Welcome to the 2023 series of meet the authors. This series offers me the opportunity to not just share my personal recommendation for the author, but to also check for new books I might have missed, changes to biographies and profile photos and check links.
I also I hope will introduce you to previously unknown authors to you and their books. As the curator of a towering TBR like most of you, I hope it will also encourage you to move books waiting in line up the queue.
The first author is Pete Springer who shared his experiences and wisdom as a teacher for over thirty years, in his memoir They Call Me Mom: Making a difference as an elementary teacher. Having read the book, it made me appreciate even more the impact a good teacher can have on a child’s future and I can highly recommend to young teachers or those considering going into the profession
Meet Pete Springer
My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over three years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.
When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.
I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!
While I was teaching, I decided that one day I would write books for children. That ship is now in the harbor. I took some writing workshops, found a writing critique group, joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), and I recently finished writing my first middle-grade novel. I’ve always connected with kids, and this is my new way of teaching.
My debut MG novel, Second Chance Summer, just got professionally edited, and I will be querying in the coming weeks.
My review for the book February 2021
This memoir of a teacher with over thirty years experience, is an interesting snapshot of the American education system, particularly the elementary school years for 5 to 10 or 11 years old. This is a key period in a child’s life and so important that the skills for learning and development are absorbed during these years.
Pete Springer provides a step by step guide to creating the best environment within a classroom, for learning and as a place of safety and respect. Clearly a dedicated teacher, but also an observer of human nature, Springer provides a manual for new teachers, including how to achieve a rapport with both students and their parents. Importantly of course, creating lesson plans that stimulate and educate, and how to use effective and empathetic methods when dealing with behavioural and discipline issues.
The book it is not just about teaching a curriculum set out by a state education board, but also developing relationships in and out of the classroom with key people in a child’s and a teacher’s life. As the author points out, children come from a multitude of backgrounds with varying family circumstances and one size does not fit all when it comes to treating them as individuals or those in their lives.
With anecdotes of life in the classroom with young minds trying to be one step ahead of you, overeager parents, and absent ones, and differing teaching methods being supported by successive administrators, it is not a 9-5 job. Especially when you are a dedicated educator intent on sending well taught and well-adapted children on to secondary school.
There is much to enjoy by the casual reader looking for an informative and entertaining read, with memories of their own early years rising to the surface, not all as positive as in the classes of Pete Springer.
I do think it is an excellent guide to those who are considering teaching as a career or have just begun their training. Also new teachers trying to find their own style, and a way to connect with their students effectively and the others involved in their lives.
Parents, and to a degree grandparents, would certainly benefit from understanding the complexities of the work of a teacher. Whilst this is written from the perspective of the American education system, children of this age around the world require the same level of dedication and commitment to their well-being.
The author includes some wonderful stories of students (with their names changed) their parents and incidents that will entertain. It is heartwarming to learn about past students who keep in touch, even when they too have become parents with children passing through Springer’s classroom. All of which underline what a caring person and teacher these children were lucky to have in their lives.
Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – and:Amazon UK – Read more reviews:Goodreads – Website: Pete Springer WordPress – Twitter: @OfficerWoof
The next author and poet today, Bette Stevens is an award winning writer of YA, Children’s books and Poetry. I loved Amazing Matilda and a lovely book for all young nature lovers that I can highly recommend
Meet Bette A. Stevens
Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of eight. Stevens lives in central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat). The author has also published the photography and poetry collection MY MAINE: Haiku through the Seasons
Stevens’s children’s 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, a short story of a boy growing up in rural New England in a family whose poverty and alcoholism mark him as a target for bullying by young and old alike. This short story is a prequel to Stevens’s début novel DOG BONE SOUP (KCT International Literary Award Top Finalist 2017).
Books by Bette A. Stevens for Children and adults
My review for Amazing Matilda January 2022
As an adult reading a children’s book, I look for and enjoy how an author shares life lessons embedded within the story. Bette A. Stevens does this very well using animals that a child would be familiar with, as the bearer of these inspiring but simple encouragements to be kind, to be patient and to perservere with life and tasks we are faced with.
Matilda goes through the complex phases in the life of a butterfly and the author shares these not just in the words of the story, but lovely illustrations which would catch a child’s attention and prompt a discussion between child and the storyteller An opportunity to emphasise elements of the tale and explore in more detail the creatures met during Matilda’s transformation.
Bette Stevens has created a lovely book that any child would treasure and also would engage older members of the family too. Highly recommended.
Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon US – and : Amazon UK – Follow Bette:Goodreads – Blog:4 Writers and Readers – Twitter:@BetteAStevens
The final author today, Jemima Pett, writes for young adults and adults, and I reviewed the biography of her father White Water Landings, an incredible adventure in Africa with the flying boats in service prior and during WWII.
About Jemima Pett
When I discovered the words ‘portfolio career’ I realised I was trendsetter – having not only a number of different jobs, but in totally different fields. These included social work, business management, computer technology, environmental research. The thread running through all of them was communication – and that continued in my spare time with writing and editing club magazines, manuals, reports… I loved words, loved to learn and to apply my learning to the real world.
Eventually the world just wasn’t big enough, and so I went back to inventing my own, as I had as a child. First came the Realms, the setting for the ten-book Princelings of the East series. It’s a feudal England run by princes in castles who just happen to be guinea pigs – although you can read them as people equally well. Then came the Viridian System, a planetary area on the outskirts of known space where a frontier mentality mixes with big business and tourism.
I wrote some shorter stories featuring characters from the Princelings series, recently published as Messenger Misadventures. This features Dylan and Dougall, and their friend Deirdre, who unfortunately did not feature with them in Book 8 of the Princelings series. Two more characters that are asking for their own book are Roscoe and Neville, who turn up in book 10.
2021 saw the publication of five short story collections. Most of these originally appeared on my blog between 2012 and 2020, but are no longer there. Several new stories appear, especially in the seasonal special Snowflakes and Shivers. I still blog short stories, usually once a week.
The third and final Viridian System book is due for publication in Feb 22. There’s a snippet at the end of that which may lead to another scifi story, but not set in the Viridian System.
A selection of books by Jemima Pett
My review for White Water Landings
As we hop on and off planes with destinations around the globe, we rarely think further than checking the timings and paying with our credit card. Most long distance flights are non-stop and it is now something we very much take for granted.
Imagine you need to make the trip from the UK to Capetown by air in 1936. It would have required several short hops by flying boat down across Europe to the top of Africa and then to several refuelling stops set up on the coast or rivers over the 3,500 miles to the tip of the continent.
This biography of the young Geoffrey Pett is fascinating, both from a historical perspective and also because of his passion and perserverance in setting up these isolated and sometimes dangerous stations along the route.
Geoffrey was clearly adaptable and resourceful, making connections both with local residents and those from other companies and the military that passed through his care. Whilst his mandate was to establish the stations for Imperial Airways, he understood the benefits of working well with others. It was complex with very basic communications to maintain contact with aircraft to ensure safety and a rigid schedule that had to be met to ensure continuity of flights across the length and breadth of Africa.
As you read the story, it is easy to imagine you are sitting across from a natural storyteller listening to his adventures. And there are plenty of those including following hippo tracks to access suitable river landing sites, hauling barges and launches hundreds of miles across country and upriver that were virtually unnavigable. Dealing with some quirky passengers unaccustomed to rudimentary overnight facilities, dealing with snake-bites, and those who have enjoyed the hospitality a little too vigorously.
It is also a love story, and how the ingenuity and tenacity that Geoffry applied to his job, was put to good use as he masterminds a trip to reach the girl he loves in Uganda, marry her, take a honeymoon and be back by an almost impossible return to work date.
The author has done a great job in transcribing the recordings made by her father, keeping the authenticity of his narration and adding in helpful links between stories. Jemima Pett also shares her parent’s life after the war including Geoffrey’s contintued career in aviation.
Recommended for history lovers, aviation buffs, and those who enjoy finding out about ordinary people leading an extraordinary life.
Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And:Amazon UK – Blog:Jemima Pett – Goodreads:Jemima Pett – Twitter:@jemima_pett –
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.