Archive for August, 2011
Huber Hill and the Dead Man’s Treasure by B. K. Bostick
(Digital ARC received from Cedar Fort Publishers.)
Huber Hill is having a rough time. At home his parents are always fighting, and at school he has no real friends and gets picked on daily by Scott, a bully whose life mission seems to be to destroy Huber. To top it all off, Huber’s twin sister, Hannah, is seemingly perfect, an athlete with good grades and tons of friends. The only time Huber feels truly happy is when he and Hannah visit Grandpa Nick, who tells them stories of his youthful adventure days and the hunt for Spanish treasure buried in mines in the mountains. When Grandpa Nick suddenly passes away, he leaves the twins a secret gift: a box with an old journal, a centuries-old map, and a single gold coin. The treasure is real!
In the meantime, a school conflict unexpectedly brings Huber and Scott together, and they start to build a strong friendship. When Huber’s parents announce a temporary separation, all three kids agree that it’s time to get away–time to search for buried treasure!
Unbeknownst to their parents, the three kids hike into the mountains on a camping trip to start the search, trying to decipher faded Spanish notes with the help of Grandpa Nick’s journal and slowly working their way closer to Tesoro de los Muertos. But no good adventure story would be complete without a bad guy: meet Salazar, a scarred, creepy, and blood-thirsty Spaniard who traveled across the world to claim the treasure for himself. (more…)
We are pleased to welcome author B. K. Bostick as he drops in for an interview on his virtual book tour! Bostick’s upcoming novel Huber Hill and the Dead Man’s Treasure is a great treasure-hunting adventure book for middle readers full of excitement, friendship, discovery, creepy villains, and mystery! Be on the lookout for it when it hits shelves October 1, 2011. (Review to follow!)
What inspired you to share it with the world? My grandpa. He would always tell me stories about Spanish treasure hidden up in the mountains. I always imagined going on these wild adventures to find the gold. As I grew older, I realized that the real treasures were the stories my grandpa told me. I’ll always remember those days sitting at his side listening as he showed me old maps, books, and artifacts. If there’s one theme to the story, it’s that relationships with friends and family are of much more worth than any kind of money.
Out of the three kids–Huber, Hannah, and Scott–which character do you relate to the most? Were any of them based on people in real life?
I was bit like Huber when I was young–more sober-minded and quiet, yet tenacious when I decided to do something. Grandpa Nick was based off of my own grandpa and Scott took on a lot of characteristics of one of my best friends.
In Huber Hill, you do a great job capturing the dynamic between siblings. Did you base Huber and Hannah’s relationship on your own family? What about the relationship between Huber’s parents?
I do have an older brother (we nearly fought to the death on many occasions). However, Huber and Hannah’s relationship I took from working with twin siblings during my time as a teacher. I noticed oftentimes that twins would be compared and sometimes one would excel the other in school, sports, what have you. Huber’s parents’ relationship I also took from many of the parents I observed while teaching. Their personalities and differences would always come out during parent teacher conferences.
In the stories I like to read, the villain is always rotten to the core. There are times you wonder about Salazar and even feel sorry for him, but there’s no denying the fact he cares about no one but himself. Some of his quirks and vocabulary were influenced by a certain Spanish teacher I knew (he’ll remain nameless). Salazar is just as tenacious as Huber, but their motivations polar opposites.
A lot of reviewers have been comparing Huber Hill to the movie “The Goonies”. Do you think that’s a good comparison, and did you make that connection yourself while writing?
I take that as a compliment. I love Goonies. I think Dead Man’s Treasure is focused on relationships and adventure. I’d say it’s more a combination of Stephen King’s Stand by Me and Goonies (two of my favorites growing up by the way). (more…)
Underground: Find the Light to Freedom written and illustrated by Shane W. Evans
In this unique picture book, Evans explores the emotional and physical journey of fugitive slaves running to freedom in pre-emancipation America. Evans pairs short, direct sentences (nineteen in all) with bold pictures in contrasting colors: dark blue with white and yellow, orange with brown and green. The portrayals of the trials of escaped slaves as well as a gratefulness for the help of others is achieved in absolute minimalism with phrases like “The darkness,” “the fear,” “Some don’t make it,” “the sun.” His beautiful illustrations pair well with the brief narration, and overall the book is successful and triumphant.
So here’s the problem: while other reviewers recommended Underground for ages through grade 3, I had a really hard time determining intended age range. The language is so simple it might be annoying to older readers, while the emotional and historical concepts behind the narration would be too old for younger kids. That said, it’s definitely worth using if an appropriate unit can be found, whether used as an (more…)
The Naming: The First Book of Pellinor by Alison Croggon (Pellinor series)
Maerad is nearly sixteen-years old, an orphan and a slave in the detestable holdings of Gilman’s Cot. Known for her “witch” powers, she manages to keep others at a distance while finding solace in her one escape, her music. Maerad knows true escape is impossible, so when a strange man named Cadvan appears in the stables one day and tells her he can save her–and that she is special–Maerad’s world is turned upside down.
Cadvan is a mystic bard, one from the schools of magic all across the continent. As they escape both Gilman’s Cot and the dangers Cadvan himself is running from, he begins to teach Maerad about her own “gift”, for she too has the power, a remarkably strong and unusual talent for one as untrained as herself. As they journey through wilderness, towns, and the schools of the bards, danger follows, and Cadvan begins to suspect that his meeting with Maerad was not mere coincidence. Together they explore a prophesy of the “Foretold One” who is to save the world from the Nameless One, a bard taken in to the dark forces of magic and politics who, though long thought dead, is returning to power. Is Maerad the prophesied bard, or is Cadvan mistaken? Each adventure reveals new twists to the plot and new elements of magic, and Maerad seeks to come to terms with her new identity and abilities she never knew existed. Politics, battles, intrigue, and beautifully woven scenes make this book a page turner. Maerad is an absorbing character, both determined and unsure, and she grows with her knowledge and powers throughout the story. (more…)
How Did Slaves Find a Route to Freedom? And Other Questions About the Underground Railroad (Six Questions of American History) by Laura Hamilton Waxton
Whether you’re a kid curious about American history or an educator looking for some good classroom books, How Did the Slaves Find a Route to Freedom? is a good choice. Waxton’s non-fiction book covers major questions about the Underground Railroad, fugitive slaves, and the abolitionist movement, an important and difficult time in history. The book is based on six questions, one leading clearly into the next, and mixed media illustrations keep the information interesting through the use of photographs, maps, quotes, and newspaper clippings. Designed for student research, it’s full of interesting and well-organized information; I learned a lot, both specific facts and general history, and–nerd that I am–I enjoyed it.
Though mainly intended as a history source, Waxton’s book is also takes care to define a primary source of research and includes a follow-up activity that lets readers attempt to piece together their own narrative of what might have happened to an individual of the time. The back of the book contains a timeline that reiterates much of the book’s content as well as source notes, a selected bibliography, further reading recommendations, and a concise index. The publisher, Lerner Publications, also offers additional study materials online. (more…)
Ruby and I got the amazing opportunity to sit down and interview Meg Cabot, bestselling author of books such as The Princess Diaries! She’s a bright, spunky, and funny woman—sort of the Tina Fey of the kids’ and teen book world—and we had a great time meeting her and asking all our pesky questions, and then listening to her book talk afterward. Below is the transcription of our interview. Enjoy!
You write books for all different ages—kids, teens, adults. How do you gauge your writing for different age levels?
I just write the same way for everybody, but I leave out the swear words. If it’s for Allie Finkle readers and usually books for teens, there aren’t any. (My editor is a little bit strict, actually.) I’ve had the same editor for all of my teen books.
I really feel when I’m writing that I’m telling a story to a friend, and I don’t censor myself appropriately because I don’t have kids, so I don’t always know what’s okay to say to them. I try to be a little more age appropriate, but when I was a kid, my parents let me read anything I wanted, and if I had a question about it, I could go ask them. I don’t feel like there’s anything you can’t talk about around kids as long as you’re willing to explain what it is. When I write for young readers, I write like the way you would talk to a nine-year-old—not talking down to them.
Speaking of young readers, we love your kids’ series Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls—Allie is such a spunky, independent character! Is she based on anybody in your life? (more…)