Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Giveaway: We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March by Cynthia Levinson

We've got a job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March has been getting rave reviews since it's release the last few weeks. It is a moving and historically significant book. I absolutely loved it after I got over my embarrassment for not knowing anything about this important event. Peachtree Publishers has generously offered to give a hard copy of this beautiful book to one of my readers. This is definitely a book giveaway you have to enter. The photos in this book from the Civil Rights Movement are incredible.

Click HERE to read my review of this book

Click HERE to read my author interview with Cynthia Levinson

**Disclosure: I received a copy of the book for review purposes only from the publisher. This in no way influenced my opinion of this book. I do not accept books for review in which I am asked to write a positive review. The publisher will be providing the book to the contest winner. I did not receive compensation of any kind to review and host a giveaway for this book.

Contest Details. Giveaway begins Jan. 31, 2012 and ends February 14, 2012 at 10:01 MST. Contest is sponsored by the publisher. Blog owner is not responsible for sending prize to the winner. Please use the Rafflecopter form for the giveaway. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. See additional details on Rafflecopter form.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Author Interview: Cynthia Levinson author of We've Got A Job: The 1963 Birminham Children's March

Responses by Cynthia Levinson
Jan. 29, 2012
We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March

      What made you decide to write about the 1963 Birmingham Children's March?  

     Mortification. That and ignorance. Or, actually, mortification about my ignorance. As a high school senior in 1963, I knew that powerful water hoses and dogs were used against civil rights demonstrators. But, I didn't know until I wrote an article for Cobblestone Magazine, about five years ago about music during that period, that the demonstrators were all children. As a former American History teacher, I was embarrassed that I hadn't known, let alone taught, essential information. When I discovered, by asking around, that many other people were unaware of children's critical role in desegregating Birmingham, I knew I had to write about it.

      How long did this project take and how much of that was spent researching as opposed to  how much of it was spent writing?

        I worked on this project, on and off, over about four years. There was a period of about 18 months where it sat on a shelf while publishers turned it down. There is no way to discern research from writing. The research informed the writing--the structure, the voice, the content--at every step and continued to do so during revisions, copy edits, design, and photo-finding. They are entirely integral to each other.

     Where do you begin your research for a project like this and where to you find all of the background information?
        I began my research prosaically, by reading. I read about the civil rights movement, in general, and about Birmingham, in particular, for three months before visiting there to do on-site and interview and other primary research. Eventually, the information came from books, newspapers, magazines, personal interviews, music, sermons, photos, television programs, radio shows, movies, documentaries, the web, government sources, statistical reports, research conducted by non-profit organizations, doctoral dissertations...

While you're doing the research, you have no way of knowing what's "background" information and what's foreground. The telling of the story determines that. As for "all" of the information--despite all of the research I did, there is no way to find all of it.  

How did you find out about Audrey, Wash, James and Arnetta's involvement in this historic event?
       I learned about Audrey, Wash, James, and Arnetta through the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which has an excellent collection of interviews with activists.
     What was it like getting to meet the four heroes in your book? Tell us a little about your experience with them.

        I felt awed and honored to meet them. Audrey invited me to her home. When she told me that Dr. King had often met there to plan strategy with her parents and other activists, I practically felt that I was walking on holy ground. Wash took me out for pancakes the first time we met and told me so many stories about his childhood, I knew I had found the "bad boy" for the book. I didn't meet James or Arnetta until the research and writing were well under way, and we had spent many hours together on the phone. It was thrilling to shake their hands.

     Did you travel to Birmingham and retrace the events you wrote about?
        I went to Birmingham three times. On my second visit, I literally re-traced the children's march. A woman who had marched as a teen--and who became Birmingham's second black policewoman--led a group of teenagers in 2008, to commemorate the 45th anniversary. We got farther, both on the ground and symbolically, than any of the marchers had in 1963.

     What was your favorite part about writing WE'VE GOT A JOB? 
       I loved the research, the people I got to talk to, the intensity, working with my editor. Maybe my favorite part was listening to recordings of mass meetings, sermons, and civil rights songs but it's hard to pick one favorite aspect.

      Tell us why you think it's important for children today to read about events of the past?

        There are too many past events to answer this question generically. It's important for children to read about these particular events because they can see that not only is change for the better possible, but also that they, as young people, can help bring it about.

      What advice would you give to the child who hates to read?

     Ask someone who does like to read, to read to you--especially We've Got a Job!

     Thank you for your time. It has been a pleasure working with you. I appreciate the poignant story and hope my readers will take the time to read more about the 1963 Birmingham 
     Children's March. 

     To find out more about author, Cynthia Levinson, visit her website HERE.  

     Be sure to check out We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March. It's a moving non-fiction story. Read my review below this post.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We've Got a Job by Cynthia Levinson - Book Review

       We are embarking on a mission to break down the barrier of segregation in Birmingham.
                                                                                      -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 1963, the African American community in Birmingham, Alabama sought to break down the barriers of segregation. Children and teenagers picked up where the adults left off, giving the Civil Rights movement new life. The purpose of the movement, known as "Project C" for "confrontation, was to fill the jails through arrests from marches and demonstrations. The black community believed their voices would be heard if the government was overwhelmed. When the adults backed down in fear of what would happen to their families if they went to jail, the children bravely faced off against injustice.

In WE'VE GOT A JOB, Cynthia Levinson retells the events around four participants: The youngest, Audrey, was only nine years old at the time of the marches, Wash, the one who had to be restrained from using violence, and James and Arnetta , teenage activists trained in nonviolent methods. These four children joined thousands of other young people at the beginning of May 1963, to stand up against inequality. The poignant courage of the young activists and the raw racial hatred of their oppressors, brings to surface feelings of awe and admiration; bewilderment and anger, for those of us born after the Civil Rights movement or too young to remember the gripping details of the era.

The resulting aftermath, including the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, and the update of the current lives of the four activists bring the historically significant events to full circle. I was deeply moved by Levinson's telling of the events through interviews, research and photos. I'm embarrassed to admit I knew nothing of children's marches before reading We've Got a Job. I closed the book with a deep admiration not only for the participants of the marches, but also the author for wanting to make sure the stories were not lost on new generations. I'm giving the highest honor and recommendation, very rare on my blog,  to this book, highly recommended with star, and hope that every child and teen will read it. (Nonfiction ages 11-15) I think the age should be 11 and up, as adults will be deeply touched as well.

 Publishing Information
  • Publisher: Peachtree (Feb. 1, 2012)
  • Pages: 176
  • ISBN 13:  978-1-56145-627-7
  • ISBN 10: 1-56145-627-6
To purchase this book click on the following retailers.

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**Disclosure:  I received the book at no charge from the publisher for review purposes only. This in no way influenced by opinion about the book. I was never asked to give a positive review nor do I accept books for review if I am asked to give any opinion that is not my own.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Boys and Books Supports Black History Month

Martin Luther King Jr.
As a grade school child, I remember watching the show, ROOTS, every night for a week. As each episode aired, I became more and more incensed at the treatment of the African American slaves. How could anybody do that to another human being, I wondered? My life was far removed from the racial tensions in the South. I had not even heard of the Freedom Fighters or Martin Luther King, Jr. In fact, I lived in such an insulated white Utah community, I didn't even know any African Americans nor did I see any at school.

By the time I got to high school, I still had not one African American in any of my classes. I had Hispanics , Pacific Islanders, and Oriental classmates, but no blacks. As far as being racist, I wasn't. I couldn't fathom the idea. Those that were a different race than me, blended well in my school and I never thought twice about the color of their skin.

Even after I moved out of my insulated community and to another state, I never felt any racial tensions. The African Americans I worked with were part of the workplace, like anybody else. In the 1990's, at the age of 22, I moved to Chicago and for the first time in my life, I experienced racial tensions. The worst thing was that it happened to me in reverse. My husband and I were riding our bikes with our baby in the bike trailer. An African American male called us "white honky" and told us to get out of his neighborhood. I have to admit, I was quite naive and didn't know there were neighborhoods for whites and separate ones for blacks. It was a rude awakening to racial tension in America. I thought racial hatred were a thing of the past. I was about to learn my first history lesson.

Since then, I have read various books and articles on racial inequality and I understand some of the animosity coming from that black man. Do I agree? No! I feel that my child innocence was a good thing and that the idea that it didn't matter what color of skin you had should always prevail. While my children grew up, I always allowed them to choose friends of all varieties. We never discussed skin color. I was happy when their classrooms were dotted with colors from both ends of the black and white spectrum, with everything in between. I taught them they should judge a person on character and nothing else. I once heard one of my sons telling a racist joke. I was mad and told him it was inappropriate and why. He hadn't even thought about it, but now he does.

If we lived in the South, I think this lesson would have greater significance. Since we don't, I feel a great responsibility to teach my children about history and how important it is to never let bad historical events happen again. I recently received a book about the 1963 Birmingham Children's March. What a wonderful opportunity to learn about brave black children fighting against racial inequality. For the innocence of children everywhere, I hope the message continues on. This is why I support Black History Month.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Complete Hawaiin Reef Fish Coloring Book Review

To say The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book by Monika Mira is a coloring book would be an understatement. Instead, the book is a comprehensive guide to many fish that can be found around the waters of the Hawaiian islands. The introduction tells where the fish live, give a description of their scientific name, and describes and illustrates the anatomy of a fish. 
My coloring skills on page from book

The fish are divided into categories and include several examples. Author, Monika Mira, describes each fish in detail, including the colors of the fish. I chose a page out of the book to color and carefully followed the description. When I was finished with my artwork, I looked up the fish, Moorish Idol, and found my attempt matched the actual coloring well. Here is the photo link I used to compare the book illustration to the real thing. Photo link to Moorish Idol 
Monika Mira's illustrations are incredible. Her attention to detail and the amount of research that went into this book is impressive. It's more than a coloring book, it is a must have educational tool for children and adults wanting to know more about the Hawaiian fish. Even I learned something I didn't know. Fish can change sexes and when they do, they change colors. If you plan on taking a family vacation to Hawaii, I would highly recommend buying this book ahead of time. It's not the type of coloring book you will want your toddler to scribble in, but the type of book all ages K-12 would learn from. In fact, it is touted as an educational tool to be used in classrooms. It is not only informative, it is fun too. The only thing I wish about the book is that I would have had it a week and a half sooner for my own scuba diving trip. Maybe I could have identified this fish, or maybe not since I wasn't in Hawaii.

A fish from my scuba trip to Mexico.
To purchase this book directly from the publisher, click HERE. You can also purchase through the following retailers.

**Disclosure: I received this book at no charge from the author for review purposes. This is no way affected my opinion about this book. I do not accept material in which I am asked to leave a positive review.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Griffin Rising - Book Review and Giveaway

For centuries, rumors have swirled about a group of supernatural beings called the Terrae Angeli. Not quite mortal, but not elevated to status of celestial angels, these lowly group of angels keep mortals from danger.Their powers are limited and they possess free will, like men.

     Tiro Griffin knows all about the pain free will can bring when he suffers mentally under the harsh treatment of his master and trainer, Nicopolis. Three years later, Griffin is assigned a new mentor. Basil, takes Griffin under his wing as his apprentice and tries repair the damaged cause by his former master. He encourages Griffin to keep a journal and also does the same.

     When a new family moves in, Griffin falls for their teenage daughter, Katie. She too keeps a journal, giving insight to all three characters.

     GRIFFIN RISING, by Darby Karchut, is a young adult fantasy debut novel with a rare male protagonist. I was fascinated with the back story of the Terrae Angeli and the myths associated with angels. In fact, I spent some time looking up the writings referred to by the author. The relationship between Griffin and his mentor, Basil, is heartwarming. The sweet romance that develops between Griffin and Katie flows naturally and her parents strengthen the relationship between them. Though the book has a male protagonist, I think it would appeal more to teenage girls. Good for boys who like paranormal mixed with romance, but it feels like there is more romance than action. For ages 13 and up.

Publishing Information.
  • Publisher: Paladin Timeless Books (June 15, 2011)
  • Age: 13 and up
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606192108  
Griffin Rising by Darby Karchut can be purchased from the following retailers.

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**Disclosure: I received the book at no charge from the author for review purposes. This in no way affected my opinion of the book. No monetary compensation was received in exchange for this review.

Contest Details.  Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. Contest ends 1/30/2012 at 10:01 MST.  Winner will receive a paperback copy of Griffen Rising by Darby Karchut.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

$500 Paypal Extreme Cash Giveaway (ENDED)


Every so often, I team up with other bloggers for cash giveaways. I do this in the hope that the winner will use at least a little bit of their winnings to buy a book for a child. 

It’s time for an EXTREME CASH GIVEAWAY! I have teamed up with my blogger friends to bring you an extreme cash prize. One lucky winner will receive $500 in their Paypal account at the end of this giveaway!

To enter, simply follow each of our blogs via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and any other way you’d like! All the links are provided for you and you can do as many as you choose. This giveaway ends 2/12/12 at 11:59 pm EST and is open worldwide.

You only need to enter this giveaway on one of our blogs -- good luck!