Monday, June 27, 2011

Beatrice's Dream Reviewed by IBBY

Beatrice's DreamA nice endorsement from and important organization in the world of Children's books:

Beatrice’s Dream
Karen Lynn Williams, photog. Wendy Stone, London: Frances Lincoln Children’s
Books, hb. 978 1 8478 0019 0, £11.99, 2011, 32pp.
A heart-warming and down-to-earth look at the life of Beatrice from the Kibera slum in
Nairobi, Kenya.
The matter-of-fact tone of the book enables readers to be grateful for their own style of
living and at the same time admire Beatrice’s determination to better her life and give
back to her community. Issues that affect children the world over are handled in a
sensitive manner, enabling teachers and children to explore their own feelings. We were
surprised at the insightful and thoughtful comments the children made as a result of
sharing the book together. The gentle humour in the book made us smile.
The photographs encourage the reader to be curious and to want to learn more about
Kibera. Children can easily draw the parallels between their lives and that of Beatrice,
the similarities and differences. Unlike Beatrice’ s description of parallel lines ‘never
meeting even if you follow them up to Heaven’, in this book there is a sense of hope that
we can work towards a future where our parallel lives do meet through education, both
in the Kenyan slums and around the world.
An uplifting, sensitive and thought-provoking book much enjoyed by Years 4 and 6.
Vicki Willingham
This is the International Board on Books for Young people. Check out the site:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

One Thing I'm good At on E-books

I have a sony Reader. My husband gave it to me for Christmas two years ago. He has many books on that reader. I have not even opened it yet. This is in part due to the fact that I love books, real books made out of paper, the ones where you turn pages. I have piles of them unread at my bedside, on the coffee table, at my desk so that is another reason I have not turned on the reader. I need to read those books first.

But now I have have a book on e-books. Will e-books bring Julie and Bean back to life? Does this mean I can drag out the manuscript for the sequel to this book and complete it? Will schools invite me to speak because one of my YA books is back in print (sort of). Who will have access to this book now? Only those with enough cash to buy a reader? There are some opportunities out there and I guess I had better get used to them. On the other hand does this mean that now the author must write the book PUBLISH IT herself and promote it too? And will she be paid? It remains to be seen how the dust will settle after this shake up in the publishing world. For now I guess I can celebrate entering this new phase of publishing. But I will still read that stack of books at my bedside before I open my reader unless it is to download ONE THING I'M GOOD AT. :-).

One Thing I'm Good At

On Sale:1/4/2011
Formats: eBook
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Book Description

Nothing seems to be going right for Julie Dorinsky. Her best friend, Abby is hanging with the gifted crowd, while Julie's struggling to keep up in school. She can't even read the notes Abby passes her in class. It seems as if everybody, from her snooty older sister, Alexia, to her baby brother, Bean, is smarter than she is. There must by one thing she's good at.

In One Thing I'm Good At, Karen Lynn Williams has created a warm and winning portrait of a young girl discovering her hidden talents.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Julie Dorinsky believes she is "a dumb kid who couldn't do anything right." In fact, little seems to be going right for this fourth-grader. A shaky speller and slow reader, she's afraid to show her parents her stack of "poor work" school papers and she is losing her best friend to the class snob. Things are equally rocky on the home front. Julie's father is recovering from a heart attack, so her mother has taken a secretarial job and often seems "tired or upset or busy." Once Julie's confidante, her older sister, Alexia, is now dismissive and condescending ("You are so stupid!... You can't even take a phone message!" she screams when Julie takes down a caller's name and number incorrectly). At times, the girl's ineptitude is overblown, and most readers will quickly pick up on the ways Julie positively influences her bright and likable four-year-old brother. She patiently teaches him to write his name, make a kite and dial 911. When their father passes out and the boy phones in a life-saving call for help, it becomes clear to everyone--especially Julie--that the one thing she is good at is teaching. Williams (Galimoto) delivers an encouraging message for any middle-grader short on confidence and self-esteem. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Grade 3-5-Fourth-grader Julie thinks of herself as a real loser. She has trouble reading and she can't spell. She has "poor work" papers that need a parent's signature, but she doesn't want to upset her father, who has recently had a heart attack. She finds herself leading a life of lies, pretending that she's capable of reading difficult books, saying that she has finished her homework, and telling her sister that their father has already seen the test she failed. Then her teacher assigns an essay on "One Thing I'm Good At." Julie is discouraged, believing there is nothing she excels in, but when her father passes out, her four-year-old brother credits Julie with having previously taught him to call 911. She begins to feel better about herself, knowing that what she did helped to save her father's life. Williams has created a cast of realistic characters that includes a crabby teenager, a frustrated substitute, and a teacher's pet. A satisfying story with an important message about self-image.
Anne Knickerbocker, Cedar Brook Elementary School, Houston, TX
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More Awards and Connections

Four Feet and Sangoel (A Beach Tail too)still making friends and connections around the country and winning awards:

Khadra, founder of the Pittsburgh Refugee Center and coauthor of Four Feet Two Sandals and Sangoel reports on a teacher in North Carolina whose classroom read Four Feet Two Sandals. She said they were so inspired by the book that they wanted to donate sandals to PRC. We were pleasantly surprised yesterday when a huge box of brand new sandals came to our door with a note that had been signed by all the students. It was so sweet, we were all very happy about it. There are so many sandals!(photo Khadra and office manager).

And this from Arkansas: Congratulations, your book "My Name Is Sangoel" has been chosen for the Arkansas Diamond Award List for K-3 students in the 2011-2012 school year. There are a total of 14 books on this reading list. Students must read at least three of these books before they are eligible to vote for 'book of the year' in April 2012. For nearly 20 years we have over viewed this list of books with the librarians and some teachers before the next school year. We prepare an overview document covering each book, something about the author.

Check it out here:

Bravo to all those teacher and librarians and parents who work so hard to make reading and books a priority for children everywhere. And Bravo to Sangoel!

And this note from a reader and talented author:

Hi Karen,

Yesterday, I bought your picture book A Beach Tail from BBGB children’s book store in Richmond VA where I live. It’s so beautiful like all of your work. I’m a huge fan of yours and especially love Tap-Tap and Circles of Hope. I treasure my copies dearly! I only spent any time in Haiti once for a few weeks in 1990.

Your view of the world just makes me happy. (I especially like this part ;-) ) I’ve recently completed my first historical fiction about the blacksmith Gabriel who organized a slave revolt here in Richmond in 1800. Candlewick will publish it next year. I wanted Gabriel’s story to subtly entwine with Haiti’s story and Circles of Hope helped me see how to begin to trace that connection.

Just wanted to say Hi and thank you for your writing.

Yours truly,

Gigi Amateau

Check out Gigi's Web and blog! This is a great example of how the creative writing process works and it is all about connecting. And problem solving. "I wanted Gabriel's story to subtly entwine with Haiti's story and Circles of Hope helped me see how to begin to trace that connection." Thanks Gigi!