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Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Review: Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester L. Laminack & Illustrated by Henry Cole

Book received at no charge from the publisher to facilitate review.
Nothing much ever happened on the Tucker Farm. The cows go about chewing their cud, the hens peck and lay their eggs while the hound lays around on the porch. But things on the farm get crazy when a peacock shows up.

The peacock struts about with his feather's spread and attracts the attention of folks just driving by. Soon they stop to admire him while they buy up all of the eggs, corn and milk. The hens can't help but notice how all of the peacock's prancing doesn't produce a single contribution to the roadside stand. They team up against him and demand that he stay back at the hen house and tend to the nests while they dress up for the glamorous job of stopping cars. Sadly, their antics fall short of their desired result.

The hilarious illustrations will elicit giggles from young readers while they learn a valuable lesson on why each individual's contribution is important. The cartoon like expressions on the faces of the farm animals will charm children of all ages.

Rating: Recommended ★★★★☆

Publishing Information:
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (Reprint Feb. 1, 2014)
ISBN: 978-1561457267
Pages: 32
Ages 5 & up
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Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review: Victory on the Home Front by D. S. Grier

As if the fighting going in during World War II wasn't enough, the tumultuous life at the MacGregor makes eleven-year-old Les want to run away. It doesn't help that the school bully has made sure nobody wants to be around him.

When his family sees his older brother James off at the train station as he heads off to join the war effort, Les uses the opportunity to escape to the one place he feels loved. His other two brothers later join him as his alcoholic parents try to pick up the pieces of their troubled life.

While the story explores the problems of a dysfunctional family and brings attention to attention deficit order in a beautiful, sensitive way, the constant shifts in points of view, sometimes several times in a chapter, can jar and confuse the reader. The young adult reader may see some of his own family in the novel but may struggle to stay fully connected to the characters.

Rating: Good to Recommended ★★★1/2

Publishing Information: 
Publisher: Windy City Publishing (March 2012)
ISBN: 9781935766148
Pages 276
Ages: 11 and up

Book can be purchased from the following retailers:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Claude at the Beach by Alex T. Smith

Book received from the publisher at no charge to facilitate review

Claude the dog with the red beret needs a vacation. What better person to spend it with than his best friend, Sir Bobblysock. After packing all sorts of useful things like tambourines, whipped cream, and sticky tape, the two head off on and adventure to the beach.

Claude's relaxing day at the beach winds up filled with excitement as he rescues a swimmer from a shark, enters sand castle building contest and has a surprise waiting in his hunt for pirate treasure.

Who knew strutting around in red underwear held up by tape could be so fun?
Kids will never get enough of Claude and his hilarious antics. Quirky illustrations endear the reader to already loveable characters. Claude will leave his fans hardly able to contain their excitement for his next adventure.

Rating: Highly Recommended ★★★★★

Publishing Information: 
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (April 2014)
ISBN: 978-1-56145-703-8
Ages 7-9

This book can be purchased from the following retailers:

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Contest Details:  

To celebrate the April release of Claude at the Beach, I am giving away a hard copy to one of my lucky readers in April. Please use the Rafflecopter form to enter. By entering, you acknowledge you have read the terms on the form and agree to them. Contest ends 4/20/2014 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Author Interview: Michelle Edwards

I am proud to introduce Michelle Edwards, author of Max Makes a Cake

 What made you decide to become a children's book  book author? 

In graduate school I started making letterpress books, like Dora Skale in my picture book, Dora’s Book. I like being able to add text and story to my images. After I finished my MFA in printmaking, I started to think about more about stories and images. That led me right to picture books.

 Many young readers don't realize the illustrations to a picture book aren't added until an author has already written the story. Tell us what it is like to finally see the illustrations added to your work.

I have illustrated many of my own picture books, so it’s always a surprise for me to see how someone else illustrates my characters and stories. Sometimes it shakes my vision. Sometimes, like in Max Makes a Cake, it thrills me. I love the way Charles Santosos captured Max’s spirit and personality.

 Have you ever made an unusual cake like Max and what was it like?

I do like to experiment in the kitchen. And like Max, I am a major fan of frosting. The most unusual cake I ever made was one I had to rescue with frosting. The cake was birthday cake for my husband. I was impatient and took it out of the pan before it had cooled. The cake fell apart, so I glued it back together with frosting. Because it had a very rough and crumbly look, I used M and M’s to decorate it.

 Did you pattern any of the characters in Max Makes a Cake after anyone you know?

Tell us a little bit about how your characters are formed.Max is a spunky, confident can-do kid. He and my three daughters are very much a kindred spirits. My characters are usually what drives my stories. I spend a lot of time thinking about them.

What is the hardest part of being a children's book author?

For me, I think the hardest part of being a children’s book author and illustrator  the waiting. Waiting for a publisher  to buy my story. Waiting for a an editor to respond to my revision. Waiting for the book to be published, available and reviewed.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Creating. I love being in my studio and playing with ideas. The early stages when all that matters is that I show up, ready to play.

How often do you write and how long did it take to get your first book published?

I work every day. That means that almost every day, I am in my studio, doing something – writing, sketching, reading. It took me many years to be published

Who are some of your favorite children's book authors? Do you get inspiration from any of them?

There are so many authors and illustrators I admire. I’ll name just a few of my favorites: Vera B.Williams, Maira Kalman, E.B. White and Katherine Applegate. They inspire me everyday. I study their books. Sometimes I even type them up – that way I get close to how the books works word by word.

Michelle Edwards is the author and illustrator of many books for children, one book for adults, and nearly one hundred essays and cards for knitters. Her picture book titles include Chicken Man, winner of the National Jewish Book Award. Michelle lives in Iowa City, Iowa, with her husband, a house full of books, yarn, and the artifacts of their three daughter's childhoods. Her next picture book, A Hat for Mrs. Goldman will be published in 2016 by Schwartz and Wade and illustrated by Brian Karas. 

Author Social Media Links:   Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest

Thank you to Michelle Edwards for taking the time to to an author interview with me. I love meeting the authors of the books I review. It makes me appreciate what goes into the writing process.

Check out my book review of Max Makes a Cake HERE.