High school, a time for learning who you are, what your values are, and what matters in life. Gavin is the popular, most liked guy in his school. He is the trend setter and his hand-picked friends are at the top of the social pecking order. When they start planning their last summer bash before becoming seniors; he is quickly ripped out of his comfort zone when his dad decides he needs to spend his last vacation giving back to the community. Gavin is going to spend his summer working as a volunteer for camp Lift Me Up, it is a camp for kids with life threatening illnesses, a chance for them to feel normal. Here Gavin reconnects with an old friend Jacob, and they befriend Marissa, a girl with a lot of emotional baggage. Together the three of them bond and look to make their senior year one to remember not just for them, but for the whole school.
Gavin is your typical self-absorbed teenager, he’s on the football team, one of the popular kids, and comes from a family of money. Everyone knew that kid in high school, if you were not part of that crowd chances are you despised him, if you were in the crowd you looked up to him, or at least followed so not to lose your standing. When Jacob stopped following the cool crowd Gavin abandoned him. He never looked into why his best friend suddenly changed over the course of a summer. Gavin soon learned with his service at Lift Me Up what brought about the change in Jacob. Following the back and forth between Gavin and Jacob is exciting, you are never quite sure what their feelings for each other really are. Seeing Gavin grow is emotional, he learns that there is a lot more to the world than his little bubble, and he learns to really care for other people. This awakening is uplifting, it gives you hope that society is not doomed.
One of the most predominate themes in this novel is that love has no boundaries or appearances. High school romances are often flirty and based on who is who and what social class you fall into. While this novel starts out following those trends and is easily relatable to readers, it soon twists and becomes so much more. The story of Caleb, the boy with leukemia, that latches onto a resentful Gavin is a catalyst for the change in Gavin. His memory is a constant reminder of how fragile life is and that you can’t live your life trying to live up to everyone else’s standards. I was really touched by Caleb and how his short time impacted so many lives. It is a reminder that it doesn’t matter how long we are here on earth, but what we do with the time we are given. Caleb melted the heart of Gavin and reminded him there is more to life than his little social circle. Gavin and Jacob’s relationship is touching and so fluid you just can’t help but want to see how life goes for them both. Everyone should have a friendship like that in life, someone that loves you unconditionally and is there for you no questions ask. Life Sliding by S.L. Mauldin is a touching novel, thought provoking and full of compassion and hope.
Pages: 169 | ASIN: B01BBCY5RO
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Titch the Itch, written by B.C.R. Fegan and illustrated by Lenny Wen, is the tale of an animated little itch who wants nothing more than to make friends the only way he knows how–by doing his job. When his wayward, “no-reason-at-all” itching isn’t appreciated in the home of one large family, Titch the Itch seeks to make friends outside the home. Trying his luck with a cat, a neighbor, a police officer, and a park full of children, Titch learns that life is hard for an itch of his sort. His journey leads him to the hospital where he soon learns that he has had a bigger impact than he realized.
B.C.R. Fegan has constructed a touching story centered around the personification of a lowly itch. The author has managed to take a difficult concept and design a precious plot surrounding the poor little itch’s desire to be needed and to have lasting friendships. Titch is a memorable character with whom young readers will empathize. As he moves from one character to the next, he experiences rejection and disappointment. Fegan has included some important lessons in this wonderful picture book. In addition to friendship, the author teaches the benefits of being determined and the results of perseverance.
As with any children’s book, it is essential to include those moments of humor. Fegan does not lack in this area. The unforeseen circumstances surrounding the conclusion of the book are whimsical and encourage children to reread the book to find things they may have missed–a wonderful aspect to include to inspire young readers to delve further into the intricacies of text. As a teacher and parent, I more than appreciate those small amounts of mystery which energize readers. Kudos to the author!
The illustrations for Titch the Itch are fantastic. Lenny Wen’s vision of Titch is a cross between a ghost and a friendly dust bunny–exactly how one might visualize an itch. The facial expressions of Titch absolutely make the story. His woeful looks tug at the reader’s heartstrings. The color schemes chosen to brighten the pages make this a beautiful story to read aloud.
B.C.R. Fegan’s story of the needy little itch just looking for friendship is a sweet tale perfect for teaching young readers about the value of friends and loyalty.
Pages: 33 | ASIN: B076342B9D
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Fifteen-year-old Alex is a “spinner.” His friends are “dummies.” Two clandestine groups of humans want his power. And an ancient evil is stalking him. If people weren’t being murdered, Alex might laugh at how his life turned into a horror movie overnight.
In a wheelchair since birth, his freakish ability has gotten him kicked out of ten foster homes since the age of four. Now saddled with a sadistic housemother who uses his spinning to heal the kids she physically abuses, Alex and his misfit group of learning disabled classmates are the only ones who can solve the mystery of his birth before more people meet a gruesome end.
They need to find out who murdered their beloved teacher, and why the hot young substitute acts like she’s flirting with them. Then there’s the mysterious medallion that seems to have unleashed something malevolent, and an ancient prophecy suggesting Alex has the power to destroy humanity.
The boys break into homes, dig up graves, elude kidnappers, fight for their lives against feral cats, and ultimately confront an evil as old as humanity. Friendships are tested, secrets uncovered, love spoken, and destiny revealed.
The kid who’s always been a loner will finally learn the value of friends, family, and loyalty.
If he survives…
Finalist in the 2015 Wishing Shelf Book Awards
Honorable Mention in the 2015 Halloween Book Festival
Runner-Up in the 2015 Southern California Book Festival
Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2015
Bronze Medal in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Awards
Honorable Mention in the 2015 San Francisco Book Festival
Winner in the 2015 Hollywood Book Festival
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Underlord of the Netherworld once again brilliantly melds age old wisdom and youthful spirit into a daring tale of life after Peter Pan. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
In Legends of the Pan 1 (Essence of Neverland):
I wanted to create something multicultural that would help empower children and young adults around the world. This evolved into explaining life balance and human nature; how forgiveness allows personal growth; and how each one of us has the power to create an immense and lasting change in the lives of others.
In Legends of the Pan 2 (Underlord of the Netherworld):
Tolerance of others different from oneself permits the exploration of different points of view within the fascinating scope of human experience. Appearances can be deceiving, and people can change. Friends can become enemies, and enemies can become friends. Most people have the need to improve themselves and their environment, but it depends on one’s values as to what the outcome will be. Impermanence can be our greatest ally if we focus on the goodness within.
The invasion of Malomen, a swarthy society of bloodlusting sea creatures, has brought with it the tides of war. What was your inspiration for these creatures?
I love the sea, aquariums, and scuba diving. I spend hours next to a large aquarium while I write. Many times I stop and marvel at the marine life. While writing this book, I paused to observe the beautiful designs on the skin of a large plecostomus. It made me think about mudskippers that have adapted to land and sea, and then a race of Malomen was born in my mind.
Underlord of the Netherworld earnestly explores the powers of communication, compassion, and community. What morals did you try to capture while developing your characters?
In Legends of the Pan 1 (Essence of Neverland):
I chose four children to be gifted the power of the Pan. The fairies selected them because they each had a special inherent nature. Kuthanda is endowed with love, Dobráta with compassion, Khwam Glaohán with courage, and Rakaná with creativity, which is the literal meaning of each child’s name in their native tongue. Each child was from a different country, raised in a different belief system, and suffered the loss of loved ones due to a different tragedy. These children found happiness because they chose to move on with their lives, keep an open mind, and lose themselves in the service of others instead of wallowing in self-pity.
It is with our thoughts and volition that we create our personal worlds. It is up to each individual to decide which path will be taken. Even if one discovers the chosen path was a mistake, he or she can change direction at any moment, learn from the mistake, and continue to grow, which is what Captain Hook, Chief Najoshi, and Chief Adagash managed to do.
In Legends of the Pan 2 (Underlord of the Netherworld):
Tolerance of others different from oneself permits the exploration of different points of views within the fascinating scope of human experiences. Appearances can be deceiving, and people can change. Friends can become enemies, and enemies can become friends.
Reichi’s innocence gave him the compassion required to save all of the islanders above and below the sea. He could not be swayed to commit an evil act or cause harm since he had never been tainted by the negative affairs of men.
After many years Najoshi had learned to forgive past trespasses, and have compassion for all living beings, tempered with wisdom. He had decided to remain steadfast in his beliefs, even in the most dire circumstances. The chief, his queen, and their children understand the connectivity of all things, the great power found in unity, and that education is the path, which leads away from ignorance and primal instincts.
Will there be a book three in your Peter Pan series? If so, where will it take readers?
Yes, I’ve started writing Legends of the Pan 3. It begins ten years after where we left off in book two. The Merpeople, Malomen, and humans have thrived through cooperation and education. However, several things from their past, which originated in book one and two, are about to come to light to haunt them.
Peter is gone, causing the decline of Neverland and a struggle for power. This once abundant world of dreams come true, soon converts into a place of violence and evil without the positive influence of the Pan. Many have gone missing and none can escape its shores. Neither pirates, nor Indians, or Merpeople and fairies have the magic it takes to defeat the demonic darkness that threatens the very existence of every man, woman, and child living on the island. Can anything save them from this pending doom before it is too late? What can prevent Neverland from becoming void of any hope as it turns into a barren wasteland eventually consumed by the sands of time? Perhaps the answer lies within the essence of this mystical isle, inspiring the hope and motivating the action needed to save them all.
Posted in Interviews
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Fleeing the Shadows is a satisfying follow-up in the continuing Dangerous Loyalties series as our brave heroine flees with her family into the Kentucky frontier. What direction did you want to take this novel in that was different from the first book?
After the danger caused by Papa’s covert activities in book one, I wanted readers thrust headlong into survival mode with thirteen-year-old Mary and her family.
The family is always running from something and danger seems to lurk around every bend. Did you plan the plot twists before writing or did they develop organically?
I used a rough outline to keep the story moving but allowed surprises to happen naturally.
Mary continues to carry the bulk of the family’s worries as her Papa makes increasingly difficult decisions. What were some obstacles that you felt were important for her characters development?
Mary struggles with PTSD. She must deal with each fear and keep going. Mary rises to the task of taking charge of her siblings when Papa must care for Momma. When Mary shuts down in fear, she allows her family to care for her. Her ultimate challenge leads her to face real and imagined shadows to save her family.
Where will book three in the series take readers?
Mary hopes life at Fort Boonesborough will fulfill her dreams of a peaceful life with friends and suitors. She has her heart set on a certain someone and is determined to win him for her future husband, but Papa and the American Revolution say otherwise.
She blames herself for the bounty onPapa’s head.
Book Two in the Dangerous Loyalties series–a historical novel for teens–continues the riveting story of Daughters of the American Revolution patriot Mary Shirley McGuire.
It’s late summer in the Alleghany Highlands, 1775. Colonial Virginia has resolved to support the American Revolutionary cause for liberty. The British are determined to retain control of the fur trade and keep frontiersmen fighting Indians instead of joining the Continentals.
Thirteen-year-old Mary Shirley is still recovering from emotional wounds inflicted when she risked her life delivering traitorous dispatches. She trusted the wrong men, and now the family must flee Indian Creek to stay ahead of British Loyalist who seek her papa’s life.
But they can’t risk being captured by taking the main road to Daniel Boone’s trail that leads into Kentucky territory. They must endure the more dangerous and grueling hunter’s path that leads to rough frontier forts along the Clinch River.
Passions are ignited, friendships are formed, and shocking lessons are learned.
Papa ignores the warnings to wait for other travelers, causing Mary’s anxieties to worsen. Once they cross the Cumberland Gap, they’re at the mercy of God and the Chickamauga Cherokee to make it to Fort Boonesborough alive. Frontiersmen tell them the settlement of Fort Boonesborough isn’t defendable, and Mary doesn’t want to continue. Papa is confident that the Indians are too busy preparing for winter to raid.
A few days from the fort, Mary is feeling hopeful for the future. Then disaster strikes, leaving the family devastated and heartbroken. There is no other choice. Mary must lay aside paralyzing fear and excruciating pain to save her family before time runs out.
Fleeing the Shadows (Dangerous Loyalties Book Two) invites readers to experience traveling the dangerous wilderness trails with Mary and her family through thick wild forests of Southwest Virginia and into Kentucky territory that leads straight into a Native American hornet’s nest. Mary just wants to make it Fort Boonesborough and live in peace.
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Bean Takes a Walk is a short, colorful, and educational adventure book for kids. What was the inspiration for Bean in the Garden?
Matt originated the idea of a children’s series about a bean walking across a garden. As we explored it further, we realized that Bean could be an aspirational character for young children, and we could use him to teach kids about acceptance, kindness and friendship. These are lessons we’re both trying to instill in our own children, so it felt right to do it in the series. Before we knew it, we had a whole town full of veggie people!
The story is about sharing, making friends, and being kind; a great message for preschool kids. In such a short book, how did you balance story telling with the delivery of those messages?
We try to keep it lighthearted and fun. We want kids to engage first and foremost with the characters and the story. The lessons are baked in, but there’s nothing preachy about it. I believe that kids have an intuitive understanding of fairness and kindness, so it’s easy for them to grasp these concepts!
The art in this book is wonderful. What was the collaboration like to make such colorful works of art?
Matt is just ridiculously good. It’s an honor to work with him. We’ve been working together for almost 10 years on website and logo design, so we know each other well. Even so, this was a brand new adventure for us! It’s been really fun figuring out all the characters and how the different scenes might look.
On Bean’s adventure he takes three toys, one of them is The Amazing Pickle #1 comic. So cute! Why did you choose these items?
We wanted things that would be simple and identifiable to kids – the kinds of things they might have in their own backpacks! As for the Amazing Pickle – well there might be some special superhero adventures in Bean’s future!
Bean Takes a Walk is book 1 in the Bean in the Garden series. What’s next for Bean in the Garden?
There are so many characters to explore in our little world! Coming up, you can expect more stories about Bean’s family and his best friend, Bella.
Bean in the Garden is a series of delightful, lighthearted picture books and videos aimed at teaching preschoolers how to be brave and kind in everyday life. In Bean Takes a Walk, Mrs. Berg entrusts Bean with a beautiful stone to trade with Miss Tots for some chamomile tea. Along the way, he makes some new friends and learns that not everything is what it seems!
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