We don't do stars...
We don't do thumbs...
We read children's books and grade them in 10 categories:
literary quality
descriptive ability
humor (if attempted)
illustrations (if present)
believability of characters
believability of situations
overall reading enjoyment

There is no grading curve. There are no points for classroom participation. There is no extra credit.
If you disagree, come speak to us after class.

The Grading System

A+.....this means (guess what) we think it's great. So great it surprised even us.
A.....this means it's pretty darn good. A book we'd recommend to just about everyone we know.
B.....better than most. Not exactly Shakespeare for kids, though, if you get our drift.
C.....mediocre. Like the color beige, it didn't stand out.
D.....we didn't like it. There were more bad aspects than good ones.
F.....it reeked of badness. We read it over and over when we are in dire need of hysterical laughter.
F-.....We're pretty sure Dante had a circle of hell for the people who wrote these...and a lower circle for those who published them.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Author Interview: Rosanne Parry

Today we are proud to welcome Rosanne Parry, author of Heart of a Shepherd!

Ignatius (known as Brother) is the youngest in a family of strong men, most of whom plan careers in the military and/or herding the cows on their family's ranch. When Brother's father, a military officer, leaves to fight overseas, Brother has to step up to be the man of the house...and discover his plan for his own future...

CBR: Heart of a Shepherd takes place on a ranch--how did you discover what life on a ranch was like?

RP: I’ve never lived on a ranch, although I have lived in small towns. I have friends who live on ranches and I’ve traveled through Eastern Oregon several times. There are plenty of good books about ranch life. A current favorite is The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss. Agricultural colleges are a great source of information and YouTube has an extensive collection of calf birth videos. Yeah, I was surprised too! It’s interesting to see but definitely not for the faint of heart.

CBR: Faith and family are such an integral part of your story...was your own family an inspiration for this?

RP: Not really. I used to be an altar boy so the scene where Brother was serving on the altar was lots of fun for me to write. On the other hand, the Alderman family Christmas traditions are nothing like my own. Some writers do base their characters on people they know, but that never works for me. The only character in the book that’s “real” is Brother’s Shetland pony Spud.

CBR: Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for children, like Brother, whose parents are away at war?

RP: So here’s the big secret about being in the military. Soldiers love each other. If you have a mom or dad serving the armed forces, you can be positive that they are surrounded by other soldiers who love them and would do ANYTHING to help them.
The soldiers your parent serves with care about you, too, and they love it when you send your parent pictures and drawings and great stories about your life at home. All the ordinary stuff you do is like treasure to people far away, so send them lots of letters and play piano over the phone and send videos of the school play and tell about your cool science project. Everybody will be glad you did!

CBR: Heart of a Shepherd was your first published novel; what was the hardest part about writing this book? What was the hardest part of getting it published?

RP: My husband is a veteran of Desert Storm and had been off active duty for a dozen years when I began working on Heart of a Shepherd six or seven years ago. By the time I was revising it, I had several family members on active duty and a few had deployments. That made the work far more emotionally intense than it might have been otherwise. The challenge for me was to give the story emotional strength without overwhelming a young reader. Fortunately, I have an editor I trust to help me find that balance.
The hard part about the publishing process is how long everything takes. Even with an agent, it takes time to sell a manuscript. Once you have a publisher it takes months and often more than a year to get on the schedule and through the revision process. Once that hurdle is cleared it may take many more months to design the cover, copy edit, print and ship the books. Once your book is in stores, it’s months before you know whether or not you are making sales. It’s not that I wish things would speed up exactly. I’m glad my editor is committed to making sure I have enough time to write the strongest book I can. The cover and book design took a while, but the result is gorgeous! It’s just hard to wait.

CBR: How do you balance your vocation of writing with your vocation of motherhood?

RP: Lucky for me house cleaning and yard work is not a vocation! Not a lot of that going on over here. Seriously. Ask around.
It helps greatly that the one vocation supports the other. I’m a better writer for having a house full of children. I have insight into childhood I would not have if I were just recalling my own experiences. My teaching and volunteer work puts me in regular contact with children beyond the immediate circle of my family. Children are also very motivating. I have to be purposeful about setting aside a time and place for writing, so it motivates me to get work accomplished when I have writing time.
I also find the writing helps the mothering. Because I’m immersed in children’s books I’ve read most of the books my children love, and we have an easy avenue to talk about what is important to them. Literature at its best is an invitation to a conversation, and I love it that books are a way for my children and me to connect.

CBR: Finally, are there any questions you've always wished to be asked that you'd like to answer here?

RP: Not so much a question but a moment of shameless self-promotion. I’m very proud to be a member of the Class of 2K9, a group of debut middle grade and young adult authors who have banded together to promote our books releasing in 2009. We are all so grateful for the work teachers and librarians do to make literacy happen that we wanted to do something to pay them back, particularly in our current budget crisis. Authors-To-Go was formed out of this idea. It’s a volunteer virtual author visit that the Class is offering to teachers and librarians and summer reading programs in 2009. Pick the book your kids and love and contact us at authorstogo@classof2K9.com. We will arrange an hour-long chat room or Skype visit with our author and your students. It’s easy and fun so give us a try!

CBR: Thank you so much, Rosanne! Your book was such a pleasure to read, and we're very grateful for the time you took for this interview. We'll be keeping our eyes out for Heart of a Shepherd when the award season comes around!
To learn more about Rosanne Parry and her books (and to see more cool pictures like the ones of the lamb and lovely easten Oregon mountainscape she provided), visit her website at http://www.rosanneparry.com/

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I loved this book! And I definitely agree with the opinion that reading a lot is a great connection with your kids...true in my life!