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Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2017- June 21, 2017

nfpb2017

Bravo!: Poems About Amazing HispanicsBravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bravo, indeed! A great spotlight on Hispanic Americans and their contributions. Beautiful poems. Gorgeous artwork. Mini biographies are included in the back- as well as another poem naming more amazing people!

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Filipino FriendsFilipino Friends by Liana Romulo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The storyline is pretty weak- and having it told in rhyme was problematic as well- but, as a word book, it’s pretty good. I liked that there was a drink recipe and a game based on a popular Filipino kid song.

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Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World: People Who Changed the WorldPaths to Peace: People Who Changed the World: People Who Changed the World by Jane Breskin Zalben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love books featuring amazing people doing wonderful things to make the word a better place. This collection features changemakers who made a difference through strength in their characters and values all the while not resorting to violence.

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Writing Entry #2

It’s been awhile since I shared what’s been going on with my writing– about a year and half ago, in fact!

There’s definitely been ups and downs. The downs are the same monsters that plague everyone.

Insecurity.
Laziness.
Lack of energy/motivation.
Fear of not being good enough.
Fear of not having anything (worthy/worthwhile) to say.
Fear of rejection.

And these are big hard to get rid of monsters that may never completely go away but sometimes they can be forced to retreat for awhile.

One of the ups in my writing is the realization that we all have stories to tell and it’s more important more than ever to share them. And we have to find the stories within ourselves that only we can tell.

Another realization that I shared awhile back: I am going to make writing something fun I want to do again and not this thing that causes me stress and anxiety.

For the actual progress report…

Of all the story ideas I’ve come up with over the years, there have been at least a handful that are begging to be told first- including the picture book manuscript I mentioned in the first writing entry.

It’s been amazing how that manuscript has continued to evolve over time and I do feel it’s just getting better with each revision.

I have finally steeled myself to start looking for an agent. It’s actually been kind of fun. And, while I wait to hear any sort of response, I will continue writing.

Until next time…

 

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- June 18, 2017

I changed the name for my “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” posts to “My Reading Week.”

This week, I posted:
-Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge Wednesday

A local author and her critique group started their own press- Wednesday Night Press– to “allow readers to learn or experience something new.” I decided to read one of their latest offerings.

The-Pie-Contest-Wednesday-Night-Press-360x500
A girl enters a Farmer’s Market baking contest using her grandma’s recipe- and everyone begins to wonder what the mysterious secret ingredient is. Sweet story and includes a recipe in the back.

And here’s another one of their books which I read awhile back:
Magdalena's PicnicMagdalena’s Picnic by Patricia Aguilar Morrissey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Enjoyable tale of a girl with a big imagination who transforms her afternoon out in the backyard into a wild jungle adventure. I love the illustrations in this one and readers will definitely enjoy identifying where her imagination ran wild.
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Silent Days, Silent DreamsSilent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Portland author/illustrator Allen Say delivers another stunner with his upcoming picture book Silent Days, Silent Dreams. The life of artist James Castle is explored in this imagined biography. Although I read an advanced copy and artwork may not be final, the different styles Allen Say shares is incredible. An author’s note of how the project came to be and his art method is included in the back matter. Expected pub date is October 31st.
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Blue Sky White StarsBlue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kadir Nelson’s art is truly magnificent. You just want to stare at each one for hours and you’ll notice something new during the course of it. Spare text with plays on words portray an America that was the ideal foundation for a new country and its people.

Author and illustrator notes are included in the back. Additional author notes with info on American symbols can be found in the author’s website which they should have found a way to incorporate into the book- even in the back of the dustjacket would be fine!
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Where is Bear?Where is Bear? by Jonathan Bentley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Cute with text and pictures that will appeal to young readers. Avoid reading the copyright summary because it spoils the story’s twist.
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The GoatThe Goat by Anne Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you want a Kate DiCamillo-esque book along the lines of her Flora & Ulysses, pick up Anne Fleming’s debut middle grade novel The Goat. A large cast of memorable characters- including the titular animal living in the rooftop of a New York apartment building- inhabit this charming story about how lives intersect in the most mysterious ways. It may be difficult to keep track of all the storylines at first but it pays off in the end.
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mustreadin2017

Michael Tolliver Lives (Tales of the City, #7)Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It’s nice to get back to these familiar characters- although I didn’t have to wait almost twenty years since the last book in the series as the original fans had to.

The characters are older. There’s a stronger sense of nostalgia even as they find themselves in new situations, new predicaments.

Unlike the previous books, this is told in first person and through Michael Tolliver’s eyes.

The audio book was read by the author and includes an interview with him- as well as a short infomercial of sorts about the importance of reading aloud to children and that publisher has a whole array of audio books for kids to choose from. The only thing I didn’t like was the weird musical segues from time to time.
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Mary Ann in Autumn (Tales of the City, #8)Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If Michael Tolliver Lives was a return of characters we’ve loved reading, Mary Ann in Autumn is a return to form to this special series. Not only do we get the serialized format that people either love or hate depending on who that chapter’s focus is but we also get the outrageous plotlines (and the it’s a small world mentality) that will keep readers hooked.

Mary Ann faces an uncertain future while the past ends up clawing its way into her present. Mary Ann has become quite unlikable in the later books in the series so I was worried having the focus on her. Will she be redeemed? Or will the series’ heroine complete her downward spiral?
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Review Notes
***= Recommended
****= Highly Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Have a great reading week!

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2017- June 14, 2017

nfpb2017

The Quest for Z: The True Story of Explorer Percy Fawcett and a Lost City in the AmazonThe Quest for Z: The True Story of Explorer Percy Fawcett and a Lost City in the Amazon by Greg Pizzoli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Super fascinating read about an explorer determined to find a fabled city. It was kind of exhilarating to read how people went about adventuring back in the day without all the technology available to us, how big the world seemed, how determined some people were to discover all its marvels. (Although, I would argue, there are still so much world to see and experience.)

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Queer There and Everywhere: 22 People Who Changed the WorldQueer There and Everywhere: 22 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Young Adult nonfiction book about Queer people throughout time from the creator of the Quist app which shares LGBTQ moments in history.

I appreciated the very conversational tone which always helps when dealing with lots of information. Some parts definitely seemed more opinion than fact but readers can usually tell when they get to those sections.

Lots of information and source guides are found for each person at the back of the book because some of them, you’d definitely want to read more about- or even check if what you read was true. Includes a glossary as well.

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My Reading Week #IMWAYR- June 11, 2017

I changed the name for my “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” posts to “My Reading Week.”

This week, I posted:
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge Wednesday

Out!Out! by Arree Chung
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fans of Good Dog, Carl may enjoy this silly tale of a dog trying to keep a baby out of harm’s way only to get himself in trouble. I liked that every part of this book seemed to be used to tell the story.

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Skin AgainSkin Again by bell hooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great collaboration between Bell Hooks and Chris Raschka this time encouraging readers to look beyond the color of one’s skin and get to know the real person.

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Ricky's Atlas: Mapping a Land on FireRicky’s Atlas: Mapping a Land on Fire by Judith L. Li
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This isn’t a book I normally would have picked up but I someone had recommended the first book in the series- Ellie’s Log- because it was an Oregon based author with the story taking place in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a fun way to introduce readers into nature journaling. In this instance, a forest fire has Ricky and his family and friends on high alert. And they help keep track of the before-and-after of this event.

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Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating PoetsOut of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A celebration of poets who have affected the lives of these three contributing writers. Mini biographies are included at the end. What I liked about this- besides the gorgeous illustrations which are stunning- is that each of the poems are in the style of the poets and has references to their more famous works if you’re familiar with them.

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The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and LossThe Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss by Anderson Cooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio book of this and I really enjoyed the production.

Gloria Vanderbilt had a very theatrical quality with her narration which was amusingly in contrast to Anderson Cooper’s dry newscaster delivery.

The book provides a glimpse into a dynamic relationship between a parent and child that will make readers want to develop a similar relationship with their own family to (re)discover stories that helped shape their lives.

And what a life Gloria has led! It was sensational and almost unbelievable with moments of success and triumphs as well as devastating losses. To get to look back at her long life and share her stories and insights has been a real treat.

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Review Notes
***= Recommended
****= Highly Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Have a great reading week!

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2017- June 7, 2017

Good Night Stories for Rebel GirlsGood Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever since, we got this in at the store, it’s been selling consistently well. It’s one hundred biographies told as one-page fairy tales illustrated by sixty female illustrators from around the world.

I only just read it and I was amazed by how good it was. (There were a few stories that could have been rewritten to showcase more what they did.) I ended up looking up more info about certain women- and certain subjects- in the book. This will truly inspire lots of readers. And, no doubt, this will become a starting point for many people to find out more and perhaps write more books about these girls and women.

Towards the back of the book, there are a couple of pages where readers can write their own story and draw their own portrait!

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My Reading Week #IMWAYR- June 4, 2017

I changed the name for my “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” posts to “My Reading Week.”

This week, I posted:
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge Wednesday

The Queen's HandbagThe Queen’s Handbag by Steve Antony
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A fun sequel that takes readers through the UK as the queen chases the crook who stole her handbag.
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SeedfolksSeedfolks by Paul Fleischman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’d been meaning to read this for awhile and again especial after reading the picture book Green Green by Marie and Baldev Lamba. While I don’t have a green thumb and don’t really like getting my hands dirty, the idea of community gardens fascinates me. Here we have a whole garden variety of characters and we learn their individual reasons for taking part. There’s no big conflict really just the problems each person has although there is the overarching storyline of watching the garden grow through summer and fall and kind of have it die away during winter and the eventual return of spring. For some reason, I (mistakenly) thought this would be good for lower elementary graders so I was a little bit thrown to read some passages. This diverse read would be good for 5th grade and up.
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This was a reread for our Kids Book Club at work. It was as good- if not better- than the first time.
Circus MirandusCircus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the story of a boy, Micah, whose grandpa is very sick. His grandpa, as a child, met a magician who owes him a favor. It’s up to Micah to find the secret Circus Mirandus where the mysterious Lightbender lives and get him to grant the miracle for his grandpa.

As a fan of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, I loved the setting and characters of this book. Actually, I loved everything about Circus Mirandus.

I gravitate towards everyday characters who are faced with unusual situations. I tend to like characters who have a strong moral compass but aren’t goody-two-shoes. And Micah definitely fits those descriptions. His friendship with Jenny doesn’t seem forced. They quite complement one another. His relationship with his grandfather is admirable.

The pacing of the story is seamless. The chapters revealing the backstory don’t interrupt the flow at all. The story ends in a way that provides closure but makes you want more.

Even when things don’t work out the way you expect them, you’ll still end up believing in the power of miracles, in magic.
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I listened to this on audiobook as a reread. The production was a bit odd since I think they just transferred it from cassettes because there would be a narrator saying “Side 1” and “Side 2.” But the actual book was narrated by Ane Lamott which was cool.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and LifeBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bird by Bird was probably the most hilarious book on writing and life I’ve ever read. From page one, Anne Lamott entertained and educated, successfully mixing advice with her personal experiences. Her words did not sugarcoat the difficulty of writing and publishing. And she didn’t try to be outrageous or obnoxious in how she presented her opinions on things. Her voice was unique and refreshing. For any writer, aspiring or published, this is a great read.
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Review Notes
***= Recommended
****= Highly Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Have a great reading week!