Quantcast

Advanced Lift-the-Flap: How Your Body Works by Rosie Dickins

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 16 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

How Your Body Works by Rosie Dickins from Usborne is full of information in easily digestible chunks for young kids. From the organs to growth and eating, this book covers a lot. Some of the book covers nutrition and the importance of exercise, but there is a lot about immunity, germs (good and bad), and about different levels of maturing the body goes through.

My daughter could read most of this on her own as an elementary school student, which is great because it provides her with interesting facts, real microscopic images of the tongue and other things, and engaged her. She was eager to lift the flaps to learn more, and she was excited to share what she learned with the rest of the family.

The book is visually engaging with full-color images of the body and germs and other things. How Your Body Works by Rosie Dickins is a book that children can read over and over. It’s definitely a fun way to introduce important topics like eating healthy and exercising as well as puberty to young kids. My daughter enjoys science, and this book really held her attention, even when she knew some of the facts already from school.

RATING: Cinquain

Alone! by Barry Falls

Source: Media Masters Publicity
Hardcover, 32 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Alone! by Barry Falls is a colorful picture book that focuses on how to adapt to change, make friends, and find balance. Billy McGill lives on a hill and he lives there alone, at least until a mouse decides to enter his life. He’s distraught with all the skittering and heads into town for a solution — a cat. The only problem is that the cat and the mouse run about the house, and it forces him once again to head into town for a dog. You can see where this little story is headed by the animals on the cover.

Billy is used to being alone and having his quiet time, but as we all know, life often throws us curve balls and we have to figure out how to deal with change. Billy doesn’t do well with change at first, and gets so upset he yells, even as he turns to a vet and a hairdresser for help with these animals tearing apart his house. Falls does a really spectacular job of creating a rhyming story that doesn’t sound trite or forced, and it will definitely engage younger readers immediately.

Older readers will find Billy a bit mean at first, but as the story progresses they see him change and become more accepting and able to navigate the new things in his life, while still maintaining that peace and quiet he loves about living on the hill. Alone! by Barry Falls would be a fantastic addition to any school library or child’s home library.

RATING: Cinquain

Diary of a Pug: Pug’s Got Talent by Kyla May

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 80 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Diary of a Pug: Pug’s Got Talent by Kyla May is the fourth book in the series, but readers could start with any book in the series because they are self-contained episodes and include enough background for kids if they start in the middle. Baron von Bubbles, aka Bub, is still a big fashionista, but in this one his owner, Bella, has a new focus — creating a pet talent show.

Bub learns some new show biz words and learns how sometimes assumptions about others are not accurate. My daughter loves this series, especially that Bub is afraid of water and Nutz the squirrel is always causing trouble. Diary of a Pug: Pug’s Got Talent by Kyla May is a cute story about a talent show and a pug that learns to work with other pets who may not be his favorites.

RATING: Quatrain

Mailbox Monday #629

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

ALERT: We’re looking for a new host to help us with MM — if you have experience with WordPress or Mr. Linky, feel free to apply.

Here’s what we received:

It’s Always Been You by L.L. Diamond and Carol S. Bowes, free on Kindle.

All Ellie ever dreamed of was the perfect vacation.

Ellie Barrett’s first glimpse of the island resort is everything she dreamed when she planned her long-awaited tropical getaway—sun, sand, and miles of brilliant aquamarine water. She’d made it! Two whole weeks to explore paradise. What could possibly be better?

Perhaps an athletic man in board shorts with a body to die for and a pair of stunning blue eyes? On her first evening, she meets William. Intelligent, amazing to talk to, and hot as sin, he’d never be interested in her, but it didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy the view while it lasted!

But perfection isn’t bound to last. What if William isn’t everything he seems? When love persists over all obstacles, is it enough? How can Ellie trust William and protect her heart at the same time?

Be sure to stop back later this week for Books That Caught Our Eye.

Final Thoughts: National Poetry Month 2021

Each poetry month, I tend to take up the write a poem a day challenge, but I didn’t. I knew that I would be super busy with work and with the Gaithersburg Book Festival, which starts May 1 online at the YouTube channel.

But I sorely missed writing every day this month. I don’t write every day normally, but I missed it in April because I do try to do it every year. I have written a few things and revised a couple things, but I have one giant revision/reworking that I’ve been avoiding. I really need to talk it out with Anna since she knows how the poem germinated in the first place.

Poem in Your Pocket day (April 29) saw Alan Squire Publishing get creative with their own 7 Upbeat Poems from their authors. Printable and shareable.

I saw this poem on Button Poetry; I just love their posts — (be prepared this has some harsh language and triggering moments for bisexuals and others) — they are always powerful readings:

How did your National Poetry Month go? Did you read any great poems? Poets? Find any collections you loved? Share in the comments.

Interview with Karen Lyon, columnist at Hill Rag and founder of The Literary Hill BookFest

When: May 2, 2021,  at 11:00 a.m. Where: Online

The Literary Hill BookFest is going to be virtual again this year on Sunday, May 2, at 11:00 a.m.

Since you won’t have to travel to Washington D.C., why not begin your day with some fiction writers, poets, and children’s authors.

I’m very excited to be part of this event for the first time as part of Poets on the Patio. View my recording here and stay tuned on May 2 at 1:45 p.m. for my appearance.

Today’s guest is Karen Lyon who writes the column Literary Hill at Hill Rag.

We’ll be talking with her about her love of books and the festival. Please give Karen a warm welcome.

Savvy Verse & Wit: After writing your column in The Hill Rag for a decade, what prompted you to consider transporting that content into a live event for the D.C. area given the number of festivals already available, including the Maryland-based Gaithersburg Book Festival, Fall for the Book at George Mason University in Virginia, and the National Book Festival in D.C.?

Photo Credit: Bruce Guthrie; Literary Hill BookFest 2016

Karen Lyon: Actually, I got talked into it by some friends who thought that Capitol Hill needed its own book festival. There are so many writers who live on the Hill, whether drawn here to do research at the Library of Congress or just because they find it a rich and beautiful neighborhood. Evidence the fact that, in the 20 years I’ve been doing my column, which now features 2-4 reviews per month, I’ve never been in danger of running out of authors.

And it’s really nice to bring them together once a year so they can meet each other, as well as attracting potential readers. Many of the writers have told me how much they enjoy the live event and how special it is that it’s a neighborhood affair. They’re all very eager to get back to meeting in person.

Photo Credit: Bruce Guthrie from Literary Hill BookFest 2017

SVW: Tell us about your favorite childhood book and/or when you met your favorite author for the first time. What were your feelings? What do you remember the most about that and did you have those memories in mind when drafting plans for the first BookFest?

KL: I loved mystery novels as a kid—still do—so when I first approached Melissa Ashabranner about doing something for the Hill Rag and, in the course of our talk, she told me that the great Martha Grimes lived on the Hill, I was absolutely beside myself.

At that point, of course, I was far too intimidated to interview her in person, so I faxed her questions (back in the low-tech days) and she graciously faxed her answers back to me.

My first in-person interview was with the also great Louis Bayard, who, in addition to being a fabulous writer, is one of the kindest, funniest, and most generous guys you’ll ever meet. He gave me the confidence to keep at it—and eventually I did meet and interview Ms. Grimes, as well as many other well-known writers who lived here at the time.

Now I confine myself to book reviews rather than the labor-intensive interviews. Alas, Martha Grimes no longer lives on Capitol Hill (and, hooray, Lou Bayard now serves on the BookFest board!).

Photo Credit: Bruce Guthrie; Literary Hill BookFest 2019 (Jona Colson)

SVW: What have been some of your favorite memories from the live, in-person Literary Hill BookFests?

KL: It’s not exactly a favorite, but I think one of my most vivid memories is from the first year, which, as you can imagine, was fraught. None of us knew what we were doing and it made for many sleepness nights (and the occasional “good cry”). My husband Ed and I were both working full time then and trying to fit “BookFest” in here and there—just as Liz and her husband Dan are doing this year, so we appreciate the enormous effort it takes.

I lost almost eight pounds, both from the physical labor as well as the stress. I remember as we were closing down the event that day, I was stumbling around like a zombie looking for trash to pick up when one of the writers came up to me, all perky and enthusiastic, and said, “This was great! You’re going to do it again next year, right?” Uh…

Nevertheless we persisted—and over time, we figured more things out and got more people to help us, so we were able to relax (sort of, not really) and enjoy many rewarding moments.

Getting to meet the authors whom I feel I already know through their books–and seeing their faces light up when I introduce myself–has to be one of the most gratifying things ever. Being able to give local writers a venue and help publicize their work is what keeps me going.

SVW: As many other festivals were forced to do, Literary Hill BookFest went virtual in 2020, what do you think made the festival stand out from other festivals that went virtual that year? What were some lessons learned from that experience that you’re applying to this year’s festival?

KL: I have to confess that I didn’t check out the competition, but I thought Liz and Dan did an absolutely superb job of showcasing our Hill authors.

Photo Credit: Bruce Guthrie; Literary Hill BookFest 2018 (Ethelbert Miller)

The panel discussion, poetry reading, and everything else about the event—including the ukulele interlude—just blew me away.

My technical skills are pretty much limited to word processing, so I never in a million years could have done it. In fact, even once we do get back to an in-person event, I see their amazing website as being a continuing and very important component of the BookFest.

It allows for more intimate presentations by the authors as well as a much broader scope of visitors, who can access it from wherever they are and well beyond a three-hour window in May.

SVW: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s virtual Literary Hill BookFest?

KL: I think our discussion topics this year are particularly ripe for some interesting commentary. I can’t wait to hear what our authors have to say about how children’s literature can dismantle divisions, how they find literary inspiration in D.C., and how nonfiction can tackle social issues. Those alone should make for some fascinating discussions, but we’ve also got a nature writing workshop and one on what makes a great opening line, as well as the always popular live poetry reading.

It’s going to be another great day for books and authors on Capitol Hill—and, thanks to technology, everywhere else as well. It’s wonderful to be able to invite friends and family from around the country to tune it.

We may even get a woman from my Zoom exercise class who lives in Croatia!

Photo Credit: Bruce Guthrie; Literary Hill BookFest 2014

Thank you, Karen, for agreeing to an interview. I can’t wait to see everyone there (online)!

About the Columnist and Founder:

Karen Lyon writes the Literary Hill column for the Hill Rag and served as president of the Literary Hill BookFest in its initial years. She formerly worked at the Folger Shakespeare Library as assistant to the director and as a writer for Folger Magazine specializing in articles about everyday life in Shakespeare’s time.

Thresholds and Other Poems by Matt Hohner

Source: the poet
Paperback, 96 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Threshold: the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested.

Thresholds and Other Poems by Matt Hohner explores that threshold in depth, the line that must be crossed in order for the poems to transform or manifest into their fullest selves. The collection itself opens with a dream where “predators/creep into our life like doubt,” but rather than the doubt become a burden it is manifested into something wild that must be guarded against, even when it calls from the darkness. It is one of the poems in this collection I immediately saw myself inside. Hohner captures that “doubt” so well — it is carnivorous and it is sneaky.

The darkness of our modern world is at every threshold, even more present in “Kevin,” in which two brothers have turned the corner as shots ring out and kill another neighborhood boy. There are other poems in which the narrator tells us what we already know, like in “Gulf War Veteran,” that the darkness has won many battles around us and there is no coming back.

Hohner pulls no punches in his poems; we are not allowed to turn away from the horror of 9/11 where Americans are “pelting the concrete like hail” in “Terror in the Dust” or in “Dundalk” where children come to school high on their parents pills. But even in these dark times, his verse bends toward nature’s calming hand, with “the first yellow leaves of autumn” signifying a softer fall for those 9/11 Americans or the children’s veins still pumping and “singing in joy at dawn for the promise of another day.”

Each poem is unrelenting in its exploration of the threshold — how much can we take before breaking, how much can we take before we learn to let go and forgive, how much can we take? The answer is often far more than we believe we can. It would seem why the darkness continues to push us, pressure us, test us. Thresholds and Other Poems by Matt Hohner reach “across time and space” just as the narrator does in “As I Think of You in Italy,” teaching us that thresholds must be crossed to get to the place we long to be and we can do that with an openness to love, grace, and forgiveness.

Rating: Quatrain

Photo credit: Shannon Kline

About the Poet:

Matt Hohner, a Baltimore native, has been a finalist for the Moth International Poetry Prize and taken both third and first prizes in the Maryland Writers Association Poetry Prize. He won the 2016 Oberon Poetry Prize, the 2018 Sport Literate Anything but Baseball Poetry Prize, and most recently the 2019 Doolin Writers’ Weekend Poetry Prize in Ireland. Hohner’s work has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. An editor for Loch Raven Review, Hohner’s book Thresholds and Other Poems, his first full-length book, was published by Apprentice House Press in Fall 2018. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Hohner has held a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, made possible by a grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. Hohner was recently longlisted for the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize and the Live Canon 2019 Poetry Contest in the UK. Hohner has had recent work published or forthcoming in Bhubaneswar Review, Boyne Berries, The American Journal of Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Bangor Literary Journal, and elsewhere. His second collection of poetry will be published by Salmon Poetry in 2022. Visit his webpage and on Twitter.

Literary Hill BookFest 2021

The idea for the Literary Hill BookFest began in late 2010, spinning it off of the Hill Rag column about books, authors, and literary events that Karen Lyon had been writing since 2001 and take it “live.” The first BookFest was held in 2011 in the North Hall of Eastern Market. The mission of the BookFest is to celebrate books and authors on Capitol Hill and to make Capitol Hill a respected center for literacy and the humanities in the metropolitan D.C. area.

The annual Literary Hill BookFest 2021 is on May 2, 2021, with lively discussions at 11 a.m. The kickoff features authors Melanie Choukas-Bradley, JoAnn Hill, Ethelbert Miller, Elizabeth Purcell, Garrett Peck, Kim Roberts, and Cindy Vasko. Moderated by Tim Krepp, author of The Ghosts of Georgetown.

Don’t miss out on the Children’s panel at noon or the writing workshops.

My favorite part will be Poets on the Patio! There are some pre-recorded videos from poets, fiction authors, and others, and you may even find one from me.

The festival focuses on our Capitol Hill literary community. Visit the festival on Instagram. Use the hashtag #LHBF2021 to follow the events and reshare the posts.

There’s also a call for a Crowd-Sourced poem, with submissions due April 28.

Mailbox Monday #628

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

ALERT: We’re looking for a new host to help us with MM — if you have experience with WordPress or Mr. Linky, feel free to apply.

Here’s what we received:

These were all Kindle freebies at the time I got them:

What did you receive?

Virtual Poetry Circle: Liz Brownlee

With the return of the Virtual Poetry Circle, I hope that you’ll read the poem. Today’s poem is really an image or shape poem because today is World Penguin Day, which coincides with the annual northern migration of Adelie penguins.

Feel free to share poems you are reminded of, favorite lines, and whatever comes to mind when reading this poem.

This image was getting fuzzier and fuzzier as I enlarged it, so please click on the link and head on over to Poetry Roundabout to read the poem.

What animal shapes do you think would be fun to use to create a poem?

Acrostic

As you can see Acrostic poems are poems in which the first letter of each line spells out a word, message, or the alphabet. When I was a kid, these were one of the first poetry forms I learned, and I still write them from time to time as a way to clear out the cobwebs.

I hope you will check out the Acrostic poem generator.

Here’s what the generator came up with for me:

Sea

Seas saw.
Expanses seep.
American sailors slink.

I can’t wait to see yours. Hope you have a great weekend.

Interview: Caroline Bock, fiction editor of This Is What America Looks Like

This Is What America Looks Like, edited by Caroline Bock and Jona Colson, has been the talk of the Washington, D.C., area, with a number of readings and launch events.

The April 21 online event at the Enoch Pratt Library was a fantastic discussion about the creative state of our nation. I’ve even read my poem from the collection with The Inner Loop.

Today, I want to share with you an interview with fiction editor Caroline Bock.

Savvy Verse & Wit: Congratulations on the new anthology, This Is What America Looks Like, published by the Washington Writers’ Publishing House, which is the first one they’ve published in decades. They also published your debut short story collection, Carry Her Home. How did you decide where you wanted the anthology to be published? Were there any other publishers you considered?

Caroline Bock:  I only considered The Washington Writers’ Publishing House – it was established in 1975 as a ‘hippie poetry collective’ (their description, not mine!), and it’s an all-volunteer, cooperative press dedicated to  publishing poetry and literary fiction.

SVW: As the fiction editor for the anthology, how much coordination was there with poetry editor Jona Colson? Did you both have a game plan in mind before submissions started rolling in or were their themes that emerged on their own as submissions were being read?

CB: I originally envisioned this as only a fiction collection until Jona raised his hand in a WWPH meeting and asked: “Could there be room for poetry? I’m happy to volunteer as the poetry editor.” And my reply was, “There’s always room for poetry!”

Now, I knew Jona well – his beautiful poetry collection, “Said Through Glass,” was the 2018 Jean Feldman Poetry award-winner the same year that I won the Fiction Award from WWPH.

I had come up with the general theme based on the Women’s Marches that I attended in DC – a literary response to the chant: what does America look like? However, as the pandemic closed in on us last March alongside an Administration in D.C. that seem to trump up more and more lies designed to divide us, as the Black Lives Matter movement became more urgent, as our racial and economic divides were exposed—the literary response became more critical. We increased the number of writers from 50 to 100.

We reached out to writers of color to ensure as diverse and inclusive anthology as possible. We looked for the political in the personal and deeply felt responses we received to This Is What America Looks Like, and we realized that we didn’t need the political—that the personal told the story.

SVW: How did you view your role as an editor of the anthology? Let us in on what your process was when selecting the fiction pieces. Did you have any criteria you followed specifically from the start? Were there criteria that evolved over the submissions process?

CB: We received over 500 submissions, and I read everyone, sometimes more than once along with Kathleen Wheaton, our publisher.

I love fiction that either dives deeply into a moment and/or takes chances – so “Smaller” by M.M. Bailey, which dives into the anger of the pandemic via a violent cough gripped me. On the other hand, Michelle Brafman’s ‘I Am Your Mask,” from the point of view of a mask, gave me, and I hope gives readers, a different perspective on the pandemic.

I looked for fiction that spoke to the moment that we are in now in America – but then, there were a few stories that so gripped me about the past. This was the case with the opening story by Mary Kay Zuravleff entitled “Myrna, 1934” – it’s set in the Depression, but this story of a struggling family so resonated to this struggling moment, I included it.

SVW: This Is What America Looks Like provides a very broad landscape in how writers could approach the topic, but how would you describe what America looks like? Does America’s description merely entail its mountains and landscapes or is it about the people within it?

CB: Based on this astonishing collection, I have questions and I have hope for the American people.

Here are some of the questions: Do we recognize that the unnamed, code-switching, bilingual narrator in Ofelia Montelongo’s wondrous story “Botones” is as critical to our society as the tough-talking waitress in Danielle Stonehirsch’s story “The Waffle House”? Do we recognize the anger in Amy Freeman’s “Spiralling” about the political moment or Christopher J. Gregg’s inventive “What I Read Between The Line or A Prose Erasure Of ‘Executive Order on Building and Rebuilding Monuments To American Heroes” or in Shelby Settles Harper’s “Colonize These Thighs,” as a sign that we must choose a new path forward? I think so. I am filled with hope after working on this collection. I hope readers will feel that way too!

SVW: Thinking about the writers in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) region, how would you describe their writing styles and overall view as presented in their stories? Is there something that readers could immediately recognize as fiction from this region?

CB: There’s a heightened awareness of ‘power’ in the writing I saw in the DMV—who has it and who doesn’t.

For example, Gariné Isassi wrote in her sharply-drawn story, “In Lieu of Graduation 2020,” a mother and a daughter stumble on immigration detainees in a field in Montgomery County; her story is essentially about power the government has over these people’s lives. Willie Conley’s “Labels” writes about the power or control the healthcare system can have our very identities. On other hand, the landscape of the Capital becomes a character, exerting power over the narrator in Leslie Pietrzyk’s “Admit This To No One.”

SVW: What has been your fondest memory of your writing journey so far? And what’s next for you?

CB: I always thought I would be a short story writer or a novelist or a screenwriter, or all three. But I took a twenty years detour into corporate America. So, I’m grateful that my ‘second act’ is as a writer—I’m still in the middle of it, so I don’t have a ‘fondest’ memory yet.

This past year, I’ve been working on a new novel, which centers on the power, so perhaps, I am truly a DMV writer these days too. I hope this novel will be my first for adults—so stay tuned!

Thank you, Caroline, for stopping by the blog today to talk about This Is What America Looks Like.

Copies of the anthology, This Is What America Looks Like: Poetry & Fiction from DC, Maryland and Virginia can be purchased at www.washingtonwriters.org or at your favorite etailer.

Also note that the 2022 Washington Writers’ Publishing House prizes in fiction and poetry will open for submissions on July 1-November 15th . More information can also be found at www.washingtonwriters.org

About the Editor:

Caroline Bock writes short stories, novels, and more. She is the author of CARRY HER HOME, winner of the 2018 Fiction Award from the Washington Writers’ Publishing House, and the young adult novels: LIE and BEFORE MY EYES from St. Martin’s Press.

In 2021, she is the fiction editor of THIS IS WHAT AMERICA LOOKS LIKE, poetry and fiction from DC, Maryland and Virginia from the Washington Writers’ Publishing House. She is a graduate of Syracuse University where she studied creative writing with Raymond Carver, and as of 2011, holds an MFA in Fiction from The City College of New York. She lives in Maryland with her family and leads creative writing workshops at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda and at Politics & Prose in Washington, DC. Find her often on twitter @cabockwrites.