Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Reader's Favorite 5 Star Award Given to The T-Rex Who Wanted To Be A Long Neck!

My book The T-Rex Who Wanted To Be A Longneck just received the Reader's Choice 5 Star Award and a fabulous review from Reader's Favorite.

This means my illustrator, Carol Stevens, is in the process of adding this badge....
to the front of this cover.... 


We are thrilled to receive this award!!

If you are an author, we highly recommend checking out Reader's Favorite for reviews. 

For you fellow readers, we recommend you take a peek at the reviews on Reader's Favorite to help you find quality and enjoyable reading material (Reader's Favorite did not solicit this recommendation, it merely stems from my great experience with them).

In fact, I've found the organization so impressive, that I'm applying to become one of their reviewers. Soon I will have this badge added to this site!!

Until then, thanks for sharing in my excitement and best wishes in your own writing and reading endeavors!






Sunday, November 2, 2014

Free Book and Free Book APP: The Chipmunk Who Wanted To Be A Bear, by Valerie Harmon and Carol Stevens

My fifth book in the WantsToBe children's picture eBook series, The Chipmunk Who Wanted To Be A Bear, is FREE from November 3 until midnight November 6.

Pick up your free copy here!


Rated 5 Stars and has hit #1 Best Seller in Category!
This is the fifth fully-illustrated children's book in the Wants To Be series

Book Summary: Chipmunk is so afraid of things that he hates to leave his tree house! When he notices a grizzly bear who doesn't seem scared of anything, Chipmunk gets an idea that shows him to be braver than he thinks. This is not a typical "Be content with who you are" book, but rather "Working hard toward a goal changes you into something more." Which is why in the end (don't spoil the surprise for your child!) after working hard to become a grizzly bear, and conquering his fears in the process, Chipmunk turns into CHIZZLY!  This is a metaphorical example of how we all change after accomplishing hard things.


Tapping or swiping the stars within the app can drop an acorn on Bear's nose, catch Chipmunk riding on a fish, or send a hawk soaring in the sky, and much more. The icons on the left release a variety of sounds effects, including a laughing raccoon, gurgling stream or even a grumbling bear. This app teaches children to work hard toward a goal, no matter what, with 61 animations, 28 sound effects, music, and dramatized narration.

Free iPad App version of the book!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Author Valerie Harmon visits a School

I visited a school class on Halloween and read to them The T-Rex Who Wanted to be A Long Neck. I was dressed as an old lady, so you won't recognize me:

Harmon (Old Lady on the stage) reads stories to school children
Reading aloud is exhilarating, especially when your audience roars and stomps along with you!

Best writing wishes,

Valerie Harmon
Wants To Be Series
PS. on secret sale is my newest published book The Spider Who Wanted to be a Cricket, FREE until Nov.3.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Free Book: The Snake Who Wanted To Be A Horse, by Valerie Harmon and Carol Stevens

My first book in the WantsToBe children's picture eBook series, The Snake Who Wanted To Be  A Horse, is FREE from October 30 until midnight November 2.

Pick up your free copy here!


Has hit #1 Best Seller in Category and rated 4.6 STARS with over 40 reviews!
This is the first fully-illustrated children's book in the Wants To Be series.

Book Summary: Snake has a tender belly. When he sees Horse galloping by, he decides his solution is to become a horse. This idea sends him on a quest of difficulty and a surprising new friendship. This is not a typical "Be content with who you are" book, but rather "Working hard toward a goal changes you into something more." Which is why in the end (don't spoil the surprise for your child!) Snake turns into a SNORSE! This is a metaphorical example of how we all change after accomplishing hard things.



Tapping or swiping the stars within this app can tie Snake's tongue in a knot, send a herd of horses galloping, stick on bandages, and much more. The icons on the left release a variety of sounds effects, including galloping hooves, horses neighing or even snakes laughing. The Snake Wants To Be A Horse app teaches children to work hard toward a goal no matter what, with 71 animations, 35 sound effects, music, and dramatized narration.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Free Book: The Peacock Who Wanted To Be A Pig, by Valerie Harmon and Carol Stevens

My fourth book in the WantsToBe children's picture eBook series, The Peacock Who Wanted To Be A Pig, is FREE from October 26 until midnight October 29.

Pick up your free copy here!


Rated 5 STARS and has hit #1 Best Seller in Category!

Book Summary: Peacock's tail is so heavy his back hurts. When he see's Pig's tiny curly tail he decides becoming a pig will solve his problems. This idea sends him wading through mud, falling into slop, and a surprising new friendship. This is not a typical "Be content with who you are" book, but rather "Working hard toward a goal changes you into something more." Which is why in the end (don't spoil the surprise for your child!) Peacock turns into a PEAGLET! A metaphorical example of how we all change after accomplishing hard things.


Tapping or swiping the stars within the app can launch Peacock into a mudhole, help him swallow an apple core, balance on a ball, and much more. The icons on the left release a variety of sound effects, including cows mooing or even Pig slurping from a trough. This app teaches children to work hard toward a goal no matter what, with 68 animations, 35 sound effects, music, and dramatized narration.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Free Books: The Crab Who Wanted To Be a Dolphin and The Alligator Who Wanted To Be A Dog

My seventh book in the WantsToBe children's picture eBook series, The Crab Who Wanted To Be A Dolphin, AND my third  book, The Alligator Who Wanted To Be A Dog are FREE from October 23 until midnight October 26.

Pick up your free copy here!


Book Summary: Everyone annoys Crab! Lonely and friendless (because she's cranky), she decides she needs to become a dolphin to solve her problems. Struggling on this quest, she discovers that finding friends requires changes on the inside, not the outside. As she experiences gratitude, and the friendship that follows, she unexpectedly transforms into a mixture of her old self and a new self. Not only an educational story encouraging gratitude, this tale is also a metaphor for how we all transform after accomplishing difficult things. 

This title will be available soon as an animated app for iPad (in the App Store℠) and as a full-color softcover book. 


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pick up your free copy of The Alligator Who Wanted To Be A Dog here!

Rated 5 STARS and has hit #1 Best Seller in Category!

This is the third fully-illustrated children's book in the Wants To Be series.

Book Summary: Alligator's sharp-toothed smiles scares away all the other animals, and he feels so lonely. Since dogs are friends with everyone, he decides that he needs to become a dog. This decision sends him on a quest of difficulty and a surprising new friendship. This is not a typical "Be content with who you are" book, but rather "Working hard toward a goal changes you into something more." Which is why, in the end (don't spoil the surprise for your child!) Alligator turns into a ALLIDOG. This is pure imaginative fun, but is also a metaphorical example of how we all change after accomplishing hard things.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Free Book: The Elephant Who Wanted To Be A Bee, by Valerie Harmon and Carol Stevens

My second book in the WantsToBe children's picture eBook series, The Elephant Who Wanted To Be A Bee, is FREE from October 19 until midnight October 22.

Pick up your free copy here!

Rated 4.6 STARS and has hit #1 Best Seller in Category!

Book Summary: Elephant is allergic to the flowers she loves to eat. What can she do? She decides becoming a bee will solve her allergies. This decision sends her on a quest of difficulty and a surprising new friendship. This is not a typical "Be content with who you are" book, but rather "Working hard toward a goal changes you into something more." Which is why, in the end (don't spoil the surprise for your child!) Elephant turns into an ELLABEE. This is pure imaginative fun, but is also a metaphorical example of how we all change after accomplishing hard things.


Tapping or swiping the stars within the app can start a hive of bees swarming, cause a zebra to rear, send a meerkat scampering away, and much more. The icons on the left release a variety of sound effect, including a trumpeting elephant, a tree crashing to the ground or even a barking meerkat. This app teaches children to work hard toward a goal no matter what, with 73 animations, 36 sound effects, music, and dramatized narration.



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Children's eBook Review: Chickens In Birthday Suits by Nancy Mauerman

Illustrations: 5 Stars 
Cover: 4.5 Stars
Storyline: 4.5 Stars

Total: 5 Stars


What a unique book! Told from the point of view of a chicken who is celebrating her birthday--I mean Hatch Day.

If you haven't uploaded the updated version, I recommend you do so. Mauerman has made some significant improvements, and this review is based on the most recent version.

Storyline: A hen, who loves banana moons and tasty worms, is celebrating her hatch day with her person and a couple chicken friends. They head to the park to parade around, eat cake, and open presents. People gather round the unexpected spectacle, and the chickens are surprised at the silly questions the people ask. The birthday chicken opens present after present and watches as her fellow hens STEAL (and eat!) her presents. Will she get what she wants for her birthday? Will she get to enjoy it?
4.5 Stars for an enjoyable children's picture book

Illustrations: I found these illustrations very unusual. They were brightly colored and angled in amusing ways. I very much enjoyed the style and felt they added even more creativity to a unique story.
5 stars for an artist who likes closeups

Before this post published, Mauerman let me know that one of her books, Old MacDonald Had A Haunted House   is free from today, October 16, until October 20, 2014. I have not read this particular book yet myself, but I enjoyed Mauerman's Chicken's In Birthday Suits book.

Unusually, Nancy Mauerman is both the author and the illustrator of her 12 published books, I interviewed her and this is what she said:





VH: It's unusual to write and illustrate. Why do you choose to do both?


NM: Initially I only wanted to illustrate but decided to take writing classes simply to appreciate that process.  My supervisor encouraged me to apply myself seriously to writing also, not knowing how miserably poor I was at writing.

I remember one day at Cal. State Long Beach when in the morning my illustration teacher said, ”You’d better stick to writing.” That afternoon my writing teacher said, “You’d better focus on drawing.” “But,” I told myself, “what would happen if you don’t quit. You can do it wrong but you can do it twice.” From that point made two to seven drawing instead of one for every assignment art given. 


VH: What's the most difficult part of creating a children's book?

NM: I scrape my innards out and put them in book form not to please others but when it’s done another person inside offers my books to others. It’s discouraging to not have them used.


VH: What advice to you have for other children's book authors?

NM: I suggest to others to discipline your time, dig down deep, and don’t give up.

VH: You've written/illustrated more than one book. How many have you published, and why do you keep writing?


NM: Amy runs the computer part of my business, together we’ve published twelve books (I have two ready for Amy to start on and three more close to being ready, and four are a series).

I keep writing because I’m clinically depressed.  Writing distracts me from nasty feelings and thoughts and I feel driven by God to use my energy in this direction.

VH: What are your favorite books ever (children's book or not)?


NM: I love the scriptures, C. S. Lewis’s non- fiction and Narnia series, Joey Pigza series by Jack Gantos and Zen Koans.

VH: What illustrators and artists influenced your style?


NM: The brilliant artists in my life are M. Angelo, Hildegard of Bingum, Paul Jean and Herman Limbourg, Durer, Dali, Edvard Munch, Mataisse, N. C. Wyeth, O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, Mark Rothko and George Tooker.

VH: Your characters who are children actually speak like children. How do you get the cadence and vocabulary so right?


NM: In an education class my teacher recommended the book Ira Sleeps Over because the characters speak like real children.  When an adult reads this out loud he automatically drops the artificial cute voice. I set this as my goal. Plus I was first attracted to my husband when he was near tears because two of his frogs died. We try to find joy in small things. Plus I have multiple personality disorder with some kids inside me. This last made it hard to get through school but makes it better when making Art Brut pictures.

VH: What is your advice to children who want to create books?


NM: I ask many questions about their ideas to help them crystalize their thoughts. Then I suggest they start right away. I show them how to make their own hard bound covers so they can envision the finished product. 

If you want to learn more about Nancy Maurerman and her books, go to her website, her blog, and her Amazon Author page.

~Valerie Harmon
WantsToBe Books

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Free Book: The T-Rex Who Wanted To Be A Long Neck, by Valerie Harmon and illustrated by Carol Stevens

My sixth book in the WantsToBe children's picture eBook series, The T-Rex Who Wanted To Be A Long Neck, is FREE from October 16 until midnight October 18.

Pick up your free copy here!

Rated 5 stars and has hit #1 Best Seller in Category!

Book Summary: T-Rex is ashamed of his terrible temper and when he sees a peaceful herd of long neck dinosaurs, he decides he needs to be a long neck too. Struggling on this quest, he discovers that keeping his temper requires changes on the inside, not the outside. As he figures out how to control his temper, he unexpectedly transforms into a mixture of his old self (Tyrannosaurus Rex) and a new self (a long neck Diplodicus). Not only an educational story about overcoming anger, this tale is also a metaphor for how we all transform after accomplishing difficult things.


Tapping or swiping the stars within the app can knock down a tree with T-Rex's tail, send a pterodactyl soaring in the sky, hatch a baby dinosaur egg, and much more. The icons on the left release a variety of sounds effects, including a volcano erupting, T-Rex roaring or even the boom from Long Neck whipping his tail. Like the book, this app teaches children to work hard toward a goal, no matter what, with 70 animations, 35 sound effects, music, and dramatized narration.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Children's eBook Review: A Brand New Day, by A.S. Chung, illustrated by Paula Bossio

Illustrations: 5 Stars 
Cover: Stars
Storyline: 4.5 Stars
Total: 5 Stars

Summary: A little girl enjoys time with both her Dad and her Mom, even though they are divorced and live in different houses. Most importantly, she knows they love her! A cozy, warm picture book.

Illustrations: The illustrations are so adorable, I want to squeeze them. Definitely 5 stars.

Storyline: With all the children in divorced families these days, it is a good theme for those children to remember: focus on the positive, like the girl in this story, and remember that their parents love them even though they live in different homes. The short text is perfect for young children. 4.5 stars


Author A.S. Chung was kind enough to answer some questions:

VH: How do you decide what to write about?
ASC: My writing stems from what I staunchly believe in and from personal experiences. I am all about preaching positive messages and the importance of love and family.

VH: How did you find your illustrator?
ASC: An advertisement in the paper, looking for an illustrator! By gosh we found a gem! Not only is she talented, she has an uncanny knack of interpreting my words beautifully.

VH: Did you create your own publishing company, how and why?ASC: Yes I did! Pigeonhole Books is a project very close to my heart. Dealing with important subjects such as divorce as well as same-sex, blended and multiracial families, I really wanted to have complete control of the book.

As for how, a lot of research and finding the medium that would suit me from a creative and financial
point of view. Print on Demand distribution was perfect for me.

VH: What are your favorite books (children's books and otherwise)?
ASC: I grew up reading Enid Blyton (see Blyton's adventure series collection and a mysteries series collection here). Despite all the revelations about her writing styles in present day, I saw none of her racism and sexism when I was reading them. She always managed to immerse me into a world of pure imagination. It is no wonder that I then progressed onto Roald Dahl (see Dahl's Matilda and James and the Giant Peach here). I love that I am now reading these books to my daughter, allowing me to re-live my childhood!

As an adult, my all-time favourite genre is fantasy. Books that allow me to escape out of the real world as I immerse myself into a makeshift bubble of silence! David Eddings was my first true love (see Eddings' Pawn of Prophecy, first book in the Belgariad series), with Raymond E. Feist not very far behind (see Feist's Shadow of a Dark Queen, first book in the SerpantWar Saga, and Flight of the Nighthawks, first book in the Darkwar Saga).

I read all the classics too. I have a bookshelf about to burst at the seams filled with books of all kinds of genres. I can sometimes have four books on the go, depending on my mood!

VH: What advice do you have for people who want to write children's books?ASC: Just do it! The writing part is easy. If you had the inclination to do in the first place, you have already formulated a manuscript in your head. The hard part is getting it out there, the dos and don’ts and the right and wrong way to go about it. But in the end, just give it a go. If anything, allow it to satisfy your inner desire to put words on paper. It’s incredibly exciting!

VH: What's your favorite part of being a writer?
ASC: My favourite part is seeing my message being interpreted by readers exactly as I had intended. My book is only 800 words. I had to find a way to express my message succinctly.

You can connect with A.S. Chung and see her books on Pigeonhole Publishing, her author website, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Thank you A.S. Chung,



Monday, September 22, 2014

Children's eBook Review: Odie the Stray Kitten by Kristen Mott

Illustrations: 4.5 Stars 
Cover: 4.5 Stars
Storyline: 4.0 Stars
Total: 4.5 Stars

Summary: Odie is a tiny kitten who loses his family and finds a new home with a girl and other animals who love him.

Storyline: Not a lot happens in this story. Odie doesn't overcome great obstacles or prove himself a hero. But the story is tender and feels real and loving. I read it with my 9 year old daughter (who loves kittens) and we enjoyed it together. 4 stars.

Illustrations: The illustrations are professional and sweet, and support the story well. I especially enjoyed the illustrations of the cats playing together. 4.5 stars

Total: 4.5 stars

Author Kristen Mott was kind enough to answer these questions: 
VH: How did you decide to write this book?  
KM: Odie the Stray Kitten is a true story. I wrote it several months after it actually happened. I had been thinking about how brave Odie was that day and I wanted to write his story to encourage children to have compassion for animals.  
VH: What advice do you have to children who want to write?
KM: My advice is simply to read and write as much as you can. Reading helps with writing, and everyone has something to say. 
VH: What are you favorite books (children or otherwise)? 
KM: Some of my favorite children's books growing up were If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Corduroy. Children's books are the only genre that you can enjoy for two lifetimes. I loved those books as a child and I'm enjoying them again now when I read them to my son.  
VH: What's a funny story that happened to you as an author? 
KM: When I do readings at schools and bookstores, I am often asked if I brought the real Odie with me. He would be too frightened for me to bring along, so I created a poster of photos of the real Odie and friends for the kids to look at. The pictures aren't the same as being able to meet the real animal characters, but the kids always seem to enjoy them. That usual sparks the question "What is Odie doing right now?" And my response is usually "Sleeping on the porch in the sunshine." 
VH: If you were an animal, what kind would you be? 
KM: I would definitely be a cat because I enjoy sleeping and being in the sunshine almost as much as Odie.  
VH: What's your advice to children who find a stray animal?
KM: If the child finds a stray cat, the first step is to tell a parent. Then, if the cat is friendly, try to get it to a veterinarian to be examined and spayed/neutered. If the stray is not friendly, do not try to pick it up. Contact a local no-kill animal organization to help you trap, neuter and return (TNR) the cat. Getting the cat fixed is very important because it helps to control the overpopulation of cats and in turn keeps them out of shelters.
Author Kristen Mott

If you're interested in learning more about author Kristen Mott,



Click here to find Odie's Best Friend on Amazon.

Thank you for sharing your book Kristen Mott!


~Valerie Harmon

Monday, September 15, 2014

Published today! WantsToBe Book 7: The Crab Who Wanted To Be A Dolphin

My seventh children's picture book in the WantsToBe series, The Crab Who Wanted To Be A Dolphin is now available on Amazon!
Book Summary: Everyone annoys Crab! Lonely and friendless (because she's cranky), she decides she needs to become a dolphin to solve her problems. Struggling on this quest, she discovers that finding friends requires changes on the inside, not the outside. As she experiences gratitude, and the friendship that follows, she unexpectedly transforms into a mixture of her old self and a new self. Not only an educational story encouraging gratitude, this tale is also a metaphor for how we all transform after accomplishing difficult things. 

In honor of this exciting news, all six published books in this series are FREE till midnight tonight (the full color eBook versions are free, the full color paperback versions are $6.29). Click on the cover of the book for the link to Amazon (note that they've each reached best seller in category and are rated 4.7-5.0 stars). 
ENJOY!
~Valerie Harmon
PS. If you like the book, I'd welcome your feedback and review on Amazon! Thank you!

The Peacock Who Wanted To Be A Pig
The T-Rex Who Wanted To Be A Longneck
The Alligator Who Wanted To Be A Dog

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Children's eBook Review: Elliot's New Friends, by Justin Lambert

Illustrations: 5 Stars 
Cover: 5.0 stars
Storyline: 5 Stars
Total: 5 stars

Book Summary: Elliott is a not-so-little elephant who explores his surroundings and discovers he can be friends with other animals, even if they don't look like him.

Storyline: It is good for kids to see an example of friendship like Elliott. Elliott becomes friends with lots of different animals, and as he ruminates on whether these differences matter, children can think about the same. And hopefully they'll come to the same conclusion as Elliott: friendships don't require similar looks. 5 stars.

Illustrations: The illustrations are colorful and bright and professionally finished. They add a lot to the story and the cheerfulness of the book. 5 stars.

Total: 5 stars
Author Justin Lambert was kind enough to answer these questions:

VH: Why do you write?
JL: I'm a freelance writer and content marketing specialist and am fortunate enough to support my family on the strength of my words. So I get plenty of practice stringing them together. But I've been writing for fun since I was very young and fiction will always have a very special place in my life. I'm also a voracious reader and love to get sucked into a great story. So it's just natural that I write wherever and whenever I get the chance.

VH: How did you decide to write this book?

JL: I actually originally wrote Elliot's New Friends several years ago when my own kids were young enough to appreciate it. I read it to them at night right off my yellow legal pad where it was written out longhand. They liked it, but I can't draw so I was at a standstill for getting it published. Then, a little over a year ago I got to know John Langton, a freelance illustrator and designer who did - among other things - computer illustration and animation for children's books. He liked the Elliot story a lot and did a fantastic job bringing it to life in pictures, which is really how it came to published for the Kindle.
VH: What are your favorite books (children and otherwise)?

JL: I have very eclectic tastes in books, although fast-paced adventures and thrillers tend to capture my attention best of all. Any story that makes me believe the plot is possible - however unlikely - is a winner for me. I think that's probably why Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sandak remains my all-time favorite children's book: although the plot is in turns silly and even frightening, it feels possible within the framework of Max's imagination, and so it really resonated with me as a kid, and still does today.

VH: What is something unusual about you?

JL: I spent several years as the drummer in a garage band named Random Sample, and wrote about 75% of the lyrics for songs that appeared on four self-produced CDs we made together. Those lyrics actually formed the basis of my very first self-published book, a verse and prose collection entitled, Sanity is Boring.

For more information about Justin Lambert and his books, check out his writing blog, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. You can buy Elliot's New Friends on Amazon.


~Valerie Harmon
author of the WantsToBe series

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Children's eBook Review: The Toothless Tooth Fairy by Shanelle Hicks

Illustrations: 5 Stars (bright and colorful)
Cover: 5.0 stars
Storyline: 5 Stars (promoting kindness with tooth fairies)
Total: 5 stars

Summary: Bella's kindness makes her beautiful, inside and out. When her chance to win the Miss Tooth Fairy Smile Contest is sabotaged, Bella reacts first with ingenuity, and then with love toward her enemy. And this forgiveness changed her enemy's heart and countenance.

Storyline: I love a storyline that shows the power of kindness even in the face of underhanded meanness. In real life it might not work so quickly (or so visibly) but courtesy and love is almost always the higher road (although it's a difficult one). A story that includes a pageant could easy be a shallow focus on how beauty is everything--but this story doesn't take it that cheap direction. 5 stars.

Illustrations: Great illustrations full of color, big eyes and fairy wings. Professional and enjoyable. 5 stars.
Total: 5 Stars

I was able to interview author Shanelle Hicks, and this is what she said:
Author Shanelle Hicks

VH: Why do you write?

SH: I believe I was born to write. I initially believed I was going to write poetry. I love soliloquies. I fell in love with Langston Hughes so much that my husband and I named our daughter Langston. 

I write because it’s my passion. I write because it’s what I’m suppose to do. I write kids books because I know kids want to read books with characters who look like them. I know I certainly did as a kid. I recall falling in love with bright illustrations, quirky characters, and  intriguing text without being able to see myself in those books. I want to change that. This is a time for diversity in our kids books. 

When children read this book [The Toothless Tooth Fairy], I hope that the lesson of "kill them with kindness" shines through. Kindness is a powerful weapon that so many of us don’t whip out when needed. 

VH: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

SH: The Toothless Tooth Fairy came to me in a dream! I know it sounds so cliche, but it’s so true. I went to the dentist to have a molar pulled out and was so worried about what I was going to look like with a missing molar. My husband laughed at my paranoia as always. I had a dream about fairies chasing me with pliers because they were after my tooth for reasons unknown. One of the fairies in my dream told me it doesn't matter if they take your tooth because it doesn’t change who you are. 

VH: What are some of your favorite children's books?

SH: Picking my two favorite children’s books is so easy (wink)! It’s so easy that I’m going to pick 3 in no particular order. Miss Nelson is Missing made me want to always obey my teachers in fear of one day meeting a real Viola Swamp. Next up is hands down The Witches by Roald Dahl. I’ve read this book a billion times and I still can’t get enough. I absolutely love the movie as well. Angelica Houston as The Grand High Witch is a scary thing. Last but not least is The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. It explores atonement, original sin, temptation, and the order of nature. I hear they are coming out with a movie. I will be the first in line!

VH: What advice do you have for children who want to write and their parents?

SH: All children are writers before they read. That drawing on the wall. The picture on the fridge. It all tells a story. I think the initial focus is to put all thoughts on paper. They may not make sense. They may seem silly. They may seem irrelevant. They may be unorganized. Just get them from your head to paper and worry about the rest later!

For more information on Shanelle Hicks and her books, check her out on Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads. I hear a new book is on the horizon and will be published soon.

~Valerie Harmon
Author of this blog and the WantsToBe series of Children's Picture Books and interactive apps

Monday, May 5, 2014

Children's eBook Review: Ingrid Williams' Bing and Nero

Bing and Nero, by Ingrid Williams
Bing and Nero, by Ingrid Williams
My Rating: 4.5 enthusiastic stars
Just won a Top Shelf Book award!

Book summary: 
Bing is a boy without a dog. So what does he do? He creates a robot friend instead!

Storyline: 4 stars
4 stars for an adorable storyline. I like how Bing innovates and creates a solution when he's denied his wish to have a dog. So positive! 

Illustrations: 5 stars
5 stars for these illustrations. They are colorful, crisp and professionally done. 

This eBook deserves a hardback version. And I'd like to see it be a little bit longer. Williams assures me that the next book in the series will be longer--and we don't have long to wait. Book 2 should be out in October/November of 2014. 

Williams created this adorable animation of Bing and Nero:
          

Bing & Nero just won a Top Shelf Book Award  which explained: "Why[did] it [win]? For its ingenuity and creativity! Because the main character is smart, creative, and takes action to create. He's a thinker and a doer!"

Author Ingrid Williams was kind enough to answer some of my questions:

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. We Knew This Chick Was Trouble or Life Is What Happens While You´re Making Other Plans I think it would depend on who you asked!

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?
A. That is impossible to say, but Ian McEwan´s Amsterdam and Frank Conroy´s Body & Soul have me mesmerized every time I re-read them.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A. Probably Winnie the Pooh –just replace the honey with chocolate.

Q.  What character from all of your books are you most like?
A. Probably Minxie the cat in Bing & Nero. Minxie hops into all the fun, but is prepared to dive back under the bed in a second if the robot starts to act dodgy.

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
 A. Definitely not any of the Game of Thrones books! Maybe Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! I think I could very much enjoy a weekend in a chocolate factory...

Q.  What inspires your writing?
 A. My children´s book writing is inspired entirely by my 5 year-old son and his interests. I make up stories for him. I make a note of the ones he wants to hear again and again.

 Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?
 A. Seeing something that has been invented in your head come to life. And seeing little kids fall in love with your book. 

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?
 A. That would be the fact that nothing gets done by itself. The creative part is all play, but that is only the beginning. If a story is going to become a book, then you have to embrace the serious work of making something out of nothing.

Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
 A. At this point, I think I would probably be a publisher and spend my time hunting for good writers to bring to the world.

Q.  What inspired your book cover?
A. The cover is supposed to capture the feeling of fun and friendship and freedom that is so much at the heart of the story. You have a boy and the robot he created sharing a shining moment of fun together.

Q.  What is your favorite season?
 A. Fall. Because the days are still bright and beautiful, but the nights have the promise of things to come in the air.

Q.  Are you working on something new?
A. I have written the second Bing & Nero book and am sketching out the third

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A.  I hope that if they have a small boy or girl who is mad about robots that they will have a peep at Bing & Nero because it is guaranteed to be a story they will love. Even kids that don´t read a word of English just lose themselves in the illustrations. And satisfied kids is what any children´s book exists for! 

Want more information on author Ingrid Williams or her book Bing and Nero? Check out her Author page on Amazon and GoodReads, her website, her Twitter account at @bingandnero, her Facebook page, and the GoodReads and Amazon link of Bing and Nero.