It’s Here! The Inteview, Reviews; Giveaway you have been waiting for! Dorothea Jensen & Books! (ends 12/21/16)

December 11, 2016

Dorothea has so generously provided her books for former Hops and Giveaway and NOW YOU GET TO MEET HER in our Interview PLUS she is offerin YOUR CHOICE of a FREE “Izzy” Book if you are chosen the International Winner! (Print-U.S./Can. OR e-copy International) Read my reviews and Interview with this very talented author then be sure to enter the International Giveaway at the end of this posting for chances to WIN you OWN FREE COPY of one of the Izzy Books!

Book 1:

Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf received the prestigious Mom’s Choice (Award, in the Juvenile Level I (Ages 5-8 Years), e-book category, honoring “the best in family-friendly media.”)

Synopsis

Naughty Owen and Alex sneak downstairs early on Christmas morning before their parents are up and open one of the big presents from Santa. They are disappointed to find that it is a bookshelf filled with books – not the electronic games they were hoping for. Their disappointment turns to amazement and concern, however, when they find Tizzy, one of Santa’s elves, has been packed inside the bookshelf by mistake.

Tizzy, desperate to get back to the North Pole, points out that Santa’s sleigh is powered by the imaginations of children, and asks the two boys to use the power of their own imaginations to send him home. But how?

My Review:

Do you want a new twist on “T’was the Night Before Christmas”? Tizzy the Christmas Elf is just the book you want to read children , ages 5 to 8 years of age. It is a cleverly and expertly rhymed “elf book” visiting the characters of Owen and Alex Christmas morning with an exciting treasure! Can they get back in bed before Mom & Dad discovers them up?
This first book of the new “izzy” elf series by talented author, Dorothea Jensen, is cleverly and colorfully illustrated by Andrea Agostini. (If you visit the authors website, you can download a FREE coloring picture, too!)
This is a great beginning,  enticing readers to eagerly look forward to reading the next in the “izzy” series. There is also an Introduction of the future elves of the series.
This book was a gift but I am in no way obligated to post a positive review. This is my honest review.
This earns Five  Stars!

Book 2:

Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf (received the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award, in the Juvenile Level I (Ages 5-8 Years), e-book category,
honoring “the best in family-friendly media.”)

Synopsis

Blizzy, Tizzy’s “favorite lass”, is the only elf who notices that Tizzy is missing on Christmas morning. When she starts questioning all her friends about when they saw him last, and where Tizzy could possibly be, however, they think she is just being a “worrywart”. What Blizzy REALLY is, however, is very, very clever, and she just might figure out the mystery!

My Review:

Blizzy the busy Elf was in charge of making sure the Elf photos and Christmas Night Party Celebration. Looking forward to the festivities, Blizzy eagerly rushed to the “Munchroom” and was “worried” about what she saw! She rushes to find the various elves involved in the “planning”. Each elf she contacts tries to ease her worried mind. Will they be ready when Santa arrives that night?

Once again, this series is written in the “T’was the Nigth Before Christmas” format with a clever twist. It is sure to become part of a new children’s classic series. The reader is sure to be eager to find out what is in the next book!

The Illustrations are done by artist Shayne Hood, who has captured the elves and their surroundings in a colorful, cute, well-defined characters and scenes.

The only negative I can possibly think of is, the rhythm of the rhyming was off, but the rhyme was well written.

This book was a gift but I am in no way obligated to post a positive review. This is my honest review.
This earns Four & a Half  Stars!

Now, for the Delightful INTERVIEW with Dorothea Jensen,  then I will Review the next two of the “izzy” elf series!

1.) Dorothea, tell us a little about your early life, i.e. where you grew up, how many siblings, pets you had, favorite activities, etc.

I was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 16, 1946, the second of five children. My dad was a medical student at the time, and my mom was a professional musician, a cellist. My birth was premature, and a famous Harvard neurologist examined me and opined that I would likely never walk or talk. My dad later told me my condition was then called “asphyxia pallida”, which I later found out was sometimes used as a synonym for “stillborn.” Hmmm.

Anyway, I did learn to walk and talk – which I did with a marked Boston accent. Because of this, I remember vividly that when we moved to Chillicothe, a small town in Illinois, when I was four, kids there thought the way I talked to be quite funny. I quickly morphed my speech to suit my new Midwestern home.

The first in our family was my older brother. I was followed by three little sisters, who all claim I bossed them around quite a bit. I claim I was just taking very good care of them.

All of us kids took lessons on musical instruments, and our house usually had the cacaphony of a music school.

My favorite activity was reading, which meant I spent a lot of time in closets trying to get away from all the noise. (Here’s a picture of me reading – in our living room, for once – in the mid 1950s) As a child, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I especially liked stories about the past. I finished reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I was in 3rd grade, and my teacher told my mother that I cried all day at school because there were no more Wilder stories to read. When I was in 4th grade, a neighbor gave me his late mother’s full set of Louisa May Alcott’s books, which I devoured. Then, when I was in 8th grade, The Witch of Blackbird Pond came out, and I became profoundly hooked on historical fiction.

My parents had many varied interests (history, theater, art, science, skiing, sailing etc.) and introduced us to all of these and more. It is no mystery that my brother ended up in science (teaching anatomy and physiology) and all four of us daughters in the arts (two are professional musicians; one is a theater professor, stage director, and professional actress, and I am a mostly amateur singer/actress and professional writer).

We were lucky enough to go to many historical sites when we were little. Somehow, my dad always seemed to make these sites feel “alive” to us. I’m sure that (in addition to my reading) is one reason I ended up writing historical fiction – to make history come alive for other kids.

In our family there was a high premium placed on word play. I grew up feeling that it was important to make other people laugh by putting words together in a funny way. (I believe that my dad, his brothers, his father, his grandfather etc. etc. going far back in our family tree were all known for their entertaining oral storytelling.) I used this skill to try to entertain my school friends, to make up for the fact that I was so much younger and physically immature than most of them. In the end, sharpening my wit turned out to be a valuable asset for me.

We are very grateful even very credible doctors are

2.) Please, relate a couple of your favorite childhood memories.

1) Dressing up like pirates and “attacking” a Viking ship coming down the Illinois River. (I wrote about this on my blog.) http://dorotheajensen.blogspot.com/search?q=pirate

2) Spending lots of time in a log cabin built by 19th century settlers which my parents bought with a group of friends. Another “living history” experience which, of course, made me feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder. http://dorotheajensen.blogspot.com/search?q=log+cabin

I can see you developed your acting talent and historical interest very early! that is great!

3.) You lived abroad in Holland and in Brazil. What did you like most about living in both places? What did you like the least?

Of course, what I liked the most was seeing how people lived in other countries, how they viewed the rest of the world, what they ate, how they raised their children, what their traditional celebrations were, etc. What I liked the least was never having the facility with the languages to make good puns and jokes, which made me realize how important this was in making me feel “like myself”. Finally, living in rural Brazil in 1969, which was quite a repressive dictatorship at the time, gave me a huge appreciation for living in the U.S. I also was not crazy about the Very Large Cockroaches.

I agree. We lived in the Philippines for two years. it was a wonderful, yet humbling, experience! Even with what problems we encounter in the U.S., it is much better than what most countries have to contend with.

4.) You have also lived in many states. Which have you enjoyed the most? The least? Why?

I have enjoyed all the places I have lived, usually for different reasons. I liked living in New Mexico because of the fascinating mix of cultures, its many pueblos, its ancient Anasazi sites, its spectacular mountains, and its desert setting. Living in Virginia near Civil and Revolutionary War sites was wonderful. Living in Pennsylvania near Philadelphia was great because of all the American Revolutionary historical sites we visited there. (My two boys learned to ride bikes at Valley Forge, for example. One reason I wrote my first historical novel for young readers, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, was to keep that sense of history alive for my own kids after we moved away.)

Of course, one reason I loved living near Philadelphia and in Minneapolis is that I was able to perform in The Gilbert and Sullivan Players, The Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company, and in the Ex Machina Baroque Opera Company. This was despite the fact that as a mezzo/contralto, I usually lost the hero to the soprano.

Unfortunately, rural New Hampshire, where I have lived for the last 26 years, hasn’t offered performing opportunities like that. On the plus side, I have many terrific friends here, and it is a beautiful, beautiful place, close to mountains and the ocean. It is also chock-ful of history, which I evoked when I wrote A Buss from Lafayette.

Well, it sounds as though you have experienced a richly fulfilling, life with many wonderful opportunities! I hope your successes in the new endeavor of writing continues!

5.) As a former singer and actress, you do a marvelous job in the recordings of the Elf series. In what other ways have you, or are planning to, utilize these talents with future book publishing? 

  I find that having a fair amount of acting/singing experience makes me comfortable appearing in a costume, like this 1825-style dress I had made for my Buss from Lafayette book launch party. In fact, the more I feel as if I am portraying a character by wearing a costume (“the author, Dorothea Jensen”) the easier it is for me to get up in front of an audience and talk about my work.

I will be recording an audio book of A Buss from Lafayette. I just haven’t had the time to focus on that yet. I have done a “trial” recording of the first chapter, which I will be posting online soon at abussfromlafayette.com.

I will also be doing audio books of other books as I write them, and I will start doing podcasts soon. For some reason I find it easy to talk to a microphone or to a camera about things that interest me. I just pretend I’m talking to a friend or a family member (or if “on the air”, just to the interviewer) and that seems to come across pretty well.

Here’s an example, in which I talk about where the idea for A Buss from Lafayette came from:  https://youtu.be/8Y5fpTktvUk

My husband has expressed amazement that the internet has made it possible for me to bring all my past and not-much-used-lately skills together and put them to use, via blogs, facebook, Pinterest, video blogs, musical videos, book trailers, etc. (I myself am amazed that I have had over 150,000 hits on the stuff I’ve posted online.) Needless to say, I am delighted to be able to do this!

The Internet is amazing! I am very impressed with your audio rendition of the “izzy” series! They are wonderful and so well-done that I am encouraging my grandchildren to listen to the CD as they read the book! It is so much better than I can do!

6.) I have not had the opportunity to read The Catherine Moorhouse Trilogy nor The Riddle of Penncroft Farm. Was the latter book a time travel story? Share with us a little about it.

The Catherine Moorhouse Trilogy was my first writing venture, which I did as a lark with a friend, Catherine Allen. We lived hundreds of miles apart, and had to mail what we wrote back and forth. I wrote most of the dialogue (as “the Mouth of Catherine Moorhouse”) and she wrote most of the action/description (as “the Legs of Catherine Moorhouse”). These were romantic comedies set in early nineteenth century England, à la Jane Austen. Getting these published gave me the confidence to write on my own. So I did.

I wrote The Riddle of Penncroft Farm after I moved back to Minnesota from Pennsylvania. I reversed my family’s situation by creating a story about an unhappy boy, Lars Olafson, who had to move with his family from Minneapolis to an old family farm in Pennsylvania near Valley Forge. He meets an interesting character, Geordie, who tells him many stories about the American Revolution. Oddly enough, his tales turn out to be those of an actual eye-witness to those events, and also turn out to be the only clue for Lars to solve a crucial mystery.

I guess you might call this a “time travel” book, but it is not the modern character who travels in time. (I have written a lot about this story on my Bublish site, https://www.bublish.com/author/view/5755.)

In any case, I am anxious to read them all!
7.)  A Buss From Lafayette totally captivated my interest and was not at all as I expected. I learned interesting tidbits of History I never knew, and History is one of my favorite subjects. How much research did you do before writing these historical novels? Please elaborate.
( for more info and my Review http://www.rockinbookreviews.com/2016/12/03/a-buss-from-lafayette-review-international-giveaway-ends-121916/)

I got the main idea for the story long ago, in 1997, on a Jane Austen Tour in England. (See above video.) Of course, I did not spend all those years researching Lafayette’s role in the Revolution, his Farewell Tour of 1824-5, and what life was like in America in 1825, but I estimate that I did spend four or five years doing so. (I’ve included many of my sources in the bibliography at the end of Buss.)

I must confess that one huge motivation for finally writing this story was the loss of my brother, aged 68, to brain cancer in 2013. I helped take care of him during his treatment, and found that, after his death, I felt absolutely compelled to write as many stories as I can in the time left to me. (My sisters obviously have felt the same creative impetus: since we lost Paul one has started a new chamber music group in New York City, http://www.chelseamusica.nyc/, another has started a new theater company in Minneapolis, (http://www.fullcircletheatermn.org/about) and the third has released new recordings of songs she has written and performed http://louisawise.com/. (The music I use for my elf and historical fiction book trailers is all by Louisa and her family and friends.)

For my part, I have written two books: A Buss from Lafayette and Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf.

That is so very touching. Thank you for sharing that with us.

8.) In what ways, if any, has your travels influenced your writing?

I think that traveling so much, especially to historic places, has made me view writing historical fiction as, in a sense, traveling to the past. Reading about and visiting other countries, taking snapshots and videos there etc., helps me envision those places in my memory. In a similar way, reading about the past and finding pictures about the who, what, and where of historical events helps me create an historical “virtual reality” to set my stories inside.

This is all an impressive insight.

9.) You have stated that [you] strive to “write stories that do not “talk down” to young readers”. In what ways and age ranges do you feel other authors “talk down” to young readers?

Obviously, most serious authors do NOT talk down to their young readers. I was mostly talking about “mass market media” like books based on the Smurfs and the like, which reduce most of the language to only a few words and don’t stretch kids’ vocabularies or imaginations.

This also refers to the fact that I had to fight to keep the archaic words I used in The Riddle of Penncroft Farm. The Harcourt editor was sure that these would not appeal to young readers, but nearly all of the fan mail I received after that book came out talked about how much kids loved these interesting old words. I used some of these in A Buss from Lafayette as well. Both books actually have archaic words in their titles, and both have glossaries at the end with definitions for all of the antique terminology.

I agree. I feel many times youth are more astute than they are given credit for. I find youth appreciate learning new terms.

10.) You have created a classroom reading guide. Is it just to accompany A Buss From Lafayette or does it cover other material? Enlighten us.

My first historical novel for kids, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, has been used as an “enrichment resource” in American classrooms for many years. It is really fun for me to find it listed along with Johnny Tremain and other classics to be read when kids are studying the American Revolution. I found out that someone had written a comprehensive guide for using Riddle in the classroom. I bought a copy, took a look at it, and realized that I could write an even better guide than that for A Buss from Lafayette. Along with my colleague and fellow “seasoned teacher,” Sienna Larson, that is what I did.

It was certainly written to accompany A Buss from Lafayette, but its purpose is to use that story as a springboard to help students learn about the American Revolution. It highlights the role which the very young (only 19) General Lafayette played in that war, especially in making the French Alliance (without which we would have lost our struggle for independence) endure and work.

We have now published it as a paperback and as a Kindle book on Amazon. Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1539308421/ref=nav_timeline_asin?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1. (I will be posting an excerpt online soon, too.) By the way, there is also a short reading guide (4 pages) that can be downloaded for free from abussfromlafayette.com.

I sincerely hope children and school libraries include these in their collections.

11.) What was your main object in creating the Elf series?

I talk about what was my main inspiration for creating the Izzy Elves here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZnhKPK-Z6o&t=4s&spfreload=10

I have always loved writing in rhyming verse, and especially loved Clement Moore’s 19th century poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”, so that’s what I used as a model when I decided to write my first elf story. This was Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf, about an elf accidentally trapped in the home of some children. As I wrote this, I decided to create other elves with names rhyming with Tizzy, and then I felt compelled to write their stories, too. I’ve written three more so far, (Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf; Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf; and Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf). All have won awards/honors of some type.

They are certainly a new, entertaining addition to Christmas family reading in our homes.

12.) What inspired you to incorporate your six grandchildren into the Christmas Elf series? How much of their personalities does each character have? Which elf resembles which child the most?

When I first started writing the story about Tizzy, my grandchildren weren’t even born yet. That’s how slow a worker I am.  When I decided to prepare it for publication many years later, I had four grandsons, so I decided to make a couple of them, Owen and Alex, the children who live in the house where Tizzy gets marooned. I’m not sure they could be quite as helpful to a stranded elf as they are in the Tizzy story, but I’m sure they’d do their best to help him get home to the North Pole. When I started writing Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf, I used two more grandsons, Stuart and Drake, who are certainly every bit as mischievous as their counterparts in that story. (Although they are disappointed that they have never actually had the chance for a joy ride in Santa’s sleigh.) Here’s an interview with Stuart about the Dizzy story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d73cYdnb-qo&spfreload=10 By the way, this is the same grandson whom I overheard explaining to his younger brother several years ago that I have the Izzy Elves inside my head and they tell me what to write. This is actually quite accurate.

Since then, my daughter has given birth to twin boys, Henry and Miles. My next Izzy Elf book, Bizzy, the Know-It-All Elf, will feature them.

This has got to be very special to those grandsons and their parents!

13.)  What is your next Big Project?

I am part-way through another historical novel for young readers that I have tentatively entitled A Scalp on the Moon. It is set in 17th century Massachusetts at the time of King Philip’s War. One reason I got interested in this era was that I discovered that my own ancestors, William and John Salisbury, actually started that very bloody conflict: firing the first shots and becoming the very first casualties. (The story isn’t actually about them, however.)

As I mentioned before , I am also working on another elf story,  Bizzy, the Know-It-All Elf.

I find that writing such wildly different projects at the same time helps stave off writer’s block. Whenever I get stuck on one, I start working on the other!

That answers two questions I have always had, “Why do writers write more than one book at a time? How do they do so without going nuts?

14.) What goals do you hope to accomplish within the next five to ten years?

I plan to finish A Scalp on the Moon, and Bizzy, the Know-It-All Elf within the next year. After that, I will tackle the stories about the last three Izzy Elves: Quizzy, Whizzy, and Fizzy. I might do another historical novel for young readers at that point, but I haven’t decided on a topic or era for that one. (This all depends on my staying mentally competent and physically healthy, as at the end of the next ten years, I will actually be over 80 years old. Yikes!)

WOW! I am impressed! You are definitely “young at heart”! You can easily keep going. Just stay physically fit!

Thank you Dorothea for this enlightening enterview and for your immense generosity in fulfilling these past Giveaways! I encourage you readers to follow Dorothea Jensen with the links below.

Websites: dorotheajensen.com : abussfromlafayette.com :  izzyelves.com
Blogs:   izzyelfblog.blogspot.com : dorotheajensen.blogspot.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dgjensen116  : https://twitter.com/Izzy_Elves
 Bublish: https://www.bublish.com/author/view/5755  : FB: facebook.com/dorothea.jensen.12
 FB PAGES:
 https://www.facebook.com/A-Buss-from-Lafayette-1573026166247655/?ref=hl
 https://www.facebook.com/RiddleofPenncroftFarm?ref=hl
 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Santas-Izzy-Elves/530055507092115?ref=hl
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/dorotheajensen

Now, For the last two reviews…

Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf (received Honorable Mention in the Picture Book for 6 and Older Category in the 2014 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards.)

Synopsis

Dizzy has worked all year next to his friend, Tizzy, and heard all about his Great Adventure. The trouble is, Dizzy wants to have an adventure, too! When he sneaks aboard Santa’s sleigh, he finds all the adventure he’s dreamed of with two little boys, Stuart and Drake. They share a wild joy ride and plenty of fun in this third “Izzy Elves” story.

My Review:

Dizzy, the elf, was feeling left out and incomplete so takes a scary, yet, exciting ride in Santa’s sleigh to visit all the girls and boys.

While Santa was busy, Dizzy created mischief. What will Santa do if Dizzy is caught in his “antics”?

Once again, in the style of “T’was the Night Before Christmas”, one of the “izzy” elves is curious and breaks a rule. The Illustrations by Andrea Agostini, are as colorful as ever, and done in cute characterization.  The rhyming verse is well done except in a few places slightly “off-rhythm”. The Cover is attractive and is sure to catch the “browser’s eye! I am anxious to read the next one, aren’t you?

This book was a gift but I am in no way obligated to post a positive review. This is my honest review.
This earns Four & a Half  Stars!

Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf is a Santa Choice Award winner!)
SYNOPSIS
Frizzy styles the hair of Christmas dollies, but misses them dreadfully when Santa takes them away on Christmas Eve. (She suffers from S.A.D.: Seasonal Affection Distress.) Frizzy decides she need to change her job so she doesn’t get so attached to the toys she works on. She starts making something completely different but soon finds that her plan isn’t going to work out exactly as she intended!

My Review:

With Dizzy’s help, Frizzy can overcome the “meltdown” she is experiencing. When she approached Santa with the new idea, he was unsure but allowed it, anyway. Now Dizzy, Quizzy, Whizzy, and Bizzy will all be involved in helping her overcome the S.A.D.

The cleaver ideas and creativity of the author, Dorothea Jensen, is again at work in creating a new, delightful rendition of a new “Elf form” of “T’was the Night Before Christmas”! The  series are also done in an audio by the author, that will enhance the print copy or e-copy immensely.

The illustrations are done by Shane Hood in bright colors with adorable elfin scenes.

This book was a gift but I am in no way obligated to post a positive review. This is my honest review.
This earns Four & a Half  Stars!

Now, be sure to enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to WIN your own copy of any of these “izzy” books you choose.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

3 Comments

  • anne December 11, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    The entire interview was fascinating and interesting. learning about the author and her parents, sisters and brothers and her love of reading was wonderful, as well as her life and living in so many interesting places.

  • Diane Elizabeth December 14, 2016 at 4:50 am

    I enjoyed reading about the authors plans for the next five to ten years. A lot more great books to look forward to!

  • John Smith December 19, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    It’s interesting that she loved “A Visit From Saint Nicholas.” That is a beloved favorite.