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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Nate Rocks the World
Book Review and Interview with Karen Pokras Toz


Today, I am pleased to welcome children's author Karen Pokras Toz to Cookie's Book Club, along with a special guest reviewer and interviewer, my nephew J!

Karen is the creator of the popular character, Nate Rocks.

So, who is Nate Rocks?

From Karen's website, http://www.karentoz.com:
Nate Rocks: Part Super-Hero, Part All-Star Athlete, Part Rock-Star… Part Fourth-Grader?

Ten-year-old Nathan Rockledge cannot catch a break. After all, life as a fourth-grader can be hazardous - what with science projects to deal with and recess football games to avoid. Everyone, including his best friend Tommy, seems to have bad luck when hanging around Nathan. Throw in an older sister who is a royal pain, a dad who is stuck in the past, and a mom who keeps trying to poison him with her awful cooking, and poor Nathan’s life as a fourth-grader appears to be completely doomed.

Armed only with his sketchpad, his imagination, and his wits, Nathan Rockledge navigates the perils of the fourth grade in style, to emerge heroic, as Nate Rocks, proving that even a ten-year-old can accomplish great things.

Follow the adventures of ten-year-old Nathan Rockledge as his cartoons and adventures come to life.

My review:
I'll be honest and tell you that I found it difficult to review this book, not being or having a preteen boy. If I rate it based solely on my own enjoyment of the book, it gets somewhere between a 2/5 and a 3/5. The book, to me, is like several short stories pieced together, so I find it to be a bit repetitious. Having said all of that, it is entertaining, and I think kids will enjoy the escape that Nate Rocks provides. Based on the feedback that the author is getting (just look at these kids enjoying Nate Rocks the World), kids clearly do love this book. Perhaps it doesn't much matter what I think. Let's ask someone whose opinion of the book does matter.
I enlisted my 10-year-old nephew 'J', an avid reader, and asked his opinion of the book. Here is what he had to say.

J’s review:
I think this book was paced just right and I liked the writing. I liked all of the characters in the story because they were all interesting. My favourite part of the story was when Nate saved Snowy, the dog.

Some books, if you read them once they are boring if you read them again. Not with Nate Rocks the World. You could reread it 3 or 4 times and it wouldn’t get boring.
There you have it! Kids love this book.

My nephew and I had a chance to ask Karen about her life as a writer and her loveable character, Nate Rocks.

Interview with Karen Pokras Toz

J: Did Nate rocks the world have anything to do with your childhood or something in your life?

Karen: Sort of – I loved to read as a child, and I noticed that my own children did not seem to share this love. I know part of it has to do with today’s distractions – I didn’t have computers, video games, or cable TV as a kid. I had books. I created Nate Rocks the World to give them and other kids a fun book they could get excited about.

Cookie's Mom: Can you expand on what inspired you to write Nate Rocks the World?

Karen: Well, as I told J, my kids were a huge inspiration. Not only did they inspire me to write the book, but also they inspired the creation of Nate himself. My oldest son is an amazing artist, my daughter is a dancer and very creative, and my youngest loves to roll play. I put them all together to come up with one fabulous Nate Rocks!

Cookie's Mom: Karen, this is book is written for kids in the 7-12-year-old range. I mentioned that the book seemed to me like several short stories and that I personally found it to be repetitive, but, again, I am not the target audience. Why did you write it in this way?

Karen: I wrote it that way so that the kids on the younger end of the age group would have an easier time reading it.

Cookie's Mom: Ah. That makes sense.

Can you tell us about yourself? How did you come to be a writer?

Karen: I’m a happily married mom to 3 great kids and 2 newly adopted kittens. I actually only became a writer quite recently. I’m an accountant by trade – working with clients on their taxes. About a year and a half ago, I discovered that I also love to write fiction! I’m fortunate that I am able to make time for both. I enjoy having a dual career.

Cookie's Mom: What else do you like to do? Do you have any hobbies?

Karen: Well, after working, writing, taking care of the kids and the house, I don’t get a lot of free time. I do love to blog (although that probably falls under the writing category) and of course I love to read. I also enjoy crochet and cross stitch, and spending time with my family. We are a board game family ... I am the reigning ‘Sorry’ champ.

Cookie's Mom: What other books have you written?

Karen: I have also written an adult contemporary novel that currently sits on my hard drive waiting for some extra tlc. I would like to write one or two more Nate Rocks books and then perhaps I will revisit it.

Cookie's Mom: What books or authors have inspired you?

Karen: I loved Judy Blume as a kid. A few people have compared my writing style to hers, which in my mind is the ultimate compliment. I also find JK Rowling incredibly inspirational. She really brought YA [the Young Adult genre] to life and showed how it is possible to have one book cross into many markets.

Cookie's Mom: What are your favourite children's books?

Karen: For the young ones, I love Sandra Boynton books and the “If you give a Moose A Muffin” series. For chapter books, I love the Junie B Jones books and of course Judy Blume books.

Cookie's Mom: What is coming up for you and Nate Rocks?

Karen: Well, I’m about three-quarters the way through writing the next Nate Rocks book – called Nate Rocks the Boat. In this book, Nate goes off to summer camp. I’m having a blast writing all new adventures for Nate.

Cookie's Mom: Karen, thanks for answering our questions. Best of luck to you as you write more of Nate Rock's adventures!

Source: http://www.karentoz.com/bio.html
Karen Pokras Toz is a writer, wife, and mom. Karen grew up in the small town of Orange, Connecticut and graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Finance. She also attended the University of Richmond, where she studied law and business, receiving both a JD and an MBA. Karen has spent the last several years working as a tax accountant, writing in numbers. She recently discovered a passion for writing with words.

Karen is a member of the Association of Independent Authors, Independent Author Network, and The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

She is the 2011 Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Run Honoree for the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter. Karen enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her husband and three children.

Karen has generously offered to giveaway a signed copy of Nate Rocks the World to one lucky winner!

There are 8 ways to enter below. Note that none of these are mandatory, so you can pick and choose how you will enter the contest. Enter once, or enter multiple times. There are two Twitter options, each worth one entry, which can be done once per day until the end of the contest. The contest will be open for 7 days. It is possible to earn up to 20 entries! The winner will be selected randomly once the contest has closed. Good luck!

This giveaway is listed on:
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer Canadian Mommy Giveaways

For more chances to win a copy of Nate Rocks the World, visit these bloggers:
  • You can win a signed copy of Nate Rocks the World sponsored by Krazy Book Lady (and while you are there, check out the review she posted) ... And – if e-reader is more your style...
  • You can win one of three digital copies of Nate Rocks the World (in the format of your choice) sponsored by Loves 2 Read (and while you are there, check out her review.)

AND visit these other great blogs for more giveaways! Bloggers, please link up your BOOK-RELATED posts only. Please include the intended age range and the contest end date. Happy reading!

Bloggers, you are welcome to grab the code for this linky and add it to your site, just be sure to mention it is for book related giveaways only so it doesn't get spammed with unrelated giveaways. BOOK & BOOK RELATED GIVEAWAYS ONLY - others will be deleted.


Karen Pokras said...

Thanks so much for the interview and for reviewing my book! Good luck to all who enter the giveaway!

Literary Chanteuse said...

I love the giveaways and the kids book reviews. There are not as many out there it seems. Thanks!

Cookie’s Mom said...

Thanks for being my guest today, Karen!

Margaret, the kids' book giveaways are harder to come by, but I hope to offer more in the new year! Thanks for visiting and following. Good luck!

Our Parenting Spot said...

Awesome giveaway! Thanks for sharing it @ Our Mom Spot!

jacqui said...

Based on J's review...this sounds like a book my almost 7-year-old nephew would like. If he does, I'm sure he'd be interested in Nate's future adventures as well.

Stasha said...

Love your nephews review. The author seems like someone I would love to share a cuppa.

Lorrie Servati said...

I found your giveaway on Our Mom Spot and had to enter because my son's name is Nate! lol Thank you for such an informative review of the book and the chance to win an autographed copy of it! :)

Anonymous said...

You gave such a well balanced review and I loved the addition of your nephew's comments to add to the perspective. It's interesting to see how adults and kids view books differently. Great job!

Cookie’s Mom said...

Our Mom Spot, thanks for featuring the giveaway on your site (http://ourmomspot.net)!

Jacqui, I hope your nephew enjoys the book!

Stasha, Karen is very sweet. You really would enjoy a cuppa with her!

Lorrie, how great that your son is a Nate too! Wouldn't it be fun for him to relate to the Nate in this story? Good luck with the giveaway!

Thank-you so much, Pam. I really appreciate that!

Crazy Life of a Writing Mom said...

I LOVE your nephew's review :)

Karen is such a fun writer. I really look forward to reading her book sometime soon.

Chasing Joy said...

This book reminds me of a cartoon I used to watch as a kid. I think it was called Doug! He was i think in 6th grade and was always turning ordinary situations into extraordinary situations in his imagination .

Great job involving your Nephew in the book review and interview. I was really impressed with him discussing the pace of the book. :-)

Chasing Joy said...

This book reminds me of a cartoon I used to watch as a kid. I think it was called Doug! He was i think in 6th grade and was always turning ordinary situations into extraordinary situations in his imagination .

Great job involving your Nephew in the book review and interview. I was really impressed with him discussing the pace of the book. :-)

guest post blog said...

good blog. Thanks for sharing.

Cookie’s Mom said...

Thanks to everyone who visited and entered the contest.

We have a winner! Congratulations Lorrie! :)

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