Book Review: Amy’s Travels

“So, what continent will you visit first?” from Amy’s Travels

Synopsis

Young Amy gives readers a look at the many continents she has lived on and shares things she has learned about each place.

What I Liked

As someone who works with kids and is a nanny, I found a lot to love about this little book. It is the kind of book I’d love to have around to read to kids I watch.

The pictures in it are delightful. They have the feel that they were drawn by a little kid, and they’re very childlike and fun to look at. I thoroughly enjoyed them.

The way the story is written would easily draw the interests of younger readers. It will keep their attention and the way things are described in the books will make learning about different countries fun. The book feels as if it is being told by a little girl especially for kids her own age. It doesn’t talk down to them, but can pull them into the places Amy has visited and traveled to.

I also found it easy for me to read. I’m sure many adults who work with kids know there are some books they can only read so many times without begging for the kids to pick a new one. This one I enjoyed reading which is only an added plus for me.

What I disliked
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I found nothing to dislike. I liked every part of it.

Overall thoughts
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This is one I think should be in every little kid’s library. And I play to take it with me when I babysit and nanny next.

Her book can be found on Book Club Reading List

Author Interview with Kathryn Starke

Today  I am interviewing Kathryn Starke, Author of Amy’s Travels.

What is the most exciting thing about writing?
To me, the most exciting thing about writing is being able to tell a story that connects with people on a level that they feel related to the characters, setting, and/or plot.

What book inspired you the most?
I’m an avid reader, so I can say that I’m most inspired by children’s literature, women’s fiction, and biographies. I love The Berenstein Bears, Judy Blume, and Emily Giffin to represent my childhood, middle grade, and adult reading choices.

Do you use real life experiences for inspiration?
Yes, definitely. Even though I write fiction, it is usually loosely based on people or themes that have affected my life in some capacity.

Favorite line you’ve written?
I love to end my children’s books with questions to engage the reader in comprehension and conversation. At the end of Amy’s Travels, I wrote, “so what continent do you want to visit first?”

Who is the person who helped you the most in your writing?
I’d say that my journalism teacher in high school and English professors in college pushed me the most to improve my writing. I have sisters who are also very thorough editors.

Cover Reveal: Amy’s Travels

I am currently reading Amy’s Travels by Kathryn Starke. The book can be found on the Book Club Reading List. Link to Amy’s Travels

Amy’s Travels is a multicultural children’s book that teaches the culture, diversity, and geography of our world through the eyes of a young girl. Based on a true story, Amy’s Travels is the first children’s picture book to teach all seven continents. Complete with lesson plans and a comprehensive book guide, this social studies trade book is used in school curriculum throughout the nation and on six continents.

Book Review: Amanda in Alberta

“Where do you meet the people coming from England?” asked Amanda Ross.
“That would be over there at the international arrivals. Are you here to meet a friend?”
“I sure am. Her name is Leah, and she is my BFF coming all the way from England to visit me here in Calgary.”
From Amanda in Alberta, the Writing on the Stone

amandaalberta 119x190

Synopsis
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Amanda Ross is excited to have her best friend Leah visit her home for a few weeks. She has all kinds of fun planned for them to do together. Unfortunately, she doesn’t realize she’s about to get pulled into a dangerous adventure when she finds a stone with strange markings on it.

What I liked
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This was one of the best Children’s adventure books I’ve read in a while. Although geared toward younger readers, maybe seven to nine and up, it was well written and had delightful characters.
First of all the plot was tight and flowed. There was enough excitement to even keep me interested and would have been the kind of book I’d have loved as a kid. The plot wasn’t written down to readers and also didn’t feel impossible. The whole thing was believable, even Amanda and Leah’s encounter with the main antagonist didn’t feel far fetched. Unlike other adventure books for kids I’ve read, Amanda’s parents didn’t let their nine-year-old daughter run off on her own and assume she’d be safe. They were always nearby. The only time she was alone was when she sneaked away at the end.
All of the characters I loved, even the side characters who weren’t in the story as much. There was enough left out about them that the reader is never sure who is really trying to steal the stone until the very end. Sometimes I didn’t know who to trust. Amanda herself was a fun character. She was an inquisitive girl who wanted to do the right thing even when she didn’t know what that might be.
The mystery aspect of the story I simply loved. I’ve found in younger children’s books that the mystery isn’t really there at all and the answer can be seen from chapter one. This one revealed very little until the end.

What I disliked
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I didn’t find anything to dislike. I even loved Amanda’s relationship with her parents, which is rare in a lot of books I read.

Overall thoughts
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This book is perfect for younger readers who want an exciting adventure story. It also can be used to teach about other countries. I found myself learning things about Canada as I read. I would highly recommend it and I have plans to read the first three books in the series.

You can learn more about the author and her books on her blog, Darlene Foster

Her book can be found on Book Club Reading List

Author Interview with Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster, author of Amanda in Alberta, has answered some questions on writing.

Interview

What is the most exciting thing about writing?
Seeing something done to completion. It always feels like the book will never be finished as you slog along. Then one day it all comes together and you write “The End”. That is very exciting and not too dissimilar to giving birth. All the pain and frustration is forgotten when the little one, or book, appears.

What book inspired you the most?
It is difficult to name just one but if I have to pick, I guess it would be Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery. I just loved how she portrayed Anne Shirley as a spunky, caring young girl who wasn´t afraid to try new experiences. Lucy Maude Montgomery created a character everyone could love in Anne.

Do you use real life experiences for inspiration?
I use my own travels for inspiration. I don´t have mysteries to solve like Amanda, but I always enjoy learning about the places I visit. In Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone, I did use some of my experiences growing up in the Canadian prairies. For instance, my aunt and I collected interesting stones we found in the badlands.

Favorite line you’ve written?
From Amanda in Alberta:The Writing on the Stone – “Besides,I promised Gord I would look after you girls, and a man´s word is a man´s word.” This is something my dad would have said!

Who is the person who helped you the most in your writing?
My long time friend, Sheila MacArthur, has been incredibly supportive and helpful. She has inspired me, driven me around to sites in my books and is part of my editing team. She finds many little things I miss. I also belong to a critique group of four writers who have been extremely helpful in my writing.

You can learn more about Darlene and her books on her blog Darlene Foster

Cover Reveal for Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone

Amanda is delighted to show Leah aaround Alberta during her visit from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, go on a cattle drive, visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, spend time with the dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and explore the crazy Hoodoos. When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn’t think it’s important until everyone seems to want it – including a very ornery cowboy. Is this stone worth ruining Leah’s holiday and placing them both in danger? Spend time with Amanda as she explores her own country while attempting to decipher the mysterious writing on the stone and keep it from those determined to take it from her.