Book Blast + Interview + Giveaway: The Adventures of Wilhelm

Imagine that — a rat who loves to travel found his way onto a blog called Writer with Wanderlust. This adventurous rodent brings children on a journey around the world and back, experiencing a variety of cultures along the way. Read on to find out more about The Adventures of Wilhelm and its author, Maria Ritter, on this blog tour coordinated by iRead Book Tours. Then enter to win a copy of this entertaining middle grade book.

Title: The Adventures of Wilhelm: A Rat’s Tale | Author: Maria Ritter | Illustrator: Teri Rider | Genre: Middle-grade Fiction, 210 pages | Publisher: PartnerPress | Release date: August 2018

Description: Young Wilhelm leaves home and travels the world. He not only discovers the value of different cultures and the importance of family and friendship, but he also overcomes obstacles with courage and cleverness. He returns home with deep respect for all creatures on this earth and a new sense of rat identity and purpose.

My Thoughts: Wilhelm wants to see the world, so he sets off on an adventure that takes him around the world. But this is much more than a book about travel. The scenes in various countries don’t just focus on famous sites, but go much deeper into the language, food, mannerisms and music that define a culture. These little details fill the pages with a sensory experience leaving behind a list of compelling reasons to learn about new cultures and journey to unfamiliar places.

I was most surprised at learning so much about rats and the impact they have made on our world. I’ll admit that I hadn’t given much thought to these creatures other than the fact that I prefer not to see them, but the author illuminates areas — such as science and health — where rats have proven uniquely suited to things that humans can’t do. I have to admit that I’m now intrigued by rats.

This clever story is a quick-paced novel that gives middle grade readers constant peaks and valleys within each chapter compelling them to turn the page. There is a good mix of the elements of classic storytelling such as tension, danger, excitement, success, friendship and home. But at its heart, The Adventures of Wilhelm: A Rat’s Tale is a story of about growing up, following dreams and finding your own way in life.

To follow the tour and read more reviews, please visit Maria Ritter’s page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

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 Meet the Author:

Maria Ritter is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in La Jolla, California. She is the author of Return to Dresden (2004), an autobiographical reflection on her childhood in Germany during and after World War II. It is a healing memoir that confronts national guilt for the Nazi past and weaves the broken pieces of loss and grief into a healing tapestry.

I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn some insights behind the book from the author herself.

Interview with Author Maria Ritter:

1. What’s the main reason someone should read this book about a rat, named Wilhelm?
I hope for this tale to be an enjoyable read in the rich tradition of telling tall tales and fairy tales where animals can speak, and humans understand their words and purpose among us. They invite us into the realm of unbelievable events with exaggerations, projection and fantasies we then image in our creative minds as real.

Our main character, Wilhelm, invites the young readers and others young-at-heart to travel to different places on this earth, to discover the value of different cultures, to learn about the importance of family and friendships and to overcome obstacles with cleverness and courage. Yes, Wilhelm had ‘Wanderlust’ and enjoyed the experience.

2. Is there a message that the book brings to the reader?
Every journey we take invites us to bring back some new experiences and lessons to be learned. Sometimes it takes time to reflect on them. I hope the readers will be encouraged to follow the rat to face good and evil, recognize and remember traps and other dangers, but ultimately develop human attributes: receiving and offering kindness.

The other deeper meaning lies in the underground and hidden life of one of the most disliked creatures among us, hated and to be exterminated with poison and traps. Just go to The Home Depot and see the isles filled with pest control items – it is big business and feeds into our fears of being attacked, too.

It is my hope that the readers also connect this tale to the many millions of people who live among us in the shadows, are hated and unwanted and live with few possessions and leftover food found in garbage cans. Kindness, understanding and compassion can lead the way to less fear and inspire a willingness to share our resources among all.

3. Which was the hardest character to write and the easiest?
Of course, the main character, Wilhelm, presents as a typical adolescent, leaving home enthusiastically, but inexperienced. Although his parents give him solid advice, he must learn from his own experiences, the good one as well as from his mistakes. As a writer I became also protective of him on his journey, and I had to allow him to make mistakes and learn from them, understand the complexity of his feelings and his own prejudices. I did not want to idealize him just as a cute rat but let him go and wait what happens next.

The easiest character to write about was Hohua Wikiwiki from the island of Kaua’i, Hawaii. He is a free-spirited character, a surfer dude who jumps off cliffs with a red cape on and dances the hula at the Oktoberfest. He goes along wherever the opportunities arise and does not seem to worry much. He is also a fine band musician, plays the ukulele, and can find work at many festivals around the globe. He is fun to follow around.

4. What are your next writing projects?
I am currently narrating my book for an audio version with a wonderful audiobook producer, Carter Wogahn. It is such a great experience to read the story out loud and imagine a group of listeners nearby. To put voice and emotions to the different characters brings the book alive.

Another manuscript, a follow-up memoir to my first book, Return to Dresden (2004) is waiting for completion. Return to Leipzig is focused on my childhood experiences during and after World War II (WWII) and putting together my mother’s thank you letters for the many care packages we received from America during the post war years in East Germany. It is a painful yet reconciling project.

Finally, Wilhelm, the Rat has been encouraged and is itching to travel the world some more. Maybe he could start in San Francisco, travel to New York in a moving truck, visit relatives in Michigan during the summer and fly to Las Vegas to join the circus? Maybe he could even travel to Egypt to visit the famous pyramids?

5. Where and when do you write?
I have a home office, filled with books, papers, photos and trinkets I brought back from my own travels. They serve as inspiration and confirm my memories. I do not have a daily routine for writing. The writing usually comes to me if I sit still and follow my thoughts and imagination. It happens quite often that I compose ideas into thoughts early in the morning in my half sleep state. I must then get up and write it down, so it does not drift away. My imagination has been always visual and often free associative. I have accepted my free style of writing into the computer only to correct and organize the text later in proper English and sequence. It is almost like hearing music and then putting it on paper. What I have learned over the years is that it is ok to sometimes make a mess, just like the Rat, but be patient and tenacious until you complete a manuscript into a book. Being a bi-lingual writer, I am grateful to my editors and publisher.

6. Do you have a dream for your book?
Given my rich background in music and being a music consumer, I am dreaming of finding a composer to set the book to music in the style of Sergei Prokofiev’s, ‘Peter and the Wolf’. I can hear already the leitmotivs for the various characters, imagine famous tunes from different cultures, and follow Wilhelm’s adventures with the colorful sound of an orchestra. The music will tell the story! I will keep dreaming and hope music will come as a gift.

Connect with the author: Website

Win one of five copies of The Adventures of Wilhelm: A Rat’s Tale by Maria Ritter – choice of print or ebook. Open to USA mailing addresses only. Ends April 5, 2019

World Book Review: Gusto & Gecko Travel to New Orleans

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Gusto and Gecko are two dinosaurs with a time machine. And they are ready to travel the world! In the second book of The Curious Travels of Gusto & Gecko Series, the best friends find themselves marching in a Mardi Gras parade, eating wonderful local foods and cheering at a good old American football game. Readers experience the lively jazz music in the French Quarter and smell of freshly cooked beignets at Cafe du Monde right along with these two visitors. In what turns out to be anything but an ordinary Sunday afternoon, the two friends find themselves in the marshlands and must escape the jaws of a hungry alligator before returning home with, of course, a few souvenirs.

With adventure, humour, and a generous dose of local flavour, talented author Longy Han brings the wonders of New Orleans and Creole culture to young readers.  Visiting historic landmarks, modern attractions, and everything in between, Gusto and Gecko are perfect tour guides for preschool-aged children.

The colourful illustrations by Elinor Hägg create a friendly, playful tone. And I love the thoughtful extras are included at the end of the book such as instructions for a simple origami alligator craft and a glossary of New Orleans food.

Gusto & Gecko Travel to New Orleans is an entertaining picture book that would be a wonderful addition to a child’s bookshelf.

Gusto & Gecko Travel to New Orleans
Written by Longy Han
Illustrated by Elinor Hägg
ISBN: 978-0-9943413-1-0
Available on Amazon

Blog Tour + Giveaway: David Travels to the Past

World Book Review: The Croc and the Platypus

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This delightful, rhyming picture book follows two unlikely Aussie friends on an impromptu journey to the red center. Along the way, they play an indigenous instrument (didgeridoo), eat local sweets (lamingtons) and meet a new mate (Australian for “friend”). Finally, the duo set up camp under the famed Southern Cross enjoying the night alongside a wonderous red rock.

A joyous tale in perfect rhyme, The Croc and the Platypus is a fun read-aloud story that includes an incredible number of Australian icons. The stunning artwork beautifully compliments the simple story as it introduces young readers to the wonders of the Australian outback.

Recommended, especially for anyone who wants to introduce young children to Australia.

The Croc and the Platypus
Written by Jackie Hosking
Illustrated by Majorie Crosby-Fairall
ISBN: 9781922077-60-8
Available at Boomerang Books

Review + Giveaway: To Be A Child by Debra Schoenberger

As a constant traveler, I’ve taken my share of photos in the places I’ve visited. And I can attest to the fact that from dozens, if not hundreds, of photos there will be one or two gems (at least in the eye of the beholder). So I’m truly in awe of To Be A Child by Debra Schoenberger. She is an incredibly talented photographer with an eye (and I suspect heart) for capturing the essence of a child in any environment. I’m thrilled to have had the chance to review To Be A Child as part of the book tour coordinated by iRead Book Tours.

To Be A Child by Debra Schoenberger

Title: To Be A Child Author: Debra Schoenberger | Publication Date: November 30, 2015 | Publisher: Blurb Publishing | ISBN: 978-1364706685

Book Description: Give a child a cardboard box and his imagination will turn it into anything but!

Today, it is less common to see children playing in the streets, especially in urban areas. The plethora of ready-made toys should make any child happy.  What usually happens is that the box the toy came in becomes the toy!

This book documents children at play (and at times at work) from 10 different countries. A child’s ingenuity never ceases to amaze me and I hope you will share these images with your children as well.  

Buy the book:   Website   Amazon

My thoughts: This book is a treasure, a visually stunning collection of photos of children around the world.

I marked so many favorites that I had to break them into categories:

– Close ups: In a broad sense, I most loved the images of just a child (or sometimes multiple children) and their personal sense of wonder. Sometimes we don’t even see what they are doing, but the emotion is clear. And it’s beautiful.

– Location: Some specific locations stood out…

Nepal is such a mystery to most that it was incredible to witness the juxtaposition of simple, familiar scenes of children playing with a completely unknown place.

Mongolia, with its visually stunning scenery, offered a dramatic backdrop to the images. The green grass of the vast plains against a cloud-filled blue sky is amazing.

– Quiet Moments: The category “Quiet Moments” contains a number of photos that have stuck with me since I first saw them.

Beyond these details, there is a sense of closure as To Be A Child somehow weaves all these images into something bigger. By the end of the collection, I really felt that I had been following a story that had come to an end. And it’s a thoroughly enjoyable journey.

***Grab a FREE preview of To Be A Child on BookGrabbr. Visit https://bookgrabbr.com/books/36065-to-be-a-child.***

Author’s Bio: Debra Schoenberger aka #girl with camera

Debra Schoenberger

“My dad always carried a camera under the seat of his car and was constantly taking pictures. I think that his example, together with pouring over National Geographic magazines as a child fuelled my curiosity for the world around me.

I am a documentary photographer and street photography is my passion. Some of my images have been chosen by National Geographic as editor’s favourites and are on display in the National Geographic museum in Washington, DC.  I also have an off-kilter sense of humour so I’m always looking for the unusual.  Plus I usually have a lot of scars on my knees. (le sigh…)

I live with my creative director, Miss Pickles (my budgie) in Victoria, BC, Canada.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter  Facebook

Connect with the photographer’s website:   Website

Click here to enter the RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY for your chance to win one of two Amazon gift cards.

Note: I received a free digital copy of To Be A Child in exchange for an honest review.

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World Book Review: Alice-Miranda in the Alps by Jacqueline Harvey

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For the first World Book Review of the new year, I picked a children’s chapter book set in snowy Switzerland. It’s the perfect read for kids living in a wintry climate, especially young skiers or those that love the snow. Alice-Miranda in the Alps (book twelve in the Alice-Miranda series) by Australian author Jacqueline Harvey simply charms readers from beginning to end with its lovely characters, grand old hotels and a glimpse of European society. The ski town of Zermatt, where much of the story takes place, is beautifully described through its history, events and architecture. The setting and the depth of details about this stunning part of the world make this a wonderul children’s book.

Reviewed for the Children’s Book Council of Australia, I can’t give away all the details here, but my full review can be found on the Reading Time website
http://readingtime.com.au/alice-miranda-in-the-alps-alice-miranda-12/.

Absolutely recommended!

Alice-Miranda in the Alps
Written by Jacqueline Harvey
ISBN: 9780857982742
Available at Amazon and Boomerang Books