P is for Pictures of Me

I have a special treat for you today. I am breaking my theme of Blogging about my challenges and successes of the Blogging Challenge and posting a book review. I promised a book review a little while ago and I recently finished the book. Since it begins with the letter P, I thought, now is the perfect time. 

ISBN#: 978-0819860194
Publisher: Pauline Books and Media
Blurb:  Eleven-year-old Annie must complete a self portrait for the end-of-year project-and present it to the class. Annie’s fear of public speaking isn’t her only problem. Two of the girls in class seem to enjoy making life miserable for everyone; Taylor, her best friend, is having trouble at home; and Lacey, the new girl, can be nice but Annie can’t quite figure her out. With forty-eight days until the end of the school year and the looming project, Annie and friends have to grow and be willing to face who they are-and who they want to be.
Pictures of me is a perfect display of what middle school can be like for some children. I think anyone who has ever dealt with a bully or a difficult person could relate to Annie. In the book, Annie and her friends, while coming up with the perfect self portrait for their “Fifth Farewell,” learn about themselves and each other in the process. 
I loved how three dimensional the characters were in this book. Each of Annie’s friends had a real story to them. They weren’t just the supportive friends. They were children struggling with real life issues.   As a writer I couldn’t help it. I caught myself wondering, “Oooh, I wonder how Lacey is dealing with that.” And, “Taylor really learned something about her family’s situation to come to her conclusion.”  
An excellent addition is the discussion questions at the end of the book. They are great conversation starters about bullying, friendship and learning about ourselves. These questions could be a great culminating activity in the classroom. 
I thoroughly enjoyed Pictures of Me and recommend it without reservation. In fact, I’d love to hear more from these characters in future books (hint, hint). 

C is for Chapter Books

Once our children learn how to read and have mastered picture books, they soon move on to chapter books. When we as authors write chapter books, we need to keep in mind the readers’ interests, age levels, and reading ability to ensure their enjoyment of our adventure. Here is where we need more descriptive, colorful language so that our reader can “see” the characters and see the story play out in front of them.

The reader needs to be there right along with the main characters. Can they smell the salty sea air? Can they hear the buzz of the airplane over head? Can they feel the hot, grainy sand under their toes? Can they taste the chocolaty, sweet fudge pop from the Ice Cream Truck? Can they see the bright, blue, cloudless sky decorated with a flying seagull overhead?

We need to  pay attention to the storyline and the direction the plot is taking. Is this a quiet, uneventful day at the beach with nothing much to move the story along? Or does some unidentified object wash ashore raising questions in the reader. Questions like: what is that object, Is this the beginning of a mystery, Is this a clue,
why does this show up now?

These are all things to think about as we venture into creating a satisfying chapter book. Good luck and I’ll see you on the book shelf.