HOW A BOOK IS BORN: Creating the story

September 14, 2009 at 5:53 am | Posted in about life, Book reviews, Education, Educators, Kids and reading, Librarians, Mystery books, Publishing your story, Writing | Leave a comment
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Now I had an author to write our story but what form should the story take? Gloria Smith Zawaski is unbelievably creative and has more ideas than I can keep up with. We met and shared.

At our next meeting Gloria mentioned that there would be a cemetery with a ghost near Aunt Jean’s farm. The kids meet the ghost who wants to return to the homeland of his ancestors in Africa. Great idea because our region has a number of black cemeteries. And Sojourner Truth was born about 1797 in Ulster County, which is the region where we live. So it would all fit.

Great idea Gloria, but I need to go back to Holland because of this Quadricentennial celebration coming up.  I want to use the celebrations being planned as a vehicle to sell the book. I figure the events will bring out many people, especially families, and that is the market I want to target.

So back to Holland we go. The kids would come from New York City to their aunt’s farm for a vacation. They would travel, through some kind of magic, to Holland where they would share adventures with Dutch kids. That would be the basis of the story.

As a publisher, you may ask, “What is my role?” I ask that all the time. I come up with ideas and share them with Gloria. Gloria develops the story and I provide feedback.

Gloria researches our stories and brings them to life on the printed page. My role make to make the sale of the book a reality.

 As we finish the first book, ideas for the next two books are coming from unusual sources.

 In the second book, Gloria takes kids to Mongolia. Why Mongolia? Gloria and I agreed that each book should visit another part of the world and possibly another continent.

I read the Wolf Totem by Jian Rong which takes place in Outer Mongolia. A beautiful setting for a people who are being overtaken by the Chinese. Then on NPR I head a story about a young man who uses throat singing to preserve the stories of his Mongolian ancestors. Gloria and I agreed to take our kids to Mongolia for 2010.

 And then, once again, we will visit Gloria’s ideas for an African adventure for 2011.

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Autistic kid solves mystery

June 26, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Book reviews, Kids and reading, Mystery books | Leave a comment
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As the recent publisher of a new kids’ book, The Undercover Kids’ Holland Adventure, I am always on the lookout for great books for kids.

I read Tanya’s blog on books. She mentioned that she only reviews books once they come out in paperback.  And so the reviewer waited a year, when the paperback version of  The London Eye Mystery was published, to talk about this kid’s adventure book.

She admitted in her review, she missed the mark in this book by waiting the year. And I agree.

Kids overcoming differences makes this a great read.

london eye mysterySiobhan Bowd’s book, The London Eye Mystery, introduces the readers to Ted, the younger brother of Kat. Ted loves to talk about weather patterns; he has a great memory for facts and has a hand he has difficulty in controlling – it shakes. He also has trouble in dealing with his emotions and can’t seem to quite understand the feelings of others. Dowd creates this character Ted with all the revealing symptoms of autism, but the word is never used to describe him. She talks about Ted’s teacher, who advises Ted to smile when others smile because that will help him make friends. And he is leaning other things to: To look in the direction of people who are speaking to him; to understand that if someone is crying they are having a problem and to try an control his shaking hand.

But through it all, he solves the mystery of the disappearance of his visiting cousin, Salim. Ted’s favorite thing is to fly the Eye. Like a Ferris Wheel, you sit in a capsule with 21 other folks and twist and turn above London. Salim goes on the first capsule while Ted and Kat wait on the ground for Salim to complete his spin. But the brother and sister don’t see Salim get off his capsule. And now the adventure begins.

Dowd is great in getting the true sibling love-hate relationship. We “listen” to Ted work out his frustrations as he tries to get others to listen to the nine scenarios he has created as to what might have happened to his cousin. There is the understanding mom who gets frustrated with Ted’s frantic ways. The dad who bulldozes large building to make way for the new. A crazy Aunt Gloria who uses a long cigarette holder as she smokes.  And Salim’s dad who is an doctor.

The issues of sibling relationships, relationships with moms and dads and a international flavor that we don’t often see in kids’ books. All this, plus the unusual Ted, makes this a must read for kids and their parents.

I am sorry to report that Siobhan Dowd died of breast cancer on 21 August 2007, aged 47, Just before Dowd’s death, the Siobhan Dowd Trust was set up, where all the proceeds from her literary work will be used to assist disadvantaged children with their reading skills.

Have you found a book that you wished you read earlier? Share your story.

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