Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Children's Book Review: Wisdom, The Midway Albatross

Today's Children's Picture e-Book Review is Wisdom,The Midway Albatross, written by Darcy Pattison and illustrated by Kitty Harvill, for Ages 6-12.

My Ratings: 
Overall: 5.0 Stars
Cover: 5 Stars
Illustrations: 5 Stars
Story: 5 Stars
This book is about Wisdom, who is a Laysan Albatross over 60 years old! A story of miraculous survival against natural and man-made disaster, this mostly true tale and its beautiful illustrations keeps children interested while they learn some science. I enjoyed reading it and so did my 5 and 8 year old children. 

Author Darcy Pattison has pieced together a story for Wisdom, backed up by metal bands on her legs that began on December 10, 1965.  If you are like us, you'll head to the computer to look up more facts about Wisdom and her chick. We found pictures!!

Here is Wisdom and her latest chick (in Feb. 2013) found on the US Fish and Wildlife Service website. She looks so sweet and nurturing!: 

Here's a closeup picture of Wisdom's chick from the US Fish and Wildlife Service website. So cute and fluffy!:

I'm so glad Darcy took the time to write this book--Wisdom's tender story deserves a wide audience!

~Valerie Harmon, The Kindle Book Review

(Disclaimer: The Kindle Book Review received a free copy of this book for an independent, fair, and honest review and is not associated with the author or Amazon.)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What do you do as an Author Visiting a Classroom?

I visited an elementary school class and have decided that one of the best things about being an author is visiting a classroom! Here I am on the playground with the students and their teacher (I'm the blonde adult, in case you're wondering).

This was not my first classroom author visit. It was my second! But I felt rather trepidatious--what does an author do when she visits a classroom? I remember a poet visiting my elementary school classroom. But I couldn't tell you what he did, except that I felt so excited to have him--an actual poet--in our classroom. Now that I have two class visits of experience, I will tell you my opinions on How To Visit A Classroom As An Author.

1. Bring something-Not only do kids LOVE to have something to take home with them, but really, this is a great marketing opportunity. These kids just met a real life author. They heard one of your books. They want to have one of their very own. Bring something so they know how to buy one. 

I bring a bookmark. My illustrator made them and they are super adorable. I feel sorry for you authors that don't have an illustrator as a wingman--err, wingwoman in my case. Make sure it's colorful and most importantly, it has contact information: your website (you have one, right? You should!), your email address, and where people can buy your book ("Find my books on Amazon"). Kids will line up to get one. And they will ask you to autograph it. It happened both times. I signed the bookmarks and the students treated me like a rock star. Don't just sign your name. You could. But you're missing an opportunity to be a mentor. I sign things like, "Keep Reading" (great general advice) or the more specific, and these tie into my WantsToBe children's books series: "Accomplish Your Goals" and "Do Hard Things." You are a writer. You can figure out what to write, but be prepared for it. And prepare to enjoy it, it feels very exciting.

I also bring coloring pages. My illustrator made those too. I bring four kinds, and the students pick out their favorite very carefully. So fun!

2. Be prepared to read your book (or a portion of your book, if you've a novel). The classrooms I've been invited to visit had already read my published books. So I bring a pdf of a yet unpublished version. They get pretty excited to see a book that Hasn't Been Published Yet. And one of the students gave me some good feedback that I used before I published it. 

3. Make sure you know the classroom equipment. Both classrooms I visited had a projector and cord so I could just plug in my iPad and everyone could see the book at the same time on the screen. But I don't imagine that all classrooms have that equipment. 

4. If you ask a question, wait for a response. Don't ask rhetorical questions to these students. Think about questions that will add to their lives and this "Meeting an Author" experience. I ask things like, "Have you ever accomplished a goal?" "How did that feel?" Have you ever tried something and failed? Did you keep trying?" These kinds of questions sparked a great discussion and add to this opportunity to actually mentor these kids.

5. If you have time, take the opportunity to teach them to write. The best writing pattern EVER (and I teach writing to kids ages 8 to 18 in a once a week class) is from The Institute For Excellence In Writing. I use All Things Fun and Fascinating to teach Beginning Writing, and U.S. History Volume 1 for Intermediate Writing. So I used the IEW pattern to teach these kids how to write a story of their very own. I "Borrowed a Conflict," which means taking a fairy tale that everyone knows and then changing elements of it to make it your own. We took Little Red Riding Hood and set it in space with Grandma on the far side of an asteroid belt. Yeah, these kids are imaginative and creative and could hardly wait for me to leave so they could start writing their own stories.

I look forward to my next Author Classroom Visit. You can be sure I'll bring coloring pages and bookmarks, and that I'll leave reinvigorated to write some more!

~Valerie Harmon

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Children's Book Review: Hello Bella

Today's Children's Picture e-Book Review is Hello Bella, written by Nicole Foster and illustrated by Erik Skinner, for Ages 3-9.

My Ratings: 
Overall: 4.0 Stars
Cover: 4 Stars
Illustrations: 4 Stars
Story: 4 Stars

Bella is a curious dog who goes on a walk and hears greetings in different foreign languages as she tries to eat the foreign foods (she has to wait to eat until she gets home).

This is a simple book with cute cartoonish illustrations. It's a basic introduction to the word "Hello" in Spanish, Italian and French. There's no pronunciation guide, so it's helpful if you already know how to say the words "Hola," [O-la] "Ciao," [chow] and "Bonjour," [Bon Jur].

My 8 year old read it to herself and she liked the Italian Pizzeria illustration best, but she didn't know how to pronounce Ciao--a great learning opportunity.

~Valerie Harmon, The Kindle Book Review

(Disclaimer: Valerie Harmon received a free copy of the this book in exchange for a fair and honest review)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Children's Book Review: Freddie Goes Fishing With Grandpa

Today's Children's Picture e-Book Review is Freddie Goes Fishing With Grandpa written by Dagbjort Asgeirsdottir and illustrated by Karl Johann Jonsson, for Ages 3-9.

My Ratings: 
Overall: 5.0 Stars
Cover: 5 Stars
Illustrations: 5 Stars
Story: 5 Stars

Freddie Goes Fishing With Grandpa is a book that has hit #1 Best Seller in Category on Amazon and it's about a little boy named Freddie who goes fishing in the cove with Grandpa in Iceland. When he accidentally falls in, Grandpa pulls him out and tells him a sea monster story to cheer him up.

The watercolor illustrations by Jonsson are full of color and details that reveal parts of traditional Icelandic culture as well as adding to the cozy story that makes me miss my own grandparents. I appreciate that Asgeirsdottir added a note at the beginning explaining that pet foxes are real, as is their tendency to hide things that are left out.

I highly recommend this children's picture e-book and can see it becoming a classic with my own children. I hope Asgeirsdottir adds a hardback version someday.

It's FREE today and tomorrow, you can download it here.

~Valerie Harmon, from the Kindle Book Review

(Disclaimer: Valerie Harmon received a free copy of the this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. She is not affiliated with Amazon or the author)