Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Whimsical Word of the Week

Xertz - (v.)
the act of gulping down a beverage in haste.
Example: The wasabi sauce was so hot that the teen needed to xertz a pitcher of water after only one bite.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Bibliophile's Corner

Palace of Books
by Patricia Polacco

Flap Copy Description:
"You mean they have a whole big building that is only for books?"
When young Patricia Polacco's family moves from Union to Battle Creek, Michigan, it is hard for Patricia to believe this new place will ever feel like home. But soon she meets the kind librarian, Mrs. Creavy, and discovers the library's doors are always open. Now Patricia has a place to explore and study books about the birds that she loves. Mrs. Creavy even shows her the books of John James Audobon and helps Patricia introduce her classmates to the joy of birds and become the first member of the Audobon bird club of Fremont Elementary.

My Thoughts:
Just one more children's book review of the season - for lovers of libraries! If ever there was a book for children about the joys of a library, it would be Palace of Books! While the book is an autobiographical account of one chapter of the author's childhood, what I found so endearing was how the kindness of one librarian - and the books that she shares - can change the life of a child forever. I highly recommend Palace of Books by Patricia Polacco to readers aged four to seven!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Patricia Polacco.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Storyteller's Journey

My Annual Summer Reading List!
Once again, it's time to feature the list of children's books that are my favorites since last fall. Merely select a title, click on it, and read my review. Enjoy!

YA = Young adult, MG = Middle Grade, PB = Picture book

Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson (MG)

Fairy Tale by Stephen King (YA)

Beneath the Keep by Erika Johansen (YA)

Northwind by Gary Paulsen (MG)

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (YA)

Elf Dog & Owl Head by M.T. Anderson (MG)

Frigg's Journey to Anasgar by Deb Cushman (MG)

Hot Dog by Doug Salati (PB)

The First Notes by Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton (PB)

by Mary Seabag-Montefiore (Anthology)

*     *     *

There's something here for everyone! Happy reading this summer!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Whimsical Word of the Week

Alpenglow - (n.)
a reddish glow seen at sunrise or sunset on the summits of mountains.
Example: After setting up his campsite, the mountain climber relaxed and enjoyed the alpenglow. 

Monday, May 22, 2023

Bibliophile's Corner

Elf Dog & Owl Head
by M.T. Anderson

Flap Copy Description:
A summer spent sharing the family computer with his annoying sisters, trying to tune out his parents' financial worries, and video-calling with his friends. That's what Clay has to look forward to during that first summer of the sickness all over the world. But one day, in the woods, everything changes.
From the moment he sees the peculiar young dog with the fancy collar, Clay knows there's something special about her. There are other things in the woods, too - beautiful, ancient things, tucked in the invisible folds of the forest, where reality ripples and other worlds are glimpsed. But as Clay and his mysterious dog explore day after day, Clay comes to realize that the woods also hold secrets and traps and things to be scared of. If he's not careful, Clay might just step off the path and never find his way back.

My Thoughts:
This recently released middle grade novel is fanciful, imaginative, and a wonderful example of magical realism. Elf Dog & Owl Head is an extraordinary novel for children. The charcoal etchings really add to M.T. Anderson's enchanting story. I highly recommend this book to readers aged seven to twelve. 
I was lucky enough to hear the author speak at a SCBWI Writer's Conference in Los Angeles, CA, years ago. That's where I first heard of him!  He shared several illuminating tips for writers. (His excellent nonfiction book, Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad, is one of my all-time favorite books.) 

Click here to learn about the award-winning author, M.T. Anderson.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Storyteller's Journey

Inspiration for Livvi Biddle
Living in the southwest portion of Washington State for most of my life, I've found there's no shortage of inspiration for an author. This sign is just down the road from my previous residence, in my old neighborhood.

The Biddle Family was prominent, and significant in the history of Southwest Washington State, specifically, in Clark County. In fact, one of Henry Biddle's descendants lives just down the way on Biddle Rd. (We've been to the home of Erskine & Sandy Wood where they held an event honoring the Nez Perce tribe.) Years ago, this neighborhood inspired me to draft a story with a protagonist called Livvi Biddle. Her world includes these railroad tracks running parallel to this country road.

The historic Vancouver Trout Hatchery was built in 1938 and is also along the same country road. It, too, is included in my upcoming middle grade novel.

Down the road from the hatchery, is the Fisher Cemetery. It was built in 1852 and was the inspiration for the cemetery included in my new novel, The Sibylline Scroll.

This oversized pond is called Biddle Lake. The branch of the Biddle Family that settled along the Columbia River, was originally from the prominent family in Philadelphia, PA. (However, I took a bit of liberty with Livvi's ancestry.)

If you're interested in learning more about the Biddle Family, specifically about Henry Jonathon Biddle, click here.

My middle grade book cover reveal is just two weeks away!

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Whimsical Word of the Week

Riposte - (n.)
a quick, clever reply to an insult or criticism.
Example: The normally introverted woman was finally able to riposte to the ever-negative neighbor's comment.


Monday, May 15, 2023

Bibliophile's Corner

Make Way
by Angela Burke Kunkel
illustrated by Claire Keene

Flap Copy Description:
In the beginning, in Hamilton, Ohio, there was a boy named Robert. His hands were always moving, always creating. Many years later, after attending art school in Boston, Robert McCloskey would think about his days wandering through Boston Public Garden and write the classic story Make Way for Ducklings.
In the beginning, there was also a girl named Nancy. She grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, working in her father's green-house, twisting wire and boughs into wreaths. Many years later Nancy Schön would look at Bob's drawings in Make Way for Ducklings and get the seed of an idea. That seed became the bronze sculptures of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings that stand in Boston Public Garden today.
The stunning and innovative picture book biography intertwines the lives of two phenomenal artists - who were contemporaries and friends - and reveals the extraordinary impact they've had on generations of children.

My Thoughts:
Like most fans of children's books, I have always loved the picture book, Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey. Make Way - The Story of Robert McCloskey and Nancy Schön, and Some Very Famous Ducks is the perfect biography to honor Mr. McCloskey and Ms. Schön! The combination of the enchanting illustrations and the biographical details works together to create a truly beautiful picture book. There are additional details about Mr. McCloskey and Ms. Schön at the back of the book. I highly recommend Make Way for readers of all ages!

Friday, May 12, 2023

Champions of Creativity

L. Frank Baum

Lyman Frank Baum was born on May 15, 1856; next Monday marks his 167th birthday. He is best known for his children's book series, The Wonderful World of Oz, fourteen books in all. Mr. Baum was a prolific writer, penning forty-one novels, eighty-four short stories, two hundred poems, and at least forty-two scripts. He was a truly creative soul, making several attempts to bring his works to the stage and screen. In 1939, the adaptation of The Wizard of Oz was finally brought to the silver screen, becoming a landmark of twentieth-century cinema.

Frank Baum suffered from heart problems and found the warm sunshine of Coronado, California, wonderful weather to restore his health - and to write! The photograph on the left is of the Frank Baum House where the author and his small family occasionally resided between 1904-1910. Mr. Baum would write in the mornings, and in the afternoons would golf, or spend time reading to children in the courtyard of The Hotel Del Coronado.

In addition to L. Frank Baum (who famously designed the crown chandeliers still hanging in the Crown Room of the hotel), many other famous guests frequented The Del, including actors, politicians, and even royalty.

Since my father was stationed at the North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado, I was born on that sunny paradise island. Consequently, over the years I've become interested in the history of Coronado. Since Mr. Baum was a children's book author, I've enjoyed learning about him. 

Remember to follow your yellow brick road!

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Whimsical Word of the Week

Verisimilitude (n.)
the appearance of being true or real.
Example: The author's in-depth character development added to the verisimilitude in her new novel.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Bibliophile's Corner

The First Notes
The Story of Do, Re, Mi
by Julie Andrews and 
Emma Walton Hamilton

Flap Copy Description:
"When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything!"
Imagine a time very long ago, when music couldn't be written or read and could only be learned by live performance. A monk named Guido d'Arezzo dreamed of finding a way to write music as words are written in books, so that people far and wide could read and learn melodies. With creativity, passion, and perseverance, one humble man invented a way to share music across the world.

My Thoughts:
There's so much I love about this picture book! Not only does it share the history of musical notes, at the back of the book it includes a glossary, more information about the monk, Guido d'Arezzo, and a page about the song "Do-Re-Mi" which was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Julie Andrews and the award-winning author, Emma Walton Hamilton (daughter of Ms. Andrews), have created a book every child should read - especially if they're a budding musician of any kind!

Click here to learn about author Emma Walton Hamilton. 

Friday, May 5, 2023

Storyteller's Journey

Walk in the Woods

Last week was the first time it finally felt like spring in my neck of the woods. The Salmon Creek runs through the common area of our neighborhood and is one of my favorite natural sites.

This historic covered horse bridge serves not only horses and hikers, but also acts as a meeting place for our neighborhood get togethers in the summer. 
While many of our neighbors are horse owners, we are not. However, since I grew up with horses as a child, being around the majestic creatures always gives me a sense of deja vu. These two stallions were quite curious by my presence at first, but soon realized I was just out for a walk.
I thought this view through the trees of the distant hills was just lovely. 
As I continued walking, I soon came upon one of several ponds in the area.

I've mentioned before how much Mother Nature inspires me. While I'm busy preparing for my middle grade novel's publication in the fall, I still need to get my nature fix as regularly as I can!

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Whimsical Word of the Week

Accismus (n.)
the feigning of disinterest in something, while actually desiring it.
Example: The actor's comment that he was "glad he wasn't chosen for the movie role" was not convincing, revealing his accismus.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Bibliophile's Corner

King Charles
by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Back Cover Description:
Little Charles became heir to the throne aged just three. He grew up loving nature and dedicated himself to helping people and the planet through environmental activism and charity work. When he became king, Charles promised to serve his people with loyalty and respect. This amazing story of the king's life features a facts and photos section at the back.

My Thoughts:
Since the coronation of King Charles is coming up at the end of the week, I thought this book would be the perfect title to review. The story is a lovely overview about the monarch's life, and deals with his first wife, Princess Diana, in a tactful way. If you're looking to introduce your youngster to the new king, this book definitely fits the bill!