Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reviews for Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster

Could not resist sharing a few reviews for Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster

"Storytelling is an important means of teaching children; they absorb what they hear and see. This in turn enables them to process subtle lessons without realizing it. Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster is a wonderful children’s picture book that utilizes this very process. Calvani cleverly weaves an engaging story that conveys two very important messages for children.

"The first message or lesson is that reading can bring a child on fantastic adventures, and it can open new and unknown worlds…it can ignite the imagination. The child can be a hero on a huge white steed, with sword in hand; he can be a space traveler soaring through the universe; he can fight a fire-breathing dragon with the aid of his magical lance; he can travel to far away places; a child can be anything and do anything through books.

"The first is that reading can bring a child on adventures, and it can open new and unknown worlds, it can ignite the imagination. The child can be a hero on a huge white steed; he can be a space traveler soaring through the universe; he can fight a fire-breathing dragon; he can travel to far away places; a child can be anything and do anything through books.

"The second message in Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster is that of friendship. Through outstanding story telling, Calvani demonstrates the importance of balance. Humberto limits his entire world to reading until he is awakened to the fact that there are other things in life as important, sometimes even more important. Choosing between saving his books during a flood, or his neighbors, Humberto chooses his neighbors. He realizes having friends fills a part of his life that books cannot. And, the best part is that he can share his books with his new friends.

"In addition to a charming story, the illustrations in Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster are amazing. They are bright, bold, and fanciful. They are sure to capture every child’s attention and imagination.

"I am an advocate of children reading for learning, inspiration, and for sparking the imagination. As a grandparent I look for books that not only tell an entertaining story, but ones that also provide an uplifting lesson or moral element. I have two young grandchildren and this is definitely a book I will be reading to them." --Karen Cioffi, Writing For Children

"HUMBERTO, THE BOOKWORM HAMSTER, for readers 4 - 8 years old, is a wonderful book with a message about priorities and friendship. Children will not only learn about the importance of reading, but will also come to see that it's much more enjoyable when books are shared with friends. Kit Grady, the illustrator, enhances this lovely book with beautiful, colorful drawings of Humberto and his friends. This is a book that children will want to read again and again." --Liliana Monteil-Doucette, LA Education Examiner

“Humberto the Bookworm Hamster explores the joys of reading and friendship. Humberto’s gift of imagination will delight children as much as his kindness towards others will inspire them.” – Cheryl C. Malandrinos, The Kids Book Connection

"Humberto the Bookworm Hamster is suggested for readers from 4 - 8. Mayra Calvani's text explores the joys of books, the fun of an active imagination, and the inspirational effect stories can have on our behavior. When Humberto chooses to help the animals who suffered from the flood, he does so in the best tradition of the storybook heros he admires... Kit Grady's illustrations are charming, positive, and full of expression. All in all, Humberto the Bookworm Hamster is a fun book with a heartwarming message delivered in a subtle way that is never preachy. This book should entertain kids through several readings." Vicky L. Smith, Amazon Reviewer

"Ms. Calvani has written a lovely story about learning what’s important in life. Ms. Grady’s illustrations capture the characters' personalities perfectly, down to the spectacles perched on Humberto’s nose. This is a great book to share with your little ones at bedtime or anytime they want to cuddle with you. Be prepared, parents, to read the story over and over again. I recommend Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster for children, parents, grandparents, animal lovers, and everyone who enjoys a fun read with a gentle message." --Beverly McClure, YA author

"Wonderful drawings in vibrant colors enhance the storyline. Parents and teachers can use this delightful picture book as a starting place to discuss important issues with children. Is Humberto doing too much reading? Is he ignoring "real life" for the fantasy life of books? What is the proper response when disaster hits? This is a book children will want to hear over and over." --Lila Guzman, Ph.D., children's author

"This is an adorable tale of friendship sure to delight young readers. I loved the story and also the cute illustrations. A fun read aloud. My eight-year-old also loved reading about Humberto and his love of books. A must add to any children's collection." Kim Bacciella, YABooksCentral
Posted by Mayra Calvani at 6:15 AM

Monday, November 16, 2009

Interview with Mayra Calvani

Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster has just been released. I am thrilled to have, author Mayra Calvani answer a few questions about how she works.

A little bit of introduction:
Multi-genre author, reviewer and animal advocate, Mayra Calvani, enjoys writing for children and adults. A regular contributor to BLOGCRITICS MAGAZINE and AMERICAN CHRONICLE, she's a member of SCBWI, CWCC and Broad Universe. She keeps two blogs, Mayra's Secret Bookcase and The Dark Phantom Review.
Additionally, she's the co-author of the ForeWord Best of the Year Award winner, THE SLIPPERY ART OF BOOK REVIEWING.
Visit her newest, fun blog, Pets and Their Authors, where her golden retriever interviews authors' pets.
Mayra does Spanish translations of children's picture books, is co-editor of Voice in the Dark newsletter, and the National Latino Books Examiner for
Check out her children's books at Mayra's Secret Bookcase.

When working on a story, what steps or process do you use?For a picture book, what usually happens is I get an idea and then let it simmer in my mind for weeks, sometimes even months or years. Then one day I just feel the need to write it down and the whole thing pours out of me in a sitting. When this happens, I stay working on the story a whole morning or a whole day. I then take a break from it for maybe a day or two before going back and polishing it. Then I send it to my critique group for feedback. This is very helpful. I may or may not take on their suggestions, but their advice is always good. I save each version of the story, so if I edit the story 5 times, I’ll save those 5 files of each version under a folder named after the book’s title.
What sparks your ideas for stories?Real life, newspaper articles, TV shows, family stories, memories, photos, beautiful scenery. Everything around me may spark an idea in me. The Muse is a very curious thing.
What is your strongest personal trait that make you a better writer?I would say persistence. I never give up, no matter how many rejection letters I get or the competitive state of the children’s book market.
Where did your last story idea come from? Where were you when you began working on it? For a long time I wanted to write a picture book story about a little mouse or hamster who loved books so much, he didn’t have time for friends. That’s how Humberto the Bookworm Hamster came about. As usual, I let the idea simmer for some time, then, one morning, I got up from bed and had to sit down and write it. So that’s what I did, and the story poured out of me in one sitting.
Humberto loves books so much, he reads at all times of the day; even while he sleeps he reads—audio books. The other animals want to become his friends, but he doesn’t have time for them. He’s too busy reading! Then one day a flood comes and he must decide whether to salvage the rest of his books before they sink in the rising water or helping the animals. Humberto’s story is a tale about books and the true meaning of friendship: how good are books really if you can’t share them with people who care about?
I can sympathize with my character because many times I see myself in him. As a writer and reviewer, I’m so involved with books I tend to become a hermit. Socializing is important too. 
What advice would you give a new writer?My first advice would be, of course, to read a lot. If you want to write picture books, read dozen of picture books a month. Especially read award winners and when you read these books, study them and what made them so successful. If you’re new to the craft of picture book writing, read nonfiction books on the subject, take a course or a workshop. Join a good critique group, one that focuses on picture books. A writer who’s not familiar with this genre won’t be able to help you, no matter how good they are at writing, let’s say, chick-lit novels. Last but not least, WRITE. I try to write one picture book story a week, or at least two a month. You get better the more you write and, most importantly, the writing will come easier.
Peek inside Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster at Guardian Angel Publishing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rainbow Nights

I'm excited about this new picture book. This was my first "really" child's bedtime book. I worked to create illustrations to compliment the magical verses by Sally Harris. After studying several bedtime books from illustrators such as Jan Brett and others, I hoped to capture a sleepy time feel while using flowing rainbows on each page.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Humberto has no idea Fall is here and Winter is soon to follow. He is reading about himself "living the life" in warm sunny Paris. Books can do that.