Category Archives: Giveaways

The Industrial Revolution for Kids: Interview and Giveaway

Welcome Cheryl Mullenbach, a former middle and high school history teacher and state education department consultant, to the Mixed-Up Files!

Industrial Revolution for Kids The (2)

Cheryl is here to talk about her new book, The Industrial Revolution for Kids, which  introduces young readers to the Industrial Revolution in a “revolutionary” way—through the usual people, places, and inventions of the time: the incredibly wealthy Rockefellers and Carnegies, dirty and dangerous factories, new forms of transportation and communication. In addition, readers experience the era through the eyes of everyday workers, kids, sports figures, and social activists whose names never appeared in history books.

MUF: This is your second nonfiction book for young readers. Given your teaching experience, American history is a logical choice of subject mattter. But what made you decide to focus on the Industrial Revolution?

CM: I like to tackle traditional topics in history by exploring them through new, fresh perspectives. The Industrial Revolution is usually a popular topic for middle school and high school history courses. The focus for studying the Industrial Revolution in America is usually on the “greats” – Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt. The era had such a major impact on the way we live today. I wanted to scratch below the surface and feature some of the ordinary and overlooked individuals (including kids) who made the Industrial Revolution possible. That’s why readers of The Industrial Revolution for Kids will learn about the contributions of Andrew Carnegie to the steel industry at the same time meeting an 11-year-old boy who was thrown into a room with rats when he was caught breaking windows.

MUF: The Industrial Revolution is a big topic. How did you narrow it down to information that would be most relevant and interesting to kids?

CM: It was challenging to present an overview of 100 years of American history in only 40,000 words! The role of immigrants could hardly be overlooked in any book about the Industrial Revolution. Labor unions. Child labor. Urbanization. And while those at first blush may not be appealing to kids, the stories of real people who were affected by immigration, unions, child labor and urbanization reel in young readers—the five children of Thomas Healy who lost his life in a gunpowder factory explosion in New York; 12-year-old Charles Neudinger whose body was pierced by needles when a machine in a textile factory accidentally trapped him; a group of school boys in Massachusetts who vandalized their principal’s house when they were banned from associating with the local factory girls.

MUF: Wow, those are some incredible stories. Thank you for giving them a voice. The inclusion of twenty-one hands on activities and crafts really extends the learning opportunities provided by the book. Was it hard to come up with ideas? Can you give us a short description of your favorite example?

CM_head1CM: Well, I think anyone who has taught middle school kids becomes quite skilled at designing resources that capture the attention of those little darlings! One of my favorite activities in the book is “Listen to Talking Walls.” It incorporates local history and language arts as well as research skills. Kids are asked to focus on a section of buildings in their community. They analyze the exteriors and interiors to learn about architecture and history. My hope is that kids will look at their surroundings and realize that there’s history all around them.

MUF: Who is the target audience for your book?

I hope middle school history and language arts teachers, public and school librarians, and home school educators will use it as a resource for their students. I think parents will find it a helpful tool to pique a child’s interest in the past. Children who are learning English as a second language will find stories and activities that they can relate to. As educators look for resources to infuse informational text into their curricula, they seek out text in content areas that will motivate students. I think stories of real people, places, and events from the past can intrigue young readers. The format of the “For Kids” series by Chicago Review Press benefits struggling readers. Text is “chunked up” or pulled out in the sidebars woven throughout the chapters. Reluctant readers are pulled in by the archival photos. Many of the photos capture images of young children—getting dimes from John D. Rockefeller, stuffing sausages in a meatpacking plant, selling newspapers on city street corners, and playing on tenement roofs. A college instructor told me she plans to use The Industrial Revolution for Kids with her undergraduates to give an overview of the Industrial Revolution!

MUF: That’s great! According to your website, you have another book forthcoming in 2015. Can you tell us a little bit about that title?

CM: It’s another in the “For Kids” series. The Great Depression for Kids: Hardships and Hope in 1930’s America tells the stories of everyday Americans struggling to live, work, and play during this troubled time. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Readers meet packhorse librarians; Bossy Gillis, the Massachusetts mayor who encouraged kids to skip school to attend the circus; Scotty, a film star’s dog that had his own pink satin sofa; and 7-year-old Betty Jane Kolar, the “world’s youngest magician.”

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Cheryl Mullenbach, and offering a copy of The Industrial Revolution for Kids to one lucky reader. To enter the draw, please follow the rafflecopter link. Winner announced September 23rd. Good luck!

Yolanda Ridge is the author of Trouble in the Trees (Orca Book Publishers, 2012) and Road Block (Orca Book Publishers, 2011).

Interview (and giveaway!) with Madelyn Rosenberg, author of Nanny X

Nanny X

There are nannies, and then there’s Nanny X, a peanut butter and anchovy sandwich crime fighter, whose young charges, Alison and Jake (and baby sister), join her adventures.  To rescue their friend, save their favorite park and free some luckless chimpanzees, Allison and Jake will need every bit of pluck and daring they can muster, along with a few clever devices from Nanny X.  Can you say diaper phone?!  (To read Chapter 1, go here.)

Where did the idea for Nanny X come from? 

I’d been thinking about some of the au pairs I’d met – young, smashing au pairs with exotic accents – and that started me thinking about someone who might be the opposite. I’d already come up with some nanny gadgets, like a diaper phone (think Maxwell Smart with a Huggie). I started thinking about who might be talking on it. Nanny X just sort of opened the diaper and answered. Her voice was New York Grandma instead of Girl from Ipanema, and after years of proving herself, she had to prove herself again.

One of my favorite lines in Nanny X is when Alison asks Nanny X asks her to do a homework problem, and Nanny X tells her that to give the answer would be “irresponsible.”   I use that with my kids now!  How did you develop a sense of WWNXD?  (What Would Nanny X Do?)

She definitely has a lot of opinions — about food and homework and exercise. And they’re not always the same as my own. (I would never send my kids to school with anchovies, at least.) This is going to sound lame, but I almost feel like she came fully formed. Some of it has to do with her age. She is sure enough of herself to believe that most of what she thinks is correct and she is ready to impart that wisdom to others.

Did you have a favorite babysitter or nanny when you were growing up?  Did you ever babysit yourself?

I was more obsessed with governesses than nannies, but I never had either one. I did have babysitters (shout out to Lael, Ginny and Robin, who helped me build a town out of oatmeal boxes). And I did babysit for other families. I was not as brave as Nanny X. In fact, I was generally a nervous kid, to the point where I once woke up an 14-month-old to keep me company while I freaked out over a series of bizarre noises in the middle of the night. It turned out the people had squirrels in the attic. Guh! Thanks for letting me know. Babysitters made a lot less money in the 70s and 80s when I was watching kids, so I probably got $3 for what I’m sure took years off my life.

Madelyn NannyX

Yeah, I think I got paid a buck an hour! The story takes place through the alternating viewpoints of Ali and Jake, Nanny X’s charges. What is the hardest thing for you about writing with alternating viewpoints?  

The hardest thing about writing alternating viewpoints was making sure they were actually different. I think I’m a little bit of each character I write (the bad guys, too) so it’s tricky, especially in first person, to make sure they don’t all sound like me. That took me a while. And when I’d write, I’d think: what does Jake want? What does Ali want? When I was editing, I did all of one POV one day and all of the other POV the next. That helped.

As a member of NAP, the Nanny Action Patrol, Nanny X comes armed with several spy devices disguised as child/baby care items.  What’s your favorite one? 

It’s probably the baby book Moo, Sweet Cow. When my own kids were small, we tried like crazy to avoid baby toys that made noise. And we ended up with a house full of them. (I still haven’t forgiven my dad for giving us the Laugh and Learn Puppy. Moo, Sweet Cow takes all of that noise and uses it as a weapon.

I think you’ve really hit on something there – there are a few of my own kids’ toys that qualify as weapons.  You’ve accomplished the children’s book author equivalent of hitting for the cycle, by publishing in all three major genres: picture book, middle-grade and young adult. You even have a feature on your blog for genre-jumpers. What is special to you about writing middle-grade fiction? 

For a lot of kids, middle-grade fiction seems like the first fiction that they’re choosing and tackling all by themselves. They’re seeking out (Star Trek alert – I’m full of them this week) new life and new civilizations. I know the worlds I discovered on my own were insanely special to me when I was growing up. The chance to create a book that a kid might choose? I can’t think of anything more special than that.

Comment below for your chance to win a copy of NANNY X!


Wheels of Change–A Giveaway

Racial intolerance, social change, sweeping progress–these form the background of Darlene Beck Jacobson’s historical novel, WHEELS OF CHANGE, pubbing this month.

wheels of change

It’s 1908,  and Washington D.C. is a turbulent place for  12-year-old Emily Soper to be growing up. For Emily, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic, and she’s more at home hearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer than trying to conform to the proper expectations of young ladies. When Papa’s livelihood is threatened by racist neighbors and horsepower of a different sort, Emily faces changes she’d never imagined. Finding courage and resolve she didn’t know she had, Emily strives to save Papa’s business, even if it means going all the way to the White House.

Kirkus Reviews says: “The strength of the text lies in Jacobson’s ability to evoke a different era and to endear readers to the protagonist.”  

This is Darlene’s debut novel. When not writing, she enjoys baking, sewing, and tea parties–as well as hanging around forges watching blacksmiths work their magic.  You can visit her at Congrats, Darlene!

Like to win a copy? Leave a comment below!