My Blogging Awards

How nice to come home from a week in North Carolina celebrating the Fourth of July to find a surprise in my Inbox. I’ve been tagged.

These Awards were passed to me by a terrific blogger, Mirka Breen. If you haven’t already read my review of her middle grade novel, The Voice of Thunder, you can find it in the post for June 16. Her Mirka Muse blog address is: http://mirkabreen.blogspot.com/

Here is one of the Awards:

For the Fabulous Blog Ribbon, I get to name five things I like and five I don’t.

Five things I like:

  1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  2. Wild flowers
  3. Bugs
  4. Children’s books
  5. Art Deco

Five things I don’t like:

  1. Litterbugs and all forms of disrespect of the Earth
  2. Tailgaters
  3. Rudeness
  4. Cold weather
  5. Horror movies

Next is The Booker Award

The Booker Award comes with the request that I name five favorite books. My list of favorite books is a mile long, so I will name five that just pop into my head.

  1. Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
  2. The Skull of Truth: A Magic Shop book by Bruce Coville
  3. Blackwater by Eve Bunting
  4. Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
  5. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Those who know me well know I refuse to live in the real world.

Now I get to pass both awards to SIX WORTHY BLOGGERS:

Bill Kirk: http://www.billkirkwrites.com/

Holly Owen:  http://vanishingveil.com/

Carrie Clickard:  http://www.clclickard.com/

Diane Kress Hower:  http://dkhower.blogspot.com/

Joanne Lamond:  http://joannelamond.coffeecup.com/Home.html

Priya Iyengar:  http://everythingmattersinlife.wordpress.com/home/

Check these bloggers out. They are all fabulous writers of children’s stories and I am honored to be in their company.

Review of The Voice of Thunder by Mirka Breen

 I am pleased to present the middle grade novel, The Voice of Thunder, by Mirka Breen, who is a member of my picture book critique group.

A little about Mirka will help the reader to understand the place from where this book comes.

Mirka was raised in Jerusalem, Israel. As a 10-year-old fifth grader, she lived through the Six-Day War in 1967. Her book does not glorify the war.

It is this time in Israel’s history that Mirka calls on her memory to write about. Her two protagonists, Mira and Gili, fifth graders who live in the same apartment building, experience some of the same fears and discomforts that Mirka did. They are fictional characters who have their own stories.

“The Voice of Thunder” which the title refers to is the radio station that was broadcast in Hebrew from Cairo, Egypt. Certain Arab states were preparing to invade Israel and the radio broadcasts were aimed to undermine the will of the Israeli people. (Sort of reminds me of Tokyo Rose in World War II).  Mira and Gili liked to listen to the broadcasts even though Gili’s mom called it garbage. The peaceful life of the Jews of Jerusalem had changed with preparations for war. Mira can feel that “The air was charged with tension.”

Each girl reacts to the verbal threats differently.

Gili is exuberant, fearless, and a little fresh. Her home life is more settled and nourishing than Mira’s. She talks back to the radio voice with defiance.

Mira is fearful and a bit nervous. Her father no longer lives at home because he cannot erase the terrors he experienced in Poland during the reign of the Nazis, and her mother is gone much of the time working. Ominous though the story is, there are touches of humor. Mira has certain comforts such as smelling a strand of her own hair and writing in her diary, which she addresses as “Dear, Navel,” acknowledging that she is really talking to herself. She collects discarded toys.

Mira has a secret, which she shares with Gili. An old oak tree in an abandoned yard is a good place to hide little pieces of paper with wishes. Mira is convinced that the two wishes she put there came true. Later, Gili also makes a wish there.

At school, the students were put through safety drills. But when the war comes, Mira knows it is the real thing. “The loud explosions were never part of any drill, and the shaking they caused made her unsteady.” Spending several days and nights in the basement shelter was stuffy, smelly, and unpleasant.

Mira and Gili head a cast of characters who each shine a different spotlight on the many aspects of war and its effect on those involved–from Gili’s very talkative aunt to the batty neighbor to Teacher Edna to the parents of the girls.

Mrs. Breen does not pull her punches when it comes to the way in which war can disrupt lives. Sometimes it even corrupts the innocent. Gili’s Uncle Asher, who joined the army to defend his country, brings Gili a doll that he took from an abandoned Arab home. That makes Gili uncomfortable.

Other philosophical topics are touched on through the questions and thoughts of the two girls. Can the madness of war and hatred be “fixed?”  What constitutes bravery? How does one deal with the spoils of war? How can you tell if God is on your side?

Previously, Jews had not had access to their holiest site, the Western Wall beside the Temple Mount, known as the Wailing Wall, but after the war, they did have. This was one of the most emotional aspects of the winning of the war. On the day the army reached The Wall, Gili’s mother told of the  significance of tucking little notes into the crevices of the wall: “This custom was our way of talking to God and making our thoughts touchable.”

Finally, Mira and Gili and their families visit the Wailing Wall with their wishes and prayers written on little pieces of paper to slip into the cracks of the stones. The girls no longer had to put their notes in the cracks of the oak tree (well, it got blown down in the war, anyway). I have a feeling their wishes came true: Gili’s to someday find the Arab girl who really owns the doll and Mira’s that her dad will come home to stay forever.

It was a happy day when the radio station from Egypt was off the air; Israel had won the war. Now The Voice of Israel could resume broadcasting the news and soft piano music. The Six-Day War silenced “The Voice of Thunder.”

The cover artist, Amie McCracken, captured the spirit of the book by depicting pages that could have come from Mira’s diary along with the photograph (actually one taken by Mirka’s mother, Binah Golek) of two girls looking over a Jerusalem wall.

A beautiful trailer is on Mirka’s website: http://mirkabreen.com/Books.html

WiDo Publishing will publish the book in September 2012, but pre-orders are available now at
 * IndieBound *Barnes & Noble * Amazon* WiDo*
*Your local Independent Bookstore*

***************************

Mirka, it has been a pleasure for me to showcase your middle grade novel, The Voice of Thunder.

Thanks and congratulations.

 

Tag, You’re It

One of my brilliant fellow picture book writer/colleagues at Pens and Brushes, Mirka Breen, tagged me on her blog to join in a blogging game. It was fun to answer the questions, so I’m passing them along to you.

I answered the questions and I hope you will also play.

Rules/questioned copied are in bold.

The Tag rules:
1. You must post the rules!
2. Answer the questions.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them.
Questions to answer:If you could live in a fictional world, where would that be? Just off the top of my head, I would say Camelot. I’ve been enamored of King Arthur for as long as I can remember: at least as far back as Junior High School. I have a good-sized collection of books about him and I have a story that’s been hatching since I was an undergraduate in college. Of course, there are many other fictional places I would love to live in; Hogwarts, Dodge City, any time period in London, among others.Do you read in noisy or quiet places? I usually read in quiet places, but noise does not bother me; when I get involved in a book, I can read anywhere.What was the first book you ever read? I don’t remember the first book I actually read, but I remember that The Raggedy Ann and Raggdy Andy were among the first books that I really loved. In school, I loved reading the Dick and Jane books and the Alice and Jerry books.

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be? My literature profs stressed that Western Literature is born of both Greek Literature and the Bible. So, I would have to insist that I get a copy of both the Bible and Homer.

Favourite author? Okay, this is like putting a pin in a map of the world. Charles Dickens.

Do reviews influence your choice of reads? I think I go more with word of mouth.

Fiction or Non fiction? Fiction.

Have you ever met your favourite author? I met Judy Blume at an SCBWI Conference a few years ago, and that was one of the highlights of my literary career. What a lovely person she is and a joy to listen to. And she continues to produce wonderful books.

Audio books or Paperbacks? I try to keep an audio book in the car most of the time, but I love nothing more than curling up with paper book.

Classic or Modern Novels? Both. I still haven’t finished Shakespeare, but as for modern, I prefer Young Adult.

Book Groups or Solitary Reading? I’ve only ever belonged to one book reading group. That was in Pensacola, Florida. I enjoyed listening to the opinions of the other readers and discussing some interesting books. But next to writing, solitary reading is my most favorite activity.

11 people to tag? Ah!

Join only if you think you could use this excursion in your life. And let me know if you do.

Sylvia Leontaritis

Cana Rensberger

Margot Finke

Holly Owen

Pam Maynard

J. Aday Kennedy

Marva Dasef

Barbara Ehrentreu

Brian Knight

Bill Kirk

Sue Perkins

Don’t forget YOU’VE BEEN TAGGED. I hope to hear from you soon with the link to your posting.

If your name isn’t on the list, and you want to play, join in and send me your link.

Thanks, Mirka, for tagging me and letting me play along.

Contact Info:

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.

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