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). 
~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