Who Is the Real Enemy? – Alien Infection by Darrell Bain. Book Review.

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Click here to buy Alien Infection

Alien Infection is a science fiction/suspense novel for adults. A lab technician is accidentally stuck with the needle while drawing blood from a dying man who has been brought in by Homeland Security. At first he is worried that he may have contracted AIDS or some other disease but he soon discovers it is much more complicated and terrifying.

Darrell Bain creates a believable protagonist, Mike Brandon. We may not agree with all of his choices but we definitely understand them. When it becomes apparent that there is more going on than Homeland Security rounding up threats to America’s safety, Mike has to make some difficult and heartbreaking decisions.

The author puts just enough tech and medical jargon to make the book professional without bogging down the plot with unnecessary details. He uses all the skills necessary to create a fast-paced yet comfortable read. Darrell Bain’s experiences working in the medical field and as a Vietnam vet give the sickness, injury, and death scenes as well as the gun-fights authenticity.

I don’t want to give spoilers. The book is an enjoyable and suspenseful read. From the title, you can ascertain that aliens are involved but they are quite likely not what you expect.

This is definitely an adult book as there are some fairly explicit sexual scenes, not erotica, but for mature readers.

A lot of fun that also gets the reader thinking.

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A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

Darrell Bain was interviewed on this blog December 7, 2016.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Tough Guy with a Soft Heart: Author Darrell Bain Three Random Questions Interview

Darrell Bain writes humor, adventure, mystery, science fiction, suspense and thriller novels for adults, as well as short story collections. He has about 50 books in print! Yes, that’s not a misprint.

Darrell Bain: Actually, it is a misprint. I did have more than 60 books in print, but a few months ago I withdrew all my books from one publisher, about 20 of them. Some I am going to allow to remain permanently out of print, another publisher has picked u a dozen or so of them, and I’ve self-published two and will have two more self-published within a month or so. A few I am looking for another publisher for.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Darrell. According to Amazon, you have published eight books in 2016 in the year is only half over. That’s more than one book a month. How is this possible?

Bain: All but two of these are re-edited and re-published again with new covers by Twilight Times Books.

Ferrante: Do you work on more than one book at a time? 

Bain: Yes, most of the time I am working on two or three at once.

Ferrante: Do you get feedback on your books before they are published?

Bain: On some now, but in the past, no.

Ferrante: How much do you write in a day?

Bain: Right now I’m lucky to get a page done because of back problems. I’m having surgery in about 6-8 weeks, the sooner the better. Prior to that, I wrote until I got tired, usually about 5,000 words but sometimes as much as 10 or 15,000 words a day.

Ferrante: You’ve worked in the medical field, do you draw upon this in your novels? Which ones? You’re also a Vietnam veteran. How does this affect the topics you choose and your style of writing?

Bain: Yes. Medics Wild was drawn entirely from my medical experience in Vietnam. The Long Way Home used a lot of my microbiology and hematology experience, as did Alien Infection and a number of others. The military background in some of my novels, e.g. the Apertures Series, is drawn from 13 years service. I can’t really say it affects the topics I choose. Most are drawn from some everyday experience that sparks my imagination.

Ferrante: Your book, Samantha’s Talent, was written with Robyn Pass and The Y Factor was written with Stephanie Osborne. What are the logistics of co-writing a book?

Bain: It depends on the co-author and the book. Most of the ones were books I was either stalled on or had more and better ideas I wanted to get on with. Robyn was different. It wasn’t really a collaboration since she didn’t do any of the writing but she did help edit it and provided some useful ideas, enough that I listed her as co-author and gave her a % of my royalties.

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 Click here to buy Samantha’s Talent

Ferrante: How do you research for your science fiction novels?

Bain: The same way as or any other novel. I try to get the science right and history right and any other background right. I can’t say I always succeed but I do try my best.

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 Click here to buy The Y Factor (Cresperian Book 2)

Ferrante: Which was the most difficult book for you to write? Why?

Bain: The Melanin Apocalypse. The writing wasn’t difficult but I knew in advance that I would get a lot of flak and be called a racist, a white supremacist and other names. I put a lot of research into it and still one reviewer said the science was ridiculous. Not true. Every bit of it was possible and is becoming more possible every day. I had to really put some thought into the subplot and was called an anti-Muslim bigot, too. Nevertheless a science fiction reader’s club picked the book to debate and I did some radio interviews as well.

Ferrante: Out of all the books you’ve written, what is the one you’re most proud of?

Bain: Now that’s a hard one to answer. If I had to be pinned down, I suppose I’d pick Savage Survival. The idea for it bloomed in my mind one night fully plotted and the book practically wrote itself. On the other hand, I’m really proud of the two books I’ve written as tributes to two really unusual dachshunds we’ve owned (or that owned us, I’m not sure.) One, Doggie Biscuit! followed the life of Biscuit, the most intelligent, people-oriented dogs I’ve ever even heard or thought about and the book followed his life faithfully, other than exaggerating a few true events for humor or dramatic purposes. The other, Bark! was about Tonto, a runt of the litter who was cross-eyed, had only one testicle and was afflicted with the doggie version of Aspergers Syndrome. He also had ADHD. He went his own silly way, marching to the tune of a different drummer than other dogs. He would spend hours arranging garden hoses left lying in the yard around the porch steps into a pattern only he knew the meaning of. He was a tool user and made his own tool for a specific purpose, which is supposed to be impossible for a dog, but not for Tonto. He was fascinated by water and…but read it yourself. It’s out of print right now but you may be able to find some used print copies. I plan on bringing it back as soon as possible, even if I have to self-publish. If any publishers are reading this, please take note. And I can’t write any more about either dog right now because I’m crying over them again, as I’ve done many times in the past. Damn. I knew I’d do that as soon as I thought about Biscuit or Tonto.

Ferrante: Aren’t you running out of ideas? How do you keep generating new topics for books?

Bain: I don’t understand how any author can run out of ideas, especially a science fiction author. I’ll run out of life before I ever run out of ideas. My mother once said she thought I could write a story about anything. She asked me if I’d write her a romance and I did, Hotline To Heaven, although it is a rather unorthodox romance.

three random questions

Ferrante: If you were invited to be the main guest on a new run of the famous show “This Is Your Life,” what three people from your past would you love to see making a surprise visit on the show?

Bain: I assume that’s a TV show. The ones I’d most like to see are all gone now, but if they could be brought back to life, my Uncle, T.C. Masters would be the first one. He liked to write but had a big family to support and his businesses took up his time. I get tears in my eyes when I think of him. He was a peaceful, slow talking man but a literal, self-taught genius. Everyone who knew him loved him. The next would be my maternal grandfather. Mother always said I resembled him in my thoughts and actions, and like me, he was never satisfied to stay in one place. He was constantly moving his large family around. He like to write but couldn’t get anything published so he bought a printing press and published his own work. No one saved any of it but I’d dearly love to see some of what he wrote. T.C. talked about him a lot. And the last would be Travis, one of T.C.s brothers. He died young in automobile accident. He could tell the most fantastic, outrageous stories and make us kids believe him, but he was never mean.

Ferrante: What is one field or profession that you never pursued, but that you think you would probably have been quite good at?

Bain: A medical doctor. Even as poor as we grew up, I would have had a chance at it, and did when the army sent me to college to get a degree as a lowly PFC who dropped out of high school in the ninth grade because I had such high test scores but I blew it because of an amphetamine habit I had as a young man.

Ferrante: What is the most incredible weather event you’ve ever been through in your life?

Bain: My wife was driving as we were on the way home from a visit and ran into a sudden violent thunderstorm pouring down an enormous amount of rain. We were on a highway entering a town and couldn’t even see how to pull over the rain was coming down so furiously. Nothing to do but keep going and hope for the best. We got through the town and finally came out of it. We learned the next day that we’d missed being carried off by flood waters by about a minute, from eleven inches of rain in little more than a half hour. Incredible and we were lucky to get through it, much less miss the flood!

Darrell Bain’s book Alien Infection will be reviewed on this blog on Friday, December 9, 2016.

Click on the covers below to buy a book by Darrell Bain.

   

and there are more!

Alien Infection will be reviewed on this blog January 27, 2017.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.

Good Morning Chickalina! By Sonal Panse. Book Review.

Click on the cover to buy the book

The first thing that will strike you when you open this picture book is the beautiful illustrations. Each animal is so alive it feels as though you could stroke their fur. Little Chickalina, who is a baby chick, is adorable and portrays expressive gestures. It is easy to tell her emotions without even reading the words. When Chickalina cries, she cries with her entire body. The horse looks like he is racing right off the page. The donkey is hilarious. The goat is filled with vigor and power.

This story is about Chickalina trying to get some ginger for her ill father’s tea. The rooster has woken up with a cough and sore throat. Chickalina approaches various farm animals, all of whom are kind and generous, but none can provide the ginger. Instead she is given a variety of herbs which are devoured by the pig. This is too much for the tired and hungry chick. Chickalina bursts into tears and then is aided by the duck who gives her ginger. She gives it to Mother Hen and finally has breakfast. The ginger helps Papa who crows loudly and wakes the human. Cleverly, Panse substitutes flowers in the speech bubble for curses when the farmer is woken.

The book ends with labelled illustrations of the herbs and a challenge for the reader to find them in the previous pages.

The story is delightful although I think the text could have been trimmed. Some pages are unnecessarily wordy and slow down the pace. Children will engage in following Chickalina’s quest, wondering what she will be given next and if anyone will be able to provide the ginger. Humour in the illustrations and story line are sprinkled throughout keeping the picture book suspenseful but light-hearted.

The book opens the way for a discussion about natural remedies. Readers may want to research the medicinal uses of the other herbs. Parents will be curious about such plants as butterfly weed as well.

An enjoyable book for young children and their families.

A free ebook copy was given to me for a non-reciprocal review.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Sabotage or Bad Luck? The Scent of Something Sneaky – by Gail Hedrick. Book Review.

 

Click on the picture of the cover for more information or to buy the book.

 

 

 

This 200 page chapter book is suitable for readers at the grade 4 to 8 level. In this mystery, 14-year-old Emily Saunders has gone to work at a bed and breakfast for the summer. With her friend Mary, the owner’s granddaughter, and a boy named Alex, they begin to suspect something is foul and not just the smell from the septic tank.

Mary’s grandmother, Gigi, is a widow trying to keep her establishment afloat but misfortune keeps happening. A guest trips on a loose board and falls, injuring his head. The beneficial bacteria in the septic tank dies making the entire area smell like a cesspool. Bees set up a hive in the attic and sting Alex. And then, a fire begins in the carriage house. How much bad luck can one woman have without sabotage being considered?

Finally, Emily is able to convince her friends, Mary and Alex, that something is going wrong. She suspects the creepy birdwatcher who keeps popping up in the oddest places. But how can the three of them find evidence and why would someone want to ruin Gigi’s business?

The suspense and the pace increase steadily throughout this well-written book. The teens are likable, believable, and brave. There are surprises and twists but nothing that doesn’t logically fit in the story. The plot holds together very well and when the mystery is solved, the reader will be satisfied.

The only thing I didn’t get was the significance of the cover. **Edited – The author was kind enough to explain in the comments. I should have got that!

This is a great book by Gail Hedrick for young people who enjoy reading about smart and courageous teens solving crimes.

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A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

The author will be interviewed on this on blog December 14, 2016.

Something Stinks will be reviewed on this blog on February 26, 2017.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

An Old Man’s Dirty Secret. Recycled Sundays.

 

One of the best things about summer holidays is doing family activities you don’t have time for during the school year. Somehow, between all the lessons, columns and school events, we seldom take advantage of the free library and Parks and Recreation programs.

We even less often have time for special open-host club events or visits to parks and museums. My kids now know that summertime means examining antique dental chairs, feeding snakes, listening to lectures on the Precambrian Shield, peering through telescopes, tasting wild plants, or hiking through ruins.

Imagine my daughter’s surprise when I asked her if she wanted to go to a Rock Show.

By the time we were heading down the driveway, she realized there would be no loud music or flashing lights at this Rock Show. Guns and Roses would not be playing. I guess I should have said Rock and Mineral Show.

Enthusiasm rose when we entered the West Arthur Community Center and saw the beautiful displays. There was enough glimmering jewelry available to keep any 13-year-old interested. The artisans presented creative blend of fanciful imagination and cold, hard rock. My son was drawn to the clear crystals made into pendants and purchased one similar to that which Vincent gave Catherine in Beauty and that Beast.

We were all captivated by the very elderly gentleman who had prepared a fascinating and informative display on fossils. He asked us if we would like to learn a little about and warned us not to suggest he’s been there during the Reformation. I glanced at his thin body, white hair, heavily-lined face, and smooth pink lashless eyelids and bit my tongue. He explained the air is involved during the formation of the plant and animal fossils. We were impressed with the discovery of a creature older than the dinosaurs hidden inside a dull looking rock.

Surreptitiously, the gentleman drew my husband aside. “I didn’t want to say anything in front of the lady and the young ones,” he stage whispered, “but do you know what this is?”

My husband bent to examine a blackened, round object the size of the cantaloupe. He could not identify it.

“It’s dinosaur dung,” exclaimed the gentleman gleefully.

I laughed and pulled both my wandering kids back. This would be better than seeing Guns and Roses any day. “Look, kids,” I said. “It’s fossilized dinosaur doo.”

The children examined it and then exchanged glances. At that moment a voice in the intercom announced that a talk on amethyst was beginning. We hurried off, forgetting about the dinosaur doo, for the moment.

On the way home, I asked everyone what they had liked best. We discussed the exhibits. Suddenly my son piped up. “I don’t believe that man about the fossils, though,” he said.

“Why not?”

“I think a dinosaur boob would be a lot bigger than that round black thing he showed us!”

A discussion of mammary glands and dinosaur food followed. My son laughed when he realized what the deposit really was. I asked my husband about his strange smile.

“I was just imagining if a dinosaur boob really existed.”

Rocks and Minerals for older kids site

Kids Dinosaurs site

Fossils for Kids

                    

Click on the book covers for more information.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Magic Leaf by Mary Feliciani. Book Review.

The first thing I consider when reviewing a book is how it starts. Is the beginning intriguing or inviting? Do we immediately understand the point of the story?

Page 2/3 says, “Carlo lived in a small town called Roseto. The town had winding roads and was surrounded by mountains. Roseto sat at the foot of the tallest mountain. Its cobblestone roads led to a town square. It looked a lot like a medieval town.”

Would a young child know what a cobblestone road was or how a medieval town looked? These would have been fine to write if the illustration showed a cobblestone road in the center of a medieval looking town but the picture doesn’t show the road at all and the town looks like any other town. There is no indication of what is to come and we have no reason to read on.

Page 4/5 focuses completely on Carlo’s enjoyment of the church bells. So now we assume the story is going to be about the boy’s relationship with the bells.

But then, page 6/7 talks a little about Carlo’s house and the castle beside it.

Finally, page 8/9 says, “Every day Carlo had to walk up the mountain.” This is actually where the story begins. I think most children would have tuned out by this point. This is unfortunate because the story then takes off. The dialogue between Carlo and his friend who joins him on the walk up the mountain is lively and propels the story well.

The text could have been enriched by more sensory detail such as having the boys mention particulars like the taste, colour, ingredients, temperature, and the smell of the panini and gelato they relish.

The ending is lovely and worthy of discussion. Children can relate to the different interpretations of the passage of time when alone and with a friend. The story also raises the concept of appreciation for all the things the boys are given.

The illustrations are unique and interesting. They are partly drawn and partly montage which gives a textual appearance to the landscape. I liked the pictures of the boys especially when they were imagining all the wonderful things in their community. Carlo’s hair is adorable.

I think this is a book with wonderful potential and some beautiful qualities that just got off on the wrong foot.

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I was given an ebook in exchange for an honest review.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Who Would Throw Live Kittens in the Trash? – The Curious Cat Spy Club by Linda Joy Singleton. Book Review.

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 Click here to buy The Curious Cat Spy Club

Kelsey is a loner, but not because she wants to be one. She would like nothing more than to be best friends with Becca Morales but the Sparkler is kind but distant. That is, until Kelsey rescues her zorse. Yes, I spelled that correctly. This event cascades into the rescue of three kittens and the accumulation of a third friend, the most unlikely one of all. Leo Polanski has been labeled a loser but his brilliance comes in handy and his social awkwardness isn’t deliberate. This unlikely team forms the Curious Cat Spy Club and set out to discover who abandoned three kittens to die in a dumpster.

Linda Joy Singleton creates three believable, likable characters. There are three plot lines running through this novel. The first is Kelsey’s desire to have friends, especially Becca, even though the girl avoids her at school. The second is to keep the kittens safe until they can find a home for them, preferably their own. The third is to bring the cat abandoner to justice. All three are completed in a believable and satisfying way.

The mystery is complex enough to keep a middle grade child turning the pages but not so complicated as to bore or clutter the storyline. Singleton does not overwhelm the story with social drama but still allows us to see the emotional makeup of each character. Along the way, readers learn important information about abandoned and abused animals.

The only complaint I have about this book is that the title is very difficult to read in that particular font.

This is a book that middle grade students are sure to enjoy and parents will be happy they’re reading.

Want to know more about Linda Joy Singleton and some of her other books? Read the interview here.

A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Ted, the Fire Engine Who is Afraid of Fires by Lakshmi Mitter. Book Review.

 Click on the cover for more information or to buy the book.

Lakshmi Mitter has written a cute little story about overcoming fear. There is no trick to it, Ted, the fire engine, gradually learns that he can do more than he thinks. He uses a helmet to create a feeling of security and safety but, when an emergency happens, he manages to step up without it. It is a reassuring message for children who have trouble dealing with fears.

The drawings are childlike quick ink sketches with probably marker or watercolor. For little boys and girls who enjoy books about fire engines, it may not have enough realism or detail. For toddlers, the subject matter might be a little scary. Even though the drawings are super simple, the emotions of the fire engines, such as Ted’s embarrassment, are portrayed well.

The last line says “I am ready to put out the next fire without any fear!” It might be more helpful for children to realize that fear doesn’t completely go away. Fear is a natural survival mechanism. Instead, we learn to overcome it and cope with it.

As far as I know, airport fire engines do not spray burning airplanes with water. They use foam. A burning airplane would likely have fuel and spraying water will spread it and, subsequently, spread the fire as well. No matter what kind of book it is, it is crucial to get the facts right for children. This is not a book about fire engines. It is a book about facing challenges.

Mitter makes the reader care about the little fire engine and hope he finds the courage to fulfill his potential. Children will invest emotionally in the outcome of this story.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Making a Difference for Non-English Children: Author/Publisher S. J. Bushue Three Random Questions Interview

sj-bushueS. J. Bushue owns, operates and writes books for The Little Fig. Her post-graduate studies have focused on special education. Sherry is published in children’s books, newspapers, poetry collections and was a columnist for a magazine with focus on large families.

Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome Sherry. Please give me a short genesis of The Little Fig.

S.J. Bushue: First, thank you for this opportunity. The Little Fig’s name originated in 2014 from my love of figs, more precisely, Fig Newtons. I visualize fig trees and children’s education as being quite similar in their potential; starting from a tiny seed then rapidly cultivating in environments worldwide. There are 67 different languages spoken in my district’s elementary schools alone. Teachers, librarians, parents and caregivers shared their concerns that very few children’s books, if any, were available for the young ones whose English is not their native language. “I believe that children are our future” (a quote from “The Greatest Love of All” music composed by Michael Masser and Linda Creed) perfectly describes my passion of planting seeds by creating children’s books that incorporate languages, music, and vividly bold illustrations for all children to read, be nourished and develop into awesomeness.

S J Bushue Author

Ferrante: That’s wonderful that you have committed yourself to filling this need. As a former (Canadian) grade school teacher, I know how much books like this are needed.

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 Click here to buy “Frog Has No Fur”: “La Rana No Tiene Pelo”

(So Big & Little Bit Adventures)

The Little Fig has books in Chinese, Spanish, German, French, Korean, Portuguese, Arabic, Urdu, Vietnamese, and a language I never heard of, Telugu. How did you choose the languages?

Bushue: Telugu is reported to be the third most spoken language in India. Teachers in our Midwest regional elementary schools stated they had absolutely no books to offer the young ones who spoke Telugu. I chose those languages as they were the top 10 most spoken languages in the United States (after English). Research was based on the most recent US Census.

Ferrante: I wouldn’t have guessed that. Are all your books English and a second language?

Bushue: All the titles are available in at least two languages. Literal rather than conversational translations allow the children to read along in their native language. Native speaking parents and caregivers can read to the child at home, helping them to learn English too. I encourage anyone to email me at sherry@thelittlefig.com to express interests in additional languages.

Special concept titles are published in one language per book to allow focus on the concept being learned. Potty in the Potty Chair is an example of an independent book for each language.

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 Click here to buy Potty in the Potty Chair

Ferrante: For what age are your books written?

Bushue: The multilingual and special-situation children’s picture books’ genre focuses on pre-school and early-elementary-school aged children. They are written with the intention to be both entertaining and educational, teaching concepts, facts and, usually, a second language. Many books incorporate children from numerous cultures and/or use race-neutral, gender-neutral animal characters.

Ferrante: Awesome. Most of your books have accompanying songs and downloadable activity sheets. You also have an impressive YouTube site where all of your books are read aloud in their non-English version. You also have songs, such as Momma Said I Could Have a Cat Theme Song. I am very impressed with the quality of this YouTube site. Children could enjoy the music even if they haven’t read the stories. You have an amazing team of professionals. How do you coordinate and generate all of this from a simple book idea?

Bushue: Thank you for checking out our YouTube site.

Jenni Smith is part of The Little Fig team. She composes the theme songs and jingles from the book manuscripts and visuals of the illustrations. She and hubby, Alex (a drum master) then record the music professionally produced at Chapman Studios in Lenexa, Kansas. They are both very talented musicians.

Coordination of the book idea, the translations, the audios, and the music was a concept at the formation of The Little Fig. I noticed that most children are drawn to vividly colorful illustrations, engaging repetition of words or phrases and perky melodies that get stuck in their little heads. I also wanted to provide teachers, parents, librarians and caregivers material to enhance learning. I interviewed numerous illustrators, musicians, and translators before finding this incredible, fun loving group of professionals who are now part of The Little Fig team. All of them are truly undeniably talented and superbly awesome people! I love them all! You can check them out here.

Ferrante: Here are some of the books published by The Little Fig:

Frog Has No Fur which teaches about the difference between amphibians and mammals

Herds of Birds which identifies the names of groups of animals Click here to buy Herds of Birds, Oh How Absurd!: Las Manadas de Aves, Que Absurdo! (So Big & Little Bit Adventures) (Volume 1)

Happy Happy Holidays which explains American holidays Click here to buy Happy Happy Holidays: Felices, Felices Dias Festivos (So Big & Little Bit Adventures?) (Volume 1)

Potty in the Potty Chair, a humorous support for potty training

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You authored each of the above. Do you choose your topics based on your personal interests or on what you think immigrants and English as a second language people need?

Bushue: Great question! I was born with a most inquisitive mind. That curious nature is simply a part of who I am. Most of the topics are based on personal interests and experiences combined with something I have heard or seen. If you look above each title’s cover you will see a section called “Behind the Story”. A sample of this is here on our site. I welcome any and all ideas from others who also have stories to tell.

Ferrante: What are your writing plans for the future?

Bushue: The most current title, “Dinosaurs Count / Los Dinosaurios Cuentan” will be available for the holidays. Cassie Allen has created gorgeous, endearing, anatomically correct dinosaurs that will be loved by all. This title will help wee ones learn to count and give the adults English and Spanish pronunciations for each dinosaur. Jenni Smith’s music composition for this title will be one that kids will sing for years to come.

I have boxes, bags and shelves of ideas for continuing to write and publish multilingual picture books. Plans also include music, products and videos that compliment the characters in the books.

This year my interests have expanded to include helping other writers fulfill their dreams to publish. Community services and donations to special causes will continue. There is also a new program that is near to being launched, but that will be revealed later.

three random questions

Ferrante: In your own not-so-humble opinion, what is your most likable quality?

Bushue: I find peoples’ stories absolutely fascinating. I have been told that I rarely meet a stranger and will talk anytime to anyone about anything. Smiles are contagious. Laughing out loud is infectious. Both of those combine with my curiosity to show people that I am truly approachable.

Ferrante: If you had a great voice and had the opportunity to record a duet with any singer living today, whom would you choose as your partner for the recording?

Bushue: Oh my! I am laughing hysterically at this question. “If I had a great voice” is an enormously tall stretch of the imagination. I have been told that I have an extremely soothing voice, both in person and on the phone. However, I have also been told that I am horribly off-key when attempting to sing. So, instead of a duet I would choose an entire room of eclectic talents like George Benson, Vicci Martinez, Ed Sheeran, Tracy Chapman, Enya, Taylor Swift, and the Lonestar Band who could fill the room with beautiful harmonies and place me behind an unplugged microphone to cover up the wailings that may escape my vocal cords. Just kidding.

Ferrante: What was your favorite thing to pretend when you were a young child?

Bushue: I was very much a tomboy in my youth. I never quite saw the fascination with dressing up dolls or playing house. I was too busy climbing the neighbor’s Chinese Cherry tree, racing bicycles with the boys from one house to the other and creating mud slides while swinging on the tree vines that would not always release us in the center of the creek behind our home. I do remember imagining that when I finally reached the tip-top of the tree, a flying unicorn would swoop by and soar me to worlds never seen before. I almost always dream in color. Frequently I dream of being on top of that unicorn sailing across the sky. Great dreams!

Ferrante: Thank you for all your detailed responses. This is a longer interview than I typically print but I felt that the information you gave would be very important to parents and teachers. Hopefully they will share this site with anyone for whom English is a struggle. Best of luck with your worthwhile endeavors and The Little Fig.

Frog Has No Fur will be reviewed on this blog on December 16, 2016.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.

The Amida Tree Wins Silver Medal in Mom’s Choice Awards

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Click here to buy The Amida Tree

The Mom’s Choice Awards® has named The Amida Tree as among the best in family-friendly media, products and services. The MCA evaluation process uses a propriety methodology in which entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal, and cost.

To be considered for an award, each entrant submits five (5) identical samples for testing. Entries are matched to evaluators in the MCA database. Evaluators are bound by a strict code of ethics not only to ensure objectivity, but also to ensure that the evaluation is free from manufacturer influence. The five evaluations are submitted to the MCA Executive Committee for final review and approval.

“Our aim to introduce families and educators to best-in-class products and services,” explains Dawn Matheson, Executive Director of the Mom’s Choice Awards. “We have a passion to help families grow emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Parents and educators know that products and services bearing our seal of approval are high-quality and also a great value. The MCA evaluation program is designed to incorporate the expertise of scientists, physicians and other specialists; but we also engage parents, children, educators, and caregivers because they are experts in knowing what is best for their families.”

With the evaluation now complete, the testing samples of The Amida Tree will be donated to schools, libraries, hospitals and nonprofit organizations.

About the Mom’s Choice Awards®

The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for children, families and educators. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of entries from more than 55 countries. Around the world, parents, educators, retailers and members of the media look for the MCA mother-and-child Honouring Excellence seal of approval when selecting quality products and services for children and families.

Not a great screen shot but there it is!amida-moms-choice-award

The book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and other online bookstores.