Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"Principal Sam and the Calendar Confusion" by Paul Semendinger

Principal Sam and the Calendar Confusion
by Paul Semendinger

Principal Sam and the Calendar Confusion by Paul Semendinger is currently on tour with Ravenswood Virtual Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an interview with the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Sometimes Principal Sam can't remember ... what day it is!
When Principal Sam starts to mix up the holidays, it’s up to the schoolchildren to help him out!
How will Principal Sam learn to keep his holidays straight? Find out inside!

As the day ended, Principal Sam gave each child a lollipop.
“Happy St. Pat-oween!” he said with a smile.

Praise for the Book
"The story is delightful and will put smiles on the faces of readers. Principal Sam’s character is adorable. The illustrations capture the mood of the scenes, characters, and plot nicely. It is a good bedtime storybook for children and can be used for read aloud sessions in classrooms and school libraries. It is funny to see Principal Sam getting holidays mixed and ending up coming to school dressed wrongly every time. The story is filled with fun and mirth and sees Principal Sam getting a birthday gift that changes his habit of mixing up dates of occasions and dressing wrongly. The story also conveys a subtle message that at times children can come up with good solutions, just how they do in this story." ~ Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Principal Sam wakes up on Valentine's Day knowing that today is a special day. But he's so forgetful that he can't remember which special day it is! Could it be Thanksgiving? As the year passes, Principal Sam keeps getting his holidays mixed up. Will anyone be able to come up with a solution?
This fun story teaches us about the traditions of each of the featured holidays: Valentine's Day, St Patrick's Day, Earth Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and even birthdays. I like the fact that the students are kind and helpful and never make fun of Principal Sam. And they're the ones who come up with the solution to Principal Sam's calendar confusion. The colorful drawings, by John Fredericks, bring life to the character of Principal Sam. Keep an eye out for Principal Sam's cute teddy, who like to dress up for special days as well!
Suggestions for additional learning material the author could include at the end of the book: a calendar or list of holidays; information about the origins of the holidays; suggestions on how to celebrate some of the holidays; craft ideas relating to a couple of the holidays; one or more activities derived from the story, e.g., match Principal Sam's outfit with the correct holiday, match the holiday with the correct date.
I look forward to getting to know Principal Sam even better in the follow-up books, the next of which will be Principal Sam Gets Fit (September 2017).

Interview With the Author
Dr. Paul Semendinger joins me today to discuss his new book, Principal Sam and the Calendar Confusion.
For what age group do you recommend your book? 
Ages 4-8. It’s a cute early elementary level reader.
What sparked the idea for this book? 
The idea came to me one day when I was talking with some students on a holiday. I enjoy making children laugh and was purposefully mixing up the holidays with them. As they laughed with me I started to imagine a real principal who was truly confused about simple things. That’s how Principal Sam was born. 
What was the hardest part to write in this book? 
While this is a simple story, it differs a great deal from the original manuscript. The first few versions of the story were very text heavy. I am learning how to allow the pictures to tell more of the story. I have a great illustrator whose pictures add a great deal to the story. The book is fun to look at just for the illustrations. After getting the story to a point where I was satisfied, I then worked with a great editor who pushed me to really work on the text to improve the wording, the story line, and the story’s flow. 
How do you hope this book affects its readers? 
I want children to enjoy the story. I hope parents and teachers use the book to engage with young children. The story lends itself to discussions about the mistakes Principal Sam makes. It’s my hope that the children laugh a lot when reading and hearing the story. 
How long did it take you to write this book? 
The original concept came about five years ago. Even a simple picture book takes time to develop into a good story.
What is your writing routine? 
I am an early riser. I do most of my writing in the early morning hours before I head off to work.
How did you get your book published? 
I am working with Ravenswood Publishing. The first manuscript of mine that they accepted was for my novel, Scattering the Ashes, which will be published in August 2017. Once that book was accepted for publication, I shared this story idea with Ravenswood and was able to secure a publishing contract for Principal Sam as well. This story is the first in a series of Principal Sam books. The first few stories are designed to introduce the character. Children will relate to him and also feel uplifted by the fact that the children in the story are the heroes who help the principal. Later books in the series will deal with more serious topics such a bullying, STEM learning, and more. 
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer? 
The only way to become a writer is to write. It must be something you do daily. In addition, great writers read – a lot. Writers also need to accept criticism and critique of their writing and be willing to grow. Finally, a writer needs to learn to accept rejection and to continually push forward. 
What do you like to do when you're not writing? 
I have many hobbies. I am a family man who, when my sons were young, coached them in every sport they played. I was also active in their Boy Scout experiences. We travel a lot. I also play softball and run ... a lot. To date, I have completed 20 marathons. I am also a big Yankees fan. 
Wow! What does your family think of your writing? 
I have the most wonderful family. My wife and sons always encourage me. They have all been sounding boards for ideas and have offered some excellent editing advice. They are proud that I have been published and are eagerly awaiting my more serious books, as well as seeing the other Principal Sam stories published, as well as the many other picture books that I have written. 
Please tell us a bit about your childhood. 
I had a great childhood that was spent in Midland Park, New Jersey. I had a supportive and loving family and great friends. I think I played baseball every single day when the weather was warm enough. 
Did you like reading when you were a child? 
My love of reading and writing developed when I was a young child. I have always loved to read. 
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 
When I was very young. My mother has a short two-line story that I wrote that was published in my school’s newspaper when I was six-years-old. 
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing? 
I think all of our experiences influence our writing. Some of my childhood experiences are found in my novel, Scattering the Ashes, and in my book of motivational and reflective passages, Impossible is an Illusion.
Which writers have influenced you the most? 
There are so many. As a child I loved Peter Spier, Virginia Lee Burton, H. A. Rey, and Matt Christopher, among many others. I enjoy the humor of James Thurber and Groucho Marx (who wrote more than one might think). I love J. D. Salinger, Bill Bryson, Mario Puzo. I also love to read about sports – mainly baseball. There are so many great baseball writers including Joe Posnanski, Rob Neyer, Joel Sherman, Bill James, Jane Leavy, Peter Golenbock, and Jim Bouton. I also love to read about history. Neal Bascomb is a modern writer who is outstanding. David McCullough, Stephen E. Ambrose, and Candice Millard also come to mind. In the area of thinking and motivation, I love Daniel H. Pink and Malcolm Gladwell, among so many others. Great writing inspires me.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? 
Not too much yet, but I can’t wait to hear more. The few I have heard from state that they love my writing. I am told my writing is inspirational and that I have a good sense of humor. I hope so!
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Impossible is an Illusion – a book of motivational essays comes out on June 5, 2017
Scattering the Ashes – my novel, comes out on August 20, 2017.
Principal Sam Gets Fit – the second book in the Principal Sam series, comes out on September 25, 2017.
After those, there is still a lot more coming! Stay tuned!
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to stop by today, Paul. Best of luck with your future projects.   
Thank you! I look forward to talking again.

About the Author
Dr. Semendinger has been a passionate child-centered educator for almost 30 years. He first enjoyed a successful career as a middle school history earning numerous awards, including "Teacher of the Year" and the prestigious "A+For Kids" grant before moving on to administration. Dr. Semendinger has served as a high school vice principal, a middle school principal, and is currently the principal of the most wonderful elementary school in the whole world!
Dr. Semendinger has enjoyed working in various professional organizations, including serving as the President of the New Jersey Middle School Association. In addition to the above, Dr. Semendinger has worked for the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and he has served as an adjunct college professor at both Ramapo College and William Paterson University.
An enthusiastic presenter, Dr. Semendinger brings his passion for children to his positive, happy, and engaging presentations. As an accomplished public speaker, Dr. Semendinger has successfully presented workshops at many conferences including those run by the New England League of Middle Schools, STEMCON, the New Jersey Middle School Association, the Madison Institute, local ASCD Chapters, and many others.
Dr. Semendinger is also an accomplished writer. His first book of motivational passages, Impossible is an Illusion, will be released in June 2017 by Ravenswood Publishing. Dr. Semendinger’s first novel, Scattering the Ashes, will be released in August 2017 also from Ravenswood. In addition, Dr. Semendinger writes picture books. His first picture book for children Principal Sam and the Calendar Confusion has just been released. Dr. Semendinger’s original and unique history of the New York Yankees, The Least Among Them, is also currently in editorial review. In additional to his (soon-to-be) published writing, Dr. Semendinger also frequently publishes on eduTopia and on his highly successful blog.
Dr. Semendinger leads an active life. He enjoys running and, to date, has completed twenty marathons, including the New York City Marathon five times. Dr. Semendinger also plays competitive men’s softball and enjoys backpacking and hiking. He also plays the saxophone and piano (but wishes his skills in those areas were much (much) better. (He’s working on it.) In his free time, Dr. Semendinger enjoys reading, travel, and passionately rooting for the New York Yankees. 
Dr. Semendinger volunteers his time in many ways. Dr. Semendinger was a three-sport coach (baseball, basketball, and soccer) for sixteen years as his children grew up and was also active in the Boy Scouts where he designed and led outings to historical sites that included Gettysburg, Washington’s Crossing, Valley Forge, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New York’s Central Park. Dr. Semendinger has also successfully led two Boy Scout crews through the two-week backpacking experience at Philmont Scout Ranch hiking treks of more than 90-miles. 
Dr. Semendinger also is a daily contributor to the Radio Home Visitor (88.5 FM – Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) run through King’s College. The Radio Home Visitor brings news to shut-ins in Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley. Most often Dr. Semendinger reads the daily health column and contributes an inspirational passage as well.
More than all of this, a family man, Dr. Semendinger enjoys and greatly values the time he can spend as a husband and "Dad" with his wife and three sons. There is nothing he is prouder of than the fact that he is a good dad and husband.

Enter the giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of Principal Sam and the Calendar Confusion by Paul Semendinger.