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).