Can Silence Save Yesterday? – Illustrator Carl Angel Three Random Questions Interview

Carl Angel is a visual artist who does commercial illustration and children’s  books illustration. He also creates paintings exploring personal themes.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Carl. What is your latest book about?

Carl Angel: The Girl Who Saved Yesterday is about a girl named Silence, who is sent by the trees to save Yesterday. She doesn’t know what her task is, only that it is important. Returning to the village that cast her out, Silence recognizes her purpose: to join the dead with the living in an act that celebrates their memory.

Click here to buy The Girl Who Saved Yesterday

Ferrante: What did you use to illustrate it?

Angel: Acrylic and color pencil

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Ferrante: Did you collaborate with the author?

Angel: I was not directed by the author in terms of how I should approach the imagery. I was able to do that myself based on how incredible the text was, but because the text was so rich, the challenge was to come up with imagery that added to that richness and create something bigger than the sum of its parts.

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Ferrante: Are you self-trained or university trained?

Angel: I’ve been drawing since I was a kid, but I did seek further instruction at a couple of art schools in northern California – California College of the Arts and Academy of Art University, respectively.

Ferrante: When did you first develop an interest in illustration?

Angel: Since I had read illustrated classic books and comic books as a child. I loved mythology and fantastic imagery (still do). I actually used to draw on the walls of our house when I was three years old before my dad would bring home some paper from his office for me to draw on.

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Ferrante: Who is your favourite illustrator?

Angel: That’s a hard one, because I have many, and I like seeing how the style of the illustrator relates to the era in which the work was created. However, if I were forced to be trapped on a desert island with only one illustrator’s work, it would have to the work of Howard Pyle. 

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Ferrante: If you could go anywhere in the world to practise your art, where would you go and why?

Angel: Italy, just for the sheer artistic brilliance of both aesthetic and spiritual inspiration. Food’s not bad either.

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Ferrante: What is the most important thing you have learned about illustrating books?

Angel: That illustrated books are needed more than ever.  While I love video and am a total cinephile, a powerful still image that is well crafted deserves to be visually savored and appreciated. It’s why museums are built; to reflect and meditate on something beautiful.

Ferrante: What advice do you have for other illustrators?

Angel: Love what you do and realize that visual narrative is a huge part of culture, and that you are part of something important.

three random questions

Ferrante: What is something you really enjoy doing that is a chore or a bore for many people?

I actually enjoy cooking and cleaning, especially while listening to music. I find it meditative and since I’m working mostly at home, I like that environment to be as organized as possible. Doesn’t always work out that way, of course…

Ferrante: If you could design any new ride or attraction for Walt Disney World, what would it be?

I would probably design a virtual reality experience that would put you through the life experience of an inspirational historical figure.

Ferrante: What is one item you own that has virtually no monetary value but has such sentimental value that you would not sell it for anything?

I have a dog-eared copy of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces that reminds me of what I strive for in terms of my ambition as a storyteller.

Ferrante: Thank you, Angel, and thank you also for lengthening your answers at my request. You’re a man of few words but those words are profound. I think you also tend to speak through your amazing artwork. Best of luck with all your future endeavors.

Click on the cover to buy Howard Pyle His Life His Work 

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Girl Who Saved Yesterday will be reviewed on this blog on March 27, 2017.

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

The Dog Who Made Exploration Possible – The Miracle Dogs of Portugal by Tracey Aiello. Illustrated by Kent Barnes. Book Review.

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Click here to buy The Miracle Dogs of Portugal

Everyone knows Christopher Columbus but how many people know the true father of exploration, Henry the Navigator. This book details Henry’s relationship with the ocean as a child. He believes the sea is his friend and calls to him. During a storm, he slips away from his parents and convinces Diego Garcia, a fisherman, to take him out on the water. Diego owns a prize Water Dog named Milagro, which means Miracle.

Milagro, nicknamed Millie also has a special relationship with the sea. She speaks with the seahorses, the turtles, and even the tuna. When Henry falls overboard into the ocean, the courageous dog leaps into the water. The dog speaks to the sea creatures and Henry speaks to the ocean. The waves stop and both dog and Henry are rescued.

Upon returning to shore, Diego discovers that Henry’s parents are the king and queen. When they discover the dog saved their son’s life, they insist that he live with them in the castle but Henry says no. She is a prize water dog; she belongs with the sea. The king decrees that all Milagro’s descendents shall be named Portuguese Water Dogs and shall protect kings and fishermen.

When Henry grows up, he sails to Africa and India and inspires and assists such explorers as Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, and Ferdinand Magellan. He builds a school where he teaches his students to navigate with the stars and listen to the sea. He is the spearhead of the Age of exploration.

Portuguese Water Dogs help fishermen for hundreds of years and become highly prized pets and working dogs.

The author has a talent for description that helps us empathize with the protagonist. “Henry ran down the cobbled road. He ran and ran, ignoring his heavy coat and pants as they grew soaked, forgetting about his cold hands in the rain seeping down his neck.”

Tracy Aiello has used a clever and interesting strategy to engage children in the study of history. Most children love dogs and also using Henry as a young boy for the protagonist guarantees kids will connect with this story. This book is the perfect size for children who are between picture book and early chapter book.

The left side of the page is full text and the right is illustration. The illustrations are done by Kent Barnes. They are loosely drawn cartoon type pictures with odd white outlines as though they have been cut out and paste it on the page. Prince Henry has a hairstyle that reminds me of Beavis of Beavis and Butthead. The backgrounds are minimal, generally a wash of color. I would have liked the illustrations to have some flavour of the time period.

A great book for children who like dogs or are interested in true adventure.

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The Author will be interviewed on this blog on March 15, 2017.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Can You Invent This Please? Recycled Sundays.

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Photo by Shane McGraw

Don’t you think the rate of useless inventions has outstripped the useful? When was the last time you really needed a skinny musician doll wavered when you placed it in front of a stereo speaker? Can you believe people are still buying lava lamps and fuzzy dice? I really think we would have a solution to the garbage problem if we just banned novelty shops. But, perhaps I am just bitter. There are too many things I need that haven’t been invented yet.

I need water-resistant pen and paper for writing in the shower because as soon as I get out, I’ve forgotten what I meant to do. How about a bathroom door that won’t open until the child has washed his hands? Or an alarm that rings when a child tries to leave the building without making his bed. Both my daughter and I could use a tiny colander for sterilizing pierced earring studs. Perhaps then we wouldn’t spend so many hours on our hands and knees playing find the microscopic piece. How about self composting toys to avoid overloading the landfill sites in my kids’ rooms? Bedrooms should be designed with slanting floors so that balls and toys with wheels all roll safely to one end.

Wouldn’t we all benefit from twist tops that didn’t require the wearing of oven mitts to prevent the need for stitches? How about childproof bottles that parents didn’t have to ask the kids to open? Or travel shampoo bottles that did not leak all over the contents of your luggage?

Let’s have some serious government grants to perfect a lie detector admissible in court. Imagine the money we’d save on lawyers and court costs as well as incarcerating innocents. There would be a lot fewer crimes if the guilty were proven guilty and sent directly to jail instead of allowed to pass, “go.”

How about suspended animation booths for hospital emergency waiting rooms? We wouldn’t get served any quicker but at least the time would past without every second seeming like an eternity.

Someone without children obviously invented Daylight Saving Time and then decided to begin it before summer vacation. That way the kids could be absolutely wrung out from lack of sleep while coping with the emotional ups and downs of the end of school.

A genuinely nasty person invented high top runners, with laces, for small boys. He probably also designed handheld (meaning small enough to be easily misplaced) video games with alarms that sound at three in the morning.

An inventor who wasn’t making his quota must’ve come up with the useless instructions I find in my bathroom. A phrase on the suctioned bathmat reads, “This side down.” No kidding. Could you imagine someone sticking the suction cups to the bottom of their feet and hopping around the tub? Obviously, he did.

How about a bottle of round, orange vitamins? Inside is a white paper square stuffed with absorbent cotton. On it is printed, “Do not eat this.” If people are that stupid hadn’t they better right this warning on paper plates, Styrofoam cups, swizzle sticks, straws and plastic wrap? Or maybe someone should invent edible substitutes for all these things. Of course that would put the person who writes warnings out of work.

December 9, 1990.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Wise and Beautiful – If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson. Book Review.

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 Click here to buy If You Plant a Seed

This stunningly beautiful book, with full color photographic-like illustrations, portrays animals realistically yet gives them human personalities.

A rabbit and mouse plant a tomato seed, a carrot seed, and a cabbage seed. They care for the garden until the plants are fully grown. When they harvest their work, five birds show up and stare at them, expecting the rabbit and mouse to share. At this point, you might expect this to become a Little Red Hen clone but it is so much more.

Through the exceptionally expressive illustration, Nelson shows the argument between the creatures which explodes into an all out food fight.

Afterward, mouse thoughtfully examines the cherry tomato and then offers it to the birds. The birds then use their flying ability to spread hundreds of seeds across the field. They help the mouse and rabbit care for the garden until the plants mature. Harvest time provides a wider variety of vegetables in plentiful quantities.

The sparse words are profound and exquisite.

“If you plant a tomato seed, a carrot seed, and a cabbage seed, in no time, with love and care, tomato, carrot, and cabbage plants will grow. If you plant a seed of selfishness, in a very short time, it will grow, and grow and grow into a heap of trouble. But if you plant a seed of kindness, in almost no time at all, the fruits of kindness will grow, and grow, and grow, and they are very, very sweet.”

This remarkable little book uses nature to illustrate our karmic consequences. We may think we are only planting vegetables but, by our actions, we are planting our lives.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Button Nose the Sad Little Bear by Gina Lobiondo. Illustrated by Brittany Wilder. Book Review.

 

Click on the cover to buy the book.

This picture book is in 8 x 10″ format. There is a lot of blue space on the cover and the title script is difficult to read. A bright and lively, larger picture of the bear and a clear, bold title would create more interest. Inside, we page through 11 pages before we get to the actual story. It begins,

“Once upon a time, in the time when your grandparents were small, a little bear was made. He had a soft brown body and sad, pouty little face and he was waiting for a home.”

This is a great start for a children’s picture book. We are immediately concerned that the bear might not find a home because he is pouty. We also wonder why he has that expression.

Button Nose is finally taken home to “Little Girl” who loves him and brings him everywhere. The toy is forgotten in a restaurant but, thankfully, the family comes back for him. When the girl is beginning to grow up, her mother sells Button Nose in a yard sale. His new owner ignores him and Button Nose misses the girl. Eventually he is sold to a collector and kept in a cabinet. He is deeply sad, but then one day the bear is sold again. To his surprise, his new owner is Little Girl, now grown up. She puts him in a place of honour on her bed and loves him completely.

The story ends here and the rest of the book is a 12 page photo gallery (one picture per page) of the actual Little Girl (Gina Lobiondo), her parents, her family, and Button Nose followed by 10 pages advertising the author’s other books. The story itself is 12 pages long out of a total of 45 pages. Environmentalists might find this wasteful.

The story is charming, a little like Toy Story in that toys just want to be loved and played with, or at least loved and not forgotten. I like the underlying message that love never dies and appearances, such as a pouty face, are not judge the same by everyone. Adults will find this book sweetly nostalgic.

The illustrations, set in an oval shape below the text, seem to be drawn with pencil crayon and pen. They are well done but I felt that the pictures could have been larger considering all the white space left on each page. Button Nose is also a difficult character with which to show any emotion but sadness. His expression never changes. It would be interesting to have him smile when Little Girl wasn’t looking. His emotional landscape is trapped in a pout. I think children would wonder, with concern, why the bear was pouty in every situation and with every person. I do think the packaging needs to be rethought as well.

Any preschool child with a special cuddle toy could relate to this story.

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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 blog April 5, 2017.

Pegasus, A Dragon’s Tale will be reviewed on January 16, 2017

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Courageous Women, Fairies & Viking Ghosts: Author P.J. Roscoe Three Random Questions Interview

P.J. Roscoe is an award-winning author of three books and short stories in various anthologies. She has two more books in the works. She has been married to Martin for 22 years and has a daughter, Megan, who has autism and dyspraxia.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome P. J. You have had three books published this year. To what do you owe this burst of creativity?

P.J. Roscoe: My first award winning (best e-book in the Paris Book Festival April 2013, Honorable Mention in the New England Book Festival 2012) novel Echoes was actually written on/off for seventeen years. I finally self published in 2012. It won three awards and it was taken on by a publisher, but I left them in January 2016 to go it alone again and re-launched it.

Freya’s Child was written in 2014/15 and taken on by Crimson Cloak publishing and re-launched in September 2015. My Adventures of Faerie Folk is available from July 2016, but it’ll really be launched at a faerie festival in August. I’ve also been working on the audio-books for Freya’s Child and Faeries so they should be available by the autumn.

My creativity never stops! I have two books coming out Autumn/Winter 2016 and I’ve another coming out 2017, plus I’m researching the prequel to Echoes. I also have ideas for another three, plus 15 other faerie stories to bring to life and five supernatural short stories to decide what to do with!! My imagination makes me feel alive, so I use it whenever I can!

Ferrante: Your first book, Freya’s Child, has a fascinating tagline. “What would a parent do to save their child? Fight the dead? Defy the gods?” I’m sure every parent reading this is thinking, yes and yes. 

Roscoe: What if you are told your whole life that the gods require sacrifice and that person would be honoured and live a wonderful life in the halls of the gods? In early cultures it was considered an honour to die for your tribe.

So I looked at it from a modern family and a Viking family’s points of view. A parent loves their children unconditionally but for different people – does this mean the same?

My father’s family come from the Wirral and I grew up with the stories of the Norse finds that still continue to this day. I spoke with archaeologists and ‘The National Trust’ as it’s their land I base the archaeological dig – they were great. 

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 Click here to buy Freya’s Child

Ferrante:  Adventures of Faerie Folk: Volume One was published in July. Are these original stories? Have you used any traditional stories for inspiration?

Roscoe: I wrote many original stories years ago for my daughter when she was between 3 and 13. I would send them out to other parents to read to their young children and get feedback on them. My daughter, who is now 18 has autism and dyspraxia, and was being bullied and the other girls refused to play with her by the time they reached 9/10 years old. I wrote ‘The Rose Faerie’ to teach Megan that it is okay to be different. Genuine people will love you for who you are and look beyond the disability.

Ferrante: Do you try to have a moral in all of your stories?

Roscoe: I wrote stories to inspire the young to take care and be thoughtful in every action as it has consequences. I do have a moral in every story. The first book, Annabelle learns that kindness has many rewards and Kate learns that being horrible makes you prickly!

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 Click here to buy Adventures of Faerie folk: Volume One

Ferrante: The book is designated as Volume 1. Have you already started working on Volume 2?

Roscoe: I have the next four volumes ready, but illustrations cost a lot of money, so need to sell a few books before I can get the next one illustrated! Also finished the audio for the faerie book and it’ll be out through Crimson Cloak Publishing and Audible.

Ferrante:  Echoes seems to be a slight departure from the other two books. I love this line in your blurb, “Ghosts, past lives, evil and Tudors – what more could you possibly need?” I can’t imagine. It sounds delicious. 

Roscoe: Echoes started out as a short story that I wrote following the death of our son. I needed to occupy my mind and wrote it, but over the next months, it became a novel. It more or less wrote itself. When I look back on my writing, I cringe! No wonder it was rejected! Through experience and learning, it became a winner and I’ve begun working on the screenplay as I’m told so many times, how it would make a great movie.

I adore history, always have. The Tudors were a mercenary lot, especially Henry Tudor and his son Henry VIII. How the story evolved, I couldn’t tell you, but it had to be set near Shrewsbury and involve Henry Tudor and the battle of Bosworth somehow! Thus began years of research on and off. I wrote several historical articles for a Welsh magazine. I found pieces of information during my research that went into the book! Throw in some personal supernatural experiences and there it was! 

 

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 Click here to buy Echoes: Some injustices refuse to be forgotten

Ferrante: I’m so sorry about the loss of your son. 

Your books feature females in positions of strength and courage without presenting them as mutant superheroes. Do you think we need more books like this? 

Roscoe: I don’t believe we need to be ‘superhuman’ to show strength and courage. I have endured a lot over the years and fought to survive – I made it. Women are portrayed in the media as objects to be used and abused by men. We are desexualised and made to appear weak and in need of domination. Women are strong, beautiful, courageous people and I want to show through my books that women can survive any obstacles, and keep going regardless of what is put in their way. Women have read my books and they feel every emotion and go through the journey with my characters.

I still cry, feel joy, feel excited with my books and that’s what I want every reader to experience. The suffragettes would be turning in their graves if they saw how some behave and how men still treat us. Every book I write has strong women. Between Worlds due out Christmas 2016 and Where Rivers Meet due out 2017 are the next two. Diary of Margery Blake that came out September 2016 was a book that had to be written to show that even in such awful times as the 19th century, with no rights, women could still find courage.

Ferrante: What are you working on now?

Roscoe: As I type these answers to your questions (July) I am on third edit of Diary of Margery Blake Due out on 17th September. Also editing Between Worlds we want out by Christmas 2016.

Ferrante: What is the single most important thing you want readers to know about you that I haven’t asked?

Roscoe: I live life, I don’t merely exist. Life is not a rehearsal so enjoy it, but harm nothing.  I face the fear and do it anyway!

three random questions

Ferrante: If you can be the CEO of any corporation in the world, which one would you choose?

Roscoe: Lush – they are an ethical animal free 100% vegetarian cosmetics/toiletries company and I’d take down those companies who still believe it’s okay to torture animals for vanity.

Ferrante: And their product smell and feel so good!

If you could know without a shadow of a doubt the answer to one question that has always troubled you, what question would you want to have answered once and for all?

Roscoe: Gosh so many!! First one that springs to mind is – was it really an eagle I saw sitting on a log with a rabbit in its talons down a country lane in North Wales before whatever it was opened its wings, which were huge, and flew away over my head, as I’d stopped the car and got out!?

Ferrante: If your taste buds could be altered so that the taste of anyone food would be dramatically intensified when ever you ate it, which food would you choose?

Roscoe: That’s a hard one! I’ll say grapes. I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and I love my wine, so if I say grapes, then the wine should also taste fantastic!!

P.J.’s twitter handle Twitter@derwenna1

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/storyladyauthor/

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/103527633975026566283/posts

Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/p-j-roscoe-8b895a66?trk=hp-identity-name

Goodreads Blog https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6575717.P_J_Roscoe

Freya’s Child was reviewed on this blog Monday, February 13.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

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

Who Would You Kill to Save Your Child? – Freya’s Child by P.J. Roscoe. Book Review.

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 Click here to buy Freya’s Child by P.J. Roscoe

There are three intertwining stories in Freya’s Child.

We have Einaar, Astrid and Inga, of Viking family trying to survive in a hostile culture. The beliefs, customs, behavior, and values of Vikings was fascinating. This was my favorite part of the book, well presented and interesting. I wish there had been more. I would have liked to get to know this family more intimately especially little Inga who seems more of a shadow child than a reality, even during her own time. I also found the events in these sections to be fast-paced and gripping.

In the present time, we have Katherine, an archaeologist, who has dreamt about Vikings since childhood. These dreams are so vivid she entertains the possibility of reincarnation. Here again, the author gives us delicious tidbits about life in a Viking village.

The third story is about a present-day family, Robert and Helen and their little daughter Cherry, short for Charlotte. I think the book would have engaged me more if we spent less time with this family, especially Helen whose behavior and thoughts became irritating after a while. In the first half of the book some of Helen’s vindictive and unforgiving behavior could be trimmed.

I don’t like to give too much of the plot away in a historical-suspense book. All three groups finally come together in a dramatic climax wherein the life of Cherry, the spirits of an entire Viking village, and the spiritual reunion of Einaar and Astrid with their daughter Inga are at risk.

It seems that this book is about a mother’s love for her child. But, in the end, in both circumstances, it is the father whose actions to protect his child bring him great loss. All four parents show tremendous courage and love for their daughters. It is nice to see girls treated as valuable, especially Inga. Even today, there are those who would judge her physical imperfection harshly.

The other theme that I found refreshing was the possibility that there is more than one type of afterlife. The Buddha said, “We make the world with our minds.” Perhaps we make the afterworld as well.

The author’s writing style is smooth and professional, in spite of the occasional typo. At times the situations or reactions seem clichéd or predictable but there is much that is original and rich as well. Helen seemed overblown at times, but then we have all met overly dramatic people who are probably not much different than this character.

Roscoe has created a compelling contemporary story with a rich historical background. She explores the intimate nature of family relationships with depth and empathy. An enjoyable read.

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The author will be interviewed Wednesday, February 15 on this blog.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Can You Hear Me Now? Recycled Sundays.

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Some people have a strange need to humiliate themselves. A favoured method is to buy an item for display that is so tasteless, it leaves your guests speechless. One obvious example is the purchase of cow patty clocks. Honest. People actually spend their hard-earned green stuff to buy a sun-baked pile of brown stuff inlaid with a clock face. The larger the better. What can one say?

“I’d like to see the milker that dropped that one!”

The higher-priced ticking manure piles have mushrooms and weeds. I suppose one should expect to pay a little extra for natural embellishments. I mean, doesn’t a mushroom show the superior fertility of your chosen timepiece?

Maybe the idea is to humiliate the guests. After all their years of reading Miss Manners, perhaps attending Toast Masters meetings, these guests suddenly find themselves unable to say a single polite sentence.

What about the “Kiss a Pig” elections? Candidates in the U. S. actually run against each other for the humiliation of kissing a pig. Not a porcelain pig. A living, breathing, runny nosed, stinky swine. On the lips. In public. They don’t even get to choose the pig. It isn’t humiliating enough to let the entire world know that they are desperate enough to compete for Porky’s; three of the contestants will have to face the public embarrassment of losing. Imagine. “I wasn’t desirable enough to win a kiss from a pig.”

I’d heard of hog-calling contests and thought the participants were skirting public humiliation. While the pig-kissing elections definitely outrank them in weirdness, the husband-calling competition outdoes them all. Wives at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield actually compete against each other while bellowing for their spouses. Now you may think this is more humiliating for the men involved, what with their names being shrieked across the fairgrounds. Not so. You see, the women get to dress for the occasion.

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The featured competitor in the newspaper, Paula Tyler, was wearing a frumpy cotton house dress, curlers and a bonnet that looked like the tinfoil on a self-contained popper package minus the wire handle. She also utilized props: an iron board, iron, and a pair of man’s trousers. As I examined this photograph, I realized the woman was not only humiliating herself for a few laughs, but every woman who ever wore curlers while she ironed and yelled for her husband.

Not that it isn’t a necessary art for many wives. I mean when you finally have the iron hot enough and the steam hissing, you don’t want to leave the tense of the door or pick up the baby. Why is it that the husband can’t hear pounding guest or a wailing tot anyway? No wonder these women have to stretch the vocal cords. Their husbands are probably one of those men with selective hearing. You know the type. They can hear the opening notes from The National for rooms away but can’t hear the kid with his head stuck in the banister.

On second thought, maybe it is the husband who is being humiliated by this contest. Perhaps this is a not-so-subtle way of saying, “I know the real you, and now so does everyone else.”

 

Published Sunday, September 2, 1990 in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Halito Gianna by Becky Villareal. Book Review.

Click on the cover to buy the book.

Gianna could easily become one of your children’s favourite book characters. This is a determined, bighearted, independent, and opinionated girl. She is resourceful and clever.

At the beginning of this story, her class is told that they are to dress up as their favourite character from a book for Halloween. Gianna suggests the heroine of The Rough Faced Girl. If you are unfamiliar with this book, I reviewed it on this blog a while back. The protagonist of this story is a First Nations girl with a pure heart, much like Cinderella. It is a character suitable to Gianna who also lives her life with honour.

In the first book in the series, Gianna joined a genealogy club and learned about her mother’s immigration. In this book, she becomes determined to find out what happened to her father, a soldier who went overseas and disappeared.

In the midst of this quest, a new girl arrives at the school; she is from the Choctaw nation, in Broken Bowl, Oklahoma. Gianna takes her under her wing and transforms what could have been a terrifying and terrible day into a fairly good one. The students learn about the origins of the lacrosse and the Trail of Tears many First Nations people were forced to walk.

I don’t want to give away the whole story. It’s touching and inspiring. Because of this little girl, and her kindness to others and determination, she and her mother have a happy ending to this particular part of their lives. I have to admit, this little book put a lump in my throat. Share it with your child. You’ll both love it.

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Review of Gianna the Great

Interview with the Author Becky Villareal

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Is There More to Mutilated Pelicans Than Angry Fishermen? – Tangled Lines by Bonnie J. Doerr. Book Review.

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Click here to buy Tangled Lines: Paradise in Peril

Bonnie J. Doerr has written a polished, exciting and important book. Tangled Lines deals with the destruction of natural habitat and cruelty toward pelicans, all in the name of profit. Doerr’s research is impeccable. The portrayal of the culture and community of Big Pine Key, Florida is realistic and believable. The reader is given an insight into the daily struggle of fishermen, the risks taken by Cuban immigrants to reach the United States of America, exploitation of the natural world, the senseless slaughter of wild creatures, and the courageous and giving nature of volunteers trying to protect endangered wildlife and the environment.

As well as a fascinating glimpse into this world, the author creates a realistic and touching story of unrequited love. Kenzie Ryan, the hero, has developed romantic feelings for her comrade in environmental protection but he, Angelo Sanchez, just wants to be friends. In turn, Angelo has fallen for a wealthy and beautiful girl from an influential family who also happens to be a good person. There is also a budding romance between Kenzie’s friend Ana and an older boy, who seems oblivious to her wheelchair. The complications and emotions of teenagers in relationships is shown with tact, understanding, empathy, and a sense of humor.

This book is an “eco-mystery”. As such, clues are given as the true reason behind the slaughter of pelicans unfolds. Kenzie and Angelo take great personal risk in order to protect the vulnerable animals. The suspense escalates to a satisfying climax wherein some people are showing to be worse than anticipated and some are shown to be better.

This book was 400 pages, but it flew by quickly. The editing was perfect. The pace was comfortable. The characters were likable and made us care about their future. The mystery was educational and worthy of our attention and time.

Although this book is written for middle grade children, young adults and adults would find it interesting and enjoyable. Highly recommended.

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

Bonnie J. Doerr was interviewed on this blog Wednesday, February 8, 2017.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages