Writing Reviews For Beloved Books:How Did I Do? Are You Up For the Challenge?

Last January I began this blog with a personal challenge to write a review for KidLit books from Authors I admire. You can read about the challenge here: https://wordpress.com/post/darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com/4428

I am happy to say that I posted EIGHTEEN REVIEWS for PB, MG , and YA books and even gifted three of them in contest give-aways. Here is the list of titles I reviewed – in no particular order  – all of them amazing reads and worthy of recognition.

  1. CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR?  by Irene Latham and Charles Waters (poems)
  2. 101 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU GROW UP  by Bianca Schulze (book list for kids)
  3. SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK by Patricia Keeler (PB)
  4. THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES by Peter Brown (MG)
  5. SAM & EVA by Debbi Ohi (PB)
  6. GRANDMOTHER THORN by Katey Howes (PB)
  7. ECOSYSTEM by Josh Bellin (YA)
  8. 7 ATE 9 by Tara Lazar (PB)
  9. COUNTING ON KATHERINE  by Helaine Becker (PB)
  10. JUST ONE THING by Nancy Viau (MG)
  11. QUINCY THE CHAMELEON by Barbara DiLorenzo (PB)
  12. WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS by Vesper Stamper (YA)
  13. LOVE IS KIND by Laura Sassi (PB)
  14. I REMEMBER YOU: A RUBY’S PLACE NOVEL  by Holly Schindler (adult romance)
  15. THE ART OF BEING REMMY  by Mary Zisk (MG)
  16. A PROMISE STITCHED IN TIME by Colleen Kosinski (MG)
  17. EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE UNIVERSE by Tracy Holtzer (MG)
  18. ALL THE LOVELY CHILDREN by Andrew Nance (YA)

I read more than FIFTY books, but managed to write reviews on the above 18.  I hope to do better this year and spread the word about great books, and under-represented authors.

Care to join me? Next time you read a book that you love, let the author know in the best way possible: write a few sentences telling him or her what you enjoyed about the story, and share it on Goodreads or Amazon. Take it from me, it will make a writer’s day and let other readers know about great books.

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Happy Reading and reviewing.  May 2019 be a great year!

 

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So Who Gets the Signed Copy of THE ART OF BEING REMMY?

The winner of a signed copy of the middle grade novel THE ART OF BEING REMMY  by Mary Zisk is Andrea Stephens.  Please send your address so we can get that to you.

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Congratulations and many thanks to all who shared their favorite memories of growing up.

When you enjoy a good book, why not write a review on Amazon or Goodreads to let others know. It is the best way to spread the word about good books.

Kid Lit Author Nancy Viau Presents: Beauty and Bernice.

Today I am pleased to present my fellow Kid Lit Author’s Club Author NANCY VIAU’s latest middle grade charmer: BEAUTY AND BERNICE (Schiffer 2018)

A fearless skateboarder

A quirky princess

Two very different girls…

And the summer that was almost a fairy tale

BB Fancy

 “I loved Beauty and Bernice SOOOO much! The book is about a girl called Bernice who loves skateboarding. Her life is going great until annoying pink ‘princess’ Odelia moves in across the road. At first, Bernice pays no attention to her – she grew out of princesses years ago. But there’s more to Odelia than meets the eye… I loved this book because I, like Bernice, love skateboarding. I found this book hilarious in some parts, but moving and gripping in others. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves skateboarding, princesses and mysteries that leave you on the edge of your seat. I rate this book a definite five stars.”

 ~ 10-Year-Old Goodreads Reviewer

 “Readers will enjoy their charming adventure from the skate park to Smile Academy, a summer camp for kids with Down syndrome. A sweet tale with wisdom and heart.” ~ Literary Soirée 

Don’t know if you need a full-out description, but here ya go. And here’s a link to the trailer, which I really love:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd4GyhBJtwk

Twelve-year-old skateboarder Bernice Baransky is comfortable with her skater grunge look—a look she’s had since she traded in her childhood princess dress-up outfits for a skateboard. Bernice is the only girl at Porchtown Skate Park who can pop an ollie, ride the rails, and grind the slabs. She’d love to impress Wyatt Anderson, a skater who calls her Dude, but that would require actually talking to him, and Bernice can’t seem to do more than mumble when he’s around.

Bernice wonders if she should accept help from a new neighbor, the proper and stuffy Odelia, who is desperate to befriend her. Odelia acts like a fairy-tale princess, and insists on referring to her fancy notes in ODELIA’S GUIDE TO THE SOCIAL GRACES. Odelia spouts off ridiculous and hilarious lessons on poise, posture, manners, and more—even what to do about embarrassing “oopsies” liked spilled soda, burps, and unexpected gas—and Bernice reluctantly realizes that Odelia knows what she’s talking about. But Bernice can’t be seen hanging out with a princess at the skate park, the summer camp where she volunteers, or anywhere around town because that is just not cool. She’ll accept Odelia’s help, but Odelia better ditch the gowns and tiaras, or people will talk.

Nancy Viau’s exciting middle grade takes readers on a thrill ride from the skate park’s half-pipe to Smile Academy, a summer camp for Down syndrome children. A novel full of adventure and heart, it asks the question: Can two very different people ever be friends?

The book is not just about skaters and princesses.

The book is not really a fairy tale although there are some sneaky references that savvy readers will pick up on.

The book is jammed packed with skateboarding moves–all thoroughly researched.

The book features Down syndrome children, and so few do. Am I right? I wanted to highlight these very capable, delightful, “Made of Awesome” kids. It’s become a favorite part to teachers and educators of special needs children.

CHILDREN’S BOOK AUTHOR

www.NancyViau.com

nancy.viau336@gmail.com

@NancyViau1

 

Book Giveaway:A Blast from the Past Inspires a Tween Novel For Author Mary Zisk.

Following up on the blog post about my middle grade novel, The Art of  Being Remmy, [link: https://darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com/2018/11/08/author-illustrator-mary-zisk-presents-the-art-behind-the-art-of-being-remmy/] Darlene and I would like to offer a hardcover signed copy to one lucky reader. See giveaway instructions at the end of this post.

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 It often happens that a memorable event in an author’s life can inspire an entire novel. For me, that event happened in 1964, when I was a Beatlemanical thirteen year old. I entered a Draw-the-Beatles contest sponsored by WABC Radio in New York City and became one of the winners of tickets to see The Fab Four in concert! Not only did my artwork transport me to an electrifying concert of nonstop screaming, that thrill confirmed my destiny that I would always be an artist.

Decades later, I channeled my tween self and wrote a middle grade novel triggered by that concert. Ultimately, the concert became the climax event that pulled together a fictionalized plot about a girl who fights to overcome rules imposed on females in mid-1960s society. 12-year-old Remmy Rinaldi pursues her dream to be an artist in spite of her father’s strong objections, the taunts of a boy rival, and the threat of losing her best friend to a rat fink.

As the novel evolved, I decided to change the historical period from 1964 to 1965, which meant that the concert moved from the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium to the more famous concert at Shea Stadium. But I still used my impressions and emotions from my 1964 concert:

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Ed Sullivan steps onto the stage and we scream, knowing why he is here. He yells something about “The Queen” and “America” and then “Here are THE BEATLES!!!!”

I didn’t think it could be possible, but the screams get even louder as the Beatles—the ACTUAL BEATLES—run out to the second base stage and everyone jumps to their feet.

… The Beatles sing and rock and strum and dance so it looks like they’re making music. We bounce and clap to what we think is the music. But it’s impossible to hear anything over the nonstop screams…

But hey, it doesn’t matter. The Beatles are here and my friend and I are here. We are all sharing the same steamy August night, and breathing the same hot air, and seeing the same stars, and hearing the music and screaming collide. I’ll never forget this. Ever.

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The Beatles in concert at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in August 1964

And I never did forget that night.

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Do you have a childhood event that defined your life or set you on a lifetime path? Do you have a childhood memory that you will always treasure in your heart?

Tell us about it.  Leave that memory in the comments section, and you’ll be eligible to win a hardcover, signed copy of The Art of Being Remmy. Good luck! One lucky winner will be drawn at random and announced here on December 27.

 

Links:

http://www.maryzisk.com/the-art-of-being-remmy.html

https://www.facebook.com/artofremmy/

 

 

 

New Jersey Association of School Librarians Conference Highlights.

On Monday I attended my first New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) Conference in Long Branch, NJ.  It was a wonderful opportunity to hang out with fellow authors at the Author’s Alley, and meet so many great school librarians and other personnel who are committed to bringing great books into the hands of their students.

Here are some of the highlights of the day in photos:

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IN Author’s Alley: Nancy Viau, Paul Czajak, Becky Bertha

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With fellow author buddies Beth Ferry and Annie Silvestro

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With PB author Margery Cuyler

 

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Rachelle Burke and Angela Parrino

 

 

 

 

 

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opportunities for creativity

 

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with PB author Katey Howes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 KidLIt Authors Club members: Tim Young, Darlene Jacobson, Nancy Viau, David Neilsen, Rachelle Burk.

Great food, fun and an opportunity to share books with people who love them and want to get them into schools.

http://www.njasl.org/fallconf

Author/Illustrator Mary Zisk Presents: The Art Behind THE ART OF BEING REMMY.

I am thrilled to have children’s book author and illustrator Mary Zisk to talk about her debut middle grade novel THE ART OF BEING REMMY. I had the pleasure of reading this delightful time travel adventure back to 1965 and will share my review at the end of this post.

Mary will talk about the art she created for the book and her inspiration for writing it.  Here’s Mary:

The Art Behind The Art of Being Remmy

Mary-Oliver-Remmy-web

The most exciting event of my junior high life inspired my new middle grade novel, The Art of Being Remmy. When I was 13, I won a Draw-the-Beatles contest and tickets to a Beatles concert. The BEATLES! My best friend and I could barely hear the Fab Four singing with all the screaming, but the event was electric and so memorable.

The Art of Being Remmy

When I decided to write my novel, I used the pride and thrill I had felt from winning the contest to mold my main character, Remmy Rinaldi—a twelve-year-old girl who dreams of being an artist in spite of the objections from her father, the rivalry with a knucklehead boy, and the possibility of losing her best friend to a rat fink. I also reconnected with the remembrance that there were unwritten rules keeping girls in their place in the mid-sixties—sports are for boys, limited career options with the preferred being homemaker, dress codes, etc.

During draft number six, I came to a realization: how can I write a novel called The Art of Being Remmy and not have any art in it? I first drew an illustration that helped me define the premise of the book and create a possible visual direction.

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As I continued rewriting drafts, I drew more cartoons—Remmy’s Wow Wall, best friend Debbie’s bedroom with matching canopy twin beds, and Suzanne The Rat Fink.

The Art of Being Remmy

But as my text drafts got deeper into Remmy’s emotions, I put myself in her place and felt that any artwork in the novel would be most meaningful and impactful if Remmy did all the illustrations from her point of view in her Super Secret Sketchbook—like illustrating in first person, instead of third person.

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But what if readers of illustrated or graphic novels expected to see Remmy and all the characters acting out the narrative in scenes? I could be taking a big risk. As an experiment, I illustrated Remmy’s dream of the Beatles in NYC, influenced by her favorite painting, The Starry Night, by Vincent Van Gogh. Creating that illustration felt so right and natural to Remmy’s inner feelings and to my artistic process, I knew that was the direction I had to take.

The Art of Being Remmy

I continued by doing a full-page illustration for each of the 35 chapters of the book (plus a small spot illustration for each chapter opening).

The Art of Being Remmy

The Art of Being Remmy

The Art of Being Remmy

It has taken nine years to bring Remmy out into the world. I hope her story will now entertain middle grade girls as well as give them inspiration and feelings of empowerment as they create their own life journeys. Follow your Spark!

Mary Zisk is a graphic designer (mostly of magazines), an author/illustrator, and an artist with a passion for capturing foreign destinations in watercolor. She is the author and illustrator of the picture book, The Best Single Mom in the World: How I Was Adopted, and the illustrated middle grade novel, The Art of Being Remmy. Mary lives in New Jersey with her daughter and four white fluffy rescue mutts.

To learn more about Mary (and Remmy), please visit www.MaryZisk.com. She blogs about her many eclectic collections at www.TheClutterChronicles.com.

The Art of Being Remmy is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

As promised, here is my (Darlene’s) review for THE ART OF BEING REMMY:

The Art Of Being Remmy by Mary Zisk is a delightful time travel trip back to 1965 when the Beatles reigned supreme. Remmy Rinaldi and her best friend Debbie ADORE all things Beatles and make a plan to one day meet their idols. Remmy also loves art and has a second secret plan to develop her Spark as an artist, even though it means going against her father’s wishes. Girls in the 1960’s need to know their place and follow the path men have set for them. A path that includes being housewives, mothers, maybe teachers, nurses , secretaries or stewardesses. But artists? NEVER!

Remmy is determined to prove her father and everyone else – including her once friend Bill – that she can be a great artist. Good enough to win a contest. She keeps her drawings in Super Secret Sketchbooks and earns her own money to take painting lessons so she can enter the Art Awards Contest.

Lots of challenges get in the way of Remmy’s plan, including problems with her best friend and a devious French Rat Fink. Along the bumpy road of 7th grade, Remmy learns that some rules are worth challenging and fairness for girls in all aspects of life is one of them.

This illustrated middle grade book is a funny and charming peek into the days when the Beatles took the world by storm and the force of female protest was at their heels. An entertaining read that celebrates creativity and girl power.