BIBLE STORIES….YES OR NO?

Writing The Bible for Children: How to Write Blazing Biblical Stories and Picture Books for Kids

Written by Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod

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I was drawn to this book by the second part of the title. Because I write picture books for kids (and adults), I was curious to see how the author would connect the concept with the writing of biblical stories.

Strangely enough, she begins by stating the reasons for NOT writing Biblical stories. These include the wish to get rich, demonstrate superior intelligence or the presumption that you and your religion can teach better than anyone else. The correct reason for writing them is that the Bible is full of timeless stories that can be meaningful to any generation. Proceeding from there, the author lays out how to write such a story, how and where to search for one, the journalistic method , the technique of story flow, presenting the protagonist, writing the dialogue, and presenting your point of view.

Once your story is written, the really hard work begins. The author must edit over and over again, gather the artwork, design the cover, correctly format the work and then publish the story. Authors must know how to interpret the inconsistencies in the Bible and reconcile them with their own view of Christianity. MacLeod gives the writer some excellent pointers on how to avoid mistakes that can derail a book if the appropriate illustrations are not carefully chosen to correlate with the meaning of the text.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s presentation and common sense advice. Even though I have never written a Biblical story, I appreciate the relevance of the topic to that of writing picture books for children. This book is a must for writers as well as parents, librarians or teachers who are the vehicles for providing access to the literature that their children read.

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ALIEN CATS?

Why Kimba Saved the World (Cats in the Mirror) Book 1

Written by Meg Dendler

Kimba,pic

First in a series of middle grade chapter books featuring a family which includes four cats and a dog along with their human family. In this book, Kimba, a heterochromatic cat, is recruited by an agency of sci-fi cats to restore cats to their rightful place as rulers of the universe.

Kimba is distinct not only due to the fact that she has one green and one blue eye, but also because she combines the curiosity of a cat with the sensitivity of a human. Kimba and her sister Hiro’s lives change one day when Kimba sees a mysterious image in the bathroom mirror. Turns out a race of cats led by its leader Regalus are plotting a world-wide takeover and Kimba has been selected to be one of their spies. But Kimba has never even been outside the house, and Hiro has even less interest in changing her comfortable existence. How can they possibly succeed?

The story line starts out slowly, then builds up as Kimba eventually must choose between her family and her cat lineage. Dendler knows the character and personality of felines well; she does a superb job of getting into Kimba’s head and allowing the reader to identify with her. Middle grade readers who love animals will like this book; it paints a realistic picture with enough sci-fi details to make the story convincing. In the end, Kimba, like many of her young readers in their everyday lives, is forced to make a difficult decision. Where does her loyalty lie?

Recommended as an independent read for students age nine through twelve or as a read aloud by a librarian or classroom teacher. Available in kindle and paperback. The second and third books in the series have recently been released.

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FAMILY SECRETS

Sophie And Crystal Carter and the Unexpected Secret

Written by Kelly Cairns

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Looking at this title and cover, you probably would  guess that this story is a magical adventure. The author has seamlessly interwoven a diversity of elements into an intriguing plot with so many twists and turns that the reader is left guessing right up to the end of the story.

At first glance, ten year old fraternal twins Sophie and Crystal Carter are just like most girls their age. They live with their mom, Sarah in a small town. Sophie is shy and nervous, while her sister is rather confident and bossy. This summer, the girls are surprised to hear that they would be staying with their maternal grandfather, whom they had never met. Their mother needs to take care of some business; she appears irritable and upset. Upon arrival at the house, the girls discover it is creepy and old. Soon the girls hear strange noises, and upon investigating the twins find some disturbing things in the basement. When the girls confront their grandfather, they are astonished to discover that everyone in the family is not who they appear to be—even themselves. Granddad decides to come clean and tell them the truth.

I don’t want to give away the intricate and well-written plot filled with surprises. Readers will find spiders, witches, leprechauns, bats, pixies, winged horses, magic mushrooms, spells, and potions with plenty of evil forces at work. This newly thrown together family will need to fight for their survival. In doing so, they will learn a lot a about themselves in the process. Cairns does an excellent job with character development; I really felt as if I were in all the character’s shoes. Things never get dull. The reader will be left guessing as to the outcome right up to the end of the adventure. Be forewarned, the ending is a bit of a tearjerker.

This book is targeted for ages seven and up. Despite the lack of illustrations, the story of less than 100 pages is so well written that it should hold the interest of younger readers once they get past the first few pages. As an adult reader, I could not stop reading until I got to the end. Looking forward to more adventures with the Carter family.

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COURAGEOUS AND LOYAL

Heart of a Hero

Written by Billi Tiner

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This book is a portrait of a loyal and brave Irish Setter, inspired by the author’s childhood family dog. As a pup, Lady wanted nothing more than to emulate her mother, who was a prize hunting dog.  Carl, a teenage farmhand, develops an affinity for her, and Lady is elated when her owner Mr. Thompson sends her to live with Carl. At first life is wonderful, then World War II breaks out; and Carl leaves for battle. Carl never returns. A friend suggests to Carl’s dad that the Marines are looking for war dogs, and Lady is offered up as a candidate. After rigorous training and many adventures with new dog friends Scout and Fancy, Lady is sent to the Pacific with her human handlers, Tim and Steve. Lady succeeds in becoming a war messenger dog. She will prove herself a worthy hero.

After the war things return to normal for a while, but Lady has battle scars and her new owner will make a decision that does not include her. More uncertainty for Lady and a dramatic change in life circumstances again. Will Lady find peace, dignity and happiness in her final years?

This book makes a great read for middle grade students. It deals with complex issues in a plot that is simply laid out and easy to follow. Loyalty, bravery, courage, coming of age, bullying, and family relationships are explored. The characters are well developed; the reader can identify with Lady as she narrates the story from her point of view. I do think the plot moves a bit slowly in sections, but that may be due to the fact that the reader is eager to see what happens next. Recommended for dog lovers, history lovers and anyone who enjoys a good family read. Available in kindle and paperback editions.

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LUCKY LEPRECHAUN

The Little Leprechaun Who Loved Yellow: Following Your Heart

Written and illustrated by Sally Huss

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Patrick loved his mother, but one thing about being a leprechaun made him unhappy. His mother insisted that he always wear green, the color of Ireland. That made Patrick sad because he loved all colors in the world around him, especially yellow. But all leprechauns in his school wore green, and that was just the way it had to be.

One day at recess, Patrick observed a beautiful rainbow; he decided to go off into the forest to try to find that beautiful yellow pot of gold that was rumored to be at its end. Soon his teacher and the whole community of leprechauns began to worry. Will Patrick find his pot of gold? Is he going to be in trouble with the adults?

The story has a surprise ending that will affect Patrick, the leprechauns, and his family. Delightful bedtime story that teaches children rules do not have to be arbitrary and that children and parents can learn to follow their heart. Perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the family, preschoolers and primary grade children.

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A WOMAN AHEAD OF HER TIME….

Little Miss Sure Shot: Annie Oakley’s World

Written by Jeffrey Marshall

Annieoakley,picI picked up this book not really knowing what to expect. Of course I had heard of Annie Oakley, but I did not expect to find there was so much more than a wild, undisciplined sharpshooter. Sure got a surprise when I started reading this account which is not a biography but rather a colorful portrait of the highlights in Annie’s illustrious career and her fifty year marriage with Frank Butler.

Annie was born in 1860 to a poor Quaker farm family living in Ohio who named her Phoebe Ann Moses. One of seven children, at the age of six her life soon became even more difficult when her father died. By the age of eight, Annie had learned to shoot small game which she sold to help support her family. Before Annie hit her teens she was competing with men in shooting competitions. During one of these she met sharpshooter Frank Butler; Annie won the competition by one point. Fifteen year old Annie promptly fell in love and married the man with whom she would soon perform in the vaudeville circuit.

A few years later the couple would join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show with Bill Cody. They traveled throughout the country and later on to Europe. Annie wanted her name to match her frontier image; the name Oakley actually was taken from a town near her farm. When it became clear that Annie was the star feature, Frank graciously decided from that point on he would be her manager instead of her shooting partner.

Marshall does a good job of describing their whirlwind life on the tour circuit, They witness the construction of the Statue of Liberty on Bedloe Island, attend the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Queen Victoria, meet General Sherman, P.T. Barnum, and Kaiser Wilhelm. The couple sail the canals in Venice and walk the streets of Paris. Annie appears in stage plays and gets invited to participate in one of Thomas Edison’s first moving picture ventures.

After an unfortunate train wreck in 1901and a bad automobile accident in 1907, Annie and Frank open up sharpshooting training centers to teach their skills to others. Though they never had children, Annie and Frank gave generously to orphanages and children’s hospitals. Ironically, Annie died of pernicious anemia, which may have been cause by her constant exposure to the lead of the bullets that she used to shoot. Frank lived less than three weeks after her passing.

The author weaves an exciting story depicting Annie’s strong pioneer spirit of determination and stubbornness, a love story, history, adventure, and travel. Annie presents a strong female character well ahead of her time willing to take on the challenges of one whose life spanned the era from the Civil War through the end of World War I. This book can be enjoyed by readers ten and older. Teachers can certainly use it as a tool as a window to life during that era as well as a woman ahead of her time.

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BOOK BLAST NEW COVERS “Princess Madeline Trilogy”

 

About the Books

The Escape of Princess Madeline by Kirstin PulioffTitle: The Escape of Princess Madeline (Princess Madeline Trilogy, Book #1) * Author: Kirstin Pulioff * Publication Date: November 4, 2012 * Publisher: Caliburn Books * Number of pages: 138 * Recommended age: 10+

Summary: Madeline, princess of Soron, awakens on her sixteenth birthday to find that her father has already made preparations for her betrothal. When she disappears unexpectedly, her suitors and knight champion rush to the rescue. But all is not as it seems, and the errant princess’s flight has put the kingdom at stake…

Can Madeline find freedom or does it come with too high a price?

Follow Princess Madeline in this adventure full of twists and turns as she tries to find her freedom and answers to her questions about life and love.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords

The Battle for Princess Madeline by Kirstin PulioffTitle: The Battle for Princess Madeline (Princess Madeline Trilogy, Book #2) Author: Kirstin Pulioff Publication Date: May 21, 2013 Publisher: Caliburn Books Number of pages: 159 Recommended age: 10+

Summary:  Princess Madeline rejected Prince Paulsen’s advances, but he’s not about to take it lying down. In the middle of Soron’s festival preparations, when his obsession jeopardizes the kingdom, mysterious figures from the kingdom’s past arrive. Can Madeline risk accepting their help or will their information about a family secret be too much for her to handle?

Can Madeline trust anyone or will saving the kingdom come down to her own bravery?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords

The Dragon and Princess MadelineTitle: Princess Madeline and the Dragon (Princess Madeline Trilogy, Book #3) Author: Kirstin Pulioff Publication Date: November 26, 2013 Publisher: Caliburn Books Number of pages: 135 Recommended age: 10+

Summary: Princess Madeline is ready to celebrate. With the foundation of her future in place, it seems nothing can hurt her. Then the return of a mysterious green dragon threatens her kingdom and king. Will this challenge prove to be too much for Princess Madeline and Prince Braden or will they find the answers they seek hidden in cryptic messages from the past?

Can Madeline save her kingdom from the dragon or is the real danger something else?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords

The Buzz

Princess Madeline and the Dragon Blog Tour hosted by MDBR (January 2014)

Book 1: “Well-written, fast-paced, and entirely appropriate for its target audience (middle grade fantasy), this short but succinct novel (novella? It was maybe a little between a novella and a novel) tells a delightful tale of a naive princess who learns the real meaning of freedom. Kirsten gives her characters a sufficient amount of depth to make them genuinely likeable, and she leaves room for much, much more to come.” ~ 5 Star Review, Ally, Amazon

Book 1: “An inspiring thought provoking, and wonderfully written fairy tale by an author who transports us to a time in our imagination where everything is magical and possibilities are real.” ~ 5 Star Review, kathyls, Amazon

Book 2: “Fairy tales are filled with knights and princesses and castles and a special magical feel that takes the reader far, far, away into another world, another place, another time. The Battle for Princess Madeline fits the bill to a tee! Author Kirstin Pulioff has created a special feel to the tale of Princess Madeline with her own special talent for using words to paint pictures in our minds.” ~ 5 Star Review, Dii, Amazon

Book 2: “The story is well developed and easy to follow. The vivid scenes will transport young readers into the magical world of fairy tales with thrilling characters that have come to life. Another splendid read for young readers! I can hardly wait for a new book, Princess Madeline and the Dragon. ” ~ 5 Star Review, Mrs. D., Amazon

Book 3: “The story is engaging on many levels, as is Pulioff’s writing, but on this occasion I was mostly drawn into the action and the mystery as how to prevent the worst from happening. This is great entertainment and should do well across a wider age range.” ~ 5 Star Review,ChristophFischerBooks, Amazon

Book 3: “Kirstin Pulioff has saved the best for last. ‘Princess Madeline and the Dragon’ is the final instalment in the ‘Princess Madeline Trilogy’. I thought the first two books were finely wrought stories, but this novel surpasses its predecessors. Prophesies, family tragedies, magic and – of course – dragons, combine to produce a tale that is an instant classic. Written with a great deal of charm, ‘Princess Madeline and the Dragon’ will not disappoint Ms Pulioff’s young fans. I look forward to seeing where next her imagination will take this natural storyteller. ” ~ 5 Star Review, Diogenes, Amazon

FROM MY REVIEW OF BOOK 3 ON AMAZON

This is the third book in a trilogy based on the adventures of Princess Madeline. While I do heartily recommend that you read all three, a reader will find any of the three a satisfying fantasy adventure aimed at tweens and teens but no less enjoyable for adults……..The culmination of this inward struggle produces the most action of the series in this third volume. Pulioff has again succeeded in carefully delineating her characters. At the same time she produces more than enough adventure, action, fantasy and mystery for tweens and teens to enjoy. They may not even realize they are learning valuable life lessons and character development!

About the Author: Kirstin Pulioff

Kirstin Pulioff

Kirstin Pulioff is a storyteller at heart. Born and raised in Southern California, she moved to the Pacific Northwest to follow her dreams and graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Forest Management. Happily married and a mother of two, she lives in the foothills of Colorado. When she’s not writing an adventure, she’s busy living one.

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Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

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