Tag: Middle Grade

Daniel Barker: Journey to Egypt Author Interview

An Interview with Jenny about why she wrote
Daniel Barker: Journey to Egypt

Why did you write the Daniel Barker series?

I love Roald Dahl and was reading The Magic Finger. After finishing it, thoughts began to bounce around my head. I wanted to write a fun story about a child who had some type of power. Out of that initial thought, combined with an idea that came to me when I was using Twitter, the seed was planted.
I have always loved ancient Egypt with the pyramids, pharaohs and mummies etc. so I thought it would be awesome to have ancient Egypt as the backstory and then the setting for Journey to Egypt. I wanted magic and fantasy in the stories as this genre is fun to write, and I realised as I wrote the books that they were horror as well. This was a new genre for me to write but I had inspiration from Goosebumps.
All of my books have some type of bully or evil character, so Daniel Barker does as well. When I was thinking about the antagonist – the meanie, the thought of having multiple antagonists came to mind. This gave me the idea for the theme of peer pressure. I know from my own experience as a teacher, and from my youth work studies, that peer pressure is a major issue for children in high school.
I also hoped that boys who don’t like reading, might pick up the book and read it.

What is the story about?

The story is about Daniel Barker who receives a Egyptian magical book on his tenth birthday. The book gives him 99 wishes which must be used for the good of the world. He writes a wish by writing a hashtag and then what he wants. All goes well in primary school and Dan the Man is a superhero. He then goes on to high school where he unleashes the Mummy’s blight due to peer pressure and bullying. In this book Dan and Grandma go back to Egypt to try and stop the blight. They visit the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities and the mummies come to life and chase Daniel. He meets Meryatum, Ramesses II’s son. Meryatum takes him to ancient Egypt and it is there the boys encounter many challenges and obstacles, in their quest. This is a story with suspense, horror and heaps of action!

What is your favourite part of the story?

I loved researching ancient Egypt, as ever since I was a girl I was fascinated by the pyramids and the sphinx. I remember hearing about the mummification process and being horrified by it – so of course I had to include that in the story!

What will people get out of the story?

Children will learn about ancient Egypt through the facts I have woven through the story. They will see a boy who is resilient and keeps on going towards his goal, with the help of a friend. And I definitely hope children will enjoy the story and be entertained by it.

Is there a Book 3 coming?

Yes, there will be a third where Dan goes back home from Egypt and tries to resume a normal life at home and school. You will have to wait and see what happens in it but like the other two books it will be full of action.

Where can people buy Daniel Barker from?

Daniel Barker: Journey to Egypt is available as a paperback. It can be purchased from many online bookstores which are listed on my website, and from me directly, via my website.

Daniel Barker: Journey to Egypt Themes

Daniel Barker: Journey to Egypt Themes

Peer Pressure

Wanting to feel part of something can put pressure on a teen to act in certain ways. If they’re doing something they wouldn’t normally do, or are not doing something they’d like to do, simply so that they’ll be accepted by the people they hang out with, they’re suffering from peer pressure.

Peer pressure can influence:
* the way someone dresses or wears their hair
* the activities they get involved in the music they listen to
* the decisions made about using drugs and alcohol
* who they date
* who they’re friends with.

The pressure to act in a certain way can be:
1) direct: someone telling the teen what they should be doing
2) indirect: the teen’s group of friends might do certain activities together that they’re unlikely to do outside of that group
3) self-motivated: putting pressure on the teen to fit in with their friendship group, because of certain standards they’ve set or comments they’ve made.
https://au.reachout.com/articles/what-is-peer-pressure

In Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight, peer pressure is a pivotal catalyst for the turn of events in the story. Daniel is a superhero in primary school and the beginning of high school. Things change in Year Eight, and with taunting, bullying and pressure on him, Daniel goes against the rules set down in the Scrivener book. Consequences await him upon disobeying the rules. In Daniel Barker: Journey to Egypt, Daniel reflects on why he is in his predicament and knows it is because of peer pressure and making poor choices. 

Ancient Egypt

The Scrivener book is a present that was given to Daniel’s grandmother by a magus when she was traveling through Egypt. It was then passed down to Daniel’s mother and then to himself.
In Power or Blight there are some references to Egypt with the Mummy’s blight. At the end of the story, Grandma decides that they need to go back to Egypt to stop the blight.

In Journey to Egypt, ancient Egypt comes alive. I did a lot of research about ancient Egypt to ensure the facts I have woven into the story are correct. 

Some fun facts about ancient Egypt:
1) Egyptian men and women wore makeup. It was thought to have healing powers, plus it helped protect their skin from the sun.
2) They used mouldy bread to help with infections.
3) They were one of the first civilizations to invent writing. They also used ink to write and paper called papyrus.
4) The Ancient Egyptians were scientists and mathematicians. They had numerous inventions including ways to build buildings, medicine, cosmetics, the calendar, the plow for farming, musical instruments, and even toothpaste.
5) Ancient Egypt plays a major role in the Bible. The Israelites were held captive there as slaves for many years. Moses helped them escape and led them to the Promised Land.
6) The Pharaoh kept his hair covered. It was not to be seen by regular people.
7) Cats were considered sacred in Ancient Egypt.
https://www.ducksters.com/history/ancient_egypt.

Bullying

As with most of my books, bullying is featured in By Power or Blight. Daniel is called names and taunted, until he explodes. Bullying does not occur in Journey to Egypt, but instead Daniel is befriended by Meryatum, the Pharaoh’s son, Meryatum, quickly becomes friends with Daniel and they share their adventure together. 

Bullying goes hand-in-hand with negative peer pressure.

So what is bullying?

The national definition of bullying for Australian schools says:
Bullying is an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons. Bullying can happen in person or online, and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert).

Bullying of any form or for any reason can have long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders.

Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying.

In the story, Daniel is bullied because he is picked on by many children; some like Ethan and his mate have it in for him. Daniel is physically and verbally picked on. After things start going bad, he becomes isolated from his friends.

https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/WhatIsBullying/DefinitionOfBullying

In By Power or Blight, the school does not action to stop the bullying – this is all part of the Mummy’s Blight. But in reality there are policies and procedures that schools need to follow.

These strategies could include:
• teaching and learning programs to develop students communication, social, assertiveness and coping skills
• changes to the school environment to improve teacher supervision, such as removing visual barriers between teacher and students
• increasing supervision of students at particular times or places
• support from a guidance officer or school counsellor
• changes to technology access at school
• timetable or class changes that may be temporary or permanent to decrease the contact the students have with each other
• class discussions of bullying including underlying issues and possible responses for students
• promoting positive bystander behaviour
• disciplinary action against students who bully others
An action plan may be developed for the child and any other children involved. Strategies for use at home may also be included in a plan.
https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/RespondingToBullying/HowAustralianSchoolsRespond

Single-Parent Family

Daniel Barker lives with his mother, his father having left when he was a baby. Mrs Barker still carries some resentment towards her husband and expresses in the story that she doesn’t want her son to become like him.

Mrs Barker has the help of Daniel’s grandmother, who he is close to. Daniel often rings his grandmother to ask her advice, and they have a good relationship. She helps him many times throughout By Power or Blight. In Journey to Egypt it is Grandma who takes Dan to Egypt. 

This theme was chosen as over the past 20 years single-parent families have become even more common than the so-called “nuclear family” consisting of a mother, father and children. Today we see all sorts of single- parent families: headed by mothers, headed by fathers, headed by a grandparent raising their grandchildren.

Life in a single-parent household — though common — can be quite stressful for the adult and the children. Members may unrealistically expect that the family can function like a two-parent family, and may feel that something is wrong when it can not. The single parent may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of juggling caring for the children, maintaining a job and keeping up with the bills and household chores. And typically, the family’s finances and resources are drastically reduced following the parents’ breakup.

Single-parent families deal with many other pressures and potential problem areas that the nuclear family does not have to face.

Stressors faced by single parent families include:
* Visitation and custody problems.
• The effects of continuing conflict between the parents.
• Less opportunity for parents and children to spend time together.
• Effects of the breakup on children’s school performance and peer relations.
• Disruptions of extended family relationships.
• Problems caused by the parents’ dating and entering new relationships.
http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/single-parent.aspx

Difference & Diversity

We all want children to grow up in a world free from bias and discrimination, to reach for their dreams and feel that whatever they want to accomplish in life is possible. We want them to feel loved and included and never to experience the pain of rejection or exclusion. But the reality is that we do live in a world in which racism and other forms of bias continue to affect us. Discrimination hurts and leaves scars that can last a lifetime, affecting goals, ambitions, life choices, and feelings of self-worth.
https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/teaching-diversity-place-begin-0/

Even though in Power or Blight, Daniel is a typical boy, as stated in the Introduction, the gift of his Scrivener power changes things. It makes him different. When I wrote the story I thought an equivalent example for today may be a child’s family winning the lottery, or a child acquiring a physical disability – something that had a dramatic change – something that may be accepted for a while, but then not so much.

Having the theme of difference and diversity in the Daniel Barker series encourages discussions. It goes a step towards children thinking about how they can show respect for others who are different from themselves, and the language they speak.

Daniel Barker: Journey to Egypt Information

Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight

Daniel Barker Series #2

Upper Middle Grade Novel

Ages 9-13

157 pages

Publication Year: 2020

ISBNs:
978-0-6488337-0-3 (pbk)
978-0-6488337-1-0 (e-bk)

RRP $15 AUD paperback
RRP $4.14 AUD ebook

THE STORY:
Thirteen-year-old Daniel Barker has a magical book from Egypt which gives him 99 wishes.

In Book 1 Dan ignored the rules and awakened the Mummy’s blight so now Grandma is taking him to Egypt to find a cure.

While visiting the museum in Cairo, Dan gets chased by mummies into a room where Ramesses II’s son, Meryatum, appears to help him in his quest.

A chariot, crocodiles, robbers, temples, palaces, papyrus scrolls, a cunning high priest and much more await him in his journey to stop the Mummy’s blight.

Will Dan be able to?

Daniel Barker Journey to Egypt Information Sheet

***
COMING SOON as an EBOOK or PAPERBACK

in Australia

Amy and Phoenix Author Interview

An Interview with Jenny about why she wrote
Amy and Phoenix

Why did you write Amy and Phoenix?

I love Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. When I was a classroom teacher, I always enjoyed reading the story to my class of children. I found it such a heart-warming story. I also thought it would be fun to have talking animals, like in the Doctor Doolittle movies. So, initially these two ideas floated around in my imagination and morphed into a modern tale of a girl who wanted to save a disabled lamb on her farm, and her ability to talk to the animals would help her.

I took my youngest daughter on a holiday and there was a petting zoo in the caravan park. Each day my daughter wanted to go and feed the animals and pat them. She particularly loved the lambs. The photos of her feeding and patting the animals became cemented in my mind, and they became the characters in the book.

My passion is to write stories with disabled characters, or characters in diverse situations. Having a disabled lamb would add a different type of story to my collection.
I made Amy’s dad the antagonist. Dad is really just doing what many farmers do. They put down sick or poorly animals. Farmers may feed potty lambs when there is drought, but they don’t normally feed lambs just for the heck of it. They are too busy. Children do not see the world as adults do so I wanted to explore this relationship in the story.

What is the story about?

The story is about Amy Pringle who sees her dad striding through the loungeroom with his gun. She knows that on the farm that usually isn’t a good thing, and she pursues him to find out why. The bad news is that Amy’s favourite ewe, Edna, has given birth but there is a problem with the lamb. It has three legs. Dad wants to put the lamb down as it will attract the foxes to the farm, but Amy doesn’t want him to. She then has to work out how to change her dad’s mind. With the help of the other farm animals, Amy comes up with a plan which she puts into action. Through a series of events the lambs end up on the internet, and in a talent show. Amy thinks everything is perfect but it soon isn’t. I won’t tell you any more but the story is suspenseful and heart-warming.

What is your favourite part of the story?

I have a few. I loved that Amy could talk to the animals but none of the other humans could, and it was like a secret that Amy was keeping from them. And I loved the bond between Amy and Phoenix, particularly when she makes him a crown to wear after she names him.

What will people get out of the story?

Amy and Phoenix is about a young girl standing up for what she feels is an injustice. Amy is strong and bold, and fights for what she believes in and problem-solves to help her right the wrong she feels her dad is committing. I hope Amy will encourage other children to stand up for what they believe in. The story also has the phenomenon of videos going viral on YouTube, and the media attention this can attract. This part can lead to discussions about cyber safety.

Is there a Book 2 coming?

Yes, as the story does not end. You will realise that when you reach the last few words of the book. Amy’s adventures with Phoenix will be continued in a second novel where she will take the lambs to a TV talent show! I can’t say anything more – you will have to wait and see what happens.

Where can people buy Amy and Phoenix from?

Amy and Phoenix is available as a paperback. It can be purchased from many online bookstores which are listed on my website, and from me directly, via my website.

Amy and Phoenix Book Information

Amy and Phoenix

Middle Grade Novel
Ages 8-11

154 pages

Publication Year: 2019

ISBNs:
978-0-9945341-8-7 (pbk)
978-0-9945341-9-4 (e-bk)

RRP $15 AUD paperback
RRP $4.14 AUD ebook

The Story:

Eleven-year-old Amy Pringle lives on a farm. She knows all the animals by name and can talk to them like Doctor Doolittle. Amy is looking forward to her favourite ewe, Edna, giving birth. When she sees her dad with his gun, she knows something is wrong.

Amy must think of a way to save Phoenix, the three-legged lamb’s life.

After her sister Hannah, posts a video of Phoenix on YouTube and it goes viral, Amy thinks all her problems are solved. Little does she know what is about to happen.

Will Amy be able to save Phoenix after all?

Amy and Phoenix is a heart-warming fantasy story about a caring, strong-willed and determined girl. It explores the themes of disability, advocacy, friendship, farming and agriculture, animal welfare and cyber safety.

Click to download the Amy and Phoenix Information Sheet 

***

Available as an EBOOK or PAPERBACK:

in Australia:

Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight Book Launch

Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight Author Interview

An Interview with Jenny about why she wrote
Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight

Why did you write Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight?

I love Roald Dahl and was reading The Magic Finger. After finishing it, thoughts began to bounce around my head. I wanted to write a fun story about a child who had some type of power. Out of that initial thought, combined with an idea that came to me when I was using Twitter, the seed was planted.

I have always loved ancient Egypt, the pharaohs and mummies etc. so I thought it would be awesome to have this included. I wanted magic in the story and the things that go wrong in the story to be funny to kids. As I was writing the story, my son peeked over my shoulder, and read some of what I’d written. In shock he said, ‘Mum I didn’t know you’d write that!’ I had to chuckle. His mum is full of surprises.

All of my books have some type of bully or evil character, so Daniel Barker does as well. When I was thinking about the antagonist – the meanie, the thought of having multiple antagonists came to mind. This gave me the idea for the theme of peer pressure. I know from my own experience as a teacher, and from my youth work studies, that peer pressure is a major issue for children in high school.

I also hoped that boys who don’t like reading, might pick up the book and read it.

What is the story about?

The story is about Daniel Barker who receives a magical book on his tenth birthday. The book gives him 99 wishes which must be used for the good of the world. He writes a wish by writing a hashtag and then what he wants. All goes well in primary school and Dan the Man is a superhero. He then goes on to high school. All is great to begin with, but then things change. Kids start bullying and taunting Daniel about his powers. They want him to do pranks which are against the power’s rules. Daniel gives in, unleashing the Mummy’s Blight. Daniel must then try and stop the chaos that ensues. I don’t want to tell you the trouble Daniel gets himself into but it is kind of funny and a little bit of a horror story.

What is your favourite part of the story?

I loved researching the recipe for the antidote that would stop someone from becoming a zombie! It was fun to then write that into the story.

What will people get out of the story?

I hope people see that it is okay to be yourself… it’s okay to be different. Daniel is an only child in a single-parent family and at times the issues involved in living in this situation are raised. The story also shows what peer pressure can do and the trouble one can into when one gives into it. I hope children will enjoy the story and be entertained by it.

Is there a Book 2 coming?

Yes, there are actually two more books coming. In Book 2, Daniel and his grandmother fly back to Egypt to try and find the answers to stopping the Mummy’s blight. You will have to wait and see what happens in it.

Where can people buy Daniel Barker from?

Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight is available as a paperback. It can be purchased from many online bookstores which are listed on my website, and from me directly, via my website.

Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight Themes

Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight Themes

Peer Pressure

    

Wanting to feel part of something can put pressure on a teen to act in certain ways. If they’re doing something they wouldn’t normally do, or are not doing something they’d like to do, simply so that they’ll be accepted by the people they hang out with, they’re suffering from peer pressure.

Peer pressure can influence:
* the way someone dresses or wears their hair
* the activities they get involved in the music they listen to
* the decisions made about using drugs and alcohol
* who they date
* who they’re friends with.

The pressure to act in a certain way can be:
1) direct: someone telling the teen what they should be doing
2) indirect: the teen’s group of friends might do certain activities together that they’re unlikely to do outside of that group
3) self-motivated: putting pressure on the teen to fit in with their friendship group, because of certain standards they’ve set or comments they’ve made.
https://au.reachout.com/articles/what-is-peer-pressure

In Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight, peer pressure is a pivotal catalyst for the turn of events in the story. Daniel is a superhero in primary school and the beginning of high school. Things change in Year Eight, and with taunting, bullying and pressure on him, Daniel goes against the rules set down in the Scrivener book. Consequences await him upon disobeying the rules.

 

Ancient Egypt

The Scrivener book is a present that was given to Daniel’s grandmother by a magus when she was traveling through Egypt. It was then passed down to Daniel’s mother and then to himself.

In Power or Blight there are some references to Egypt with the Mummy’s curse. At the end of the story, Grandma decides that they need to go back to Egypt to stop the blight. It is in the second book that the pyramids, pharoahs, mummies and the ancient Egyptian world is explored.

Some fun facts about ancient Egypt:

1) Egyptian men and women wore makeup. It was thought to have healing powers, plus it helped protect their skin from the sun.
2) They used mouldy bread to help with infections.
3) They were one of the first civilizations to invent writing. They also used ink to write and paper called papyrus.
4) The Ancient Egyptians were scientists and mathematicians. They had numerous inventions including ways to build buildings, medicine, cosmetics, the calendar, the plow for farming, musical instruments, and even toothpaste.
5) Ancient Egypt plays a major role in the Bible. The Israelites were held captive there as slaves for many years. Moses helped them escape and led them to the Promised Land.
6) The Pharaoh kept his hair covered. It was not to be seen by regular people.
7) Cats were considered sacred in Ancient Egypt.
https://www.ducksters.com/history/ancient_egypt.php

 

Bullying

As with most of my books, bullying is featured in By Power or Blight. Daniel is called names and taunted, until he explodes.

Bullying goes hand-in-hand with negative peer pressure.

So what is bullying?

The national definition of bullying for Australian schools says:
Bullying is an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons. Bullying can happen in person or online, and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert).

Bullying of any form or for any reason can have long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders.

Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying.

In the story, Daniel is bullied because he is picked on by many children; some like Ethan and his mate have it in for him. Daniel is physically and verbally picked on. After things start going bad, he becomes isolated from his friends.

https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/WhatIsBullying/DefinitionOfBullying

In By Power or Blight, the school does not action to stop the bullying – this is all part of the Mummy’s Blight. But in reality there are policies and procedures that schools need to follow.

These strategies could include:
• teaching and learning programs to develop students communication, social, assertiveness and coping skills
• changes to the school environment to improve teacher supervision, such as removing visual barriers between teacher and students
• increasing supervision of students at particular times or places
• support from a guidance officer or school counsellor
• changes to technology access at school
• timetable or class changes that may be temporary or permanent to decrease the contact the students have with each other
• class discussions of bullying including underlying issues and possible responses for students
• promoting positive bystander behaviour
• disciplinary action against students who bully others

An action plan may be developed for the child and any other children involved. Strategies for use at home may also be included in a plan.

https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/RespondingToBullying/HowAustralianSchoolsRespond

 

Single-Parent Family

Daniel Barker lives with his mother, his father having left when he was a baby. Mrs Barker still carries some resentment towards her husband and expresses in the story that she doesn’t want her son to become like him.

Mrs Barker has the help of Daniel’s grandmother, who he is close to. Daniel often rings his grandmother to ask her advice, and they have a good relationship. She helps him many times throughout By Power or Blight.

This theme was chosen as over the past 20 years single-parent families have become even more common than the so-called “nuclear family” consisting of a mother, father and children. Today we see all sorts of single- parent families: headed by mothers, headed by fathers, headed by a grandparent raising their grandchildren.

Life in a single-parent household — though common — can be quite stressful for the adult and the children. Members may unrealistically expect that the family can function like a two-parent family, and may feel that something is wrong when it can not. The single parent may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of juggling caring for the children, maintaining a job and keeping up with the bills and household chores. And typically, the family’s finances and resources are drastically reduced following the parents’ breakup.

Single-parent families deal with many other pressures and potential problem areas that the nuclear family does not have to face.

Stressors faced by single parent families include:

* Visitation and custody problems.
• The effects of continuing conflict between the parents.
• Less opportunity for parents and children to spend time together.
• Effects of the breakup on children’s school performance and peer relations.
• Disruptions of extended family relationships.
• Problems caused by the parents’ dating and entering new relationships.
http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/single-parent.aspx

 

Difference & Diversity

We all want children to grow up in a world free from bias and discrimination, to reach for their dreams and feel that whatever they want to accomplish in life is possible. We want them to feel loved and included and never to experience the pain of rejection or exclusion. But the reality is that we do live in a world in which racism and other forms of bias continue to affect us. Discrimination hurts and leaves scars that can last a lifetime, affecting goals, ambitions, life choices, and feelings of self-worth.

https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/teaching-diversity-place-begin-0/

Even though in Power or Blight, Daniel is a typical boy, as stated in the Introduction, the gift of his Scrivener power changes things. It makes him different. When I wrote the story I thought an equivalent example for today may be a child’s family winning the lottery, or a child acquiring a physical disability – something that had a dramatic change – something that may be accepted for a while, but then not so much.

Having the theme of difference and diversity in Daniel Barker encourages discussions. It goes a step towards children thinking about how they can show respect for others who are different from themselves, and the language they speak.

Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight Information

Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight

Daniel Barker Series #1

Upper Middle Grade Novel
Ages 9-13

152 pages

Publication Year: 2018

ISBNs:
978-0-9945341-6-3 (pbk)
978-0-9945341-7-0 (e-bk)

RRP $15 AUD paperback
RRP $4.14 AUD ebook

THE STORY:

Thirteen-year-old Daniel Barker has a magical book from Egypt which gives him 99 wishes. The wishes must be used to make the world a better place. If not, the Mummy’s Blight will be awakened.

Dan is like a superhero, until he wishes for a fire at school to impress Charmaine, the cutest cheerleader. Things then start getting crazy and out-of-control.

Is it the Mummy’s Blight and how will Dan stop his favourite teacher from becoming a zombie?

Daniel Barker By Power or Blight Information Sheet

***

Available as an EBOOK or PAPERBACK

in Australia

Land of Britannica Book Launch