Archive for the ‘Children’s Books’ Category

Just released in time for Christmas: The Doll Violinist!

THE DOLL VIOLINIST

Author: Mayra Calvani www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com
Illustrations: Amy Cullings Moreno
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-61633-185-6; 1616331852
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-61633-186-3; 1616331860
eBook ISBN: 978-1-61633-187-0; 1616331879
For ages 3-7

Five days before Christmas, Emma is captivated by a doll in a shop window. Each day, she sneaks out of the orphanage to check if it’s been sold, but the shop owner, Madame Dubois, sends her away. Will the magic of Christmas bring Emma, Madame Dubois, and the doll violinist together?

ABC’s Children’s Picture Book Finalist!
Honorable Mention Award in the 75th Annual Writers Digest Writing Competition!

Purchase from Guardian Angel Publishing or Amazon.

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Interview with Liesel Soley, author of Can You Be an Artist?

Liesel Soley, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music and Fulbright scholar in Paris, France, is a professional violinist. Soley has performed solo recitals in the U.S. and France and was the violinist in the piano trio, Trio Viva. She has taught violin at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City and violin and viola at St. Petersburg College and the Pinellas County Center for the Arts in St.Petersburg, Florida.

Presently, Liesel Soley shares her love for music with children, as well as adults in Clearwater, Florida where she teaches violin, viola, and chamber music privately and in an after-school program at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg.

Soley has found a welcome relief from the very disciplined, intensive, and time-consuming work with the violin in her other artistic means of expression; writing, painting and drawing.

Congratulations on the publication of your children’s book, Can You Be an Artist? What got you into writing?

My first writing was when I was in Paris on a Fulbright Grant. I was struggling with the violin and life, and one day when it was very difficult to approach the violin, I just started to write some poetry with no expectations or standards to meet. This took place over a period of about two weeks. It was a kind of a relief and my morale went way up. The poems remained in my violin case for 44 years! I couldn’t quite throw them away.

Then several years ago my family requested I send them personal things I had created which resulted in putting together CDs of some of my solo violin and piano trio performances, a book of my paintings, and Yes! – those poems mentioned above along with some very short stories I wrote up about playing violin in the streets which I had been telling for years! Yes, even though I am a Juilliard graduate, I have hit the streets and had some interesting and fun experiences in the streets of New York, London, and Paris! Some of my friends look aghast at some of the things I do. I just laugh!

So, this brings me to the children’s book I just completed. During the summer some of my students disappear, going to camps and on vacation, so it was either do something creative or sit around and mope because of a lack of work.
“Can YOU Be an Artist?” came into being!

What was your inspiration for Can You Be an Artist?

Working with my violin students and seeing total transformations take place, sometimes quickly and sometimes over a period of years.The violin is extremely challenging and it takes tremendous discipline and persistence to play well. To see the confidence, the self-esteem, the growth of students developing as a result of participating in the arts is rewarding and exciting. Taking part in orchestras, recitals, and competitions can give such a sense of accomplishment to these youngsters. Although I have mostly seen this as a musician, I know that students in all the arts tend to excel in other areas as well, such as in school. Individuals who express themselves through the arts, who create, are happier and more successful. I know this with absolute certainty and wanted to express this.

What message you hope readers will get from your book?

As indicated in my authors note, one can create in many ways, “— If one truly creates beauty and quality in what one does and if this translates to others one is actively being an artist.”

Also – Dare To Follow Your Dreams! Dare To Be Yourself! Dare to Be Free!!

Tell us about what your writing process was like for this book. Did you outline it first? Did you edit it as you went along?

The structure, using the three different art forms and the three kids just popped up. I mocked it up very quickly. As I have a number of Korean students I wanted one of the kids to be Korean. Each child was very real to me. Because I was able to be Freddie, or Honey, or Bae it was easy to write their feelings, about their families etc. Using the first person for them seemed very natural.The few word changes or added took place after the writing was done as a whole.

You also illustrated the book. Give us a glimpse into the mind of the author/illustrator persona? Did you write the story first and later illustrate it?

The writing was done first although I had illustrations in mind. There was an original mock-up of the book with far fewer illustrations than in the completed published book. A number of people had commented that there were too few illustrations, too many words per page, that the colors were weak and there were not enough details for kids. I agreed, so the next summer (2010) I decided to handle the things that were not ok and complete the book.

It was very difficult for me. I added 12 more drawings and totally changed all the existing ones except for 2, and even those I had to do all over because the paper was different!

I would lie awake at night mocking up the next illustration – hardly slept for 2 months. I was excited and determined to finish within two months before the school season started. The work was intense. I mocked up the illustrations easily but when it came to the execution of the drawings in terms of enough color it drove me nuts. I would create the drawing rather quickly then invariably at a certain point I would have exactly what I wanted but not enough color and I would stop and move on to the next illustration! I did not have the certainty and courage to do full color right off! I was afraid I would mess up on those tiny little lines or dots or whatever, like with expressions on faces, and that I would have to do the whole picture over again!

O Man, I ended up going over these illustrations three times – the entire picture 3 times – each time adding another layer of color, each time in more agony than the previous time! It was awful! I was an idiot!

I am laughing at the whole experience. Not being trained in painting, drawing, or illustrating, this was more than a learning experience! It was literally painful! I was doing these drawings leaning over the dining room table with a lot of weight on my left arm and hand pressing down on the table while I meticulously (and gingerly!) proceeded to work with my right hand. A little before the end of the 2 months I felt like a cripple! I could not play the violin for over 2 weeks! Next time it is full color on the first shot!!! and with a decent set up!

What made you decide to publish your book with Book Publishers Network?

I had used a POD place for the book of my paintings and although I was very happy with the results it was a lot of keeping at it to get exactly what I wanted. For my book with the poems and short stories about playing in the streets I used Apple. It was nice – but expensive.

I wanted a publisher that had a team of experts, someone with whom I could communicate easily and someone who would get the job done quickly. Sheryn Hara with Book publishers Network had been recommended by an author/illustrator acquaintance as being very good for first time authors with plenty of experience and expertise and she really cared for her authors. She sent me samples of children’s books which I really liked. She was exactly what I wanted. She was hooked up with a fine printer so my book was completed!

Also, I wanted a wider audience for this book- not just family and friends.

What was the publishing process like?

Things moved along very well. Sometimes there would be suggestions but my needs and wants as an artist were totally respected. It was suggested I use some kind of border around the pictures and a number were shown to me but I really did not want that and that was totally accepted. I groaned when Sheryn Hara said the cover of the book which I had done needed to be jazzed up. I told her I did not want anyone else doing any of the art work. She immediately said none of the art work would be disturbed – just the background would be made more alive. I was sent a number of possibilities and love the one I chose. I find it very aesthetic and am glad my publisher pushed me in that respect.

I was glad not one word of my writing was changed. There would have been a fight if changes had been wanted. Punctuation had to be handled! No problem! Book Publishers Network is hooked up with a fine printer and the book was completed!

What is your schedule like? How do you balance your violinist, music instructor, artist, and writer personas?

At this time in my life I am primarily teaching violin, viola and chamber music, but my involvement in my other arts has increased considerably! I teach privately at my home 7 days a week and 3 afternoons in an after school program at Shorecrest . There are music teachers meetings to attend, and recitals and competitions to arrange. Add to that violin presentations and now book signings and work on PR. I also have arranged to have some of my young students perform at book stores and libraries where I have book signings. Things are busy! The short answer to your question is – I am very focused on what I am doing at any given moment, and I work hard 7 days a week. I thrive on lots of fast action!

Do you have tips for unleashing and nurturing one’s creativity?

Sure – find something you have really wanted to do and START! Be true to yourself, maintain your integrity and do not let others throw you. Go at your own pace, keep it light and have FUN! If it is not always fun -well, so what!

Are you working on another book? What’s on the horizon for you?

Not at the moment, but I have a couple in mind. I am not setting a timetable. I have a way of doing things spontaneously at the right time for me. The future looks interesting, challenging and fun. And there are definitely unknowns! I like it that way.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers?

Yes, I would love to hear from you – to know if my book has inspired you or your children or your grandchildren. Also, I would be delighted to have you visit my web site and be in communication with me.

Frederico, the Mouse Violinist book trailer

Latest reviews of Frederico, the Mouse Violinist

Frederico, the Mouse Violinist is an absolutely wonderful children’s picture book. Through a delightful story, the author teaches about the world’s most famous violin maker, Antonio Stradivari, along with various parts of the violin.

But, what has a mouse to do with Stradivari and violins? Well, Calvani cleverly weaved a story that has Frederico living in the home where Stradivari creates his masterpieces.

Loving the violin, the mouse wished he could play. At night while the master slept, Frederico would play among the violins and move the bow across the strings, making sweet sounds. Hearing the music and seeing Frederico’s appreciation for the violin, Stradivari created a special tiny violin for the mouse.

Adding dimension to the story are full page illustrations that are vibrant and fanciful, making Frederico, the Mouse Violinist an engaging, kids-will-love-it picture book. The book also provides information on Stradivari; a glossary for words related to the violin, such as bridge, peg, and scroll; and two activity pages. It is an enjoyable and fun tool that parents and teachers can use to introduce the violin to young children.

I happen to love the sound of the violin, cello, and other stringed instruments. My appreciation for music came from my musical family, as well as school music education programs. In 7th and 8th grades my school offered violin instruction which I happily accepted.

Research from the 1950s through to today, demonstrates the benefits music has for children and even societies. Here are some of the benefits children can reap from music education:

Increases memorization capacity
Improves reasoning capacity and comprehension
Helps children learn and/or improve time management and organizational skills
Helps develop team skills, as well as math skills
Helps improve coordination and concentration
Is a universal language and encourages self-expression

Aside from the above mentioned benefits, you never know what will spark a child’s appreciation and love for music, it could be hearing a song, seeing musicians play, or learning about various instruments and their creation.

–Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and freelance writer. For writing and marketing information visit KarenCioffi.com, and sign up for her free newsletter: A Writer’s World. You’ll get 2 free e-books on writing and marketing in the process, and two more free e-books just for stopping by.

*****

Do you know any curious, young, music lovers? If so, introduce them to “Frederico, the Mouse Violinist.”

Mayra Calvani combines the curiosity and playfulness of Frederico the mouse with the history and genius of Antonio Stradivari, the famous violin maker, to tell a delightful story of kindness and friendship. Children will learn music vocabulary and the parts of the violin as they follow Frederico’s nightly escapades.

Curious Frederico peeked into the f-hole and looked inside the violin.
“This is the secret, magical place where sound comes out!” he squeaked.

The realistic, yet whimsical, illustrations by K. C. Snider add to the fun. The surprise ending of “Frederico the Mouse Violinist” will fill your heart with “warm fuzzies.” It may just inspire you to follow your dreams.

As a retired teacher, I would recommend this book as a fantastic way to introduce stringed instruments into the classroom. A biography of Stradivari and his accomplishments are included in the back of the book. The activity pages will reinforce the new vocabulary introduced in the book as well.

–Kathy Stemke, Education Tipster

*****

Do you have a budding violinist on your hands? Then he or she will definitely enjoy Frederico, the Mouse Violinist by Mayra Calvani.

Frederico is a little mouse with a big name. He lives in the workshop of a famous violin maker named Antonio Stradivari. During the day, the mouse watches Stradivari make his celebrated violins, but at night, Frederico explores the workshop and its wonders. But it’s the violins that capture Frederico’s attention the most. Frederico longs to play, but since he’s so little and the violin and bow are so big, playing seems an impossible task. However, the determined mouse practices night after night and when he captures the attention of the famous violin maker, the mouse violinist has a mouse-sized present in store for him!

This is an endearing tale that will introduce young readers to the classic string instrument. Not only is the tale inspirational, but it’s educational as well, introducing young virtuosos to the parts of a violin and the famous luthier, Antonio Stradivari. As Frederico learns that if you tighten a peg on a violin, the pitch will be higher and if you loosen it, the pitch will be lower, so will your own virtuoso. And just as Frederico learns that with a little passion and practice, he can play, Frederico will inspire anyone to strum their own tune to this delightful story.

–Lori Calabrese, National Children’s Book Examiner

*****

What an unexpected source of delight this picture book is. This sweet story is about a young mouse who lives in the workshop of the most famous violin maker of all. With tender wording and sensitive illustrations, we see how the master violin maker makes yet someone else’s life change as a result of his musical genius and creativity. This is storytelling at its best.

Every violin student and every violin teacher will treasure this book for its precious story about Frederico, the mouse, as he follows his dreams. Yet behind the tender story is an excellent explanation of the parts of a violin as well as a peek into the life of violin virtuoso Stradivari. The fantastic illustrations add a sense of wonder and delight to the telling, bringing the story to life.

I highly recommend this book for every child whether a violin student or not. Their heartstrings will be tugged and they will yearn to hold a violin in their hands and play it themselves. This is also a great classroom book for teachers to read to students during those young formative years when they are choosing whether or not to play an instrument.

Truly a new classic in picture books!

–Nancy I. Sanders, children’s author

*****

“Frederico, the Mouse Violinist”
Author: Mayra Calvani
Illustrator: K.C. Snider
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/
Hardcover: 978-1-61633-113-9
Paperback: 987-1-61633-114-6
EBook 13: 978-61633-125-2
Copyright 2010
Picture Book: 26 pages

Purchase from Amazon.
Purchase from Guardian Angel Publishing.

Review of Shattered, by Kathi Baron

Shattered
By Kathi Baron
WestSide Books
ISBN: 978-1-934813-08-9
Young Adult

Shattered is the compelling story of a violin prodigy teenaged girl who runs away from home after her father shatters her beloved violin in front of her eyes. Thus, the word ‘shatter’ has a dual meaning in the novel. As Cassie learns to survive in the streets, she gradually learns the reason her father, a former violinist, behaved so explosively. While away, she meets a series of interesting—and sometimes dangerous—characters that indirectly help her grow and become a more mature and understanding human being. Cassie also searches for her elusive grandfather in an effort to learn more about her own father.

Human emotions are brought to vivid life in this first novel by talented new author Kathi Baron. Baron writes from the heart, with passion and sincerity. The prose flows beautifully and the story kept me engrossed all the way till the end. Cassie is a genuine protagonist most teenaged girls will identify with, especially young violinists. One aspect of this book that got my attention is that the descriptions of music and the violin sound very real even though the author isn’t a musician. This is a peeve of mine with violin novels: if the author isn’t familiar with the violin, the writing comes out as fake. But this didn’t happen with Shattered, so I have to congratulate the author on her research.

Shattered is a coming-of-age story. It is also about the healing power of music and the complexity of family relationships. A must read for young violinists, especially girls!

Reviews of Frederico, the Mouse Violinist


“Cute and curious, a little mouse transports us into Antonio Stradivari’s magical workshop. In a sweet playful way, Frederico conveys to us his love for the violin, while he introduces us to this marvelous instrument. Lovely tribute to a genius, whose exceptional instruments have delighted us for 300 years!”—Dorina Raileanu, violin teacher, author of the Dorina Violin Method

***

“This delightful story combines the magical element of an anthropomorphic mouse with a famous historic musical figure. Vocabulary words and interesting facts are woven into the story, making this an educational as well as entertaining read. Illustrator, K.C. Snider’s artwork hits all the high notes as well. Her depictions of the intrepid Frederico bring the story to life with vivid and colorful details. Additional information and activities—including a matching pictures game, glossary, and word search—encourage young readers to explore the book’s content in greater depth. The book is available in paperback, hardcover, and eBook versions.

“Congrats to Ms. Calvani on another endearing children’s tale.”

–Cynthia Reeg, author of Kitty Kerplunking

***

“Calvani weaves her love of music with a beautiful story that is sure to enchant young readers. Whether your child plays musical instruments or not, he will enjoy reading of the little mouse with big dreams. This is such a unique and fun way to bring an appreciation of music to kids. I would love to see music classrooms in all our elementary schools carrying a copy of this one.” —The Book Connection

***

“Frederico’s story is adorable and touching. I’m sure it will entertain many children, teach them a few things about the violin–andwho knows, perhaps even give them the desire to learn to play!”—Francine Engels, Suzuki violin teacher

***

“Frederico is a mouse who watches the famous Stradivari make the finest violins in the world and longs to play one himself. Although a mouse is far too small to play a violin, Frederico keeps trying and one day…. well, I won’t give away the ending.

“The illustrator, K.C. Snyder, combines cute mouse and realistic violin pictures to convey both the fictional story and factual information perfectly.

“This book contains just enough about violins and how they work to be both informative and entertaining for kids. It would make a great gift for children from four to eight years old, especially if they’re interested in music.” –Janet Collins, children’s author

***

“Frederico the Mouse Violinist by Mayra Calvani is a delightful story. I expected a fun read, but instead, found an enjoyable and educational story. Calvani hits that magical note where learning becomes exciting. The mouse is adorable as he discovers every part of the violin and when the famous Stradivari creates a gift just for our favorite furry friend, the reader feels the mouse’s joy. This is a book for the keeper shelf. Frederico the Mouse will become every young violinist’s favorite book and become the inspiration for others to play a violin of their own.” –J.R. Turner, award-winning author of the Extreme Hauntings series.

***

“Frederico the Mouse Violinist, written by Mayra Calvani, is a sweet story about a small mouse who lives in the workshop of the famous violinist, Antonio Stradivari.

“My family and I loves animal tales. I read it to my seven year old son, Noah, and he loved it.The illustrations are beautiful, and this story will entertain and teach children, ages 4-8, about violins for years to come.” –Book Reflections

***

“Author Mayra Calvani has created a story sure to intrigue and educate children and their parents. Included in the text are the names of the parts of the violin in bold-face type. At the end of the story is a glossary of terms, and also some violin-related games for the young reader to play and solve.

“The whimsical and lovely illustrations by award-winning artist K.C. Snider create a mood that supports and enhances this delightful tale. This beautiful book is a must for any child interested in music, and especially for those who are learning a musical instrument. Adults will love it too. There is much to learn for readers of any age. In addition to musical information, implicit in the story are the qualities of passion and perseverance, which are essential to the mastery of any skill. ‘Frederico, the Mouse Violinist’ is highly recommended by this reviewer.” –Suzanne Marion, children’s author and musician

***

Purchase from Guardian Angel Publishing.

The hardcover is on sale for $15.95 (normal retail price $19.95).

Also in paperback and ebook!

Frederico the Mouse Violinist is out!


Hi all,

I’d like to announce the release of my latest children’s picture book, Frederico the Mouse Violinist!

Blurb:

Frederico is a tiny mouse with a big dream: he wants to become a violinist. Each day he watches as Stradivari makes his famous violins. Each night, he sneaks into the workshop to play. But the violins are too big! Then, unbeknown to Frederico, Stradivari sees him playing and begins carving a tiny device. Could it be a famous Strad especially for Frederico?

Frederico the Mouse Violinist teaches the parts of the violin to beginners ages 3-8.

The book is available in ebook, paperback and hardback formats from Guardian Angel Publishing. It should also be on Amazon, B&N and other online retail stores in about 1-2 weeks.

Purchase from Guardian Angel Publishing.

Thanks!

Mayra