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Losing and Finding your Muse

October 16, 2015

My how time flies! Apparently, while I was snoozing à la Rip Van Winkle, four years have passed me by. That’s an eternity in the world of writing – or almost any other field these days. I don’t really know why I stopped reviewing and writing but I definitely lost my desire for quite some time.

What made me dust off my old blog? I can’t be quite sure but the creative rumblings have been stirring from somewhere deep within as of late. I have realized a couple of things during my hiatus: I am not interested in promotion – that’s a tough thing if you want to be a commercially successful writer. I’ve come to terms with it though, and realize I must be happy even if my creations reach an audience of only one. My interests have changed somewhat, so I am expanding my vision as a writer. I love children’s literature but I have a hankering to try my hand at stuff for grownups.

So, where will tomorrow take me? I’m not sure but I’ll do my best to keep you posted.

And the winner is ….

October 25, 2011

Charlotte  – your comment was the lucky number to pop out of the random number generator.  I will contact you for your snail mail address. After you respond your copy of The Amulet of Amon Ra will be on its way.

Thanks for playing everyone.  Come by Friday for my next review and giveaway.

MoonShadow: The Nightmare Ninja by Simon Higgins – Giveaway

October 21, 2011

Today is clear the shelf day. I’ve had Moonshadow: The Nightmare Ninja (Little, Brown, 2011) on the shelf for quite awhile and, while it might be a great book, I’m just not hearing it call me. So, no review today – just passing it on to someone else who might be interested. On the related note of not judging a book by its cover – that’s really what I’m doing here – even though I KNOW that is often a way to miss out on a great story.  However,  I don’t particularly care for martial arts combat and the cover just yells that out to me – what do you think? Nightmare Ninja is the second book in the Moonshadow series. The first is titled Rise of the Ninja.

At any rate, it may be a great book, especially for kids who are into the action/thriller type of drama – and all those ninja-o-philes out there. It garnered some nice review blurbs from Kirkus and School Library Journal.

So, to win this ARC, leave a comment on this post by October 31st and you’ll be included in my random drawing. If this is your first comment to my blog, the comment will not post until I approve it.

And the winner is ….

October 18, 2011

Patricia Schoen – your comment was the lucky number to pop out of the random number generator.  I will contact you for your snail mail address. After you respond your copy of Six Foolish Fishermen will be on its way.

Thanks for playing everyone.  Check out my current review of The Amulet of Amon-Ra below. Comment by Monday, October 24th for a chance to win it.

The Amulet of Amon-Ra by Leslie Carmichael: Review and Giveaway

October 14, 2011

Today, I’m giving away fellow CBAY author, Leslie Carmichael’s midgrade fantasy, The Amulet of Amon-Ra  (CBAY, 2009). I actually read this awhile ago and it makes a  quick and pleasant read for the third through seventh grade set.

Summary: When Jennifer receives an ancient scarab with a hidden compartment, she travels through time and space to the era of the great female pharaoh, Hatsheput. She uncovers conspiracies and tomb robbers, but can she find her way home?

Genres: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Things to like about this book:   Egyptophiles will like this story. It includes a great deal of history and it could be included in a unit on ancient Egypt.

Audience:  Upper elementary,  MidGrade

Reviewed from: Paperback  provided by publisher.

I’ll be giving my copy away to one lucky person. Leave a comment on this post by October 24th and you’ll be included in my random drawing. If this is your first comment to my blog, the comment will not post until I approve it.

Six Foolish Fishermen by Robert D. San Souci – Review and Giveaway

October 7, 2011

This picture book, illustrated by Doug Kennedy and originally published by Hyperion in 2000, has been re-released by Pelican Publishing this September. Robert San Souci has a ton of stories in and around the children’s book world and he often brings his pen down the bayou to concentrate on south Louisiana culture in his subject matter. His stories are staples in our libraries locally.

Six Foolish Fishermen is an example of a “Noodlehead” story. These stories appear in all types of literary traditions and are probably most well known as the “Foolish Jack” stories. In a noodlehead story, the main characters seem to lack even a modicum of common sense yet they somehow manage to come out on top. The noodlehead story is not written to demean any particular person, rather, it allows us to laugh at ourselves and the weaknesses we all share.

San Souci’s version (a take on “The Seven Foolish Fishermen” folktale) is ripe with Cajun dialect, vocabulary, and altered sentence structure – which may turn some readers off – but it provides a good opening into discussion of the Cajun culture. The six fishermen run into several predicaments they try to solve in the most absurd ways, until Henriette comes along and straightens them all out. It is laugh out loud funny.

San Souci thanks renown New Orleans storyteller Coleen Salley (who passed away in 2008) in  his dedication. She wrote a great set of noodlehead stories based on her character Epossumondus – if  you are unfamiliar with them, they are well worth checking out. Epossumondus himself is based on a very old New Orleans character called Epaminondus. The original story was quite racist but Salley turned the main character into a possum, which allowed a new generation to enjoy the spirit of the story without any demeaning racial overtones.

And that’s how it goes with folklore – and literature in general – almost every story has its base in a story that preceded it. San Souci’s great skill is finding these old stories and recrafting them for a new generation. He does it  nicely in The Six Foolish Fishermen.

I’ll be giving my copy away to one lucky person. Leave a comment on this post by October 17th and you’ll be included in my random drawing. If this is your first comment to my blog, the comment will not post until I approve it. And if you like the noodlehead story concept, you really should check out Coleen Salley’s Epossumondus books for noodleheads with a south Louisiana flair.

Genres: Elementary, Middle School, Cajun Tales, Folk tales.

Things to like about this book: This story can be used to go so many places in the curriculum – math lessons, cultural geography, literature studies, writing activities – to name a few.  And, it’s goofy funny, so kids will like it.

Audience: Early elementary through middle school for literature study of the noodlehead story.

Reviewed from: Hardcover provided by publisher.

And the winner is ….

October 5, 2011

Laura Favaloro – your comment was the lucky number to pop out of the random number generator.  I will contact you for your snail mail address. After you respond your copy of The Search for Wondla will be on its way.

Thanks for playing everyone.  Come by Friday for my next review and giveaway.

Mixing Media – Pinkalicious, the Musical

September 30, 2011

Last weekend I took my nephew to see Pinkalicious, the Musical at our local community theater. Surrounded by little girls in pink tiaras, he might have felt slightly out of place. I had a great time, however. In case you are one of the few people on the planet who doesn’t know the story, Pinkalicious is a girl whose obsession with anything pink – especially cupcakes – drives her parents batty and creates havoc as she transforms into a great mass of pinkness.

The wildly popular book has become a franchise with as many possibilities as there are colors in an artist’s palette, I suppose. I’m not a huge fan of  picture book franchises – as I find they often become stilted to fit the marketing department’s expectations, and I haven’t read all the Pinkalicious sequels, but the idea of turning the picture book into a musical was fascinating to me.

As is the case when moving from one medium to another, the story morphed a bit. I’m not really going to comment on that. But watching all these little kids in the theater, excited about theater, and excited about their book characters come to life, was quite impressive. It was a nice way to introduce the next generation to community theater.

If Pinkalicious hasn’t made it to your little theater community yet, look for it. It is an interesting experience, to say the least. Next spring our troupe is performing an adaptation of David Shannon’s How I Became a Pirate. I think I’ll take my nephew back – he should feel more at home among the swashbucklers.

 

The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerilizzi – Review and GiveAway

September 23, 2011

For your consideration today is The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerilizzi (Simon & Schuster, 2010).  This post apocalyptic science fiction fantasy held my interest through the entire 468 pages. It is definitely a sophisticated step up for DiTerilizzi’s SpiderWick Chronicles fans.  Random tidbit: I could not get the Wizard of Oz out of my head as I read this story.

The story centers around Eva Nine, who is raised by her robot “muthr” in her own safe underground cocoon. Eva’s idyllic, if lonely and artificial, childhood comes to an end as she matures and begins to question the authority of her robot guardian. As it must be in a story like this, her world comes crashing down and she is thrust out into the harsh realities of life to fend for herself.  She is driven to search for another human by an old picture showing another girl, adult, robot, and the magical word “Wondla”.  Her struggle for survival and search for identity make for a good story. Wild imagination gives birth to some memorable creatures in this story – which has been marketed with an interactive component online at wondla.com. The artwork goes a long way in helping to visualize the story.

I’ll be giving my copy away to one lucky person. Leave a comment on this post by October 3rd and you’ll be included in my random drawing. If this is your first comment to my blog, the comment will not post until I approve it.  Share the contest with anyone who might be interested.

Genres & Subjects:  Science Fiction, Adventure Stories, Fantasy, Aliens, Outer space

Things to like about this book: The story of survival is compelling, even in this alien setting, but the writing puts you there. I’m thinking DiTerilizzi can turn this into a fairly long series. Although the space sci-fi motif sometimes suffers from a smaller audience, I hope kids will give this a try.

Audience: Upper elementary through young YA.  I’m liking this for sci-fi fans and, because of the female heroine, I think girls who ordinarily might not gravitate toward this space adventure will like it – if you can get them to pick it up.

Reviewed from:  ARC provided by publisher.

And the winner is ….

September 20, 2011

Shivaun Davis – your comment was the lucky number to pop out of the random number generator.  I will contact you for your snail mail address. After you respond your copy of Hero will be on its way.

Thanks for playing everyone.  Come by Friday for my next review and giveaway.

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