Saturday, April 9, 2016

RI Author Feature: Hippo Hippo's Cranky Day by Eric Sturtevant

Synopsis: "Hippo Hippo is having a VERY cranky day! Her parents are trying so hard to make her happy, but she just keeps getting crankier. What can they possibly do to get her to play with them?
   Sounds like a problem all parents can relate to, huh? 
   Told with simple rhyme and Eric's delightful illustrations, "Hippo Hippo's Cranky Day" is dedicated to parents everywhere whose patience (sometimes) and love (always) help them get through even the worst cranky day their little hippo can have."
My Review: This is another great book from Eric Sturtevant. While it doesn't have the same comedic quality that Ducky Ducky Likes To Moo has, it will still make parents, who have experienced days like this, snicker.  Young children will enjoy the art and will maybe also start to identify with Hippo Hippo and those cranky days that only a meltdown and love will resolve.
My Rating: We really enjoyed this book, the illustrations have so much personality. It has been great for Munchkin to identify his own cranky days and that of others too. We give this one a rating of Four Paws.
I had the pleasure of meeting Eric Sturtevant at the RI Author Expo in December 2015. Be sure to check out his website for more information about his books and up coming events.
The only place you can get Eric Sturtevant's books is through his website or by meeting up with him at an event (or by checking out my post yesterday where I had an interview and giveaway)!

Friday, April 8, 2016

RI Author Feature: Interview with Eric Sturtevant & Giveaway

Hello everyone, I hope you have been enjoying my month long feature of Rhode Island Authors so far. I also hope you had a chance to check out my review yesterday of a Children's book called Ducky Ducky Likes to Moo, because I have with me today the author and illustrator of that book, Eric Sturtevant! Eric has kindly opened some time in his schedule for an interview with me to share with all of you.  I also have a surprise for you at the end of the interview so be sure to check that out too.  Oh and I will have a review of Eric's other Children's Book, Hippo Hippo's Cranky Day, tomorrow.
So how about I get things started . . .
Ang: So what came first the art or the story? Did you start out illustrating with writing a book in mind?

Eric S.: The art definitely came first. I started my career as a "touring" artist in 2007 making a living traveling to different art festivals, selling my work as decorative wall art for children's rooms. Always wanted to write books but the inspiration didn't really hit until I became a parent. Now I rely on my daily experiences for story ideas.

Ang: Do you have a favorite character to draw? Do any of your characters talk to you when you are drawing them (I can just picture the giraffe saying that you forgot to give him a spot on his neck or the lion telling you he doesn't want to be king today and would rather be drawn in a field of wild flowers)?

Eric S.: I don't necessarily have a favorite character to draw. It's more so I like the process of creating a character from nothing. I really really love sketching a new character...breathing life into it so to speak. Every detail matters, from its eye shape to the size of its feet, hair, skin're making these decisions as you put pencil to paper and making something that was once imaginary real. It's such a rush to step back and see a finished really feel like the design work is done. After that comes bringing depth and emotion to the character with movement and changes in position. All of this, in my opinion, is an answer to your question of if they speak to me. Not so much in a conversational way, but more so in how I feel as I create them. They sort of tell me if how I'm designing them is working or not. Hopefully that makes sense.

Ang: You stated on your website that you draw inspiration for your art style from cartoons, what was your favorite as a child? And what about the cartoons on TV now?

Eric S.: My favorites as a kid were anything Looney Tunes...Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, that sort of thing. Big fan of Woody Woodpecker, Mighty Mouse, Tom and Jerry. There was this terrific sarcasm to them and, in the case of Looney Tunes, real  social satire happening. I think the Simpsons does a great job today of picking up where the early  Bugs Bunny stuff left off. Lots of pop culture references and social commentary. I have to admit I'm way behind on today's cartoons. Save for the toddler stuff my daughter watches, I'm not at all up to date with what's on Saturday mornings now...or if Saturday morning cartons are even a thing anymore. I've completely dated myself with this answer.

Ang: It is clear from Hippo Hippo's Cranky day that you have drawn on some parenting experiences, what other experiences do you think you will write about?

Eric S.: That's definitely true. I have a whole series of early reader board books planned, with many different topics I hope to touch on that both children and parents can relate to. Lately a big "issue" in our house is patience, or the lack of coming from my daughter. She's 4 and its expected, but it's a daily struggle and one I'm trying to find the humor in. Have an idea for a story that I'm trying to hash out based on this.

Ang: Do you have any new books in the works? How long does it take you to illustrate and write a book?

Eric S.: So, yes, there are many more to come. It's usually a good three months of writing, illustrating and formatting the book in order to get it to look the way I want. Sketching is the longest process because, like I mentioned earlier, your pulling something straight from your imagination and it doesn't always want to cooperate. Once you get into the flow and things really start to click, its pretty magical what happens.

Ang: Since you just came back from vacation, what is a must see in Disney?

Eric S.: I have to say I was completely blown away by the experience. We celebrated my daughter's 4th birthday there and we had a ridiculous time. It's a bit of a cop out, but to answer your question I have to say all of it. Every ride or show we saw I walked out saying how the heck did they do that. That, to me, is a true measure of success and a major reason why that place works so well. I certainly can't deny the influence Disney has had on me as an artist. I know there are some out there who feel Disney is far too commercial and sort of over saturated, but walking around the park was an incredible experience because every language and nationality was represented by all the visitors. Disney's goal was to bring people from all over the world together and he certainly accomplished that. That's quite an artistic legacy.

Ang: Because this is Rhode Island Month on my blog, can you tell me your favorite fun thing to do in Rhode Island? Any special hidden place that tourists wouldn't know about?

Eric S.: I don't have any secret RI spots to recommend, but I will say one of my favorite places to go to is Roger Williams Zoo. We've had a family membership since my daughter was born and constantly go to walk around, observe the animals and really see the work they are trying to do to educate the public on conservation efforts and the need to protect animals. That's something that is very important to me.

Ang: Finally, as you say on your blog, you try to keep your book sales and interactions with fans personal instead of going through some large bookseller site.  Where can you be found next? Any events outside of the New England area in the future?

Eric S.: I'm starting to post my show schedule for the year as acceptances to art festivals come in. It's a nerve racking time of year because there is an application process for every show I participate in and there's no guarantee from year to year that you will be accepted. You have to wait until they notify you with the thumbs up or down. Anyway, I list them as I receive them. My next show is in April at Coventry High School. I'm always searching for new venues and new audiences to appeal to. It's a grass roots effort so its up to me to get the word out there and visit every town I can. I do a lot of shows outside of New England, including NY, NJ, Pennsylvania and Virgina/DC Area.
It changes from year to year but I travel often on weekends. It's hard work but very very satisfying..and it allows me to do something I really love.
If you would like to know more about Eric Sturtevant and his books or artwork you can find it on his Website and Facebook.
Eric Sturtevant is an illustrator and Children's book author who lives with his family in Rhode Island.  He creates unique and relatable characters and stories that he draws from personal experiences with young children and the cartoons that influenced him as a child. You can find him posting updates on Twitter @esillustrations and Instagram @eric_Sturtevant.  Also, be sure to check out his upcoming appearances on his schedule to see if he will becoming to an event near you!
Now I have a special surprise for all of you. Because Munchkin loved this book so much, I decided to purchase another copy of Ducky Ducky Likes to Moo to giveaway, along with an illustrated bookmark created by Eric Sturtevant!

Of course with anything else we have rules
~You must be 18 or older to enter (though there is nothing adult included)
~Enter the giveaway via the below Rafflecopter methods
 ~This is open internationally too (any incurred customs fees are your responsibility)
~Giveaway ends midnight on the 29th, winners will be announced the next day (I will be contacting you via email after the announcement for shipping information)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

RI Author Feature: Ducky Ducky Likes to Moo by Eric Sturtevant

Synopsis: "Ducky Ducky just won't quack. He'd much rather moo all day. Is he sick? Maybe just a little confused? Why does Ducky Ducky always moo? 
   Told with simple rhyme and Eric's delightful illustrations, "Ducky Ducky Likes To Moo" encourages self-expression in children (and adults), while also stressing self-confidence and individuality...especially for those that prefer to moo!
   Compact board book format is perfect for the repetitious young reader."
My Review: This is an absolutely adorable book that will have you and your little one giggling.  The first time this book was read in our house was Hubby reading it to Munchkin while I did the dishes, all I could hear were the uncontrollable giggles coming from Munchkin.  We have read this book countless times and it is definitely a favorite in our house.  The illustrations are full of character and the story while comical, has a great message about being who you are and not conforming to what everyone thinks you should be.
My Rating: Clearly we love this book, Munchkin now likes to read Ducky Ducky's lines while we read the books. I definitely suggest you picking this book up (even if you don't have a young one to read it with). We give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag.
I had the pleasure of meeting Eric Sturtevant at the RI Author Expo in December 2015. Be sure to check out his website for more information about his books and up coming events.
The only place you can get Eric Sturtevant's books is through his website or by meeting up with him at an event (or by sticking around tomorrow where I will have an interview and giveaway)!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

RI Author Feature: Announcing the Thaw by Julianne Palumbo

Synopsis: "A poetry chapbook about raising children in which their growing up is both celebrated and mourned. The progression of poems reflects the poet’s struggle to replace that precious act of raising now-grown children with something equally worthy."

My Review: This was a wonderfully sentimental collection of poems. While my little Munchkin isn't yet going to school, nor a teenager or gone away to college, I can still identify with the emotions throughout this collection. I enjoyed the flow of them, from memories of childhood, through teenage years of learning the separation, and finally into identifying yourself without a child. It is a great book for parents, grandparents or even those who wish to understand emotions of others better. I particularly enjoyed the poem entitled Snow Day as it applies to my life right now.
My Rating: I rather enjoyed this book and could apply several of the poems to my life as a mother and others to my life as a daughter.  The poems carry a lot emotion and each person can connect with them in a different way, whether you are a parent or not.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.
I have not had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Palumbo, I did pick up this book at a local bookstore that had a section set up for our local authors.
You can find out more about Ms. Palumbo's books on her Website, I will be featuring another one of her poetry books later this month.
You can purchase your own copy of Announcing the Thaw on her Website or Amazon.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

RI Author Feature: Review of A Cat Named Dog and A Dog Named Cat by David W. Christner

Synopsis: ""Cat" is a dog, a bloodhound and golden lab mix, living the good life on the rural south end of Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. "Dog" is a calico cat living under the same roof; she is aloof as cats are prone to be and a little on the wild side, keeping awful hours and dragging home her "trophies" from the ferry dock. Twelve-year-old Vicki Townsend loves both her pets dearly, but she shares a secret with "Dog" that "Cat" must never know. Never! When a mountain lion terrorizes the island, preying primarily on the island's domestic pet population for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Vicki's worst nightmare comes true: "Dog" is forced to reveal Vicki's secret to "Cat," bursting "Cat's" idealistic bubble and proving that something indeed is rotten in the State of Washington. After such a devastating revelation, will "Cat" swallow his pride, put aside his hurt and help rescue "Dog" from the jowls of the vicious cougar? Only time and "Cat's" keen sense of smell will tell."

My Review: I picked this book up at the RI Author Expo, I thought it would be interesting to change things up a bit with this play. It has been years since I have read one and I must say it was a really fun one. I would love to see this one done on stage, it would be great for a talent, or small act by a high school drama club or even a small theater group. It was light, a little comedy, a little serious, and a little drama. I loved the interaction between Cat and Dog, initially I thought I would have a hard time keeping them straight (being as the dog is named Cat and the cat is named Dog) but the personalities were captured perfectly.
My Rating: This was a fun play to read, I would love to see it acted out on stage.  It captures the personality of our beloved pets perfectly and has a little something for everyone.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.
I briefly met Mr. Christner at the RI Author Expo in December 2015, he is scheduled to make an appearance at the Author Meet and Greet at the Warwick Public Library on April 9th.  If you are unable to attend the event, you can find out more about David Christner and his work on his Website
You can also purchase his plays and books through his Website. Or you can purchase a copy of A Cat Named Dog and a Dog Named Cat on Amazon.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Monday Reading List

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

Polar Bears Past Bedtime by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
Princess in Waiting by Meg Cabot
Before the Fairytale: Horse Feathers by Iscah
For the Love of Letters by Samara O'Shae (Pen to Paper)
Marked by Elisabeth Naughton (After Dark)
An Airplane Ride Over Newport by Richard Grosvenor
The Ferry Home by Debbie Kaiman Tillinghast

 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Princess Lessons = 5pts
Project Princess = 5pts
Waking the Merrow = 3pts
Vorn the Onyx = 5pts
Tale of Two Dragons - 3pts
Falling for Her = 3pts

Currently Reading:

 Books to be Read Soon:


Total Points Earned
109 points + 24 points = 133 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 388
Total Points Spent this Year: 259

Pages Read/ Time Listened
73:09 Hours Listened (none listened this week)
12,300 Pages Read (1,192 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



I am finally a little more on the mend, still have a nasty cough but from what it sounds like I will have it for at least a month or two.  But I was able to get back to reading a little more last week! I also got some more work done on the RI Author event all month this month (don't forget to enter the giveaway - and stop by for more). I will be finishing up the last couple of books for the event this week and interviewing at least one author this week.  I have another author event to attend on Saturday so I hope to be able to tell you about it next Monday!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

RI Author Feature: The Ferry Home by Debbie Kaiman Tillinghast

Synopsis: "Step back in time to a simpler life as you read this captivating memoir of growing up in the 1950s on the small island of Prudence along the New England coast. A story of reconnecting to long-forgotten childhood bonds and memories, Debbie Kaiman Tillinghast's "The Ferry Home" embraces joyful moments with humor and more troubling emotions with compassion. If you have ever faced emotional challenges within your family or had a sibling relationship with both squabbles and shared mischief, if you have found peace in one memorable place, or if you have ever longed for any of these, then this book is for you. Experience the rhythm of life on Prudence Island, the ebb and flow of changing tides and seasons, and the patterns and relationships that emerge. It is a place where independence is fostered, but friends are always there when needed. As Debbie's vivid accounts unfold, you will feel like you too have just stepped off the ferry and been embraced by the tiny Prudence Island community."

My Review: This is a lovely book that takes you back to Ms. Tillinghast's childhood on a island in Narragansett Bay, it will also bring back your own memories or stories passed down from family members. It is wonderfully reminiscent and gives you a clear picture of what it was like growing up on Prudence Island. I really enjoyed reading this book, it brought me back to my own childhood in a tiny, remote town in the middle of Wyoming, while learning a little more about the local history and island lifestyle of my now home state of Rhode Island.
My Rating: We may not have towns in the middle of open plains or giant forests in Rhode Island but we certainly have tiny towns on isolated islands throughout the states. Debbie does a great job of developing a picture of living on Prudence Island and also what time has changed and left unchanged.  I give this book a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
I met Debbie Kaiman Tillinghast at the RI Author Expo in December 2015.  She will be appearing at the Warwick Public Library on April 9th, if you can not attend you can learn more about Ms. Tillinghast on her Facebook page.
You can also purchase your own copy of The Ferry Home at Indigo River Publishing or Amazon