Study Guide 3: The Science Project by Elaine Donadio

Please see my June 2, 2017 blog post for the updated study guide schedule.

You can preview and purchase The Science Project at Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites for a digital or paperback copy, or you can visit Smashwords.com for a digital copy.

Nestor has devoted himself to the care and training of Hector. Things get a little out of hand, but Nestor is able to recover before it’s too late. Nestor gets in deeper with his bad attitude toward Kwan Min and Jasmine. He starts to question himself.

 

Te following questions are based on Chapters 11-15.

1. Describe Nestor’s relationship with his mother, Ms. Costa, Holly and Jasmine. In your opinion, why is Nestor’s relationship with Jasmine so different from that of the other females in the story?

2. We now know Nestor’s strong feelings of insecurity. Analyze how the males in his life—his father, cousins, and Kwan Min add to these feelings of inadequacy. Think about how Phil’s relationship is the exception to this pattern. What changes to make Nestor question Phil’s loyalty? Give specific examples.

3. Pretend you are Nestor. Create a science log entry for one day showing the care and feeding of Hector.

4. Kwan Min and Jasmine have a plan of their own. Make a prediction about what it might be. Look at the book cover for clues.

5. With his eyes cast down, Nestor stares at in the science table, and for the first time notices the scratches in its surface. How does this serve as a metaphor for Nestor’s life?

 

Spoiler alert: I will not be providing the answers for the questions. If you’re a serious adventurer, then you will discover the world on your own. Support all your answers with facts found in the book. Seek and you shall find!

You can email Elaine Donadio at author@elainedonadio.com.

Next: The Science Project Study Guide 4. See you on June 24, 2017!

All rights reserved 2017.

Study Guide 2: The Science Project by Elaine Donadio

Please see my June 2, 2017 blog post for the updated study guide schedule.

You can preview and purchase The Science Project at Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites for a digital or paperback copy, or you can visit Smashwords.com for a digital copy.

We begin to get a better understanding of Nestor who, like most people, has his good points and his bad points. Nestor does some deep thinking about himself and his life.

 

These questions are based on Chapters 6-10:

1. By now we’ve learned some of Nestor’s insecurities and concerns. What advice can you give Nestor to help him feel better about himself?

2. Pretend you are Nestor. Write an email to Nestor’s father explaining how his absence is affecting the family. Be specific.

3. At this point in the story we have a better understanding of the reasons for Nestor’s resentment of Kwan Min. Tell about a time when one of your classmates treated you unfairly. How did the other kids react to this? What steps did your teacher take to make this bad behavior stop? Is Ms. Costa doing enough?

4. Think about a classmate who bothered the other kids in the class. Who were his/ her victims? Why do you think these kids were chosen as targets? How was this problem solved? What would you have done if you were in charge?

5. What do we learn about Nestor from his care and training of Hector?

 

Spoiler alert: I will not be providing the answers for the questions. If you’re a serious adventurer, then you will discover the world on your own. Support all your answers with facts found in the book. Seek and you shall find!

You can email Elaine Donadio at author@elainedonadio.com.

Next: The Science Project Study Guide 3. See you on June 17, 2017!

All rights reserved 2017.

Study Guide 1—The Science Project by Elaine Donadio

Please see my June 2, 2017 blog post for the updated study guide schedule.

You can preview and purchase The Science Project at Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites for a digital or paperback copy, or if you have a NOOK, you can visit Smashwords.com or Barnes & Noble for a digital copy.

We’re meeting Nestor Ramirez, our main character and his best friend, Phil Williams. Nestor is trying hard to be popular, but he certainly doesn’t have a clue. Oh, he can be nice when he wants to be, but how often does he want to be?

These questions are based on chapters 1-5. 

1.Create a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast Nestor and Phil. Who would you rather have as a best friend? Support your answer.

2.  Find as many examples of how Phil demonstrates his intelligence as you               can. Describe how Nestor reacts to these instances.

3. What do we learn about Nestor from his attitude towards his mother? Be specific. How is Nestor’s attitude the same or different from your attitude toward your parent?

4. List five science facts that Nestor learned in Chapter 5. Make a list of those facts in priority order with the most important fact at number one, and the least important at number five.

5. We begin to see a different side of Nestor. What surprises you most about his behavior? What predictions can you make about what might happen in the story?

Spoiler alert: I will not be providing the answers for the questions. If you’re a serious learner, then you can discover the world on your own. The answers can be found in the book. Seek and you shall find.

You can email Elaine Donadio at author@elainedonadio.com.

Next: The Science Project Study Guide 2. See you on June 10, 2017!

All rights reserved.

 

Study Guide Schedule For Middle Grade Books by Elaine Donadio

Hi Readers,

I’m back! I’ve been on hiatus for the past year—busy promoting my books with encouraging success. If you remember, my books are primarily geared to middle grade readers. They’re loaded with well-researched science facts and are appropriate for classroom study and/ or  supplemental or independent reading assignments with tie-ins for science, literacy and social studies. The secret of their success is their ability  and purpose in allowing the reader to have fun while learning—experiencing the world through the eyes of the characters—journeying with a friend, in a sense.

I’ve decided to provide a study guide for each of my five books: The Science Project, The Ocean’s Way, Who Do Voodoo, The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion, Sojourn Into The Night-A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest. Please check my website (ElaineDonadio.com) for plot summaries, or go directly to Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites to preview and purchase the books in digital or paperback format. If you have a NOOK, you can preview and purchase an ebook at Smashwords.com or Barnes & Noble.

Purchase your books one at a time in accordance with our schedule, or all at the same time if you prefer. Happy reading! Read often. Read well.

The schedule is as follows:

The Science Project                                          June 3, 10,17, 24

The Ocean’s Way                                               June 30, July 8, 15, 22, 29

Who Do Voodoo?                                              August 5, 9, 11, 19, 26

The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion        September 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

Sojourn Into The Night—                               October 7, 14, 21, 28                                     A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

Spoiler alert: I will not be providing the answers for the questions. If you’re a serious learner, then you can discover the world on your own. The answers can be found in the book. Seek and you shall find.

Our first book: The Science Project. See you on June 3, 2017!

You can email Elaine Donadio at author@elainedonadio.com.

All rights reserved.

Study Guide Schedule For My Middle Grade Books

Hi Readers,

I’m back! I’ve been on hiatus for the past year—busy promoting my books with encouraging success. If you remember, my books are primarily geared to middle grade readers. They’re loaded with well-researched science facts and are appropriate for classroom study and/ or  supplemental or independent reading assignments with tie-ins for science, literacy and social studies. The secret of their success is their ability  and purpose in allowing the reader to have fun while learning—experiencing the world through the eyes of the characters—journeying with a friend, in a sense.

I’ve decided to provide a study guide for each of my five books: The Science Project, The Ocean’s Way, Who Do Voodoo, The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion, Sojourn Into The Night-A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest. Please check my website (ElaineDonadio.com) for plot summaries, or go directly to Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites to preview and purchase the books in digital or paperback format. If you have a NOOK, you can preview and purchase an ebook at Smashwords.com or Barnes & Noble.

Purchase your books one at a time in accordance with our schedule, or all at the same time if you prefer. Happy reading! Read often. Read well.

The schedule is as follows:

The Science Project                                          June 3, 10,17, 24

The Ocean’s Way                                               June 30, July 8, 15, 22, 29

Who Do Voodoo?                                              August 5, 9, 11, 19, 26

The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion        September 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

Sojourn Into The Night—                               October 7, 14, 21, 28                                     A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

Spoiler alert: I will not be providing the answers for the questions. If you’re a serious learner, then you can discover the world on your own. The answers can be found in the book. Seek and you shall find.

Our first book: The Science Project. See you on June 3, 2017!

All rights reserved.

Meet Phil – “Who Do Voodoo?”

Here is an excerpt from my latest ebook “Who Do Voodoo?” a mystery intended for middle grade readers, especially 10-12 year olds. I’d like to introduce you to Phil, the main character, as he embarks on his adventure.

 

   CHAPTER 1 –– A SPEEDING HUNK OF STEEL 

I’m a Louisiana boy at heart – living in New York City – on my way with my boy, Nestor, Who do Voodoo thumbnail-2riding the Amtrak Crescent to the Big Easy, moving in place and time to the home of my ancestors, to the core of my family, to the soul of my existence. New Orleans.

We left New York City from Penn Station at 2:17 pm on a Saturday but didn’t arrive in New Orleans until the next night. That made 30 hours and 17 minutes on a speeding hunk of steel grabbing the tracks, hugging the curves, loving the power of its syncopated engine. Chhh-chhh-chhh-chhh. Boom-boom. Brushes and skins. Cool.

“Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints? Who dat? Who dat?” I sang out.

Nestor scowled at me. “Where did that come from?”

“That’s the song the Saints’ fans sing when watching a game.”

I got this blank stare from him, but then again, that happens a lot with Nestor.

“Saints, like in heaven?”

“No, Nestor. Saints, like in the name of the Louisiana football team.”

“Okay, Phil, so how was I supposed to know that?”

“You’re right.”

My mom’s aunt and her husband invited us to visit. My parents had to work but I was on winter recess and had nothing to do. New York City schools are closed for one week in February around Presidents Day. I wasn’t allowed to travel alone so I invited Nestor. He’s a year younger and, even on a good day, he’s nobody’s idea of a chaperone. But he’s my best bud and we’re tight.

“Hey, here’s an outlet to charge our phones.” I’m not even sure if Nestor heard me. He had his mind on other things.

Nestor was in the middle of texting some friends. “Want to know what I’m telling them?” Nestor read the messages. “Phil is dancing around like a fool singing about saints.”

“Holly texted back: ‘Have fun. Tell Phil to text Jasmine. She misses him.’ “

“Kwan Min texted: ‘Cool team. We play basketball when Phil comes home.’ “

I have to hand it to Kwan Min. He’s new to the country but he’s up on things. “Tell them I’ll text them later.”

“Do I look like your secretary?”

“But I’m not in the mood now.”

“You want me to tell them that?”

“No.”

“If I text them back, that’s exactly what I’ll tell them.”

“I’m ignoring you.”

I decided to check out the rest of the compartment. A private restroom. Not very big, but then again, we were on a train. Reclining seats with footrests and reading lights. Overhead storage bins. Like an airplane. But grounded.

Nestor was busy reading some travel brochures. “Phil, it says they have ghost tours in the French Quarter. Can we go?”

“I don’t believe in ghosts.”

“Well, it says they have a bunch of things going on. Strange sightings. Screams. Moans. Maybe we can see some of that.”

“I told you, I don’t believe in that stuff.”

“Listen to this. In the La Laurie Mansion, the ghost of a little girl can be seen jumping from the back balcony. There are more. The ghost of a sultan stalks an apartment building because he was buried alive when his men were hacked to death. Dogs growl at the ghost of the mad butcher. Ghosts of slaves chained to walls cry out in pain. Ghosts of a whole block of people who died in a fire cry out at night.”

“They’re just stories.”

“How about this one? At the Magnolia Mansion, a girl on the street disappears, then they find small footprints and handprints on the bath mat and tub.”

“Stop.”

“They did medical and carnival experiments switching body parts and limbs WITHOUT ANESTHESIA. Did you hear that?”

“Nestor, you’re driving me crazy with this.”

“Okay, just one more thing. People did voodoo curses. There’s even a store called ‘Reverend Zombie’s Voodoo Shop.’ They talk about a vortex spreading to ectoplasm. What d’ya think about that?”

“Leave me alone.”

“Why are you so stubborn?”

“Why are you willing to believe crazy stories?”

“I wish you’d open your mind.”

“And I wish you’d close your mouth.”

I did a group text to Jasmine and Kwan Min: “Good trip so far. Will be in touch.” It was the best I could do.

There’s not a whole lot to do on a train so we mostly ate our way from one car to the other. We went to the Lounge Car for some pizza, then had dinner an hour later in the Dining Car. We went back to the Lounge Car for some chips and soda, played some board games and had sandwiches before we went to sleep.

We pretty much followed the same routine the next day. Ate. Played games. Talked about nothing.

Our train pulled into the station right on schedule at 7:32pm on Sunday night. We

texted our mothers to let them know we were on schedule.

It was already dark when we got off the train. I looked around but no one was there to meet us. Someone from my mom’s family was supposed to pick us up. An hour passed. Still, no one. No calls on my phone. No text messages. I called their house, but no one answered. That was strange.

Little did I know.

© 2015 All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Published!

 

The Science ProjectThe Ocean's Way

 

 

 

 

This has been a milestone week for me!

 

 

I’ve finally published two of my books as ebooks available on Amazon & Smashwords. It’s been an arduous journey. I suppose it can only get easier from this point forward. I had so much to learn, but I did it!

Many thanks to my cover designer, Judy Bullard at customebookcovers@cox.net and my ebook conversion formatter, Marti Dobkins  at iformat4u.com. They showed great patience and professionalism as they worked with me to get the desired results.

Smashwords retailers include Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, Stanza, Aldiko.  If the books are not immediately available for all Smashwords retailers, please check back. Remember, these books can also be read on a computer.

Click title to purchase “The Ocean’s Way” Kindle Version                                               Click title to purchase “The Science Project” – Kindle Version

Click title to purchase “The Ocean’s Way” – Smashwords Version                   Click title to purchase “The Science Project” – Smashwords Version 

These books are suggested for middle school readers. For summaries and excerpts, you can visit my website/ blog at http://ElaineDonadioWrites.wordpress.com.

Please post your reviews on Amazon and Smashwords as well as social media.         Hopefully, you’ll love both books!

I hope to have the third book in this group ready for publication in December 2014.    “Who Do Voodoo?” is a mystery set in New Orleans.

I’ll let you know when my other books become available.

© 2014 All rights reserved. No part of this content may be reprinted or used in any form without express permission from Elaine Donadio Writes.

 

The Giver: A Frequent Visitor on Challenged and Banned Book Lists

Welcome to my blog!
Welcome to my blog!

Infanticide and euthanasia? Maybe you’re expecting a gory sci-fi or dystopian thriller? Hordes of teens organizing to overthrow the evil empire that inflicts pain and injustice on the people they love?  An ending where the main character(s) succeed in changing and/ or overthrowing the oppressive society in which they live?  Lois Lowry’s “The Giver,” a Newberry Medal winning fantasy released in 1993, often assigned to middle school and young high school readers, appeared on  the 100 Best Books for Kids as well as Challenged and Banned Book lists–at the same time!  As a matter of fact, “The Giver” is in the top ten list of most contested books in the country. And here you were, ready to send your child to see the movie version in living color!

So, what’s the difference between banned and challenged?  A banned book must be removed from schools and public libraries if so ordered. A denied request for removal  from the aforementioned places labels a book as challenged.  These requests and decisions are local–specific schools, communities, counties, states.  All it takes is one parent or adult to raise and objection.

What makes a book challenge-worthy? Unsuited to age group, violence, sexually explicit, religious viewpoints, suicide, sexual awakening, references to the occult and use of drugs are the most common reasons cited. In this case, “The Giver” was challenged for violence, i.e., infanticide and euthanasia despite the fact that the main character, Jonas is horrified to learn of such practices and escapes from this society with two-year old, Gabriel who is slated for “release” (death)  by lethal injection at the hands of Jonas’s father who works as the Nurturer in charge of caring for newborns and infants. Jonas flees into the unknown to seek an alternate, just existence for himself and to save the life of this small child whose lack of perfection marks him for a scheduled death.

Let’s take a look at “The Giver” to understand the story. The book is set in the Community as opposed to Elsewhere. Choice is taken away. Most members of society are obedient, static, predictable with sameness being the highest level of achievement. There is no hunger, disease, poverty or pain. Families consist of a mother, a father, one son, one daughter. Marriages are arranged. Couples apply for children who are assigned to them. There are no grandparents since the old are killed off as they are deemed useless. Infants or people who are less than perfect in any way are also killed off. The mood is foreboding as loud speakers blast rules and reprimands in public and in homes. The people cannot see color or experience emotions. Professions are assigned at twelve years of age. Jonas is chosen to be “The Receiver of Memory” the highest honor in the land. He is trained by the man who now holds the position, “The Giver” as Jonas names him. The Giver holds all the emotions and memories that people gave up to attain Sameness and maintain Social Order. As memories and emotions are transferred to Jonas, his humanity kicks in as he realizes people have given up individuality because they fear ostracism which results in death. At the end, Jonas and Gabriel leave the Community, starving and half-frozen. They sled on the ice and snow toward the distant land beyond,  focused on Christmas lights and  music in the distance. Jonas’s  sudden, extreme action forces all experiences, feelings and emotions of the past to surface. Since Jonas refuses to keep these emotions and memories, they revert to the unsuspecting members of the Community. The story is open-ended. We don’t know if Jonas is successful in establishing a life in a new-found society. Is he able to save himself and little Gabriel? Lois Lowry does not tell us.

What we have here is a quiet, serious boy who questions the society in which he lives. He is appalled by his new-found knowledge and terrified by his realizations. He quietly escapes but his absence drastically changes the lives of those he leaves behind. Does this book warrant the controversy associated with it?

Let’s take a look at some other challenged and banned books. According to Marshall Libraries, the top five on the 2013-2014 Most Frequently Challenged Books are in order:  “Captain Underpants” series –language, violence, anti-family                                              “The Bluest Eye”–the author, Toni Morrison never portrays incest, rape and pedophilia as wrong but instead presents the perps as sympathetic characters                                                 ” The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”–masturbation, racism, sexual objectification, religious irreverence                                                                                          “Fifty Shades of Grey”–sexually explicit, nudity, language, religious viewpoint                    “The Hunger Games”–religious viewpoint, violence unsuitable for age group

Some past titles include the “Harry Potter” series; “I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings”; “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”; “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

We can clearly see the vast differences in content, message and mood among the books cited. Maybe you agree these books present such a negative and subversive view of life to impressionable young people that the reading of these books should be discouraged or completely banned?  Maybe you believe the beliefs of a minority should not overrule the rights of the majority?

If specific books are not allowed in schools or libraries, then everyone’s freedom of choice is impacted. How can we make an informed decision on something that is non-existent? Should we utilize the sensitive topics as a stepping stone to conversations with our children? As in the case of “The Giver” doesn’t the main character reject the horrors of his society instead of embracing them? Can’t children learn  a positive lesson from a negative situation?  True, some of these books are appalling and probably not age appropriate and should not be read without mature adult guidance.  Others may present views, characters and situations that are in opposition to the belief systems of segments of society and also require guided reading. It’s unfair to dump all these books into the same “No Read” bin.

In fairy tales and folk tales, as well as in life, we expect to see evil punished. In some of these books, the evil stays evil with little or no consequence. Maybe that’s what’s upsetting? At what age should children learn a sad fact of life–evil is not always punished, nor is good always rewarded?  Don’t believe me? Just look at our justice system and who we venerate and who we overlook in our society. I rest my case.

© 2014  All rights reserved. No part of this content may be reprinted or used in any form except by express permission of Elaine Donadio Writes.

To step into Jonas’s world, watch this video.

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/sT92P2knFeQ” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Next week’s blog post…October 25, 2014 “The Heist’s” Gabriel Allon: How Daniel Silva Creates a Sympathetic Character

“The Name of This Book Is Secret”: Synesthesia – The Colorful Smell of Numbers

Welcome to my blog!
Welcome to my blog!

Since I’m a firm believer in studying what makes a book excellent and/ or popular, I chose  “The  Name of This Book Is Secret” the first book in “The Secret” series  by Pseudonymous Bosch (aka Rafael Simon, but don’t tell anyone his real name since he travels around the world incognito)  illustrated by Gilbert Ford.  As we already know, a successful series is heavily dependent on a great first book and this book doesn’t disappoint. Actually, it was a pleasure to read. Absent are the zany characters and slapstick humor of the MG books I’ve recently reviewed. The series is geared to a more sophisticated reader. Thank heavens!

What is novel for me in this book is the concept of “synesthesia” the blending of colors, smells, sounds, numbers and graphemes so a stimulus in one modality produces a sensation in another modality. For example, synesthetes can hear colors or associate sounds with numbers  or smells with music. Some authors and artists and many musicians are known to possess this trait. In modern day society, Tori Amos, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, Eddie Van Halen, Pharrel Williams, Stevie Wonder and Kanye West are only some of  the synesthetes acceding to Wikipedia.

Pseudonymous Bosch addresses a different modality of synesthesia in each book of his “Secret” series:                                                                                                                                   Book 1-The Name of This Book Is Secret” (smells) (the symphony of smells)         Book 2-“If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late (sound) (the sound prism)               Book 3-“This Book Is Not Good For You” (taste)                                                          Book 4-“This Isn’t What It Looks Like” ( sight)                                                                   Book 5- “You Have To Stop This” (touch)

Some examples of smell synesthesia in “The Name of This Book Is Secret” are as follows: the story revolves around the mysterious and coveted “Symphony of Smells.” Example 1 –  musical symphony #9  (p. 42)   is composed of juniper, chocolate and allspice Example 2-  First violin=ginger. Viola=maple. Cello=vanilla. Oboe=licorice.

Interesting, isn’t it? I have to admit many years ago when I visited Mexican pyramids, the tour guide told us how the ancients associated numbers and colors. He told us to go to the casino and focus on  specific colors at the roulette wheel to make certain numbers come up. Needless to say, it didn’t work for me so I filed the whole concept under “G” for Garbage. So, guess who isn’t a synesthete? Another example of why we shouldn’t judge by our own limitations.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “The Name of This Book Is Secret” and its recipe for success:                                                                                                                                            Genre: Mystery                                                                                                                  Preface: “WARNING: Do not read beyond this page! Good. Now I know I can trust you. You’re curious. You’re brave. And you’re not afraid to lead a life of crime….Read on, if you must. But, remember, I warned you.”                                                                                    Chapter 1: two pages of  “Xxx xxx xxxx.”…….”Xxxxxxxx?”…….”Xxxxx x xxxxx,”xxxxx  xxx!”  “Xxxx  xx.”                                                                                                                      Chapter One and a Half: “I’m sorry I wouldn’t let you read Chapter One. I can’t keep a secret. I hope you have better luck.”                                                                                       Humor: In Chapter Two, three signs in Cass’s adopted grandfathers’ antique store – “You break it you hide it.”  “The customer is always  never right.”   “If it aint’t broke don’t fix sell it.”                                                                                                                                                        Story Within a Story: “How Max-Ernest Became Max-Ernest”  and “La Storia Della Mia Vita” (“The Story of My Life” as told by the missing magician, Pietro Bergamo) Characters: Cassandra (Cass) the survivalist detective;    Max-Ernest, the lover of logic, detective;    Pietro Bergamo, the absent magician whose letter drives the characters and the story;   Benjamin, the synesthetic genius kidnapped to become a human sacrifice; Dr. L and Ms. Mauvais, the villains with a surprising past                                                                                                         Setting: Anytown, USA, the missing magician’s house and The Midnight Sun Spa ( a place of evil – yikes!)                                                                                                                   Family Life:  Cass lives with her mother  and spends a lot of time with her two adopted grandfathers (all normal);  Max-Ernest lives with his divorced parents who still live in the same house and don’t agree about ANYTHING  (not normal)                                                                                                                                             POV: The mysterious narrator interjects himself/ herself into the story at the beginning and end so chapters 1-3 are told in the first and third person, then continues in third person and reverts to first person at the ends (all of them)                                                    Visual Variety: different fonts, bold, italics, an eight line sentence without spaces between words                                                                                                                               Games: riddles, secret codes, scrambled anagrams, secret doors and panels  Illustrations: with captions and clues                                                                                  Ending: Cass and Max-Ernest rescue Benjamin BUT the villains are still at large; an epilogue of  the characters’ lives BUT it’s not really the ending                                            Write Your Own Ending: lined pages for the reader to change the ending of the story Chapter Zero: continues the ending since the previous chapter was not really the end-so call this the denouement and get angry if you want to                                                                                                    Appendix: recipes, glossary of circus terms, keyword codes, instructions for a card trick                                                                                                                                             Advertise: the second book in the series, ” Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! Continued in Book 2-If You Dare”

We see a lot of familiar techniques in this book as well as  innovations. This book made the New York Times Bestseller List for a reason. We must include a number of things the reader expects, but give it all a new twist, a different slant, a unique quality to make it stand out from the crowd. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s as plain as the nose on your face but it takes genius to see that nose in a different way.

Any synesthetes out there? I’d love to hear from you!

© 2014 All rights reserved. No part of this content may be reprinted or used in any form without express permission from Elaine Donadio Writes.

Take a look at this video to  enter the world of Cass and Max-Ernest.

Next week’s blog post…October 18, 2014 “The Giver”: A Frequent Visitor On Challenged and Banned Book Lists

 

Patterson & Tebbetts-Middle School Series : Recipe For Success

Welcome to my blog!
Welcome to my blog!

Since I’m a firm believer in analyzing what makes a book excellent and/ or popular, I chose to look at the Middle School series by James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts illustrated by Laura Park. I will concentrate on the first of the series, “Middle School-the Worst Years of My Life”  where the story of sixth grader Rafael  (Rafe) Khatchadorian begins.

A successful series is dependent on a strong lead-off  book – in this case, “Middle School- The Worst Years of My Life.” Next in the series is Here“Middle School-Get Me Out of  Here”  which tells about Rafe’s experiences in a new school. The third book “How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli and Snake Hill” tells about summer camp followed by the “Save Rafe.” The overall themes deals with bullying and struggles to fit in. The mood is light and funny with a conversational style. Rafe is presented as a sympathetic character replete with charming personality flaws.

Let’s take a look at the recipe:

Collaborate: Combine two successful authors with complimentary skills.                  Organize: Have James Patterson write a specific chapter outline so Chris Tebbetts can write the story. Slowly add Patterson’s ideas and revisions.                                                  Point of View: First person; poke fun at teachers, administrators and school rules                      Characters With Catchy Names:  English teacher/ Detention Monitor – Ruthless Donatello;   Vice-principal- Ida Stricker;   Bully  – Miller the Killer;   Alter Ego/Imaginary Friend/ Brother-Leonardo the Silent  (notice shades of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)                                                                                                                               Chapter Length: 2-4 pages                                                                                                      Main character’s Motto: “Rules Are Made For Breaking”                                        Mysterious Character: Leonardo (Leo) – hints that he’s real, then an alter ego, then imaginary, then real but deceased                                                                                               Secret Ingredient: Don’t hint that Leo is imaginary until chapter 25 but state  in chapter 75 he’s in fact, Rafe’s deceased brother,  whose memory Rafe’s keeping alive                  Hook: Rafe is the author of this story while Leo is the illustrator; Leo sometimes controls the events according to what he decides to draw                                                             Fantasize: Share wild daydreams and fantasies ex. Rafe imagines he’s in prison while in the principal’s office  and uses prison jargon and analogies                                                                                                                       Add Visual Interest: Lots and lots and lots of hilarious illustrations with speech blurbs and sound effects                                                                                                                                   Sprinkle Colorful Fanciful Language: “The Dragon Lady’s eyes ( Ms. Donatello) turn yellow. A long stream of fire comes shooting out her nose. I dive over a burning desk, roll. and jump back onto my feet.”                                                                                                        Add: A mother Rafe can love and trust ;  his mother’s live-in boyfriend who Rafe can hate                                                        Add to Taste: name calling, shouting, conflict                                                                         Mix It Up: Use a variety of fonts, letter sizes, bold, italics, all caps, sound effects        Test: Add a pretend quiz to see if the reader is paying attention                                       Happy Ending: Rafe is expelled from school but is sent to Art school ( at the suggestion of the Dragon Lady, Ms. Donatello) where his talents can be developed  (hence, the second book in the series)                                                                                                                               Run a Contest: The winning  paragraph will appear at the beginning of the next book    Advertise: Tell about other available and upcoming books and include sample chapters

It all seems so simple, doesn’t it? So, how come we didn’t think of doing it?  It only goes to show that it’s as clear as the nose on your face, but everyone, obviously,  doesn’t see that nose in the same way. That’s where the genius comes in.

© 2014 All rights reserved. No part of this content may be  reprinted or used in any form without express permission from Elaine Donadio Writes.

To experience life through Rafe’s eyes, watch this video.

Next week’s blog post…October 11, 2014 “The Name of This book Is Secret”; Synesthesia–The Colorful Smell of Numbers