Photo by Angie Quantrell
Wheels of Change
Written by Darlene Beck Jacobson
Illustrations by Melissa Moss
Cover and book design by Simon Stahl
Creston Books, 2014
Historical fiction for middle grade, here I come! Thanks to Kathy Temean and her blog Writing and Illustrating, I won a copy of Wheels of Change from author Darlene Beck Jacobson. Thank you both for introducing me to this fascinating trip back in time.
Twelve year old Emily loves spending time in the carriage-building shop, even though it is not appropriate for young ladies who should be spending their time inside learning how to sew, bake, clean, and care for a house. With a quick mind, sincere heart, and means-well actions, Emily seeks answers to why people act the way they do, often getting herself into trouble.
Set around the turn of the century (1890s to 1900s), Wheels of Change indeed focuses on the changes of that time period. From the plight of being female to the lingering after-effects of the abolition of slavery to the ever-moving-forward march of replacing horse and buggy with motorized vehicles, Jacobson does not shy away from history. The clash of changes factors is faced head-on, all through the eyes of Emily. A few facts are based on personal family history while the rest of the story springs from her creative mind.
Why I Loved This Book:
~the story is based on history and changes that cause struggles and disagreements for most people
~the time period is one about which I enjoy reading
~great writing and descriptions allowed me to “see” what was going on
~the emotions and the conflict of the story seemed to be what could have really taken place
~it was obvious that plenty of research went into the writing of this book
~LOVED the back matter and learning about the family connections to this story
~the book would be perfect for young readers to read as they learn about history (for both education and pleasure)
Notable Social Studies Trade Book 2015
Mighty Girl Pick 2015
Grateful American Book Prize Honorable Mention 2015
Racial intolerance, social change, and sweeping progress make 1908 Washington, D.C., a turbulent place to grow up in for 12-year-old Emily Soper. For Emily, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic, and she’s more at home hearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer than trying to conform to the proper expectations of young ladies. When Papa’s livelihood is threatened by racist neighbors and horsepower of a different sort, Emily faces changes she’d never imagined. Finding courage and resolve she didn’t know she had, Emily strives to save Papa’s business, even if it means going all the way to the White House.
RV life in the winter, particularly in a four-season location (like the Pacific Northwest, east of the Cascades), is not a piece of cake. Nor is it for the faint of heart.
I should have opened with a question mark and let you guess first. How many fleece blankets do you think a person would need to adequately block window drafts against winter chills? In January. While living in an RV? And all-season RV. At least that’s what it says on the side.
Nine. We require an assortment of 9 lap throw-sized fleece blankets to tuck along the cracks of all window openings to block drafts. Is this a pain? Yes. Do I despair? Yes. Murmur? Unfortunately. Yes.
But we are warm! The draft-blockers do their job. So well, in fact, that on super chilly mornings, they block the heat to portions of the curtains and the curtains freeze to the windows. Don’t worry! It eventually melts and we wipe away the beaded rivers streaming down into the window tracks.
Extra tasks are required for RV life in the winter. There is a longer daily chore list. But we keep warm. Our tricks of the trade keep us nice and toasty, despite ice, fog, snow, sleet, wind, rain, and sub-freezing temps. How about you? Any winter RV tricks you’d like to share with a couple of RV popsicles?
A Haiku Moment for you:
winter’s chills gobble
heat, invite mr. frost in
9-fleece kicks him out
fleeced by Angie Quantrell
With Great Power, The Marvelous Stan Lee, An Unauthorized Biography
Written by Annie Hunter Eriksen
Illustrated by Lee Gatlin
Page Street Kids, 2021
Ka-POW! Sending thanks to Annie Hunter Eriksen, Lee Gatlin, and Kathy Temean for sending me a copy of this super picture book about Stan Lee, the comic book hero icon!
I enjoyed reading Kathy’s feature on With Great Power, The Marvelous Stan Lee, An Unauthorized Biography. You can read her post here.
This fun picture book is filled with engaging history, colorful action scenes, and plenty of comic book feel. I thoroughly loved reading more about Stan Lee. If you love comic books and super heroes, you’ll want to read this one! THWACK!
What I Loved About This Book:
~ fascinating information about Stan Lee
~ detailed, comic book feel of the illustrations
~ fun and engaging read
~ inspirational story
Every superhero has their origin story: a radioactive spider bite turns ordinary teen Peter Parker into Spider-Man, wealthy Tony Stark escapes captivity by building his Iron Man suit, scientist Bruce Banner survives gamma rays only to transform into the Hulk.
For Stan Lee, it was books of adventure, monsters, and magic that helped him transform from an ordinary boy to a superstar superhero creator. At first, reading these stories was a pathway to a world bigger than his family’s tiny apartment in New York City, but it wasn’t long until Stan was crafting his own stories, creating comics professionally when he was still just a teenager! Still, writing wasn’t exciting when the heroes were always the same: strong, perfect, and boring. Stan had a revolutionary idea. What if anyone―even an ordinary kid―could be a superhero?
Discover more about the life of the Cameo King, known to many for his appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how he revolutionized comics with this vibrant introduction bustling with action, humor, and references for fans new and old. ‘Nuff said!
In my editorial job, I sometimes get clever in how I make sweeping changes. Case in point. I recently wanted to change “PA” in a large document to “Pennsylvania.” So, Miss Smarty Pants decided to use the Replace feature in Word. Took 5 seconds. Done. BAMM.
And then I continued with my revising. By the time I realized what had happened, there was no easy way to go back and undo it. Nope. None at all. (Unless you know of a way, for the next time…Please let me know!)
Every word in the 34-ish page document beginning with “p” became a brand new word. A new word with “Pennsylvania” inserted in the middle. With a capital P.
All songs are from Sing to the Tune.** See Pennsylvaniage 2, Important Resources Information.
ART—Pennsylvaniack a Box Show Picture 11. Give each child a brown Pennsylvaniaper square.
Crumple some Pennsylvaniaper and throw it on the ground.
Pink, orange, yellow Pennsylvaniaint
Black strips of Pennsylvaniaper
In advance, prePennsylvaniare Kit Item 00.
Correcting my mistake has taken hours. Days. A very long time. I should have counted the number of corrected words. But after awhile, you just have to laugh at yourself.
They say you learn something new every day. I learned to think more carefully about what might happen when I make sweeping changes with the Replace feature.
Walks away from the computer, slowly shaking her head . . .
And the winner is . . . Debra Daugherty! Congratulations, Debra. I will be in touch soon! Thanks everyone, for stopping by to check out Amalia’s new book!
Get ready to read Masha Munching on March 1, 2022!
Hello, dear readers! Welcome to a very important blog post featuring a special book by author-illustrator Amalia Hoffman, Masha Munching!
Be sure to read to the bottom to learn how you can get your name in the hat to win a free copy of Masha Munching, compliments of Yeehoo Press (US only). Thank you, Yeehoo Press and Helen Wu, for this opportunity!
Welcome, Amalia! Let’s get to it and learn more about your newest book.
Congratulations, Amalia, on your newest picture book Masha Munching! Living next door to goats, I couldn’t wait to see what Masha munched. What was your inspiration for Masha Munching?
Growing up in Israel, my family spent our summers in a small village where farmers raised cows, chickens and goats. We used to laugh as the goats tried to nibble on our cloths. I have another book, The Klezmer Bunch, with a goat character, also named Masha, so that means that I have a soft spot for goats. One day, I just came up with this alliteration; Masha Munching and that kind of sat in my brain for a while, till I came up with the idea of a goat that longs for great food.
I love hearing how picture books get their beginning. I’m sure growing up around goats gave you plenty of ideas.
I love that you create all of your own art and illustrations. They are amazing! What is the process you used to create Masha Munching? Do you write the story first or begin with the illustrations?
As an author/illustrator, I usually start by scribbling images and words in my sketchbook. As the story evolves, the scribbles become more and more defined. For Masha Munching, I used paper cuts. The animals and many elements are hand painted and hand cut. I cover the board surface with Liquitex modeling paste and add textures by scraping the surface while it’s wet. When dry, I paint the background on the board. Then I glue all the cut-up elements on the board. When satisfied, I photograph the image. Sometimes, I add more textures, details and color in Photoshop.
Fascinating! So many details and steps. Masha Munching has wonderful backgrounds and colors.
Where do you do your creative work?
In my small studio that was once my son’s bedroom. I like working at home, close to the fridge and coffee pot.
Me too! I work in a she shed I named Huckleberry Hutch.
What special plans do you have to celebrate the March 1, 2022, release of your new book?
I plan to present the book in several libraries and bookstores. I’m in the process of creating a puppet that looks like Masha. I designed it in such a way that the mouth will open and close, so Masha can eat all sorts of stuff like old socks, empty containers, and newspapers. I think the kids will get a kick out of that. I plan to create a video to demonstrate how I created my illustrations. Also, I plan to have a contest on social media for kids to come up with funny things Masha could eat.
What a blast! I think young readers (and their parents and teachers) will enjoy meeting Masha!
You’ve had several picture books published through Yeehoo Press. How did you get started with Yeehoo Press and how do you submit new picture ideas to them?
I found out about Yeehoo Press from a message they posted on Facebook. Then, my agent sent them my book dummy for my story, My Monsterpiece. Yeehoo accepts non-solicited submissions so authors and illustrators can send their submissions directly.
Great advice! Thank you.
What is one tip you could give to new picture book writers and illustrators?
Be tough and ready to take rejections. Join author and illustrators groups. Stay true to yourself. Don’t write what you think will sell. If you’re an illustrator, don’t try to mimic someone else’s style.
You have several wonderful books out in the world. What surprises are you working on now?
I’m working on another picture book, illustrated in the style of Masha Munching and also a nonfiction story.
Yay! I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Thank you, Amalia, for sharing Masha Munching with us! Congratulations and best wishes as you continue to create amazing picture books for young readers.
Ready to find out how to get your name in the hat to win a copy of Masha Munching (US only)? A winner will be randomly chosen in one week on Thursday, January 14.
1. Like and comment on this blog post. Please make sure I have your email address so I can notify you if you win. Example: bookwinner (at) yahoo (dot) com
2. Follow this blog and tell me how you follow. Please make sure I have your email address so I can notify you if you win.
Award-winning author-illustrator Amalia Hoffman delivers a hilarious tale about a goat with an insatiable appetite and her journey to finding the best meal ever! Perfect for farm animal-loving readers.
Masha LOVES food. She chews and chomps, slops and slurps, and gobbles and gnaws through breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the farm. But Masha grows tired of eating the same meals every day. She decides to venture outside the farm in search of something new.
When Masha discovers The Bistro Magnifique, where waiters serve fancy meals in bow ties, Masha thinks it’s her lucky day! But at a proper restaurant, can Masha satisfy her desire for wonderful food while staying true to herself?
With colorful, intricate paper-cut art to amuse readers on every page, this timeless tale follows a young goat discovering that the best meal is the one shared with good friends.
Amalia Hoffman is an award-winning author and illustrator of many children’s books, including My Monsterpiece, which was a 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Award gold medal winner; All Colors, a 2019 School Library Journal Best Board Book; and Dreidel Day, a PJ Library selection. She is also the author of The Brave Cyclist: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero, illustrated by Chiara Fedele, which was a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. Amalia frequently tells her stories in schools, libraries, and bookstores with puppets and props. She lives in Larchmont, New York.
Books by Amalia:
Masha Munching, Yeehoo Press, Chinese & English versions, March 2022
My Hands Make the World, PJ Publishing, May 2022
My Monsterpiece, Yeehoo Press, Simplified Chinese and English editions March, 2021
Astro Pea, Schiffer Kids, 2019
All Colors, Schiffer Kids, 2019
The Brave Cyclist, Capstone Editions, 2019
Dreidel Day, Kar-Ben Publishing, 2018
For picture book writers, January equals Storystorm!
Storystorm, an adventure in brainstorming new picture book ideas, is Tara Lazar’s kicking-off-the-new-year-of-writing-picture-books project. I can’t even remember how many years I’ve been doing Storystorm, but it is worth every second. And I have the dog-tagged notebooks to prove it.
Thanks, Tara, for planning this creativity-inspiring month of posts for building a bank of picture book ideas. Let’s go, 2022!