Better with Butter — Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Mere literary talent is common; what is rare is endurance, the continuing desire to work…”   
~ Donald Hall ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Anne R. Allen can help you with that tricky query letter. She has a post HERE with 7 Deadly Query Sins: How to Write a Query That Won’t End Up In Spam.

Staci Trolio has some good advice HERE on the Story Empire Blog that will give you some important Do’s and Don’ts of Story Beginnings.

Louise Harnby has such good stuff on The Editing Blog. HERE she explains (with very nice examples) the different tenses writers can use. There are some here I had never heard of.

My classes with Storyteller Academy officially started this week. I had hoped to complete three classes, but I am not sure if I will be able to put in that much time. The classes are intense and require a LOT of work. Each class has a live workshop by Zoom that runs between an hour and an hour and a half, but so far, they’ve all gone over. These happen six of the nine weeks of the term. The people teaching the classes lay a lot of groundwork with wonderful examples and do some live critique of student work. Of course, they can’t do everyone’s work, but I’m sure they try to choose representative work which shows common problems. They take a lot of questions and then assign a LOT of work. I already read piles of books, but I am reading much bigger piles now. I’m sure my local library must wonder how I can be putting holds on so many picture books. And I don’t just read them, I study them, putting in much more time than I normally do with a book. I already feel like I’m learning a great deal. One of the classes is an art class. I have never done anything with art in my long life, but I’m really trying to be brave and give it a shot. I’m continually amazed, as I study all these picture books, how simple some of the art is. If you’d like an excellent example, get the book Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung, one of the founders of the Storytellers Academy. (If you click on the title, you can see the cover and get an idea of the art.) So maybe I can do this! For now, I am trying to keep up with all three classes. We shall see. I’ll keep you posted.

When I am checking the lists for available review books, I look for titles that catch my eye, then I look the books up on Amazon, see the cover, and read the summary. The title Better with Butter certainly caught my attention. After all, I spend much of my life dieting and missing butter. And when I saw the cover — well, who can resist a baby goat. When I saw that the main character had anxiety disorder and found a fainting goat the perfect support animal, I couldn’t resist. I really love this book. Here is the review I wrote for the Seattle Book Review.

Marvel is anxious about everything, it seems, to the point that the school is aware of her issues, and she is working with the school therapist. Marvel’s father is in the navy and usually away at sea, her mother runs a business, and Marvel’s brother, Reef, is a teenager, seemingly oblivious. When Marvel has to give a speech in front of the entire school, she freezes up and has to be carried off. On her way home, she finds a little goat, Butter, being bullied by some boys, and rescues it. It is a fainting goat, and Marvel feels a kinship. She wants to keep the goat and makes it her emotional support animal, but there are obstacles she never imagined. Still, Marvel fights for Butter, but can she win?

Victoria Piontek

Victoria Piontek has written a marvelous middle-grade novel that is pitch-perfect for the age. The characters are all credible and fully realized, the writing is spectacular, the dialogue is snappy, and the story is very compelling. There are few books in the middle-grade category that address anxiety disorder. This one does it so well and will help many youngsters navigate those difficult waters. This is a winner.

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 Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

27 thoughts on “Better with Butter — Review & Giveaway”

  1. I agree that social anxiety disorder is not common among middle-grade books. I tried to create safe public speaking situations in my classroom (grades 2-6) because I know how frightening yet empowering this can be for kids.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had a high school student who became so anxious when it was her turn to speak to the class that she stopped breathing and passed out. It was very eye-opening for me and the other students. This book gives a good picture. Thanks for the comment. Good luck in the drawing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Please enter me in the drawing!!!! Anxiety Disorder practically GALLOPS in my family, and (believe it or not) my childhood family had a goat named Butter! I’ll be sharing this on Twitter AND Facebook for extra chances.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. When teachers require students to present in front of the class, my daughter gets anxiety attacks that are so bad she vomits and has trouble breathing. This book is one I’ve had on my radar for this reason and thank you for reminding me about it as it sounds like it may be very helpful. I shared on tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. Also–thank you for the query letter article. I’ll be writing a query soon for my picture book manuscript.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That cover also caught my eye and the story your described has me anxious to read this one. An anxiety disorder is a real aspect of many young lives. I will add this one to my TBR lsit but let someone else win who has more immediate time to read.
    Thanks for the links. I always like the ones on query letters and your selection was very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve heard about this book, and your review reminds me of how original and delightful the premise is! And seeing characters dealing with anxiety is always something I’m interested in (just like with this week’s review!).

    And it’s wonderful to hear that you’re getting so much out of your classes! They sound like a ton of work, but it’s amazing that you’re sticking with them and trying out some new subjects too—you’re definitely living up to the quote for this week! And I love the meme too. I’ll pass on the giveaway, just because my bookshelves are still completely full, but thanks so much for the wonderful post, Rosi!

    Liked by 1 person

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