Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Introducing Ann Morris, bilingual children’s author

This is a guest blog post by Ann Morris, author of Mommy and Mikel Go for a Walk.

Photo by Maryellen Photography 
I am a promoter of learning.  Having been a Spanish teacher for nearly 20 years, I worked for Iowa Workforce Development as a bilingual representative and was Coordinator for the New Iowan Center.  I worked with many community agencies that serve a multitude of cultures new to our country, including our Latino friends.  I write children's books in English as well as in Spanish, hoping to encourage not only children learning to read, but to encourage other language learners to be challenged likewise. 
Mommy and Mikel Go for a Walk / Mikel y Mami dan un paseo are my first pair of books.  This is based on a true story.  Mommy and Mikel went for a nature walk one day and he was extremely observant and curious about everything.  Then, he spotted a mystery animal, which took us to the library to learn what it was.  It is a fun story, and children of all ages love it!

I have a second pair of books soon to be released, Surprise in Auntie's Garden! / ¡Sorpresa en el jardín de la tía!  The story is about my niece Erin and I and our adventure learning of a surprise that Erin found in my flower garden. I included positive adult role models and curious children with unique learning experiences in each story. 
I have also began working on my third book pair. Each story is an adventure for me as well as for the characters!

I am in the process of developing a new website to accommodate all of my books and a new logo soon to be unveiled! 

DBR Books Blog will keep you posted on author Ann Morris book adventures!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review | Tom T’s Hat Rack by Michele Spry

When Shelby’s fourth grade teacher challenged each student to do something over the summer that will forever change their lives for the better, Shelby didn’t know what would be the outcome but whatever it was she was looking forward to it. Tom T’s Hat Rack, written by Michele Spry, is a refreshing story about kindness in the form of ‘paying it forward’. Spry defines the term as “a random act of kindness towards another person with no expectation of return on investment.”

As Shelby looked forward to her summer vacation with the Tuckers (Mr. & Mrs. T - her neighbors); Mr. T had his own idea on a similar life-changing project in which he solicited Shelby’s help. Soon they were ‘paying it forward’ in their community in a way that was heartwarming and inspiring.

The idea for the book is a breath of fresh air. Tom T’s Hat Rack is not the customary kid’s read of adventure and drama, or mystery and suspense. Instead it’s a very simple story of showing kindness to others and looking for ways to be helpful in your community. It’s the kind of story that will get children and adults thinking: “How can I help in my family and in my community?” Similarly, we can observe that Mr. T’s project made Shelby ask the same question, and soon after she devised a way in which she could help too.

Tom T’s Hat Rack teaches that change can begin with you and it’s a blessing to be kind. If you wanted to teach kids how to show kindness to others, this book is a great start. The author also encourages the reader to list (in the back of the book) all the ways in which you can be helpful in your community. It’s also an excellent book to introduce to a class (as an example) if the teacher wanted to get her class involved in community work.

Inspiring and motivating, Tom T’s Hat Rack, teaches not to focus too much on self but rather to put the word ‘paying it forward’ into action and do something good for someone! If you’ve ‘paid it forward’ or someone has done so for you, the author wishes to for you to share your story on her Facebook page.

Also, take a peek at the back of the book; a nice surprise awaits you there!

Happy Reading!

Book Review | DJ’s Lullaby - A Mother’s Love Song by Lucy Rivas Enriquez

DJ’s Lullaby - A Mother’s Love Song, correctly named, is really a story of a woman who desired to have a child and when she received the child through adoption, her praise and thanksgiving is recited for the child in the form of a lullaby and poetic prose.

Written by Lucy Rivas Enriquez, DJ’s Lullaby is a heartwarming and endearing story which speaks especially to the hearts of adopted children and those in foster care with a specific message at its core; love. It teaches that though a child may be adopted, he/she is just as special as children born in what’s considered ‘the normal family structure’. The book sends a wonderful message of love to children and shows that a mother is the one who chooses to love you no matter your circumstance.

DJ’s Lullaby is a ‘Mommy and me book’ that is wonderful for a bedtime story or for those special moments of bonding between mother and child. The poem written at the end of the book speaks of a child being a blessing sent by God and presents love as a key universal ingredient which is a part of all families even if it’s a family that grows through adoption.

The illustrations are creative further reflecting and expanding the story; and they are child-like, giving the book a rewarding reading experience.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Paying it Forward - A way of life for author Michele Spry

This is a guest blog post made by Michele Spry, author of Tom T's Hat Rack: A story about paying it forward.
Anyone who knows her, is familiar with Michele Spry's random acts of kindness - often toward complete strangers. She has lived her life paying it forward throughout her community over the past several years. However, when she was inspired by a close friend, Tom Trabue, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in May 2012, it led to her writing her first book. His positive, selfless and courageous behavior during a difficult time in his life has been an inspiration to many others as well.

Tom T's Hat Rack: A story about paying it forward follows 10-year-old Shelby Summers through her summer vacation before entering the fifth grade. Shelby's 4th-grade teacher, who will also be her 5
th-grade teacher next year, gives her students an assignment over summer break. Their task is to write an essay about something they do over the break that will forever change their lives for the better. Although Shelby would not be taking a summer vacation as many of her friends would. Shelby leaves school ready to enjoy her summer break with two of her favorite people while her parents were at work.  Shelby didn’t know she would be experiencing a life-changing event right down the street at the home of Mr. and Mrs. T.

Shelby's retired neighbor Mr. T, who has been battling cancer, recruits her to help him with a special project. Mr. T doesn’t tell Shelby what their project is but explains every step of the way until it is finished. A very patient Shelby returns each day, excited to spend the summer with two of her favorite people. Upon completion, Shelby learns how such a small act of kindness can affect a large number of people and even puts her own touch on this project thus creating her own give back.

Although this book is written for younger audience of children ages 7-12 years, parents will enjoy the message just as much. Michele hopes her readers of all ages are inspired to make a difference in the lives of others. Included in the back of the book are plans to build your own hat rack with the help of an adult encouraging both adults and children to take pride in making something together.

As a Partner in Education, Michele Spry is heavily involved in her community in a variety of ways. She is active in the Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Ambassadors, Women’s Network and recently co-created a program for the University of Missouri Athletics Department called the Mizzou Ambassadors which greets fans/guests at all home games.  In February 2013 the Boone County area received a major snow storm that knocked out power to thousands in central Missouri, Michele recruited several volunteers to help purchase and prepare meals for linemen and other personnel at her local electric cooperative over a 3-day period while they worked around the clock to restore power. If you're ever in the drive-thru line at Starbuck’s in the Columbia, Mo. area, and the person in front of you pays for your coffee, well that just might be Michele Spry. After the shooting in Newtown CT,
Michele wanted to show respect to the 26 lives lost and paid for food and drinks for 26 cars that went through the Starbuck’s drive-thru. The best part of this is that it took 5 cars to go through to get this started as everyone kept paying for the car behind them.

For more information please visit Michele Spry on her webite.
As a side note, everyone that has read Tom T’s Hat Rack wants to know about Mr. T; Michele is happy to announce that as of December 25, 2012 Tom Trabue is cancer-free.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

How simple bird watching can inspire creativity

This is a guest blog post made by Don and Cathy Rush, authors of Robby's Quest, a children's storybook series.

Cathy and I often fed the birds in our backyard. We loved watching the birds sitting together on the block wall while waiting their turns at the birdfeeder. When larger doves were too big to land on the birdfeeder, the smaller birds would kick seed to the ground for the larger birds to eat. It was very amusing. This gave us the idea to write a story about the birds. We wondered what the birds were thinking during their travels and adventures.

We are co-authors of the Robby’s Quest children’s storybook series. To date we have written and self-published three titles including Robby’s Quest for Seed, Robby’s Quest: OceanBound, and Robby’s Quest: Return of the Cat.

Robby’s Quest for Seed begins in Northeast Ohio, my birthplace. In all our books, we write about actual places we have either visited or lived. We chose Robby to be the leader of the flock. The birds have a system and a hierarchy. Ricky is Robby’s younger brother who secretly desires to be a leader. Then there is Benny the Blackbird. All the birds respect Benny. He seems a little mean to the other birds but he actually has a big heart. Benny’s job is to trail the flock and watch for strays. Then we have the Mourning Doves - Sal, Sid and Sky. The Sparrow family also travels with Robby’s flock. Jon and Jill are the parents and their children are Jiff, Jeff, Jan, and Joy. There are twelve birds altogether. Our first book serves to introduce the reader to the characters.

About the Authors

Don and Cathy both 61 years old; and they met and got married in Phoenix, Arizona where Don was a Manufacturing Manager at AlliedSignal Aerospace and Cathy was a Pharmacy Tech. They have two daughters, Rebecca and Tiffany and live with their cats Nomi and Hershey in Sun City, Arizona.
Being involved in their community, Don also served as a Governing Board member of the Cartwright School District in Phoenix, Arizona from January 1991 to September 1994.
Due to stress and several health issues, he left AlliedSignal Aerospace and they relocated in Minnesota in 1998, where Don became Production Manager then Plant Manager until medically retiring in May of 2009; after which they moved back to Phoenix to be closer to family and friends.

Introducing author Lucy Rivas Enriquez

This is a guest blog post by author Lucy Rivas Enriquez, author of DJ's Lullaby - A Mother's Love Song.

Thank you for the opportunity to bring my story to your readers. DJ’s Lullaby – A Mother’s Love Song is a very personal project. It is the bedtime story I created for my son when he first came home to us. The lullaby at the end is the same one I sang to him hundreds of times. I wanted him to know from a very young age how special he is and how loved, wanted, and prayed for he has been. I am the mom in the book and my son is DJ. This is our story.
In August of 2009, my husband and I became foster parents and welcomed baby DJ into our lives. We fell in love with him from the first minute we saw him. Truth be told, I fell in love with him years before when I knew in my heart he would come. I didn’t know he would come through adoption. But believe me, I knew he would come. My son is now a toddler about to turn four and one of the biggest fans of this book. I think he likes to see his image on the cover. He also enjoys the pictures that go with all the silly faces I would make when I would tell him the story.
A mother’s love is a universal theme. That’s the overriding message of my book. Throughout the pages, I talk about this “mom in waiting” who has all the special mommy parts needed to do the job. In the end, her baby comes to her through adoption. Nonetheless, all the special mommy parts are still there and used for exactly the right purpose; being a mom. Anyone who is a mom, a child of a mom, or even knows a mom can relate to it. There is an adoption component to the story. Families who have grown through adoption will find it particularly special. Most importantly, it is a children’s book intended for sharing with the very special children in our lives. My goal in sharing this very personal story is to provide parents a tool for conversation about the depth of the love they have for their adopted children. With all my children’s stories, I want to make adoption a celebrated choice.
My book combines a few themes at the same time. Certainly it is a book about a mother’s love for her adopted son. It also has an element of faith and trust in God’s plan. I think it is important for children to hear these messages from a very early age. What sets my book apart however is the fact that it is a book with a mission. We were blessed to have DJ’s two older sisters join our family a year after he did. We finalized our forever family by adopting them too. Adoption, in particular adoption from foster care, is a cause very near and dear to our family. I have partnered with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. They are a wonderful organization that works to find “forever families” for youth in foster care. My proceeds from this and future children’s books are being donated to help children in my area get matched with their forever families.
DJ’s Lullaby is my debut book. I am currently working on several other children’s books. Simon the Dragon is being illustrated at this time. Simon is a dragon who struggles with being different.  A special book about DJ’s sisters is also in the works. Their story is a little different. We were their 4th home and they were old enough to understand what was going on. There are struggles for them that come with that experience. My books all have a special component about diversity, adoption, acceptance and other themes that children in foster care or who are adopted struggle with. I hope to help children with similar experiences understand they are not alone. I hope to help parents by providing a fun and interactive tool to open discussion about these themes.
I would be remiss if I don’t take the opportunity to mention my illustrator, M.A. Moisa. She is my extremely talented sister. She is an amazing artist and person. Right now, she is busy working on Simon the Dragon and I have seen some of the drawings. Readers are not going to be disappointed. She has an uncanny way of breathing life into the words. They tell the story just as much as the words do. She is featured on my website.
About the Author
Lucy Rivas Enriquez is a businesswoman who has worked in the field of human resources for more than 17 years. In that time she has learned a thing or two about people, diversity, and the human condition. Writing has always been a part of her life and now she weaves real-life experiences and lessons about diversity, acceptance, adoption and people into her children's books.
In her debut book, DJ's Lullaby, Lucy shares the bedtime story she created when DJ joined her family. It is a heartwarming story of love for her adopted son. Lucy and her husband became foster parents when they learned there was a baby coming into the world who might need a home. They welcomed baby DJ into their lives when he was 10 days old. One year later, DJ's two older sisters joined him. Today, Lucy, her husband, and three (now) adopted children live in Illinois, where running around, being silly, and singing songs are an important part of daily life.
You can visit Lucy on her website, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Interview with Diane Rose-Solomon, author of JJ The American Street Dog - winner of a Mom's Choice Honoring Excellence Award

1) Is JJ The American Street Dog your first children's book?
JJ The American Street Dog is my first children’s book.

2) You are a Certified Humane Education Specialist, what does that mean?
Years ago I read about a woman doing animal rescue work, who was a Certified Humane Education Specialist so I looked it up. Believe it or not, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has a University! People can get a Bachelors degree, or even a Masters, plus they have this Certificate program as well, which was more up my alley. Many of the participants in the program are teachers and use the humane education parts to add Humane Education to their curriculum. Many of the other Certified Humane Education Specialists that are not already teachers go into classrooms and build a seminar or program around school standards. It made me think about animal issues that I hadn’t thought of before- particularly the way a child might think about them. After receiving my CHES I started doing a few local seminars teaching kids about basic animal care, dog bite prevention and humane animal treatment. Then I got busy writing and publishing the book and I use the education when I go into classrooms to read the book to students.

3) The story of JJ is one you speak of from the heart because you rescued the real JJ 17 years ago. Tell me a little about JJ.
The real JJ was such a sweet dog.  I’ll never forget my husband bringing him home for the first time. Not too different from the book except he was on my husband's lap. I fell in love instantly. He was a gentle soul and very sweet with our cats and then we had kids and he was sweet with them too. He was a funny mix of a bunch of dogs and looked most like a cross between a Sheltie, a Shepherd and a Lab. But that’s just a guess. As I said in the back of the book- it didn’t matter what kind of dog he was- he was just a love. He gave lots of love and I believe he knew he was rescued and was so grateful.

4) What do you want your readers to learn from this book?
I would like for people to learn that there are millions of amazing animals in need of good homes. If you choose a rescued pet from a shelter or rescue organization you are literally saving a life. Conversely, when people buy pets from a breeder, or worse, from a pet store, there’s a pet whose time is up at a shelter which didn’t get a second chance. Many people have a certain breed in mind, which is fine if they go to their local breed rescue- and there are even many pure bred dogs at the local shelter.  We have the power to make a difference in the lives of voiceless animals. Children are the voice of the next generation, which is why I wanted them to become aware of this important issue.

5) Congratulations on receiving a Mom's Choice Honoring Excellence Award! What's next for JJ? Is this the beginning of a series about JJ or dogs?
Thanks for the nice words about the Mom’s Choice Award! JJ The American Street Dog is the first in the JJ series.  The next four books all address different animal issues including Basic Training, Bringing a baby home to a house where there is already a dog, Service and Therapy Animals and Misunderstood Breeds.  JJ, Maya and her family are the stars in all of the books!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Introducing Author Lannah Sawers-Diggins

This is a guest blog post by author Lannah Sawers-Diggins, author of Bullseye and publisher of The Sawers From Pitcairn.

Lannah is a 57 year young Australian author with two published titles to her name and four more ‘works in progress’.  She originates from a sheep station in the outback of Australia and is absolutely passionate about this area of Australia – and writing.  Married with two adult daughters Lannah does work part time but all her ‘spare’ time is devoted to her writing – both books and several online publications to which she contributes. 

The first of the two titles she has currently on the market: The Sawers From Pitcairn is a memoir of the first of her family’s ancestors; it follows their movements from the family seat in Scotland, out to Australia, their employment on various sheep and cattle stations between states, and concluding with a reasonably detailed and in-depth look at station life in the years that Lannah grew up there.  The second book, Bullseye is a compilation of some 36 case histories written and submitted by victims of bullying from around Australia and one from the UK.  Lannah planned the book as a therapeutic release of her own ordeal but in the end, legally, she was unable to include her own.  The stories have been reproduced as closely as possible to the original versions written and submitted by their authors, which does mean that some present somewhat more of a challenge to read, than others.  For legal reasons, none of the stories could be ‘touched’ at all – therefore all original spelling, grammar, punctuation (or lack therein) remains untouched.
Of the four ‘works in progress’, two are more ‘prominent’ at the moment.  The first of these is (working title) her book on stations, or the stations book.  Following publication of her first two books, Lannah found herself in the wonderful position of finally being able to combine two of her passions – the outback and writing.  Research into the book on sheep and cattle stations involves physically visiting each and every one of the 25-30 participating stations scattered across the nation, observing/interviewing/photographing the owners/managers and their families, staff and some local townspeople.  Aspects in the book will include the opinions of retired pastoralists (those who have moved out of the outback into the bright lights of the city – Lannah is in the process of interviewing some 30 couples of retirees), also of those wives who have gone from the cities, larger country towns, farms or even other nations, out to that isolation.  Education, health, transport, travel, entertainment, employment, the Indigenous aspect, shopping – anything that has been requested is being included.  More recently she has been asked to explore the impact of the internet and social networking on these people.  The aim of this book is to try to educate the rest of the world and Australia about life out there, that there are people living out there, struggling against all odds to live, to survive.   Title and cover design for this book is to be made into a competition for the children and families of the School of the Air.

The second ‘work in progress’ is Lannah’s first foray into fiction and is based on her own 6 year bullying nightmare – the one that could not be included in Bullseye.  Writing this is bringing the memories rushing back, many of which are as clear as daylight, as if they happened yesterday – and are not pleasant.  However some have been locked away so securely that they are refusing to budge and Lannah improvises, based on other memories.
One of the other books is Lannah’s own auto-biography, which is not top priority at the moment, although it is being ‘asked about’.

Finally (for the moment) is a book about an Australian maritime disaster which would and should have gained worldwide interest and exposure had it not occurred about a month prior to the ‘Titanic’.  The Australian ship, the ‘Koombana’ was sunk off in Australian waters, hit by a cyclone – all crew and passengers perished.  Shortly before Easter 2012, Lannah was approached by a lovely couple who lost relations in this disaster and are understandably very upset and angry at the lack of interest – even knowledge – shown by most Australians about this incident.  Very few people know at all.  So, for some reason that neither this couple, nor Lannah, will ever be able to explain, they approached her to ‘help’.  Lannah is now working on this project.
You can visit Lannah Sawers-Diggins on her website, Twitter, or her blog to know more about the author and her books.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Lance's Travels Does Cornwall

In April's issue of The Books Magazine, we mentioned that in keeping with the Reading Challenge 2013, we are reading outside of our usual genre. Well, DBR Books chose Lance's Travels Does Cornwall by Lance Leuven.

Leuven's book journals a seven day tour of Cornwall, UK and serves as a guide and quick hands-on historical and cultural information for the tourist who is about to explore this region of the world. Leuven's journey took him on a historical adventure, touring ancient archaelogical sites, delving into medieval history of the origins King Arthur of Camelot and the legendary tale of Jack and the Bean Stalk.

If you're planning a visit to Cornwall soon, use Lance's Travels Does Cornwall to give you a guided tour of historical sites, and locations of spectacular beaches and coves! Insightful, edudational, and a very informative!

Happy Reading!

Here's what we're reading next for Reading Challenge 2013: The Shades by Anup Dhirwan.   

Monday, April 1, 2013

April's issue of The Books Magazine

The Books Magazine - April 2013

April's issue of The Books Magazine is now available! This month we celebrate National Poetry Month, and we highlighted some great poetry reads for you with a list of giveaways.

Take a look at our top picks in book reviews this month, and see some of the new authors we featured:

In our WishList
1. Michelle Booth author of Mo The Talking Dog
2. Diane Rose-Solomon author of JJ The American Street Dog and How He Came to Live in Our House

In What Are We Reading Now
1. Lance Leuven author of Lance's Travels Does Cornwall

Don't forget to subscribe to our magazine!
Happy Reading!