Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year Read's 2013 (Picture Books)

Hello everyone, first I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year. It has been a hard year for many of us and lots had happened. Now is the time to start a fresh in 2013. I want to welcome Scholastic Inc. to my every growing publisher list. I am very happy to have them aboard. Last update I reviewed three Young Adult Novels. In this update I will be reviewing three picture books. 

Picture Books

1) "The Never- Ending Greenness. We made Israel Bloom."- The book was written and illustrated by Neil Waldman. Published by Boyds Mills Press Inc. 1997. Originally published by: NY Morrow Junior Books 1997. Summary: "When his family comes to live in Israel after the end of World War II, a young boy begins planting and caring for trees, a practice that spreads across the whole Country." The author tells us the story of one Jewish family who escaped the horrors of the Holocaust and settled in Israel. After witnessing the terror of World War II and the bareness of his town of Vilna, a boy decides to plant trees to bring the spark of life to his new home. The amazing  Illustratrations add vividness to the story.  

2) "Has a Donkey Ever Brought you breakfast in bed"- This book was written by Pat Brannon and illustrated by Karen Deming. Published by Freedom of Speech Publishing Inc., Leawood KS 2012.  This author creates a funny world of "mighty" animals who can: "juggle lemons," "wear red go-go boots", or "tap dance all day long." It is a funny book with very simple illustrations that catch the eye. Even though it does not focus on one character, it is still a good story.  Your child will be laughing and pointing out the wacky animal events in the book.  If you want your child to have a good time get a copy.

3) "Dawn"- This book was written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz. Published by Sunburst Books an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1974. This is the second edition 1987. It is a great book to read to your children before they go to sleep. Simple words and simple illustrations make them live and feel in the moment. We usually do not take a moment to observe our own surroundings: the star shining in the sky above, the bird singing, or the blooming flower below our feet. This book will encourage your children to live in the moment. I highly recommend this book for everyone. It is amazing how one picture and a few words can tell a story. Go out there and get  your child a copy of this wonderful book.

Thank you everyone for following me on my blog. I will be celebrating two years in February, and I will try my best to make an update twice a month. Happy 2013 let your life shine life. Next time I will review Middle Grade books. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Young Adult Fantasy Threesome!

It has been a while since I reviewed any Young Adult books so for this update I will review Three wonderful YA books that your teens would love.  Please enjoy and grab them for the holiday season.

1) Starters- This book was written by Lisa Price and published by Delacorte Press in 2012. Imgine a world where a deadly war called the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between 20 and sixty years old. A young girl named Callie decides to rent her body to Enders-seniors who want to be young again.  Callie's world is divided and  full of danger, while teens are only second hand citizens. This book follows Callie and her survival in this detopian world full of renegades who will kill for food. As she rents her body she discovers that her renter intends to do more then just have fun. This is a great book to read. It will make you ask the question What if this can happen to us? I highly recommend this book not only for teens, but adults as well.  It will take you to place that may excist one day. Who know it may already be a parral world like this already. It is a very enjoyable read and lots of fun.

2) Elsewhere-  This book was written by Gabrielle Zevin and published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2005. An imprint of Macmillan. "After fifteen-year-old Liz Hall is hit by a taxi and killed, she finds herself in a place that is both like and unlike Earth, where she must adjust to her new status and figure out how to "live".  This book look at the afterlife in a whole new way. The writer creates an amazing world that will imerse the reader in it's content. It is full of wonderful discrptions and has a great voice. As you read the book Liz will become a part of you and you will cheer her to the end. A great page turner.  Please grab this book and read it yourself or share it with your teen. A great gift  for everyone.

3) The Knife of Never Letting Go. Book 1 in Chaos Walking- This book is written by Patrick Ness and published by Candlewick Press 2008. "Pursued by power-hungry Prentiss and mad minister Aaron, young Todd and Viola set out across New World searching for answers about his colony's true past and seeking a way to warn the ship bringing hopeful settlers from Old World." I really enjoyed this book and the world the auther created. In this world males can here what other males are thinking. Our two main Characters Todd and Viola set out on a journey running away from death. This book is full of action and intersting characters. You get to know the young teens very well. As you read the book it will be a page turner. it also has a much deeper meaning to it. I highly recommend you grab a copy for yourself and your teens. Just be warned the is very gruesome and not recommended for children under 12.

Thank you everyone for reading my blog and have a wonderful Holiday season. Look for a new update soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Lost Days of a book Summer ( Back to School Soon)

Another Summer is coming to an end. Sports, camps, rest and everything in between. Your kids were given reading lists of books to read and I had my own list of books to read. In this post I will share them with you. I believe books open a door to the imagination, it leads us to way of escape. It is kind of like a lazy summer day where many of the civilians relax. Sitting on a porch with you faithful dog by your side. Looking out on a lake or just hanging out. Taken a family vacation or just spending more time with your life's partner. Books are just like that for your children or yourself. Please enjoy this list and share your commends with me by contacting me. 

Picture Books

"The Day the Stones Walked"- This book was written by T.A. Barron and illustrated by William Low. Published by Philomel Books a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2007. This is a very unique book it takes place in Easter Island a very different setting. Summary: "Pico does not believe the old stories that say the moai, the stone statues of his village, come alive and protect the people in time of trouble, until a great wave comes and he is in grave danger. Includes facts about tsunamis, Easter Island, and the effects of deforestation." This book is full of wonderful pictures and it takes the reader on a journey a place not visited to often. It opens you child's eyes to a visual feast of history, fantasy and history. I highly recommend this great book for your children.

'Something to Do"- This book is written and illustrated by David Lucas. Published by Philomel Books a division of Penguin Group in 2008. This book is very simple to read and understand. What happens when a little bear has nothing to do to fill his day. He tries out all kind of activities to keep him busy. I enjoyed this book because it gives a balance between fantasy and reality. It also has very simple pictures that make the one lines texts it uses to stand out and keep your child turning the pages. It starts from walking and then ends up on the moon. This can be a great book to read for your kinder-gardeners and first graders. It can teach them very much.

"Say Hello"- This book was written and illustrated by two siblings Jack & Michael Foreman. It was published by Walker Books in London England. 2007. I really enjoyed this book, because of the simplicity and basic drawings. This book is for the younger kids who are one to five years old. Most of the book is two and three word phases that can be a great tool for children to learn to read at a very early age. It is about a dog who seems to be shy and like the book says "Left Out" of everyday fun activities. It follows him on a mini adventure looking to make friends. This book can be a very fun one to read and learn from.

Middle Readers

"The Suburb Beyond The Stars"- This book was written by M.T. Anderson and published by Scholastic press in June 2010.  In a suburb of Vermont strange things are happening. Summary: "When Brian and Gregory go to Vermont woods to track down Prudence, they find many things are ... off. People are not where they're supposed to be. Time has stopped working properly. And at night, something stalks between the houses, taking people away. It up to them to save the town, the state and humanity itself." This book is the second in a trilogy. I really enjoyed this book. It is full of action, adventure and mystery. The first book "The Game of Sunken Places" won the National Book Award. This can be a fun read for you middle grader and will have appeal to both boys and girls. 

"Merlin, The Mirror of Fate."- This book is written by T.A. Barron. Published by Puffin Books an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 1999. Summary: Through adventure involving a hunted marsh, talking trees, and a creature called the ballymag, the young wizard Merlin continues to experience both his growing powers and his essential humanity." This is book 4 in the Merlin series like the others is is very well written and uses a canvas of wonderful words. As your read this book you live inside it and experience the world through Merlin's eyes. It is a fun and fast read and a great book for your middle grader. Every parent and teacher should introduce your children to this group of books. 

End Note
 Thank you everyone for looking at this newest update to my blog. I am very sorry it took me four months to update been a busy summer for me. Look for my next update at the end of November. I will have more books and fun things for you to look at Enjoy.         

     
          

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Book is ( Imagination flow)

   A book is a gateway opened by the human imagination that unlocks new worlds to all readers. It is an escape from the rush and stress of our daily lives. Their may be rough roads ahead but both the book and the human imagination will live on. Technology just opens another path for us all and this my friends should be a blessing hidden under an invisible mask of deception.

 The Reviews 

Picture books

"All by myself"- Written by Geraldine Collect and illustrated by Coralie Saudo. Translated by Sarah Quinn, Published by Owlkids Books 2011. Canada. Summary: "When their mothers go looking for grain, five little chicks are left alone. When will their mothers come back?" This was a cute story with amazing illustrations. It had way to many characters in it and it might be a bit confusing for the younger child. The illustrations were very nice and well drawn. It was a little hard to understanding what part was real and which part was playtime. I did not have a truly emotional connection to the characters they seemed very distant. Over all it might be a fun read for a child, but I can't see them reading it over and over again. It does teach a good lesson about how you can play to make the time go by. 

"Martin on the Moon."-   Written by Martine Audet and illustrated by Luc Melanson. Translated by Sarah Quinn. Published in Quebec under the title Xavier-la-lune. Owlkids books 2011. Summary: "Martin is always on the moon- daydreaming, drawing, and making up poems. But now it's his first day of school and he is feeling nervous." This picture book I really enjoyed. It has a wonderful voice and point of view of a child. The illustrations are very nice  and I liked how Martin looked at different items and brought life to them with poetic words. One minor thing is the main character seems to shift off topic often, this did confused me a bit. I did make a strong connection with him. The words are beautifully written and have a smooth flow.  The book looks at imagination through the eyes of a child and this makes it very unique and fun. I recommend this book to your young children because it can teach them a lot.

"The Divide."-  Written by Michael Bedard and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. First published in Canada Tundra books 1997. Summary: "When Willa Cather was a girl her family moved west to the open Prairie of Nebraska leaving behind a world Willa loved dearly. Gone with the wooded hills and meadows marbled with sheep. In their place was a flat. empty land, as bare as a strip of sheet iron. Willa felt she had come to the end of things; she felt the land did not want them" or did it? This wonderfully written and illustrated book looks at the life of one family that moved west. It is just a small story among many. Its history, poetic language and wonderful illustrations makes this book a must read for children 6 to 8 years old. It can especially help them if their family is moving too. I highly recommend this picture book to everyone. It can teach you many things.

Middle Readers

"Merlin The Raging fire. Book 3"- Written by T. A. Barron. Originally published as "The Fires of Merlin." Puffin books a division of Penguin Group 1998. Summary: "Having voyaged to the Otherworld in his quest to find himself, the young wizard must face fire in many different forms and deal with the possibility of losing his own magical power." This is the third book in this wonderful middle grade reader serious about the lost years of Merlin. I especially loved this one because of the way it looks in nature in a different voice. This fantasy is well written and full of action. Your young reader will emotionally connect to the main character and will live in his world. I highly recommend this book for not only your child but for the adult as well. I truly loved it.

Young Adult

"Hard Love"- Written by Ellen Wittlinger. First picture book edition March 2001. Simon Pulse an imprint of Simon & Schuster. "Summary: "After starting to publish a zine in which he writes his secret feelings about his lonely life and his parents' divorce, sixteen-year-old John meets an unusual girl and begins to develop a healthier personality." This book was an honer book for The Michael L. Printz award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. I really liked this book it covered various topics that teens face everyday like sexual awakening and just adjusting to a very hard society. The main character John is someone any teen can associate them with. This books has many layers and can be a very good read for any teen. Please pick a copy up. I think it is a book anyone can enjoy.    

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fantasy in Middle Grade novels ( Our inner world)

      Each one of us is born with the gift of imagination, it sleeps inside ready to pour out in life. It is used in books, or when as children we had imaginary friends or in playing with others. It also can be used to write. No wonder why these days fantasy books are so hot. Many of them became world wide best sellers. A few examples are "Harry Potter" these books sold like wild fire. Seven main books and then eight movies. Many people of all ages had read them. Then we have "The Hunger Games" which I reviewed sometime back in my blog.  Today I will review specifically Middle Grade books.  This is a growing trend and new books come out on a daily basis. Please enjoy my reviews below.

Middle Grade

"Merlin The Lost Years Book 1"- By T. A. Barron, Puffin Books a division of Penguin books 1996. This book is very interesting it takes a common character of fantasy folklore Merlin and adds a twist. He asks the question What was his childhood like and from this question the writer created twelve books. In Book 1 a the boy Merlin finds himself thrown at the coast of Wales. He has lost all his memory of his past and he does not know where he even came from.  This is where this beautifully written story begins.  A whole new world is created. Its wonderful language and several scenes of pure natural beauty makes this book a wonderful read for anyone not only adults but your middle grader. A balance of adventure, magic, action adds the whip cream topping to Merlin's story. As the book goes on you meet characters that are alive. You young boy or girl will not want to put this book down and I highly recommend it to them and to you.  While you read this book you will find many layers to the story and will be indulged in its wonderful landscape and nature connection. 

"Merlin The Seven Songs Book 2"- By T. A. Barron, Puffin Books a division of Penguin publishing 1997. Our wonderful story of the boy Merlin continues here. Summary: "Having stumbled upon his hidden powers, the young wizard Merlin voyages to the Otherworld in his quest to find himself and the way to the realm of the spirit." Our hero has to learn the secret a universal connection here of all creatures including humans, animals, plants, rocks and etc.. Scattered in the Isle of Fincayra each song has to be found then mastered. Merlin takes a grand journey here to learn about them. He meets several fantastic creatures and new friends. He has to travel to the otherworld to get a special potion to save his mom's life. Like in book 1 the author has a perfect balance of adventure, action, characters and landscape. This book will also be hard to put down.

I hope you guys will get a chance to look at this wonderful series of books. Next update I will be adding more books from this series plus I will have some picture, Young adult and a new education book section. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

All great things have to come to an end. ( Final day)

Day 3 The SCBWI End Game

     I am sorry it took me a while to do this last post but I have been going over what I have learned in the conference and processing the whole thing. I think I am ready to share this with all of you epically after my home team the Giants won the Super Bowl on Sunday against New England, Go Giants well anyway enough with that here is a brief list of some interesting things that I want to share with you about the last day of the SCBWI conference. Let me start by taking you guys on a journey that every new writer in any genre goes through. Those of you who write will be able to make sense of it all.

   Imagine this it is a cold brisk winter day as you finish you first conference ever. You have been inspired to continue to write. You are a new children book writer who have worked your heart out to give birth to your story. You brought the breath of life into a character, you created a whole new world with rich dialog and an amazing storyline. You have shared this story with your critique group they love it. You read it you children they love it. You believe that it ready for publishing. Then you do lots of research to find the right match for your baby that you have been working on for years. This is tough because now most of the publishing company's require that you get an agent, the few that don't are hard to contact and probably will not even write back to you with some suggestions. Yet you get lucky, you receive rejection letters that give you an idea of what needs to be done. First of remember that this happens to everyone and you should not take it personally but "keep trying and never give up" like my nephew Noah told me one day. Those six worlds spoken by a three year old boy about two years ago should be you inspiration to keep on writing and do not give up. That is the best summary I can give you of the last day in the SCBWI winter conference. Let me just give you a brief list to sum that half day up. Now lets get down to business now.

    Each of you would be considered a mid-list author if your manuscript is accepted by a a publisher. You must write steadily and get you writing out there one day you will get a match. On Sunday there was about three groups of speakers: A panel called Bookmaker's dozen this is a group consisted of an art director from Scholastic and 12 amazing picture book writers and illustrators. The group was formed by my friend and Co-classmate John Rocco about two years ago. They spoke about the importance of finding a group to work with and hang out with. each one of the speakers talked about the process they go through in maken a picture book and the importance of team work in the industry. The second group of speakers was four agents I can sum up the speech with these words make sure to research, get an agent and get your work out there. The times are rapidly changing daily. The day ended with a speech by Kathryn Erskins I will summarize it with these words that should be a part of every writer: Freedom to Create, Organization, creativity, Understanding and sharing. All the first letters spell Focus. She talked in detail about each section and ability the process she goes through when she writes a new manuscript. She is a very famous writer.
    
     In conclusion, I would like you guys to remember what my nephew said. It is children like him everywhere we are writing for. Yes, the process is a long and hard journey that we will take but it is that journey we strive for. Do not be afraid of rejections and never put down your pen, computer or paintbrush. Let us all take each other's hands and guide us toward a fun and successful career. Just to end this with a high note: When Harry Potter was first written it was rejected 42 times and now look at her. Ask yourself this question what are those editors and publishers are thinking now. Keep and writing and taking this journey. You guys will never know what will happen, Good luck. Just and end note I will post new reviews in my next update. Sometime in February.
 

         
    

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Winter Conference has started ( An insider's look).

Day 2 SCBWI 13 annual winter conference In the Big Apple.

       Wow, can't believe another day had just passed. It was an over whelming one full of lots of enlightenment and good news on all genres from picture books to young adults and beyond. I will try to put In the important information in here in a a few paragraphs. I have 11 pages of notes but will try to make it brief.
   It was a list of amazing guest speakers which included authors, agents, editors, publishers and other people involved in the business. The day started with breakfast, and the first keynote speaker was Chris Crutcher. He was a very inspiring speaker, that inspired the room that represented 49 states and 20 countries. The conference had 1400 people. He spoke about the importance of balancing out stories with tragedy and comedy. Here is a brief list to inspire you guys of what he talked about 1) Look into your life to find information 2) Put this into every story you write. 3) Power and connection of family is important. 4) Just write your story. 5) Hear it in your language and voice.
     The next speakers was panel children book pros which included two editor directors, a marketing person and agent. They covered lots of information, but I will l.limit the list to three basic important ideas.
1) Independent Book stores are growing 2) Picture Books are not dead 3) The Digital publishing market is expanding. In general now is a good time to get your book out there in the publishing industry. You also must understand that it takes a village to make a book. That it is important to also work as a team on each book.
    Our next speaker was a great surprise for all of us. It was Henry Whinkler. He was one of the best speeches of the day. He got a standing ovation today. He only spoke for ten minutes, but his ideas, comedy and inspiration touched us all.
     We then broke up into small groups I went to a fantasy meeting first. Then after lunch I had  two picture book small groups. Before the two afternoon sessions we had another key note speaker her name was Cassandra Clare she spoke of Love triangles and forbidden love in YA adult books. She was interesting speaker but not very inspiring to me, since it was not my kind of topic.
    I will just list the basic things of what editors are looking for in picture book manuscripts:
1) Characterization 2) Narrative guilty 3) Voice 4) Humor 5) Universal appeal. 6) Clear ideas and simplicity.
       In conclusion, the day ended with a wonderful cocktail party, and dinner that gave us two hours to network with other people in the industry. The day ended, and I got back on the train home full of inspiration, new ideas and hope for the future of children's books. There is now one more day left for this conference that I look forward to tomorrow.  I will make my last post this month called All great things come to an end.  
  

                        

Friday, January 27, 2012

SCBWI Winter Conference 2012 ( The Heart Children Books)

    There are very important factors when it comes to being any kind of writer. It covers a whole range of books. As everyone know putting together a children's book has many people involved. It is a team effort that takes many years to master and complete. For the next three days I will take you all on a journey into this event. It is a huge gathering of people in the children book industry and covers a very important idea that every author has to do. This is called networking and creating a platform. The post will be updated daily from 1-27-2012 to 1-29-2012. Each day I will give you guys an inside into this business. So get ready for a wild ride. I blog my experience on this journey enjoy.




Day 1 Writer's Intensive




     Today started just like an ordinary gray day, the rain tapped the roads and my journey had began. Strong winds and heavy rains very strange weather for New York State especially in the middle of winter. Only two snow storms so far and that it.
      I took the train in from my home town. New York was wonderful like usual. The rains were strong at first but as the day went on it all changed. I started the day psyched to finally have the SCBWI conference, I could not believe it came so fast. Where does this path called time really go? Does it just vanish in a puff of smoke or where does it end up?
     So back to business the day started with registration and breakfast not much of a filling one but it was good enough Coffee and Bagels the real New York local food. My nerves shaking and my hands gasping the 500 hundred words we were supposed to bring here. Hundreds of questions inside my hands? Who will I meet? What will the professional say? Is my manuscript good enough? At registration our tables were given to us? I got Table 17 and  18.
      When I was getting my food a strange thing happened the hot water was gone. I am usually a tea drinker, but I needed that jolt, I needed that caffeine. I wanted something hot but it was the bitter black stuff we call coffee. I guess many tea drinkers came here? Oh well I guess I had no choice. 
    I found my table, my mind moving and my body shaking, it was it, the moment I have been waiting for, another year had passed. The session started by a panel on voice. Three editors spoke. What is voice? Each of them had there own view. What I can tell you guys is it needs to be fresh. It needs to be authentic. It has to stand out from the crowd.
    The editor panel spoke about the kind of books they buy. Here is just a very quick summary: Characters have to have personality, you have to get into your character's mind, and the story has to stand out for the individual editor and always make sure to do you research. You have to be in the moment and write the best story you can. 
     Then the time began my table had eight writers at it and one professional. We each were given 12 minutes for our 500 words. The critique process is very important and it is great to have a group of your own. The setting here was much more family like. Every manuscript was discussed by everyone. I have to say I got a lot out of it and had many wonderful suggestions and commends from both critiques. There is no need for me to go into detail of them.
     The day went by quick and it was closed by a panel of both agents and editors. They talked about the process of a book and the steps it takes to get a contract. I will write briefly on this. Here is a summary for everyone to look at. Most books usually are only accepted if you go through an agent. Always understand that everyone involved is a team and are trying to make your book better. Do not get emotional of into disagreements with your team.
     Here are the basic steps in how a book gets brought. 1) Find an agent but there are exceptions to this rule. 2) Send a Query to editors make sure it is short and to the point. 3) An editor has to love a book 100 percent to buy it. 3) If your book is brought it becomes like a marriage for the long term, and the editor will buy more books from you. 4) It takes from three to seven drafts to get the book complete. 5) You will get a few editorial letters and try to do as much as you can and do not answer the editor right away, but look these letters over carefully.  These are the basics.
    In conclusion, the first day went by fast as I took my pile of critiqued manuscripts and notes and got back on my train. I felt an overwhelming confidence in my work. My hands stopped grasping and my body was once again calm. You know what I concluded it really was not that bad after all.
    Thank you guys and good luck. Please stay toned for tomorrow's evening post "The Winter Conference has started ( An insider's look).