The Musings, Notes & Book/App reviews of a Children's Writer

Posts tagged ‘children’

A Family-Friendly Reading List For The Season Of Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving, and that means curling up by the fire with family and warding off a bustling wind with heartwarming stories!

book-app-alliance-november-reading-list1Whether you are entertaining the kids while preparing a Thanksgiving feast, searching for unique food-themed stories, or getting ready for an afternoon nap after a thankful meal, this month’s Book App Alliance reading list offers a cornucopia of terrific storiesand entertaining activities you will be grateful for.

As winter approaches and outside time is limited, present your children with educational options that entertain with family-friendly stories from leading independent authors.

The Book App Alliance presents the November Thanksgiving Reading ListA Family-Friendly Reading List For The Season Of Thanksgiving.

Advertisements

Spooktacular-ish Book Apps

Boo! It’s that time of year when all things ghosts, goblins, monsters and mystery take center stage to celebrate Halloween!

Add to your kids’ spooky fun with these terrific stories from the The Book App Alliance Halloween Treats reading list!

October Book Apps – Halloween Treats.

In The Spotlight… Author Aliona L. Gibson

I’ve recently discovered a book that brought back memories of my homeland in Jamaica, titled Justice pon di Road. It is wonderfully written with great cultural lessons and introductions for children.  Meet Aliona L. Gibson, the writer and aspiring globe trekker.

bookCover

JUSTICE PON DI ROAD Children’s picture book.

Book trailer 

Q: Hello Aliona, tell us about yourself and your career as a writer?

A: First, thanks for interviewing me and helping me spread the word about our book! I am a single mom living in Oakland, California. I took a trip to East Africa as a high school graduate many years ago and it sparked a desire to travel and see the world. A desire that I have yet to shake! After college I lived in New York where I first experienced Jamaican food. It would be many years later that I would make it to the island. I went for the first time in 2008…to Port Antonio and it was an amazing experience. I am now focused on being the best mom I can be to Justice and trying to figure out how I can write more. I published a memoir about issue of self -image and identity many years ago and a “how to” book which explained how I landed a publishing deal with no prior published writing. Justice pon di Road is my first book for children. I don’t write as much as I would like to…not enough hours in the day!

Q: Tell us about your picture book. What is your favorite feature and what would you like to convey to the reader?

A: I was inspired to write Justice pon di Road when Justice called his scrambled eggs ackee after one of our trips. I was surprised that he remembered ackee and that he made the connection! It made me think about all of our trips and how much love he got while in Jamaica. I am always so amazed at how much attention he gets from total strangers when we are in Jamaica. I didn’t expect it and it was a pleasant surprise. I had no idea how much Jamaicans love babies and kids until I went there as a mother. I love the story but my favorite feature of the book has to be the back matter. I love all the factual information about the island and the patois glossary and the list of notables. I love that the first Grandmaster of chess is in it and a Scripps National Spelling Bee champion and the youngest person to fly solo around the world. I love the photos and the way they are laid out with the text. My favorite page is the Fact About Jamaica page with the currency, Prime Minister and Reach Falls. Oh and that the cloud on the cover image is the shape of the island…my illustrators idea.

Q: What makes this picture book unique?

A: I don’t think there are many books that show a travel experience from the perspective of a child. There are so few books which feature children of color and even fewer which feature a boy as the main character, particularly an African-American boy! I would like to do another one on a different country. It’s a book about real people and the kindness of strangers. A place with a strong sense of community and where, apparently, children are held in high regard.

Q: What age range would this book appeal to?

A: I say the book is for ages three and up. I saw 3 & Up on a book we love which I thought was a pretty sophisticated book with a complex story and was sort of long so I decided to use it. It’s broad. Can be read by an older child but mostly to be read by an adult to children. The back matter makes it more appealing to older readers.

Q: What sort of feedback have you received so far?

A: So far the reviews have been great. I am always very flattered when a Jamaican likes it. That means I got it right! People love it and most of my supporters have been people who have ties to the island. The response up to now has been great.

Q: Have you considered offering ‘Justice pon di Road’ in other formats such as an app or an eBook?

A: I would LOVE to offer the book as an ebook and an app. I will…in time. I am feeling like I need to sell more books before I can take on anything else. I do want to offer both and I plan to…not sure when but it’s in the back of my mind.

Q: What has been the most difficult part of publishing a book? Promoting the book has been really hard.

A: It’s an ongoing process and in my mind, a never ending one. Getting people to do stories or review it has been a bit of a challenge. Also, I need to work on doing more book events. Direct sales have been slow. Distribution…I would like the book to be available in other cities.

Q: Once your book was published, was there any unexpected surprises during the marketing process?

A: I have people whom I sent the book to MONTHS ago who have yet to review it. That is frustrating. I have been sending reminder emails for months…sometimes they go unanswered. Even local organizations have been unresponsive. Justice’s school didn’t respond. If I were the principal of an elementary school where a parent wrote a book for children I would do everything in my power to share the book with the students and help get the word out. I think JpdR is important because I hope it encourages kids to be curious about the world we live in. What educator would not want that?

Q: Any words of advice for aspiring writers?

A: I say keep writing and reading. Do not be discouraged or let criticism and negativity stop you from telling your story. Be prepared to self-promote. Even if you go with a traditional publisher you have to go above and beyond to get the word out about your book. There are lots and lots of books on the market and getting the word out is probably more involved than actually writing the book. Take the job of promoting and marketing seriously and be creative in ways to get the word out. I left book marks for our book at pediatric clinic waiting rooms and pediatric dental offices. Know your target audience and figure out creative ways to reach them. But more importantly write, write, write, and write some more to develop your craft (I am talking to myself on this one!) I need to research writing workshops and groups to join to help.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

A: I used Kickstarter to raise the money to print the book. I was reluctant but SO happy I did it. I raised over 8K in thirty days. Use crowd funding to support your projects! I didn’t think I could do it! Kickstarter is only one, Indigogo and Go Fund Me… and there are many others.

Aliona L. Gibson

Aliona L. Gibson

 

View the Book trailer 

Connect with Aliona L. Gibson and learn more about her books @ website

Social Media links:

Facebook

Twitter: @AlionaGibson

 

 

You just never know

As the year comes to a close I reflect on the friendships and relationships made this past year. The writing and teaching field has the most supportive people I’ve ever met and I’ve met a lot of people. They’re always willing to share information, opportunities and advice which is always valuable.

I recently met Monica Babaian in a twitter chat Story app chat that meets on Sundays at 8pm central. She’s a Tech savvy Librarian and i’m a Digital Author/aspiring Art Teacher. We even live in the same state but our paths might never have crossed had it not been for this chat. Her site is a great resource for parents and teachers which I plan on visiting often. The result of our meeting was an amazing app review with educational tie-ins and resources. It’s a great way to end the year and  as I look forward to the New Year, my resolution is to keep looking forward because you just never know where the next friend, opportunity or great idea will come from.

The review below was re-blogged from: http://innovativelibrarianship.blogspot.com/2013/12/storybook-app-grendels-great-escape-by.html

Storybook App: Grendel’s Great Escape by Michelle Anaya

Grendel’s Great Escape is a storybook app for both iPad and Android by children’s author and creator of Blue Sandpiper Imprints, Michelle Anaya (@bluesandpiper).

Grendel’s Great Escape is about a boy named Martin, who takes his pet ferret, Grendel, to school for show and tell. But when it’s Martin’s turn to present for show and tell, Grendel is missing! The entire school turns into a chaotic mess as Martin and his friends try to find Grendel while avoiding the wrath of the school’s principal, Mr. B.

What I really like about this storybook app is that it includes a long list of ferret facts at the end of the story. The storybook app also has its own curriculum for helping students develop reading strategies, which teachers and school librarians will find handy. For those teachers and school librarians who are allowed to have animals in their classrooms and libraries, a pet ferret would be a great way to make text-to-self connections with Grendel’s Great Escape.

Grendel’s Great Escape includes two screens of ferret facts!

Another possible way to use Grendel’s Great Escape in the classroom or library is to extend the storybook and reading strategies lesson into a science unit from Discovery Education (@DiscoveryEd), which has a couple of videos on ferrets and animal habitats. Yet another way – let students use online databases and encyclopedias to create their own list of ferret facts. Activities like these help students create text-to-world connections.

The storybook integrates interactive features throughout the book, including one page in which the reader can squirt ketchup or mustard all over the screen — something kids will surely enjoy. Readers have the option to turn the narration and music on or off. Blue Sandpiper Imprints recommends this storybook app for ages 4 and up. The Android version of Grendel’s Great Escape is $2.99, and the iPad version is $3.99.

For more information about Grendel’s Great Escape and other fun storybook apps from Blue Sandpiper, please visit their website.

 

Aside

October’s Picture book of the Month

october_breast_cancer_month_flyer-r7f4e4afc60784273aa0410a4b9688885_vgvyf_8byvr_512October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and most of us know someone who’s been affected by this disease.  It impacts the entire family as many of the women battling this disease also have children who are  coping and fighting alongside them.

The Goodbye Cancer Garden by Janna Matthies and illustrated by Kristi Valiant brooches this subject that is often difficult to discuss with young children.

 

 

cancer garden front

This picture book is sensitively and lovingly written by an Author who is also a cancer survivor.

The beautiful illustrations shines a light and an air of positivity that  is uplifting in what could have been a sad book.

“Things don’t always go as expected” is the theme throughout the story. It walks us through the announcement of a mother with cancer, the stages of her treatment, the emotions involved and the way in which her family handles it.

As an avid gardener, I loved the co-relation between the various stages of cancer and the seasons of their garden. This book is more realistic and uplifting than sad, it’s about a family doing something positive together while in the midst of a tough situation.

Reading this will help children understand more about cancer but can also help children of families facing other devastating illnesses as well. I was cheering the family on from start to finish, and without giving it away I can say that I was thrilled to discover that there was indeed a happy ending.

cancer garden back

 Summary 

One winter day, Mom and Dad tell Janie and Jeffrey that Mom has cancer. Soon the whole family goes to the doctor to ask questions.

“Is Mom better yet?” Jeffrey asks.”Not yet,” the doctor says. “Not yet,” the doctor says, “But we’re working very hard to make her better – probably by pumpkin time.”

That gives Janie an idea: to plant a vegetable garden.

As the garden grows, Moms treatment progresses, and when it’s all done, there are healthy pumpkins and a recovering mom!

In the Spotlight! illustrator Victor Guiza

The first time that I discovered Victor Guiza’s illustrations online, I immediately realized that I’d seen his work before. Vic had illustrated one of my son’s favorite book apps called Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island . I loved his style of illustrations and knew that I wanted to work with him. vic

 

Vic’s creativity has no boundaries and he’s very intuitive in merging the Authors vision with the project’s needs. As an artist myself I knew exactly how I wanted the artwork to look but I also knew when it was time to step out-of-the-way and let him create his magic. The way the Monster Jam monster characters were brought to life went way beyond my expectations.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Vic and he had lots of wonderful nuggets to impart about his interesting and successful career.

Have you always known that you wanted to be an illustrator? When did you realize that this was your true calling.

When I was about 10 years old, I had a neighbor who was a professional comic book illustrator. I was a creative child and had always enjoyed drawing, but my childhood dream was to become a pilot. I had never been very good with math and math is key with that profession.  One day my neighbor asked me if I wanted to be a professional illustrator. If so , I would have to study and practice daily.  He challenged me, and when I discovered the many exciting things I could create, I decided that I wanted to be a comic book artist instead of a pilot.

What types of art or artists inspired you along the way?

Music is a great source of inspiration, as well as movies and architecture. I really enjoy sound tracks. I admire comic book artists like Moebius from France, Katsuhiro Otomo from Japan, Oscar Martin from Spain and Humberto Ramos from Mexico among many others. I also love hyper realistic paint from Benjamin Orozco, and Alex Ross.

You have an amazing body of work, what type of projects have you had the most fun with? 

Children books, definitely! So far the stories are pure magic and so challenging. In a comic book you have at least 22 pages and about 5 panels in each page to tell a story, in Children books you have only 10 to 15 illustrations to narrate the same story.

Do you approach illustrating a comic differently than a picture book?

Absolutely! comic storytelling have to follow a “movie like” direction and perspective while picture books are more singular in which action is the climax of the text from each page.

Where you get your ideas or inspiration?

I look at other artist works as inspiration, I see fun in life daily, I dream a lot, but my true inspiration comes directly from the source. My inner source.

Vic Guiza iLLustrator Vic at work creating a picture book character

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwtkgvLa_fU

Contact: Vic Guiza at www.vicguiza.com

vic example

Back to school with book apps

By now the children are all back to school across the country.

back-to-school

They’re getting settled in their new classes with new teachers, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. There will be new challenges as they overcome the summer brain drain and start filling their minds with exciting new lessons.

A fun way of re-enforcing their newly acquired reading skills on the week-ends are digital book apps. The multi sensory experience brings the reader into the story and soon they’ll be begging for more. This is music to any parent’s ears because let’s face it, they’re so many distractions these days that reading isn’t always their first choice.

I had this experience with my reluctant reader and it inspired me to dive into the magical world of digital book apps.

kids-reading

The app store and Google play is flooded with apps so it’s sometimes difficult for parents to know where to start and what to download.

Digital Storytime is a renowned and trusted source in both the literary and app world and they have recently released their top 25 list of book apps. They shine a light on educational apps that can become hidden in the app store so that’s where I would start. In fact I read their app reviews when researching for my sons apps and when writing for kids. I was more than thrilled when Grendel’s Great Escape was listed in their top 25 best stories for 2013. It is an honor for it to be noticed and placed alongside these other amazing books.

It’s also perfect timing because September is ADHD awareness month and the main character was inspired by a child with ADHD. He’s messy, disorganized, adventurous and a whole lot of fun.

Martin's mess

Martin tackles the laundry monster

Download it and let me know what your kids think.

Digital Storytime’s Top 25 Best story books

Grendel’s Great Escape adventure story for iPad  Android

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: