Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Review: The Children Are Tender by Linda A. Born

Heartwarming and heart-stopping classroom adventures Welcome to the town of Karola, Kansas, where the air is clean, the sky vast and blue, and the people have a strong tradition of extending the Golden Rule to all. First year teacher Lydia Birn faces heartwarming and heart-stopping adventures at Karola School as Tommy disappears on the class field trip, Brian's pet snake escapes in the classroom, and Brenna refuses to depart from her imaginary world long enough to learn to read. With husband Farmer John at her side, Lydia relies on her faith in God and the support of her colleagues and self-appointed mentors, Abby and Ruth.

As a teacher and mother, I really enjoyed this book. With reflections on her first year of teaching Lynda takes us on many adventures with her students...you will laugh, be moved and be left satisfied you read this book.  I give it 3.5 stars.

*Please note that I got this book free from the publisher for my honest review.

Q.  What inspires your writing?
A.  The Children Are Tender was inspired by three passions: empathy for little kids who struggle, compassion for teachers in the public school system, and love of life in a rural community. These three themes weave together to form the backbone of the book.  I am a Christian writer, and so I work hard to be certain my words reflect as accurately and honestly as possible the Lord's great love for human beings.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?
A.  I love to make my readers laugh.  Working with small children brings joy, exasperation, exhaustion--and unexpected little adventures are always unfolding.  My years as a teacher provided reams of material that informed the characterizations of the antics of the youngsters (as well as the adults) in The Children Are Tender. 

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?
A. Well, I hate to say this, but it is hard to give forth hours and hours of labor for free.  Our whole society is built on the "work hard and earn money" dynamic, and writers tend to work very hard and earn not very much money.  I've been allowed a season of life during which I've had the time to write without facing poverty as a result (so far).  My husband (the inspiration for "Farmer John" in The Children Are Tender) is a saint (most of the time).   

Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
A.  I would write anyway, even if no one else read my words.  Like my mother before me I've always journaled daily, filling stacks of spiral notebooks (and later on hundreds of word-processing documents).  In my spare time I would default to my other life roles: teacher, mother, grandmother, caregiver.  

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. Hopefully--and by God's grace--it will be "She Ran the Good Race and Fought the Good Fight."

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?
A.  I love At Home in Mitford, by Jan Karon, and the whole Mitford series.   Her writing is comforting to me.  

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A. I feel a real connection to James Herriot as the lead character in his autobiographical novels.  He writes in first person, as I do, and his way of observing the world and writing about it as a sort of neutral observer is very much a part of me.  I identify with his love of family and devotion to his job, and my novel has a strong sense of place as do his.  In fact, one of the earliest "hooks" for my book read "If James Herriot had been a teacher living in Kansas, The Children Are Tender might have been the result!"  I believe it was this line that won me my publishing contract with Ambassador International.    

Q.  What character from all of your book are you most like?
A.  At this stage of my life I am most like Abby, in The Children Are Tender.  Both Abby and I took early retirement from teaching jobs in order to care for aging mothers who have dementia. Another similarity is that Abby faces prejudice and often feels out of place.  I've felt a little different all of my life, sometimes because of my faith in God; more often because I'm a thinker and an analyzer rather than a mover and a shaker!  The world tends to value movers more than thinkers, and it is painful to feel judged or found lacking.  

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
 A. When I was ten I read a magical book entitled The Forgotten Door by Alexander Key. It was about a boy who lives on another planet and falls through a portal to Earth.  Confused and lost he is helped by a kind farm family, and they all eventually return to the safer and more advanced world the boy comes from.  I would like to see the peaceful, kinder world on the other side of that forgotten door--but just for the weekend!  

Q.  What is your favorite season?
A. This year I loved winter.  We had two big snows and because I now work at home I had time to go sledding AND to sit in front of the fire with a mug hot chocolate.  We were snowed in for several days, and it was very peaceful.  

Q.  What inspired your book cover(s)?  Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A.  The art director at Ambassador International chose a digital painting that he believed fit with descriptive passages in The Children AreTender. By coincidence, just a few months earlier I had taken a photo of golden Kansas grasses that was nearly identical to the windblown grass on the book cover.  Whoo hoo, goosebumps! I love this cover!  

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
A. At an author event in Abilene, Kansas, I bought more books than I sold.  I returned to my place, lamenting my expenditures and vowing not to buy more books.  The author at the table next to mine knew an easy mark when he saw one, and took my statement that I wasn't going to buy more books as a challenge. He'd read my bio, which says that I'm a reading teacher. So he  read me a poem from one of his books about his gratitude to a teacher who taught him to read.  I handed him a check for a copy of his book.   

Q.  Are you working on something new? 
A. I need to finish my devotional for dementia patients.  It is a companion book to my caregiving book My Mom Has Alzheimer's: Inspiration and Help for Caregivers.  My hope is to package the caregiving book and the devotional for dementia patients together, thus helping caregivers and their patients to literally stay on the same page!  Following that project I foresee writing a second Karola book.  

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A.  Thank you for reading these words and God bless you!  

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