INTERVIEW with Mayra Calvani & review of Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster

February 22, 2011 at 5:16 am 3 comments

I want to thank you, Mayra, for being my guest here on KidsRead.

Thanks for having me as your guest, Nancy! It’s a pleasure to be here.

Do you consider yourself a born writer?

I do.  From an early age, it became obvious to me, my parents and teachers, that I was a “good” writer.  My writing was what made me stand out, what made me popular.  I loved to create stories and live through my characters. I would be miserable if I couldn’t write—and in fact, I am miserable on those days I can’t write.  I always say a happy writer is a happy mama. 🙂

What type of books do you write?

I write in a variety of genres, from picture books, to middle grade and young adult novels, to fiction and nonfiction for adults.  I write what inspires me.  I believe I should listen to my muse and stay true to my call and creativity.

What well known writers do you admire most?

I love Kate DiCamillo.  She has a talent for pulling at your heart strings.  I always end up crying when I read her books.

I also love Mary Downing Hahn.  She has a wonderful gift for creating an atmosphere of mystery and threat in her middle-grade novels.

Can you share a little about your current books?

My latest books are How to Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Event and Fredrico, the Mouse Violinist.

How to Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Event is a 50-page chapter book for girls ages 9-12 on how to start and manage a book club from start to end.  It also includes an explanation of the various genres and a resource section with a list of popular authors who write for young readers, including the titles of one of their books and website links.  The book encourages a love of books and reading and also social and leadership skills.  To find out more about it, readers can visit my website at: http://mayrassecretbookcase.com/Middle_Grade.html

Frederico, the Mouse Violinist, is a 24-page picture book that teaches the parts of the violin to beginner players and entertains them with a fun, educational story.  Frederico is a little 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?  It is available in ebook, hardcover and paperback (http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/frederico.htm).

My picture book, Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster, was recently nominated for an EPIC Award for Best Children’s Book. Winners will be announced this spring.

Best of luck this spring!  By the way, my review of Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster follows our interview.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with KidsReaders?

I’d like to invite them to visit my website and blog at:

www.mayrassecretbookcase.com

www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com

Thank you for being a guest on KidsRead, Mayra!

Review:

Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster

Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster by Mayra Calvani, illustrated by Kit Grady; published by Guardian Angel Publishing, St. Louis, Missouri; 2009.

Humberto is a loner.  He loves his solitary life in the forest.  His whole day is spent reading books; except when he exercises—then his imagination brings the stories alive in his mind.  Even at night Humberto listens to audiobooks.  He doesn’t have time for friends!  But, when a flood washes away his books, and destroys the homes of his neighbors, Humberto’s solitary existence is changed.  He learns that he can care for friends and share his love of reading with them.

Preschool and early elementary aged students will love the story that encourages both reading and friendship.  The author’s tale of finding a balance between social and independent activities is engaging while it educates (and provides a great discussion point for preschool and early elementary teachers: when is it quiet time and when is it social time?).  Kit Grady’s illustrations add just enough humanity to the animals to help children relate to them.  The illustrations help tell the story through the expressions on the animal faces.  She also provides enough detail in the pictures for children to take in without distracting them from the storytelling.  Mayra Calvani has created a means for bibliophile parents and caregivers to explain the wonder of reading to their children.  Combined with Grady’s illustrations, I predict even reluctant readers will be encouraged to pick up a book and share it with a friend.

As I stated earlier, preschool and early elementary teachers should look at this book for lessons in appropriate school behavior: When is it okay to talk and play?  When is it time to study quietly?  Even parents could use it for similar lessons.  As a librarian, I would add it to a list of books to help prepare children to go to school.  Hmm, I can imagine a library story time using puppets to tell Humberto’s story.


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Remembering a friend Free Book Thursday!!!

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Thelma T. Reyna  |  February 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Mayra is one of the most inspiring authors I know today. Her comment that we should write what moves us, no matter the genre, as she herself done in her career, is so down-to-earth and true. Why pigeonhole our thinking and creativity? Congratulations, Mayra, on the nomination of “Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster” for an EPIC Award for Best Children’s Book. Good luck, and let us know the result, please.

    Reply
  • 2. JJ Baker  |  February 23, 2011 at 10:05 am

    All the books sound like good books. The book club book might be good for my third graders! Thanks for including these interviews on your blog.

    Reply
  • 3. thedarkphantom  |  February 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you very much for your thoughtful review and for having me as a guest on your blog. I really appreciate it!

    Reply

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Disclaimers: Per the FTC regulations, please note that sometimes books are received for review for free by publishers or authors. All books (ARCs, galleys, library or purchased) will be reviewed fairly; no special consideration is given to anything reviewed on this blog. In addition, I make every attempt to avoid spoilers. Sometimes they happen inadvertently or because they are important to defend a review; not all spoilers have been removed or fixed. This disclaimer is a general statement included as a warning to readers.

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