Sunshine — Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Sure, it’s simple, writing for kids… Just as simple as bringing them up.”
~ Ursula K. LeGuin ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

If you want to add tension to your story, and you should want to, you can raise the stakes. Rhiannon Richardson has a great post HERE on the Good Story Company that can help with that.

I have been in the grandaddy of all writing funks since the start of the pandemic. When I ran across the post HERE by John W. Howell at the Story Empire blog about How to Restart Stalled Creativity the Easy Way, I hoped I’d found an answer. I’m not sure yet, but there are some great ideas in it.

Is your protagonist a truly great protagonist? Janice Hardy at Fiction University has a great post HERE that will help you figure it out.

It is beginning to look like the election might be over so it’s time to decorate. Here is my helpful suggestion for a perfect 2020 wreath. You’re welcome. On the good news front, it looks like our judiciary may be as apolitical as it should be, in spite of certain people trying to weaponize that branch of government. I have mentioned Dr. Heather Cox Richardson before, but I will mention her again. Her writings each day and her history and political talks each week have really helped me to hang on to some semblance of sanity through all of this. She publishes a letter every day on Facebook and does talks on Tuesdays and Thursdays there as well. Those talks are then posted on her YouTube channel. If you have an interest in politics or history, please check her out. My daughter has been listening to her series on Reconstruction this week, and she is really enjoying them. When I have some time, I intend to sit and listen to them again. They are fascinating.

Last week, I promised a gently-read ARC of The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins to one of you. This week’s winner is Natalie Aguierre. Congratulations, Natalie! I will get your book out to you soon. If you don’t know Natalie, you really should. She is a writer and has a GREAT blog called Literary Rambles HERE that has wonderful interviews with agents, editors, and writers, very generous giveaways, and more. I try to never miss her posts. If you didn’t win last week, you will have another chance this week, so keep reading.

I hear from a very nice publicist from Candlewick Press now and then, and she offers me books in exchange for honest reviews. I received a couple recently, and once I started reading Sunshine by Marion Dane Bauer, I just couldn’t put it down. Here are my thoughts on this charming book. This review is longer than usual for me since I’m not constrained by the rules of the book reviews I usually write for.

For almost as long as Ben can remember, it has been just him, his little dog, Sunshine, and Ben’s dad. His mother left when Ben was three. He doesn’t know why, and his dad doesn’t like to talk about it. Ben’s dad is great, but Ben really misses having a mother. He is reminded of it all the time since his friends all have mothers. But he has Sunshine with him, even if no one else can see her, and she is a great comfort to him. Ben’s mother has been living on an island in Northern Minnesota, and Ben has asked to spend a week with her in the summer. His father reluctantly asked her, and she agreed. Now Ben will see her for the first time in a very long time. He and his dad wait on a dock of a big lake when they see a canoe coming. It’s Ben’s mother. She is strong and beautiful and very independent. When Ben finds out his mother lives in a cabin with no wi-fi or electricity and an outhouse, he worries, but when his father says he can change his mind, Ben bravely goes forward with his plan. He and Sunshine hop into the canoe and get on their way.

The island is wild and primitive. Ben’s mother seems to accept Sunshine and that helps. Ben has to sleep in a loft, climbing a ladder to get to his sleeping bag, which is scary for him, but he does it. The loons at night sounds like wolves howling, and Ben and his mother encounter a bear and her cub. It’s Sunshine that causes trouble with them and they have to run for their lives. After a couple days, Ben offers to keep himself busy for an afternoon so his mother can work on her novel. She tells Ben to explore the island but doesn’t tell him to stay on dry land. Sunshine and Ben decide to take the canoe out, and that is when the real trouble begins.

Marion Dane Bauer

Marion Dane Bauer has written a wonderful story told from the point-of-view of young Ben. Readers will relate to his dilemmas with divorced parents, an unknown mother, staying in a frightening place, trying to be brave, and learning so much about himself. The addition of the imaginary dog is a perfect device to understand Ben and how he is learning, growing, and changing. The writing is lovely, the characters are well-developed and very likable, and the story is compelling. It is quite a page-turner, and it will keep young readers engaged to the end. This is a terrific book.

I have a gently-read ARC for one of you. All you need do is be a follower or subscriber (it’s free!), have a U.S. address, and leave a comment below. If you would like extra chances, please share the link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media outlet and let me know you have done that. And don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

23 thoughts on “Sunshine — Review & Giveaway”

  1. This sounds like an excellent book! I love the concept of the imaginary dog. Also, the cover is beautiful! About Dr. Heather Cox Richardson, I think I actually know people who listen to her discussions as well, so I’ll have to look into her! The wreath image is awesome, as is the quote! I’ll let someone else win the ARC, but thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this book sounds so much fun! Thanks for the hilarious wreath idea–this is tempting to make since I don’t have a wreath this year. I enjoy Natalie’s blog very much and am happy she won last week’s book. I shared on tumblr, Facebook, and twitter for extra entries.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an engaging story within a tough family situation. Sounds like my kind of book. I’ve added it to my TBR list.
    I have a few neighbors who I exchange gifts with during the holidays and your wreath idea may end our tradition!
    Excellent links once more. I’ve learned so much from Janice Hardy and this one is a gem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you will like it when you get to it, Greg. Yeah, the wreath isn’t to everyone’s taste, You might have trouble with that one. Glad you like the links. Thanks for the comment. Good luck in the drawing.


  4. Wow! This sounds amazing. I can tell from your description that Ben is a character I’d like to spend time with. I like the nature/survival aspects and the imaginary dog.
    And I loved your quote by Ursula LeGuin at the beginning. So true. I actually got to see her do a reading back in the 90s.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations to Natalie, And I hope you soon are over your writing dry spell, Rosi. Marion Dane Bauer is a wonderful writer. I’ve read a few of her books for young people. This one sounds, great, although I’ll pass on trying to win it, as I’m in the process fo giving away books. Sigh. But good luck to whoever wins, because her writing is always great and the stories are always worthy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know if I’m past my slump, but I did polish up a story and sent it out this week. Little steps. I haven’t read any other books by Bauer, but I sure loved this one. I will check some others out. Thanks for the comment. Good luck with culling your books.


    1. A LOT of writers have been struggling this year. But I polished something up and sent it out this week, so maybe… The book is great. I hope you get to it. Thanks for the comment. Good luck in the drawing.


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