2013 was a great year for readers and authors. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all writers who participated in last month’s Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) Competition! Whether you won or not, your next novel is on its way, and you should be proud! Congrats to you all!
A special thanks to our readers who faithfully subscribed to and read every
issue of The
Books Magazine! Congratulations to the readers who participated in the 2013
Reading Challenge! We hope that you tremendously enjoyed reading outside your
genre, we know we did! We had the opportunity to meet great authors and read
some wonderful books. View the latest issue of The
Books Magazine for a listing
of books we’ve reviewed and authors we’ve interviewed in our magazine and on
our blog. It is our hope that you will continue reading with us in the New
Year! Already there is a new 2014
Reading Challenge issued by
blogger enthusiast b00kr3vi3ws to challenge readers to get out of
their comfort zones! Best of luck and keep us informed on your progress -
follow us on Twitter @DBRBooks.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2014 from all of us at DB-R Designs, DBR Books, and The
Friday, November 22, 2013
There once were two bears. The big bear was always angry and the little bear was always happy. The little bear had wisdom to impart to a very grumpy big bear. The little bear recognized emotions such as frustration, anxiety, and anger, and he knew how to change the course of events by changing one’s attitude and response.
Sounds like a mouthful for a little book? Well, here’s the short version of it: happy little bear meets big grumpy bear; and little bear teaches big bear how to work out his problems and deal with his feelings.
Either way, long or short version, the book The Little Bear and The Big Bear written by Monica Dumont is designed to help kids’ ages 3 to 7 deal with feelings of frustration and anxiety. It’s a practical demonstration on how to identify negative emotions such as anxiety and sadness; and it is also an effective guide in helping kids to deal with their feelings one step at a time.
The book is also designed to help parents and caregivers recognize and assist kids with negative emotions. Author Monica Dumont notes that ‘the exercise (of taking one small step at a time) is meant to help parents bond with their child[ren] as well as to help their child[ren] develop new skills at dealing with everyday life. It is not meant to be used as a form of therapy.”
One should note also that the book encourages kids to share their feeling and help their peers to overcome negative emotions by recognizing the root cause of the crises. In verbalizing these emotions, kids are able to identify with them and deal with situations eventually on their own, which are good practical skills to acquire and develop.
The Little Bear and The Big Bear by Monica Dumont is available in soft cover paperback. Other children’s book titles by the author are:
Friday, November 1, 2013
Written and illustrated by Richard Marman, A Tale of Two Turtles, and its sequel A Whale’s Tale, are fun educational reads for kids ages 5 to 8.
Both books provide an effective teaching guide for parents and teachers to help kids know more about different species of fish and marine life found in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The books are illustrated by Richard Marman and they are simple, yet imaginative and creative. The illustrations help depict the reality of daily life for all marine species in these waters, some of which are thought provoking and insightful. The illustrations also help to convey to the reader, the message of environmental responsibility and awareness. With an expressive style of digital airbrushing and watercolor techniques, the pages come alive with color and vibrancy which kids will certainly appreciate when reading the stories.
A Tale of Two Turtles follows the life story of a young female turtle named Wave, and a young male turtle (Web) who later became her friend, and the adventures they both face as they navigate tropical waters and encountered both natural and man-made hazards which are unfortunately typical to earth’s marine life. A Tale of Two Turtles gives insightful tidbits about the turtle’s perilous life and the odds they face of even one in a batch surviving. The story is broken down successfully in order to educate kids about marine life and their responsibility in helping to keep the ocean safe. For example, Web’s chilling tale of chomping on a plastic bag thinking it was a jellyfish, is an effective way of getting the message across to kids and adults that littering the beach with hazardous waste material like plastic bags is certainly not a good thing.
In A Whale’s Tale, Wave and Web met a humpback whale (Davo) who shares his story and experience of his annual migration from Antarctica to the warm tropical waters of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Davo’s adventure provides insight about the dangers humpback whales face from human predators that, despite the law, still practice whaling as a sport and for consumption. Readers will be educated on the dangers of whaling, and hopefully this thought-provoking read will motivate children and adults to take a stand against such practices, and eventually one day it will cease altogether.
Other books by Richard Marman are McAlister’s Way, McAlister’s Hoard, and McAlister’s Spark. See our Press Release on these books and visit with the author on his website for more information.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
DBR Books Blog chats with ten year old Jeremy Gordon, author of The Boy Who Loves Rules!
1. Are you a first time writer?
2. You are the youngest writer we have ever interviewed! How does that make you feel?
It makes me feel good because I get to show my feelings to the entire world. I feel good also to know that I am the youngest writer you ever interviewed. I am proud that I started writing when I am young.
3. What do you like about writing? Did you have fun writing this book?
I like the chance to express my feelings. I had a lot of fun writing this book.
4. Tell me a little about The Boy Who Loves Rules!
It is about a boy who loves rules and tries to keep them so that in life he will not get in trouble. He sometimes fails to keep the rules but he gets up and tries again.
5. What did you learn from writing this story?
I learned that you should follow the rules and try to do the right things, because there are consequences in life when we break the rules.
6. What do you want other kids and their parents to learn from your story?
I want other kids to learn that you should try to be good. I want their parents to know that it doesn't matter if you are old or young. What matters is you still have to try to do good. We have to try to do the right things because there will be consequences when we do not. When you do the right things good things usually happen.
7. What happens if you do the right things and bad things happen?
If you do the right things and bad things happen you should always get back up and try again.
8. Are you going to write more stories?
I will write more stories so that I can reach out to others and share positive thoughts with them.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Pam Flowers, a Society of Women Geographers’ gold medalist recipient, a dog-sled musher, an arctic explorer and an Appalachian trailer, is also the author of Ordinary Dogs, Extraordinary Friendships - a book of short stories about her team of dogs demonstrating loyalty, courage, and compassion.
Ordinary Dogs, Extraordinary Friendships is appropriately written for kids’ ages 8 to 12 years, and they will appreciate this great read because there’s a lot to be learned from the loyalty and friendship displayed here. Readers are taken into the world of arctic dog-sledding expeditions and hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and one can appreciate the down-to-earth way in which Flowers recounts her amazing adventures with her amazing team. Adventures of true courage and fidelity are highlighted in one story after another as Flowers show how they come to depend on each other in the harsh arctic environment, and the strong bonds and teamwork that exist between her and the dogs, and among the canine themselves. The reader can appreciate too the respectful way in which Flowers observes her dogs and is able to read their thoughts through body language and behavior, clearly showing the mutual bond of respect and loyalty between them. Nothing speaks loyalty more clearly than when you take a stand for someone against a bully! We see this in the story “The Bully”, in which Flower’s dog Amy stood her ground and overcame a bully dog just by standing up (without violence) and refusing to be intimidated. Readers can be inspired by Amy’s example, and we too can take our stand for others against bullying.
There are other heart-stopping, cliff-hanging, adventurous stories in the book which will truly have your kids turning the pages to see what happens next! The story of a polar bear raiding the camp as Pam, Kate, and their team of dogs camped in the arctic region is truly a frightening yet hilarious one! In this story, Flowers provided a refreshing and profound insight to how some dogs ‘handle’ crises. However, what stood out most in the story is that we can learn much from our domesticated pets, sometimes taking the cue from them in frightening situations. Flowers followed the examples of her dogs and remained calm in what could have been a harrowing moment; but as a result of their example, the incident took on a hilarious turn and the author can now look back with humor at the day the curious polar bear visited their camp!
Ordinary Dogs, Extraordinary Friendships is informative, insightful, and refreshing; captivating readers into a world of fierce loyalty, heartfelt sharing and compassion, extraordinary friendships, and an exciting new understanding of our canine friends!
Follow Pam Flowers on new expeditions and adventures, meet her team, and view other books she has authored on her website!
Friday, October 18, 2013
Excerpt from The Woman on the Bus:
"Later, she found him in his office in the English Department, knocked on the door and went in. She flung the roll of money in his face, and stormed out of the office, slamming the door with such force, the wall vibrated and the frames of the photos on it rattled."
Excerpt from A Matter of Pronunciation:
"My fourteen year old cousin, Luanna, was crying at her wedding, just hours before the ceremony began.
She jumped when I entered the room. Her veil was removed, and tears smeared her makeup. When she saw me, she pulled me inside the room and made me promise, that I’d never tell her parents or mine what I had seen. I soaked her handkerchief in a basin of water nearby, and wiped her tear stained face."
Now available in print and ebook versions!
Thursday, October 10, 2013
When Pluto was down-sized to a dwarf planet, Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo, her assistant (Kyle the Kaola), her medical team of surgical instruments, and Lukas (her cousin and friend) made it their mission to save the little planet.
This controversial topic has been the subject of many debates of professionals in the scientific world and many people worldwide. Children have also taken up the debate in schools and many have wondered why Pluto is no longer a planet. Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo’s Mission to Pluto by Harvard graduate in medicine Oneeka Williams, answers several questions on the subject matter. The book is appropriately written for kids ages 4 to 7, breaking down important science facts so kids can understand.
Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo and her team jets away to Pluto in Freeda the flying ambulance, the same way ‘The Magic School Bus’ whisks the class off to the next big adventure! While it’s an adventure, the story encourages kids to care about their world and even the solar system in which they live. We should care enough to be involved in righting the wrongs, fixing the problems, and to take a stand for our environment and our world.
Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo’s Mission to Pluto is a great read-aloud book for story-time hour in pre-k to grade 1 classes. It’s a good discussion book for teachers who want to introduce the subject of Pluto and what happened to the planet. To really get a full understanding of Pluto’s plight, teachers can let their students ‘act out’ the parts in a school play.
The story ends in a surprising way. One might expect that Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo’s solution for Pluto is the best, but surprisingly the book calls the reader’s attention to positive attitude and puts into perspective that sometimes our circumstance is not what matters but happiness and contentment with one’s life are more important.
Illustrations by Valerie Bouthyette are kid-friendly, bright, colorful, and work well with the story - depicting key scenes and setting an educational mood yet successfully capturing the fun. Refreshing, fun, motivational, and imaginative - Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo’s Mission to Pluto is a must-read!
We look forward to Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo’s next great mission!
Follow author Oneeka Williams MD on her Facebook page and website for more adventures with Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo and her team!
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
1. Tell me a little about Mary had a Sleep Sheep.
Mary had a Sleepy Sheep is based on the original nursery rhyme, but with a twist. In this modern day version, Mary has a very sleepy sheep named Sheppard. Mary tries all different kinds of increasingly outlandish ways to wake her sleepy sheep. The story is filled with humor and an underlying message about the importance of persistence. Sadly, the illustrator, Wilson Williams, Jr., passed away unexpectedly right before the book was released. He was incredibly talented and packed the book full of fun games for young readers. My favorite activity is finding Whiskers the mouse, hidden in every illustration of the book.
2. It could have been any nursery rhyme, why Mary?
I can’t really give you an exact reason why. It’s just something that drifted into my mind and made me chuckle. One day, I suddenly thought to myself, “Mary had a little lamb his name was Sheppard sheep. And everywhere that Mary went that lamb was sure to sleep.” Once I got this idea in my mind I just couldn’t shake it until I got it down on paper.
3. You’re not a first time author and your latest book Blucy: The Blue Cat has made its debut. Congratulations! What is the book about?
Mandy is another determined pet owner, like Mary. She has a most unusual cat named Blucy who turns different shades of blue depending on the emotion she’s feeling. Mandy’s off on a wild goose chase when Blucy refuses to eat anything that Mandy serves her to eat. Blucy is a clever cat that uses her skills of camouflage to hide in the most unusual places. Erika LeBarre is the amazing illustrator who created truly masterful pastel illustrations that will delight and amuse young readers.
4. Why do you write for children? What do you want children to garnish from your books?
I love the imagination and humor of young children. I am also a gifted elementary specialist and mother, so I try to create value added in my books by instilling a subtle message and fun activities that extend the learning through literacy. My goal is to create life long readers and writers, who love stories as much as I do.
5. What’s next? Are you working on anything in particular?
I am working on a chapter book for early readers that I’m eager to share with my picture book readers who are ready for the next level in reading. This is something I’ve never undertaken before, so in some ways, I’m growing up alongside my readers!
Friday, August 30, 2013
|Why Should I Believe You?|
by Dawnette Blackwood-Rhoomes
To my faithful readers and subscribers:
My new book Why Should I Believe You? will be published this Sunday, September 1, 2013 as a multi-format e-book and PDF versions by Smashwords!
I hope you'll take the time to check it out, here's the direct link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/349058 or you can look for it on your e-reader book shop.
For ONE DAY ONLY (Sunday September 1, 2013), there'll be a debut SALE on my book with 20% off!
- Use this coupon code: CH68X
Won't you also take the time to read my book, and a moment to leave a review!
Thank you so much for your support!
In Mabel Singletary’s book The Young Conquerors Series, Leon’s Share, life for eleven year old Leon Chandler was living in the shadow of his older brother Derrick. Having lost their parents three years before in a car crash, the boys came to live with their grandparents, Pop and Nana. While Pop and Nana dotes on Derrick, Leon hides his insecurity behind humor. But Leon has a secret, one that he wishes to keep hidden from the rest of the world.
Leon’s Share is written in the first person narrative, which not only makes it an easy read but also enables readers to be 'empathically' transported into the narrator’s world. This was successfully achieved because the voice and tone the narrator are very much alive, audible, and consistent, thereby giving the main character a fleshy, realistic existence. One can feel his exuberance for life and can easily empathize with his insecurity, and fears.
Singletary’s expressive writing skills are further evident in the other characters of the story. Even though Leon commands the pages of the book (as the main character should), the other characters are also well developed, rounded, and three dimensional. Dialogue between the characters is believable and engaging; as are the setting and the scenes which are detailed and vivid - one could almost smell the sweet potato pie as it cools on the window sill in Nana’s kitchen!
As the story takes off and readers journey into Leon’s world of joke-telling which results in disrupting the class, one can see that the book holds Singletary’s 30+ years of experience as an educator, and it shows in the vividness and ease in which she tells the story. There’s no doubt that Leon’s Share should be used in elementary classrooms as it is appropriately written for kids to learn the lessons here about good social behavior among their peers, character building, and the importance of friendship. In Leon’s Share, there’s a lot for kids to be absorbed in and to sink their reading tentacles in; therefore, teachers can extract the lessons to be learnt through discussion and book reports. For example, one of the main topics for discussion could be: What lessons did Leon learn from his conflict with Autumn?
Also, there’s much to be learned from Mrs. Kelso (Leon’s teacher), who takes all the “commotion from yesterday and send it someplace faraway” so that Leon could start each morning as a brand new day! In this very small splice of paragraph, lies a very big lesson - that each day was an opportunity to do much better than the day before. It's a lesson in grace - Mrs. Kelso showing Leon grace, that unmerited favor which he does not really deserve but nevertheless she treats him as if yesterday did not happen, giving Leon a chance each day to do better.
As the book comes to a close, readers can especially appreciate the heart warming and endearing way in which Singletary brought the book to an end. It’s wrapped up in a series of actions but the most important is the change we see in Leon; a reformation almost - a reorganization of thinking and habits, giving way to a clearer thought process as he comes into an understanding of himself and his interaction with others around him.
Leon’s Share is an absolutely great read, and it’s the kind of book that kids will come back to over and over again and keep learning from it each time they read!
Don’t miss our interview with author Mabel Singletary - Click Here!
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
|When Caterpillars Dream|
by Beryl Reichenberg
|Butterfly Girls by Beryl Reichenberg|
Written and illustrated by Beryl Reichenberg, both books, When Caterpillars Dream and Butterfly Girls are indeed fun educational reads for kids ages 3 to 6.
If your kids like Monarch butterflies and have a passion to learn more about them, then they’ll definitely like When Caterpillars Dream and Butterfly Girls.
When Cathy the caterpillar (When Caterpillars Dream) awoke from her long sleep and discovered she was a butterfly; she had to learn new survival skills - what do butterflies eat? How do they live and where do they go for the winter? Flying for the first time was exciting for Cathy. The reader is taken on a journey of exploration and discoveries as Cathy learns the joys of being a butterfly.
Butterfly Girls opens a child’s imagination to wonderful and magical things. As Beauty the butterfly show sisters Ashley and Becky, how to have fun in a field full of butterflies, kids are motivated to engage in this story and will want to add their own imaginative adventure!
The books teach about Monarch butterflies; their flight patterns, eating habits, and have glossaries with the definitions for unfamiliar words. The illustrations, of course so unique to Reichenberg, are blended with photography of scenes of nature. This lends to the realistic imagery of the book. They are simple, bright, and engaging; inspiring kids to try their hand at drawing their own Monarch butterfly.
The books can be used to teach pre-schoolers and kindergarteners about Monarch butterflies, and of course they make for good read-aloud bed-time stories too!
Read also, our book review of The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake by Beryl Reichenberg. Connect with the author and check out other fun reads by Beryl Reichenberg on her Blog!
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
|Why Should I Believe You?|
by Dawnette Blackwood-Rhoomes
So have you ever been angry with God? If so, how did you handle it? Were you even aware that you were angry with Him? Why Should I Believe You? is all about the author's anger at God, her questions and doubts, and her accusations that God does not 'play' fair!
The book is written in first person narrative and is a commentary of her experiences as she came face to face with the real truth about God's promises and His love.
An e-book, Why Should I Believe You? will be available for free sample and purchase on all e-reader formats this September 1, 2013! A must read!
Sunday, July 28, 2013
How a book is born. Joanne McGonagle's take on how her book An Ordinary Toad’s Extraordinary Night, came to be.
This is a guest blog post by Joanne McGonagle, author of An Ordinary Toad's Extraordinary Night.
One of the requirements of the Master of Zoology program was to write a plan about how we thought we could make a difference in the world. My master’s journey began with the inspiration from an article by Peter Slovic: “If I look at the mass, I will never act: Psychic numbing and genocide.” This article discusses how the phenomenon of psychic numbing paralyzes humans and prevents them from taking action to help others in need. I thought if this was true for humans suffering, wouldn’t it be true for the big cats too? I wondered if we could deliver a message of hope instead of desperation, of success instead of failure, through compelling storytelling could we lure others into caring about the world around them? If I could get people to care about one tiger, could I get them to begin to care about all the tigers and motivate them to save the entire species?
My master plan focused on big cats and they are considered ‘charismatic megafauna’. The term ‘charismatic megafauna’ refers to large well-known animal species that garner a disproportionate share of the public’s attention. The tiger is the world’s most popular animal according to a survey conducted by Animal Planet. The big cat even beat out the dog for the number one position. These species have the ‘wow factor’ that grabs the public’s attention to try to save them. The koala certainly is charming, but a small toad... perhaps not.
During the peer review process of our master plans, one of my colleagues asked me a compelling question. Tim asked, “How would the results be different if you picked a less cute animal or non-charismatic megafauna? There are many people that like tigers, but how about something that they do not make stuffed animals or commonly occur in Winnie the Pooh cartoons? Frogs and Toads need help too.”
This is an important question. What about all the living beings that aren’t cute and cuddly or fierce and admired?
Driving one day, I thought about toads. Then I wondered why frogs seem to be the preferred amphibians. I imagined a young toad named Andrew. I wish I could tell you why his name is Andrew but I honestly don’t know. But I began to tell Gracey [the author’s cat], she was a great listener, the story of Andrew the young toad that wondered if his life might have been better had he been hatched a frog. And that’s how An Ordinary Toad’s Extraordinary Night came to be.
Thank you for caring for all animals, big and small. Charismatic and non-charismatic, we need them all and they need our help and protection.
Joanne McGonagle is the award-winning author of The Tiniest Tiger. For more information join The Tiniest Tiger on Facebook.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
1. What inspired you to write the CaptainNo Beard series?
My son self published a book and challenged me to write one as well. I thought about different subjects and realized I had a wonderful story based on a game I play with my grandson, Alexander. I don't like video games, and we play imaginary games for hours, so Captain No Beard was a natural choice. Right off my head, I had four stories to share about our different adventures.
2. Will Cayla be in future series?
Yes Cayla will be in future stories. She was born when I wrote Pepper Parrot and I thought about how to include her in the group. Strangers on the High Seas was a great way to introduce her. She will be a very helpful part of the crew from now on.
3. What do you want your readers to learn from these books?
The Captain No Beard series is written for both children and the adult reader. There is a wealth of things to do when you use your imagination. You can go anywhere, do anything and have fun for hours. My goal is always for the book to carry on for discussion long after you finish reading it. I think subjects like bullying, teamwork, talking to strangers, being bossy, being considerate, and learning not to judge others are things that need to be reinforced all the time. I never wanted them to be preachy, or for anyone to roll their eyes when they read it. I tried to approach each issue with sensitivity, hoping that it stays with the reader long after the book is put back on the shelf.
4. Tell me a little about the If YouWere Me and Lived In... series.
I am a former secondary Ed Social Studies teacher. You can never turn that off. When walking on the Las Vegas strip during our vacation, my grandson asked me to explain the differences in the themes of the casinos. In the space of one block, we saw the Eiffel Tower, ancient Rome, and a pyramid of Egypt. He was three and fascinated with the idea of other countries and their customs. I wrote If You Were Me and Lived in....Mexico, the next day. We came home and I followed with France, South Korea, Norway, Turkey, Kenya, India, and Australia. I reached for all the continents, and chose countries that I knew almost nothing about. I then edited it down for children to understand and still be enjoyable to read. The books are a gateway to learn about other people and I hope they will open a world of discussion.
5. How is the feedback so far on this new series? Do you find parents and teachers find the travel books helpful?
The cultural series has been embraced by both parents and teachers. There is very little out there for the preschool and early grade school age group. People who don't understand, complained there was not enough information. Many teachers understood that editing was the hardest to do. There is a wealth of interesting things to write about- but the book is a catalyst for educators to use as a jumping off point for the correct level of information. Using the book as a guide, each page can be instrumental in discussing as much or as little as the age group can handle. Names- how familiar are they, monetary value- what does it tell you about the country, sports, toys, things to do- is the county urban, rural, rich, poor, and what does the food tell you. This book is a terrific way to introduce culture to pre k to age 8, learning to respect both our differences and similarities. Knowledge is a great way to teach tolerance.
6. What are you working on now?
I have a Captain No Beard book in production called The Treasure of Snake Island. I would like to keep doing the cultural books. People are asking for me to do the country of their ancestors. Self publishing is very expensive and I am hoping the cultural series is embraced enough to pay for itself. I think it is an important series in so many ways and I hope it succeeds.
Read our reviews on Captain No Beard and If You Were Me and Lived in... South Korea. Also, visit the author's website for more information on her upcoming series and read the Best of 2012 Kirkus Review for the first book in the series Captain No Beard.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
2 Kurious Kids by Heidi Gill is an adventure series for kids ages 3 to 8. Siblings, Hannah and Jacob love to take imaginary trips around the world, exploring each country at a time and learning new languages and experiencing new cultures.
On their first imaginary adventure, they travel to China. They imagine what their typical day may look while living in China. By the time they were on their fourth trip, they were visiting India. Most of the illustrations in both books were almost the same with variations in food and activities; in China children like to participate in gymnastics while in India they like cricket. Gill’s series emphasize that people are basically the same in their daily routine wherever they are in the world.
Though this is true, there are still variations in our daily lives that make our experiences culturally different. It would have been nice to see more activities and places that are indigenous to these cultures both in the story itself and in the illustrations, such as a market place scene or children at play using a type of toy that is native to the culture. This would illustrate that even though we are similar in most instances, there are some things that are only unique to various cultures.
Nevertheless, Gill does a great job in educating readers on the everyday words commonly used in all languages. For example, readers can learn breakfast words like cereal and milk, and at school words like chalkboard, teacher and pencil. The language characters and the word pronunciations are included, making the series wonderful starter books ideal for kids being introduced to a new language.
Teachers can demonstrate the language characters for kids to learn how to write them, giving kids a more hands-on approach and making the experience of learning a new language more appealing.
Look for more books in the series - Hannah’s and Jacob’s trips to Egypt, Mexico, and France!
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Hilarious, witty, and endearing, One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath is the sequel to Everything on a Waffle.
Horvath’s middle school novel is set in an ocean-side town in British Colombia, and chronicles a year in the life of the main character, 12 year old Primrose. She keeps herself busy by being matchmaker for Uncle Jack and Miss Bowzer; friend to Ked the new foster kid; and author of a new cookbook to help raise money for the Fisherman’s Aid, meanwhile trying to lead the life of an ordinary 12 year old.
But Primrose isn’t an ordinary 12 year old. Her perceptions and insights are deep and instinctive. We see her reaching out instinctively to befriend Ked the new foster kid because, once a foster child, she could identify with Ked’s loneliness and awkwardness toward his new family, school, and town. It caused Primrose to reflect on her time when her parents were lost at sea, and therefore she reached out to Ked in empathy. Primrose’s perception on love and romance is also quite insightful. Her observations of the romance and courtship between her Uncle, Jack and Miss Bowser were for the most part on point. Her hard work to get the two together was quite hilarious and yet the tactics used, though sometimes juvenile, however, showed she had much sensitivity to the matter.
The book is written as a first person narrative, in a distinctive voice of the ‘continuous chatter’ of the typical 12 year old. The narrative is an easy read, and the narrator Primrose goes in depth describing the characters, the events, and circumstances in a comfortable, story-telling like manner. Of course, the inclusion of a recipe or two at the end of each chapter is great, and they are informally written in the same narrative as the rest of the book.
An absolute favorite scene in the book is the town hall meeting. Horvath successfully captures the hilarity, confusion, anger, and frustration of the atmosphere at the town hall meeting, and she pulled all these elements into an explosive and dramatic, yet hilarious scene told honestly and without judgment from a juvenile’s perspective.
One Year in Coal Harbor is beautifully written and can be appreciated for its lessons and insights.