Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Two Fascinating Picture Books. One about Davy Crockett and the other about Trade

Today I am reviewing and interviewing Bobbi Miller about her two funny and well illustrated picture books. I hope you all enjoy.

Book 1-One Fine Trade illustrated by Will Hillenbrand is a wonderful story about teaching the concepts of barter and trade. Georgy Piney Woods “the finest peddler who ever lived,” has a problem. His daughter wants to get married and would like to trade her skinny horse for a silver dollar so she can buy a wedding dress. Georgy, being the devoted father, rides the horse up and down hills and through the woods in search of people who would like to do a trade. He ends up making several trades but none of them are for the item he desperately seeks. Then he comes upon the right person who has the need for what he has to offer. This is a great story that introduces children to the concept of trade. The amusing and well developed illustrations helps the reader understand the concepts clearly while making predictions about what Georgy is going to be encountering next. The concept of trade is one that has been used for years. More and more people, especially now when money is tight for so many, are trading their services to save money. These are lessons that children will learn in elementary school but will use throughout their lives. It is great to teach children the benefits of voluntary trade and this is a great children’s book to do it.
ISBN# 9780823418367 32 pages

Book 2-Davy Crockett Gets Hitched illustrated by Megan Lloyd is a wondiferous tale about Davy Crockett and Miss Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind. Davy, being the amazing outdoorsman, hears about a dance that is being held in honor of Miss Sally Ann. Always in the mood for good dancing and free food, he decides to attend. On his way, he encounters a thornbush, which causes a problem. When he gets to the dance he catches the attention of Miss Sally Ann, but not in the way that he would have liked too. The dancing then takes a more competitive turn and Miss Sally Ann and Davy end up having a dance battle for who can last the longest. This was a great tall tale about how Davy Crockett and Miss Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind first met and wed. It’s great to read children’s books that are entertaining and fun. Some of the words of the story are silly to say and the illustrations make you giggle with delight. This is a great book to use when covering the topic of Davy Crockett.
ISBN# 9780823418374 32 pages

Overall my children and I liked these books very much. They were unique and different, and yet informative and fun.

Joining us today is Bobbi Miller, author of Davy Crockett Gets Hitched and One Fine Trade. We’re going to talk to Bobbi about her new picture books.

Welcome, Bobbi. It’s great to have you with us.

Thank you for having me!

Please tell our readers a bit about yourself.

One would think this is a simple question to answer. I am a storycollector, and storyteller, and a writer who teaches writing. And a college professor who teaches reading. I’m an old lady who lives in the woods. I have way too many cats.
I have always been a nerd, and have finally come to appreciate it.

How did your writing career begin?

Isn’t this true of every writer: I’ve always written stories, from elementary classes through high school. I was also a heavy reader, and read everything. I was reading Charles Dickens in the fourth grade, and just loved Oliver Twist. So much so, that I copied the book, making it into a play: “Please, sir. I want some more!” No kidding. It wasn’t a very good script. But I just loved that Artful Dodger character and thought he deserved more space. I read Robin Hood stories, and wrote about the daughter of Robin Hood. I read about pirates – and you know it, I wrote about the Pirate Queen!

I wrote stories about my favorite characters in my favorite books! I wrote about being Alex Ramsey’s friend in the Black Stallion (by Walter Farley). Another favorite book was Wild Animals I have Known, by Ernest Seton, so I wrote stories about my dog Dixie. I thought Huckleberry Finn was just the coolest kid, although not very bright. But I loved Mark Twain.

So, yes, I was a nerd. But, underneath that nerdy exterior was a real pirate queen–cowboy- musketeer –soldier--adventurer. I didn’t ever want to be Queen Elizabeth, or the fairy Princess, or Mary from Peter Pan. I wanted to be Sir Walter Raleigh, the dragon, or Peter Pan! It seemed they had more fun, went to more interesting places, and did more interesting things. So those were the books that I read. And those ultimately became the books that I like to write.

I also liked school, and I also liked to research. (I did warn you: I am a nerd). I wanted to find out what else was out there. I wanted to find out how to write the stories.

So I went to school. My first degree was in writing fiction, more like a certificate of completion from a local writing two year (or was it eighteen months?) program. I remember nothing about those two years except that I was SO disappointed, because I knew still knew nothing about writing. So I went to a community college. I took every writing class, and ultimately majored in journalism. BUT, I also took every anthropology class, having discovered folklore. I was a full time student, working full time, who was also a single mother. Life was busy.

But now I felt like I was learning something! I went onto a four year program, this time majoring in Mass Media Communications, and minoring in anthropology. I took every course about writing and anthropology I could get into, including those classes that my degree didn’t necessarily require. After graduation, I began working as a freelance writer and editor. I wrote short stories. My first editor was Marion Zimmer Bradley (Mists of Avalon), and I sold two short stories to her.

I also continued my studies in folklore. I realized that many of the best adventures are on our own landscape! The western frontier, the Mississippi, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, New Orleans, Boston, Chicago, New York, the Midwest and the Southwest, the coming together of many cultures, many languages and many stories — why, we have the BEST stories in our own front yard! So that’s what I began studying.

But, nerd that I am, I still felt like there must be more to learn. So I went to Simmons College, the Masters of Children’s Literature Program, where I studied the folklore process in children’s literature. I investigated voice and perspective, and most of all, the language of the storytelling process! It was a very good experience.

But – don’t you know it – I still felt there was more to learn. So I went to Vermont College (now the Vermont College of Fine Arts) MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Program. To tell you the truth, I think everything I learned up to that moment was preparing me for this experience. I worked hard to hone my skills, and I studied under true masters. Eric Kimmel and Marion Dane Bauer, I owe them for my life, true enough. It sounds sappy, yes. But when everything – every moment, experience, understanding – comes together to finally make sense and direction, it does becomes a sappy life-altering moment. I continue to call Eric my Guru, and Marion my ultimate Mentor. I also call them dear friends. That’s the experience of Vermont College, and I sense that everyone who attends the program walks away with a similar sappy moment.
I still carry that feeling that I don’t know enough, and I’m still learning more about the craft, and the stories. I’m thinking, I will never know enough – and that’s okay.

Tell us about Davy Crockett Gets Hitched and One Fine Trade.

These books were a part of my creative thesis while I was attending Vermont College. I studied under Eric Kimmel and Marion Dane Bauer, the focus of my study was voice and perspective, and language. I LOVE the organic nature of language.

For Davy Crockett, I researched both the myth and the man. I researched the historical context, including gender roles, so I have a feel for Miss Sally Ann. I also read his books to get a sense of his language and personality. My story is a combination of many tales, some of which he told, and some of which were told by others. I highlighted the recurring motifs, engaged in the language, and then created a story from that.

Stories tend to be organic, and sometimes outlines, research, and all the ‘great plans of mice and men’ need to be tossed as characters take over. In which case, I tag along for the ride. Miss Sally Ann is not your typical gal, as Davy Crockett discovered, and you’ll discover more about her in my next book, also illustrated by Megan Lloyd and will be published by Holiday House. She demanded to whoop it up, and I whooped right along with her.

What age group are these two books for?

While these stories are geared for ages two to eight, I hope all ages find them worthy.

These are two beautifully illustrated picture books. What inspired you to write them?

The language that creates these stories is as big and grand as the landscape itself. It is this audacious, bodacious, just splendiferous landscape and language that inspire me to write, these books and all my books.

In what forms is your book available? Is it available in e-book, hard cover or traditional paperback, or all?

Only hard cover, at the moment.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us about them.

Davy Crockett and One Fine Trade are my first published hardcovers. Two others are coming out soon, including another story of Miss Sally Ann, and one really humorous southern tale about a talking turtle and a rather slow fellow named Jasper.

I’m a prolific writer, however. There’s so many stories, and I want to tell them all. My mind is cluttered with all these characters stomping around. When I’m not teaching, I spend my time exploring the American landscape and the grand voices that make up the American story. I have three picturebooks out and about now, one of which is an adaption of an old Celtic Tale, The Children of Lir. Two others are original tall tales, including an original fable about a fox who gets outfoxed. In my fable, I don’t supply a moral, but rather ask the reader to make his/her moral of the tale. I can hear those discussions now!

Two big projects out currently under consideration includes a character driven story about a force of nature called Bruce. That’s also the title of the book. There’s a lot of stories out there about dragons, from fantasy to magical realism, to adaptations of old legends. When I read them, being the nerd that I am, I wanted to know the basics: dragons are big, which means they eat a lot and then poop a lot. Where does the food come from, and what happens to all that poop? How does one hide a dragon, literally? Why can’t we see dragons? Magic didn’t cut it for me, and that all knowing “Just because” also didn’t cut it. If there are dragons, are there dragon-hunters? If there were so many dragons in prehistoric and ancient times, where are all the bones? What would these bones look like? If dragons are so fierce and smart, how come they died out?

Another project I just finished, a middle grade about the battle of Gettysburg, called Mam’s Wisdom, as told through the perspective of the female experience, including a girl disguised as a Confederate soldier, the daughter of a middle class shop keep, a daughter of a freeman, and two enslaved . While there has been many books written on the battle of Gettysburg, few have taken on the female perspective, and none have included in their story the very significant perspective of the free African American experience or of the enslaved in Gettysburg. Gettysburg was a prominent location in the underground railroad. Many of the scenes in my book, including Picket's Charge, the wounded gathering at Weikart's farm, and the collapse of the cellar, are based on true happenings. I travelled to the area, and walked the entire battlefield several times to get a feeling of these places. Another thing I tried to do with this book is to bring these different perspectives and experiences together to show how these experiences did not happen in a vacuum, separate from one another, but were in relationship to everyone’s experience.
I also used this approach –bringing together the experience, rather than separating, or segregating, them – in my middle grade creative nonfiction, We Are Soldiers: The Story of Women’s Call to Arms. Extensive research, and somewhat overwhelming! There have been more than a few books about the female soldiering -- girls disguising themselves as men and taking up arms – during the Civil War. While my story began with this focus, I found myself asking more questions as I did more research. I had the help of a splendid editor with this process, and even went to Rutgers One on One Conference that furthered this investigation. Finally, I realized the story I wanted to tell: I expanded my story to look at all the wars, from colonial times through the Spanish American War, and included the African-American experience and the Native American experience.

And, this coming together of experience is also reflected in my current project, the re-imagining of the Annie Christmas story, a middle grade novel that blends tall tale with history. There’s pirates, and buried treasure, and riverboats, the War of 1812, New Orleans culture – and all its implications -- and the beginnings of the underground railroad. Some characters are based on real people, and some events happened. So research is extensive.
But Annie Christmas is stomping in my head, demanding to be cut loose.

For homeschool parents, such as myself, we are always looking for the best curriculums, workbooks, supplements and subjects to best teach our children. How can these books be used in the classroom?

This is an important element, and I address this very thing on my website. Because I also teach reading, one of my goals is to expand the reading experience. I offer additional resources, including links to lesson plans on how to use folktales in the classroom, and how to use my books in the classroom. I offer additional resources into my characters, to help expand the reading experience. I have a teacher currently working on more lesson plans, and will include these as soon as she is finished.

One Fine Trade can also be a tool in introducing children about trade and barter. These concepts are among the first economics lessons introduced to children in elementary school and in their own daily lives.

Also, I want to show how folktales help us to understand experiences and events not our own. For example, I include a website about folk tales, poems, and letters from Peace Corps Volunteers. In this site, volunteers expand and enrich the lives of students by allowing them to see the world as Peace Corps Volunteers do. A very different perspective!
Another website I highlight comes from The Fetzer Institute, in collaboration with the Institute's Generosity of Spirit project team. This program, Learning to Give , creates an interesting resource that helps foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community: “From earliest childhood we are captivated by the sounds of the human voice telling a story. There is an elemental, magnetic pull to hear the myths, fables and parables that are a part of our varied cultures. We learn early life lessons from these wise folktales with their colorful characters and episodes.”
My website is still new, and I continue to work on it to include more that hat further our understanding of our place in the world, exploring voice, perspective and experience.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

http://www.bobbimillerbooks.com/. Designed by Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys. What a wonderful designer!

Where can readers purchase your books and how much do they cost?

You can purchase them at amazon.com, Borders.com, Barnes and Noble online, and independent bookstores. In fact, I have a list of links to these areas on my website.

I have read that your house was an inspiration for Davy Crockett Gets Hitched. How so?

I live in the woods, in a 1830s reproduction log cabin, a perfect place to explore larger than life characters! I write in two places: in my loft, which overlooks my gardens, and in my living room, which is a grand room with skylights and big windows. So, I am surrounded by landscape, literally. There’s a picture of it on my website. Very cool.
Final news: Nancy Polette, Director of the Laboratory School at Lindenwood University, MO and Director of the Library/Media and Gifted Programs in St Louis County Schools, lists ONE FINE TRADE as one of "the best picture books of Summer/Fall 2009 “.

So, life is good. Life is still busy. I’m still a nerd. But life is good.
Do feel free to stop by my website, just to see what you can see, and feel free to offer any insights, recommendations, and questions.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to our readers today. Good luck in all of your future endeavors. Please check out these wonderful book

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Wonderful Picture Book About Rhymes, Songs And Activities To Stay Connected With Our Young Children. Also A Book Give-Away.

I had the pleasure of reviewing and interviewing Mommy, Draw Stars on My Tummy by Martine Groeneveld. The author is also doing a book give-away for the readers of my blog. To enter you can e-mail the author. Her e-mail is given at the end of the interview—so keep reading till the end. I hope everyone enjoys.

Mommy, Draw Stars on My Tummy, is a wonderful book filled with delightful pictures and memorable words. The rhyme mixed into the stories and then incorporating massage along with them, is relaxing and fun for children. This book shows positive and healthy ways to massage and touch our children. Nurturing touch creates family bonding and are key components for encouraging healthy physical, mental and emotional development in children. Massage helps communicate love and helps any child relax. Think of how we feel after a good massage from a spa. We feel relaxed and calm, right? So do children.

My children are affectionate. They love to hug, snuggle, and of course, be massaged. I am the massage queen at my house, massaging shoulders, feet and backs on a daily basis. So when I sat down with my children and read the book, massaging their legs and backs and arms as the rhymes, songs and stories suggested, they loved it. However, my children are also ticklish so some of the time was spent on taking moments for a tickle fest, which of course led to laughter and spending memorable moments with my children.

Martine created an amazing book that I feel will bring parents some good quality time with their children, which is sometimes forgotten in a busy world. Sometimes we as parents forget that no matter what the age, our children need to feel loved. My boys are affectionate boys, and it is amazing to me that my oldest, after playing with his friends, will sometimes give them hugs thanking them for playing with him. Some will hug back and some will look at him strangely, but I am proud of him for feeling comfortable and secure enough with himself that he can hug someone else and show them how he feels, instead of saying words that he may or may not mean. Adults are no different. Many times I have talked with someone who was so excited or thankful at something I did, that they hugged me showing me their appreciation. How did that feel? Wonderful! Everyone needs to have that connection in their lives.

The research Martine did on this book was extensive. In the back of the book is a section which is about the benefits of nurturing touch. It was very informative. Overall, I must say that I really enjoyed the book and thought Martine did a wonderful job creating something that is very important to have in everyone’s lives. How did I know my children enjoyed the book? When I was in the grocery store and my youngest son was hugging me, he was singing one of the rhymes. Great job, Martine!

Joining us today is Martine Groeneveld, author of Mommy, Draw Stars on My Tummy. We’re going to talk to Martine about her new picture book.

Welcome, Martine. It’s great to have you with us.

Thank you very much for having me.

Please tell our readers a bit about yourself.

I’m a native of Holland and have been living in Los Angeles for almost five years. My background is in nursing, psychology and massage therapy and I have found my passion in advocating nurturing touch during early childhood. My daughters, Wies and Sara, are six and four years old and a great inspiration in my life.
Living in the US has been a wonderful experience so far. It has given me the opportunity to write my first book and will therefore always hold a special place.

How did your writing career begin?

I was looking for a book that combined nurturing touch with rhymes and illustrations. When I couldn’t find it, I decided to write it myself. I figured I wasn’t the only mom who was looking for fun and loving ways to connect with my children.

Tell us about Mommy, Draw Stars on My Tummy.

Mommy, Draw Stars on My Tummy combines nurturing touch, storytelling and beautiful illustrations in a way that allows parents and children to slow down, focus on each other and enjoy a close, personal relationship.
It contains a series of bedtime, naptime or playtime stories ranging from the familiar Itsy Bitsy Spider and This Little Piggy Went To Market to original stores and games like Magic Body Painting and Guess the Letter. Each story contains massage instructions for the parent, which guide hand and fingers to draw shapes on the child’s body. The child is asked to guess the shape as the story unfolds. The fun and enjoyment that derives from touch play stimulates the child and encourages creativity and cognitive abilities in a playful and nurturing way.

What age group is this series for?

For 0-6 years old. The rhymes and games in the book can be adjusted to the child’s developmental stage.

This is a beautiful picture book. What inspired you to write it?

When I trained to become an infant massage instructor a few years ago, we played around with the lyrics of a song so it could be incorporated into the massage routine. When I later introduced it to my daughter, who was almost two at the time, it was an instant hit. She loved it. From than on I created different rhymes, songs and games to go along with hand routines for massage. When I started thinking about putting it into a book form, I knew it had to be combined with beautiful pictures to enhance the whole experience. The book needed to be playful, loving and warm in appearance, just like the content.

In what forms is your book available? Is it available in e-book, hard cover or traditional paperback, or all?

It’s available in hardcover only. I believe in the magic of holding a beautiful book in your hands. It gets me excited to open and read it and I think this is all part of ‘experiencing’ the book. The theme of Mommy, Draw Stars on My Tummy, connection and closeness between parent and child, is all about experiencing and a beautiful looking book enhances that whole experience.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us about them.

Mommy, Draw Stars on My Tummy is my first book and I really enjoyed the writing process. It has sparked some ideas for new books and I’m excited to start working these out.

For homeschool parents, such as myself, we are always looking for the best curriculums, workbooks, supplements and subjects to best teach our children. How can this book help children in school and help parents?

The rhymes and games in this book have fill-in-the blanks that can be adjusted to the child’s developmental stage. The alphabet and numbers are practiced in a playful way and facts about the body are learned, encouraging the development of a healthy body image.
Nurturing touch and touching is all about respect and this is the underlying teaching in the activities. The child is the owner of his/her body, and the parent follows the child’s lead. This not only makes the child feel respected, it also teaches respect for their own and other people’s bodies. This book is also helpful in a dialog with your child about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ touch.

I have read that you teach massage classes. Tell us more about that and how massage can help children.

In my classes I teach a combination of massage and massage-touch-play activities. Parents learn how to give their baby or child a full-body massage, but what is more important to me is teaching them to be creative and to follow their intuition with the simplicity, and fun, of nurturing touch. You can nurture your child with loving touch anywhere and at anytime, that’s the message I want to pass along.

Massage and nurturing touch is a wonderful way to enhance physical, emotional and cognitive development in a child. It stimulates relaxation, circulation, the immune system, brain growth, self-respect and confidence, a healthy body image and a parent-child relationship based on love and respect. It has also proven to reduce aggression in children, which in turn can lead to a more peaceful environment once these children grow into adults.

What kind of research did you have to do for this story?

I had to study rhyme and meter (rhythm) for children’s rhymes. What sounded good to me sometimes turned out to be completely “off” in regards to the rhythm. I found this really interesting. To make a rhyme go easy and smoothly requires a lot of complicated crafting with words.

Mommy, Draw Stars on My Tummy is not released yet in stores. When is the release date and can readers pre-order your book?

The book will be released November 1st 2009, but is already available for pre-order on Amazon and on the website http://www.mommydrawstarsonmytummy.com. Shipping is free within the USA till November 1st.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes, I have a website and a blog. My book website is http://www.mommydrawstarsonmytummy.com and has sample pages of the book, reader and exert reviews and a research page on the benefits of touch for children.
In my blog http://www.mommydrawstarsonmytummy/blog/ I focus on nurturing touch during early childhood, massage and ways to encourage closeness in the relationship with your child.
I also have a Twitter account http://twitter.com/martinegroeneve and a facebook group page http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=102458904512. The latter is for everyone with the hope for all children to grow up in a nurturing touch environment. Please join!

Where can readers purchase your books and how much do they cost?

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon and on the website http://www.mommydrawstarsonmytummy.com. It is $19.95 and shipping is free within the USA till November 1st.
After the release date, November 1st, it’ll be available in book and retail stores as well.

What's next for you? Is there anything else that you are involved in or working on?

I’m in the process of researching body image development in early childhood and it’s relation to the development of eating disorders in adolescence. This might be food for another book.
I’m also conducting research on the link between nurturing touch and temper tantrums. I’m collecting the last data and will publish results once they’re processed.

Has writing always been a passion for you?

I’ve always loved books, but never thought I would write one myself. I wished I could, but thought it was only for professional writers. It took me a few months into the writing of this book, before I felt comfortable telling others about it without the need to apologize for that ridiculous idea.

Is there anything else that you would like to add or share?

I have reserved two books for readers of this blog. If you’d like to enter for this giveaway, please email me at info@martinegroeneveld.com.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to our readers today. Good luck in all of your future endeavors. Please check out this picture book by Martine Groeneveld.

Thank you so much for having me and giving me the opportunity to introduce my book.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Book Review About A Story For Middle Grade Children Concerning Self Discovery And Acceptance.

I had the pleasure of reading The Peril of the Sinister Scientist by Janet Ann Collins and interviewing her about it. I hope you enjoy!

The Peril of the Sinister Scientist is a suspenseful story about a boy named Joshua Davidson, who thinks he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin because a scientist, Sindoni, who had worked on that experiment, was stalking him. Knowing only a little about his mothers past, Joshua runs from the man and in the process tries to discover who he really is. Growing up without a father in his life, left a lot of unanswered questions, and Joshua needed answers. The more his imagination spun, the more his identity changed from Supreme Being to criminal.

Though he was not alone in his adventure, his true friends gave him inspiration and hope. In the end, Joshua realizes many things. One, nothing is ever what it seems. We can never assume we know all the answers. Two, believe in the goodness in yourself to always do the right thing, even if you are afraid to do it. Courage and your heart will always guide you.
Janet did a wonderful job creating a story that children in middle school can relate to. The situations at home and in school bring up some real challenges that children face, some on a daily basis. The story was suspenseful and interesting, making the reader wonder what would happen next and if there would be a happy ending for Joshua and his mother. There are many lessons that can be learned from this story.

There is a saying that I feel hits home to everyone during one point or another in their lives. I have been there and experienced this as well. Life will throw you curves. There will be a time when life will get the best of you and unexpected things happen. You will have fallen. These things are not meant to destroy us, but make us stronger, even though at the time we feel like we are at our lowest point. When this happens, keep this in mind. We will not be remembered by how we fall, but how we rise up after we have fallen. It is this, and only this, that will define us. That is real strength, and real courage.

Joining us today is Janet Ann Collins, author of The Peril of the Sinister Scientist. We’re going to talk to Janet about her new chapter book.

Welcome, Janet. It’s great to have you with us.

Thank you for having me. It’s nice to be here.

Please tell our readers a bit about yourself.

I am a retired teacher, a public speaker, mother of a grown daughter, a former foster parent of kids with special needs and I’m now a grandparent. My husband and I live in the beautiful foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.

How did your writing career begin?

I always wanted to be an author of books for children but one of my college professors told me I’d never make it because I “had no creativity.” I believed him and gave up the idea of getting published.

About twenty years later I remembered I’d been trying to write everything in his class according to the thesis sentence outline required to pass the college entrance exams. Of course my writing had been uncreative! I wrote down a story I’d often told my kids, sent it out, and it was published right away.

Then I started getting rejection slips and realized I had a lot to learn, so I read books, went to conferences, etc. and kept trying. Since then I’ve written regular feature articles for a newspaper in the San Francisco Bay Area and have had things published in many other periodicals.

Tell us about The Peril of the Sinister Scientist.

It’s about Joshua, who thinks he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin because a scientist who had worked on that experiment is stalking him. Joshua tries figure out who he really is while coping with Middle School and trying to escape from the Sinister Scientist, who seems to follow him everywhere.

What age group is this series for?

It’s for kids from eight to thirteen years old.

This book is a chapter book. What inspired you to write it?

I got the original idea back when the “What Would Jesus Do?” movement was popular. I had been a substitute teacher in Middle Schools and wondered how Jesus would act as a student there. Other things that influenced the plot were my experience with kids who had special needs and my own experience growing up without a father after mine died of Polio.

In what forms is your book available? Is it available in e-book, hard cover or traditional paperback, or all?

It is available in paperback and is also an e-book, which can be read on Kindle and other devices. Other formats may become available in the future.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us about them.

I have a picture book coming out in October about Nicholas, who discovers the adventure of doing secret good deeds and eventually becomes known as Santa Claus. I believe it will be published with the title, Secret Service Saint. I wrote it to help kids learn the truth about Santa Claus in an enjoyable way. Since we’re having a recession and many parents can’t afford expensive gifts for their children this year I hope the book will also help kids realize Christmas is more about giving than getting.

I also have another book under contract and have written some that haven’t found publishers yet.

For homeschool parents, such as myself, we are always looking for the best curriculums, workbooks, supplements and subjects to best teach our children. How can parents use the questions in the back of The Peril of the Sinister Scientist to help with better understanding of the book?

Those questions can be used as discussion starters or as writing assignments. It’s legally okay for people who buy the book to copy and print them out for that purpose. They’re not only intended to help kids understand the book, but also to encourage them to think and learn about other things such as what it means to say God loves us.

I have read that you have been involved with children who have special needs. Can you tell us more about this?

Actually I’m not doing much with children right now, but hope to do more in the future. Among other things I worked in the dormitories at California School for the Deaf for about nine years, raised three deaf foster sons with various disabilities, interpreted church services in American Sign Language, and often worked in Special Education classes while I was a substitute teacher. I was frequently requested for those classes because the classroom aides said most subs would stand around saying things like, “Oh, the poor things” while expecting the aides to do all the work, but I actually taught the students.

I have a blog about special needs, http://janetanncollins.blogspot.com, and some parents have told me my posts have been helpful to them.

How does this relate to your book?

One of the main characters uses a wheelchair. I don’t want to tell you much about her because I might give away some of the plot.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes, my website is www.janetanncollins.com and my blog about words, books, and kids is http://onwordsblog.blogspot.com.

Where can readers purchase your books and how much do they cost?

The Peril of the Sinister Scientist costs $7.95 and it’s available both online at places like Amazon or Barnes and Noble and in bookstores.

What's next for you? Is there anything else that you are involved in or working on?

Oh, yes. I’m working on two books right now. One is a nonfiction book for adults about how to help people with invisible disabilities and the other is another middle grade fiction book. One of the main characters in that one is deaf. And, of course, I have zillions of ideas bubbling in my brain waiting for me to write about them.

Has writing always been a passion for you?

Yes, it has. Even back when I didn’t think I could ever get published, I couldn’t help writing.

What are some of your claims to fame?

I mention some of those on my website. As a student I worked part time in a library and got so good at mending books they had me mend an original Gutenberg Bible. I once met Koko, the gorilla who learned Sign Language, and got to talk with her briefly, and I got to perform with the Joffrey ballet even though I don’t know how to dance. I was a supernumerary, which is what they call extras, and only needed to sway with the music and turn around a couple of times, but it was fun. As a writer I think the first claim to fame is most impressive.

Is there anything else that you would like to add or share?

Only that I wish all kids could learn to read and discover the wonders available to them in books.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to our readers today. Good luck in all of your future endeavors. Please check out this book by Janet Collins.

I hope everyone enjoyed this review and interview.

Renee Hand

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Book Reviews for Books That Will Touch Your Heart!

If you are looking for books that touch the heart in various ways, then these books are it. Each of them are unique in nature, for their topics cover everything from child and/ or animal adoption, to being special, to God and the world around us. The proceeds from some of these books also go to worth while charities that help people and/or animals. I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I have. Each story helps bring understanding and clarity to important topics and helps fill people with a passion to help others. All books are available through Amazon.com For more information about the publisher or the types of books they publish, check them out at www.tribute-books.com

Red in the Flower Bed by Andrea Napa, is a charming children’s tale about interracial adoption. With the beginning of a Poppy flower who drops one of its seeds, and mourns it’s lose, lets it go with the hope of the seed finding a better life elsewhere. The seed makes a journey through the world finally ending up in the place it is supposed to be, in a flower garden of various color and beauty. The garden readily accepts the seed where it grows with confidence and strength into a lovely red Poppy. Children will be able to identify with the Poppy seed in making the conclusion that where they are, in the home of their adopted mother and father, where their love grows strong and sure, is the place where they were meant to be. ISBN-13: 978-0981461991 Price: $11.65

Second Chance by Sandra Gerencher is a wonderful and heartwarming story of Ryan, a boy with autism, and his new pet Chance, a Rottweiler German Shepherd mix. With both of them being adopted, they can relate to each other in so many ways, but the most important thing that each one understands is that being adopted means stability and a family, security and acceptance. Being with people who will love you no matter what and hold you in their hearts forever as if you were their own. The tale gives more of a thorough understanding of what going through an adoption is like through the eyes of Ryan and Chance. Each sharing their own experiences. Ryan teaches a lesson that speaks to Chance, explaining to him that no matter how hard the journey was that brought them to their new mother; it was worth it to be loved unconditionally, to be accepted into a home where past does not matter, only the future. ISBN-13: 978-0981461922 Price: $11.65

A Different Kind of Hero by Leah Beth Evans, is a story about believing in yourself and having the confidence and courage to do what is right. The colorful illustrations brings to life the adventure of Tomagochi. He is a monkey who lives in a rainforest and feels that he is not very special compared to his brightly colored friends. But they assure him that it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside, it is what is inside that counts. Being special is not because of your appearance, it is what you do. Tomagochi is given a chance to prove himself when bulldozers and workers come in to their rainforest and try to destroy it. He immediately tries to stop them and succeeds. He proves to one and all that when believing in yourself, you can accomplish any goal.
Available in Kindle Price: $4.95

Nine Things Nathan Noticed at Night by Christy Baldwin, is an enchanting children's story which touches on the nocturnal sights and sounds in life and explains about them in more detail, incorporating verses from the bible. The stars, the weather, the insects, seasons and various other topics. The illustrations are simple and delightful, giving a child the feeling that they are experiencing the same thing as Nathan. When each child goes to bed at night they can feel reassured that they are loved and protected. The amazing sounds of nature lulling them to sleep and filling their hearts with calm.
ISBN-13: 978-0976507215 Price: $13.00

I hope everyone enjoys the reviews. Thank you to all who took the time to glance through my article. It is greatly appreciated. More reviews coming soon.
Renee Hand

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New review and interview for Tree House in a Storm by Rachelle Burk

I had the pleasure of reviewing and interviewing Tree House in a Storm by Rachelle Burk. I hope everyone enjoys it!


This is a wonderful story about two children who build a tree house and play in it. But this is no ordinary tree house, it is a place where the imagination flows and dreams come true. Then one day, a hurricane hits and takes out the tree house. With hope, the children plant a new tree and what evolves years later is a new tree and an opportunity for the now grown children to build another tree house to share with their children. This story was warm and yet heart wrenching. The story is based off of experiences the author had in hurricanes Betsy and Katrina. Rachelle did a fantastic job creating a story that can appeal to many people in different ways and can touch their hearts. It is a wonderful tale filled with hope, resiliency and courage. When people pull together it is amazing what can be done. I think children can learn a lot from this story. When a catastrophe happens it is easy to fall apart, but with the help of neighbors, family and friends, it is easier to put the pieces of life back together again and move on to a better future. And though we can never forget the past, because it is so much a part of us and who we are, it does make us stronger. With hope there is nothing that can’t be created or rebuilt, and love strengthens the bonds of friendship and family, pulling us together in a show of unity.


Joining us today is Rachelle Burk, author of Tree House in a Storm. It is a children’s picture book. We’re going to talk to Rachelle about her debut book.

Welcome, Rachelle. It’s great to have you with us.
Thank you, Renee!

Please tell our readers a bit about yourself.

First and foremost I’m a mom! My youngest is already driving (yikes!) By trade, I’m a social worker specializing in crisis intervention. I am also a children’s entertainer, known to kids throughout New Jersey as “Tickles the Clown” and “Mother Goof Storyteller.” And of course, I write for children.

Has writing always been a passion for you? How did your writing career begin?

I enjoyed writing as a child, and through high school I wrote a lot of sappy, angsty adolescent poetry—plus a few decent stories in my creative writing classes. I also kept diaries. But after college I stopped writing, getting more into the arts, like photography, drawing, pottery and such. It wasn’t until I started making up stories for my kids that I decided to write them down, and my writing career began. My first sale was a poem to an online children’s magazine. Eventually I sold several stories to Highlights, and a few to other kids’ magazines such as Scholastic Scope and Pockets. Tree House in a Storm is my first book publication.
Tell us about Tree House in a Storm. Set in 1965, the story is about 2 siblings who build a tree house by themselves. To the, it’s a kingdom, but their reign is cut short when Hurricane Betsy blows through and their tree house becomes one of its victims. It’s a story of loss, hope, and resiliency, and has a surprising and happy ending.

What age group is this story for?

It’s geared to school age children ages 5-10.

What inspired you to write it?

Although it is fiction, the story was inspired by my memories of living through Hurricane Betsy in 1965, as a child growing up in New Orleans. My big brother was only 7 when he built a playhouse—more like a shack, but to him and me it was a palace. It had to be knocked down before the hurricane hit, and I never forgot his grief at losing it. I cried along with him.

People can learn so much from your book. Please tell us about some of the themes that you touch upon.

This book is perfect for teaching about issues surrounding natural disaster, because it touches on themes of disaster preparedness, fear, loss, community and family support, and especially hope and resiliency.

For homeschooling parents, such as myself, we are always looking for the best curricula, workbooks, supplements and subjects to best teach our children. How can a parent use your book to teach their child?

To aid in this lesson, you can download and print a free Teacher’s Guide from my website. You can also print several fun, “extended activities” related to the book, including a crossword puzzle, word search, maze, find-the-differences, draw-your-own-treehouse, and coloring pages. The latter two activities are created from my illustrator’s original sketches.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more? My website is http://www.rachelleburk.com/. Click on the picture of the book cover to get to the teacher’s guide and activities. You will also find a “photo history” that includes pictures of my brother’s playhouse, my childhood home in 1965, and my house in 2005 after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

In what forms is your book available? Is it available in e-book, hard cover or traditional paperback, or all?

It is published in hard cover by Stemmer House Publishers.

Where can readers purchase your books and how much do they cost?

The list price is $16.95, but both Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com sell it at a discount. I also sell discounted autographed copies through my website.

I have read that a portion of the proceeds for Tree House in a Storm will benefit two different disaster relief organizations. What prompted you to do that?

When Hurricane Katrina hit my home town, I saw the book as an opportunity to help survivors of Katrina and other natural disasters. My publisher agreed to partner with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans, and the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey, to donate a portion of book sales to these relief organizations. I chose Habitat because of the work they are doing to rebuild New Orleans. I got involved with the Red Cross in a rather roundabout way: In response to Katrina, a group of professional clowns started a nonprofit organization called Red Nose Response. The intent was for clowns to use their talent for making kids smile, by entertaining in shelters after a natural disaster. Being a clown AND native of New Orleans, of course I joined. The hitch was that the Red Cross requires all shelter volunteers to go through their special training, so I joined the organization. I admire the work they do in responding to natural disasters. Coincidentally, my mother was a Red Cross volunteer nurse and worked in the shelter during Betsy and other hurricanes.

If someone wished to donate to the above organizations, how can they do that?

My website has links to their websites. From there, you can donate directly to the organizations. Buying my book through their sites also gives them a donation from the book sale.

The illustrations in your book are wonderful. Did you have any input into how you wanted the drawings to be done?

Although the illustrator, Rex Schneider, was chosen solely by my publisher, Rex and I communicated quite a bit during the process. I acquired photos of Hurricane Betsy from the Corps of Engineers archives, which I sent to him. The photos helped him draw accurate pictures of the time and place. His style really captures the feel of the 1960s, like the “Dick and Jane” series of my youth. Also, quite by accident, we realized we had a mutual love of frogs, and as a little inside joke he hid frogs in nearly all the illustrations. I think kids will have fun finding them!

What's next for you? Is there anything else that you are involved in?

I recently completed a children’s biography about an astonishing blind painter named Esref Armagan, which I’ve submitted to a few publishers. Also, wanting to give back in some way to the online writing community, I created a web page of writing resources. You can link to it from my website or go directly to http://www.resourcesforchildrenswriters.blogspot.com/. There is even a growing section of links for children. Besides that, I’m busy providing critiques for other children’s writers, and next month I will teach a free workshop at my library about writing and publishing children’s literature.

Is there anything else that you would like to add or share?

So many others have helped me on this long road to publication. I’m very grateful to my critique groups, as well as to countless members of online writing communities.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to our readers today. Good luck in all of your future endeavors. Please check out this story by Rachelle Burk.

It’s my pleasure, Renee. Thank you for the opportunity to share with your readers.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New book review for Kevin Collier and his book Professor Horace Cryptozoologist

Joining us today is Kevin Scott Collier, author of the picture book Professor Horace, Cryptozoologist, for children. We’re going to talk to Kevin about his new book and get to know him a little better.


I was very interested in reviewing Professor Horace, Cryptozoologist. I was curious to read what it was about. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to solve cryptograms. I also have a zoology degree with a minor in chemistry. So, I figured that this story was going to be about solving a mystery about animals. I was close. Cryptozoology is the study of hidden animals which fall outside of the contemporary zoological catagory. Which means-myths and magical creatures. Professor Horace, Cryptozoologist, is about a man who travels all around the world learning more about legends and myths. For example; Big Foot, leprechauns, Loch Ness, Aliens, etc.... To be honest, I have heard of a few of these myths and legends, but reading this book also brought to my attention a few that I haven't heard of before. The curiosity of Professor Horace leads him to search out and find some of these legendary creatures, and what he finds is that not only are they real, but they are not as horrible as they are made out to be. He believes that they just don't want to be found and that is why they are rarely seen. Then he disappears, taking all evidence with him of his adventures and the creatures he has seen, becoming a myth and legend himself.

This book was published based on what experts believe was the journey of Professor Horace and his exclusive meetings with creatures during his interest in Cryptozoology. If you are a believer of Cryptozoology or not, the legends do make for interesting reading. I must say that the story was very interesting and put a fun twist on a topic that brings up so many questions. More information about this topic can be found at http://professorhorace.blogspot.com/ You will find it very interesting. Kevin also was the illustrator for this book and he did a wonderful job. On each page were drawings of some mythical creatures and what I loved the most was an index at the end of the book which explained more about each creature and where they could be found. This story was unique and different. I liked the way Kevin weaved the tale to make the story light and fun. This is also a rhyming book, which makes the story easy to remember. Check out the many books that Kevin wrote and/or illustrated. Very creative, Kevin. Great job!


Welcome, Kevin. It’s great to have you with us.
Great to be here!

Please tell our readers a bit about yourself.
I'm Art Director for a daily newspaper for my day job, and evenings I write and illustrate children's books. I'm married to an author, too. Also, I will be appearing in weekly drawing segments in the upcoming new season of the internationally broadcast KICKS Club TV show.

How did your writing career begin?
I wrote a short story for a niece, it caught the attention of an Indiana publisher, they asked me to expand the tale into a book, and I signed the contract and my first book was published. It happened really fast.

Tell us about Professor Horace, Cryptozoologist.
It's a fun children's picture book for kids about a Professor who travels the globe meeting cryptids, and mythical creatures.

What age group is this book for?
I'd say 5-8.

This book is a rhyming book. What inspired you to write it?
I just thought it would be fun, as kids are curious, and like creatures of legends, and I have a fascination with cryptozoology.

In what forms is your book available? Is it available in e-book, hard cover or traditional paperback, or all?
Paperback and ebook.

Tell us about the other books that you have written and or are working on.
I'm always illustrating books for other authors, but the one book I wrote and illustrated this year is about a whale that can hardly be heard. "Whispering Wally" will be a picture book published by 4RV Publishing before Christmas, and it's a gentle tale kids and parents should adore.

For homeschool parents, such as myself, we are always looking for the best curriculums, workbooks, supplements and subjects to best teach our children. How can Professor Horace, Cryptozoologist, help educate children?
Whether crypids are real or not, there is an educational aspect as to the history of legends and how they came to be. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, the leading homeschool magazine in the nation, highly recommended it. It also received high marks on many homeschool blogs, too.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
There's a web page for Professor Horace, http://professorhorace.blogspot.com/

Where can readers purchase your books and how much do they cost?
The best way to locate all my books is just feed my name, Kevin Scott Collier, into Amazon. The titles will all pop up. Most books are in the $10 range.

What's next for you? Is there anything else that you are involved in?
The video shoots for KICKS Club TV are still ongoing, as a full new season is 26 half hour episodes. I may only appear on there for a few minutes a program, but a lot goes into segments, and my son and his friends also appear in many activity clips, too. I also illustrate Splish the Frog, the reading mascot for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, too. So, I'm involved in a lot of things.

Tell us about how your association with KICKS Club TV got started.
I'd watched the show on occasion, and wrote to them regarding illustrating a book based on their puppet named Elmer. Pastor Kim Robinson liked the idea, so she wrote the book, I drew it. One thing led to another and I ended up on the program.

You are not only an author, but an illustrator. How did you get started illustrating books? And how many books have you illustrated so far?
I've drawn pictures since age 5, and when I stumbled into the book market, illustrating books just unfolded and fast. I've illustrated over 100 books in the past 4 years.
Has writing and/or illustrating, always been a passion for you?
Yes, but an enjoyable one. It's not like I was ever driven to be an author. I did, however, want to make a career in art. I enjoy being both an author and illustrator, but it's part of my life, not my life.

I have read that the proceeds from sales for this book go to St. John's Lutheran School, Grand Haven, MI. Can you tell us more about that?
Yes, it's not a lot, but it helps. Christian schools are always strapped for cash. Any help we can give is good.
Majority of your books have a Christian theme and come from the heart. There is something that can always be shared and learned. Can you tell us about why you chose to write in this direction?
It's simply what inspires me. My faith drives everything I do. I've always said, that if you want to make an impression on a reader's mind, you have to touch their heart, first.

Tell us more about what Cryptozoology is and why you chose to write about the topic?
Simply because I find it curious. I mean, the reality of it is until they find the remains of the Loch Ness Monster, or a Bigfoot, it's all left up to the imagination. A re cryptids real? I don't know. But, the stories behind them are fascinating.

Is there anything else that you would like to add or share?
Write from the heart. Draw with a smile. That's it.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to our readers today. Good luck in all of your future endeavors. Please check out this book by Kevin Scott Collier.

I hope everyone learned more about Kevin and his wonderful children's picture book. All my best, Renee Hand.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New review and interview for Randy Kazandy

Hello Everyone,
Here is the review and interview for Randy Kazandy, Where Are Your Glasses? by Rhonda Fischer. I hope everyone enjoys.


I had the pleasure of reading the new children’s book Randy Kazandy, Where Are Your Glasses? by Rhonda Fischer. I love stories that touch you in a way that makes you look into yourself. I must say that this children’s book is one of my favorites so far. I sat down my boys and we read the book together. The art work was phenomenal; it caught my children’s attention immediately and all I heard was, “That is so cute. Look at that!” The story of Randy Kazandy is about a boy named Randy who has a hard time seeing; he walks in circles and falls down when he plays, so his mom takes him to see Dr. Bee, an eye doctor. Low and behold, Randy needs glasses. This is where the adventure begins. The problem is not that Randy needs glasses, but that he doesn’t want to wear them. He tries everything to either hide them or get rid of them. Luckily, his mother has several extra pairs available, just in case.

The story is told in rhyme and is truly delightful. In each page there is a pair of glasses hidden in the picture, which took us a little bit to find in some of them. Randy reminds me a lot of my youngest son who hides things really well and all it takes is one second for your back to be turned and—it’s gone. The story made me laugh and I could relate to Randy’s adventure, having glasses myself. When I was younger I always felt silly wearing them. I didn't like the way they looked or felt on my face, but then after I got used to them, I realized that I needed them to see because wthout them my vision was blurred. I had to accept wearing glasses before anybody else could. If people were truly my friends then they would accept my new look. Building confidence and believing in yourself is something that takes time. Randy had to accept his new look and know that inside he didn't change, but on the outside his glasses expressed more of his true personality. He was a young, lively child, full of heart and wonder. Appearance is not the most important part of life, it is the depths of our souls that tell us who we really are and that is what people love about us.
Rhonda does a wonderful job creating a story that children can understand and relate to. The message that it departs is that it is okay to wear glasses. When Randy saw that his dad wore glasses too, it made him feel accepted and proud to be able to emulate his father and be just like him. Randy needed to realize that it didn't matter what people thought or that he looked a little different. It is more important to be able to see instead of missing out of life’s many adventures because you can't see. The great part about glasses is that you can choose the style that fits you and your face the best. You can choose any color that is fun and will make you happy, and that is what Randy gets to do. He gets to make these glasses his own because they are apart of him, and how special and fun is that? Two thumbs up!!!

Joining us today is Rhonda Fischer, author of the Randy Kazandy Series for children. We’re going to talk to Rhonda about this new series and how parents or teachers can use this wonderful story to help build confidence in their child.

Welcome, Rhonda. It’s great to have you with us.
The pleasure is mine

Please tell our readers a bit about yourself.
I have been married for 31 years and started writing when I was 18 years old in my diary. I really never stopped writing. I lived in NY and when I got married we moved to Albuquerque. I was homesick and I wrote in my happy moments and my sad moments. It was my salvation. I have 4 children grown in college.Nicholas graduated this year from Pittsburgh with an MBA, works at Heinz, and has his own business Fischer Capitol Partners. Oliver got his Masters degree from Georgetown, Washington and is taking his MCATS for medical school this week. Tim is now in Pittsburgh and Sarah at Fullerton, CA both majoring in Economics. They were my inspiration. We loved to laugh and I always wrote funny stories and poetry. Just this Christmas we were all together and I wrote poetry over the whole holiday on funny things the kids were doing, although grown up you wouldn’t know it.

How did your writing career begin?
My mother use to read to me when I was little and have us recite poetry. I still know some of the Robert Lewis Stevenson poems that I learned when I was a little girl.
I got really inspired when I was in high school. My history teacher read my stories out loud to the class. He loved my writing and would always write at the top of my essay papers “you should be a writer.”

Tell us about your Randy Kazandy Series and how it can build confidence and self esteem in children when it comes to wearing glasses?
We, as teachers, parents, grandparents, and coaches, spend most of our day setting good examples, reinforcing good behavior, and encouraging positive self-esteem.

“Randy Kazandy” is the perfect teaching tool for teachers, as Randy soars from an “alien” to a little boy who “sees the world more clearly”. Randy not only appears to be a typical little boy in your class, but a smart one, too, as he discovers that many children his age have similar sight problems and also seek out Dr. Bee’s help. Through his antics to hide his “specs”, we find him very clever as he tests his mother’s patience. As the story develops, we find Randy’s mom and the eye doctor working hand in hand to help Randy accept this new challenge. Mom did know her rambunctious little boy, and her plan was set in place to outsmart him.
Parents and teachers are role models for children, so when Randy’s dad also needs to wear glasses, Randy begins to accept this new adventure more opened mindedly. “Now I look a bit more like you” is all Randy needs to turn the corner. “I’m proud of you, son”, are just the words that Randy requires, as the break through to “see” the world more clearly. The characters in this story afford an instructor the opportunity to discuss several issues with their class: developing self esteem, a child’s fear of being different, parents as role models, and how to turn a situation from trauma to acceptance. The illustrations typify an everyday little boy, freckles and all, but the real beauty of this story is the theme of loving yourself. Teachers, parents, and grand- parents have numerous chances to reinforce this in their classrooms and in their homes as they read about Randy. Randy Kazandy is the perfect vehicle to encourage good discussion among your students and to practice role playing, demonstrating how people can be cruel or kind, closed minded or open minded, and how to develop strategies to cope with these issues in the classroom, on the play ground, or in the neighborhood

What age group is this series for?
(3-9) although parents and grandparents love the story. I had one 80 year old have me sign two books and send them to her. She lived in New York.. She loved the book.

This book is a rhyming book. What inspired you to write it?
Sitting around a fireplace on a cold and wintry night we told stories of the past to the kids. Well, Randy Jacque (sister's husband) told us about when he was a little boy he had to get glasses and we laughed and laughed at all the funny things he did with his glasses. He actually got kicked out of boy scouts because he couldn't sit still. He did have ADD as a child. I wrote the story about it the next day. I actually wrote the story about 10 years ago.
In what forms is your book available? Is it available in e-book, hard cover or traditional paperback, or all?
Hardback at bookstores and Amazon, also on the Randy Kazandy website.
Readers also have a chance to get links or CD’s of you reading the books. Tell us more about that.
I am developing those now. I will be recording the story of Randy Kazandy with sound effects and the Randy Kazandy Time song in the near future.
Guardian Angel Publishing is selling eBooks and iphone versions of the book.

Tell us about the other books that you have written.
I do have the next couple of books in development in the Randy Kazandy series and many ideas. Randy will have an older brother Andy and baby sister Vandy. They also have dog named Stitch. Other books I have written are The Legends of Sunhawk, The Hungry Man, Crooked Granny Grunt, and Orange Autumn.

For homeschool parents, such as myself, we are always looking for the best curriculums, workbooks, supplements and subjects to best teach our children. What makes the Randy Kazandy Series stand out from the rest?
Twenty five percent of children need glasses. They need a hero. When I do assemblies the kids all make homemade glasses so everyone in the room has them on when I read the story including me with my huge glasses.. I put money glasses on and ask the kids, how do you think Randy can make money, I put on Christmas glasses and ask the kids which holiday is it now for Randy, and they guess, then Mexican, and I play the music for each pair of glasses. I have about 15 different types of fun glasses, even Arizona cactus glasses. They love it. They love the alien glasses the best; they usually get a standing ovation. Then we talk about loving ourselves and they give themselves big bear hugs and I would say if some says you have too many freckles what will you say? They all yell out loud, “I love being me!” What if someone says your hair is to curly, what will you say? They all yell out “I love being me!” and so forth. The lesson of self acceptance is learned through the Randy Kazandy Time song and through fun, laughter and hearing the story in rhyme.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
My website is www.randykazandy.com or www.whimpublishing.com
If you go to the Randy home page at the bottom are blogs, twitters, utubes and many other links for Randy. Free games are on the site and a story about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan who had to wear glasses. Also, a page of famous people who wore glasses like Orville Wright, who crashed planes many times because he couldn’t see, and Ben Franklin who invented bifocals are shared.

Where can readers purchase your books and how much do they cost?
The book is $19.95 and is offered in a deluxe hardcover. The book is of the highest quality and lead free. It can be purchased on the RandyKazandy and WhimPublishing website, Amazon.com, Follett Library Resources, Borders. Barnes & Noble online, Halo Publishing or calling 949.713.5791 or 877.852-6276 for your autographed copy.

Has writing always been a passion for you?
In the biggest way. Expressions through words are my music. It is like the air I breathe. No matter what job you have, whether you’re an intellectual or blue collar worker, when we hurt as people and need strength we seek out words. We reach to our deepest depth of our souls to try to feel better and heal. Someone else’s words that went through the same trials and tribulations that we have experienced happy or sad can help heal us. We all go to our great authors for strength.
I have read that you also write poems and are a musician. What is your favorite poem? And what is your favorite instrument?
Could I say my own poems? Yikes! How about Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Up into the Cherry Tree. That poem has been the story of my life. Little did I know that everything in that poem happened to me? After watching the movie The Secret, I now believe we create our own reality. It is also on the Randy Kazandy website. My mom had us memorize poems as a child. We practically lived at the library growing up. My favorite instrument… is one that someone else is playing. On a serious note. I think it is the violin, harp and cello with the violin at the top of the list as I relate to it and feel the vibrations. It is a communication that mollifies my inner peace. My son is a violinist and daughter a harpist. I never got asked as a child what instrument I would like to play. We had a piano that my mother bought for $25 dollars and had to work in a sauerkraut factory so we could take lessons. We had a piano and that’s what my sisters and I had to take. Did you know that they use to mix sauerkraut with their bare feet? I love my mother for all her sacrifices and giving us things she couldn’t have when she was a child.
The illustrations in your book are phenomenal and really do your story justice. How did you meet your illustrator?
When I hired Jill Ronsley as my editor and designer for Randy Kazandy she had a list of illustrators. Jill was recommended through the SCBWI website that we all belong to as being a fabulous editor. She has many awards on children’s books that she has edited. I wanted someone who was highly experienced and knew exactly what she was doing as I wanted a top-notch book. She had just gotten Kim Sponaugles name but hadn’t worked with her on any projects until Randy Kazandy. The three of us worked furiously on the project. I learned bountiful information about editing working with Jill and learned how to inspect illustrations through Kim’s keen eyes. We had so much fun on the project seeing it through till completion. Kim’s ability to depict Randy from the photo I gave her was amazing. The illustrations pop out of the page and she did a wonderful job. I am very pleased with the work she did. She is very talented and a pleasure to work with. Also David Broughton who wore many hats, believed wholeheartly from the start along with all of us that Randy Kazandy, Where Are Your Glasses? would be a great success.

What's next for you? Is there anything else that you are involved in?
The second and third books are in development now and I am working on a very funny poetry book for children. If a person comes to me and tells me of their happiness or sadness, I can write. I can write until wee hours of the night. Experiences of life are what I love to write about. True stories with a twist of fun. Kind of what Hollywood does to a movie.

Is there anything else that you would like to add or share?
I want children to all look into the mirror, and adults too, to look at that beautiful person looking back at them and simply love being you. Never lose sight of that. Never! I love you all. Kids can email Randy Kazandy live from the website and tell him about their new glasses. Also I am staring a blogtalkradio program called “Children’s Voice” that will be starting next month. Children and adults who wear or wore glasses as a child. I want you on my show. Also Opticians and Ophthalmologists will be interviewed. Randy Kazandy is a real person. The last name has been changed but he had eye surgery when he was a baby and had to wear eye glasses at the tender age of 17 months. What you read in this book really happened and he went through 150 pair of eye glasses as a child. The real Dr. Bee in the story still lives in Webster NY and at the ripe old age of 85 still remember Randy and said “ he was my unforgettable patient!” I hope you all enjoy reading the story as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Thank you for this lovely time together. Rhonda Fischer

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to our readers today. You are truly an inspiration to others. Good luck in all of your future endeavors. Please check out this book by Rhonda Fischer.
A sample poem from Rhonda's book of poetry for children that she is working on will be posted on my website under the writers showcase page this weekend. Please check it out. I am looking forward to reading her book when it is finished.