the pages to see what would happen next. What a delightful addition to any home library!

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!

 

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

 

 

**************
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: David Catrow

 

funny lunch

 

Title: Funny Lunch
Author/Illustrator: David Catrow
Publisher: Orchard Books
Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

 

Max creates a hilarious lunchtime adventure as he serves up one hysterical meal after another at his own diner.

 

Why you should read it:

 
I think David Catrow might be one of my favorite current illustrators. I’ve read many of the books he has either written or illustrated and love every one! Max is such an adorable character and I had to smile at his eagerness to show off his culinary skill. Mr. Catrow’s artwork style is so distinctive that I find myself pouring over each page, inspecting every nuance as I find myself drawn into each engaging storyline. FUNNY LUNCH is no exception and would be a great addition to any home or school library.
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!

 

**********

 

 

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

 

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: Catherine Gourley

molly

 

Title: Welcome to Molly’s World * 1944
Author: Catherine Gourley
Publisher: Pleasant Company Publications
Ages: 9-11

Synopsis:

 
Molly McIntire was a nine-year-old girl growing up on America’s home front during World War Two. In 1944, America had been at war for three years. For girls like Molly, life had changed. Fathers were away at war, mothers went to work, and children gave up allowances, sugary sweets, and even some of their toys for the war effort.

 

Why you should read it:

 

I’m currently researching this time in American history for book three of a historical fiction chapter book series I’m working on. I have no interest in the bloody details of war, but have an almost insatiable thirst for information about the lives of the people who lived through them. MOLLY’S WORLD, a part of the American’s Girl Collection, gives a most detailed insight into the life of a child during the mid 1940’s. To someone like myself who knows very little about this particular war, I feel like a kid in the candy store and someone has just said I can have one of everything! This book is definitely a wonderful addition to any home library.

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!

WRITERLY WISDOM: Darcy Pattison

aliens

 

Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Six years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. This week we learn from the wonderful Darcy Pattison…

The Aliens, Inc Series: Fall 2014
by Darcy Pattison

 

To write a series of books, my biggest tip is to plan ahead. You may get by with writing one book on the fly—plenty of people do that. But for a series to hang together, to have cohesion and coherence, planning is essential. Here are XX decisions you should make early in the planning process.

 

Decision #1: What type of series will you write?

 

Strategies for a series vary widely. For THE HUNGER GAMES, the story is really one large story broken down into several books. Or, to say it another way, there is a narrative arc that spans the whole series. Yes, each book has a narrative arc and ends on a satisfying note; however, we read the next book because we want to know what happens in the overall series arc. Jim Butcher’s ALERA CODEX is another series with an overall series arc; it was fun to hang out in this world for a long time.

On the other hand, series such as Agatha Christie mysteries (in fact, many mystery series fall into this category) are stand-alone books. What continues from one book to the next is the characters, the setting and milieu, and the general voice and tone of the stories. Once a reader gets to know a character, s/he wants to spend more time with that character. These readers just want to hang out with a friend, your character. A sub-category is the series of standalone books that adds a final chapter to set up the next book in the series and leaves you with a cliff-hanger.

I distinctly remember when I first read Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter series about Mars. Each story is a standalone novel, but he hooked me hard. I started reading at noon on a Saturday and found myself hotfooting it to the bookstore at 4:30 pm because they closed at 5 pm and I had to have the second book to read immediately.

Rarer is the series that crosses genres. This type series begins with one genre, but moves into other genres as the lives of the characters progress. For example, a romance might continue with a mystery for the second book. And the third might move into a supernatural genre. These are rarer because one reason a reader sticks with a series is that they know what they are getting. It will be this type of a story, told in this sort of way and will involve these characters.

On the other hand, some series unabashedly cross genres but they do it for every book. Rick Riordian’s Percy Jackson series is a combination of mythology and action/thriller with a dose of mystery.

Notice that this decision centers on the plot of the stories in the series. Will you plot each separately, or will there be an overall plot?

 

Decision #2: Characters.

 

Besides plot, you should make decisions about characters, and as with plot, you have choices. One choice is an ensemble cast that will carry over from book to book. Here, you have Percy Jackson, his friends and his family as constants. Each book introduces new characters, of course, but there is a core that stays the same.

Another option is to have just one character remain the same. Agatha Christie had Hercule Poirot traveling around and the only constant was the gumshoe and his skills.

Whether you choose one character or an ensemble, you can add or subtract as you go along. But the characters must be integral to the story’s plot.

In developing series characters, think about cohesion and coherence.

Cohesion: Elements of the story stick together, giving cohesion. For example, if one alien in the family can use telekinesis (moving objects with your mind), then that possibility should exist for all members of the family. Of course, some might not have the power, or it may develop slowly for a child, but the possibility should exist.

Coherence: Elements of a story are consistent from book to book. If Kell’s eyes are silvery in book one, they are silvery in books two, three and four.

 

Decision #3: How long do you want the series to continue?

 

Many easy readers series go on forever. Think of THE BERENSTAIN BEARS, who continue their adventures and lives throughout multiple volumes. For this type series, the story possibilities are endless. Or think of a TV series, where the situation set up is rich with possibilities. I Love Lucy ran for years and years on the premise of a slightly crazy wife of a musician.

On the other hand, some series have a finite life span. For stories with a narrative arc that spans a series, the life span is built into the plot. However even for these, there can be spin-offs into related series. Think of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and Heroes of Olympia series. The A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy and John Gurney had a built-in limit of 26 books.

Sometimes, the length of a series depends on the publisher and the early success of the series titles. When Dori Hillestad Butler’s first book in The Buddy Files series, THE CASE OF THE LOST BOY, won the 2011 Edgar Award for the best juvenile mystery of the year, the publisher contracted for more.

For Sara Pennypacker, author of the CLEMENTINE series of short chapter books, the answer of series length depended on something else. In a presentation about writing, she said that she had to ask herself what she wanted to say to third graders. She came up with eight things. Pennypacker focused on the themes of each book (friendship, telling the truth, etc) and found that eight was the natural stopping place for her. Of course, she reserves the right to many more, if other themes present themselves. But she deliberately stepped away from doing a Christmas book, a Halloween book, a 4th of July book, a fall book, a back-to-school book and so on and so forth.

My books, THE ALIENS, INC. SERIES, came out in 2014, and is about an alien family that is shipwrecked on Earth and must figure out how to make a living. It’s been interesting developing these stories and thinking about these three issues.

They accidently fall into party planning and each book features a different type of party or event put on by Aliens, Inc, the family’s company. KELL, THE ALIEN, the lead-off story, is about a birthday party and of course, it is an alien party. Can the aliens pull off an alien party? The second is about a Friends of Police parade, entitled, KELL AND THE HORSE APPLE PARADE.

Can you tell just from the description some of the decisions I made? There isn’t an overall series arc. Rather, the characters, setting and milieu are set up and there could be endless stories in the series. However, like Butler’s dog mystery series, I am starting with four books and their success will determine future titles. There is a main character who is surrounded by friends and family and, of course, a villainess. These characters weave through the stories and provide cohesion and coherence.

Plan ahead and your series will be stronger. For those who accidently fall into a series, it will be harder to sustain coherence. You may realize in book three that it sure would be nice if your character had to wear glasses. Yes, you can add it—but you run the danger of it being obviously done for the story itself. So, in my series, early readers have questioned things like the art teacher who is from Australia.

They ask, “Does it matter that she is from Australia?”

“Not yet,” I answer. I just know that I have seeded these early manuscripts with possibilities. If the series goes to books 5-8, I will have hooks to draw upon. So, while I haven’t plotted those books, I have still allowed room for them.

Resource: Writing the Fiction Series: The Complete Guide for Novels and Novellas by Karen S. Wiesner (Writer’s Digest Books)

Want to write a series? What is your favorite series and how will your stories compare?

 

darcy

 

Storyteller, writing teacher, Queen of Revisions, and founder of Mims House publisher, Darcy Pattison has recently been motivated by zombies (which helped her meet a goal of running a 5K) and chocolate (which keeps her young). always active, before her tenth birthday, she (almost) climbed the Continental Divide, turning back at the last 20 yards because it was too steep and great climbing shoes hadn’t been invented yet. This year, she biked in Poland and hiked the Rockies. On her bucket list is kayaking the Napli Coast, eating curry in Bombay, and catching a glimpse of a puma in South America. You can reach her at her website (http://www.darcypattison.com)

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Gianna Marino

 

Houses

 

Title: Too Tall Houses

Author/Illustrator: Gianna Marino

Publisher: Viking

Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

 

Rabbit and Owl lived in two small houses on top of a hill. They were good neighbors and good friends until one day…

Why you should read it:

 

The illustrations in this book are absolutely stunning! Ms. Marino puts vibrant detail into her artwork and her characters seem to leap off the page. TOO TALL HOUSES is a story about two friends with very different personalities. Rabbit enjoys growing vegetables in his garden while Owl loves to gaze at the forest just beyond their little houses. But one day Rabbit’s eagerness to have plenty to eat prevents Owl from enjoying the view and a contest begins to see who can outdo the other. It will take a little push from Mother Nature to make the two friends realize that there are more important things in life than who has the tallest house on the hill.
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!

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Vannetta Chapman

 

Murder.jpg

 

Title: Murder Freshly Baked

Author: Vannetta Chapman

Publisher: Zondervan Publishing

Ages: Young Adult to Adult

 

Synopsis:

 

The Amish Artisan Village of Middlebury, Indiana, might be the last place you would ever expect to find a murderer. But Amber has been managing the Village for decades and there’s nothing she hadn’t seen. Or so she thought.

 

Why maybe you should read it:

 

I’m not usually a cozy mystery reader…I leave that genre to my sister. But there was something about the cover of this book that captured my attention so I thought I would give it a try. I mean what’s not to like, right? A cute Amish village where fresh baked goods are on the menu along with a slice of murder topped with a mystery.

Unfortunately, for me, this third book in the series didn’t exactly wet my appetite for more cozy mysteries. The beginning chapters of MURDER FRESHLY BAKED were very confusing to me with the introduction of so many different characters. I don’t know if it would have helped to have read the other books in the series first, but since I didn’t know who these characters were, it was challenging to feel connected to them.

I’m sure Ms. Chapman’s book would be a fine read for someone else but for me, MURDERR FRESHLY BAKED didn’t quite fit this reader’s palette.

 

Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 3 out of 5…take it or leave it.

 

**Rating scale**

 

 5 out of 5…grab it!

 

 4 out of 5…think about it.

 

 3 out of 5…take it or leave it.

 

 2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

 

 1 out of 5…forget about it!