Yolanda Ridge

Children's Author

Guatemala

Here’s an exciting message to receive from a reader… my books are going to Guatemala! I hope they are enjoyed by this lovely family. Happy summer reading everyone!

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Whole Novel Workshop… here I come!

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Thanks to a professional development grant from the Access Copyright Foundation I will be attending the whole novel workshop in August. The workshop is provided by Highlights Foundation at their beautiful site in the Pocono Mountains.

I just finished submitting the manuscript of my work-in-progress, Cruelty Free, to my mentor Jennifer Jacobson. I am so excited that this book, my first foray into the Young Adult genre (aimed specifically at 12 to 16-year-old readers), will be revised with the help of experts in the field. I am also thrilled about the prospect of spending a week with my peers, immersed in the creative process, while my kids hang out with their grandma and papa!

Thank you Access Copyright!! I will be sending a report from Highlights!!

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Extraordinary

85aa7143d67567dd5b1308d2fb2ff962-w204@1xTitle: Extraordinary

Author: Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 9781632204028

First, I have to start with a disclaimer: there is no way I can objectively review this book. It was written by my critique partner and great writing friend, Miriam Spitzer Franklin, and I’ve the pleasure of reading it at various stages of production. The novel has undergone extensive review numerous times and Miriam has worked tirelessly to tell this beautiful story of friendship, hope, disability, and self discovery.

The journey to publication has not been easy for Miriam or this book but I’m so glad she persevered. Extraordinary is a beautifully written, contemporary middle grade novel about two best friends, Pansy and Anna. At a basic level, it is about what 10-year-old Pansy is willing to do for Anna – to become an “extraordinary” friend – after Anna suffers severe brain after contracting meningitis. But underneath all the acts of bravery – cutting off her hair, rollerblading, and more – is Pansy’s ultimate desire to get back the friend she misses so much. Through her journey, Pansy realizes that wishing for something doesn’t necessarily make it come true and that being extraordinary means so much more than taking risks and trying new things.

Aimed at eight to twelve year old readers, this book is heart warming, authentic, and highly recommended (despite my lack of objectivity)! Check it out – you won’t be disappointed!

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Skype Visit with Unity Middle School

75039_451991017273_1237976_nToday I rolled out of bed early to meet with a class of grade six students at Unity Middle School in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. What a great way to start the day! There were no technical issues and lots of great questions! My thanks to their teacher, Greg Paulsen, for welcoming me into his classroom and preparing so well for the visit. Thank you also to the students who had thoughtful questions about Road Block, writing, being and author, and living in BC. They were such a great audience that I may need to make the 24 hour drive (468 hours on foot) to visit their lovely town and school one day!

UPDATE: Check out this video for a taste of what it’s like to meet me on SKYPE!

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Authors for Indies

imagesTomorrow is Authors for Indies Day! Rossland’s fantastic independent locally owned bookstore, New Edition Café Books, is hosting local authors Almeda Glenn Miller (10:30-12:00), Jennifer Ellis (presenting a workshop on Indie and Hybrid Publishing from 1:30-3:00), and Rosa Jordan (3:00-5:00). Unfortunately, due to prior commitments I am not able to participate but I have donated some books for a door prize. Come out to talk books and support your local bookstore!

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The Walking Fish

9780990782933c1-300x300Title: The Walking Fish

Author: Rachelle Burk & Kopel Burk

Publisher: TumbleHome Learning

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 987-0-9907829-3-3

This middle grade novel, aimed at students in grades 4-7, got off to a slow start for me. There was a typo on the first page. And the “action” starts with a collection of groan-worthy puns that define the relationship between the main character, Alexis (“Minnow”) and her fingerless, fish-loving grandfather who doesn’t make an actual appearance in the book until the last couple pages.

The puns continue past the first page but the slow part is almost immediately replaced with a fast-paced adventure. First, Alexis finds the fish in a pond outside her family’s summer cabin at Glacial Lake. Then, she and her friend, Darshan, are immediately drawn into the mystery of where the walking, blind fish came from. The truth is pursued through boat and helicopter rides, cave exploration and spelunking, with a greedy, back-stabbing, chairman of the the Environmental Science Department at Glacial Lake University (in other words, the boss) thrown in for good conflict.

The science in this book is accurate, well presented, and not overwhelming. The narrative is clear and Rachel Burke does a good job of incorporating interesting characters that challenge Alexis as a friend, daughter and scientists while also introducing her to the first twinges of romance. But the best character, by far, is Alexis herself who is fearless and relentless in her pursuit of the truth – all initiated by an authentic grief that accompanies the death of “her fish”.

The ending was not completely satisfying or realistic. Why doesn’t Alexis, after being so feisty and forthcoming throughout the novel, tell everyone the truth about her scientific discovery when she’s rescued from the cave? It is only when two other students at the University come forward with the truth about the boss that everyone magically forgives Alexis. And then suddenly, everything is neatly tied up – and I mean everything, even the big mouth on the big boss – and Alexis gets the credit she deserves.

Minor quibbles aside, The Walking Fish is a great read. It will especially appeal to those with an interest in science – like me – but there is enough action and character development to keep everyone turning the page. Recommended.

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World Book Day

9780385674058_0Happy World Book Day!

I’m not dressing up for the occasion (although many people in the UK do – very cool!) But I am reading. And since my morning radio show asked everyone what book was on their bedside table, I feel compelled to share:

My books;

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King

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Annaleise Carr: How I Conquiered Lake Ontario to Help Kids Battling Cancer by Annaleise Carr and Deborah Ellis

 Oliver’s books;

A Pair of Docks by Jennifer Ellis

50 Climate Questions: A Blizzard of Blistering Facts by Peter Christie and Ross Kinnaird (illustrator)

Spencer’s books;

Fun Facts & Silly Stories 3 Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

50cq– The Black Circle: The 39 Clues (book 5) by Patrick Carman

Now I happen to think that everyday should be book day… but I’m very grateful to the organizers of World Book Day. Enjoy your read!

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When the Worst Happens

Title: WHEN THE WORST HAPPENS: Extraordinary Stories of Survival

Author: Tanya Lloyd Kyi1403562658

Publisher: Annick Press

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 978-1-55451-682-7

This great non-fiction offering from BC author Tanya Lloyd Kyi challenges readers to think about what they’d do if they were facing life and death. Along with engaging artwork by David Parkins, the text provides practical survival tips such as finding friends, going back to basics and getting zen (my personal favourite).

But what really makes this book riveting reading for someone who will probably never get trapped in a mine or on a floating chunk of ice are the real life stories of young people who have faced these types of scenarios. These personal vignettes are told through a fast paced narrative that encourages readers to skip ahead pages (literally) so they can find out what happened. Interspersed with interesting facts about the bodies response to stress, fear, and deprivation (and starvation, dehydration, altitude sickness, insomnia, heat exhaustion, hypothermia, injury…) geographic descriptions and historical facts that put dangers into context, this format also allows the stories to serve as examples of each chapter’s learning point.

With the perfect mix of good story telling and education, When the Worst Happens is highly recommended for 9 to 12-year-olds (and above) – whether your an adventure seeker, bad luck finder, or armchair crusader.

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The Hypnotist

Title: The Hypnotists

Author: Gordon Kormanm4575_hypnotistsbo_4cc

Publisher: Scholastic

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 9780545503228

In honour of my sons’ birthday, I thought I’d post a book by one of their favourite authors, Gordon Korman.

With so many great titles to choose from, I had trouble narrowing it down to one feature book by this prolific story teller. My whole family is a huge fan of the 39 clues (the audiobooks are highly recommended for a long car rides), Spencer loves The Everest Trilogy (and Titanic and Dive and Island...) and Oliver is really looking forward to the release of Masterminds.

But the concept of The Hypnotists, where a 12-year-old mind bender masters his talent and learns how the gift of hypnotism can be used to destroy (or save) the world, is pure genius. We are currently listening to the audio version of The Hypnotists (after reading it several times) and reading (well, my son is re-reading) the next book in the series, Memory Maze, which is just as engaging as the first.

Luckily, Gordon Korman likes trilogies so we can probably look forward to another book in this series too. In the meantime, check out any of this author’s titles – you will not be disappointed!

You will not be disappointed, you will not be disappointed, you will not be…

 

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Graphic Novels

My last post for the Mixed-Up Files is about Graphic Novels. I will miss being part of that group but will continue to follow the blog and hope to use my extra time (ha!) to post more news and views on this website (including reviews!)

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