Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

19 December 2007

Book Review - Piper Reed: Navy Brat

I am a book-aholic, bookworm, and lover of books.
I get so lost in books that I really do tune out the rest of the world. My second grade teacher could tell you that as one time I missed a spelling test because I was still reading a book. That is why I love doing book reviews. As the mom of a bookworm, I love reading new children's books hoping to find something new and fun to share with my daughter. Piper Reed: Navy Brat is a great book for young girls and boys.

I did try to read this book to her, but she's still all about the pictures in a book and since this is a big girl book, she got quickly bored. You'd think saying it was a "big girl" book would have settled her down, but no.

Piper Reed: Navy Brat chronicles the transition Piper, the middle daughter of a Navy officer. She's not quite Jan Brady, but does have some middle child issues that I'm sure we'll see more of in future books. The book starts off with the family moving from San Diego to Florida. The trip to Florida and their first few days is what is covered in this short story. Piper's attempt to recreate her "Gypsy Club" on the other side of the country is worth the read in itself. If you've ever moved in the middle of a school year, I think you'll appreciate this book -- Hint: If that move is in your kids future, this might be a good book to get. She learns that being the middle of three daughters isn't all that bad some days. Family does save the day!

I was lucky enough to interview Piper's creator, Kimberly Willis Holt, over email:

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1) Is this your first book blog tour? If so, what are your hopes for it (well besides book sales)? If not, what do you feel blog tours bring to your books that a traditional book tour doesn't?

This is my first blog tour. The first time I heard of a writer doing one, I laughed. But a second later, I thought, smart idea. My main goal for the tour is to introduce Piper Reed Navy Brat. It's the first book in a series. I hope Piper Reed finds her way into a lot of young (or old) readers'
hearts.

The blog world has taken cyberspace by a storm. Many of us start our day reading them like we used to begin our day with the newspaper. Traditional tours certainly have their place. There's nothing like meeting readers face to face, but even then writers can't visit every bookstore or library. Anyone with internet service can visit a writer on a blog tour. So the potential is greater.


2) Piper Reed is one spunky gal! How much of you is Piper? You really nailed the middle child "thing" - I'm the oldest of three girls like Tori (Piper's older sister).

I'm the oldest of three girls, too. So I can relate more to Tori than I can Piper. My middle sister was witty and funny. I decided that would be a more interesting point of view for a young reader to hear a story about a military child.

Though I have to say I do share some things with Piper. None of us have dyslexia, but I am a slow reader because I have to hear what I read. Over the years I've trained my lips not to move, but my tongue pronounces each word. Because of that, I rarely finished timed tests. I can relate to kids who have reading disabilities because of that.

Like Piper, I'm a planner. When Piper learns that her family is moving to Pensacola, Florida, she starts plotting to make new friends. I think a lot of military kids are adaptable to many situations because it was a survival technique. We had to learn to fit in quickly. Then in a year or two, we moved somewhere else.

3) You say that you thought your life was boring. Why do you think that? Was the moving & change so routine that it became boring?

I was shy. I thought extroverts had interesting lives. Most of my life was spent in my head, daydreaming. I didn't recognize all the adventures I was participating in--learning to speak and read French in a village outside of Paris, swimming in every ocean before I reached the age of ten, attending fiestas on Guam. Those aren't boring accomplishments. But I had to grow up
to see what an exciting life my military childhood provided.

4) Kids today have lives that are so packed with activities, the internet, and all go-go-go...Did you have this in mind when you wrote Piper Reed: Navy Brat? The book has a fairly laid back pace, a perfect book for reading in a tree house or even sitting under a tree with a glass of lemonade.

It really wasn't a conscious goal, but I guess in that way, Piper's family mirrors mine. The base offered activities that we participated in, but we weren't overscheduled like kids today. We had time to daydream and entertain ourselves. My mom still remembers how I used to write plays and direct them. My middle sister was the star. (At that time, the baby was too young to
participate.) None of that would have happened had I been overloaded with activities. I think Piper's mom is like my mom was. She allows time for creativity and encourages it.

5) While my picture obsessed 4-year-old didn't get into the book, I thought it was a great story with a cute character. In fact near the end of the book, I got a bit upset because I didn't want it to end.

How many Piper books are in the works? The second book, Piper Reed, The Great Gypsy comes out this August. A third will come out the following year. If the numbers are there, hopefully there will be more. I certainly have more stories for Piper and her sisters.

Thanks so much for your time and your story! I can't wait for my daughter to sit still long enough to enjoy Piper.

Thank you, Veronica, for giving me a chance to talk about Piper.

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One lucky reader can have their own copy of Piper Reed and a "Get off the bus!" button. That's Piper's signature exclamation. I think I've used it a few times already since reading the book. Just comment on this post by January 1, 2008, tell me your favorite children's book and I'll pick someone at random. Make sure you leave your email address!

Don't forget to check out the rest of the book blog tour too.

Disclaimer: The only payment I received for this review was the review copy of the book.

Technorati tags: book review, blog tour, Piper Reed, Kimberly Willis Holt

5 comments:

My favorite children's book growing up was the Nancy Drew series....I reread them again when I first graduated from college...they are just well written books...and always kept me on the edge of my seat!!

PS: My mom used to force me to go outside and play instead of reading so I'd sneak a book in my jacket and sit in the sled and instead of sledding...continue reading..

My favorite children's book growing up was a Summer to Die by Lois Lowry. I bought it at a yard sale all tattered and worn and I began to read. I couldn't put it down and read and reread it once a year even in college. It's a sad story but at the same time has some wonderful messages to a growing girl.

amy & vicky...please send me your email addresses! I have no other way to get in touch with you. TY!

Hi, I think this book sounds wonderful. I love children's books as much as I do adult ones! Although, I would love to win this book for my niece (after I read it)! The books that I read the most of were "Nancy
Drew" and the "Hardy Boys!" Please enter me in your wonderful contest.
Thanks,Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Gypies aren't colorful, tambourine-waving characters. We are real people from an ancient and proud culture. I hope this book doesn't promote the usual misunderstandings about Gypsies with crystal balls and tea leaves and all that crap. I'm afraid it will, though.