Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Jerry Mahoney

mereadingBATB
Author website/social media:
http://www.jerrymahoneybooks.com
– Twitter: @WhyJerryWhy
– Instagram: @jerrymahoney
– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jerrymahoneybooks/
Tell me a little about yourself:
I live in Los Angeles, where I’m a stay-home dad to my two kids. They’re boy-girl twins, and just like you, they’re 8 years old and in 3rd grade. I love musicals, baking ridiculously chocolatey cookies and playing Mario Kart — although my son usually beats me at it. 🙂

When you were my age, did you like to read?
I loved to read. My favorite was Judy Blume. I appreciated how she would tackle social issues without being preachy, and how she was so honest with her readers and never talked down to them. She understood that books are what kids help understand the world, and just as importantly, they teach them to respect and empathize with people who are different from them. Plus, I don’t think she gets nearly enough credit as one of the best ever comedy writers.
Now that I’m older and have kids of my own, I’ve loved sharing some of my favorite childhood books with them. Recently, I was reading them Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and I could barely get through some of the passages because I was laughing so hard. I want to be able to write books that are still funny in 20 or 30 years like that!

What was your favorite story?
This might sound strange, but my favorite book as a kid was the novelization of the movie The Goonies, which was written by James Kahn. I loved that it was about a bunch of misfits, because I think, like so many kids, I felt like a misfit myself. And I loved that it was told in the first person. It was so fun reading a book where it just felt like the main character was telling me a story about something cool that happened to him. I also read a ton of Choose Your Own Adventure books, because I loved feeling like I was in control of the story.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that kids should only be reading stuffy literary classics. No offense to the classics — I love some of them, too. But read what you enjoy — graphic novels, fan fiction, movie spin-offs. Who cares? If you’re enjoying it, it’s time well spent.

How do you get your ideas?
It’s impossible to name just one place, because ideas really do come from everywhere. A lot of times, they come from other stories I enjoy, like how classic fairy tales inspired the MY ROTTEN STEPBROTHER series. Or I might read a book in a certain genre, like THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH by Max Brallier and think about how fun it was, then go, “If I were going to write a zombie story, how would I do it?”
Very few of the ideas I come up with make it as far as a finished book, but that’s the great thing about ideas. You can never have too many. You just have to be willing to accept that most of them won’t lead anywhere, but every once in a long, long while, you’ll find a gem.

Is it hard to write a book?
It’s hard, but it’s the good kind of hard, because every bit of progress you make feels awesome. And of course, there’s no better feeling than when your book is done, and if you’re fortunate enough to get it published, that’s a big bonus.

 

What author do you really like right now?
I’m a big fan of Tom Angleberger. He has such a gift for being hilariously funny one second and incredibly sweet the next. He writes about misfits, too, but in such a relatable way that anyone who reads his books will wish they could just hang out with his characters. I also love Chris Grabenstein, who wrote the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library books and dozens of others. His writing is so clear and so fun, I never get bored. I was really thrilled when he agreed to write a blurb for the cover of my new book, BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE. Kidlit authors are the best — so kind and supportive of each other. It’s a wonderful community.

Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?
I really like David Walliams. He’s a British author who’s very popular in the UK. He kind of set out to follow in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, writing dark modern fairy tales with a wicked sense of humor. He even had Dahl’s illustrator work on many of his books. He has a similar style to Dahl but with an extra dose of humanity and heart. And he’s very, very funny.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
My advice to you is to keep doing what you’re doing. Basically, read a lot and write a lot. Think critically about books — what you like about the books you read, as well as what you don’t like. Sometimes, you can learn even more from books you dislike than ones you like. Ask yourself what you would’ve done differently if you’d written that story. How could you have made it more interesting, or made the ending more satisfying? What parts would you cut out? What characters would you spend more or less time with?
Writing is great practice because it helps you develop your voice, which is what will make you stand out from every other writer. Don’t worry if you’re writing a story and it doesn’t turn out as good as you wanted it to be. Even the best writers have many megabytes of stories they would be too embarrassed to show anyone else — comedic stories that didn’t turn out all that funny, adventure stories that didn’t turn out very exciting, scary stories that no one would lose any sleep over. I’m sure even J.K. Rowling has a few.

As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
I love hearing from readers! Writing books can be such a lonely process. Most of it is just you and your computer, and you have no idea whether anyone’s going to like what you’re working on. So when somebody takes the time to tell me that they enjoyed one of my books, it makes my day! It makes me feel like all the time I spent working on it was worthwhile. That was definitely how I felt when I read your review of MY ROTTEN STEPBROTHER RUINED CINDERELLA, so thanks again!

Posted in Book Review

Someday,Narwhal

By Lisa Mantchev

Illustrations by Hyewon Yum

I really liked Strictly No Elephants so when I saw this at the library, I had to borrow it. This seems like the pets continue to meet up and this time, they help Narwhal have an adventure. She wants to see the world but she stuck in a fishbowl. She has no feet and no clue how to tell directions. She is really nice and cute. Her friends help her out and take on a walk around the city. To her it is like exploring the world.

I like the story shows friendship can help and how you can be brave in experiencing something new and scary. Her friends were there for her. They supported her and helped her solve her problem. No one made her feel bad.

I think the illustrations are nice. I want a pet Narwhal now.

I recommend this book to kids who want to know how to be a friend. To kids who are scared or who have a big adventure soon.

Posted in Book Review

Louise loves Bakes Sales

Story by Laura Driscoll

Pictures By Kelly Light

Our friend, Louise, is back. In this one, she is joining a bake sale. Her plan is to make rainbow cupcakes. But she and her brother, Art, mix too many colors together. They get gray but it is not a disaster. They get creative and make something new.

I still love her brother’s name is Art. It makes the story have multiple meanings. I like that she is nice to her brother. They do stuff together.

This book helps you know there are no mistakes in art. You can probably fix most mistakes. Kids need to know mistakes are ok and you can learn from them. You can turn them into art or something cooler.

This book was also an early reader so kids can work reading this alone. It is cool. I really like Louise!

Posted in Book Review

Little Sid

by Ian Lendler

Illustrated by Xanthe Bouma

This is a picture book about how Siddhartha became Buddha. It is definitely written for little kids and wouldn’t be a good book report source. It is a good book to explain what Buddha stands for and how a kid could become more like him. Happiness isn’t more toys or books or people entertaining you. Happiness is something inside you – and makes you feel content.

I like the illustrations. They are nice – they have lots of color and details. The color focus changes on each page. One page is a pink tone, another is a green tone. As an inspiring artist, I really liked how the illustrations made me feel. It is a very pretty book.  It makes me think of Julia Denos’ Swatch.

This would be a book to add to a library with an understanding it isn’t completely true. Kids probably aren’t ready for the full story so this is a good introduction.

The publisher provided me a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the librarian: Nicole Lane

thechaperone.jpg


Name of Library (and website if it has one): Dearborn Public Library, specifically the Henry Ford Centennial Library (we have three locations). Dearbornlibrary.org

What kind of librarian are you?

I’m an Adult Services Librarian. That means I generally work with Adults, though certainly not limited. Each librarian in my department has a lot of varied responsibilities and we try to have one back up librarian in the event someone is hit by a bus, or just absent.

The collection that I purchase for is FICTION (very exciting) and this includes our genre fiction as well (Mystery & Science Fiction/Fantasy). I also purchase and manage our book club kits. Each kit includes ten copies of the title, discussion questions and background information about the book for groups to discuss.

When I’m not on the reference desk or managing the collection, I have no problem keeping busy. I supervise our Pages (bookshelvers). I also sit on two committees: Social Media & Marketing. A few days in the week, I tweet from our library account and this is how I found you! There are a lot of small details to the day-to-day of being a librarian that I really enjoy because each day is unique, and I am constantly learning. Learning is truly forever.

How long have you been a librarian?

I have been a librarian for eight years, and only two of those have been in Dearborn.


What lead you to wanting to be a librarian?

I think I always wanted to be a librarian, though for a while I thought it was reserved for someone much smarter than me. It took working with a few really great librarians to realize that they have the tools to research and find information without having to be walking encyclopedias. They also encouraged me to go to library school.


How do you pick books for your library?

I follow book reviewers (like yourself!) and plenty of publications such as Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Foreword Reviews, Kirkus and Lithub(online). I also generally purchase items that patrons place a suggestion for through our website. Besides new releases, I try to replace worn items in our collection and might order more copies if there are a lot of requests, or the book was recently made into a movie.


Do you have a favorite author?

So many! There’s no way I could pick one. A few off the top of my head are Toni Morrison, Rebecca Solnit, Louise Erdrich, Marilynne Robinson and Adrienne Rich, all of whom I didn’t read until I was in college. When I was around your age, I was obsessed with The Chronicles of Narnia, Matilda, Peter Pan and Harriet the Spy. The cool thing for you is kid lit is now a powerhouse and there are more writers than ever that are publishing across reading levels.  


How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid?

Such a good question, often I leave the professionals (our youth librarians) to recommend books for kids, so I’ll refer them to our children’s desk. If I can tell the kid is looking for something at a higher reader level, I start by asking them to tell me about the last good book they read and why they enjoyed it. There are a few elements that I try to listen for: Story, Character, Setting, and Language. A well-known librarian named Nancy Pearl who has written a lot about reader’s advisory calls these, “The Four Doors”. If you’re not already familiar with this, you might find it interesting as a book reviewer.

Posted in Book Review

Bub

By Elizabeth Rose Stanton

Bub is a monster who lives with parents, his big sister and his little sister. His parents can’t pick a name for the little sister, his big sister is bossy and well, he feels forgotten. So he disappears. But he fixes it with his family.

I liked that this book how a couple things can get in the way of one thing. It shows how it feels to be forgotten. Families can be busy but they do always have time for you.

I am not sure about the bossy big sister. (Little Brother note: I think big sister’s are bossy) . Mom says this book is very much what being the middle sibling feels like. She is between two brothers. She says big brothers are bossy too.

I think kids with siblings should read this, especially ones with older siblings or middle kids. It might help older siblings realize their younger sibling thinks they are bossy. (Bridget admissions: I can be bossy)

Oh and the book never actually gives you the baby’s name. I would name her Bridget! Best name ever!

Book borrowed from the library.

Posted in Book Review

Third Grade Mermaid and the Narwhals

by Peter Raymundo

Join Cora on her new adventure with Narwhals. The start of her adventure is when her teacher asks her to enter a writing contest about the best thing she has ever done.  Earlier in the day, Cora read a story she had about narwhals.  There is a girl in her class that challenges her to prove narwhals are real. This starts her new adventure.

What I like about the third grade mermaid series is Cora and her adventures. They are a fun read. For me they are book candy but for other third graders, they would be the perfect read.  Kids want to believe in mermaids and narwhals and all kinds of underwater adventures.

I would recommend these books to kids who have great imaginations. They can use it to see the world better.  Kids  just need to believe in something silly sometimes.

The publisher provided me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest book review.