Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Interview with Children's #Book #Author Galia Oz #dogtrouble



Galia Oz was born in Kibbutz Hulda, Israel, in 1964. She studied film and Television in Tel Aviv University 1984-87.

Her award winning series of 5 books titled DOG TROUBLE was published in France, Spain and Brazil – and recently in the US by CROWN BOOKS Random House. The series is a steady seller in Israel for over 10 years (selling over 150,000 copies). 

Oz has directed several documentaries, all screened in international film festivals, and in Israeli leading television channels.

Over the years, Galia Oz has been meeting thousands of readers in Israeli elementary schools, and taught creative writing and classic children's literature to kids in public libraries.

Galia Oz is married and has two kids, a dog and a cat, and they all live in Ramat Hasharon, just outside Tel-Aviv.


Thanks for this interview, Galia.  I’ve always admired children book authors (why I started this blog).  When did you determine that writing for children was for you?

Galia: Thank you for hosting me.

I never made an informed decision to write for children. I believe that writing is not something a person decides to do but something that happens to him, sort of like falling in love. If you have no choice and the story is boiling inside of you, waiting to escape, you will inevitably be a writer. You can perfect the technique, you can learn how to polish it, but underneath it all lays a rather irrational impulse.

Like the most of us, I probably have some unresolved issues with my childhood. Writing is my way to fix it, I guess. I've invented this world where I become an assertive and happy girl like Julie, the protagonist of the series.

What was the inspiration behind your children’s book for young readers, Dog Trouble!?

Galia: I wanted to write for children in the tradition of the books I grew up on, which had strong characters like Huckleberry Finn or Anne Shirley. I was looking for a voice that challenged the reader, that addressed the child's soul without preaching morality. Oh, and I wanted to be funny!

Part of it was to allow the protagonists to be imperfect, to fearlessly give up the fairy-tale ending and make place for a more true to life ending, and not to have the adults be the ones to put all the pieces together. And to show that they, too, have their weaknesses.

I cannot imagine my life without good realistic literature. Children deserve to read such literature, too, and contrary to our fears, it will only build their confidence. They get the opportunity to open a book and say to themselves: "Hey, I'm not the only one in trouble. The whole human race is.”

How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience?  Are you around kids?  Are you a kid at heart?

Galia: In Israel, my books are quite well known, and in the last ten years I have been trekking across the country to meet with my readers in public schools and libraries. My two children are grown up now, but we still hang out and have laughs together. And I have six little nieces and nephews who come to visit and I read them piles of Dr. Seuss.

So I'm surrounded by children, but I never try to become a child when I write. I listen only to my strict inner judge. I do not know how to placate or even imagine an audience when I write. But yes, I'm probably a kid at heart. So I don’t have to make an effort to keep up with my readers.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Galia: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. A feminist hero, a fighter for justice, independent and strong and so funny! To this day, this book has a spell on me.

What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books?

Galia: Put the best of yourself into the book, and don’t fake it. Your readers are sharp and perceptive.

What are your goals for the future?  More children’s books?

Galia: At the moment I'm working on a picture book, the central character of which is a cat. The book revolves around the philosophical question of how we can love and be so enamored by our cats, despite their indifference toward us. Unrequited love is always a good subject, right?
About the Book:

Title: DOG TROUBLE!
Author: Galia Oz
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 144
Genre: Children's book for young readers, ages 8-12

BOOK BLURB:
Readers who have graduated from Junie B. Jones and Ivy & Bean will fall head over heels for feisty Julie and her troublesome new dog.
 
Julie has only had her dog for two weeks, but she is already causing all sorts of problems. For starters, she is missing! Julie suspects the school bully Danny must be behind it. But it will take some detective work, the help of Julie’s friends, and maybe even her munchkin twin brothers to bring her new pet home.

Wonderfully sassy and endlessly entertaining, the escapades of Julie and her dog are just beginning!

Julie’s adventures have sold across the globe and been translated into five languages. Popular filmmaker and children’s author Galia Oz effortlessly captures the love of a girl and her dog.

"A funny exploration of schoolyard controversy and resolution.” –Kirkus Reviews 

"Will resonate with readers and have them waiting for more installments.” –Booklist  

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

5 Great Books for the First Day of School

The First day of school can be quite an emotional time not only for the little ones but for parents as well. I have found five cute books that will help parents and their children cope with that dreaded first day of school:


First Day Jitters (Mrs. Hartwells classroom adventures) by Julie Danneberg and illustrated by Judy Love - Everyone knows that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach just before diving into a new situation. Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn't want to start over at a new school. She doesn't know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it. With much prodding from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly pulls herself together and goes to school. She is quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton, who helps smooth her jittery transition. This charming and familiar story will delight readers with its surprise ending. Fun, energetic illustrations brighten page after page with the busy antics surrounding Sarah Jane. FIRST DAY JITTERS is an enchanting story that is sure to be treasured by anyone who has ever anticipated a first day of school.

Curious George's First Day of School by H.A. Rey -  It’s the first day of school, and Curious George has been invited to Mr. Apple’s class to be a special helper! George is just the right monkey for the job—until he starts to wreak his usual havoc, that is. Red and yellow paint makes orange, yellow and blue makes green . . . and a mixture of all the paint colors makes a big mess! Curious George and the First Day of School is a story based on H. A. and Margret Rey’s popular primate and painted in the original watercolor and charcoal style.

Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School by Herman Parish and illustrated by Lynne Avril - Amelia Bedelia is sure she will love everything about the first day of school: new friends; new teacher; her own desk; music, books, gym, art; recess and lunch. Amelia Bedelia can't wait. What could be better? School! School! Hooray for school!

The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Amy Wummer - It's the night before preschool, and a little boy named Billy is so nervous he can't fall asleep. The friends he makes the next day at school give him a reason not to sleep the next night, either: he's too excited about going back! The book's simple rhyming text and sweet illustrations will soothe any child's fears about the first day of school.

First Day of School by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell -  Anne and Lizzy Rockwell's delightful picture book series about Mrs. Madoff's class has explored some special occasions at school, including Career Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Presidents' Day. Now the respected mother-daughter writer-illustrator team is taking on another BIG day in First Day of School. Kids will understand the excitement and nervousness of the children in Mrs. Madoff’s class as they get ready for the first day of school after summer vacation. They’ve all changed a little. Nicholas has a grown-up new haircut. Jessica has learned how to make her own lunch. And Ethan has his very own house key! As the kids get into their back-to-school rituals, they know one thing for sure: this year is sure to be great!



Friday, July 7, 2017

Interview with Children's Book Author Miri Leshem-Pelly





Miri Leshem-Pelly is the author-illustrator of 14 children’s books. She’s also illustrated 14 books for other writers. When Miri isn’t writing she can be found speaking at schools, kindergartens and libraries. She is invited to do more than 200 presentations with her books per year. Miri is also a Regional Advisor for SCBWI (Society of Children’s book writers & illustrators).
Miri is represented by Olswanger Literary Agency.

Miri’s works have won awards and her illustrations have been shown on several exhibitions.
Miri lives in Israel with her husband and two children, and loves reading books and going on nature hikes.

Her latest book is Scribble & Author.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK



About the Book:

Title: SCRIBBLE & AUTHOR          
Author: Miri Leshem-Pelly
Publisher: Kane Miller Books
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book for Authors

Scribble & Author is written as a dialogue between the main character, Scribble, and the author who created her. 
Scribble's journey starts on a peaceful shore called THE BEGINNING, continues to the rough, adventurous MIDDLE, and leads finally to the gate of THE ENDING, but it’s not at all what Scribble expected… Scribble is a scribble and Author is an author, but who really gets to tell the tale?
A picture book about finding your own voice, making your own decisions, and writing your own story.
Watch the book trailer at Vimeo.

ORDER YOUR COPY:


Thanks for this interview, Miri Leshem-Pelly.  I’ve always wanted to write children’s books.  When did you determine that writing for children was for you?

I always loved books, especially picture books, and ever since my childhood I’ve been writing and drawing just for fun, as a hobby. When I was an art student I realized that illustrating children’s books is my dream. I started illustrating stories by other writers and then I thought - wait a minute. I can write too. Why don’t I illustrate my own stories? My first book as author/illustrator was published when I was 26 years old, and since then I had 14 children’s books published as an author/illustrator.

What was the inspiration behind your children’s book, Scribble & Author?

I was thinking about my self as an author and my relationships with my characters, and realized something interesting: Authors love their characters very much, but they also must put their main characters into trouble, in order to create a plot. That led me to imagine what would it be like if I could talk with a character that I’ve created. What’s going to happen to the story if the character could interact with his author? So I decided to write down this dialogue and see where it would lead me…

How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience?  Are you around kids?  Are you a kid at heart?

I’m a mother of two children, but I started writing and illustrating for kids before I became a mom. So I guess the answer is that I am still a kid at heart, and I love it!
On my role as Regional Advisor of SCBWI chapter in Israel, I get to meet many other authors and illustrators of children’s book, and I must say that most of them are truly fun people who never stopped listening to their inner child.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Oh, must I pick one? There were so many! The first one that pops to my head is Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. As a child I was very much inspired by Pippi’s courage, strength and free spirit. I also enjoyed the humor and imagination in this story.

What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books?

First, they must understand that writing a good children’s book, even a short picture book, takes a very long time. You must take it seriously and learn the craft. Join SCBWI - this is the best way to get all the professional knowledge about the craft and business sides of creating children’s books. And one last advise - join a critique group for children’s books writers. I’m part of such a group and I owe them much of my success.

What are your goals for the future?  More children’s books?

Of course! Creating picture books is my favorite activity in the world. I hope to continue doing just that as long as I can.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Children's Book Author Interview: Nancy Stewart, author of 'Mystery at Manatee Key'



Nancy Stewart has been an elementary school teacher and a professor of education.  Having lived in London for ten years, she was a consultant to the University of Cambridge. She is the author of the Bella and Britt series picture books and the authorized biography of Katrina Simpkins, a young girl whose life was forever changed by Winter, the dolphin (Guardian Angel Publishing.)  Her writing of One Pelican at a Time was featured on the PBS special, GulfWatch in 2011.  Nancy’s YA-LGBT novel will be published by Interlude Press autumn of 2017.  She is a member of the Rate Your Story organization as a critique judge.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


About the Book:

Bella and Britt love to explore along the beach and at more remote places like Manatee Key as well.  It is there that they discover a manatee smuggling ring. 

The manatees have already been netted, so the girls must act fast!  But a kidnapper snatches Bella, hustling her into their hideout.  When Britt sneaks a look in the window, she discovers that the ranger is being held, too.  Now it’s up to Britt.  But what can a single girl do?

Mystery at Manatee Key is available at Amazon


Thanks for this interview, Nancy.   I’ve always wanted to write children’s books.  When did you determine that writing for children was for you?

As a university professor, I always wrote academic material; papers, journal articles and such.  I also taught courses in Children’s and Young Adult Literature.  But it was not until about ten years ago that I decided to put the two together and write my own books.  And I’ve never looked back!

What was the inspiration behind your children’s book, Mystery at Manatee Key?

Actually, this book is the fourth in the Bella and Britt Series, all published by Guardian Angel Publishing.  I’ve always wanted Britt to shine and take the lead in one of the books, and this one is it.  She single-handedly must figure out a way to extricate Bella and the beach ranger from a group of smugglers.  Also, living in Florida, I have a penchant for manatees; such timid creatures that need much protection from all the way-too-fast boats and Jet Ski traffic filling our waters.

How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience?  Are you around kids?  Are you a kid at heart?

I eavesdrop (in the nicest way possible) and would recommend this habit for all authors and aspiring authors!  Listening to kids interact with each other and with adults is a necessity for those of us who need a child’s voice when writing for them.  A kid at heart?  No, but I do have great empathy with children and respect their dignity, and that position carries me through my books.

What was your favorite book as a child?

My favorite picture book when I was a small child was Robert McCloskey’s Make Way   for Ducklings.  I’ve always adored animals of all sorts, and this book spoke to me in a visceral manner that I still recall.

What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books?

Read. Read. Read.  Go to the library and check out all the books of the genre that interests you, and digest them.  Join a writers’ critique group.  Writing is a solitary vocation, and interacting with other authors is so very important.  And join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.)  This is our professional association and is rich in information, support, and writing wisdom.  Do remember, though, that as we grow in our craft, our appetite may change from one genre to another.  This is so typical, and it happened to me!

What are your goals for the future?  More children’s books?

I have a young adult novel titled Beulah Land, which takes place in the Missouri Ozarks. The seventeen-year-old main character battles an out-to-get-her villain, a dog-fighting ring, and her mother, who harbors a secret that could be deadly to her daughter.  The book is being published by Interlude Press this coming autumn.  A totally different genre than picture books, I am very proud of it and of its message of staying strong and true to oneself, a hallmark of the growing-up process. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Book Blast: Mystery at Manatee Key by Nancy Stewart


We welcome Nancy Stewart's MYSTERY AT MANATEE KEY Book Blast today!




Title: MYSTERY AT MANATEE KEY
Author: Nancy Stewart
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 36
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Bella and Britt love to explore along the beach and at more remote places like Manatee Key as well.  It is there that they discover a manatee smuggling ring. 

The manatees have already been netted, so the girls must act fast!  But a kidnapper snatches Bella, hustling her into their hideout.  When Britt sneaks a look in the window, she discovers that the ranger is being held, too.  Now it’s up to Britt.  But what can a single girl do?

Mystery at Manatee Key is available at Amazon

 


Book Excerpt:
 
A dark animal circled slowly in the shallow water of Manatee Key. Walking closer, Bella whispered. “A baby manatee. And it has a patch of white near its snout.” Britt frowned. “But where’s the mother? It must be hungry. We should tell the ranger.”
“Yeah,” Bella said. “This one’s too young to be without her mom. Let’s go.”
The friends worked their way through the jungle-like brush back to their bicycles. Britt took the lead. “It’s really hot, but we gotta make time.” 
After a twenty minute ride down dusty paths leading to the main road in their coastal town, they reached the ranger station. “It’s quiet in here today,” Bella said.
 The ranger’s assistant glanced up from his reading. “Hi, girls. Can I help you?”
“We need to see the ranger and report an orphaned manatee,” Bella said.
He frowned. “She hasn’t come in today, and that’s not like her. I’ve called her phones. Nobody answered. And no one’s seen her. Have you by any chance?”
“No,” they answered at the same time.
 “Well, it’s a mystery,” he said. “I won’t call the police yet. But I’m getting worried. Now, about that manatee. Can you take me to it?”
 “Sure,” Britt said. “If you can bring us back to town. We rode our bikes here.” He nodded. “Of course.”


Nancy Stewart has been an elementary school teacher and a professor of education.  Having lived in London for ten years, she was a consultant to the University of Cambridge. She is the author of the Bella and Britt series picture books and the authorized biography of Katrina Simpkins, a young girl whose life was forever changed by Winter, the dolphin (Guardian Angel Publishing.)  Her writing of One Pelican at a Time was featured on the PBS special, GulfWatch in 2011.  Nancy’s YA-LGBT novel will be published by Interlude Press autumn of 2017.  She is a member of the Rate Your Story organization as a critique judge.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK




About the Author


Nancy Stewart has been an elementary school teacher and a professor of education.  Having lived in London for ten years, she was a consultant to the University of Cambridge. She is the author of the Bella and Britt series picture books and the authorized biography of Katrina Simpkins, a young girl whose life was forever changed by Winter, the dolphin (Guardian Angel Publishing.)  Her writing of One Pelican at a Time was featured on the PBS special, GulfWatch in 2011.  Nancy’s YA-LGBT novel will be published by Interlude Press autumn of 2017.  She is a member of the Rate Your Story organization as a critique judge.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK



http://www.pumpupyourbook.com

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: Squirrel Superhighway by Anna C. Morrison

Title: Squirrel Superhighway
Author: Anna C. Morrison
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 16
Genre:  Children's Picture Book

Squirrel Superhighway features a dog on a self-discovery mission who is surrounded by many graceful squirrels. This is a vocabulary booster in a series of feel-good stories for children of all ages and those who read with and to them. The story includes squirrels, more squirrels, even more squirrels, and a dog who wants to be a squirrel!
 
Are you ready to get your child excited about faith? “I Have Faith” puts your child right in the footsteps of Danny as he begins to learn about faith. Danny and his older brother have been wanting a dog, but both know their parents don’t think they are ready for a dog. When Danny’s mom begins teaching him what the bible says about faith, he puts his faith into action. After praying and releasing his faith for a dog, doubt and even his best friend keep telling him that he will never get a dog. Over time Danny never loses his faith in the promises of God and finds that God is faithful and that faith works. Come along on this journey that is a real life event that took place in the author’s life as a child.
This book has great illustrations that support a wonderful story about finding faith in God. As you are teaching your child about principals in the bible; this book will help you teach faith. What a wonderful experience it is when we can see our children begin to develop their faith in God, and grow from a tiny mustard seed to a firmly planted tree. The back of the book has a parent/child discussion which will help children gain understanding in faith and some scriptures that Danny’s mom used to get him excited about faith.

For More Information

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Review:

Before I begin my review, I want to give praise to Guardian Angel Publishing for a fantastic book cover. This was what made me want to read this book. 

While this is supposed to be a faith-based children's picture book, it can be read by all denominations or even those who aren't so faith-oriented. No preachy anything in it; just feel good stuff. 

Duke is a cute little doggie who is infatuated with squirrels. Not only did they seem to be everywhere, Duke imagined what it would like to be a care-free squirrel and wanted to be one himself. But Duke becomes frustrated because he can't run on the tree limbs like squirrels do and he couldn't understand their language.  No matter how much he tries communicating with them, they didn't listen.  They just kept scurrying around leaving Duke frustrated and alone. Finally he discovers a game that he could play with them and he was happy again!

I loved this book and give it 5 rainbows.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Children's Book Author Interview with 'Squirrel Superhighway' Anna C. Morrison





Anna C. Morrison is an author of children’s books, including Silly Moments and Green Gooey Goop, with many more to follow.  She is also an adjunct professor for multiple colleges and universities, both face-to-face and online.  While she instructs various levels of English composition, she also teaches classes on literature, film, feature writing, and technical writing, among others.  In addition, she has worked with Adapt Courseware as a writing consultant on three video course projects, including college skills and composition.  Anna received her MFA in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, and her BA in English, Creative Writing, from California State University, San Bernardino.  Anna is an active member of SCBWI and is available for book signings.  She lives in Southern California with her family and pets.   

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK  |  GOODREADS


About the Book:

Squirrel Superhighway features a dog on a self-discovery mission who is surrounded by many graceful squirrels. This is a vocabulary booster in a series of feel-good stories for children of all ages
and those who read with and to them. The story includes squirrels, more squirrels, even more squirrels, and a dog who wants to be a squirrel!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble



Thanks for this interview, Anna.  I’ve always wanted to write children’s books.  When did you determine that writing for children was for you?

Thank you for interviewing me!  Writing for children occurred to me when I was an undergrad in countless English classes, and I realized that most of the books I loved were written for children or young adults.  When I wrote, since I was on the creative writing track, I also found myself writing for children and for young adults.  Childhood and adolescence is when the most brain development is occurring, and the life experiences in this timeframe shape us the most.  These are the memories that we carry with us into adulthood, so they should be not only educational but inspirational, so that we always strive to be better than we were the day before, which is my personal goal.  Children know this intuitively, as their job is to learn and grow, and I believe this is reflected in my work.

What was the inspiration behind your children’s book, Squirrel Superhighway: It’s Good to be a Dog?

Squirrel Superhighway started in the back of my mind when I lived in Lytle Creek, California, with my young son and our animals.  My little dog used to love the squirrels who lived in the trees on and around our property.  They would chatter among themselves and scurry about on the highway that they created for themselves through the trees and on the telephone poles.  They were constantly harvesting pine cones for their seeds.  Bits and pieces of pine cones were scattered everywhere, and they even would throw them sometimes so that, just out of nowhere, a pine cone would come flying down in front of me.  One even hit a visitor on the head!  These squirrels were great characters, and my dog, I think, even wanted to be a squirrel sometimes, from the way he was fascinated by them.

How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience?  Are you around kids?  Are you a kid at heart?

While my son is no longer young like when I used to read him picture books every night, and there are no other children in my life, I am probably a perpetual child.  I am always looking for opportunities to learn and grow, and I see beauty in everything I can, which are childlike qualities.  I think of what makes me smile or laugh and try it out on the page.  My inner child directs me.

What was your favorite book as a child?

There are so many that it’s difficult to select one.  I was a precocious reader, and I could read when I was four years old, which is when I started Kindergarten.  I already could read and was developing my skills when other children were still learning the alphabet.  I zipped through the reading selections offered at school and spent two or three days a week at the local library well into my teenage years, often surprising new librarians while the ones who knew me well just smiled.  While I enjoyed picture books early on, I quickly graduated to longer works, and I enjoyed the classics as well as contemporary works.  I devoured the Little House series.  I especially loved mysteries, and still do, such as Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden, and I even read all of Agatha Christie’s works before I was ten.  I have a wall of inspiration in my home, and she is figured prominently.

The one book I remember reading over and over again, always with a box of tissues next to me, was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.  First, it empowered me because here was an author with my first name, which told young me that I could also be an author.  Second, it was about animals, and I love animals more than I love most anything else.  Third, it was about protecting animals and educating people about how animals feel and that we should treat them kindly, and this was such an important lesson to impart that I couldn’t imagine anything more important to teach people when I was this age, which was probably between ten and twelve.  After a few years, I set this book aside, and I don’t like to read things that make me cry anymore, but the lesson—and the desire to continue to share this lesson—stayed with me. 

What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books?

If people would like to write children’s books, they should definitely read children’s books first, and they should read a lot of them.  What is it that they like the best?  Is it the humor, the art, the word play?  They should discover what style appeals to them specifically and work on developing that in their own work with their own personal approach to the genre.

What are your goals for the future?  More children’s books?

I do have more children’s picture books in mind, specifically more in the “It’s Good to be…” series, and the next one in this series will focus on marine birds.  I love to walk in a bird sanctuary near my home, and there are many migrating seabirds, along with birds who live there year-round, and they interact in fascinating ways.  Since this is a waystation for birds from around the world, and some stop for a little while and then move on, while others choose to remain, it seems that the theme here is that everyone needs a home, even if it is only temporary, and it should be safe and secure.  Children can relate to that, and so can I, and believe the birds express it well, so it is the subject of my newest work in progress.  Thank you for having me for this interview!