Three Random Questions Interview with Lauren Isabelle Pierre.

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Lauren Isabelle Pierre is a children’s writer, self-taught illustrator, and aspiring comic artist. She began self-publishing her picture books at the age of 15. At the ripe old age of 18, she has a lifetime ahead of her to grow and share.

Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Lauren. I have to say, you slipped under my radar. As a rule, I don’t review books written by such young people. I reviewed your book, Tip and Lulu A Tale of Two Friends in March, 2017 not knowing how young you were when you wrote it. Why did you decide to start publishing so soon?

Lauren Isabelle Pierre: Haha, yeah, sorry about that. I had wanted to be inconspicuous about my age in the past, but eventually I came to realize that the whole novelty of me being a young writer was people KNOWING how old I was. I’m glad it worked out though; your review is one of my favourites! To answer your question, I’ve actually been trying to get published since I was maybe 10 years old? It all started back when I was seven or eight when my dad showed me a news article about an 11 year old girl who wrote a novel about dolphins and published it through Lulu.com. That was the spark that eventually ignited my “passion dynamite” for being a published author, if you will. I had a lot of good starts, but usually lost interest. Several years later, when I was 14, my dad approached me with yet another article about a New York native writing YA romance/sci-fi… at 13! She was printing through CreateSpace. That was the push that eventually led me to write/illustrate my first children’s book.

Ferrante: You write from a Christian viewpoint but, at least this book, lends itself well to non-Christian readers as well. I liked the message that kindness is its own reward. Are you consciously making your books available to a wide audience?

Pierre: Absolutely! As they sang in VeggieTales (which I was recently surprised to find out is enjoyed by both Christians and non-Christians alike), “God’s Word is for everyone”. I know that the term “Christian” can turn a lot of people off and get them thinking, “This is just another book about God and all that preachy stuff, I’ll pass,” so I go out of my way to make my stories accessible to a wide readership, all while teaching the values I believe in. That isn’t to say I’m afraid of sharing my faith (my first faith-based children’s book is set to be released next month); but I know how people can be when you “push them.”

Ferrante: I agree. Respecting the beliefs of your readers is important. Although my books are written from a Buddhist viewpoint, there is only one Buddhist word in one of my picture books. (The AMIDA Tree)

Your other two books, Ollie the Opossum: A Tale of Loving Yourself and The Panda that Learned to Ignore use animals as the central characters. Why do you use anthropomorphized animals instead of humans?

  

Pierre: Well, The Panda that Learned to Ignore was written by my brother Samuel, and his reason for using animals in it was because his favourite animal is the panda. My reason for using anthropomorphic animals characters is so readers focus less on what the characters look like (black, white, etc.) and more on what they’ve done or overcame; I want them to focus on the lesson of the story and internal emotions of the character. Also, they’re a lot of fun to draw and are capable of maintaining plot elements that *normal* human characters can’t (like fly, scale up trees with ease, pick up a scent from far distances, etc.). I think I’ve grown up enough as a writer to start telling stories with a human cast… but we’ll see if there are any more “furry” characters in need of getting their stories told living in my imagination. There will always be a place in my heart for each of them.

Ferrante: You’re self-taught. You’re fortunate enough to be living in a time where the internet provides free instruction on writing and illustrating? What drew you to Mark Crilley’s website? Are there any other sites you would recommend for emerging illustrators?

Pierre: I found Mark Crilley while browsing the Kid’s section of our former cable provider’s pay-per-view channel when I was 11, I think? There were some free how-to-draw videos by him, and I used to wait for when the service put new videos up. Eventually I learned that he was a published comic-creator with a youtube channel, and our “relationship” took off. He “mentored” me for several years until I made a style change from Japanese manga to western animation-styled art.

There are several social networks where artists can be found and followed, like tumblr, twitter, instagram, and deviantART (though I’m personally not a fan of that site due to its name and content that is allowed there). If you’re ready, get an account on one or more of these sites and start sharing your art. I don’t advise getting an account too early in your growth; my parents prevented me from doing so, and I’m glad they did (but don’t tell them I said that). People online can be cruel, and the pressure of being surrounded by artists who are more experienced then you are may hurt your growth as an artist. People also have different opinions on what is considered “art”, so what might be inappropriate to you, will be beautiful to someone else. What I like to do is bookmark the tumblr, twitter, and/or portfolio website of artists I like and “follow” them that way. It’s less distracting, and you get to decide who you want to see, as opposed to getting suggestions from a social media feed.

Ferrante: Do you participate in peer critiques? Do you test your manuscripts on children? Where do you get feedback on your work before publishing?

Pierre: My go-to feedback person is my mom, second are my siblings. Though I’d love to be able to critique with other young authors, the majority of my “peers” that are writers are most likely writing YA novels, so I’d be the odd one out, easy! For the most part, I read up on a lot of resource articles on the best ways to write for children, common mistakes new writers make, and other insightful pieces and pray I’m doing it right. You can imagine my ecstasy when I get a nice review.

Ferrante: Yes, I can. Do you plan on pursuing any formal education in writing or illustrating? What is next for you?

Pierre: As much as I’d love to go to an acclaimed art school and study Illustration and/or Character Design, a $50k tuition for 4 years to study something I’ve proven I can learn on my own would most likely be a very unwise investment (though the Ringling Art Institute in Sarasota, FL is calling to me), especially if it takes a while for my highly-specialized career choice to take off. I’m thinking I might study education or another field I’m interested in at a less-expensive local school and do freelance illustrating/write books on the side, or get a major and art minor and use the major as a backup if my art career doesn’t work out immediately. But this is all speculation. Only time will tell.

IFerrante: I’ve heard how expensive post-secondary education is in the United States. That’s unfortunate but you seem to be finding your own way just fine.

Ferrante: If you could dance, sing, and act perfectly in a Broadway production, which one would you choose?

Pierre: The Lion King, period. It’s one of my favourite Disney movies, and I love the soundtrack. I’m a little short, but I think I’d make a good Adult Nala or Rafiki (who is female in the Broadway version for some reason). I’d also say Annie… but I think I’m too old for that!

Ferrante:  If you could make a fantasy character such as a dragon, a fairy, a mermaid, a wizard, or an elf become real, which one would you choose?

Pierre: I’m torn between choosing a fairy or an elf. I think having a trusty sidekick like Tinkerbell would be fun. But there’s an all-ages webcomic I read called Harpy Gee, about a magic-less elf (named Harpy) who learned to rely on her physical skills to protect herself in a world crawling with monsters. So if she were the elf, I think we’d get along. She could teach me how to kick butt, lol.

Ferrante: Under what circumstances do you say, “this only happens to me!”

Pierre: When I mess up a sketch on paper and look for the “Ctrl + Z” keys on my desk. (Actually, this happens to a lot of digital artists, haha.)

Ferrante: Ah, yes. The blessed “undo.”

Thank you for participating in this interview. Good luck with your career. You’ve certainly got a great start.

 

 

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The Cat Who Loved to Swim by LeAnne Miller. Illustrated by Linda Manthey. Book Review.

The Cat Who Loved to Swim features a feline, Casper, who is being mocked by his friends for swimming. They tell him that cats don’t behave like that. Then, they each realize they are unique in some way. The goat likes gymnastics. The donkey sings. The monkey plays violin. Casper convinces them to compete in the Big Swimming Show even though they can’t swim. He pulls them on a raft while they display their special talents. The judges award them “most unique”. Casper ends with, “It’s fun and OK when you go your own way!”

This is a great message. Accept your friends as they are. Accept and be proud of your own unique skills.

Unfortunately, the book was written in rhyme, a challenge for any writer. The rhythm is unsteady, the rhyming pattern changes throughout, and some unusual words are used to fit the rhyming, such as “faux-pas”. This makes the book difficult to read aloud smoothly and with expression. Subsequently, it is difficult to maintain a child’s interest.

If you choose to write in rhyme, which is seldom needed, try reading it aloud and tapping to the beat. Then give it to someone who has never seen the book before and ask them to do the same. If either of you are stumbling, the rhyming isn’t working.

The illustrations are noteworthy. I think they are done with computer graphics but they have the feel of cut and paste shapes. With the simplest of pictures, Linda Manthey conveys wonderful charm and emotion.

This book has so much potential but does not truly fulfill it because of the difficulties of writing in rhyme. The story is cute and worthwhile, however. It’s worth taking a look.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Milton the Christmas Moose by Steve and Jean Goodwin. Illustrated by Loanna Philippou. Book Review.

This book was written to teach children the importance of kindness, inclusion, forgiveness, and the spirit of Christmas. Milton has one antler smaller than the other and one leg shorter than the other. Like Rudolph, he is teased and excluded by his species. However he makes friends with all the other animals, helps them as much as possible, and encourages them to help each other. Because of this, Rudolph comes to visit him and brings him to see Santa. Santa grants him a wish. Milton wishes to be green with red antlers to remind people to keep Christmas in their hearts 365 days a year. This triggers a realization in the other moose who treat him differently from then on.
This book is obviously written for very young children, those who still believe in Santa and Rudolph. However it is a little long and challenging for children of this age. Parents could read it to them and explain some of the words and concepts.
Throughout the story we see that small kindnesses make a big difference in animal’s lives. This book lends itself well to discussions on how children can help others and make the world a better place through their small achievements.
I thought the new colour choice of red and green was a little weak as a catalyst for change by the other moose. Rudolph is accepted by the other reindeer because of his monumental achievement of saving Christmas and being exactly what Santa needed when the others were unable to help him. I felt this story needed a little more umph for the turning point. I was hoping for something new but it seem to be basically an echo of the Rudolph story.
The illustrations are cute, wonky watercolors. They are colourful and cheerful, however the illustration of Santa Claus was a little jarring and out of place.
At the end of the book it tells the reader to check out the Christmas song on a website. When you go there, this song is for purchase only and I couldn’t figure out a way to hear any of it.
A sweet, heart-warming book that encourages good values but doesn’t have the impact of Rudolph.

Surf’s Up! Rebecca Heller is Hitting the Waves – Three Random Questions Interview

Rebecca  Heller is the quintessential surfer girl. The bio on her website begins “Rebecca Heller is a Los Angeles-based high school counselor. She like totally lives in the Valley with her surfer husband and precocious daughter. She occasionally ditches school to go surfing.” She even has long blonde hair.

Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Rebecca. It’s not surprising that your first book, published in 2005, was Surf Like a Girl. How old were you when you started surfing?

Rebecca Heller: In 2001, I moved from New York City to Los Angeles, within the month I had taken my first surf lesson and have been in the water ever since. I was 28 at the time—an old lady by surfing standards, but you are never too old to learn!

Ferrante: The book includes practical information on surfing, such as how to ride the waves and safety, but it also includes etiquette and what to wear. Basically, it explains the whole package of the surfer girl persona. Was this based on personal experience or observation?

Heller: Definitely personal experience. When I was learning, I was asking a million questions. There were very few books and this was in the early internet days and there was just very little information out there. Especially for girls.

Ferrante: Skater Girl is in a similar style. It includes the basics and advanced techniques with step by step instruction. When did you start skateboarding? Do you still participate?

Heller: I skated a bit as a kid and got back on a board around the same time as I started surfing. The two activities have a lot in common. My skateboarding skills are nowhere near my surf skills so I co-authored Skater Girl with an expert, Patty Segovia, who runs the All Girl Skate Jam.

Ferrante: Are these two books mostly read by young people beginning the sports or the sports audience? How do you prepare yourself to write for that particular readership?

Heller: When I wrote Surf Like a Girl, I was in a way writing for myself when I was a beginner. It’s funny, my voice just skews towards a young audience. It is no surprise that I continued writing for young people. I also work with young people as a high school college counselor. It is definitely my comfort zone!

Ferrante: Kids must  think you’re the coolest counselor ever.

Your publishing company is called “Like a Girl” press. I assume you are poking fun at the denigrating saying “she throws/runs/etc. like a girl.” Would you tell us about your mandate to empower girls?

Heller: Absolutely. I have never once in my life thought there was something boys could do that girls could not. (Okay, maybe peeing standing up, but otherwise…) I feel passionately about empowering women to do whatever they set their mind to, whether that is athletic, academic, or creative.  For me, “Like a Girl” translates to “Like a Badass!”

Ferrante: You have a fiction book, Gilbert and Louis Rule the Universe for middle grade readers. Why did you choose that age level and that topic?

Heller: : Gilbert and Louis Rule the Universe had been in my heart for a long time. It is a semi-autobiographical story about me and my best friend in middle school. (We really did call ourselves Gilbert and Louis)  As the saying goes, “God writes poor fiction.” So I had to give it structure. I love Jane Austin and the plotline of Pride and Prejudice fit with my story and gave it a stronger narrative.

Ferrante: You also have two picture books, Falling Rock and your latest book Elephants. Why did you change from chapter books to this style?

Heller: The sweet spot for Falling Rock is second grade. I wrote Falling Rock over 18 years ago, and my mother did the artwork.  The story was based on a tale my camp counselor once told us about how Falling Rock was a Native American and wherever he was spotted they put up a sign with his name. Once my daughter was born I pulled out the story, dusted it off, rewrote it, re-photographed the artwork, and created the book. 

I have been reading tons of picture books with my daughter and I am absolutely in love with them. I have always been drawn to visuals (I was an Art History major in college and my mother is an artist), so I love the combination of a good story and great artwork. I also love animals and feel very strongly about animals in the wild being conserved and protected.

Ferrante: The illustrations are wonderful? How did you connect with Susie Mason? Did you collaborate or did you just hand over the words to her?

Heller: I found Suzie on the internet while searching for illustrators. I had a very strong vision for the book. If you ask anyone who knows me they know I have a real sense of what I like and don’t like. I saw Suzie’s work online and was like “this is it.” I sent her an email asking if she wanted to illustrate Elephants and happily she said yes. She is based in the U.K. so we have never met in person, but we collaborated on it greatly. She brought a lot of wonderful ideas to the table that made it better than I had even imagined, and all the time we stayed true to my initial vision. She is amazing.

Ferrante: Part of the proceeds from Elephants goes toward the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (www.elephanttrust.org). Why did you choose that particular charity out of all the elephant charities?

Heller: The Amboseli Trust for Elephants aligns perfectly with my goals of elephant conservation and protection as they are a non-profit organization that aims to ensure the long-term conservation and welfare of Africa’s elephants. I was turned onto ATE by Colleen Kinzley, Director of Animal Care, Conservation, and Research at the Oakland Zoo, who helped me fact check Elephants. The Amboseli Trust for Elephants is also the legal entity that administers the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, the longest-running study of wild elephants in the world. Since 1972, they have followed the lives of the Amboseli elephants; the results of their research has profoundly altered the way we think about, conserve, and manage elephant populations. They are doing fantastic work.

Ferrante: Are you working on another book? Would you like to share?

Heller: Yes! Suzie Mason and I are currently working on a series that feature threatened or endangered animals. The next up is an animal that is close to my heart, Dolphins! We are also working on books on Polar Bears and Whales.

Ferrante: Now for your three random questions:

If you were a natural disaster, what would you be, and why?

Heller: As a surfer girl, I would have to say a tsunami.

Ferrante: As a teenager, who was your idol?

Heller: Hmm, I am not sure I had one. I would say though that my idol since childhood and still has to be Eloise from the Kay Thompson series.

Ferrante: Is there a childhood keepsakes that you treasure or wish you had saved?

Heller: I am rather sentimental although also a minimalist, which is a tough combination. Two of my favorites are Skinny Bunny (a stuffed rabbit that looks exactly like the name implies), that is now in my daughter’s room, and my “Becca Books” a series of books my aunt made for me that feature photographs of me and my family along with fantastical stories that my aunt created.

Ferrante: It’s wonderful when we can pass on something precious from childhood to our own children. Thank you for answering my questions. Best of luck with your animal picture books in the works. I hope all your waves are perfect.

Social media links

www.rebeccaheller.com

Twitter: @rebeccaheller

Instagram: @rebecca.heller

Facebook: rebeccaheller.549

Elephants was reviewed on this blog.

Click  on the covers for the information and buy links.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Damned If I Do and Damned If I Don’t

I understand why so many bloggers are refusing to review indie books. You get tired of this kind of stuff. I think I’ll be taking a break soon. It’s hard to be energetic and positive when I get this kind of hate. I’m not sure where she’s reviewed me but I think revenge reviewers should be outted. (I didn’t even review her for cripes sake.) This is what happened. I see why bloggers burn out.

From: Alma Hammond (I won’t post her email)
Sent: September 10, 2017 8:45 AM
To: b.ferrante@tbaytel.net
Subject: New Picture Book to Review

Hi Bonnie,

I popped by your website on a google search and was impressed by your blog of picture books.  I published a picture book a couple months ago that I would love to have you review on your site.  The book, in .pdf form is attached, along with a marketing piece I use to sell the books to stores (currently carried in 8 stores in the USA).

Let me know if you could be interested.

Best,

Alma R. Hammond

RATHER THAN GIVE HER A THREE STAR REVIEW, I SENT THIS MAIL:

On Sun, Sep 10, 2017 at 6:52 PM, B.Ferrante <b.ferrante@tbaytel.net> wrote:

Hi Alma,

There is a lot I liked about the book but I felt the ending was a bit of a let-down. It was a little too passive. I’ll pass on this book but keep me in mind for the next.

Ciao,

Bonnie

TO WHICH SHE REPLIED

Thanks B.  I left a review of Amida as well.  After reading it ( I bought it) I thought, what makes you an expert?  You have no talent in writing children’s books, so unoriginal and stupid frankly.

Little Mouse’s Sweet Treat by Shana Hollowell. Illustrated by Jennifer finch. Book Review.

This children’s picture book uses patterning in the text. Each page features a little mouse looking for a sweet treat something like this:

Hi Bear.

Do you have something sweet and yummy?

Why yes, said bear. A handful of honey.

Eek! said the mouse.

Honey is sticky and runny.

Sorry, said the  bear.

You should ask the bunny.

The mouse asks a bear, bunny, dog, cat, bird, pony, cow, and finally his mommy for a sweet . Luckily his mother has baked cookies for him.

The rhyming is a little forced in spots but holds up fairly well throughout. There are  no quotation marks.

Children will be intrigued by the reasons the mouse does not want any of the other animals’ snacks. Clover is too lucky, pie is too dry, milk looks like silk, a seed is not what he needs, hay is bland, and he passes on the grass.

Jennifer Finche’s illustrations are done in watercolour with a life-like style. The little mouse is endearing and expressive. The pony appears to be galloping right off the page and the Siamese cat holds us with his eyes.

This is a simple story to read to toddlers or for early readers to read aloud. It would be fun to continue the pattern with other animals. (It’s harder than it looks so you don’t have to make it all rhyme.) For example.

Hi Giraffe.

Do you have something sweet for me?

Why yes, said Giraffe. Leaves from the tree.

Eek! said the mouse.

Leave are bitter as tea.

Sorry, said the  bear.

You should ask the bee.

It would also be a lot of fun to act out the story and end it with baking cookies together.

Buy link http://a.co/cHUms0o

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

New Schedule – Making a Picture Book with Your Child

 

MAKING A PICTURE BOOK WITH YOUR CHILD

If your child is pre-reading but beginning to “pretend” read or a beginning reader, she is ready for copycat books. Here’s an example.

My just turned four granddaughter had memorized Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle. Highly recommended if you are unfamiliar with it.

Together, we found free colouring pictures of other animals on the internet.

I printed them on 8″ X 14″ paper, landscape format. I didn’t try to print them on both sides of the paper as it often shows through regular printing paper and the spatial logistics are really complicated. Use two columns.

On the right type something similar to “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” Put the colouring picture below. Leave an extra large space on the right of the text to have room for stitching.

On the left INDENT TWO EXTRA TABS to make room for stitching. Type something similar to “I see a yellow duck looking at me.”

I folded the pages down the middle and sewed them together to make a realistic book.

I taped the spine top reinforce the stiching. I glued the blank backs together.

Here’s  the cover. I should have capitalized all the words.

Below is the first page. I started with the child and ended with the child creating a circular story but you can start with an animal. I used rainbow girl because she loves colorful clothes but you can use the child’s name instead.

Here are the second and third pages. I recommend no more than 7-8 animals.

Notice that the color word is printed in the color the child needs to use. Keep it fun. Don’t fret about coloring skills.

The last page should feature your child. You can post a photo or have the child draw herself. Kayleigh is going to draw herself in colorful clothing.

Buddy read with your child. Point to each word as you read it aloud. Then have the child do it for you. Don’t get too concerned with pointing to the exact word at the beginning just make sure she is pointing from left to right. At first, stress the color words. Then focus on “looking” which has two open eyes “oo” and “see” which has two partly open eyes “ee.” After that is mastered focus on the animal’s name, then the rest of the words. Keep it light and fun. Progress at the child’s speed. Don’t persist if she becomes bored or frustrated. Have fun.

Because this blog is taking so much of my writing time, I will no longer post on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Sundays – Recycled Humor Column

Monday – Book Review

Wednesday – Writer Interview or Book Review or Special Series

Friday – Book Review

Saturday – Randomness

Please keep following, commenting, and sharing.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

 

 

Bear Hockey by Jessica Boyd. Illustrated by Maurizio Curto. Book Review.

This adorable 11 x 8″ picture book will be loved by boys and girls alike. A grey squirrel narrates the story which begins, “Good afternoon, sports fans!…It’s so cold that… The pond is frozen!… That means is the perfect time for Bear Hockey!” The squirrel explains that all bears, once a year, “strap on their helmets, lace up their skates, and pick up their hockey sticks” to participate in bear hockey.

The rules are:

  1. You use many pinecones instead of one puck.
  2. You high-five all the players and spectators multiple times before you start playing.
  3. You take frequent, frequent, frequent honey breaks.
  4. When the last pinecone is scored, it’s time for hibernation!

The emphasis throughout the book is on fun and camaraderie.

The bears wear a variety of colored sweatshirts.  Even though the squirrel announces at one point that the teams are tied, it seems there is only one goalie.

The illustrations are wonderful. Not an inch of space is left empty on any page. The text is superimposed on the busy illustrations. Bears of all sizes play together. Smiles are rampant. The pictures gleam with personality. The bears would make precious stuffed toys.

The littlest bear scores the winning goal (I think everybody won).

After all the excitement, the bears “brush their honey-covered teeth and comb their matted fur and snuggle under the covers for a few quiet months of blissful snoozing.” The book ends with a shot of the littlest bear cuddled up with his jersey. His skates, hockey stick, and helmet are at his feet. A picture of the hockey players hangs in his cave.

What a delightful way to remind children that unregulated hockey is supposed to be fun and that relationships matter more than winning. This would be a great gift, especially for a child who gets a little too intense over playing hockey with friends.

Amazon Buy link http://a.co/3ndl9Sp

Buttertart Books https://buttertartbooks.com/

Read the interview with the author here http://wp.me/p1OfUU-2t6.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Angelina’s Secret by Diane Merrill Wigginton. Book Review.

This is not the kind of book I typically review. It is a lightly historical heavily romantic novel. It features a kick ass heroine in a time where independence and strength in women was frowned upon. It is an adult book of 330 pages.

Angelina is on a ship and is captured by a privateer/pirate named Jude. His heart has been broken and he has a dark opinion of women until he meets Angelina. Angelina is a rebellious, but chaste, young woman until her passion is awakened by the blue-eyed pirate. While her family members are held hostage, Angelina dallies and begins a complicated romance with a man leading a double life.

Admittedly, the premise is fairly clichéd but Wiggington pulls it off if the reader is willing to suspend any skepticism and turn her imagination over to the realm of adventure and romance. Angelina reminded me of Scarlet O’Hara in that she was invincible and controlled by her passion. By the end of the book she had almost taken on super hero status.

The sex scenes emphasize romance while providing just enough detail to be titillating. This is a fun, light, enjoyable book, the kind one takes on vacation or to the beach. If you are looking for something fun that is uncomplicated and upbeat, then this is a book you would definitely enjoy.

Buy link http://a.co/6Mal4Tl

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Sammy and the Fire (A Dangerous and Exciting Adventure) by Lynn Miclea. Book Review.

This story is told entirely from the point of view of the dog. It is totally believable and makes the reader connect and care deeply for the dog. Sammy is an independent little soul. He digs a hole under the fence and keeps it a secret from his family. When he smells smoke, he uses this as an escape to find out what is wrong. Through great tribulation, problem-solving and courage,  he manages to save an old lady and her cat from a house fire.

Sammy was rescued from the pound. His memories show us what it is like for a dog to feel abandoned and then encounter a loving and gentle family. The book subtly reminds children how to treat dogs properly.

The story is highly dramatic and suspenseful yet the author manages to inject some sweet moments of humour such as when the dog hopes the peanut butter candy survives the fire.

Children who are beginning to read chapter books will absolutely love this story. It’s the kind of book you would want your child to read.

One suggestion I have for the author is that, especially with suspense, she should try to avoid using passive verbs. For example. to keep a tight, fast pace, instead of:

“was losing” use lost

“was thicker” use thickened

“was moving slowly” use moved slowly

She might want to use modern names for her children as Billy and Susie sound a bit dated. A good way to keep current is to check the list of the most popular children’s  names the year your  readers were born.

There are five excellent full colour illustrations. My only wish was that they would be full page. I viewed it on an e-book and they were quite small.

All in all, this was a lovely book that I would not hesitate to buy for someone who is just into chapter books.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages