Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “authors”

Book Giveaway: SLEEPY HAPPY CABY CUDDLES by Mike Allegra


Book Giveaway: SLEEPY HAPPY CABY CUDDLES by Mike Allegra

https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2022/10/09/book-giveaway-sleepy-happy-caby-cuddles-by-mike-allegra/
— Read on kathytemean.wordpress.com/2022/10/09/book-giveaway-sleepy-happy-caby-cuddles-by-mike-allegra/

Author Spotlight: Gary Paulsen


Usually I highlight the five star reads from the previous month as a Reader Roundup.

No five star reads in September.

Yes, this is disappointing to report. I read fifteen books and several were okay, some were meh, and a couple came close being a really good read. Keeping to my standards though, and no five stars.

So–

This post will instead feature a really good author: Gary Paulsen. Yeah, the guy who wrote Hatchet. Yes, that story of a boy whose private airplane pilot dies en route to see his father and they end up crash landing in the Canadian wilderness. He survives moose, mosquitoes, and choke berries with only a hatchet. It’s the book my sophomore boys usually picked to read for their book report even though I know they have read it (again and again). It is a good book, but Gary Paulsen wrote more than Hatchet. In fact, he wrote around 200 books, five being related to Brian of Hatchet.

image: sperrygoodemporium

A phenomenal author who wrote mostly about survival, be it in the wilderness or just making through a dysfunctional life, Paulsen also wrote humorous stories and historical stories. He wrote with insight and knowledge. He was the type of writer who lived his stories which is one reason they are so engaging. He knew what it was like to live in the wilderness. He hunted, fished, sailed—he even ran the Iditarod.

Looking at a photo of him it is difficult to get past his grizzled hermit-in-a-cabin appearance. Yet, he was a wordsmith and loved to read books along with respecting and rejoicing in the wilderness.

image: Wikipedia

Gary Paulsen passed from heart failure at 82 in 2021 and leaves a legacy of books that generations will discover and appreciate. His writing and his storytelling, especially his Brian stories are worthy reads at any age.

My husband, well past his middle school years, is absolutely enthralled with Paulsen’s books. His utterances of “whoa” and “wow” and guffaws of delight make me set aside my “grownup” books and reread Paulsen. I agree with all his observations, and we have great share sessions.

A really good read from a really good author is a treasure.

National Read a Book Day


It’s obvious I’m a Book Booster. Reading, reviewing, writing. Celebrating access to books. Promoting reading. A book in hand whenever possible. Today’s national recognition is an everyday celebration for me.

I couldn’t fathom not having a book handy to read.

How about you? Is this a special day or an everyday note of recognition?

Book Birthday Two


Two Years Today!

Two years ago on April 7th, Someday We Will debuted ready to greet the world with its message of the joy that comes with anticipating a visit with those we love, especially visits with grandparents.

Two years ago was also the start of the pandemic. Schools, businesses, transportation, borders, so much shut down as the world learned how to cope with Covid.

Not the most advantageous time to promote a debut picture book. Ironically enough (although one librarian deemed it prescient) the book’s focus is on the joy of coming together after being separated.

Covid was not on my mind when I submitted the book for publication to Beaming Books two years earlier.My thoughts were on the joy experienced whenever I visit my granddaughter.

Separation has taken on deeper meaning with Covid. There is more involved, more considerations when planning a visit. “Someday we will…”and “Someday is here!” has more personal meaning these days.

With libraries and bookstores open once again to in-person events, I look forward to making the rounds and promoting Someday We Will.

In these past two years have you had your someday turn into today? I hope so! That moment of being reunited with a loved one is not just for grandparents and grandchildren.

In the meantime I’ve been busy writing and submitting other stories and look forward to sharing more book birthdays with you.

Looking to order the book?

Looking for reviews? Goodreads

Bard Bits: Shakespeare Is For Everyone? (That is the question…)


As an AP English teacher, Shakespeare is naturally part of the curriculum and it’s expected my students adore the Avon man as much as I do. Not usually the case. As for my regular sophomores? The groans when we approach Julius Caesar can discouraging. Yet, it is often in how Shakespeare is taught that makes a difference. This is a separate topic. The main topic is the assumption that Shakespeare is for everyone and they are going to like it. That’s like saying exercising is for everyone. It should be, but face it, not everyone embraces a push-up or a run around the block. Some like the idea of exercising and others have tried it, and many let others revel in it. So it goes with Shakespeare.

AUSTIN TICHENOR is the creator of The Shakespereance; co-artistic director of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. He contributed a thought-provoking article about Shakespeare. Here is the gist of his rhetorical stance:

Is Shakespeare for everyone? Of course he is! Absolutely!

I just wish people would stop saying it.

In Shakespeare’s day, his plays — and plays by others, and theater generally — really were for everyone. All levels of society congregated to see and hear plays in performance, to share gossip and news, and to rub literal and metaphorical elbows. Not just a source for entertainment, Shakespeare’s theater was the internet of its day.

But beginning in the 19th century, theater (and opera and symphonies) became co-opted by the upper class who wanted to keep socially — often meaning ethnically and economically — “unacceptable” people out of the theater, turning what was originally popular culture into “high” culture and using the arts as a tool of status and exclusion.

Worse, as a by-product of imperialism, Shakespeare was imposed on non-English speakers in different countries, held up as the best playwright in the world with the understanding that only by learning his plays and accepting his greatness — and, by extension, the greatness of the English language and Anglo-European culture — could one become truly civilized.

So I get it: “Shakespeare is for everyone” is an important correction, a reminder that Shakespeare’s plays were written to be popular entertainments, designed to appeal to everyone from the groundlings to the nobility.

But I worry that “Shakespeare is for everyone” nowadays feels less like a promise and more like a threat; the implication being that if you don’t like him, there’s something wrong with you..

Because the truth is, Shakespeare isn’t for everyone, and it’s disingenuous to suggest that it is. Nothing is for everyone: Personally, I don’t like opera, baseball, or video games, and in London at the turn of the 17th century, there were tens of thousands of people who undoubtedly preferred to skip another one of Shakespeare’s epics and head to the bear-baiting pits instead.

So what’s the alternative? I prefer saying “Shakespeare is for anyone who wants him.” For many reasons (i.e., the comedies aren’t funny, the language is incomprehensible, the kings and their nobles are confusing, the references archaic), Shakespeare is demonstrably not for everyone. And that’s okay. But I’ll argue till my dying day that he can and should be made available to anyone who wants him, with many different entry points for people of all levels and interests, whether they be live productions, fascinating lectures, compelling museum exhibitions, excellent films and videos, or even, dare I suggest, pop-up books. One of the first steps in appreciating Shakespeare, it seems to me, is being honest about his output, for we can only truly appreciate his greatness by being discerning enough to recognize the parts that don’t measure up, and understanding that no matter what we do, he still won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

A Round Up of Good Reads: 2021


My Year in Books
Good Reads of 2021

THE DETAILS:
Pages read: 29,532
Books read: 102
Shortest book read: 40 pages

Ada's Violin by Susan Hood
So inspiring!

Longest book read: 1,008 pages

Shakespeare After All by Marjorie Garber
A bounty for Bardinators

Average book length: 289 pages
Most popular: Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library–over 1 million reads (although I did not favor it)
Least popular: Lucius Adelno Sherman’s What is Shakespeare: An Introduction to the Great Plays (not everyone appreciates Shakespeare)
Average book rating: 4.3 (I must be particular)
Highest rated by Goodreads readers:

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Captured a 4.51 rating–a likable read, no doubt a movie is in the making

First review of the year: One Hundred Years of Children’s Books in America, Decade by Decade edited by Jane Yolen and Marjorie N. Allen. An underrated and overlooked sampling of books and the history of America from the early 1800s to the 1990s–would like to see a more current edition.
Five star rated books: 11 (I really am particular discerning)

Hitting my reading goal of 101 (the year isn’t over yet) creates a fine sense of accomplishment, especially since it became increasingly more difficult to sit down and focus on reading. After school started I found myself with a certain lassitude that gravitated towards passive viewing of animal shows, Western movies, and of course, my old standby of Dr. Who reruns.

Your Turn:
Did you hit your reading goal for the year?

Any stand out reads? I’m always looking for the next TBR item.

Bard Bits: Being a Bad Be


Be the best you can be

Even if you are not familiar with Hamlet you are probably aware of Hamlet’s anguished soliloquy of questioning his existence. It’s such a well-known speech that it is almost a cliché. It’s ripe for parody.

A “B” by any other name…

However, there is a wee bit of scholarly doubt if the “To Be” speech that is proffered in plays is the “To Be” that Shakespeare intended. The problem being (yes, a bit of play on the play’s speech) is that Shakespeare’s plays were published without him having proofed the final copy, and most of his plays were published after his death. That’s another post.

When his plays were sent to the printer, they might have been copies taken from someone’s memory, such as an actor or an audience member—accuracy wasn’t exactly sound. These manuscripts came in three forms: good (from the theatre company and with permission), bad (someone’s recall), and dubious (another version of recall, but even worse in content).

The printer would create “quartos,” which were pages folded twice to create four leaves, or eight pages. Scholars have divided the available found quartos in “good” and “bad.”

Bad quartos have no authority and the manuscript content is suspect. Here is an example of a “bad” quarto line:

To be, or not to be, Ay, there’s the point,

To Die, to sleepe, is that all? Ay all:

No, to sleep to dreame, I marry there it goes.

Compared with the standard, recognized lines:

To be, or not to be–that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them. To die to sleep–

Some scholarly squabbles exist concerning if “bad” quartos are really all that bad.. The lines might have been rough drafts and since Shakespeare isn’t about for consultation, it’s suggested to leave the matter be.

Storytime Highlights


Debut Appearance
A memorable debut storytime

April 7, 2020 my debut picture book, Someday We Will, arrived and then accessible venues shutdown. It’s definitely challenging trying to promote a book when libraries, schools, and bookstores are closed.

Even though creative promotional endeavors emerged, there is nothing quite like sharing the book with a live audience.

The local library reopened public events with its first storytime held in their new garden area June 19, 2021. Leading off the first storytime in over a year was an honor and an absolute delight.

Kimber, the youth services librarian and several library staff members, worked hard to create the event. Library storytime in a library garden is an ideal venue for a picture book that celebrates the joy of doing outdoor activities together.

After reading the book we blew bubbles, created sidewalk chalk art, jumped rope, and made Someday Jars. All accomplished in an hour!

I look forward to the next public event.

Reader Round Up: Good Night Mr. Tom


One book pops up as the June spotlight read: Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian.

Though it was published in 1986, it has an old-fashioned story cadence to it, being almost a Dickens novel in scope.

A captivating read

The story has so many deep issues that it is surprising it is considered a children’s novel. Child abuse and abandonment are two central issues. There is also the painful experiences of children evacuated from London to billet safely out in the country with strangers during WWII. Magorian weaves these and other issues in with her engaging story of matching a young malnourished boy, William, with a flinty widower, Tom.

Tom’s unhurried persistence to helping William settle in hastens the boy to heal both physically and emotionally, and as a result Tom also begins healing of the grief over losing his wife and child forty years earlier.

The joy of childhood, making friends, trying out new experiences, and the deep bond of friendship comes singing through the expressive prose. A thoughtful perspective of how the London evacuees fared as well as those who took them in during the war.
For those who enjoyed Carrie’s War, Goodnight, Mister Tom is recommended.

Story Time!


After a year of shutting down most public programs, our local library is opening up one of their most popular programs: Story time. The best part is I’m going to lead off a summer’s worth of local author reads. If you are in the neighborhood be sure to drop by!

Someday is here!

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