Booklist Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Issue: April 15, 2013
Back Before Dark
Shoemaker, Tim (Author)
Mar 2013. 376 p. Zonderkidz, hardcover, $14.99. (9780310734994).

The trap that begins this strong follow-up to the excellent Code of Silence (2012) is sickeningly smart. Friends Cooper, Hiro, and Lunk watch in shock as their pal Gordy hails a van to tell the driver that there’s a backpack on the roof. But it is a lure; the side door slides open, Gordy is tazed, and the van vanishes with him. The authorities are clueless, so the guilt-ridden friends start taking their own investigative steps, each riskier than the last. Shoemaker’s third-person voice gives us each kid’s perspective, including Gordy, who is chained in a pitch-black, slowly flooding basement. We also get glimpses of the kidnapper, who views the whole thing as a game before it spirals out of control. As with the first book, multiple characters’ prayers feel awkwardly inserted, and there is a certain amount of repetition spread across the perhaps too many chapters. Still, Shoemaker’s characters and plot possess a believability rare for YA mysteries. And the climax? You will not have any fingernails left by the final page.
— Daniel Kraus, Booklist, starred review

Title: The Ultimate Guys’ Body Book

Author: Dr. Walt Larimore
Naomi Kinsman. Zonderkidz, $7.99 ISBN 978-1-310-72662-3

For parents who dread talking with their adolescent sons about their changing bodies, Walt Larimore’s book may be a help. Larimore, a family-practice physician, offers a series of 30 questions that he answers in a teen-friendly way with medical evidence and a good sense of humor. He starts out easy, with what a growth spurt is and how to get bigger muscles; then he gets to the issues that many people are reluctant to discuss, such as the ins and outs of puberty and what’s going on down there. With witty answers rooted in facts, Larimore’s guide can help ease an uncomfortable situation when mothers or fathers have “the talk” with their sons.
— Whitney Fetterhoff

Shades of Truth
Naomi Kinsman. Zonderkidz, $7.99 ISBN 978-1-310-72662-3

Kinsman (Spilled Ink) opens the From Sadie’s Sketchbook series with 12-year-old Sadie Douglas’s recent move from California to Owl Creek, Mich., where her father will mediate between bear researchers and the state’s Department of Natural Resources and the local hunters who want to remove the threat posed by bears. The move is also designed to help Sadie’s mom, who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome. Sadie misses her best friends, and the local kids, most of them children of hunters, don’t welcome the new bear-hugging family. Sadie’s classmate Frankie seems especially to have it in for the new girl. It isn’t clear how much Sadie can trust her new friend Ruth, but her art classes open a door to observation of the world and the expressions and motives of people—and bears—coexisting in that world. Kinsman offers a realistic and nuanced rendering that works for readers who want to know about the role of Christian faith in a young person’s development, as well as those who like a fresh story about the journey of growing up. Flickering Hope, the next book in the series, is available simultaneously. Ages 9–up. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/18/2011

Permalink: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-310-72662-3 (978-1-310-72662-3)

Title: My Beautiful Daughter: What it means to be loved by God

Author: Tasha K. Douglas 

Publisher: Zonderkidz, 182 pages,

 ADVANCED READING COPY “My Beautiful Daughter: What it means to be loved by God, by Tasha K. Douglas, is a comforting book. No wonder it joins the other books in Zonderkidz growing FaithgirlzTM Library. Encouraging getting outside help is a recurrent theme which builds reliance, also known as trust, in ‘Father God.’ This is most important because to know you are not just ONE alone when affronted by adversaries prompts such actions as Douglas professes, ‘Be sure to tell your parents, an adult counselor at school, or another grown-up you trust if you or someone you know is being bullied.’ Douglas reveals ‘Father God’ in a warm, endearing, and empowers girls to turn their mind towards ‘Father God’; empowering them to allow Him to work in their lives. Not every girl has a father or her father’s undivided attention as ‘Father God’ gives. Not every daughter recognizes how ‘Father God’ cares for her and is always there for her. That’s where this book comes in. My Beautiful Daughter: What it means to be loved by God, provides tune ups for a daughter’s spiritual recognition skills; such as in recognizing the presence of ‘Father God,’ the challenges, challenger, the influence of father’s image in their lives. The joyous manner in which Douglas guides readers is through relatable stories, Praise Prompts (with nuggets of scriptural truths), tidbits, Daughter You Decide, Daughter’s Deed, and at the end of each chapter is an inviting Daughter Declare Your Prayer segment. These stop points keep the reader’s attention and give a
pause to reflect on ‘Father God,’ in their lives.”

-Attribution coming


THE INSIDE VIEW (4 ½ out of 5 stars rating)
Salvador SeBasco Book Critic Literary Director Host of THE INSIDE VIEW SHOWTM –Christian Radio– on staff with CNN affiliate station, KNLE March 3, 2012
Booklist: November 15, 2011
Gift of Peace: The Jimmy Carter Story
Raum, Elizabeth (Author)
Sep 2011. 128 p. Zonderkidz, paperback, $6.99. (9780310727569). 973.926092.

The books in the Zonderkidz Biography series tell the lives of influential figures from a Christian point of view, with previous entries focused on Brazilian soccer star Kaká and U2 bandleader Bono. The thirty ninth president may not have quite the high-interest cachet as those two, but there’s no denying his life is a model of dignity and compassion. Carter’s Baptist upbringing has been a strong life influence, so it isn’t a stretch when this title pauses to discuss how the former president would look to his faith for inspiration, guidance, and comfort, and nearly as much attention is given to his efforts to fight segregation throughout his career. Raum also discusses how Carter was ahead of his time as an environmentalist, approached diplomacy by “waging peace,” and became a leading figure for Habitat for Humanity. Specific details—such as noting that he began each morning in the Oval Office by reciting Psalm 19:14—reinforcethe religious subtext and solidify this biography as a nice option for Christian  communities, though its message of fundamental human decency is appropriate for any reader.

-The Inside View

Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Issue: July 1, 2012
Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Samson, L. L. (Author)
May 2012. 141 p. Zonderkidz, paperback, $7.99. (9780310727958).

In this tongue-in-cheek opener to the Enchanted Attic series, twins Linus and Ophelia discover an attic portal to “Book World” that temporarily brings a literary character to life. First up: Quasimodo, a disfigured but gentle young man who quickly develops a taste for peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and other modern marvels. Serving as an unusually intrusive narrator, self-described “literary fussbudget” Bartholomew Inkster interjects (spoiler-free) thematic discussions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and parenthetical definitions of relevant terms into his account of the twins’ efforts to keep their metafictional visitor a secret. With help from a local priest/ex–bounty hunter and a new friend with a shady past, Linus and Ophelia not only track down the portal’s inventor but also climactically save lives by providing early warning of a coming flood. In the end, Quasi goes back where he came from, setting the stage for an upcoming dive into Moby-Dick. Readers who enjoy such bibliophilic shenanigans as N. E. Bode’s The Anybodies (2004) will take to this lightweight way to introduce major events and themes in a frequently assigned classic.
— Ian Chipman, Booklist

The Stories Behind the Stories

Reviews of my "Slush pile" books

Slush Pile

Welcome to slush pile stories! Featuring the many great books I helped produce over 30 years in publishing.

Slush Pile: Publishing long referring to the "pile" of manuscript submissions an editor has on his or her desk (and inbox) at any given time, typically unsolicited and unagented.