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Monthly Archives: February 2018

About Book Review of Hidden Sea

A compelling read from the start, you are immediately drawn into the story when nineteen-year-old Augustus (Augie) Sweetwater wakes up tethered by chains and shoeless in a dark and dank locale. Enraged by his circumstance he struggles with remembering just how he got there. As the story changes perspectives you meet his Great Uncle Charlie Sweetwater. He’s a 68 year old, impetuous type of free spirit, with an assortment of boats, former owner of a semi-successful business and a small assortment of likable, colorful friends. Raul, Augie’s father, contacts Charlie when Augie, although known to hold the family trait of being “free wheeling”, remains unaccounted for, after two days of failing to make contact while on a business trip along the Mexican gulf. While Raul worries that his son is really a missing person, Charlie believes that he may have made a pit stop along the way and merely forgot to call anyone. However, the mystery and adventure takes on momentum when the feeling that something is amiss hounds Charlie as well as Raul, subsequently leading them to initiating an intense search for Augie. As a result, each man embarks on separate missions to find Augustus, with their excursions bringing them into contact with, friends, danger, corruption and oddball acquaintances.

Overall Hidden Sea was a terrifically worthwhile read that approached a difficult topic with appealing eloquence. Besides being shrewdly plotted with twists, emotions, revelations and personal transformations, the story hosted a cast of distinctive characters, that made the read especially entertaining. In particular, I enjoyed Charlie, he was an intriguing personality to follow. Also, I found young Augie’s transformation throughout his circumstances to be compelling. This is definitely one great read to add to the library.

Read About Chickens

Another interesting book that children can try reading is Little Red Hen. In this book you can see how the story progresses as the hen tries to incorporate her lazy pals in a task to plant the seeds, cut the wheat, carry them to the mill and reach the farm with a bag full of flour. Children find it interesting the way she asks the idle dog, drowsy cat and a loud duck for their assistance in baking the bread. Accordingly each of them comes out to help the little hen. Finally, she decides to manage the bread all by herself.

Children can also read the story of Chicken Little, a story which has been published in several versions. The leading characters in this book include Chicken Little, Henny-Penny and Cocky-Locky. Though the birds depicted in this story do not illustrate a good sense, “The sky is falling” has been famed as one of the catchiest phrases in the history of literature.

In one of the versions of Chicken Little, you will find how an oak nut strikes Chicken Little on his head while walking in the woods. Out of anger he starts flying assuming that the sky is falling over him. Then he decides to meet with the king to explain everything. Later on his way, he shares the instance with Ducky-Lucky and Henny-Penny, who finally gets convinced that this is an alarm of a possible disaster. When the group discusses the story with Foxey-Loxey, he tricks them into entering his cave for dinner.

There are several other books based on a rooster who forgot how to brag. One such readable number is “Cock-a-Doodle-Moo!” This book tells you the funny story how the bird forgets to crow and finally manages to save the farm from the reach of a cunning fox.

In addition to these books that your child can enjoy reading, you can also make it all funny for them by reading aloud. You can also find some audio versions and picture books of “The Little Red Hen,” “Cock-A-Doodle-Moo!” or “Chicken Little.”

All about Narrating an Audio-Book

The strength of the printed story as with the audio play is that they allow the imagination to come into play, for though a character may be described in a book, their picture in our mind will be our own. Similarly with an audio play, a character may appear but unless he is described by another character we have no idea as to their appearance, and the listener’s imagination must fill in the gaps.

But with a piece of fiction which is to be narrated by one voice one cannot make a direct narration because too many of the clues are missing. No matter how skilled an actor the narrator is, there is still the possibility that confusion can arise when differentiating characters.

So, where the printed page may read –

“I’m going home now, I’m tired.”
“Really? I thought you looked quite lively.”

The reader knows that this is a conversation between two people because of the punctuation marks, but a listener doesn’t and that requires the insertion of the ubiquitous ‘he said’, ‘she said’ to a degree which wouldn’t be acceptable to a reader, but is necessary for a listener.

If one adds sound effects and background music which might drown or muffle the narrator’s voice the effect can be even more confusing.

If this seems trivial to the writer, they are missing the point. If the story is to be told, it should be told well.

This is important because of the rise of the audio-book, especially Amazon’s Audible imprint. Amazon rarely get things wrong and they are making a huge investment in promoting Audible, creating a huge opportunity for the indie writer. But to just take your masterpiece and hand it to a narrator is to do it an injustice. It deserves to be rewritten with the listener in mind rather than the reader and there is another lesson to be learned here about brevity. With a printed page a boring passage can easily be bypassed, or pages flicked forward till the reader re-engages with the story, but this is impossible with an audio-book because a Fast Forward button on your MP3 player still leaves you guessing about where to restart your listening.

So, cut it down, eliminate the boring, no matter how luscious your prose. The very fact of listening to a story, rather than reading it or sitting in front of a screen means it is very likely the listener is performing some other task at the same time. Bore them and they’ll hit the Stop button before heading to Amazon for a refund.

This is, relatively speaking, a new medium and even a skilled dramatist, experienced in writing for radio can be caught out by the vagaries of a narrated text. Narrators cost money as does studio time, so it’s best to narrate yourself to begin with and let a friend or colleague pass comment on your efforts before incurring any expenditure. If they understand every word and love it, you’ve done well and would be justified in hiring a professional narrator. But the likelihood is that there will be flaws and these should be corrected before going pro.

This isn’t an easy option because narrating a novel of 60,000 words is going to stretch to over five and a half hours of audio at an average reading speed of 180 words per minute. But reading it aloud brings added benefits in that it can aid the editing process and pick up errors more easily than reading silently from page or screen so I would recommend recording your novel chapter by chapter so it doesn’t become too onerous a task to do in one session.

Children’s Picture Books

As an English Teacher sometimes I am asked by parents why I have chosen a book with very little text, or a book that offers a very short and seemingly unchallenging story. The answer to this question is quite simple. Children learn through pictures. Young children soon pick up the short text of a picture book, if it is shared with an adult who brings the illustrations on the pages to life. Children can then develop their own sense of the world through the pictures and relate short stories to their own rather big experiences.

From a very young age children speak in narrative style so it is easy for them to pick up the text of a short story and use it in everyday language. It is also through their own stories of everyday experiences that they define themselves and are able to express their ideas, hopes and emotions in language as well as in drawing and imaginative play.

I recently popped over to Amazon and found an ideal book for children who are just beginning to speak. There are two in the series at present and are vividly illustrated. The two books in question are: Jonathan the Red Head goes to bed and Jonathan the Red Head has a friend. What I found so appealing about these books is that they are so vividly illustrated and the stories are very real. Each and every child goes to bed each night and with the experience of reading the book with Mom the child learns the outcome of that particular experience and the child is then able to build up a simulated experience along with an adult who can make the story a reality.

Sharing picture books with your child is not only about developing your child’s language ability; it is also about giving your children a wider outlook on the world. The one-to-one interaction of sharing picture books gives a child an added opportunity to develop at their own speed, knowing that they are being encouraged by an adult that they look up to. As children share more and more books with parents and teachers their self-confidence develops. This can often be seen in the way they approach the unfamiliar and engage in new experiences.

Book two is ideal for a child who is just starting out in life. Maybe visiting a Moms and tots groups with Mom or even just starting out at kindergarten or school. Most children suffer from the apprehension of joining an established group, once in, most are able to play and relate to the other children. Book two is ideal for this as it shows the child that everything will be OK. When the adult explains and embellishes the book to the child it helps to develop the child’s imagination.

The Jonathan the Red Head series is a great start for new author Perl R. Brenner; the books show that she has a real flair for understanding what children need. It’s a shame that the books are only available on Kindle as these books would transfer perfectly into a paperback version.