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Booklist Review of
"Don't Throw It To Mo"
Don't Throw It to Mo!.
Adler, David A. (Author) , Ricks, Sam (Illustrator)
May 2015. 32 p. Penguin, hardcover, $14.99. (9780670016310).
The youngest kid on his football team, little Mo watches most of their games from the bench. Occasionally, Coach Steve tosses him a buttered football to help him “practice holding on to the ball, even if it’s slippery.” During a losing game, the opposing team’s players jeer at the (literally) butterfingered kid on the sidelines. Then Coach Steve sends Mo in and, using their opponents’ overconfidence and disrespect, sets up a winning play. While beginning readers may not be playing organized football, they can still dream about it. Laid out in simple words, large type, and wide-spaced lines, the text is illustrated with colorful, jaunty line-and-wash illustrations that portray the diverse characters with energy and style. The simply told story features an appealing underdog with enough skill to catch the ball and enough humility to give his coach some credit. Despite the longevity of Leonard Kessler’s Kick, Pass, and Run (1966, 1996), football-themed books for beginning readers are surprisingly hard to find. Fortunately for young sports fans, this one is a winner.
— Carolyn Phelan
School & Library Journal Review
Adler, David A. Don’t Throw it to Mo! illus. by Sam Ricks. 32p. (Mo Jackson). Penguin. May 2015. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780670016310; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698136120.
K-Gr 2–Mo loves football so much that his mother wakes him up every morning for school by throwing him a forward pass. He participates in a neighborhood football team in which most of the kids are older, but Mo practices every day and keeps coach Steve company on the bench cheering for his team. Sometimes his coach works with Mo even though the boy doesn’t play. One day, things change for Mo; coach Steve puts him in the game. No one expects him to play well, and the other team doesn’t try to challenge him. Then one special play saves the game, and Mo wins it for his team. This beginning reader is well designed with bold colors and cartoon illustrations to provide new readers with context clues that support the story. Simple sentences and in-depth plot support key details providing material for strong comprehension to support fluency. VERDICT An engaging sports title with ethnically diverse characters, recommended for all early reader collections.–Melissa Smith, Royal Oak Public Library, MI
Issue: April 15, 2015
Simple Machines: Wheels, Levers, and Pulleys.
Adler, David A. (Author) , Raff, Anna (Illustrator)
May 2015. 32 p. Holiday, hardcover, $17.95. (9780823433094). Holiday, e-book, $17.95. (9780823433506). 621.8.
What do a slide, a flagpole, and a tricycle have in common? They illustrate principles of physics relating to simple machines: an inclined plane, a pulley, a wheel and axle, a wedge and a lever. The emphasis in each description is that simple machines make work easier. An inclined plane can be a simple ramp, a winding road leading to the mountain top, or a screw. The wheel and axle of a tricycle is shown next to the more complex Ferris wheel. Children will be drawn to the depictions of the machines in familiar situations such as turning on a water faucet or playing on a seesaw. The charming illustrations, featuring children, adults, and even a cat, enhance the impact of the message by depicting a small community going about their lives and using simple machines to make work easier. — Martha Edmundson
Booklist Review Issue: May 1, 2015
Prices! Prices! Prices!: Why They Go Up and Down.
Adler, David A. (Author) , Miller, Edward (Illustrator)
May 2015. 32 p. Holiday, hardcover, $17.95. (9780823432936). 338.5.
Adler and Miller, known for their math-related picture books for kids, now present the laws of supply and demand. The question, “How are prices set?” is answered with the example of a boy opening a lemonade stand. His initial outlay for equipment represents his fixed costs. His supplies and ingredients are his variable costs. Each day, he adjusts his price according to the supply of lemonade (a rival stand increases supply) and the demand for it (a hot day increases demand). Adler lays out the four laws of supply and
demand in a logical, methodical way, while Miller brightens the pages with vibrant, stylized digital illustrations. One or two helpful diagrams appear on almost every double-page spread, showing how changes in the narrative can be expressed in terms of either revenue, variable costs, and variable profits, or supply, demand, and prices. Kids cruising through the story may not absorb all the concepts, but those who are motivated to think through the basic economic principles will find the book useful and interesting.
— Carolyn Phelan
Reviews of Danny's Doodles: The Jelly Bean Experiment
“Adler adds some depth to the befriend-the-new-kid story with inventive phrasing, humorous characterization, and a gentle backstory about Calvin’s absent father. . . Danny and Calvin are classic non-superhero chapter book protagonists, and they’re remarkably easy to relate to.” - Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Award-winning nonfiction author and creator of Cam Jansen, Adler starts a new series of gently humorous stories aimed at those just starting chapter books. The first-person narration, realistic characters and occasional line-drawing “doodles” will keep pages turning. Young readers will easily see themselves in Danny and his compatriots.
” - Kirkus
“Adler again displays his versatility with this empathic first book in the Danny’s Doodles illustrated chapter book series. Adler also tempers the story’s humor with some poignant moments. . The novel delivers laughs as well as a clear message about friendship and acceptance, even when one’s friend is “100% weird.” ” - Publishers Weekly
- See more at: http://www.sourcebooks.com/store/dannys-doodles.html#sthash.FWgXl8dJ.dpuf
David A. Adler answers children's questions:
How do you choose the subject for a biography?
I like to write about people I think are interesting. When I decide on a subject, I discuss it with my editor and she decides if she thinks it will be interesting to children as well. If I find the person interesting, I love the research part and, by extension, the writing as well.
How do you research a subject's life or the time they lived?
I go to different sources depending on the person. One of my favorite sources are old encyclopedias. If I am writing about a person who lived 100 years ago I get an encyclopedia from 100 years ago. I have a 1906 encyclopedi and a 1911 encyclopedia. I try to go to newspapers of the time. And, of course, I go to books — other biographies and other materials.
Do you use the Internet for any of your research?
I try not to. I don't trust it.
Have you ever found out something about one of your subjects that surprised you?
I have. I find as I do more research, there are some subjects I like more and more and some I like less.
Should a biography always begin with when the subject was born?
My earlier biographies did. The ones I am writing now often don't. It's important to begin a biography — or any book or story — with something to draw the reader in.
How do you write a biography — which can be full of weighty facts — and make it read like a good story?
Well, what I try to do is teach as much about the subject through incidents rather than through a listing of facts. If I must list facts, the next paragraph will be an incident that is interesting, but is an example of one of the facts I just listed. I also try to use the voice of the subject as much as possible — using quotes.
Why did you choose to become an author?
I love to write.
How closely do you work with the illustrators of your biographies?
I don't work closely with them at all. Susana Natti has worked on most of the Cam Jansen books and I've never met her! I work on the manuscripts and send them to my editors. They send the manuscripts to the illustrators. While the illustrator is working on that book I'm working on the next one.
How did you get started with the Cam Jansen series?
I just wrote the first one and sent it to a publisher and they said they wanted to do a whole series. For the first book, I based it on a boy I knew in first and second grade at school who we thought had a photographic memory. I based the first one or two stories on him and the next stories on those first books. The Andy Russell books are based on things that go on in my family. In the first Andy Russell, about 50 gerbils get loose — that actually happened in my house. A snake got loose, too. In most households, that's a great calamity. Here it was a great calamity, but also the beginning of a new series.
Before, writing a biography, do you write a short biographical sketch?
I don't. It's in my head. I do an overview of the subject, but I don't write it out.
Do you plan to write some biographies of people who lived closer to present-day times?
I do have one scheduled of a 20th-century president.I did one on Rosa Parks. I also did one on Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel. She lived in New Jersey and only died a few years ago.
How long does it take you to write a biography? Have some taken longer than others?
Well, I just finished a biography that I worked on for almost two years. It's for older readers.
Some take longer than others, especially if it's someone who's not that familiar to me, such as Simón Bolívar. I had to do a lot of research on South American history.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up on Long Island, New York, in a big house, filled with brothers, sisters, and books. I had three brothers and two sisters.
Will you ever write your own autobiography?
I've already written it. It's called My Writing Day. It's a part of a series of autobiographies of children's authors published by Richard C. Owen, Inc. That book didn't take that long to research!
When deciding on a biography to write, do you try to pick people of diverse cultures?
Yes, I do. If you look at the list of people I've written about, there are men and women, all different races, and many different eras — from the early 1700s forward.
How do you keep your research materials organized when writing a biography?
I work on one chapter at a time, while I do the research. So, I research a chapter and write it. Then I research the next chapter and write it. I don't end up with a huge amount of information to incorporate into a book. I go one chapter at a time, writing as I research.
Of all of the people whose biography you have written, which one would you like to meet?
Benjamin Franklin, Lou Gehrig, Gertrude Ederle, Jesse Owens, Martin Luther King, Jr., and probably every other person I've written about! Helen Keller would also be fascinating to meet, and Eleanor Roosevelt — if I had no interest in meeting these people, I wouldn't have wanted to write about them.
What was your favorite subject in school?
Math and history were my favorite subjects. I'm a licensed math and history teacher. I taught math for nine years and history for about half a year. The school needed me as a math teacher more than as a history teacher.
Who were your favorite authors that you read when you were young?
Duane Decker — he wrote some wonderful baseball stories about a fictional team called the Blue Sox. I loved the stories by Robert McCloskey. I liked some of the early Dr. Seuss stories — Bartholomew and His 500 Hats and The Kings Stilts. I also liked to read biographies when I was young.
What do you think is the best thing about writing?
I love that no one would write a story exactly the way I would write it, even the same story. We each have a unique voice.
What do you think is the hardest thing about writing?
Starting a new book — finding the voice of the story. That's why writing a book that's part of a serirs series is sometimes easier than an individual title. I've already found the voice for the book. It's the same as the previous books in the series.
What makes a person's life worth writing about?
Probably everyone's life is worth writing about. I judge it by how many people would be interested in reading about it. If there's something there that goes beyond what the subject accomplished. For example, with the biography of Gertrude Ederle, her story isn't just a story of a woman swimming the English Channel. It's a story of the beginnings of the women's rights movement. The story of Lou Gehrig is about courage and facing a crisis. Anne Frank is about the dangers of hatred and prejudice.
Do you keep a diary or journal?
I do keep a journal, but I don't write in it as often as I should.
Do you have a special place where you write?
Yes. I actually have two special places. I have an office in my house which is where I am right now. I also have a special place in my local library where I work every afternoon. The reason I love the library, besides all the great books, is that I don't bring along a telephone, so I can work without interruptions.
Did you daydream a lot when you were young?
I still do.
How emotionally involved do you get in the story line when you're writing your books?
Lately, I've tried to get more emotionally involved — I want the reader to feel something about the subject. So, for the reader to get involved, I have to get involved.
Who are some of your favorite authors now?
For children, Johanna Hurwitz; for adults, David Halberstam.
How much rewriting do you do?
I do an enormous amount of rewriting. Knowing I'm going to do so much rewriting makes the first draft easier.
What was the first story you can remember writing? What was it about?
The first story I wrote was A Little at a Time. I sent it to Random House and they published it. I was lucky.
What's next for Cam Jansen?
She'll keep clicking and solving mysteries.
How many books have you written?
So far, I've had 205 books published.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love to listen to old radio tapes from the 30s and 40s. I love to paint and draw. I like to play and watch baseball.
What does the A in your name stand for?
It stands for my middle name. My middle name is Abraham.
If you weren't a writer, what would you be?
I was a math teacher, so maybe I'd still be a math teacher.
What advice can you give young writers?
Young writers, even old writers, should be willing to take suggestions from other people, to do a lot of rewriting, and to read like a writer, not a reader. When a writer reads something and likes it, he asks, “why did I like it?” When he reads something and doesn't like what he read he asks himself, "Why didn't I like it?”
The governor, a presidential candidate, is visiting Cam and Eric's school for the dedication of a new library. Bang! A loud sound like a gunshot startles everyone. Was it really a gun -- or a noisy cover for a crime? Click along with Cam Jansen as she teams up with the Secret Service to solve the mystery.
Gr. 5-7. Adler follows up his well-received B. Franklin, Printer (2001) with an equally perceptive study of another iconic figure. Distilling major scholarship from the previous two centuries, he does nothing to tarnish Washington's reputation. Yes, he owned slaves, had a fiery temper, and exhibited such stingy ways that he sometimes drove his steward to tears, but he was also a canny, courageous, natural leader who learned from his mistakes, struggled with self-doubt, and held views toward slavery that were, for the time, moderate. Adler enhances his profile with a coherent, if distant, account of the Revolutionary War, small illustrations of many of the people and places he mentions, generous extracts from period letters or news accounts (in an evocatively battered looking typeface), capsule biographies of Washington's generals and cabinet members, and, finally, discursive endnotes and meaty resource lists. Marrin's George Washington and the Founding of a Nation (2001) features more rousing accounts of battles, but this offers clear views of Washington's public and private lives as well as sharp insights into his character and his times. John Peters
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Posted by Barbara Bietz: David Adler is the much-loved author of over 200 books for children, including the iconic Cam Jansen Series. David’s writing career was inspired by his curious three-year-old nephew whose questions led to David’s first book, A Little At A Time (Random House) is being released with new art in 2010 by Holiday House. His latest book, Don’t Talk To Me About The War (Viking) is a touching middle grade novel about a young boy’s life in New York during World War II. I have been a huge fan of David’s books for many years, and I was thrilled at the opportunity to chat with him about Don’t Talk To Me About The War.
What was your inspiration for Dont' Talk To Me About The War?
Writing Don't Talk To Me About The War was a real process. It began with my fascination with the time between WW I and WW II. I had already written one very successful book of historical fiction about that time period, The Babe and I, a picture book featuring an encounter with Babe Ruth. The book won may awards including a Golden Kite Honor Award and the California Medal. Don't Talk To Me About The War began for me with the idea to fashion a story on one boy and his family's reaction to Roosevelt's fireside chats. After all, so much has been said and written about those talks, how families gathered by their radios to listen. Well, how did they react? That idea proved unworkable. The chats were too infrequent, only about once every six months. Instead I began with the 1940 rescue at Dunkirk, two views, one of a girl wrapped up in the horror of the trapped soldiers and her best friend Tommy who feels it's all happening so far away, across the ocean, and means very little to him. But more is happening in Tommy's life. There's baseball and his favorite team the Brooklyn Dodgers, radio, his friend Beth whose mother recently died and whose father works in the press room of the New York Daily Mirror, their friend Sarah's escape from Nazi-held Europe, and Tommy's mother's medical issues. It's a coming-of-age story as Tommy assumes more responsibilities at home as his mother becomes less able to care for Tommy and his father.
Was any research involved?
Oh, yes! I began with a calendar. I always knew what day it was in my story: May 23, 1940; May 24, 1940; May 25, 1940. And as I wrote I had that day's newspaper on my desk. If I wrote the Dodgers won that day, they did. The score and the details of the game in the book are accurate. The radio schedule and the weather is also accurate. The news reports about the rescue at Dunkirk are accurate, too, even the slow pace the full news reached the United States. Also, for Tommy's mother's illness I consulted old medical texts and a woman whose mother was diagnosed in 1939 with the same illness. I didn't want to know how it's treated today. I needed to know how it was diagnosed and treated in 1940.
Are you working on anything new?
Of course! I am working on an older level biography, similar in approach to my B. Franklin, Printer and George Washington: An Illustrated Biography. There are also Cam Jansen, Young Cam Jansen, and Jeffrey Bones mysteries in the works as well as another book of historical fiction.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAM JANSEN!
**** May 4th ****
I've always been a dreamer . . . A few years ago I was at Open School Night for my middle son. His fourth-grade teacher was the same one my eldest son had had seven years earlier and the same teacher I had had some time in the 1950s. The teacher looked at me, smiled, and then told the roomful of parents, "A long time ago, when I had just started teaching, David was in my class." She smiled again and said, "I went to the principal and asked, 'What should I do with Adler? He's always dreaming.' 'Leave him alone,' the principal answered. 'Maybe one day he'll be a writer.'"
That's her story, not mine. But I know I did dream through much of my early school years and I did become a writer. Dreamers become writers, and, for me, being a published writer is a dream come true.
I write both fiction and nonfiction. I begin my fiction with the main character. The story comes later. Of course, since I'll be spending a lot of time with each main character, why not have him or her be someone I like? Cam Jansen is based on an elementary school classmate whom we all envied because we thought he had a photographic memory. Andy Russell is based on a beloved member of my family.
For my books of nonfiction I write about subjects I find interesting. The recent biographies I've written are about Benjamin Franklin, Janusz Korczak, Dwight David Eisenhower, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lou Gehrig, Joe Louis, Lewis and Clark, Martin Luther King, Jr.,and George Washington Carver.
When I write, I try not to worry about each word, or even each sentence or paragraph. For me, books evolve. I rewrite each sentence, each manuscript, many times. And I work with my editors. I look forward to their suggestions, their help in the almost endless rewrite process.