Thursday, February 25, 2021

Review: Carla's Cloud Catastrophe




Carla’s Cloud Catastrophe
by Beth Bence Reinke.
Illustrated by Ginger Nielson
Published by 4RV Publishing

Review by Nancy Kelly Allen

Carla’s birthday plans are set…until clouds dump a disaster. Puffy, billowy, white swirls plop
down on Papa, plug chimneys, and plunge from wires throughout town. What a mess! What a catastrophe! What about Carla’s birthday party? She’s going to miss it, that’s what! She must hurry with Papa to the mayor’s meeting to discuss the cloudy mess. A flurry of suggestions rain in from every direction, but no one can figure out a solution. Carla has an idea that might save the town in one clean sweep, but her forecast for her birthday party—catastrophe!

            Reinke’s delightful, descriptive prose adds spice to this quirky, imaginative tale, and Nielson’s whimsical illustrations capture the spirit with a lighthearted mood. This book will excite giggles and can be used as a lead-in to problem solving by asking the reader for suggestions for cleaning up the clouds. With genuine heart, wit, and wisdom, the story showcases challenges, failures, and successes with humor and style in a cloudburst of positive energy.

Publisher: 4RV Publishing/ISBN-13: 978-0-9828346-0-2


32 pages

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Review: Dust of Lies


Dust of Lies
Written by G.K. Davenport
Published by 4RV Publishing
Review by MLM Opinion's Reviews 

I enjoyed the book. It’s an excellent little mystery read. It’s about Kay, a reporter who is looking for the story of the year. She was going to cover the story of an old jail building that was about to be knocked down, the last piece of history.

“Here, I hang. With my face to the wall. Ora Price was the cause of it all.” She finds a piece of a wall with words written by a prisoner, Ezra Hacker, who died while incarcerated. It was a poem that touched her, and she found herself wanting to know more about this man and his history. 

The poem is where the story begins. Kay is determined to figure out Ora, the prisoner’s wife, and what causes Ezra to abandon all responsibility. Her mother-in-law encouraged her to dive deeper and discover the truth. 

Dust of Lies is an excellent look into the past and the secrets waiting to be exposed. This book kept me wanting more, and I couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend this book, especially if you love a good mystery.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Review: If You Swallow That Seed ...


If You Swallow That Seed

Written by Wayne Harris-Wyrick Illustrated by Matthew Hughes Published by 4RV Publishing, 2015

Review By Kena Sosa


Parents say the weirdest things. In the case of the story, If You Swallow That Seed, a mother’s words literally sprout into action. The main character is shocked to find carrots growing out of his ears after swallowing a seed just as his mother warned him. He puts the carrots to good use feeding horses, but before he can overcome his problem, his mother has even more wacky comments to say and they all come true!


The boy shows determination time and time again, finding solutions to the weirdness until it gets out of hand. Matthew Hughes’ illustrations are full of texture, adding dimension and additional flavor to the story, especially in the cover illustration where we see the boy and his horses enjoying their role in the adventure.


Kids will get a kick out of this story and connect with it as they’ve been confused by their own parent’s idioms and sayings. A story that feels straight out of the childhood of the author, Wayne Harris-Wyrick, this book takes it further than just one metaphor. Swallowing the first seed is only the beginning of the adventure of what happens when words are taken literally. It is packed with excitement, fun and a great segway into the silly and savvy world of idioms and sayings.


Copies of If You Swallow That Seed … can be ordered from the 4RV Bookstore  or from other online and physical stores.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Creating and Beefing Up the Conflict


Your story has a great beginning—a great hook that will capture the reader instantly. 

You have an interesting, funny, or mischievous protagonist who will keep the reader engaged.

But will it be enough to keep the reader turning the pages to end?

Is there something missing?

Children’s stories aren’t what they used to be. Granted many stories of years ago did have conflict, they would not cut it in today’s children’s market.

In today’s children’s writing world, writing must be tight and focused. And, you need conflict. The conflict is like a detour or obstacle in the road from point A to point B. The protagonist must figure out a way over, around, or under it.

Examples You Can Use to Create and Beef up the Conflict:

Tommy wants more than anything to play baseball, but he’s not very good. The other boys never willingly choose him for their team. How will Tommy overcome this problem?

What if Tommy gets the best bat and glove on the market—will this make him a better ball player?

Kristen’s friends all have new bikes, but she has her older sister’s hand-me-down. Kristen needs to figure out a way to get a new bike.

What if Kristen finally gets a new bike and leaves it unattended at the park. It gets stolen. She’s afraid to tell her parents, so keeps this little bit of information to herself. But, how long can she keep this up.

What if Billy has a run in with the school bully and ever since he’s harassed every day. How can Billy get out of this mess?

So, the way to create and build conflict is to use “how” and “what if” to generate conflict and get your story off the ground and flying.

In the article “What to Aim For When Writing,” Margot Finke advises, “A slow buildup of tension gives good pace. Dropping hints and clues builds tension, which in turn moves your story along. Short, punchy sentences give better pace than longwinded lines."

For chapter books, middle grade, and young adult, Finke advises to keep the reader engaged by ending each paragraph with a kind of cliff-hanger. This doesn’t mean you need a life and death scenario, just something that entices the reader to move onto the next chapter to find out what happens.

In addition, to increase your story’s pace in certain sections, use shorter chapters. 

Karen Cioffi
is an award-winning children’s author and a working children’s ghostwriter/rewriter as well as a children's 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.

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