I'm pleased to post my review of Things are Not What They Seem, by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks as part of a Blog Tour sponsored by Mother Daughter Book Reviews.
Read on to find my review and learn how you can take part in the tour and a Rafflecopter drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card. It's easy-peasy to enter, but don't delay: this tour ends 19 March.
About the BookTitle: Things Are Not What They Seem | Authors: Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks | Publication Date: April 9, 2014 | Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing | Pages: 268 | Recommended Ages: 10+ Summary: What would you do if you were sitting on a park bench, minding your own business, and one of those annoying pigeons suddenly started to talk to you? And what if the pigeon didn’t just talk to you – in a meticulous British accent, no less – but pleaded with you to help untangle a piece of string that had accidentally attached his leg to a wrought iron fence surrounding the playground? And what if, while you are still convinced that this is all a big nasty trick, a hawk swoops down out of the sky and starts cursing at you, also in the King’s English, for getting in his way when he wanted to execute the pigeon? That is the quandary in which Jennifer (almost 13 years old and probably a bit too smart for her own good) finds herself one sweltering July morning while babysitting her 11-year-old (very precocious) brother James and his mopey, allergy-prone friend Sleepy. She soon learns that the bird is actually a man named Arthur Whitehair, a 19th-century Englishman who had been turned into an eternally-lived pigeon by misreading an ancient spell that was supposed to give him eternal life as a human. Likewise, an unscrupulous colleague of his, named Malman, had been turned into a hawk by Whitehair’s blunder. After years of searching, Whitehair claims (half-truthfully) that Malman has found him hiding in Central Park and is now out for revenge. On top of all this strange business, Jennifer has recently begun having weird dreams in which a crazy-looking man with curly red hair speaks cryptic phrases in Latin. Are they random phrases, or messages? And why would some sketchy guy be sending her messages in her dreams?
Cat's Kid Lit review
Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks have penned a page-turner for middle-grade readers who enjoy a touch of fantasy with their fiction. Things are Not What They Seem follows the escapades of four New York City children who bring new meaning to feeding pigeons in Central Park.
The authors’ created a quartet of characters that pop off the page. Their protagonist, almost-twelve-years-old Jennifer Tindal, is a city-savvy girl who’s bothered by weird dreams. Her brother, James, sticks up for her and pals around with wimpy, sheltered Sleepy because James’ “real” friends are away at summer camp. Fashionista/Valley-Girl-talking Kaytlyn enjoys her wealthy family’s clout but learns to help her friends by being clever and courageous.
The secondary characters in this story are portrayed with humor and understanding. Jennifer’s parents are loving but set firm tween boundaries. The authors write with great empathy about the homeless Mr. Bags, who speaks in rhymes and aids the children despite great risk to his personal safety. Several bad guys populate this tale, too, and give kids that extra frisson of danger to keep them interested in the plot.
And well, there’s that talking pigeon, Arthur Whitehair, who literally and figuratively is a hoot and has a wicked-wry backstory.
The City of New York is almost a character unto itself, and the authors write with the loving insider knowledge of natives. You’ll feel as if you’re in Central Park with Jennifer or chasing Arthur along Big Apple streets.
Narrative and Dialogue
The story reads seamlessly, and its plot moves briskly, with plenty of kid-pleasing banter:
“Hello, fat-boy,” the pigeon said.
“Whitehair,” James yelled. “You lard-butt! ”
I appreciate how the story dips into history to bring Arthur Whitehair to life. It also has an amusing plot point about James pretending to be a ventriloquist in order to disguise Arthur’s identify. The climax, which I won’t spoil for you, was spot on and an ingenious way to conclude the book while leaving room for a sequel.
What sets this story apart for me is its gentle, unobtrusive life lessons that Jennifer and James discover, such as this advice from Mom when the siblings feel discouraged after failed attempts to help Arthur:
“Lots of things in life are hard. Raising children is hard. Being married is hard. I don’t think you should quit something just because it’s hard.”
These gems aren’t preachy, and they’re not always delivered by adults:
“But I wasn’t brave, Jenny,” Sleepy said in a very small voice. “I was scared the whole time.”
“That’s what courage is,” Jennifer said. “When you do something even if you are very frightened.”
I highly recommend Things are Not What They Seem for children in grades 3-6. It’s an action/fantasy tinged with humor, and it delivers subtle messages about courage and friendship that young readers need to hear.
I was provided with a free pdf version of this book in exchange for an honest review.
"I LOVED "Things Are Not What They Seem"!! It is funny, exciting, and touching, and very fun to read. The characters are relatable and interesting, so I really cared about all of their adventures while I was reading. "~ 5 Stars, Hermione, Amazon
"The story line is original and makes for an incredibly fun read. This is a book which is VERY hard to put down, all of their adventures will definitely have you on the edge of your seats and you read from page to page. All of the characters in this book (both large and small) are well developed and their personalities definitely come off the page." ~ 5 Stars, Alex, Goodreads
"The characters are well-developed and fun. The story moves along at a brisk pace. Lessons on love, friendship, kindness, and finding your inner strength shine through. And the humor is plentiful! Great for tween readers, as well as a quick, fun read for adults. " ~ 5 Stars, HFBrainerd, Amazon
"Things Are Not What They Seem is a well written story and a joy to read. I was hooked from the start." ~ 5 Stars, Granny's Hill, Amazon
"What a sweet, interesting, and overall wonderful book! I love the interesting, multi-layered, realistic characters, the numerous, unexpected but extremely interesting plot twists, and the use of Latin phrases to enhance the magic. I love the simple, yet powerful message that was woven throughout- that things are not what they seem- even in the rough, harsh world of New York City. That message strongly resonates for kids, teenagers, adults, and anyone in between. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who reads this review!! " ~ 5 Stars, Pat D., Amazon
About the Authors: Anne Rothman-Hicks & Kenneth HicksWhen Anne Rothman was a student at Bryn Mawr College and Kenneth Hicks was a student at Haverford College, they began writing together in an independent-study course with one of Ken’s professors. A brief interlude ensued while Anne wrote wonderful poetry and Ken wrote a book about hitchhiking (The Complete Hitchhiker Tobey Publishing, Dell Distribution), but they soon got back together as writers when Ken was in law school at Columbia University and Anne was paying the rent by working in publishing. They have continued to write together for about forty years and in that time have published four adult novels, eleven non-fiction books for children, two fiction books for middle readers, and two photography books. They also produced three children whom they love even more than writing. Their most recent middle reader book is Things Are Not What they Seem, published by the MuseItYoung division of MuseItUp Publishing, and available in all formats. Their three latest adult novels are Kate and the Kid, a mainstream novel, Mind me, Milady, a mystery thriller, and Praise Her, Praise Diana, a thriller. Between projects, they started a web site www.randh71productions.com. In case you were wondering about the address, “R” is for Rothman, “H” is for Hicks, and “71” is the year of their marriage. No secret codes or numerology anywhere.
"Things Are Not What They Seem" Blog Tour Schedule (2015)February 20
* Blog Tour Giveaway *Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card or $50 PayPal cash prize, winner's choice Contest closes: March 19, 11:59 pm, 2015 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Driving Down to Dillon: A Very-Short Story of Love and New Beginnings
Merry Christmas, Woozler
Written and illustrated by Rhonda Paglia
Published 2014 Dec by Rhonda Paglia
Author, Illustrator Rhonda Paglia pens a darling Christmas-themed picture book for early readers, Merry Christmas, Woozler.
Paglia’s tale follows the adventures of Sofie and her imaginary friend, Meeda, who mirrors Sofie’s in appearance and who lives, well, Meeda actually lives in a mirror.
Though the book is the third in the author’s Meeda and Me Series, I had no problem jumping into this quick read. It was fun to meet Sofie and her family, along with the Woozler, a Grinch-like character who resides in the hollow of an apple tree.
Sofie narrates in her first-person voice, so we see the world through her eyes. And what a lovely world it is. The Yuletide plot focuses on the usual family preparations for the holidays. However, the story goes farther by teaching a sweet lesson about gratitude and giving when Sofie and Meeda decide to help the grouchy Woozler celebrate the season.
Paglia’s charming drawings are colorful and simply crafted in a style that reminds me of a Grandma Moses painting. The author adds kid-pleasing details: girls have spots of rosy cheeks and dress in Christmas sweaters and funky reindeer slippers that keep me smiling.
A string of Christmas lights ringing many pages brings a pleasing, consistent look. I especially like renditions of the grumpy Woozler. Paglia paints him as just enough to be eccentric without being scary to young readers.
In addition to the gentle lesson of gratitude and friendship, the author includes activity pages at the end of the book to notch up young readers’ engagement and cement their reading experience.
I highly recommend this delightful tale for children who are beginning readers. While Merry Christmas, Woozler features two girls, the titular character’s monster-tough personality will attract boys, too.
Its illustrations and message of love and giving will appeal to everyone, especially during the holidays. However, you’ll enjoy the book any time of year and give it an extra read in December as you and your young readers celebrate the season with Sofie, Meeda and the Woozler.
I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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