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More Than Marmalade — Review

Thought for the Day:

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
~ Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Rebecca Zanetti has a neat post HERE on her blog about Scene Layering and includes a nice example of just what she means.

Writer’s Digest has a great article HERE on writing query letters that work. It has terrific examples, including four that are Middle-Grade specific.

Laura Blackhurst has a good post HERE with 10 Commonly Misused Words in Writing. She’s right. I see examples of these often, much to my chagrin.

WordPress has changed the way they do things, so my posts might look a little different. I think I need to do some homework. I can’t figure out how to wrap text, so until I figure things out, my blog might be more like my blotch!


I don’t know how much worse 2020 can get, but if you are, like me, in Northern California, it is beginning to feel like the apocalypse. I am fortunate to be miles from any of the big fires, but I have plenty of friends who have been evacuated or are ready to go if they are so ordered. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been affected where I live. I haven’t been able to open my windows or go outside in over a ten days. First, we had over a week where the temperatures never got below the low 80s overnight, and for much of the day it was well over 100. We did hit 112 one day. Then we had some relief from the heat and would have been able to open up at night, but the air is filled with smoke and ashes. My daughter Sara, who lives just two miles away, had her air conditioner go out and had to open her house and run the whole-house fan only to have so much ash and smoke come in that she is going to have to have all her furniture, drapes, carpets, etc. professionally cleaned. Me, I’m just dealing with some asthma and a big cutback in my solar generation. But I sure will be glad when I can open my house and have some fresh air. (Do I sound whiny? I hope not.) This too shall pass. We have thousands of heroic firefighters who will get this under control. I don’t know how they can do that in this awful heat, but they do.

Last week I promised one of you a gently read ARC of American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar. This week’s winner is Patricia Tilton. Congratulations, Patricia! I will get your book out soon. If you don’t know Patricia, she is a children’s writer from Ohio and writes a terrific blog which you can see HERE. No giveaway this week, but I will have one next week, and I have an interesting book to tell you about this week.

I don’t see a lot of middle-grade biographies about writers. There are plenty of them in picture books, but I think there is a bit of a hole there. When I saw More Than Marmalade: Michael Bond and the Story of Paddington Bear by Roseanne Tolin for review for the Seattle Book Review, I had to grab it. Besides, I have always loved Paddington and thought it would be fun to see where he came from. Here is the review I wrote for them.


Michael Bond wasn’t much of a student. In fact, he stopped going to school when he was only fourteen. But he wasn’t lazy. He simply wasn’t interested in what was being taught. He was much more fascinated with mechanical things and spent time fixing radio transmitters before joining the army. It was in the army he began writing, and one thing he’d learned from his grandfather was to never give up. Michael began collecting rejection slips, as most writers do, but he kept on. One Christmas, he bought a lonely-looking stuffed bear for his wife, and this became the inspiration for a new book. Michael and his wife named the bear Paddington, and that little bear changed Michael’s life. He built an extremely successful writing career on that character.





Author Roseanne Tolin started her writing career as a journalist, and that training in research and fact-finding is apparent in her work here. Her writing is lively and age-appropriate for middle-graders without talking down to them. Youngsters will find it interesting to see a writer develop through perseverance and dedication to his craft with the help of a healthy imagination. This is an excellent biography.

I have no giveaway this week. I have donated the nice hardback copy I got to the school. Don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

26 thoughts on “More Than Marmalade — Review”

  1. Please stay safe. I have several friends and family in California, so my phone is getting a workout this week. As a Paddington fan, I’m glad the author did a good job.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You do not sound whiny. I agree with you about biographies. So perfect for that age group. I read tons when I was that age. I love them now too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, it has also been smoky around my city for the past four days. We were “honored” with the worst air in the U.S. this morning and third worst in the world. Please make a quick exit 2020.
    I enjoyed this book so much when I read it earlier this year. So many insights into the writing life of Michael Bond. There were new revelations at every turn. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.
    Great links as always. I had seen the Writer’s Digest post on query letters, but it was good to read it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for your terrific post about my book, MORE THAN MARMALADE, Rosi! It was an absolute joy to write! My thoughts are with you—you used one of my family’s favorite sayings…”this too shall pass.” And it’s so true! But in the meantime, take care and stay safe. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stay safe, Rosi! I can’t begin imagine how bad the fire are out there. The last hurdle people need to deal with. Now there are hurricanes on their way. What a year!

    What a great choice today. I loved Paddington Bear, so I’m very interested in the life of Michael Bond.

    I haven’t had the guts to try the new WP format, which Greg say is awkward. Not a friendly format for bloggers. I’ve written and scheduled many reviews through September, before I’m forced to switch over.

    I’m thrilled to win “American as Paneer Pie!” Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely review and makes me want to get the book. I’m in the middle of reading Paddington Bear to one of my grands and without reading your blogpost I immediately thought of Paddington. Have you readhttps://www.amazon.com/Through-Wardrobe-Lewis-Created-Narnia/dp/0062798561 THROUGH THE WARDOBE? It’s very good.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for always reviewing such interesting books! Best of luck to you and all Californians with another year of terrible fires. For those amazing, brave firefighters, there’s no way to thank them properly. Heroes!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so sorry you and your daughter are having to deal with the wildfires—that’s absolutely awful! Having no AC during all of it sounds like a nightmare for your daughter (honestly, if that was one of my actual nightmares, I wouldn’t even be surprised at this point). Also, I can completely relate to the blogging glitches—Blogger also did a redesign a few weeks ago, and for several days, images wouldn’t center unless you went into the HTML and did some witchcraft. (I hate technology!) This book sounds great—I remember hearing about it somewhere, but it’s great to see a reminder to read it! I love the meme, and the quote is incredibly wise. Thanks for the great post, and good luck with the wildfires! (That’s a 2020 sentence if ever there was one.)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Paddington! Love! The biography is a must on my list now. Thank you. And I gave up on WordPress new and improved editing and went back to classic. I just don’t have time to fuss and fiddle.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This sounds like a lovely book. Oh, we do love Paddington at our house! I didn’t know that he quit school early. It seems like a lot of children who are more mechanically minded (I’m thinking of Thomas Edison) had similar paths. I loved reading biographies like this with my kids, because they are so inspiring. There is not just one way to having success in life.
    Thanks for featuring this one!
    I’m so sorry to hear of all that’s going on with the fires. Will keep you all in my prayers!

    Liked by 1 person

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