International Literacy Association's Reading Today

Friday, January 24, 2014

Kirkus reviewed my book.  At first, I was upset about their comment regarding my Nana's accent.  But after reading the rest, I can't complain.  It is mostly a positive review.  I just wish I could tell them that my Nana did speak with a strong Italian accent.  I actually interviewed two friends from Italy before I wrote her dialogue, so it is authentic.  I guess they can't relate.  Oh, well.  I'm still so thrilled to have my very first book reviewed by Kirkus. 
18th Street, Brooklyn
Author: Maria LaPlaca Bohrer
Illustrator: Steve Johnson
Illustrator: Lou Fancher

Kirkus Reviews

Review Issue Date: February 1, 2014
Online Publish Date: January 22, 2014
Publisher:Blue Marlin
Pages: 32
Price ( Hardcover ): $17.95
Publication Date: February 10, 2014
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-9885295-2-6
Category: Picture Books

A richly sentimental picture of a Sunday gathering from the author’s youth.

In present tense, Sofia recalls sitting on the stoop with her six cousins listening to Uncle Frankie’s tale of the time he met Carl Furillo. As he regales the gathering, she’s repeatedly called away to fetch cheese and other ingredients from local shops for Nana’s meatballs. Though she uses effectively evocative names and cadences in speech, Bohrer gives Nana an accent that is overwrought to the point of parody: “Bella mia, go downa to D’Amico’s Bakerya, get two loaves o’ Italiano breada, fresh Italiano breada, make sure isa fresh. And, we needa some cannoli for desserta.” When everyone’s finally called in for dinner, Nana promises to save Sofia “braciole and a nicea sweet sozeecha” while Frankie stays outside to fill the little girl in on the parts of the story she missed. Johnson and Fancher incorporate glimpses of old news items and handwritten recipes into loosely brushed scenes of the stoop, neighborhood and an antique kitchen, but aside from Uncle Frankie’s plaid pants, the setting has a timeless quality. It is capped, as is only proper, with a mouthwatering meatball recipe.

Though a little heavy on the ethnic flavoring, the memories are as rich and savory as Nana’s homemade sauce. (afterword) (Picture book. 6-9)
My publisher sent me several copies of Sofia's Stoop Story....I can't believe it!  My dream is finally a reality!  I held my hardcover book in my hands and thought, "This is a real book, and it's mine."  I'm still on cloud nine!  And it is absolutely beautiful!!!  I couldn't be happier with the illustrations, actually collage paintings by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson.  They are fabulous!!!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I just saw some of my cousins today and we were talking about this old photo of our grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles at a "Football" wedding in Brooklyn in 1955.  My Uncle Frankie's son, John, can name just about everyone in this photo.  Wish we would take photos like this at weddings nowadays.  Don't you?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tonight, I was going through my numerous files and came across my certificate from a writing course I took in the fall of 2006.  It was conducted by Francine Poppo Rich at the OWL Teachers' Center in Lindenhurst.  Francine is a talented writer and instructor.  I learned so much from her about writing for children.  Actually, that's where I wrote my first draft of Sofia's Stoop Story or should I say, Uncle Frankie's 18th Street Stoop Story, the original title.  After that class, I wrote, rewrote, and revised it countless times.  Then I gained the courage to send it out to publishers.  I received numerous rejection letters.  My best was from an editor at Viking...on a form rejection letter she handwrote these encouraging words "Since I just edited a pic book on Roy Campanella, I'm not interested, but this does sound like a good story.  So no doubt another editor will like it."  Needless to say, that was hanging on my fridge for a while.  But, after receiving many other rejection letters, I gave up.  Then one day, years later, I ran into Francine.  She asked me about my manuscript and I told her that I was at a dead end.  She asked to read it....and as they say, the rest is history.  You see, Francine and her husband run Blue Marlin Publications.  So tonight, I sent Francine and Jennifer Bova (the director of the OWL Teachers' Center) a copy of my original certificate.  If it weren't for both of these amazing ladies, I would not have achieved my dream of becoming a published author.  I am so grateful to both of them, to the OWL Center, to Blue Marlin Publications, and to the talented illustrators Francine hired to illustrate Sofia's Stoop Story!