Guest Blogger: Ellis Weiner, Author of The Templeton Twins Have An Idea (GIVEAWAY)

Suppose there were 12-year-old twins, a boy and girl named John and Abigail Templeton. Let’s say John was pragmatic and played the drums, and Abigail was theoretical and solved cryptic crosswords. Now suppose their father was a brilliant, if sometimes confused, inventor. And suppose that another set of twins—adults—named Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean, kidnapped the Templeton twins and their ridiculous dog in order to get their father to turn over one of his genius (sort of) inventions. Yes, I said kidnapped. Wouldn’t it be fun to read about that? Oh please. It would so. Luckily for you, this is just the first in a series perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever, and funny (just like the twins), and enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn’t?!).

Hearty Har Har

Do funny books have to have “heart”?  I’m seriously asking.

In entertainment, “heart” is a term of art meaning sentiment, warmth, poignancy, and feeling.  It’s most often used in Hollywood, in script development for television and movies.  “It’s got laughs, but it needs more heart,” is the standard producer’s criticism, based on the assumption that large audiences need to feel something nice in addition to getting laughs.  “We need to care about the hero,” they say, even with regard to the silliest comedies.

In fact, in the arena of big studio movies, you’re not going to get your comedy made without a touching, “redeeming” heart moment at the climax.  No matter how raucous or “wicked” the comedy, the protagonist is going to come to a serious emotional confrontation before it’s all over, either with his/her antagonist or his/her self—even if it’s acted by Will Ferrell playing a completely unself-aware doofus.

There is nothing wrong with this.  It’s not (or, at least, it needn’t be) particularly dishonest, manipulative, or sentimentally phony.  Still, many comedy writers chafe at it, fearing—with cause—that a script heading toward a heart-rich climax will have to pull its comedic punches en route, lest the heart moment seem arbitrary and unearned.

Television provides a little more leeway; you can, and actually have to, provide less heart per episode.  A season of thirteen weekly emotional climaxes can, especially to a modern audience more emotionally sophisticated than ever, seem labored and forced.  Famously, when Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld were creating Seinfeld, David’s controlling aesthetic was: “No hugging, no learning.”  “No heart” was implicit.

But the above examples deal with adult (and teenage) entertainment.  What about books for younger people—for, say, children ages 9-13?  I have no idea whether a climax characterized by heart is necessary or not.

In The Templeton Twins Have an Idea, the climax of the action occurs when the bad guy is (literally) shot down and, with the other bad guy, flees in disgrace.  But the story itself has one more turn, which by any reckoning can be called a “heart” moment.  It deals with the twins realizing why their father felt it necessary to move to a new place.

I wrote that section because it felt like a legitimate aspect of an “origin story,” the first in a series.  And one or two reviewers praised it as “touching.”  I liked that.

But constitutionally, I don’t like heart—or, rather, I don’t mind reading it, but it doesn’t come naturally to me, the way parody and exaggeration does.  So recently, when I wrote the second in the series, I assumed I had to include a heart-ish moment at the end, and did so more out of a sense of obligation than anything else.

The funny part, though, was that, either because I was merely being dutiful (i.e., my heart wasn’t in it), or the story simply didn’t sustain it, my editor asked that it be cut.  As I recall, her hand-written comment about the scene was, “MEH.”  I was quite happy to agree.  What remains is a small exchange between the twins and their father, in which he praises them for doing something nice for a friend.

As heart moments go, it’s a small one.  In fact it barely qualifies.  In any case, I’m not so sure kids need a “touching” moment to help them “care” about the protagonist.  Once they commit to reading a story, they care plenty.  I’ll be interested to hear how readers react to the happy, but relatively heartless, conclusion of the second book.

Visit http://www.scribd.com/doc/94086414/The-Templeton-Twins to read a chapter excerpt from The Templeton Twins Have An Idea.

Stop by and pester the Narrator at http://templetontwins.tumblr.com/

WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA!

Simply leave a comment that answers the following question: “Do funny books needs to have a ‘heart’?”.

Please remember to add your email address to your comment, so we can contact you if you win. Contest is open to those 18 years of age or older residing in the United States and Canada. Winner will have 72 hours to respond with a shipping address before a new winner is selected. Prize will be sent directly to the winner from the publisher or its representative. This blog is not responsible for products lost or damaged in shipment. Contest ends at 11:59 PM EST on Sunday, September 30th.

Visit Book Dreaming today at http://shannonkodonnell.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-templeton-twins-blog-tour-giveaway.html for another chance to win a copy of The Templeton Twins Have An Idea!

Be sure to tag #TheTTNarrator and/or @ChronicleKids when you Tweet about The Templeton Twins!

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Popular Clone by M. E. Castle

A hilarious scientific adventure story, Popular Clone by M. E. Castle is a must read!

Fisher Bas is a twelve-year-old, geeky science genius at Wompalog Middle School. The son of Nobel Prize-winning parents, he struggles to fit in, while being accosted on a regular basis by overgrown goons he calls the Vikings. Tired of being picked on and listening to his parents’ claims that things will get better, Fisher uses his mother’s revolutionary Advanced Growth Hormone to create a clone, which he names Fisher Two. From the comfort of his home lab, Fisher spends the day playing video games and working on his latest inventions, while Fisher Two navigates middle school. It’s a brilliant plan, until Fisher Two becomes more popular than the real Fisher, and is then kidnapped by the evil Dr. X., sending Fisher on a dangerous adventure to rescue his clone.

Oh my gosh, I can’t tell you how much the girls and I laughed while reading this book. The Lil Diva (11) and the Lil Princess (8) thought this was the best story. Not only do you have a unique take on bullying, between the crazy inventions, hilarious artwork, a flying pig, and the antics of numerous characters, how can kids not love this book. What I enjoyed most is that it tackles the topic of bullying in a light, fun manner. Bullying is a serious issue. And what this book teaches kids–though they might not even know it–is that there is a time when you will come into your own. That just because you’ve been a victim of bullying once, doesn’t mean you will be forever. Fisher’s journey after creating Fisher Two is one fueled by his jealousy over his clone’s popularity, that is then tempered by his desire to save his genetic counterpart when he’s in danger. Fisher must move outside of his comfort zone and see what he is made of in order to rescue Fisher Two. It’s not easy for every victim of bullying, but the more books that provide young people with relatable characters who do face up to or deal with their bullies, the more empowered these victims will be.

Middle-grade boys are sure to love Popular Clone for its antics and adventure. But girls will find many things to like about it too. Fisher and Fisher Two are great characters that provide tons of silly moments, and some tender ones too. Any youngster who enjoys science will get a kick out of this book.

This is the first book in a series by debut author M. E. Castle. The second book of The Clone Chronicles is now available.

Highly recommended.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Reading level:Ages 8 and up
  • Hardcover:320 pages
  • Publisher:EgmontUSA (January 24, 2012)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1606842323
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606842324
  • SRP: $15.99

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Farmer Boy Goes West by Heather Williams

Farmer Boy Goes West by Heather Williams is the story of fourteen-year-old Almanzo Wilder going West with his parents, older sister Alice, and baby brother Perly.

Mother receives a letter from her brother George, who lives in Spring Valley, Minnesota. He encourages the Wilders to pay him and his new wife a visit to see if they would like to move there.

It takes months of preparations, but once winter is over, the Wilders board a train to start their journey to Spring Valley. Royal and Eliza Jane are being left behind to watch the farm in Malone, New York. Almanzo is excited to go, but he knows he will miss his horse, Starlight.
Farmer Boy Goes West is a superb addition to the Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House legacy. Meant to serve as a sequel to Wilder’s Farmer Boy, this story of a teenage Almanzo going West captures all the excitement and adventure of the original Little House books, while providing some insight into the man Laura Ingalls would eventually marry.

A healthy blend of fact and fiction, Williams captures the essence of the original Little House books, while maintaining an air of her own style. The events in this book are condensed to two years instead of the five years it actually took for the Wilders to make their move from New York to Minnesota. She also took liberties with some of the historical characters. I don’t feel that had a negative impact on the story, but those who are sticklers for facts might have an issue with it. I’m hoping not, since this is a truly delightful story. The only thing that really made me stop for a second came in the second chapter, when it said, “One day in January, soon after Almanzo’s fourteenth birthday…” Almanzo’s birthday is in February. While Wilder did play around with the Wilder siblings’ birthdays in Farmer Boy–making Almanzo closer in age to his older brother and sister–as far as I recall, she didn’t change the month Almanzo was born.

As with any great story, things aren’t always easy. Almanzo ends up having to attend a new school in Minnesota. He has to make new friends. He misses Starlight and Royal, maybe even his bossy older sister, Eliza Jane. He likes a girl at school, but is shy and has no idea how to get to know her. His Aunt Martha isn’t very happy about jamming the Wilders into their tiny home.

There are also some neat surprises and interesting historical characters added in, but you won’t know what or who those are unless you read the book.

I’m thrilled to add Farmer Boy Goes West to my Little House collection.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (February 14, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061242519
ISBN-13: 978-0061242519
SRP: $15.99 

I purchased a copy of this book from Amazon. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Interview with SM Blooding, Author of The Hands of Tarot

SM Blooding lives in Colorado with her pet rock, Rockie, and Ms. Jack, who’s a real bird. She’s still learning to play the piano and guitar, which is going marginally better, and for those of you looking for an Arabic update, she has successfully learned one word, “Yalla, people yalla!”

She’s dated vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, weapons smugglers and US Government assassins. Yes. She has stories.

Her latest book is the YA steampunk, The Hands of Tarot.

Thank you for joining us today, Frankie. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

Well, right now, I’m in my fuzzy slippers because I decided to wear sandals – sandals, people – to an all-day walk-fest and my feet hurt. I learn everything via the School of Hard Knocks and what I learned today was that sand is a great exfoliator for the bottoms of your feet. The problem is that it doesn’t exfoliate the places you need it.

Oh, you mean something deeper? Oh, right, uh, *clears throat* Sorry. Let me put my Big Girl Shoes on. I am full-time writer and a full-time project coordinator for an electrical contractor, a part-time girl-friend, a half-time bird and plant feeder, and a slow-time mom. Sometimes, there’s even cooking involved. I like a wide variety of music, though not quite so much as my very good friend Queen Calisto. Right now, I’m listening to a thunder storm recording.

The thing I love to hear the most? Silence. I know. What’s that?

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I would love to say it was when I was in school, but it wasn’t. I always wrote, but I always drew, and crocheted, and played musical instruments (every woodwind including the bagpipes) and always—It’s safe to say I was always creative.

However, I would have to say that it was during those crazy years after MissSunshine was born. I barely remember those days. They’re such a haze. I was working a lot of hours. Had a brand new baby girl who was sick, so I wasn’t sleeping. Oh. Cranky. I was very cranky. That’s about all I remember.

Sometime during that, I was telling Miss Think a Dreamland Story (G-version only), and she said, “Mom, you should write a story about Luk.” I think it was just the look of hopeless romance in her big brown eyes. I don’t know. I just knew I had to write.

Then several years later, some really awful times hit. I lost my daughters to my parents’ custody, ran out of lawyer money, and basically lost everything. Everything. I had nowhere to go, no one to talk to and all this burning rage to deal with. So I turned to writing for another reason. That’s when it started getting goooooood. Before, it had potential. After I actually experienced real heartache – and it was real heartache – my writing got a LOT better.

Why did you decide to write stories for teens?

Those awkward years between childhood and adulthood are ROUGH! They can last for a good decade or two…okay, sometimes until a person reaches the age of fifty. It happens.

I originally wrote a book for my daughters. It started out as a way for them to see that things could be all right living with me. It turned it, what I really needed was some insight into their lives because, let’s face it, when people divorce (man and wife, daughter and parent) the people who are hurt the most, are the kids.

Once I got into that headspace,  a whole bunch of things opened up for me, and I realized that I really enjoy writing from the perspective of a person who hasn’t experienced so much that they feel old everyday. As a young adult/new adult, you’re in that sticky situation where every decision you make just gets bigger and bigger, and this is where you first find out what real “consequence” means! I love it. It’s just fantastic!

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

Oh, sometimes. There are times when I’ll be writing my young adult scenes, and a wizened thought enters into the narrative. I have to step back and go, “Now wait a minute here. I know Frankie knows this because she’s lived through X, Y and Z. But would Synn? Uh, no. So…how did you figure this out, Frankie?”

I wince, think deeply and see how to reinact my School of Hard Knock lessons in science-fiction/fantasy.

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

The discovery! There are just so many things that I take for granted. Why? Because I learned how to watch for people who don’t know how to use their blinkers, and I know how to spot the woman driving while doing her make-up and talking on the phone while grabbing something in the back for her kid. (You think I jest.) I’ve reached a certain level of numbness. Spot. Swerve. Avoid. The end.

Writing for young people is none of that. It’s experiencing every single second of every single day because you’re learning something new. Sometimes, it’s something you’ve done over and over again, but now there’s no one to help you and you’re learning to be dependable. *eyebrow raising nod* Oh, yes. I love this sense of discovery!

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Nix thinks she’s captured the ultimate prize, Synn. But is she strong enough to control him?

The story is about Synn El’Asim and the Seven Tribal Families. The four queens of the Hands of Tarot have control of the latest technologies, and the most powerful queen, Nix, wants control of the world. The Families are content to allow the Hands to live however they wish in their parts of the world, but as the Hands encroach on parts of the world where only the Families had been able to travel before, they soon realize the time of hiding has passed.

It’s not until Synn’s father is killed, and Synn is Marked while trying to save him that the fight becomes personal.  Queen Nix sees a powerful tool in Synn and she decides to use him against the Families.

The Hands of Tarot is about him, his friends and the Seven Great Families finding the courage to fight back and protect what’s theirs.

What inspired you to write it?

I’d just killed the main characters for another series. We’d made it through books 1-3 and were half way through 4. I love these characters, and we ended up failing because I didn’t push them hard enough. I was fed up, frustrated, weeping huge alligator tears. Two years worth of writing, gone!

But I couldn’t quit. I came up with a game plan for that series and decided to write something else. I needed a break. It was a little like splitting up with a long-time boyfriend, only these kids/characters were my best friends. I needed something totally different to write.

So I thought and thought.

Different. Hmm. How different? A different planet? Sure. I mean, I had several solar systems growing in my head, and I had this one that was ready for a book. What else? How about a male main character? All my main characters before were female. Mmm! That could be neat! Aahhh-ha-ha! What about the villain? I could have a supremely psychotic, vicious villain! YES!

This was going to be an adventure story of fantasmic proportions. *cue hero music* It was going to be epic. There were going to be fantastical discoveries, and Nikola Tesla was going to be the heroic inventor that he always should have been. I was excited! This was going to be the best book EVER!

Now, that’s all great, grand and glorious, but it’s nowhere near a plot, a character arc, or a setting. Not only that, but Sactuary was thinking the exact same thing and made Tesla, not only a hero, but a vampire. I just can’t compete with a vampiric genius hero. I had to find something else.

I set this to churn-mode, letting it run in the background. I made a solar system out of Styrofoam, hung it from my ceiling and watched it turn for long…well, minutes because I really can’t sit and do nothing for hours. I slowly built this world in my mind. I watched how my little planet coexisted with its solar system, and imagined the seasons.

Then, I bought a tarot deck. Why? Because I needed an eighth deck, obviously. I was kicking myself for buying it as I thumbed through the cards, getting familiar with the deck.

My brain exploded with ideas! I saw my villain. All of a sudden, there was a plot! I’d been working on this setting for so long, wondering if I was ever going to have a book to go with it, and boom! There it was with the Queen of Wands, The Devil, 3 of Wands, 10 of Swords and the Knight of Cups.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Amazon – Kindle

Amazon – Paperback

B&N – Paperback

Autographed copy   

What is up next for you?

Currently, I’m writing The Nightmare which should be out around Christmas. Though at this rate, it could be closer to the New Year. The Nightmare is book two of the Dreamland Stories, which is a great, fun series. OMW (Oh My Word), I’m having such a blast with it!

Then next is *squeals* book 2 of The Hands of Tarot, The Knight of Wands. I am SO excited to write this book! It’s screaming at me. There is so much happening in the back of my mind right now. It’s a really hopping place! We’re re-fitting airships, discovering how to make airfleets and our jellyfish cities (letharan cities) coexist, AND (tehehehe) I’m finding new ways to torment my hero.

I know, I’m evil! At least I’m writing about it. LOL!

Do you have anything else to add?

I’m always such a blabber. I love hearing from my fans! I especially love getting Tweets from you as you’re reading my book! LOL! Feel free to contact me anytime! I respond almost immediately!

OH! And before I forget! Starbucks has a new size! Trenta! I went in to my normal Starbucks and ordered a “Large-ish, soy tea, please.” The barrista laughed at me and asked, “You?  Want tea?” To which I replied, “What? Who said anything about tea?” Then like a crafty seductress, she pulled out the EXTRA large iced drink cup and asked, “Iced coffee, no room?”

I fell in love right then and there. It’s AMAZING!

Thank you for spending time with us today, Frankie. We wish you much success.

Visit SM Blooding on the web at  www.smblooding.com.

Stop by SM Blooding’s blog at http://www.smblooding.com/blog/.

Follow SM Blooding on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/SMBlooding

“Like” SM Blooding on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/smblooding

Check out SM Blooding at Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/101760130723468098926/posts

Follow SM Blooding at Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5234671.S_M_Blooding

Don’t forget to check out Colorado Paranormal Rescue: http://www.coloradoparanormalrescue.com/?q=content/about-us

~ ~ ~ WIN A SET OF TAROT DOLLS+ AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE HANDS OF TAROT ~ ~ ~

SM Blooding is giving away a set of Tarot Dolls and an autographed copy of The Hands of Tarot!

The Hands of Tarot - Tarot Dolls

Visit http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2012/08/05/pump-up-your-book-presents-the-hands-of-tarot-virtual-book-publicity-tour/ for details on how you can enter for your chance to win!

Guest Book Review: Masquerade by Cambria Hebert

Genre: Young Adult
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Otherworld Publications LLC (December 7, 2011)
ISBN-13: 978-1936593255
Rating: 4 stars
Available from Amazon

Golden girl Heven Montgomery had it all: the looks, the body, the talent, the popularity, the good grades, and she is (of course) a cheerleader. Life is perfect…until one day something dreadful happens. Heven is attacked by some horrific creature while walking home from the library and she ends up terribly disfigured. Her life goes from hero to zero in one foul swoop. She can’t even remember what really happened. She hides away from the world, dresses in unattractive clothing, and is left with only one true friend, Kimber. Then gorgeous hunk Sam Kavanagh arrives at her school and things change. Although Heven is sure Sam must be put off by her appearance, he is not. Only Sam sees Heven’s inner beauty, which is still part of her. However, Sam also has terrible secrets; he is not who Heven thinks he is. And he is consumed by guilt about it.
This is a different kind of YA love story, involving the paranormal. It also reverses the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ theme in an interesting way. Just as Beauty discovered the Beast’s inner worth, so does Sam see Heven for who she really is. Heven also rediscovers her sense of self worth. Told from multiple points of view, the story unfolds to reveal an astonishing array of twists and turns, keeping the reader guessing until the very last page.

Author Cambria Hebert has done well with this first novel, getting into the YA thought patterns and expressions, really conveying the emotional highs and lows of the YA experience. Love, the first fluttering feelings, the angst, and ecstasy, and the intensity of each moment are all well described. Emotion, drama, action, horror, and character development make this a YA novel that stands apart from the rest. There is some violence but it is in keeping with the paranormal angle and is acceptable. I found some coincidences a little too convenient and editing issues were distracting, but the story is compelling. YA and paranormal fans will love this book, especially since the ending leads the reader into the next story.

No monetary compensation was received for this review.

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

The Paladins DuBois by Patricia Donaruma Williford

“They look promising.  But are they prepared?”

“How could they be?  Better to ask, are they be willing to be dedicated?  Do they have courage and imagination?”

Eighteen years after the infants, Kai and Mahri DuBois, were separated and taken from La Forêt de Chênes for their own protection, they are called to return.  Appointed as Paladins, they receive their first charges from the Elders.  The twins must overcome the devastating act of treachery that tore their family apart, restore the integrity of the treasure they guard, and beat back the encroaching evil of La Famille DeMauvaise.

Filled with humor, action, and romance, The Paladins DuBois features an ensemble of distinctly different protagonists, who must, each in their own way, learn this lesson; “Love is strong enough to withstand anger, accept the truth, and embrace forgiveness.”  But this kind of love is not for the faint-hearted.  It demands courage, sacrifice, and the willingness to bare one’s soul.

Read an excerpt!

Mahri 

“Auntie Lina! Auntie Lina! Where are you? You are not going to believe this! I have a job offer. Well maybe not an offer, but an interview…or something. I don’t know but…it’s in the forest…” The redheaded dervish of energy known as Mahri Woods spun through the house. “Auntie! Where are you?” Unable to find her aunt, Mahri dropped cross-legged onto the couch and examined the envelope. No return address, no postage, it was sealed with wax and stamped with an odd signet. Caretaker? What could it mean? 

Her fascination for La Forêt de Chênes had often drawn her to the large bay window of her bedroom. But oddly enough, in spite of her curious nature and her aunt’s love of exploration, they had never ventured into the forest. In fact, the thought had never actually occurred to her until now. She tingled with a sense of anticipation as she read the brief contents again. Somehow, she felt that she had been waiting for this…summons? Maybe it would satisfy her ever-present, unshakable feeling that she had a missing piece.

Impulse rather than reflection being Mahri’s strong suit, she flew up to her room, threw a few things in her backpack, then left a message on her aunt’s voice mail explaining where she was going. Mahri couldn’t imagine that Lina, who had always encouraged her to embrace new

experiences, would object. Besides, she would call her again when she arrived at the forest. Mahri wheeled her bike down the sidewalk and headed toward Oakenwood Road.

From her vantage point in the cupola of the rambling old Victorian house, Angelina followed Mahri’s progress as she cycled off toward the forest. She had raised Mahri, homeschooling her and providing an eclectic education which produced an inquisitive, imaginative, and capable young woman. For eighteen years, Lina had kept watch on La Forêt de Chênes. Last night, when she saw the first glimmer of the fireflies high above the trees, she knew the forest was calling, and it was time to move Mahri to her destiny. So, early this morning, she had placed the envelope in the mailbox for her niece to find. Her eyes filled with tears. If all went as planned, it was likely that Mahri would find it hard to forgive her years of deceit.

Patricia Donaruma Williford is a believer in the power of stories of conflict between good and evil, and how character is developed when confronted with challenge.  A teacher, mother, and avid reader, Pat has lived in Colorado, Iowa, on Cape Cod, and currently calls Hampden, MA home.

  • Paperback:524 pages
  • Publisher:Booklocker.com, Inc. (September 1, 2012)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1621417719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1621417712

PURCHASE AT:

BOOKLOCKER

AMAZON

BARNES AND NOBLE

Back to Bataan by Jerome Charyn

It’s 1943. World War II is raging in Europe and the Pacific. But In New York City, eleven-year-old Jack Dalton is fighting a war of his own. Having lost his father in Bataan and wanting to protect his mother from the Germans and the Japanese, Jack desires to join the Army. His mother thinks one solider in the family is enough. Even his classmates don’t understand. Attending Dutch Masters Day School on a scholarship, they laugh at his idea of going back to Bataan with General MacArthur. When a classmate steals his girl, Jack is bent on revenge, putting him on a course to meet up with an articulate and charismatic ex-convict who turns his world upside down.

A huge fan of Jerome Charyn’s work, I was thrilled to learn this book was being re-released as an eBook and going on tour. Back to Bataan is an eloquently told story that provides a glimpse into one boy’s life in New York City during World War II. Filled with many engaging characters, this short book (101 pages) tugs at the heartstrings. It is clear that Jack is searching for a good male role model to replace the father he lost. His mother doesn’t understand him. His peers don’t understand him. And he is bullied by the rich students he attends school with. All this drama propels Jack to take certain actions that end up having severe consequences.

I’m a bit on the fence about this book. While the work of a master is evident in Charyn’s telling of Jack’s story, it doesn’t seem to be the right fit for the current YA market. The themes of the horrors of war, a boy’s search for a male role model, and being bullied are definitely topics today’s young people can relate to, but I don’t see Jack’s desire to join the Army and go back to Bataan with MacArthur as being easily understood or accepted by this age group. I’m not certain this story will fully strike a chord with them.

One of the things I think is interesting to note is that the characters on the new cover seem to be in their late teens, but Jack is only eleven in the story. It appears the idea was to attract an older audience, but I’m not certain that will happen because the main characters are so young; and some of the themes running through Back to Bataan are probably too obscure for younger readers. As a lover of historical fiction,I enjoyed the story. I’m just not sure how much of a hit it will be with its target market.

That said, you won’t find a more masterful storyteller than Jerome Charyn. His work is amazing. It digs deep into the heart and delivers meaningful stories that examine life with all its joys and sorrows.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • File Size:186 KB
  • Print Length:101 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage:Unlimited
  • Publisher:Tribute Books (June 21, 2012)
  • Sold by:Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

eBook
ISBN: 9780985792206
ISBN: 9781476119076
Pages: 98
Release: July 1, 2012
Kindle buy link – $2.99
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008DYK6C2?tag=tributebooks-20

Nook buy link – $4.95
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Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”

New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”

Since 1964, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.

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I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinions. I have not been compensated in any way for this review.