A Signed Copy of Roosevelt Banks Goes To…

Janet Smart is the lucky winner of a signed copy of Laurie Calkhoven’s new novel ROOSEVELT BANKS, GOOD-KID-IN-TRAINING. Congratulations. Please forward your address so I can let Laurie know.

Roosevelt Banks cover

 

Author Laurie Calkhoven has the Lowdown on Roosevelt Banks,Good-Kid-In-Training + How to Enter to Win a Signed Copy!

I’m delighted to pop onto your blog to talk about my new novel ROOSEVELT BANKS, GOOD-KID-IN-TRAINING, published in January by Red Chair Press (distributed by Lerner).

Roosevelt Banks cover

When ten-year-old Roosevelt Banks discovers that his two best friends are planning a bike and camping trip, he wants more than anything to go along. There’s just one problem―he doesn’t have a bike. Roosevelt’s parents agree to buy him a bike if he can manage to be good for two whole weeks. How can Roosevelt be good and be the same fun guy his friends want on the camping trip? Trying to be good leads to more trouble than expected―and to the discovery that being a good friend is more important than any bicycle.

THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ROOSEVELT

1.His parents are American history professors, which explains the family’s penchant for presidential names. Roosevelt’s full name is Roosevelt Theodore Banks. His younger sister is Kennedy Johanna Banks, and their dog is named Millard Fillmore.

2. He writes and illustrates his own stories to express his emotions. When he finds out that his two best friends are going off on a bike/camping trip without him, his reaction is to write a story in which the two boys are almost eaten by a bear – that is until Roosevelt comes to the rescue.

3. Roosevelt is a big-hearted prankster. He wreaks havoc wherever he goes, but that comes from a desire to please his friends and make them laugh.

THREE THINGS ROOSEVELT HATES

1.Most of the fun things there are to do in the world are exactly the same things that will get a kid into trouble. Not fair!

2. His desk chair isn’t on wheels and doesn’t swivel. It would be a lot more fun if it did. Just saying.

3. Lima beans, especially when paired with turkey meatloaf. Even Millard Fillmore won’t eat lima beans, and he eats socks (the dog, not the president).

Debbie Palen’s illustrations are a delight, and Kirkus praised the books for its broad humor and nuanced friendships.

Here is Darlene’s review: In order to go on a bike trip with his best friends Tommy and Josh, Roosevelt Banks needs a bike. Soon, or Eddie Spaghetti will take his spot on the trip. His parents agree to get him a bike if he can keep out of trouble for two weeks. No pranks, no horsing around, and no calls from the principal. Trying to be a good-kid-in-training is harder than Roosevelt ever imagined.

Kids will enjoy the fast-paced action and zany mis-adventures of Roosevelt as he tries to live up to his promise and stay out of trouble. They will also enjoy the things he learns along the way.  The delightful pen and ink drawings add another level of humor and fun to the tale. Destined to be a classroom favorite.

 

 Laurie Calkhoven has never swallowed a frog, knocked over a rabbit hutch, or sung too loud in music class, but she is the author of more than 50 books for young readers. Recent titles include the G.I. Dog series, and You Should Meet Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

To enter the give-away for a signed copy of this fun-filled book, leave a comment below. One winner, chosen from random will be announced on this blog.

PB Author Laurie Wallmark Presents Her New Non-fiction Book: NUMBERS IN MOTION.

Today it is my pleasure to feature Award-winning PB author LAURIE WALLMARK with her new non-fiction STEM picture book titled NUMBERS IN MOTION: SOPHIE KOWALEVSKI, QUEEN OF MATHEMATICS (Creston).

sophie cover - 3x4 - 100dpi I asked Laurie to tell us 3 THINGS readers should know about Sophie, and 3 THINGS she was amazed to discover while conducting research for the book.

1. Sophie solved a problem known as the mathematical mermaid. Just when people were  close to figuring out the solution, it seemed to slip away from them like the mythical mermaid.

2. Sophie was the first woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics that required doing original research.

3. Sophie was the first woman to hold a university chair in mathematics.

1. I was amazed that in the late 1800s, a woman couldn’t leave Russia except in the company of her husband or father.

2. I was amazed that until Sophie, there hadn’t been any woman professional mathematicians since Hypatia in fifth century Egypt.

3. I was amazed to find that the mathematical methods that Sophie discovered have increasing application to physics today.

I’ve had an opportunity to read this fascinating book and here’s my review:

“NUMBERS IN MOTION: SOPHIE KOWALEVSKI, QUEEN OF MATHEMATICS  by Laurie Wallmark (CRESTON)  is an inspiring look at a pioneering woman who never took “no” as the final answer.  Written in a clear and engaging manner, the positive messages of never giving up and having faith in your own abilities are great lessons for the classroom and beyond.” 5 stars.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     Laurie Wallmark

www.lauriewallmark.com

Numbers in Motion (Creston, March 2020)
Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life (Sterling, 2019)
Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling, 2017)
Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston, 2015)

 

Celebrating World Read-Aloud Day…All Month Long.

While World Read-Aloud Day (WRAD) is officially Wednesday, 2-5-20, I will be featuring authors who write for children with their current books throughout the month of February. The first post will feature non-fiction PB author LAURIE WALLMARK on 2-6.  Other posts will highlight new MG, YA, and a debut PB. It will end with a SNEAK PEEK at my own MG: WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY, as I set out on a blog tour to promote the book.

I’ve enjoyed every book featured and have posted reviews for all of them. I hope you’ll be encouraged to read them and post reviews of your own.

And The Winner is…

Thanks to the generosity of my guest blogger Vivian Kirkfield, I am thrilled to announce the winner of her give-away.  Drum roll please…for Charlotte Sheer. Charlotte will choose between a signed copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD or a PB critique compliments of Vivian. Please let Vivian know which prize you choose.

Congratulations, Charlotte and thanks to all who participated.

Ella Marilyn cover

Brooke Van Sickle Presents: Her 6 Simple Steps to Write a Successful Kid’s Book.

Today it is my pleasure to share the blog with fellow children’s book author BROOKE VAN SICKLE who recently published a PB titled PIRATES STUCK AT “C”.  She is here to share her own process for writing picture books. She has tons of free material and some great links to get you started in writing for children.

Here’s Brooke:

Millions of people say they want to write a kid’s book, but not everyone does. There’s a lot of work and patience that goes into writing, and tons of rejection, after you’ve created your story, which causes many people to give up. But if you can make it through all that, it’s so worth it!

To help prepare you, here are 6 easy steps you can start today, in order to have a completed kid’s book to share with others this year.

How to Write a Kid’s Book that Attracts Readers:

 I firmly believe that every book deserves a place on a child’s bookshelf if you can write it well enough. And the writing part may not be as hard as you think! You don’t have to be a master writer or someone with a big degree in creative writing. (Let out that breath you’ve been holding!) You simply have to be willing to put in the work. This is what you need to do to write a book that sells:

 

Six Steps to Write a Kid’s Book Well:

1 – Decide what kind of book you’re going to write.

Businesswoman Reading Information On Laptop

All picture books are children’s books, but not all kid’s books are picture books. In fact, there are 6 main categories of children’s books! (If you’re unsure of what those are, here’s a helpful article with the full list to help you.)

 

The best way to decide on the type of book you intend to write is to think about the age of your reader. Who is going to read your book? About how old are they?

2 – Once you have an idea, make sure it’s saleable.

 An important step for writing a kid’s book is to make sure it’s going to sell. (No one wants to spend over a year on something only to get stuck trying to publish it!) There are a few things I do on this step:

  • Search your topic idea to see what already exists
  • Read books that are similar to your idea
  • Research and read top-selling books in your genre that have been published in the last 3-5 years.

Doing this research will help you find comp books to use later in a query letter, let you know if your idea already exists to know if you should change it or find a new idea, and help you understand what’s been selling or is popular already with readers and publishers. All of which are important when you decide to sell your manuscript!

3 – Join SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) and find a writing group.

I would never have been able to publish a kid’s book without the help of all my writing friends and SCBWI. You need other writers not just to read your work and offer critiques, but to also encourage you as you begin your journey. It can be a long and hard process, but with others who are going through it, it will also be some of the most fun you’ll ever have. Plus, you’ll have a group of supporters to celebrate with you when you finally get to hold your published book!

4 – Outline your story.

There are a lot of pantsers out there that would disagree with me on this step, but I think outlining is VITAL to writing any book. (You can’t find your destination without the direction for where you want to go!) Even if you change your mind later, or decide that you want to go in a different direction, it’s better to have a plan going in. At least outline who your characters are, what’s going to happen, and how you expect it to end before you begin writing.

5 – Write your first draft.

This is the exciting part! You know what kind of story you want to write and you’ve done your research. You’re ready. So start writing!!

6 – Edit your draft and write again and again until you get it right.

 Sorry, the first draft you write won’t be the only draft. In fact, it may take you 30 or 50 versions to get it right! And then your agent or editor may have even more edits!!

I’ve mentored some writers that get discouraged with editing or don’t think they need to edit their stories at all, but I would caution against that. No one gets it right on their first time. So don’t be afraid to listen to good critiques and to try again.

Your goal should always be to write the best story you can!

If you want to get started writing a kid’s book, get my “How to Write a Kid’s Book” guide here. It’s free and has everything you need to start writing your book idea today! And if you want to dive deeper, visit journeytokidlit.com for more articles to writing and publishing tips for children’s book writers.

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Brooke Van Sickle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and  Regional Webmaster for the Iowa-SCBWI region. She’s also a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MiPa).

PIRATES STUCK AT “C”, published by BiblioKid Publishing, is Brooke Van Sickle’s debut picture book. She also has 2 more books expected in 2020. When not writing her own books, Brooke teaches other aspiring writers how to write and publish kids’ books at www.journeytokidlit.com.

Learn more about her on her website www.brookevansickle.com and connect with her on social @journeytokidlit.

Brooke will return next month with a post about PIRATES STUCK AT “C”  and a give-away.

 

 

CRUSHING THE RED FLOWERS by Jennifer Voigt Kaplan

I had the pleasure of winning a copy of this amazing book chronicling the events and circumstances of KRISTALLNACHT told through the alternating voices of a two boys on opposite sides of the early days of WWII and the beginning of the Holocaust.  Since today is HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY, I thought it was fitting to feature the book. I will give away a signed copy of the book to one lucky reader who leaves a comment.

Here’s Jennifer to talk about her book:

Facts about Crushing the Red Flowers

Whether you’ve read Crushing the Red Flowers or not, read on!

COVER - FINAL front

Think you know the characters in Crushing the Red Flowers? Emil is a superstar at playing marbles and Friedrich loves his train collection. But can you guess their secrets? Their private hopes, dreams, likes, and dislikes? If you haven’t read the book yet, that’s okay, you can keep reading this blog. There are no spoilers that would give away big plot points. Just a few fun facts to give you an added glimpse into the characters’ worlds. I’ll even reveal a secret crush.

Crushing the Red Flowers is a middle-grade novel set in 1938 Germany over the pogrom commonly known as Kristallnacht. The story is written with alternating perspectives of two twelve-year-old main characters — Emil, a German Jewish boy, and Friedrich, a boy in Hitler’s Jungvolk.

What are Emil’s and Friedrich’s secrets?

Friedrich secretly wishes he could watch Emil beat the Jungvolk boys in a marble competition.

Emil secretly loves to play the piano. That is, he loves to create music, but hates being forced to practice. He wishes everyone would leave his house so he could sit by himself and invent melodies.

What jobs do Emil and Friedrich want when they get older?

Emil intends to become an upholsterer. He wants to learn to create furniture as fine as his favorite red velvet chair. His parents had always encouraged him to take up a trade instead of attending the Gymnasium (a German academic high school) because they thought knowledge of a vocation would be useful to him if he emigrated. And they also saw that it was becoming increasingly difficult for Jewish people to attend the Gymnasium. 

Friedrich would like to pursue an engineering apprenticeship. He wants to leave school and begin the apprenticeship in a couple years.

What are other fun facts about Emil and Friedrich?

Friedrich walks with a slight hunch because he doesn’t like to be noticed.

Emil hums when he strolls down the street because he always has a tune in his head.

Friedrich really wants a good friend. Yes, it’s true that he believes 95% of the population are fools, but he cherishes the honest connection he has with the other five percent. He had one close friend in the past, so he appreciates the significance of a solid friendship.

Emil loves learning Hebrew. The language makes him feel powerful. He pretends the foreign characters are a secret code language that only a few can read.

Friedrich longs for a closer relationship with his parents, like he had when he was younger. But he doesn’t know how to reconnect with them.

Emil wants to eat nut cake with his neighbor, Mrs. Schmidt, like he had when he was younger. To Emil, those years represent an easier, golden time when Jewish people were fully integrated into German society.

What about the other characters?

Papa (Friedrich’s father) hates kites. They remind him of the years of German hyperinflation in the early 1920s when everyone was hungry. The German currency had devalued so rapidly that neighborhood children used to fasten old, worthless banknotes together to create makeshift kites. Whenever Papa had seen a child flying one of these kites, he knew that child was not eating well. He never bought a kite for Friedrich.

Mother (Friedrich’s mother) fell in love with her husband because of his kindness toward her younger brother, Hilmar. When Papa came for visits before they were married, he would always bring him marzipan (almond sweets).

Vati (Emil’s father) likes to drive fast on purpose. Whenever Vati drives a car without his wife, he purposely speeds a bit too fast.

Mama (Emil’s mother) had started the visa application process long before Emil and his family realize. She never told anyone because, early on, they did not want to leave Germany. Mama knows her family is further along on the visa wait list than her husband thinks.

Sarah (Emil’s sister) loves spending time at the Bund, a Jewish social club. She joined after Jewish people were no longer allowed to use public places as they previously had. Sarah learned to play table tennis (ping pong) there and quickly became the best player.

Ari (Sarah’s crush) also has a secret crush on Sarah because she plays table tennis well.

Günter hates being a Jungvolk leader. He has no patience for mediocre young boys and believes he can make greater contributions in another position. He longs for advancement and wants to prove himself. He keeps details on boys’ strengths, not their faults as Friedrich believes, in his notebook, in case he is permitted to take favored boys along with him after he leaves. His favorites are Johannes (for his athleticism), Fritz (for his obedience and loyalty to Nazism), and Friedrich (for his ability to solve problems).

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Jennifer Voigt Kaplan is an award-winning author of children’s fiction. Her debut children’s novel, Crushing the Red Flowers, was published November, 2019 by Ig Publishing. The manuscript was endorsed by James Patterson and recognized in six literary contests before its publication, including earning a Letter of Merit for the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant and winning the middle-grade category of Publishers Weekly Booklife Prize for Fiction. Jennifer was born in Germany, raised in Philadelphia, and now resides in the New York City area. 

Follow her Facebook author page, facebook.com/JenniferVoigtKaplan, or visit her website, JenniferVK.com, to stay informed of her latest projects.

Here is Darlene’s review of the book:

CRUSHING THE RED FLOWERS by Jennifer Voigt Kaplan is a brave and powerful story, uniquely told, of what it means to be human during a time of insanity and chaos. In 1938 Germany, the voices of a German-Jewish boy and a boy in Hitler’s Jungvolk alternate their stories in a compelling and heart-rending tale. Vivid details of time and place, and fully developed characters with empathy, confusion, and conflict, raise this story to the top of the holocaust genre. Based on the author’s true family experiences, this is a novel that will generate many class discussions for an overlooked time period just before the outbreak of WWII. Highly recommended for middle school and up. A stunning debut.