Welcome to this week’s Book Reading at the Cafe and my guest is award winning children’s author Bette A Stevens. I am sure that after reading the interview with Bette you will have plenty of our own questions to ask and please put them in the comments section of the post.
Inspired by nature and human nature, Bette A. Stevens is an author, retired teacher, wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys writing, reading, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and childhood literacy and for monarch butterflies, an endangered species
Bette Stevens’s children’s activity book, THE TANGRAM ZOO and WORD PUZZLES TOO!, was first published in 1997 by Windswept House Publishing, Mt. Desert, ME; a second edition was self-published by the author in 2012.
AMAZING MATILDA, Stevens’s second children’s book, self-published in 2012 won a 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Award (Honorable Mention for Excellence in Children’s Literature – Ages 6 and older category) and also placed #9 on The 2013 Gittle List for Self-published Children’s Picture Books. Stevens has written articles for ECHOES, The Northern Maine Journal of Rural Culture based in Caribou, Maine.
In 2013, the author published her first book for the YA/Adult audience: PURE TRASH: The story, a short story of a boy growing up in rural New England and prequel to DOG BONE SOUP, debut novel released January 2015. There is currently an offer on Dog Bone Soup and here is one of the many excellent reviews for the book.
Dog Bone Soup is an engaging tale set in the 1950’s and 1960’s and though Stevens indicates that the book will speak to boomers, in particular, the family drama and the emotional world of the characters are timeless and relatable. The story follows the oldest brother in the family, Shawn Daniels, a boy whose young life is burdened by dire poverty and an abusive, alcoholic father. His proud mother does the best she can for her children, and Shawn becomes a man before his time, helping to support the family.
Though the story deals with a struggling child in a tough situation, the book has many moments of childhood humor and delight, especially between the brothers. Shawn not only survives his rough start but comes through as a strong individual with solid values and high personal integrity.
Stevens writing is captivating, raw and sweet, with well-drawn characters. I read the prequel “White Trash” prior to this book, however, I feel that Dog Bone Soup easily stands on its own. A compelling read about childhood resilience and growth into manhood.
Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Bette-A.-Stevens/e/B009GOYT1M
ONLY 99c / 99p from March 22nd through March 27th
Now it is time to hand over to Bette for her interview and book reading.
Welcome Bette and can you tell us about your chosen genre of books that you write and why?
Realistic fiction because, when told as a fictional account, both writer and readers have the opportunity to learn valuable lessons through the lives of a book’s characters— and to relate those lessons to their own lives in a personal way.
What genre do you read and who are your favourite authors?
My favorite genres are (1) Historical Fiction, through which I can travel back in time and rediscover the timeless themes that still make humans tick; and (2) Contemporary/Literary Fiction, because it allows me to travel the globe and see the world through the eyes of strangers, giving me the opportunity to walk in their shoes for a brief time.
Many favorite authors, but, I’ll list two of my favorites along with books I’ve read from each:
Harper Lee (To Kill a Mocking, Go Set a Watchman) Historical Fiction
Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, And the Mountains Echoed) Contemporary/Literary Fiction
Do you have a favourite quote? What does it means to you as an individual?
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
—Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad
As reader, a writer, and a concerned citizen of the world, I find that books continue to provide me both the luxury and learning that Twain attributes to such extensive travel without the cost.
What inspired you to write Amazing Matilda?
I was inspired by the plight of our glorious monarch butterflies. At the time (1999) monarchs were considered an indicator species, letting us know the health of our environment, which was rapidly in decline. I researched monarch butterflies and discovered that I had a story to tell, not only to my grandchildren, but to my fourth grade students in California as well. For me, the monarch remains a symbol of life and life’s growing and changing stages for all living creatures, including humans. I typed the story, read it to my students and sent copies to my grandchildren. By 2012, I was retired and my daughter encouraged me to illustrate Amazing Matilda self-publish it.
In Pure Trash you address bullying issues. This was based in the 1950s and 1960s—50 years later this is still a major issue. How do you feel we could address this better?
Literature and media coverage can certainly help raise awareness and encourage compassionate behaviours. However, the printed word and talk remain a poor substitute if the actions of adults are saying one thing and doing another. As parents, a teachers and neighbors, adults must take the lead in showing respect for and finding value in people of all ages, faiths, beliefs, social standings, race, customs…the list goes on.
As a teacher what are the key subjects that every child should be taught to help them succeed in the world today?
- Public Speaking
Teaching and following “The Golden Rule”
In fact, during my years in the classroom, one of the first things I would tell my students is that we have only one rule that must be followed in our classroom by everyone, including the teacher. Does anyone know what “The Golden Rule” says?
One brave young fourth grader raised his hand, stood and spoke:
“He who has the gold rules!”
Needless to say, a teacher’s work is never done. We talked about my school days and the sign that was posted in every classroom back in the day: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We were all in this together: day by day—and some days moment by moment—learning and relearning that respect for everyone and accepting our individual responsibilities summed up what “The Golden Rule” is really all about.
Now it is time for Bette’s Book Reading.
PURE TRASH by Bette A. Stevens
(Historical Fiction/Ages 10-adult)
SUMMARY: Experience the joy of a carefree Saturday and the blistering pain of feeling not quite good enough as you hop on a bike and ride into town with two delightful young boys who find adventure at every turn. Shawn and Willie Daniels live in the woods with no indoor water or plumbing. Dad spends most of his hard earned money on beer. Prejudice, class division, alcoholism, poverty, injustice, and bullying are cleverly woven into this 1950s adventure short. PURE TRASH is the short story prequel to the author’s novel DOG BONE SOUP.
Excerpt from PURE TRASH
Willie was having a race with himself, thumping and thudding in his seat trying to get high enough to fly over that bar. Me, I was just enjoying some time to sit and swing and think. Didn’t have time for that during recess. I was always trying to figure out some way to make myself invisible. I sure didn’t want to be the target in a dodge ball game.
Sometimes I’d set up a game of marbles and practice on my own over near the building. One day Timmy Doyle asked me if he could play. I taught Timmy the rules and showed him how to shoot. The next week, Timmy gave me 10 puries in different colors, two aggies and two cat eyes―huge―a blue one and a gold one. Before that, most of my marbles were the old clay ones Grampa used when he was a kid. Last year for my birthday, Grampa gave me a soft cloth bag with a drawstring. It was filled with his painted clay marbles. He taught me how to play the game and told me that I was real good at it.
I liked Timmy, but no one else did. Timmy was what they called “a little slow.” I reckon that was likely about as bad as being called Eddie Daniels’s kid.
Willie was over on the jungle gym hanging from the tiptop. His knees hung over the metal bar and Willie was swinging his body for all it was worth, arms dangling and chubby tummy jiggling. Every now and then he’d lift up his back, grab the bar with his hands and flip himself upright and hoot like Tarzan. Willie sure did look like the king of the jungle perched up on that bar.
Read the reviews and buy Pure Trash: https://www.amazon.com/TRASH-Historical-Fiction-Short-prequel-ebook/dp/B00EH0RV6K
Connect to Bette A. Stevens
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE http://www.amazon.com/author/betteastevens
Facebook FAN PAGE https://www.facebook.com/authorbetteastevens.officialfanpage?ref=hl
Facebook AUTHOR/ ILLUSTRATOR PAGE https://www.facebook.com/AuthorIllustratorBetteA.Stevens?ref=hl
My thanks to Bette for joining me today and she would be delighted to answer your questions if you could leave them in the comments section of the post.
Please feel free to share the interview on your own networks.. thanks Sally