Sunday, June 20, 2021

Review for Peabody Pond by Brian Heinz

 

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Peabody Pond" by Brian J. Heinz.]




4 out of 4 stars




Connor and Otis, captain and crew of the decrepit rowboat H. M. S. Wonder, are ready for a summer full of adventure on their beloved Peabody Pond. But their plans for fishing are quickly cast aside by a fight for their lives. A vial of experimental hormone accidentally released into the water has monstrous effects on the local pond critters, and only Connor and Otis know about the danger. These honor students from Pendrake Middle school are not known for lying, but their quest to find answers about the vial and the kidnapping of geneticist Dr. Wilfred Lambert has them wading neck-deep in deceit. 

When the thugs responsible for the kidnapping turn their attention to the boys, Conner and Otis will have to seek help from unlikely allies. What started as a secret mission to uncover scientific truth will turn into an eye-opening journey about relationships and learning to look beyond a person's exterior. Will Connor and Otis be able to save their new friends from disaster? Or will they find themselves swallowed by the mutants that lie beneath the surface of Peabody Pond?

Peabody Pond by Brian J. Heinz might be a perfect find for readers looking for an exciting middle-grade adventure novel. I loved the science-fiction elements of this story and the author's ability to add valuable life lessons to an excellent escapade. I also enjoyed the suspense built into the plot early on, and the unknown consequences of the chemical had me on the edge of my seat. Young readers will appreciate the short chapters that make the book flow smoothly and provide the perfect stopping points along the way.

The book featured a noteworthy cast of characters that made it easy to engage with the story. I loved Connor's down-to-earth personality and his ability to assess the situations included in the plot. He provided a positive example of leadership and was open to learning from his mistakes. I also appreciated Otis for the comic relief his personality quirks offered, which helped ease the reader back down after the more intense scenes throughout the book. The author also included various antagonists that presented multiple challenges and opportunities for character growth as the plot progressed. I loved how dealing with the antagonists gave Connor and Otis a chance to develop new perspectives, learn about empathy, and evaluate their consciences. 

There was nothing that I disliked about this book. Peabody Pond was well written and edited, with very few errors. Therefore, I have no reason to give it anything but four out of four stars. Since this book targets a middle-grade audience, there was very little graphic content. Still, there were a few instances of borderline swearing and a few scenes of violent death. I'd recommend this to upper middle-grade readers as the protagonists were just out of eighth grade. The book's epilogue opened the door for a possible sequel, and I would love to see more adventures out on Peabody Pond. 

 

       NOTE: Online Book Club sent the following to the author:

 “The review of your book is marked as featured. This means it is being featured on the page OnlineBookClub.org/reviews/ and as a sticky topic in the forums. It is set to be featured until August 20, 2021.”

 

        Peabody Pond can be purchased online through the author's 4RV Publishing page or from other online stores.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Writing Rhyme

 


Rhyming, when done right, is a wonderful way to engage children.

Children, as soon as they’re able, love to rhyme words . . . and this can begin as early as two-years-old: cat-hat, mouse-house.

But, to write a rhyming story . . . a well written rhyming story . . . is difficult; you need a good story, rhyme, rhythm/beat, meter, stresses, and more—all this in addition to the already unique rules and tricks in writing for children. And, some writers just don’t have that innate ability to do rhyme well. But, it can be learned.

According to Delia Marshall Turner, Ph.D., the elements of poetry are: voice; stanza; sound; rhythm; figures of speech; and form.

Voice (the speaker)
Stanza (the format of lines grouped together)
Sound (rhyme and other patterns)
Rhythm (the beat and meter – the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables)
Figures of Speech (types of figurative language)
Form (the type of poem, its design)

Along with this there is perfect rhyme, and approximate rhyme:

Perfect rhyme: tie/lie; stay/day
Approximate rhyme: top/cope; comb/tomb

And, there are many more bits and pieces that go into writing poetry/ rhyme. But, the foundation that holds your rhyming story all together is the story itself—you need a good story, especially when writing for children.

Another great source of rhyming information is the article, “To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme” by Dori Chaconas, in the Writer Magazine, October 2001: “You may write in perfect rhyme, with perfect rhythm, but if your piece lacks the elements of a good story, your efforts will be all fluff without substance. I like to think of story as the key element, and if the story is solid, and conducive to rhyme, the rhyme will then enhance the story.”

This is a wonderful explanation because it mentions “if the story is solid, and conducive to rhyme.” This means that not all stories will work in rhyme, and the writer needs to know whether his will or will not.

So, if you’re interested in writing in rhyme, there are a number of sites and articles online that can help, there are also books available, and classes you can take. Do a Google search for the tools that are right for you.

A great place to start is:
http://www.underdown.org/mf-rhyme-and-meter.htm
https://www.writingrhymeandmeter.com/  

 


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and a working children’s ghostwriter/rewriter and writing coach. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move as well as an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

You can follow Karen at:
LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter  http://twitter.com/KarenCV
You can check out Karen's Books at: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/karens-books/

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Children's Writing Pitfalls - Words

 


I wrote a fantasy story originally geared toward middle grade. Realizing the word count wasn’t enough for a middle grade story, I changed it to a chapter book.

Good idea, right?

Yes, it is.

But if you do something like this, you need to remember to check the age appropriateness of the words you originally used.

You might ask why this necessary.

Well, it’s the difference between an editor giving your story a second glance, or not.

It’s so important that publishers will ask what grade level your book is geared toward. You had better make sure the vocabulary of your story and the intended audience are a match.

What exactly do I mean? Let’s use an example:

The boy performed an amazing illusion. Should you use illusion or real magic?

If you were writing this for a 6th grader, the word illusion would be fine, but say you are writing for a 2nd or 3rd grader … then you’ll need to change that word.

According to “Children’s Writer’s Word Book,” ‘illusion’ is in the 6th grader’s vocabulary. You would need to change it to a word such as trick or fake to make it age appropriate for a 3rd grader.

The use of words goes far beyond that of choosing age appropriate words, they can be revised to say the same thing in a different way.

Words are so amazing – just make sure yours are just right for the age group you’re writing for.

Taking this a little further, even if you're writing a young adult novel, choose words carefully.

I'm working with a client who has words in his draft that not most teens, and even many adult readers won't understand. You don't want a reader to have to stop and look up a word while reading. This is never a good thing.

When writing for children, teens, and young adults, don't use high-end words. Use words that everyone will be able to quickly recognize and understand.

To emphasis this, here are some quotes on the topic by famous authors:

"Use familiar words—words that your readers will understand, and not words they will have to look up. No advice is more elementary, and no advice is more difficult to accept. When we feel an impulse to use a marvellously exotic word, let us lie down until the impulse goes away."
~James J. Kilpatrick

"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do."
~Thomas Jefferson

"A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts."
~William Strunk and E.B. White

"Use the smallest word that does the job."
~E.B. White

"Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people." ~William Butler Yeats

"The finest words in the world are only vain sounds if you can’t understand them. ~Anatole France

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
~Mark Twain

The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words." ~George Eliot

"Whenever we can make 25 words do the work of 50, we halve the area in which looseness and disorganisation can flourish."
~Wilson Follett

"Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."
~C. S. Lewis


Karen Cioffi
is an award-winning children’s author and a working children’s ghostwriter/rewriter and writing coach. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move as well as an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

You can follow Karen at:
LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter  http://twitter.com/KarenCV
You can check out Karen's Books at: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/karens-books/
 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Sad Little Wildflower receives 5-Star Review

 

 

Readers' Favorite 5m Star Review
 by Mamta Madhavan

        It was spring, and there were signs of new growth everywhere. Down the road, a small shoot of green stretched upward to feel the sunshine on its leaves. She wondered what type of flower she would be, and wished to be a rose. The little plant grew and grew, and one day she noticed a tinge of pink color form around her head. The little plant was so happy as she knew pink roses were beautiful, and she would soon be the envy of all the other flowers. The man thought she was a weed and wanted to remove her so the beautiful tulips would not be choked. The little flower cried and cried, and
waited to see what would happen next. A voice asked the little flower why she was sad. The little flower knew it was the voice of Jesus and asked him to turn her into a rose so that people would
love her. 

        Let's read the book to find out what Jesus told her, and if the little flower would discover her purpose in life.
 

       The Sad Little Wildflower by Yvonne M. Morgan is a beautiful story that conveys many uplifting and positive messages to young readers. The story is about self-love, self-acceptance, trust, self-belief,
and finding out one's purpose in life. The illustrations are bright and colorful, and they make the story captivating to youngsters. I like the way the author gives the little flower a personality of her own as she is called the Pink Lady by Jesus. It is an uplifting and encouraging story to read to children in
classrooms and homes to help them love themselves, be happy with what they have, and also believe that everyone is unique and has his/her own purpose in life.


Yvonne Morgans books can be found at

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Reviews: The Hatchling


 

TITLE:  THE HATCHLING
PUBLISHER:  4RV Publishing, January 2021
AUTHOR:  Vivian Zabel
ILLUSTRATOR:  Jeanne Conway
Reviewed by Karin Larson

    THE HATCHLING is a heart-warming story of two best friends, Louie Duck and Gus Goose, who go about their days playing, riding waves in the lake and enjoying each other’s company. But soon comes a surprise…Louie is going to be a big brother. How will this new sibling affect Louie and Gus?        
    
THE HATCHLING explores the feelings involved in both the sibling relationship and the friendship bond in a heart-warming and relatable way all kids will understand without feeling a lesson is being taught. Ms. Zabel uses active and lively, at times alliterative, language which kids will love. Back matter sections with discussion questions and additional information about ducks compliment the text which kids and adults alike will enjoy. Ms. Conway’s illustrations are bright and fun and bring the characters and story to life. This story is perfect for kids ages 4-9 years of age.

     To learn more about Vivian Zabel or the other Louie the Duck stories (WAVE EXCITEMENT, LOUIE FINDS A FRIEND), visit https://www.4rvpublishing.com/vivian-zabel.html or www.vivianzabel.com.

    For more information about Jeanne Conway, visit https://www.jeanniespaintings.com.

 DISCLAIMER:  I received a hard copy of THE HATCHLING free of charge in return for my honest review. This review consists of my honest opinions, not influenced by anyone in any way. 

 


Readers' Favorite 5-Star Review
Reviewer Mamta Madhavan

    Louie Duck and Gus Goose waddled toward their sleeping area as the day ended. Louie was happy that they had fun. When the two birds reached Louie's nest, they saw Daddy Duck standing beside a
new circle of twigs, leaves, and feathers. Louie was curious to know why Daddy Duck and Momma Duck made a new nest. They showed Louie the large egg nestled in downy feathers. 

     Gus was worried if Louie and he would still be best friends when the egg hatched and Louie reassured him saying no hatchling would take his place as Louie's best friend. Grandma Goose came to them while they were playing one day and told Louie the egg was hatching. Louie and Gus were excited when the egg hatched. Louie had a little brother and they named him Quacker. Louie could not go anywhere without Quacker following him. Quacker had a lot of questions to ask Louie and Gus, and Louie complained to Daddy Duck about it. Daddy Duck told Louie he would take Quacker with him every afternoon so that Gus and Louie could have time for themselves. Would Quacker make new friends and stop asking so many questions?
 

    The Hatchling (A Louie the Duck Story) by Vivian Zabel is a beautiful story of sibling bonding and it is adorable to see how Louie finally accepts Quacker and feels proud of him. Jeanne Conway's
bright and colorful illustrations breathe life into the scenes and characters, making these palpable to young readers. The characters of Gus, Louie, and Quacker are adorable, real, and relatable and readers will be able to connect with them and their feelings. A lot of children will be able to relate to the story and the emotions and feelings of Louie and Gus. The book is good for use in classrooms and homes for storytelling and read-aloud sessions as it teaches children how to deal with their siblings.