Sunday, October 22, 2017

Review: Lizzy the Lioness by Lisa Bevere, Illustrated by Kirsteen Harris-Jones


LIZZY THE LIONESS
by Lisa Bevere
Illustrated by Kirsteen Harris-Jones
Thomas Nelson
Picture Book Religious
32 pages
ages 3+



Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is ask for help! Encourage your little ones with the true meaning of bravery through the beautiful story of Lizzy the Lioness by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Bevere.

Boys and girls will love the story of Lizzy, a little lion who must learn what it truly means to be brave in the face of hard things. When she sees someone in danger, Lizzy tries her best to help, but she quickly learns that sometimes being brave means asking adults for help.

With a unique spin on the concept of bravery, Lizzy the Lioness is a timely picture book in an ever-changing world. Children will see that bravery is so much more than big muscles or loud roars but often is found in the tiniest people who have the courage to speak up when no one else will. By asking God for help and then bringing grown-ups into the picture, Lizzy shows kids that being brave doesn’t have to happen by yourself—it happens with help!

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Bevere’s first picture book will make waves with its unique and compelling message for families everywhere. Parents and children alike will enjoy the beautiful artwork as well as the story of communication and teamwork.

You don’t have to be the biggest to be the strongest, and you don’t have to be the loudest to be the bravest. Show your children God’s truest definition of bravery with the timeless story of Lizzy the Lioness.



MY TIDBITS


Lizzy is a lioness, which is sure to inspire kids and have them visiting her story again and again.

Lions are brave creatures, and Lizzy's family isn't any different. Being one of the youngest lions, she can't always accompany her parents on their adventures. Still, she enjoys life and the small adventures she has on her own. When a friend of hers runs into trouble, she's going to have to be brave to save her, but she isn't strong enough to solve the problem on her own.

Lizzy is a sweet lion, whose charisma and joy for life springs off of every page. Her family is kind, and even though she dreams of the day she is big too, she doesn't let it get to her and enjoys what she has. Still, she has an adventurous spirit, which young readers will love. Although the book holds a strong message, most of the story unfolds naturally and lets young readers fall into Lizzy's life and get to know her well. There are a couple spots where the tale suddenly switches to directly speak to the listener/readers, which pulls out of the flow, but the rest of the tale rolls across smoothly.

The illustrations are lovely and bring across the lions nicely. Kids will enjoy gazing at the pictures and get a chance to dive into Lizzy's life as a young lion.

The message is delivered clearly at the end. Although the trouble arises fairly quickly after Lizzy meets her friend, and the idea of calling the person a 'friend' is a little of a stretch, the warm and caring side of Lizzy makes her a heroine to cheer for. When she realizes that she needs to ask for help, her decision makes sense and never gives her the appearance of being weak. She remains a brave lioness through and through.

At the very end of the book, there's a note from the author as well as a few tips on how parents can discuss the theme with their kids and apply it to their own lives.

Summed up, it's a cute picture book with a great message, and young listeners are sure to love Lizzy.



I received a complimentary copy from Booklook Bloggers.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Review: The Canary Club by Sherry D. Ficklin with Giveaway





The Canary Club 

by Sherry D. Ficklin
Clean Teen Publishing
YA Historical, Romance






“Bad Luck” Benny is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Recently released from jail, he has vowed to keep his head down and stay out of trouble. But he also needs to care for his ailing sister and the rest of his struggling family, and he’ll do anything to make that happen—even if it means taking a position with a notorious crime boss. He soon finds himself in over his head—and worse still—falling for the one dame on earth he should be staying away from.
Masie is the daughter of a wealthy gangster with the voice of an angel and gun smoke in her veins. Strong-willed but trapped in a life she never wanted, she dreams of flying free from the politics and manipulation of her father. A pawn in her family’s fight for control of the city, and with a killer hot on her heels, she turns to the one person who just might be able to spring her from her gilded cage. But Masie is no angel, and her own dark secrets may come back to burn them both.
Two worlds collide in this compelling story of star-crossed lovers in gritty prohibition-era New York.
Perfect for fans of Beatriz Williams’ A CERTAIN AGE or Libba Bray’s THE DIVINERS, THE CANARY CLUB by Sherry D. Ficklin will entice Historical Romance fans of all ages. This Gatsby-era tale filled with dazzling speakeasies, vicious shoot-outs, gritty gangsters, and iridescent ingenues has also been compared to the television series Z: THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING and BOARDWALK EMPIRE.


Glitter and Gold (A Canary Club Prequel) is currently FREE!
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo




MY TIDBITS

The time of speakeasies, the Charleston and prohibition comes to life in this thrilling drama.

Benny is a good guy, trying to help his mother and siblings out. Masie is the daughter of a powerful gangster. When fate brings the two together, the chemistry is impossible to deny. But the world of crime, violence and manipulation not only makes it impossible for them to come together, it threatens to drag both of them under.

Opening the first page is like stepping back in time. The prohibition period reveals itself in all its sparkle, desperation and glory. The author has done her homework and masterfully lets the scenes come to life through carefully and cleverly dropped details, which never threaten to hinder the flow of the plot. The dialogue snaps with each character's personality, and these characters definitely have personality. Not only Masie and Benny pull attention to their situations and problems, but the side characters bring in their own spice and make the tale vibrant and alive.

Every page adds to the quick pace and tosses a bit more into the plot. There's never a boring moment as the layers of intrigue, secret power plans and desperation to survive breathe from every scene. This is not a subtle tale, but lets the violence and hunger for power unfold in its chilling reality.

The ending plan lacks a little clarity, but it does it's job and promises much more excitement to come. In other words, this is a read fans of gangster history, romance and crime are sure to enjoy.



EXCERPT

Lepke.
I roll the name around in my head like a curse.
Glancing back over my shoulder toward my room, toward June, I know what I have to do.
For the most part, it suits me just fine to let people think I’m just some silly girl, some empty-headed dame. Because what it means is that they never see me coming, never suspect me of being capable of doing terrible things.
But I am my father’s daughter.
I was born to violence like a fish is born to water. It’s part of me, part of who I am. All my life I’ve watched the people around me suffer—the women most of all. It’s a fact of this life that more often than not, shots are fired, grievances aired, and warnings sent through the women around the powerful men. They are soft targets. Disposable, but cared for enough to make a point.
In this business, women are nothing more than weaknesses to be guarded and fodder to be thrown when needed. Pawns in a game we aren’t even allowed to play. It’s one of the reasons I was so glad when Mother had sent me off to private school upstate. For a few months, I’d felt normal. Safe.
Being called back to the life after losing her was like suddenly having an axe hanging over my head again. For one dark, dark moment I’d considered running away—and I might have too. But soon enough I realized that this is where I belong, even if I might wish otherwise. I have to do what I can to protect my family, what family I have left. I know my part and I can play it as well as any Hollywood starlet. I know I should be appalled, bereaved that things like this come so easily to me now. But I let that grief, and the dreams of being anything other than what I am, go a long time ago. And so I stay. Cursed to walk the fine line between hero and villain, between vengeance and redemption.
But Lepke isn’t going to get away with this. Not this time.
I drag my hand through the water, mixing in the salts, cementing my plan in my head.
As soon as I deposit June in the tub I steal away to the den to make a call.
“Hello?” Vincent Coll’s groggy answer reverberates through the receiver.
My heart stutters at the sound of his voice. “It’s Masie. I need a favor.”
“What’s up, doll?”
I hesitate, biting my bottom lip. It’s then that I notice the smear of blood on my dress.
“I have blood on me, Vinny,” I say, more to myself than him, but his tone heightens.
“Are you alright?” He’s awake now, alert and sharp.
“It’s not my blood,” I clarify. “It’s the blood of someone I care about, though.”
He calms again, “What do you need?”
“Lepke Brewer,” I spit the name, unable to quite put into words how I want him to suffer. How much I want him to hurt.
On the other end of the line there’s a deep sigh, followed by the sound of a lighter flicking and Vinny taking a long drag. Despite being someone I once cared about greatly, Vinny is a dangerously unstable man on a good day. I know he’ll do what I’m about to ask without breathing a word of it to anyone—not out of loyalty to me or sympathy for June and what had happened to her, but for the sheer opportunity to level some brutality on a rival. Most people call him Mad Dog, thanks to his reputation for being about as well tempered as a rabid animal. But to me, he’s just Vinny, the young boy who’d come to stay with us after being expelled from the Catholic Reform School his mother had abandoned him to. We’d spent our formative years together, thick as thieves and practically family, until he took up the roll as Daddy’s enforcer and hit man. He’d changed after that.
Hell, we’d both changed. And neither of us for the better.
I roll the memory of him around in my head, biting the inside of my cheek as I decide what to say next. We haven’t been close in a very long time, and that’s the way it has to be. It might have been something more once, or maybe I just wanted there to be something there that never was. He’d kissed me exactly once, and it had been enough to sear itself into my memory, only to be buried beneath piles of disappointment and choices neither of us can take back. He has to be hard to do what he does, with no weaknesses for our enemies to exploit. And if I’m being honest, it’s the darkness in him that terrifies me. Not because I don’t understand it, but because I do. I know exactly how easy it would be to allow myself to be consumed by the violence of this life—and how good I would be at it.
But that’s not the person I want to be.
Even so, here I am, about to ask him to do the dirty work for me, just so I can keep my hands just a little bit clean.
“You want him taken care of?” he asks finally.
I suck in a breath before answering. Yes, I want him dead. I want him wiped from the face of the earth so he can’t ever hurt anyone ever again. I imagine myself saying yes. I imagine myself throwing a fistful of dirt onto Lepke’s coffin as it’s lowered into the ground. And then I imagine trying to look myself in the mirror every day after that.
“I want him to hurt,” I say after a moment. “I want him to be broken to the core of him. But leave him breathing.”
Leave it to Vinny to echo my own fears back to me. “You sure about this, Mas?” he asks, taking another drag and exhaling it slowly. “It’s not going to keep you up at night?”
It’s a barb from an accusation I’d leveled at him the last time we spoke, when I’d asked how he slept at night, after all he’d done. His answer had been crude and aimed to hurt me. Mine would be much kinder.
“I suppose I will have to find a way to live with myself,” I answer, keeping my tone indifferent.
He hangs up without even saying goodbye.
I hold the receiver in my hand for a few heartbeats before returning it to its cradle. JD is being groomed to take over the family business and –despite daddy’s constant berating that he’s too soft-hearted or slow-witted or whatever insult he feels like hurling in the moment for the job—I’ve never stepped in and asked for a place in the business. I’m just the girl, after all, to be coddled and protected and mollified. I’d been surprised that he let me worm my way into the club as it’s headline singer rather than being shipped off to wherever. Now, I can’t help but wonder, if Daddy had seen me tonight, if he might rethink the line of ascension.
And I can’t help but wonder what life would be like for me if he did.




Author Bio: 
Sherry is the author of over a dozen novels for teens and young adults including the best selling Stolen Empire series. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she's on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
Sherry also writes contemporary romance under the pen name SJ Noble. You can find her at her official website, www.sherryficklin.com, or stalk her on her Facebook page www.facebook.com/sherry.ficklin. 



XBTBanner1

Friday, October 20, 2017

Review: Dough Knights and Dragons by Dee Leone, illustrated by George Ermos


DOUGH KNIGHTS AND DRAGONS
by Dee Leone 
Illustrated by George Ermos
Sterling Children's Books
40 pages 
ages 4 and up



In a mythical kingdom, a knight and a dragon cook up a delicious plan to save their friendship!

In Dough Knights and Dragons, a curious knight and an amiable dragon meet serendipitously, and instantly bond over their shared love of baking. But the friends are filled with sadness when, according to the law, the two must duel one another. Can the unlikely pair find a way to evade the law, save their friendship, and spread good throughout the land? Kids will devour this scrumptiously clever tale!

“Cookery and chivalry mix together well in this cream puff of a tale.” – Kirkus Reviews

"The lighthearted tone set by the clever title is reflected in the brief, buoyant, rhyming text, and further heightened by the cartoon style of the vividly colored digital illustrations." –Booklist
 



MY TIDBITS

Dragon and knight come together to form a delicious adventure with a sweetly delightful end.

When a knight runs across a cave filled with cooking and baking supplies, he does the only thing he can—cooks a pot of stew. The dragon catches a whiff and both are soon feasting, baking and becoming great friends. But with the big festival coming up, where knights and dragons are forced to fight, their friendship may come to an end.

Fire-breathing dragons, valiant knights and yummy desserts—this is the recipe for a wonderful tale, and it works. Through cute rhymes, the reader follows a heart-warming friendship between a knight and dragon as they learn they have something in common: cooking and baking. Readers will lick their lips at the tasty creations these two make. The harmonious friendship simply brings smiles. When the problem arises of the upcoming festival, the characters come up with a clever solution, using the one thing that connects them. The suspense is there, but it never over powers the strength of friendship and working together.

The illustrations are bright and invite to gazing. Kids will enjoy flipping through them and following the story on their own. The characters' emotions come to life, and even the more tense moments come across clear. Of course, the desserts look good enough to take bite of.

This is a lovely mixture of adventure and food, and offers a loving message, too. Both of my kids announced this one as their favorite picture book of the year, and who am I to argue with them?



TRAILER



And here they are. . . 

The author. . . 
Dee Leone is the author of Bizz and Buzz Make Honey Buns (Grosset & Dunlap). Many of her stories, poems, plays and activity puzzles have appeared in children's magazines. Dee taught at the elementary level in several states and was also a gifted program aide. Dee lives in the San Diego area and is available for interview.
Visit Dee online at www.deeleone.com to see an activity kit for DOUGH KNIGHTS AND DRAGONS! Follow her on Twitter at @DeeLeone3.


The illustrator. . .

George Ermos studied illustration at the University of Lincoln. He lives in the UK.


Cover Reveal: Right Gift. Wrong Day by Natalie Decker




Right Gift. Wrong Day 
by Natalie Decker
Offsides, #1.5
Swoon Romance

YA Contemporary, Romance



COMING. . .
NOVEMBER 24th!!!





Tyler Richardson is freaking out! Not only did he invite his new girlfriend to meet his entire family, this is also the day they will exchange gifts. But what do you get a girl after dating for only two weeks? Should he listen to his friends and just give her a card, or should he ask for a second opinion?
Layla can’t believe she agreed to have dinner with Tyler and his family. What if they don’t like her? To make matter’s worse, they agreed to exchange Christmas gifts. The boy already has everything. And what if she gets him something that’s nicer than what he gets her? That would be really awkward. Asking him what he would like is completely out of the question. Maybe she should ask his friends for help.
After a rocky start, Tyler and Layla’s relationship is everybody’s relationship goals. But can Tyler and Layla survive the holidays without losing their cool?
RIGHT GIFT WRONG DAY is a hilarious companion novella to RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER from Natalie Decker.


And here she is. . .
Natalie Decker is the author of RIVAL LOVE series and the Scandalous Boys series. She loves oceans, sunsets, sand between her toes, and carefree days. Her imagination is always going, which some find odd. But she believes in seeing the world in a different light at all times. Her first passion for writing started at age twelve when she had to write a poem for English class. However, seventh grade wasn't her favorite time and books were her source of comfort. She took all college prep classes in High school, and attended the University of Akron. Although she studied Mathematics she never lost her passion for writing or her comfort in books. She's a mean cook in the kitchen, loves her family and friends and her awesome dog infinity times infinity. If she's not writing, reading, traveling, hanging out with her family and friends, then she's off having an adventure. Because Natalie believes in a saying: Your life is your own journey, so make it amazing!
Find out more visit: www.authornataliedecker.com 


XBTBanner1

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Review: Awoke by K.T. Conte with Giveaway




AWOKE
 The Want Series
by K.T. Conte
324 pages
YA Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
SugarCane Publishing

COMING. . .
October 2017!!!

Tour dates: Sept 25 to Oct 27, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (mainly bad language)



Katya leads a normal life any teenager would be envious of – popular, pretty and dating the high school elite. Not she enjoys the spotlight, mind you. She wants everyone to believe she is normal.

But when Katya sees the real reason behind the earthquakes plaguing everyone in Boston, the truth rattles and shatters the perfect normal illusion Katya created for herself. An ability to see unearthly creatures and manipulate waves of life energy labels her as anything but normal. And it’s an ability that attracts unwanted and dangerous attention.

She reluctantly finds herself in the company of Gregor, a handsome member of an international spirit military team called the Kyrios. Her simple decision to help thrusts Katya in a world of the undead spirits, betrayal and a perpetual battle between undead monsters and the wardens that keep them in their place.

Katya must decide whether she values the simple and easy life she created for herself over the complex and difficult world now asking her to stand and fight.


Buy the Book:


iTunes ~ Kobo ~ Bookshout


Format available for review: print & ebook (mobi, ePub, PDF)

Will ship print books to: Internationally


MY TIDBITS

Packed with action and after-life intrigue, there's something unexpected at the turn of every page .

Eighteen-year-old Katya's biggest fear is being deemed as 'weird', although her life appears to be pretty normal—high school, boyfriend, up-coming graduation and a little popular-girl-with-an-attitude problem thrown in. Nothing special. If it weren't for the sudden visions, that is. When a night out for her friend's birthday ends in an alley with a monster attack, Katya's visions are the least of her troubles. 

This story takes a whole new twist on the battle between heaven and hell, and throws an exciting heroine into the mix. Katya is not a push-over. She has her self-doubt issues like every teenage girl, but she's got friends who have her back and a mouth work to make any target of her vengeance cringe in fear. This book does have bad language, and it does a great job of reflecting a normal, average teen, who likes to hang out every now and then. The decisions, concerns, dialogue and attitudes fit the age group well and flow naturally.

Monsters, special powers and dangerous battles make this into an action-packed, paranormal read. The stakes and tension remain high through-out the book, and danger always hangs in the air. But there's also intrigue and all sorts of hidden agendas—some of which hint at many things still to come. It's a classic battle of good versus evil, where it's clear that the sides are going to grow foggier as the tale goes on. In other words, lots of twists and turns, and delightful evil plans. There are a few stumbles in the first chapters as the information about the complex world filters in, leaving a little confusion, but as the story gets under way, the action and plot take over and the read is hard to put down. The end again almost lost me as it suddenly sped up to pack everything in, but it pulls through into a high stakes climax with a fairly wrapped up closing. The loose ends don't frustrate but guarantee and interesting book to come.

And there's romance. This one hits more of a New Adult level, not so much because of the content but because of the characters. The hero is in his mid-twenties (otherwise, several hundred years old) and the attitudes come off much more mature from his side. The romance is a mixture of building friendship, but then with sudden closeness built in, making it not as smooth as it could have been but still, a joy to read and watch. 

Summed up, this is a fun, action packed read. It's easy to get emotionally involved with Katya, fear for the world around her and sit back and enjoy one tense scene after the other. Friends of heaven vs. hell battles (with a different twist) who love a little romance and paranormal fun are sure to enjoy reading this one.



And here she is. . .




K.T. Conte is a lover of books, people and all things wild and crazy. She received her B.A. in English from Boston College and her law degree from Suffolk University Law School. While she has and continues to be a licensed attorney, her first love has always been books from the tender age of 2. Originally from Massachusetts, K.T. currently lives in New York City with the monsters in the closet, her husband Everett, a couple of building fairies and her dog, Champ.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Nov 4


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Forsake by Andrea Pearson with Giveaway

Forsake banner

This book blitz is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The book blitz takes place on 19 October. See the tour schedule here.

Forsake

Forsake

by Andrea Pearson
YA/NA Urban Fantasy

Release Date: 18 October, 2017


Tour organized by Lola's Blog Tours
(tour schedule here)


Vicious shifters are on the hunt and will devour anything that stands in the way. And getting in the way is exactly what Nicole must do.

Nicole Williams hopes for nothing more than to Restart like any normal Arete and gain access to the magic she’ll possess. But when she does Restart, she’s accused of gruesome murder, and she learns she must travel halfway around the world to save her best friend’s life.

Knowing that the evil Hounds of Tindalos are hot on her tail and that they’ll stop at nothing to kill her before she hides her best friend from them forever, she invites her boyfriend, Conor, to come along as backup. But Conor’s plans may not line up with hers.

Danger, intrigue, and harrowing fights with evil await you in Forsake, a Mosaic Chronicles novel. Start reading now to immerse yourself in the adventure!


You can find Forsake on Goodreads

You can buy Forsake here on Amazon


And here she is. . .

Andrea Pearson
Andrea Pearson is an avid reader and outdoor enthusiast who plays several instruments, not including the banjo, and loves putting together musical arrangements. Her favorite sports are basketball and football, though several knee surgeries and incurably awful coordination prevent her from playing them.

Andrea graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor of science degree in Communications Disorders. She is the author of many full-length novels (the Kilenya Series and Mosaic Chronicles) and several novellas. Writing is the chocolate of her life - it is, in fact, the only thing she ever craves. Being with her family and close friends is where she's happiest, and she loves thunderstorms, the ocean, hiking, public speaking, painting, and traveling.

You can find and contact Andrea here:
- Website
- Blog
- Facebook page
- Facebook profile
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Amazon
- Pinterest
- Newsletter

GIVEAWAY!

There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Forsake. One winner will win a $50 Amazon Gift Card! US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Interview with Galia Oz, author of Dog Trouble



DOG TROUBLE!
by Galia Oz
Crown Books for Young Readers
144 pages
Middle Grade Contemporary
Ages 8-12




Readers who have graduated from Junie B. Jones and Ivy & Bean will fall head over heels for feisty Julie and her troublesome new dog.
 
Julie has only had her dog for two weeks, but she is already causing all sorts of problems. For starters, she is missing! Julie suspects the school bully Danny must be behind it. But it will take some detective work, the help of Julie’s friends, and maybe even her munchkin twin brothers to bring her new pet home.

Wonderfully sassy and endlessly entertaining, the escapades of Julie and her dog are just beginning!

Julie’s adventures have sold across the globe and been translated into five languages. Popular filmmaker and children’s author Galia Oz effortlessly captures the love of a girl and her dog.

"A funny exploration of schoolyard controversy and resolution.” –Kirkus Reviews 

"Will resonate with readers and have them waiting for more installments.” –Booklist  

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


EXCERPT


My puppy, Shakshuka, disappeared. It happened when my dad was away on a business trip and my mom was in one of her worst moods ever because Max and Monty had both just had their vaccinations and they both had reactions and they didn’t sleep all night. Max and Monty—­I called them the Munchkins for short—­ were babies and twins and also my brothers, and every­ one knew that if there were two babies in the house, no one was going to pay any attention to a dog, even if she was only a baby herself.
At night, I lay awake in bed and I was cold, and I remembered that once on TV I saw pictures of a hun-gry dog that was really skinny whose family went on
a vacation and left him tied to a tree. And they said that the SPCA couldn’t take care of all the dogs that were abandoned by their families. And I thought about Shakshuka, who was gone and might be tied to a tree at that very minute, hungry and missing me.
The next morning in class, Brody told me there was no way that Shakshuka had been stolen. “No way, ­Julie!” he said. “Why would anyone bother? You could get five dogs like her, with spots and stripes, for less than ten dollars.” Or maybe he said you could get ten dogs like her for less than five dollars. Brody said things like that sometimes, but most of the time he was okay. When Max and Monty were born, he said that was it, no one at home would ever pay attention to me again, and when I cut my hair short, he said it was ugly.
I turned my back on Brody and pretended to listen to Adam. He sat at the desk next to mine and spent his whole life telling these crazy stories.
Adam said, “My father won f‑f-­fifty thousand, do you get it? In the lottery. He’s g‑going to buy me an i‑P‑P . . .” People didn’t always listen to Adam because he stuttered, and they didn’t always have the patience to
wait until he got the word out. This time Brody tried to help him finish his sentence.
“An iPod?”
“N‑not an i‑P-­Pod, you idiot. An i‑P-­Pad.”
Brody called Adam “Ad-­d-­d-­dam” because of his stutter, and because he liked to be annoying. But he was still my friend, and that was just how it was, and anyway, there were lots of kids worse than he was.
I cried about Shakshuka during morning recess and Danny laughed at me because that was Danny, that was just the way he was, and Duke also laughed, obvi-ously, because Duke was Danny’s number two. But at the time I didn’t know that they had anything to do with Shakshuka’s disappearance and kept telling my-self that maybe they were just being mean, as usual.
That Danny, everyone­ was afraid of him. And they’d have been nuts not to be. It was bad enough that he was the kind of kid who would smear your seat with glue and laugh at you when you sat down; that he and his friends would come up and offer you what looked like the tastiest muffin you’d ever seen, and when you opened your mouth to take a bite you discovered it was really a sponge. But none of that was important. The problem was, he remembered everything­ that anyone had ever done to him, and he made sure to get back at them. The day before Shakshuka disappeared, Mrs.
Brown asked us what a potter did, and Danny jumped up and said that a potter was a person who put plants in pots, but Mrs. Brown said that was not what a potter did. And then I raised my hand and said that a potter was a person who worked with clay and made pottery.
Danny, who sat right behind me, leaned forward and smacked my head, and I said, “Ow.” It wasn’t too bad, but the teacher saw him and she wrote a note he had to take home to his parents. That shouldn’t have been so bad either, but later, when school got out, he grabbed me in the yard and kicked me in the leg. I went flying and crashed into the seesaw, where I banged my other leg as well.
Danny said, “If you hadn’t said ‘Ow’ before in class, the teacher wouldn’t have given me a note. Now because of you I’m suspended. That was my third note.”
Our school had this system that every time a kid hit another kid, he got a note he had to take home to his parents, and if it happened three times his par-ents had to come to school and the kid got sent home. My mother said it was mainly a punishment for the parents, who had to miss a day of work and come to school.
I could have told on him for kicking me in the yard as well. My bag flew off my shoulder and landed right
in the middle of a puddle, and Mom was really angry at me when I got home because we had to take out all the books and leave them out to dry and we had to wash the bag. I really could have told on him, but there wouldn’t have been any point. It would just have meant another note for him, another kick for me.
Thanks but no thanks.
In the evening, when the Munchkins went to sleep, Mom took one look at me and burst out laughing and said she wished that you could buy a doll that looked just like me, with scratches on her right knee, black dirt under her fingernails, and a mosquito bite on her cheek.
“It’s not a bite, it’s a bruise,” I told her. “And any-way, who would buy a doll like that?”
“I would,” said Mom. “But what happened to you? Take a look at your legs—­how on earth . . .”
“Ow! Don’t touch.”
“You look as if you were in a fight with a tiger.” That was so close to the truth that I blurted out the whole story about what happened with Danny. And I was really sorry I did that because that was the reason Shakshuka disappeared. Mom spoke to Mrs. Brown and she must have told her I was black-­and-­blue after Danny pushed me because the next day at school Mrs. Brown took me aside and told me that I had to let her know whenever something like that happened because otherwise Danny would just keep on hitting me, and other kids too, and we had to put a stop to it. Mrs. Brown meant well, but I knew that when it came to Danny, I was on my own.
Later, at the end of the day, Danny caught me again, this time when I was right by the gate. Maybe someone saw me talking to the teacher and told him. Suddenly I was lying on the ground with my face in the dirt. I must have shouted because Danny told me to keep quiet.
Then he said, “Tell me what you told Mrs. Brown!” “Let me get up!” I yelled.
“First tell me what you told her.”
“Let me get up!” My neck was all twisted, but somehow I managed to turn to the side and I saw two first graders walking out of the building toward the gate.
Danny must have seen them too because he let me go, and when I stood up he looked at me and started
laughing, probably because of the dirt on my face, and I decided I’d had enough of this jerk. I saw red, no matter where I looked I saw red, and without think-ing about what grown-­ups always taught us—­that we shouldn’t hit back because whoever hit back would be punished just like the one who started it—­I threw a plant at him.
At the entrance to our school there was this huge plant. The nature teacher once told us that it grew so big because it always got water from this pipe that dripped down into it, and also because it was in a pro-tected corner.
It was a shame about the plant, it really was. And it didn’t even hit him. It crashed to the ground halfway between us. Then Mrs. Brown came. And without even thinking I told her that Danny knocked me down and then threw the plant at me.
“But it didn’t hit me,” I said, and I looked Danny straight in the eye to see what he’d say.
Danny said I was a liar, but Mrs. Brown took one look at my dirty clothes and she believed me. And be-cause of me he got into serious trouble. They didn’t only make his parents come to school and suspend him for a day—­after the incident with the plant they also told him he’d have to start seeing this really horrible counselor every Wednesday. The kids who knew him said his office stunk of cigarettes and he was a real bore.
That was why Danny found a way to get back at me. He said, “Just you wait.” That was exactly what he said: “Just you wait.” And I did wait because I knew him. But Shakshuka didn’t wait and she couldn’t have known how to wait for what ended up happening to her.



INTERVIEW

Welcome to Bookworm for Kids, Galia! What an interesting background you have.  

Did studying film and television help strengthen your writing skills?

Of course, studying film was a huge advantage, but it was the practical work – directing four documentary films for television – that was truly significant. As a documentary director, I had to become a storyteller; Every decision, even such as where to place the camera, can significantly affect the plot. The editing process is a good lesson for every writer: It taught me how dramatic the connection between opposite elements can be, and how to cut at the right moment, and especially the power of minimalism.


Dog Trouble has quite an interesting background as well. It’s an award winning series that was published in France, Spain and Brazil and ended up in the U.S. by Crown Books (Random House). Was that a shock that one of the major U.S. publishers accepted your book and what do you believe they saw in your book that made them want it?

Random House's choice to publish the Dog Trouble series was a great honor for me, and I am grateful to my editor Phoebe Yeh for trusting in a writer that no one has ever heard of in the States. I can only hope that she found in the book the same qualities critiques on the other side of the globe did: joy of life, honesty, and the sense that the text speaks directly to the child's soul and not over his head. And humor, of course! How amazing it is that humor is not always lost in translation.


Your series is based around dogs. Do you have any?

Of course, I have a 17-year-old dog who now has trouble getting up the stairs, and everyone in the house is crazy about him. My kids who are now in their early twenties come to visit and still cuddle him. He was always there for them, in their childhood. What a privilege it is for a child to grow up in a house with a dog. A dog is a teacher of love and empathy. I also have a cat. But cats teach you other things about life…


Which book in the series do you consider the best?

The fifth and final book in the series, The Great Lemon Robbery is in my opinion the best, and is also closest to my heart in terms of the themes it deals with. But it has yet to be published in the States.


Will there be more in the series in the future?

The Dog Trouble story of a group of children and a dog told from the perspective of Julie, its central character, has come to an end. But a few months ago, a new book of mine was published in Israel. It tells the story of Mikey, a child growing up in a less than desirable home situation who tries to save himself through friendship with a girl from a very different background. He isn’t much of a talker and has behavioral problems, and she, on the other hand, is eloquent and reads books, and on the surface they share little in common. By the way, in this book dogs are also given a place of honor.




And here she is. . .


Galia Oz was born in Kibbutz Hulda, Israel, in 1964. She studied film and Television in Tel Aviv University 1984-87.

Her award winning series of 5 books titled DOG TROUBLE was published in France, Spain and Brazil – and recently in the US by CROWN BOOKS Random House. The series is a steady seller in Israel for over 10 years (selling over 150,000 copies). 

Oz has directed several documentaries, all screened in international film festivals, and in Israeli leading television channels.

Over the years, Galia Oz has been meeting thousands of readers in Israeli elementary schools, and taught creative writing and classic children's literature to kids in public libraries.

Galia Oz is married and has two kids, a dog and a cat, and they all live in Ramat Hasharon, just outside Tel-Aviv.