Mud Show Monday

Happy (Mud Show) Monday!

I have so many books to review! I hope you enjoy this week’s Mud Show Memos and look for more reviews at different times throughout the week.

Bring on the books!

Armadillo in new york.png

To: Arlo the Armadillo

From: A New Yorker

Subject: Safe Travels Kid!

I just read about your New York City trip as told by Julie Kraulis in “An Armadillo in New York”. Who’d have thought an armadillo would be so well traveled! And come all the way from Brazil to see New York City!

I think the kiddos will like reading about your travels too. You sure saw a lot of stuff! There’s a lot to see in the city, lucky you had your Grandfather’s travel journal to guide you. Wouldn’t want you to get lost trying to find that Lady Liberty.

I sure learned a lot about the Big Apple and even some American History too. What a clever Armadillo you are! My favorite part was thinking about all those elephants marching across Brooklyn Bridge. Gee whiz! That must’ve been quite the sight.

Speaking of sights, Julie Kraulis sure did a fine job capturing you in all your armadillo glory. Lovely illustrations for a lovely armadillo, and she captured the magic of New York City too. I’m sure all those pretty pictures will keep the kiddos entertained!

Speaking of kiddos. I’ll probably read your tale to the littlest ones, but older ones, you know in that 6-8 year old range, they’ll enjoy it on their own. I’m thinking they might want to make their own travel journal after reading your adventure.

Oh yeah, and here’s five stars. You can put them in your passport if you’d like!

outdoor math

To: Math Enthusiasts

From: A Math Enthusiast

Subject: MATH!

Oh boy, there’s nothing I like more than a good math problem! I like to crunch those numbers, swirl ’em around in my head, really visualize them. Guess what? There are lots of math things to do outdoors.

In “Outdoor Math”, Emma AdBage describes all sorts of activities to do outside involving all the elements of nature. Rocks, sticks, leaves, snow, and more can be used to calculate and play with numbers.

I must admit some activities are a bit more fun than others. Most of them involved only things I could pluck off the ground or take from some unsuspecting slug, but a few activities needed items of the store-bought variety. Oh, and I’m a big kid (8 years old) so I could do all the stuff by myself or with my classmates’ help. My little brother needed some help, so he had to ask his teacher to guide some of the activities.

I can also count 1..2..3! 3 out of 5 stars just because some of the activities require adult help, and my mom didn’t like it when I put a snowman inside and timed how long it would take him to melt.

fourteenth goldfish book

To: Ellie

From: The Fifteenth Goldfish

Subject: Symbolism of a Goldfish

Life is short. I’m a goldfish, I should know.

Thought you had a magic goldfish didn’t you? That goldfish could have told you, life is short. Us goldfish, we know these things. That’s about all we know.

I do know a bit more after reading your story, “The Fourteenth Goldfish” by Jennifer L. Holm. Seems like you learned quite a bit too. Your grandpa he’s a smart guy. A bit kooky, but smart. He’s not always right, but then again, who is? Not your mom. Not you. Not me. I’m just a goldfish.

Kids, 10 years old and up, will like reading your book too. It’s good to talk about science stuff and experiments and how the world works. Your life is pretty interesting, with your Grandpa discovering the fountain of youth and all. He’s a teenager, your babysitter, and still your Grandpa. Like I said, kooky.

I really hope your Grandpa and you sort things out with your Mom. I’d like to be your next goldfish, but with all this stress your Grandpa’s teenage hormones have brought to the house, I don’t think your Mom will be shopping for pets anytime soon.

I’m just a goldfish. I don’t know much but I do know your story was great. I’d give you five stars if I had them, but I’m just a goldfish.

My reviews for some of the books mentioned above may also be found at Net Galley. Follow the links below to learn more about these exciting tales (and others) including publishing dates.

An Armadillo in New York by Julie Kraulis

Sheepy and the Riddle of the Occurrence by Henrietta Williams and Illustrated by Richard Berner

Outdoor Math by Emma AdBage

Are you an author or publisher? Have a book you’d like me to review? If my reviewing style appeals to you, head on over to my Book Review Submissions page and send me your query (or book). New book reviews every Sunday and Monday!

Professional Reader
I review for BookLook Bloggers

Sunday Special

I never imagined I’d have so many books to review! This is a good problem to have…I think 😉

I’m still learning how to run this blog, and it will take a bit to get in the groove of things. I’ll still have Mud Show Mondays (hooray!) but I will also post book reviews at other times during the week. Mondays will now be reserved for the books I enjoy the most.

Sunday reviews will be reserved for books with a christian influence or message.

I have joined BookLook Bloggers, operated by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, and the books I receive from them generally have a spiritual message, but not always. Sometimes the books are simply kid friendly texts published by a christian publisher.

On with the reviews!

Angels in the Bible Storybook (2016, Zonderkidz)

There are angels throughout the Bible. Some appear with song and trumpets, while others are peddlers on the road. This storybook brings to light all that angels have done for many important figures in the Bible. With a message that angels are all around us, the text carries the reader through various Bible passages where angels acted on God’s behalf to bring his love and guidance to the people.

“Angels in the Bible Storybook” written by Allia Zobel Nolan and illustrated by Alida Massari retells the Bible with an emphasis on the actions of angels, in a beautiful and loving way. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and bring to life the stories from the Bible. Each passage used in the book has been carefully paraphrased by the author. The passages selected are interesting, as some may be lesser known to children. The text is perfect for beginning and early readers to grasp many pivotal stories from the Bible.

The book itself is heavy and solid with a beautiful cover illustration. Overall, this is a treasury of stories and illustrations, sure to delight both children and adults.

Five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

 

Willie Out West (2016, WestBowPress)

Willie Walrus is bored! He wants adventure in his life. When he hears about danger in the Big West he’s ready to go, and then Octopus shows up on his doorstep asking for help. Willie must go, of course! The citizens of Big West are glad to see him, until Old Walter rolls into town. When the citizens tuck tail and run, will Willie have the courage to face Old Walter on his own?

In “Willie Out West”, writer and illustrator Rhonda Walker combines two of kids’ favorite things, animals and the wild west. Children will enjoy the illustrations and the Octopus with a spur on each tentacle, but the story itself falls a bit flat. The text is too wordy for the book’s intended audience of beginning readers. The plot itself will also leave more questions than answers and the ending is less than satisfying. Also, I was expecting a christian message as this was advertised through a christian publishing company, but there is no clear christian or religious theme.

Children who enjoy pictures of animals decked out in wild West gear will enjoy this tale. They might have fun making up their own story about Willie Walrus in the Big West.

2.5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for a Mud Show Monday!

Three Start Saturday

Happy (Three Show) Saturday!

I love writing on Saturday mornings. Maybe it’s the weekend feel that puts me in a good mood and makes anything seem possible. If you’ve visited my blog before, you probably know I love to share writing inspiration on Saturdays. And today, I thought three story starts could spark something fun 🙂

You know me, everything in threes 😉 Below, are three story starts, and I attempted to put three key elements in each start (Person, place, objective, problem, etc). If the three elements aren’t apparent, I failed. Yesterday was about story with holes, maybe I should reread it 😉

This is my first time writing story starts for the blog, hopefully they are helpful. You can use the start exactly as written or just use it for inspiration.

I’d love to hear what you come up with! Hopefully these starts spark a wonderful story start of your own.

Start #1

April had one goal this year, to discover a new comet, and not get stuffed in a locker. Okay, two goals, but she really hated lockers.

Start #2

When Danny Dragon tried to breathe fire, he only blew smoke. He could fly higher than all the other dragons, but what good was that if he couldn’t scorch the earth with his breath?

Start #3

The old house had secrets…and locked doors. Lots of locked doors. His mom thought it was silly, but Henry knew he had seen someone looking out the attic window.

Thanks for stopping by and happy writing!

 

 

 

Stories With Holes

When I was in school, one of my teachers loved word games. She loved puzzles of all sorts but she seemed especially fond of word games.

One of the best games we played was called “Stories With Holes”. In reality, they are called lateral thinking problems, but Stories With Holes sounds way more fun.

Anyway, the object of the game is to figure out which part of the story is missing. Someone would read the story aloud (and then look at the answer), then the rest of us would take turns asking questions. The trick is all questions had to be answerable with a “yes”, “no”, or “irrelevant”.

He definitely has two hands? Irrelevant!

As with all things, some of the stories were awesome and some were absurd. Some stories had logical answers, easy to guess answers, or satisfying answers. Others were so far fetched we were left wondering if there had been a misprint. But all the answers had one thing in common (yes even the terrible ones), the answer always seemed blatantly obvious once we knew it.

I loved Stories With Holes. What dastardly clue was missing? How did those people wind up dead? Why did she have long hair? Was it the cat? Do they even have a cat?

Irrelevant!

The answer all players dreaded. It meant a wasted turn. A dead end.

It meant I wasn’t looking at the story from the right angle. It meant I was focused on all the wrong parts of the story and completely missing the giant plot hole staring me in the face.

Plot holes. Who needs ’em?

So I was thinking about Stories With Holes and it suddenly hit me that this frustrating soul-crushing brain altering wonderful game was a perfect analogy for writing.

Writers are often told they’re too close to their work to see the flaws. Too emotionally tied to this thing they created to ever think it’s anything less than perfect. Maybe some writers are, but I know a lot of writers (myself included) who agonize over their work and tear it to shreds and then offer it up like a sacrificial lamb for a (hopefully exceptionally critical) critique.

I think swapping manuscripts and having a fresh pair of eyes on your work is wonderful. I love critiques, but this post is not about critiques, at least not about critiques from other people. It is about being able to see the holes in your own story.

I do think there’s something to be said about writers being too close to their work, but I don’t think the fault lies entirely in emotional attachment, rather it’s from knowing the whole story.

As a writer of fiction, I have inside knowledge about my characters and plot. I know why a character cries when Barney sings, loves cats riding roombas, and never wears socks to bed, but sometimes, because I know all these things, I might assume everyone else does too.

You have a character named Gary and you’re really stoked about his rainbow shoestrings. So stoked, in fact, that it’s easy to forget to mention how much Gary hates blue M&M’s, but such information plays a pivotal role in the plot three chapters later.

Sometimes, I forget not everyone knows my characters like I do, and something that appears blatantly obvious to me in the story, is actually terribly confusing for someone without insider knowledge. It’s like watching the Harry Potter movies without reading the books…you may not have completely understood Horcruxes, among other things. People who read the books, loved the movies (as much as anyone can love a movie after reading the book) but they had insider knowledge. When the movie glossed over certain aspects of wizarding lingo, their brains just plugged in the plot holes with information pilfered from the vast Harry Potter library.

Without even realizing it, my brain glosses over these same holes in my own writing.

I realized this was a thing my brain did after coming across an old writing in progress. It had been so long since I’d worked on the piece that I barely remembered the characters and scarcely recalled my intended direction for the plot. It was like reading someone else’s work. I was intrigued.

Hey, this is pretty good! Wrong.

 I was kicking myself for not making an outline because I was really curious how the story ended, but my main takeaway was that I didn’t really know what was going on. It was only the beginning of what was expected to be a much longer piece, but it got me to thinking about all my other writing where I struggled to make things fit together….stories where something always seemed to be….missing.

I was writing Stories With Holes and didn’t even realize it. Sometimes the holes were small, and sometimes they were huge! How in the world did I not see that the reader would not understand Gary randomly tucking a blue M&M into his pocket in chapter one meant he would later use blue M&Ms to tame the the terrifying hunger of the dragon in chapter seven, who just so happens to LOVE blue M&M’s. Oh I also forgot to mention Gary hates wasting things. He hates throwing things away so he keeps the blue M&M’s in jars in his closet.

Oh hey, but did I mention his rainbow shoestrings?

Irrelevant!

Do I think authors are too close to their work sometimes? Yes

Do I think the reason they overlook flaws is always because they love their work so much? No

Do I think my dog makes a terrible writing coach? Irrelevant!

Writers are often told to step away from their work for a while so when they look at it again they will see it with fresh eyes. I’ve always loved this advice but maybe for the wrong reasons. I thought if I stepped away, I would grow less attached and love the story less, thereby allowing me to make objective judgments concerning its worth when viewed again.

Now, I think time lets you forget some of the things you know, lets some of the details slip from your brain. And when you look at your story with this new fresh brain, you are incapable of filling the holes.

You have to figure out what’s missing on your own. It’s like reading your very own Story With Holes, and you need to figure out which questions to ask. Are you asking the right questions? Is it clear what motivates your characters? Is the plot driven by the characters actions?

Did it rain three times in one day, somewhere, once?

Irrelevant!

Cheese should have holes, stories should not.

Hopefully this story didn’t have too many holes. If it did, feel free to ask me a Yes, No, or Irrelevant question in the comments. I think I’d prefer Irrelevant questions actually 😉

Mud Show Monday

Happy Mud Show Monday!

I know you need something to brighten your Monday…so here are some new book reviews! And these books are hot off the press 🙂

I hope you enjoy these Mud Show Memos, and let me know in the comments if you (or your children) have read any of these fabulous books.

May all your (Mon)days be circus days!


 

too many carrots

To: Rabbit

From: A Concerned Forest Citizen

Subject: You have a problem

I don’t know how to tell you this, but… you have a problem. I think Katy Hudson hit the nail on the head when she titled your exploits “Too Many Carrots”.

Look, it’s nice to collect things, but there comes a point in every rabbit’s life when enough is enough! At this rate you’ll end up on Hoarders.

I’ll admit, I did chuckle quite a bit at your plight. But it must be your lucky rabbit feet that you are blessed with so many wonderful friends. I do hope they help you reach a solution, or maybe you’ll think of something on your own.

Either way, I’ll give you 5 carrots stars because children of all ages will delight in your clever tale and beautifully detailed illustrations.


 

gator goes by bike

To: Gator

From: An Animal Lover

Subject: Where were you?

I just finished the account of your workday in “Gator Goes by Bike” by Keenan Hopson. He captured you and all the other animals brilliantly with his illustrations but I must say I was a bit disappointed by the end.

Where were you?

You were on the cover of the book. This book was supposedly about you…and you weren’t in it. What a conundrum!

Did you get lost on your way to work? Fall off your bike? Visit a friend? All perfectly reasonable excuses and exciting adventures, but that wasn’t in the book either.

It was a sweet story about animals making their way to work (and what a clever workplace it is!), but overall I missed seeing you dear Gator.

I do hope Keenan Hopson writes another tale of your adventures and you are actually in it because I do so enjoy his magnificent way of illustrating you and your friends.

I’ll give you 4 stars for appearing on the cover, and for having such lovely friends. I think children 3 to 5 years old would also find you charming.


shasha and wally watson

To: The Faker

From: Neighborhood Watch

Subject: We’re watching you!

Hey you Faker! I was going to tell you the neighborhood watch is keeping all their eyes on you, but you’re actually pretty crafty and good at hiding. So, even though we can’t keep our eyes on you, those Watson kids can!

We’ve been following Wally’s wild romp as recounted by Ted Kelsey in “Shasha and Wally Watson VS. The Faker” and you better watch out, that Wally Watson is a smart kid!

Little Wally can remember anything. So if you’re wearing a shirt with 6 buttons today and 15 buttons tomorrow…he’ll remember! You can’t fool him!

And if you think that sounds like useless information, well…it is. But that’s where his sister comes in! Those two are like two pieces of a two-piece puzzle. If Wally gets distracted with worries of imminent death or disappearing, well Shasha…errr Sasha, steps right in and straightens everything out.

So you better watch your backs, and your fronts, because those Watson kids are watching and remembering and putting this mess of a puzzle together faster than you can throw away the pieces.

We’re giving Wally 5 stars for making us laugh out loud, bite our nails and squeal with fright. We know Wally would rather have 3 stars or 6 stars but hopefully he’ll be OK with 5 stars with 5 points each.


the girl from everywhere

To: Nix

From: A Young Cartographer

Subject: Take me with you!

I am still dreaming of your life after reading Heidi Heilig’s account in “The Girl From Everywhere”. You really are from everywhere! Traveling through time like you do, I don’t know how you keep everything straight. You truly are a superb navigator. The crew is lucky to have you, even if the Captain doesn’t always show his appreciation.

I was spellbound by the fantastical descriptions and amazing locations. The Temptation sounds like one cool (and maybe a little terrifying) ship. You’re lucky to have such a great crew to travel with. Speaking of the crew…I’d like to join you!

I am a cartographer by trade, and I believe my map making skills might be useful to you on your journeys. I’m familiar with geography and history of many different places so I can produce maps of exacting accuracy for a multitude of places…and times…that’s the key right?

Give it some thought, in the mean time I’ll be waiting for Heidi Heilig’s second account of your journey and telling everyone I know about you and your incredible adventures.

Some might be concerned with the topic of drug use which recurs throughout your tale, but it is not portrayed as an admirable or desirable addiction. Thanks for limiting the romance too! I’m not too much into that mushy gushy stuff.

If I give you 5 stars will you stow them with your other treasures?

Gator Goes by Bike” and “Shasha and Wally Watson VS The Faker” provided for free by Story Cartel in exchange for my honest review.

Too Many Carrots” and “The Girl From Everywhere” provided for free by Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.

Are you an author or publisher? Have a book you’d like me to review? If my reviewing style appeals to you, head on over to my Book Review Submissions page and send me your query (or book). New book reviews every Monday!

Professional Reader
I review for BookLook Bloggers

Loving the Love-A-Thon

loveathon

Hello friends!

I just discovered this magical thing that is the Love-A-Thon and I couldn’t resist signing up.

The Love-A-Thon is hosted by four wonderful book loving, blog writing divas and you can check out their blogs at Alexa Loves Books, The Daily Prophecy, The Novel Hermit, and Stay Bookish.

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all, but here’s my questionnaire to kick things off and then I’m off to visit as many book loving blogs as possible 🙂

QUESTIONNAIRE

  1. What’s your name?
    • Kizzi
  2. Where in the world are you blogging from?
    • The great state of Missouri 🙂
  3. How did you get into blogging in the first place?
    • I wanted an outlet that would get me writing about anything and everything on a regular basis. I don’t really write about everything though, mostly just books and writing advice.
  4. How did you come up with your blog name?
    • I worked for the circus and we had three shows every single Saturday. It’s a nod to the circus, to hard work, to things that make you laugh and things that make you cry. A three show Saturday is an exhausting, but fulfilling day. I hope my blog doesn’t exhaust people though 😉
  5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?
    • Children’s literature of all kinds. Though I have a soft spot for quirky, adventurous characters, fantasy and books that make me laugh. 
  6. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?
    • I post writing tips and advice (that I hope is helpful) and writing exercises/prompts.
  7. Best blogging experience so far?
    • I just started my blog, so pretty much every comment I’ve ever received was like a tiny Christmas gift. I really get excited over the smallest things since my blog is still shiny and new.
  8. Favorite thing about the blogging community?
    • Everyone is super supportive of each other and there is so much great content available!
  9. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2016!
    • The Forbidden Wish
    • The Girl From Everywhere
    • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
    • And I Darken
    • The Book of Dust
  10. Name the 5 books you want to read this 2016 that you didn’t get to in previous years!
    • The rest of the “Ender’s Game” books
    • Dances with Dragons
    • The Night Circus
    •  Don Quixote
    • 1984
  11. What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?
    • The Abhorsen Trilogy…though now it’s technically a quartet with the addition of Clariel but the original three books are really spectacular. And anything by Terry Pratchett but especially all the books of his DiscWorld series.
  12. Who would you recruit for your apocalypse squad (5 characters max)
    • Sabriel, Éowyn, Arya, Daenerys, and Aragorn.  
  13. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?
    • Writing, Sewing, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  14. At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing?
    • Hips Don’t Lie
  15. Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book.  
    • Sabriel…I’m a bit obsessed with these books if you can’t tell.
  16. What would your dream library look like?
    • Exactly like the one in Beauty and the Beast.
  17. Author you want to meet and sit down to tea with?
    • Garth Nix

Three Scene Saturday

No dice today, but it’s still a Three Show Saturday sort of day! 🙂

Instead of dice you get three guidelines, three words, and three scenes.

Use the suggested guidelines to craft your story from the provided words and scenes. I grouped the words by threes, but if you’d like to mix and match across groupings, go for it. This is supposed to be a fun exercise so bend the rules (a little 😉 ) if you like.

I hope you have fun and enjoy your (Three Show) Saturday!

Guidelines

  • Tell a story in 50 words or less including one of the scenes or three of the prompt words.
  • Create a Haiku using one of the scenes or three of the prompt words as inspiration.
  • Write a fantasy story in 300 words or less set in one of the scenes with a character inspired by three of the words.

Words

  • Ogre, Unraveling, Bucket
  • Thorns, Falling, Seahorse
  • Tomb, Searching, Brigade

Scenes

DSCN0312

DSCN0239

IMG_0288 (2)

Happy Writing!