The Recess Queen

recess_queenThis book is a favorite! Powerful insights into playground bullying, school violence, and poor self-esteem.  This book offers wonderful life lessons while weaving through character development traits like responsibility, integrity, courage and leadership.  The Recess Queen is a great teaching tool for guidance counselors, teachers or parents.  This book is a sure hit!

~ TURNING STONEchoice

Getting Personal with Author, Chris Avery

chris_averyAuthor, Chris Avery shares some insight on the creative process behind his latest young adult novel, Angst.  ANGST chronicles the complicated lives of three best friends attempting to navigate the perils of freshman year in high school while dealing with the realities of teen life.

Describe your book in one sentence!
Angst is an inspiring youth novel, detailing the exploits of three teens navigating and overcoming the travails of high school.

Angst

What inspired you to write about teenagers?
When TURNING STONEchoice (TSC) approached me to write a book for young adults, I  immediately recognized  the need for an honest attempt to write something that would help young people become self- empowered. Few of today’s novels have positive role models or a message of hope for readers. As a father of three teens, I am constantly amazed by the stories shared and challenges they and their friends encounter. Today’s youth are bombarded with divorce, drugs, pressures to grow up too quickly, and many more issues that seem to be more vigilant now than previous generations. I hope Angst provides a roadmap for a possible path to navigate their landscape. And, although not perfect, Angst is a possible solution for students facing similar problems.

Parental loss in many forms seemed to be a weaving theme throughout the book.   Can you talk about those variations and significance?
Throughout the book, I attempt to paint a picture that would be relatable to today’s teens. The definition of ‘family’ continues to evolve. Consequently, I wanted to have numerous types of families in the book and help students recognize the normalcy of difference . All families are different. However, core values and respect are key to keep families close to each other. When loss of a parent occurs, whether through death or divorce, children often have trouble truly coping. While more resilient than most adults recognize, children need guidance from adults and peers to serve as support networks. Angst delivers that message by demonstrating numerous children dealing with this issue of loss and family disruption, and details how they cope. While it is never easy, it is important to see how they survive and work to thrive through it all.

What did you enjoy most about writing Angst?
I enjoyed talking to young people. The TSC approach to engage young people through conversation and allowing them to voice their view of the world and how they fit in it was at the core of my approach. I interviewed a lot of teens and parents before and while writing the book. I asked about what makes their families special and what do they wish they could tell their parents or children, respectively. These conversations really shaped the layout of the book and helped inform me about the sincerity of families to love and respect each other, but how life too often gets in the way. The book allowed me to get closer to my own children and my wife, as we spoke openly about our parenting philosophy and how we communicate with our children .

Any future book projects on your literary plate?
Angst inspired me to begin writing a parenting handbook. From interviews preparing me for the Angst project, I recognized reoccurring themes that would help parents better show their love and dreams for their children. The project has allowed me to collaborate with other parent authors and talk about relationships with our children and how to impart our knowledge without dominating our children’s lives. TSC’s emphasis on helping families has been an inspiring opportunity for me to be a part and I have been thrilled to write on these projects.

“. . . remember that the only thing standing between you and your greatness is yourself.  Take control of your life, and enjoy every second.”  Angst

To enjoy your personal copy of Angst follow click here or at Amazon.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and our programs please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com.

ANGST – Book Review

Angst
Steven, Sarah, and Johnny are three best friends attempting to navigate the perils of freshman year in high school while dealing with the realities of teen life. Steven is coping with the return of his biological father and attempting to prove his worth for his father’s attention and time. Sarah is in her first romantic relationship with an older, mysterious, sophomore and is verbally tormented by a group of girls. Johnny seeks to live up to his father’s legacy on the football field and wrestles with his emotions for Sarah. Angst chronicles the personal stories of each individual as they grow apart over time but reunite in a dramatic conclusion.
Angst is a gem of a book! The author strikes the tone of the teen perfectly through his three main characters. Teen readers will relate and parents if you are wondering what is going on in your teenagers head and in their world, read this book. Nothing is off-limits, the real issues, pressures and doubts, but not without palpable solutions. A fast read and a super-cool ending!

Available on amazon.com here http://www.amazon.com/Angst-Christopher-Avery/dp/0984002200/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_dnr_1
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Book Review – The Skin I’m In

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According to Maleeka’s peers, she is too poor, too skinny, too black and too smart. All of which seems to make her a moving target for abuse by Charlese, a frienemy who extorts homework from Maleeka in exchange for nice clothes and a deferral from a beat down. As if life was not cruel enough after the loss of her father, she endures relentless insults from John-John. Every turn in the hallway, in class, and on the bus, he hurls negative remarks about her dark complexion. “What is his problem anyway?” She wonders and questions her self-image. Although the reader can assume Maleeka struggles with loving and accepting the skin she is in, the writer, Sharon G. Flake clearly examines the turbulent life journey of a young person trying to understand the right choices to make under tough circumstances, which is the more significant issue for Maleeka.
The Skin I’m In is a quick pick for reluctant readers and a Coretta Scott King award winning book. Appreciated for exploring how a young person with incredible potential can feel so low, and how one teacher can make a difference in a student’s life, The Skin I’m In is highly recommended and perfectly relevant for middle school and high school students.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

My Mouth is a Volcano – Suggested Reading & Review

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A Mom’s Choice Award book by Julia Cook, My Mouth is a Volcano addresses the annoying habit of interrupting others through a child’s point of view with humor and imagery. Louis, a vibrant boy with very important words to share with the world has a lot to say and struggles with controlling his words. Will he be able to keep his volcano from bubbling over onto others with a zangy method mom shares or will he keep erupting? Playful illustrations to match Cook’s words deliver the message of how difficult it really can be to stop “erupting.” A simple, fun read with practical application for all, and an excellent resource to set the tone for classroom behavior in the beginning of the school year. Teachers, parents and child-care workers will reap the reward for reading this witty book coping with social skills, polite conversation, self-control and appropriate behavior. Appropriate for ages 4 and up.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

Suggested Reading & Review – The Other Wes Moore

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The Other Wes Moore is a riveting, true story of two lives, one name and the diverging paths that led one to prison for life and the other a Rhodes Scholar. The author examines the overwhelming similarities between two boys: both living in the same poverty stricken neighborhood in Baltimore, both fatherless, both coping with a violent and drug saturated environment and both having run-ins with police at an early age. Among the themes the book presents with detailed examples and honest questions are: the impact of educational opportunity, family influence, expectations, personal choices, and support.
The book is currently used as common reads for incoming freshmen at colleges and universities but is also an accessible read for middle school and high school students who may be impacted by this book. Moore, the author shares in the afterword, “I will never forget the letter I received from a fifteen-year-old young man from Baltimore who has already spent part of his young life in juvenile detention. He said this was the first book he had ever read cover to cover, and after reading it he was forced to think about the type of man he wants to be, for himself and his family.”
A must read for educators, parents and students who need to look beyond the circumstances of life and expect and envision a possible future ahead. Excellent resources are built into the back of the book with a list of over 200 organizations that help young people through their journeys and questions to consider after the read. Here is one for you to consider. The author says to the other Wes, “I guess it’s hard sometimes to distinguish between second chances and last chances.” What do you think he means?

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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Have You Filled Your Bucket Today?

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The concept of bucket filling is one that kids can really understand and relate to. This book is a wonderful tool for families and teachers to give kids a visual way to think about kindness toward others. Words hurt, that’s the simple truth! If we can teach young children the power of words and teach them to use those words carefully, we can change the future of the world.

This book visually conveys a message that is often difficult to explain to children, about finding happiness through spreading happiness. Kids understand it and love it, and it helps parents explain at a kid’s level why someone was mean to them. It is definitely one to read and re-read! Enjoy!!

The Giving Tree – Suggested Reading & Review

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“Once there was a tree…” Simple prose, with an insightful indictment on the way society does life with such egocentric tendencies, and on the flip side, revealing the tenderness of altruistic giving. There are many reviews on this classic poem focusing on the incredible love of the tree, comparing the tree to a friend, or a parent. Others perceive the tree continues to give in order to relive the joy experienced with the boy when they simply spent time together. Of course, the tree gives sacrificially only to provide fleeting happiness to her boy. When will enough truly make the boy happy? He continues to take all she has to offer and on every returning visit her boy never reaches contentment, searching for happiness in money, a house, a boat, family. Where does real joy come from? Where does contentment and peace reside? Perhaps in the end the old boy and old stump will both decide.
Beautifully written and illustrated, convicting both adults and children to consider their roles in life. Are you a giver or taker? As always, the choice is yours! Enjoy, engage and contemplate, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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Excellent Resource- Bystander Behavior

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Pete is the new kid learning, “The kids in his new school are way different than at his other school.” Everyone is talking about the “Promise” but will Pete join the group or continue to be odd man out. The Juice Box Bully is a realistic journey of a bully and the real power students have when standing up for each other. Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy present this book for primary grades, encouraging empowering choices under stressful interactions and giving children concepts related to bystander behavior.
Recent studies are confirming, students are the real solution to abusive and bullying behavior in schools. They have the power to set the tone of what is acceptable in their social settings. Yet, they often lack the skill set to make empowering choices. The Juice Box Bully is an excellent resource for students and teachers to discuss real life situations and how to make appropriate choices.
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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An Awesome Read for Kids

An Awesome Read for Kids

TSC just did a lesson to 1st & 3rd graders in a Camden Charter School using the book, “Cool Down and Work Through Anger.” This wonderfully written book is by Cheri J. Meiners. It is a fantastic book for showing children how to help deal with anger. There are many reasons for getting angry but how one chooses to deal with the feeling of anger is the key. This book gives the reader wonderful scenarios, discusses the feelings/emotions of anger, and discusses the choices we are faced with when dealing with the emotion of anger. The best part are the tips offered to children to help manage their anger. This book is highly recommended to any parent or educator of young children. A great choice for children learning how to deal with anger.