Showing posts with label children's book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label children's book. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

"The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean" by Robert Gillespie

The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean
by Robert Gillespie

The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean by Robert Gillespie

The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean by Robert Gillespie is currently on tour with iRead Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Popcorn and Jellybean had never ventured down the path beyond the big tree. But since they never really did anything exciting, and even though it made them a little nervous at first, they decided it would be a fun adventure for a couple of days. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, as it turned out, if the explorers were not prepared! Join them as they take on new challenges each day, learn how to survive by following the behaviors of the animals they encounter, and go where Mother Nature leads them. And who knows, maybe we could learn as well!

Once upon a time there were two friends, Popcorn and Jellybean, who were just plain bored. They never did anything fun and they never went anywhere exciting.
It was a Saturday afternoon, and the sun was shining brightly. The two friends were hanging out in the front yard deciding what to do on such a beautiful day.
Popcorn looked over at Jellybean and said, “Hey, JB, why don’t we go on an adventure?”
Jellybean thought about it for a second and said, “Are you sure?”
“Yes, come on!” exclaimed Popcorn.
“But where would we go?” asked Jellybean.
“I’m not really sure. I never thought about it before,” said Popcorn. “Maybe we could just follow that path into the forest and see where it takes us.”
“I don’t know, Popcorn, it seems kind of scary. We’ve never followed that path beyond the first big tree. What if we get lost?”
“We’ll just bring lots of supplies with us so we won’t have to worry,” said Popcorn.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean by Robert Gillespie is an adorable fantasy story where young readers are introduced to two friends, Popcorn and Jellybean. [...] The story is whimsical and children will love reading about the adventure and the challenges faced by Popcorn and Jellybean on their trip. The author's concept is educational and informative and he puts it across in a fun and interactive manner to readers, making it interesting.” ~ Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean by Robert Gillespie was such a fun find! As you know well enough by now, I am always looking for excellent books for my boys to read. This book was a great addition to our ever-growing book collection!” ~ slpleslieanne
"The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean is a fun little story that takes Popcorn and Jellybean on a wonderful journey into a world they have never seen, and how they learn to survive and find their way home by studying the enlightening behaviors of the diverse creatures they encounter. As well as an entertaining story, it is a veiled educational view of true animal behaviors, behaviors that children pick up on as they follow the adventure. It is a tale that can be read over several evenings—something they will look forward to each night as the story progresses. I enjoyed it very much.” ~ Tim Reaume
“A great bedtime story book for kids. Full of adventures and fun. Love it." ~ Amazon Customer
“An entertaining and educational book for any young child. Provides insights in how to use instincts and study of behaviors to help make decisions when in unplanned situations.” ~ Amazon Customer

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Popcorn and Jellybean set off on an adventure into the forest. They plan their trip, pack everything they need, and head off. But things don’t go quite as they plan, and the friends end up getting lost. Will they be able to find their way home?
What I really like about this book is that the characters experience numerous setbacks but use their knowledge and problem-solving skills to get out of difficult situations. In this way, the author sneakily manages to impart a lot of interesting facts and information. He also throws in quite a bit of foreshadowing at the beginning of the book with his use of the phrase: “little did they know …” I just wish he had carried this theme throughout the rest of the book.
The story was written with the input of the author’s seven-year-old son. This may explain why the main characters are a piece of popcorn and a jellybean. As an adult, I have trouble with this concept. I mean, how big are they? Normal size for popcorn and jelly beans? Or as big as humans? I had trouble imagining them carrying backpacks, lighting a fire, eating sandwiches and berries, and encountering real animals. The author and illustrator must have had trouble as well because, apart from the cover and character illustrations at the beginning of the book, Popcorn and Jellybean aren’t depicted in any of the illustrations, which are few and far between. My question is, why can’t they just be real boys?
On that point, Popcorn and Jellybean are referred to as “boys”, but it’s not clear how old our adventurers really are. While they meticulously plan and pack for their trip, they don’t tell anyone where they are going or how long they will be away before they set off. And, even if they had, they get lost and take longer to return home than anticipated, yet no one is out looking for them! Other issues: Raisin is depicted with a “B” on his cap; Jelłybean is shortened to JB unnecessarily; the “mom” deer is depicted with antlers after the boys tell us that girl deer don’t have antlers; Raisin’s comment about “hanging out on the vine” implies he is as small as a normal raisin (cf. my comment above about the characters’ size).
Still, if you suspend disbelief, or even just imagine this story is about two boys with unusual nicknames, it’s entertaining and educational. This book is suitable for parents to read to their younger kids or for older kids to read on their own.

Guest Post by the Author
A Wild Ride
This whole journey for me has been a lot of fun, but also very eye-opening. Consider the fact that I never really entertained the idea of writing any kind of book, let alone a children’s fantasy. With that said, it has been extremely challenging and rewarding.
And, as I quickly learned, it’s not just about writing a book. It’s about the formulation of the story; character development; organization of ideas; and even getting a feel for where to end the story so as not to lose the interest of the reader.
Before exploring the world of traditional publishing, I thought I would check in with self-publishing platforms. I opted to go with Create Space because of the simplistic nature of the platform.
The upside – I had complete control over my manuscript. The downside – I had complete control over my manuscript. The question I had to ask myself was, did I want my book to have a professional presence. Initially, it didn’t seem to be the most important issue. I just wanted to reach the end game. Once I did that, I’d see where it went from there.
I did my own editing, which did have its own set of challenges, and I decided to use clip art for the illustrations. And at virtually no cost to me, the finished product was produced. Now it was time for a test audience. I received permission to read the book in a classroom setting at my son’s school. I had the opportunity to visit all four second grade classes. They all seemed to enjoy the story, but the one thing that really made me consider the quality was a comment by one outspoken boy. He said, “Wow, it looks like a first grader drew those pictures.” Generally speaking, kids say what they are thinking. And it made me stop and think also. That was not the way I wanted the book to come across.
It was time to start looking at other options in the industry. After a bit of research, I came across a New York publisher that seemed like a good match for what I had to offer. They were very upfront about their acceptance policy, and my chances of advancing to the next step were minimal at best, as they received thousands of submissions monthly.
I submitted my manuscript and, after waiting a long seven days, I was contacted by the coordinator and told they would like to work with me on the project. Although there would be some monetary expense involved, they would accept no royalties until I recovered everything I put into the publication process.
I have been extremely satisfied with their services. Professional editing, in which I have a say in all areas. Professional illustrators, with the offering of several styles to choose from. And a very efficient, and attentive, coordinator who keeps me informed as each step unfolds. And, they are now working on the sequel as we speak.

About the Author
Robert Gillespie
Bob has spent more than 13 years as a wildlife conservation educator sharing information and animal encounters with audiences of all ages. He has a passion for teaching about a wide range of topics nature-related, and he loves passing it along to his two sons. His youngest son, Colton, was the inspiration behind The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean, where it all started as a simple bedtime story. Bob currently resides in Carlsbad, California, and works as a professional interpreter guide at a world-renowned conservation organization.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean by Robert Gillespie and a $20 Amazon gift card (US/Canada only).


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"Adri's Big Dream" by Sarah Woodard

Adri's Big Dream
by Sarah Woodard

Adri's Big Dream by Sarah Woodard

Author Sarah Woodard stops by today to share an excerpt from her debut children's book, Adri's Big Dream. You can also read my review.

In this touching folktale, Adri, a rock, follows her dream to become a plant. She faces many challenges and hardships along the way. Will she make her dream come true? Go on this journey with Adri to find out.

Book Video

[Want more? Click below to watch the author read the book.]

Praise for the Book
"Cute story inspiring all to dream the impossible dream. Looking forward to reading this book to my grandchildren but I must admit I really enjoyed the story for myself. The illustrations are adorable and help draw you into the story." ~ Susan Reed
"A wonderfully whimsical book with deep messages for children of all ages. Adri gives us hope that anything is possible when you live through the heart." ~ Alethea in NH
"This is a terrific book with a wonderful moral for kids - hang on to your dreams, eventually good things will happen." ~ Amazon Customer
"This book is very well thought out. It is very simple wisdom about everyone's desires and challenges, learning and letting go. Good for all ages." ~ Nancy White
"A lovely, well written story for kids and adults alike! Be who you really want to be! Love it!!!" ~ Leah Donahue

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Adri is a little rock with a big dream. Deep down, she knows she's meant to be a plant, but how can she make that happen?
In this book we go on an adventure with Adri to find out if her dream comes true. Along the way, we learn educational facts about plants and get a lesson in patience, perseverance, and belief. The magical, whimsical illustrations by Carlos López give cute little Adri a big personality to go with her big dream.

About the Author
Sarah Woodard
Sarah Woodard is a writer and shaman. She hopes to inspire children and adults to reach for their dreams through her writing. Sarah is a freelance writer for a variety of businesses and publications, fulfilling a life-long dream to be a writer. She lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, with her cats. When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys hiking, crafts and putting her personal touch on her home.

Friday, December 1, 2017

"The Greasy Chip" by Nancy Beaule

The Greasy Chip
(Chompy & the Munchy Bunch Book 4
by Nancy Beaule

The Greasy Chip (Chompy & the Munchy Bunch Book 4)  by Nancy Beaule

Author Nancy Beaule shares an excerpt from The Greasy Chip, the fourth book in the Chompy & the Munchy Bunch series, suitable for children ages 4 to 9. Also available: The Secret Formula, Search for the Hidden Treasure (read my blog post), and Spud's First Day Surprise (read my blog post).

You can also read my review and enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of The Greasy Chip (US only).

When a new baseball team comes to Munchytown, the Munchy Bunch gang can't wait to play! But Coach Brock O. Lee soon discovers his team needs to shape up and ditch their junk food habits if they're going to win ball games.


[Want more? Click below to read a different excerpt.]

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
When Coach Brock O. Lee comes to town, Chompy and his Munchy Bunch friends decide to join the new baseball team. Salty is especially excited. But the coach needs to make some changes if they want to play, starting with exercise, healthy eating, and his secret weapon!
This is a fun adventure with a healthy message. At the end of the book, the author even includes ten tips for making healthy foods more fun for children.

About the Author
Nancy Beaule
The Secret Formula is Nancy's debut book. What began as a way to keep her grandchildren entertained, has evolved into an exciting series about a carrot named Chompy who discovers an ancient carrot formula for super-powered eyesight. The series, called Chompy & The Munchy Bunch, is geared toward 4-9 year olds, and while the kids love re-enacting the "Chompy Juice" portion of the book, parents appreciate the hidden nutritional messages. Volume 2, Search for the Hidden Treasure, was published in September 2016, Volume 3, Spud's First Day Surprise, in April 2017, and Volume 4, The Greasy Chip, in November 2017.
Nancy's path to writing is a bit unorthodox, having spent the last 30 years as an entrepreneur/inventor. In the 80's she operated a print shop before inventing a product called the Pie Saver, which are foil rings that prevent pies from burning, came from her love of baking! "Running a business is similar to writing - there are lots of ups and downs but you can never give up!" Now with three grandchildren to enjoy, she felt the time was right to try her hand at writing children's books, and the children are loving Chompy and his pals! Nancy has two children and lives in Maine and Florida with her husband of 41 years.

Enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of The Greasy Chip by Nancy Beaule (US only).


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"The Little Green Boat" by Chris Stead

The Little Green Boat
(The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly Book 1)
by Chris Stead

The Little Green Boat (The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly Book 1) by Chris Stead

Follow the Breadcrumbs by Chris Stead

The Fastest Kid in the World by Chris Stead

Author Chris Stead stops by today for an interview and to share an excerpt from book. You can also read my review and enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a paperback or ebook copy of The Little Green BoatThis blog post is brought to you by Kate Tilton's Author Services.

This digital book is enhanced by a parent guide to early learning techniques provided by an early education specialist.
Award-winning author Chris Stead invites readers who love kids books about animals, kids books about the beach, and good old-fashioned kids action adventure picture books to The Little Green Boat. The first entry in The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly universe - a book series for kids - it recalls classics from the likes of Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit), Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), and Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House).
This action adventure for kids takes readers to an Australian beach on a very hot day. Willy Nilly goes for a wander into the sand dunes, where he discovers a little green boat. Upon jumping in for a play, a giant wave takes him out to sea. Stranded, he enlists the help of some dolphins, who carry him to a secret island where he finds a treasure map leading to a pirate treasure chest. But can he brave the crocodiles, bats, monkeys and other dangers on the way?
The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly series likes to take simple everyday activities, but views them through the lens of a child’s imagination. Are these adventures really happening to Willy Nilly or are they just occurring in his mind? Perhaps for a child, reality and make believe aren’t necessarily different things. The Little Green Boat is sure to be enjoyed by those who enjoy the best summer books for children and the best action adventure books of all time.

Book Video
Storytime Pup reads The Little Green Boat by Chris Stead.

A big wave came rushing over the sand with a loud ...
It lifted the little green boat right up out of the sand.
Past the rocks and seaweed, and the seagulls and fish.
All the way out to the horizon.

Praise for the Book
"Just bought this and read it to my 5-yr-old and 3-yr-old and they both loved it!" ~ Wilsaahhh
"What a fun adventure! The kids loved it and I think this story might go on repeat for a while!" ~ Selikas
"My godson loved it, it's now his new favourite book." ~ Gfunk
"We loved this adventure with Willy Nilly, especially when the dolphins helped Willy. My son was giggling throughout and excited to find out what happens next." ~ Kids Gifts and Toys
"A great story that teaches while it entertains. I love the illustrations - beautifully done. The story will get your child turning the page to see what happens next. Best of all for parents, I love that the author includes tips on how to use the book in a learning context to help your child learn more from this story. I would certainly buy the other adventure books from this author." ~ D.Cherry

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Willy Nilly goes to the beach with his family, finds a green boat, and his imagination takes over. The adventure is non-stop, with Willy Nilly encountering massive waves, dolphins, a deserted island, a treasure map, monkeys, bats, crocodiles, and even a helicopter ride. The kids will be glued to their seats in anticipation of what will happen next.
Great to read aloud, with plenty of opportunities for sound effects, actions, and voices. These bits are presented in color as an added prompt. There are a couple of Australianisms, such as "poppers", "mum", and "call 000 for help", which may need to be clarified for children living outside Australia. The illustrations by Ronzkie are delightful. I especially enjoyed all of the little details on each page; the kids will find something new with every read.
A bonus for parents and teachers: at the beginning of the book, there is a section by kindergarten teacher Sarah Nelson on how to use this book in a learning context.

Interview With the Author
Chris Stead joins me today to discuss his book, The Little Green Boat.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
From three to eight we have had really strong engagement. Even younger with the interactive iBook version as it has all the buttons and sounds to play with.
What sparked the idea for this book?
It all began quite out of nowhere. I was driving the family home from a long day in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, and my eldest son was lampooning in the back seat. To calm him down, I started telling this story about a boy going to the beach on a hot day. It’s a familiar environment for my son and he engaged with it straight away. I then began to branch that out into fantasy territory by having him find the titular boat in the sand dunes, then get washed out to sea. He enlists the help of some dolphins, who push him to safety on a deserted island. He finds a treasure map, makes his way bravely past the island’s dangers, and finds a way home.
When I asked him about it the next day, he remembered everything. The character. The setting. The dangers. I realized it had really impacted him. So I decided to turn it into a book, and now it is a series, with the seventh title in The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly series being illustrated as we speak.
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
Usually for me it starts with a single scene; an idea will just pop into my head, and I latch onto it as being something special. I then work out how that scene could exist within a story, and roll forwards to the start of the book and backwards to the end of the book, to work out what chain of events would actually make sense. Sometimes these ideas instantly fit with an existing character like Willy Nilly, but if they don’t, they become standalone books.
More and more, that single scene is sparked by something my children say. I will hear them explain a concept or play make believe, and it will inspire an idea. I latch onto that and make sure I jot it down. As well as the seven books out, I have another 16 waiting to be designed (illustrations done), and about 70 more ideas jotted down that I am keen to explore.
Wow! What was the hardest part to write in this book?
I wouldn’t say there is a single part that is hard to write, more that in the design you have to fit the text into a confined space. As it is a picture book, as opposed to a novel, there is only a set amount of space to play with on any given page before you start impacting the image itself. Finding ways to craft a stanza of text so that it fits in that space and make sense is where things can get tricky. Especially as your word choice and dialogue is impacted by the demographic. You can’t simply exchange a long word for a short word that means the same thing if that short word is too challenging for the kids to understand.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope it inspires them to be adventurous. A lot of children’s media nowadays is so focused on pushing a certain moral value or community ethics that they often sacrifice good, old-fashioned adventure or fail to inspire young imaginations. I want my books first and foremost to make kids go "wow" and to fill their minds with possibility. If there is a way to tie in some useful life lessons organically within that, then I’m happy to explore them.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Writing the book took an hour or two at the most. The illustrations took around four months. Then designing it into its various forms – paperback, ePub, Kindle – an additional week. Then building the website, writing up some supporting content, and general marketing has been endlessly going on since, lol.
What is your writing routine?
When my mind stumbles on a good idea, I simply have to write it down straight away. Sometimes that can be a vague concept that I want to tackle later on, but other times a single scene spills out into a whole book very quickly indeed. I have been writing under deadline conditions for magazines and websites for 20 years, so I’m not one who needs to space myself from the world to write. I’ve been writing hundreds of thousands of words a week for decades.
How did you get your book published?
With my years of experience in the media, I already had a lot of the skills required to publish a product. This has allowed me to self-publish at a quality equal to (if not better, in my opinion) than traditionally published work. My little company, Old Mate Media, now helps other indie authors and illustrators realize their dreams by helping get their work to a world-class standard and on sale.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Make sure you are realistic about your capabilities. A lot of the authors I work with believe they can edit their own work, but fail to recognize that editing is about a lot more than just grammar and spelling. It’s about flow, context, character arcs, continuity, themes, and so much more. Others head a long way down the path before realizing that their preferred print-on-demand service doesn’t actually do the trim size they are after. Others assume that any title will work, and don’t do correct keyword research. We’ve found that we can best help other authors and illustrators by bringing all these considerations – the glue that makes a book work – to what’s already a good idea, and elevate it to world class. When we see books that haven’t gone through that process, either sent to us for review or just available for sale, it’s quite clear.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
My biggest passion is surfing, so I like to get in the ocean whenever I possibly can. Other than that I have my three kids, and finding ways to make sure they are experiencing all they can in life is something I am constantly striving for, but not always successful at.
What does your family think of your writing?
I think they like it; how do you tell? Lol! I don’t like my family telling me my writing is good, I want them to tell me where it could be better. They are – I hope – my harshest critics.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I can’t imagine anyone had a better childhood that my siblings and I. My parents love each other, they built us a great home in one of the best areas on the planet, and empowered us to follow our dreams. We didn’t travel much overseas, but we explored so much of Australia, and my parents network of family friends has become like a huge expanded family. So, growing up for me was about a lot of sport, a lot of time with friends, a big outdoor lifestyle, and being blissfully naïve to the heartache and troubles of the grander world.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Loved it. I loved writing more as a kid, and from as young as 11 or 12, I was writing small novels, poems, and even newspaper style pieces about the events unfolding in our neighbourhood. I used to love Enid Blyton books, but I remember one of the first books I read that had a big impact on me was Lord of the Rings. I was about 13, and it inspired so much.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I honestly cannot remember a time when I was not writing. Even when I went through school and university – I have a degree in science – I was always writing on the side. At some point, people started paying me to do it, and that blossomed into a livelihood.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Absolutely. Not so much individual events, but the sense of adventure and imagination directly comes from my memories of being that dreaming child. My wife, I am sure, would be happy to tell you I have never grown up.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I mentioned Tolkien earlier, which was probably a big inspiration in that I love my fantasy stories. I also love my Sci-Fi, but that was probably inspired more by films like Star Wars and Star Trek than actual books – so does George Lucas count? With my current books, however, I am more influenced by styles of production than specific writers. For example, my children love the book There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake by Hazel Edwards, and that style – simple and nonsensical in many ways – inspired the book My Birthday Cake Needs a New Home.
Do you hear from your readers much?
No, not really. In 20 years of professional writing, I have had very little feedback from anyone. To be honest, I am not sure if it would change the way I do what I do; people are just so different that if you focus on one bit of opinion and let it influence you, someone else will be negatively impacted. I could do with the ego boost though!
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
We’re currently making four or five books for other authors at the moment, which is very exciting. As mentioned before, I have a ridiculous number of books ready to be published and we're just waiting for a window of opportunity for us to get them designed and slotted into our schedule. I am editing the second entry in the sci-fi series Adam X right now, which is brilliant! Plus I am trying to deliver as many guides and advice as I can to other authors through the Old Mate Media website.
There’s a lot going on, and I hope your fans – be they authors, illustrators or readers – can sign-up to our newsletter so I can keep them informed of how it all unfolds.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to stop by today, Chris. Best of luck with your future projects.

About the Author
Writing has been a part of Chris Stead’s life since he was very young. In fact, he won the "creative writing" award way back in Year 3 at school as a seven-year-old. During his senior school years, Chris wrote constantly, be it stories while he was sitting at his desk in class not concentrating on the teacher, or writing up news reports on all the sports and experiences the kids in his local neighborhood enjoyed every day.
Fast forward a little and Chris's media career could only be described as diverse. Spanning publications and clients as broad as Maxim Men’s Magazine to the University of NSW to Game Informer Australia and Krash Kids Magazine, he has spent 20+ years writing and editing across the Australian media industry.
In 2014, Chris launched a new chapter in his writing life. He founded his own company, Old Mate Media, and launched the first of a range of children’s books in The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly series. Chris's vision for the company is that other aspiring writers who would like to create their own publications – no matter what the topic – will enlist Old Mate Media to help them turn their dream into a reality.

Enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy (US only) or ebook copy (international) of The Little Green Boat by Chris Stead.