Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bubba and Giganto Tackles Bullying in Schools

Bubba and Giganot: Odds Agains them by Lea Schizas gives teachers an excellent opportunity to highlight the problems of bullying and to do some creative teaching. Here are some of my suggestions:
  1. Read the book and discuss how Bubba and Giganto respond to the threat of the bullies.
  2. Do role playing having children take the parts of the different characters.
  3. Have the students rewrite the ending.
  4. Discuss why the bullies need to torment others.
There are just a few suggestions. I'm sure you can do better. I think you can see from the following excerpt how the book lends itself to use in the classroom.


Chapter One

Ever wonder if parents really listen to you? Try adding, “and the alien

scooped me up and see their reaction. If they turn around and look in a weird way,

they paid attention. My parents just say, “Uh-huh, that’s nice, dear.

But I’ve gone off topic here. My story has nothing to do with parents but

everything to do with accepting a challenge.

Starting at a new school and meeting friends is hard, really hard. Factor in that my

parents decided to name me Bubba - not Bobby, not Brendan, but Bubba - and anyone

can understand why I hate going to any school. This would be my fourth nightmare in a

brand new setting.


Getting off the bus, I bumped right into this huge student. Couldn’t avoid it. The

kid, who must have been over 200 pounds, hogged the whole sidewalk. His oversized

blue T-shirt looked more like a tent. Well, call me silly, but I turned to the circus freak

and told him, “Move out of my way.” Almost in slow motion, he started to wobble out of

my path.

As I tried to pass, he yanked me back by my collar. My gut told me I may have

made the biggest mistake of my life.

Putting on my ‘tough guy’ face (the gnarly grin and uplifted eyebrow),

I looked him squarely in the eyes. “What’s up?” I asked, while my legs screamed RUN.

Anticipating a nasty hit on my body, I squeezed my eyes shut.

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to block your way.”

Unsure if my ears heard right, I opened one eye and checked where his pudgy

hands were. Although the tone of his voice sounded angelic in my head (with both

eyes shut), I may have mistaken sarcasm for sincerity. To my astonishment, his hand

waited for me to shake it in greeting. The other hand held on to his brown leather school

bag. It reminded me of what a spy carrying Top Secret documents would use.

My name’s David Montana,” he said, clasping my hand in a tight grip and

shaking it. His ‘tent’ wobbled with every shake, rattle, and roll he did with my hand. A

childish grin spread across his cherub features.

H-hey. I’m B -” No way would I tell him my name in front of everyone

circled around us expecting the first fight of the school year. “Nice to meet

you.” My racing heart resumed its normal beat. I’m not normally the queasy and

frightened type of a guy. I’m usually smarter in the sense I pick fights with guys my own

size. So knowing my body would continue its healthy state, I let out a very inconspicuous


Besides, I felt lower than a deflated punching bag for thinking him a circus freak.

Everyone dispersed once the warning bell rang, obviously disappointed I didn’t

get my teeth knocked out. My newfound friend and I entered the ugly, red brick building,

similar to all my other schools. I wonder if it’s like a secret school code to keep schools

as monotone as possible in order to have students remain nice and quiet … well, bored is

more like it.

I looked around and felt like puking. The walls, lockers, doors, ceilings -

everything was clean, not a mural anywhere, made me a bit nervous since every other

school had those artistic imprints. Those schools allowed their students to decorate the

walls with paintings and feel at home. So, I wondered if I had just stepped into boot

camp or what, because it was blaringly obvious to me the kids here either had no artistic

qualities or the school’s administration felt they shouldn’t decorate the walls. Great!

Could this day get any worse?

Yes. I couldn’t help but feel as though I walked in a dank tunnel. Then it hit me as

I looked around. There were no windows. The only sunlight streamed from the corridor

windows. I stopped for a second and peeked inside a classroom. No windows. Yikes.

Even the Titanic had more windows.

Yio, David.” I ran to catch up with him. “What’s up with the lack of windows?”

Oh, you’ll get used to it. We really don’t notice. Students are less distracted.”

Yeah, but how will we know when we’re nearing an iceberg?”

He looked at me as though I was off my rocker.

Never mind.” I didn’t feel the need to explain my weird sense of humor to him.

David and I hit it off. Six foot plus David, and five ten and a hundred-sixty-five

pound me shared every single class. Luck knew I would need David somewhere down

the line.

And, boy, was Luck ever right.

Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Them is available from:

4RV Publishing LLC

PO Box 6482

Edmond, OK 73083-6482


ISBN: 978-0-9797513-6-3


Available at:



4RV Publishing


Barnes & Noble


The Reading Warehouse


Monday, January 26, 2009

Lea Schizas Presents a Story of Courage

Bubba & Giganto: Odds Against Them

By Lea Schizas

Synopsis of Book

Bubba hates it when his dad gets a contract for a new project. That means uprooting the family from one city and moving to another. Attending a new school is a major pet peeve of his. His smart alecky nature attracts the bullies in every school he’s attended.

On the first day of school, Bubba bumps into this rather large student. Fearing a confrontation, he wears his tough guy attitude and waits for the punches to begin. Remarkably, the new student apologizes, and Bubba and David (aka Giganto as Bubba eventually nicknames him) become best friends.

Bubba and Giganto try out for the high school soccer team, and that’s when trouble begins. Bubba knew eventually he’d meet the bullies of the school, and he was right.

In the first initial weeks, Bubba learns about a death that occurred the previous year; faces the bullies on several occasions; helps Giganto practice soccer before tryouts; and challenges the bullies to a scrimmage.

Little does Bubba know Giganto holds a secret - one that will place Giganto in a deadly situation.

Review of Bubba and Giganto by Nancy Famolari

Exciting soccer games, a special friendship, and a hint of mystery make Bubba and Giganto: Against the Odds a book that will win the hearts of middle-grade boys and girls. Bubba, a veteran of moves to new schools uses his skills as a soccer player to fit in to his new environment. He forms a friendship with Giganto, an over weight, shy boy who also has aspirations to play soccer. Some team members bully Giganto in an effort to keep him off the team. The mystery of why they are so down on him and the tactics Bubba uses to support his friend keep the reader turning the pages.

Lea Schizas, the author, has captured the world of high school athletes with believable characters and fast paced action scenes on the soccer field. The book is a good read, but in addition gives a profound look at the problem of bullying in schools. Many students are faced with the choice of whether to support the bully, stand up to him, or ignore the problem. Bubba is a role model for how to fight the bully, not with your fists, but with your brains, and most important how to support your friend.

Bubba and Giganto: would be an excellent choice for a class discussion in grades 6 – 8 on how to deal with bullying. The book is available from Amazon. More information is available on the author's blog: http://thewritingjungle.blogspot.com/

Monday, January 19, 2009

Harry Gilleland Talks About Why He Writes

Since Harry is somewhat unique, being both a poet and a scientist, I asked his to tell us about why he writes.

Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?

Actually, this happened the first time while I was a graduate student studying for my Ph.D. A journal article I had written for the Journal of Bacteriology, a highly prestigious journal, was accepted with minor changes required. I knew then I could write scientific material well.

It happened again when I started writing poetry. After learning more of the craft required, I knew I was a real poet when I started getting readers on Internet poetry forums telling me I needed to publish my work since it was good enough to be published.

What is going on with your writing these days?

I write poems as they come to me, not as often as in the past. I have an action-adventure novel in the starting phase.

What are your future goals for your writing?

To get better and better as a poet and to get my novel finished within the next year.

Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

Since I am retired, I write in spurts throughout the day. I will write whenever the mood hits me during the day from early morning until late at night after midnight. I write for several hours, then have to move around to loosen my arthritic joints and back. Essentially, I have no set schedule or output requirements for each day. I write as I am driven to write.

Why do you write?

Writing is pure pleasure to me. Using words well so that I deliver my message precisely as intended gives me such a feeling of satisfaction on those occasions when I feel I have accomplished this.

I have so much I want to say that I have to write. It fulfills a need deep inside me. Plus, I want to leave behind something to represent who I was for posterity. I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be able to know what sort of man I was once they reach adulthood. Even if I am dead by then, my writing will be their window into my mind.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Meet Harry Gilleland, Poet and Scientist

Technology Concepts 1

Harry E. Gilleland, Jr. is a 64-year-old southerner. Born and raised in Macon, Georgia, he earned a B.S. (1966) and a M.S. (1968) in Microbiology from the University of Georgia in Athens. Following three years of service in the U.S. Army as a captain, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, he returned to earn a Ph.D. in Microbiology from UGA in 1973. He then headed north to complete a two-year fellowship at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. In July of 1975 he joined the faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. After twenty-nine years of teaching microbiology to medical and graduate students and performing vaccine research, Harry retired in July of 2004. Today Harry lives in Shreveport with his wonderful wife Linda and their Corgi, Rusty. Harry enjoys being able to engage in his passion for writing full-time.

Harry has previously published three books of his personal poetry: Poetry For The Common Man: Storoems and Poems (2003, ISBN 1411600649), Gilleland Poetry: Storoems and Poems (2005, ISBN 1411629272), and Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man (2008, ISBN 978-1-4357-1242-3). In addition, Harry has published two books of prose, a tale of fantasy entitled Bob the Dragon Slayer (2005, ISBN 1411633156) and a contemporary romance story entitled White Lightning Road (2006, ISBN 978-1-4116-8693-9).

Harry Gilleland’s poetry has been included in four multi-author print anthologies of poems and short stories, in several poetry e-zines, and on numerous Internet poetry forums, in addition to his own three published collections. His storoems (story-poems) and poems are readily accessible to all readers, including those who do not regularly read poetry. Harry views the world with a poet’s eye.

To see Harry's books: http://www.lulu.com/harry

To see Harry's book covers and samples of his poetry:


Friday, January 9, 2009

Karen Cioffi Talks About Virtual Book Tours

Images Of Book Shelves On Computer Screen

What motivated you to start your very successful virtual book tours group?

1. I attended the Muse Online Conference in Oct.08. I was in a workshop by Denise Cassino and another one by Karina Fabian. They both gave very helpful advice and suggestions. Denise actually suggested we tour with members in the group. After the conference ended I decided someone needed to be the catalyst so I contacted a number of members and when I found interest I created Virtual Book Tours.
My motivation was to promote my children's bedtime story, Day's End Lullaby. Being self-published, I found it more challenging than it might be otherwise. I thought creating this group would be a great vehicle for traditionally published and self-published authors to help one another promote their books and themselves.

Tell us a little about your experience so far.

2. I smiled when I read this question. I have to say overall the experience has been great. We have wonderful members who give generously of their time and actually care about hosting each other with the intent of helping their guest promote his or her book. And, since this is an ongoing tour, it takes committment on each members' part. I think our group is extraordinary.
I have to say though, I didn't anticipate the amount of effort and time that would be involved in getting the group off the ground. Then when working with a number of people, with different personalities and temperments, it has at times been a challenge. And, keeping it going with the schedules and staying on top of things takes time and effort. How the schedule is maintained can be a question or blog by itself. But, it's worth it as long as every member benefits from the group.
And, I have to say I have two great co-moderators, Kathy Stemke and Dehanna Bailee, who help me with the behind the scene workings. They both generously accepted my request for help.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start this type of group?

3. My hints for someone thinking of starting this type of group would first and foremost have patience and try not to take anything personal. Then, anticipate devoting time and effort to create it and to keep it working. Next would be to listen to the members suggestions and use those that will best serve the group. And, remember not everyone is going to be pleased with what's going on all of the time.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Day's End Lullaby by Karen Cioffi and Robyn Feltman

Karen and Robyn have written a very special book for young children. Read their description and a review by Stories for Children Magazine.

Day’s End Lullaby is a tender and charming illustrated children’s book. From a reminder that the sun has set and all beloved toys are awaiting tomorrow’s play, Day’s End Lullaby soothes and quiets even those children who struggle against sleep. The authors’ artistry found in their understanding of the sense of security needed by children at bedtime.

Your day’s been long and full of fun. But, now you’re much too tired to run,” sings the parent to the child in the lullaby. Day’s End Lullaby has lyrical and rhyming phrases along with a rhythmic flow.

Author Cioffi composed the poem and music over 30 years ago to help her first born fall asleep and then again for her second child. She saw positive results in singing it and now she sings it to her two-year-old grandson. She reassures him, “The sun has set, it’s out of view. The moon’s now shining bright for you.”

Authors Cioffi and Feltman wrote and illustrated Day’s End Lullaby as a loving book to comfort little ones and provide a sense of security at bedtime. The simple and colorful illustrations are intended to hold the child’s attention while the parent’s soothing voice helps the child gently drift off into a peaceful slumber.



BOOK: Day's End Lullaby

AUTHORS: Karen Cioffi and Robyn Feltman


PUBLISHER: Book Surge (2008)

ISBN-13: 9781419691577

ISBN-10: 1-4196-9157-0

READING LEVEL: Infancy to age 4

RATING: 5 stars

REVIEWED BY: Wayne Walker

A child has his favorite teddy bear. The sun has set. The moon is out. The day is over. The child is tired. Now it is time for him to close his eyes and go to sleep. This lovely little book, with its lilting, lyrical poetry and its soothing message, is intended for just such a time. One of the best things that parents may do for their children is to read aloud to them. It can be both fun and educational. Our family has tried to have two read aloud periods each day. One is after lunch, when we have generally chosen historical fiction, and the other is right before bed, when we have used other books which relate to our children's interests.

Reading aloud before bedtime serves several purposes. First, it is an opportunity for personal interaction between parent and child. Second, it is helpful in getting settled down for children who have been playing for a while to have a period of transition between the activities of the day and the need to rest at night. This picture book is perfect for that purpose. It has the additional benefit that the text has been set to music, and the lullaby is included. Author Karen Cioffi says that she wrote the lullaby to the story over 30 years ago for her firstborn who didn't like sleeping. This is one of those books that wee ones will probably want read over and over to them.

Related websites: www.childrensbooksbykarenandrobyn.com (book), http://karenandrobyn.blogspot.com (author), www.booksurge.com (publisher)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Meet Karen Cioffi and Robyn Feltman

I'm delighted to host Karen Cioffi and her daughter and writing partner, Robyn Feltman this week. Karen is an amazing lady who started the Virtual Book Tours group. We'll learn more about her sometimes trying experience later this week. Now here's Karen to tell you a little about herself.

Karen Cioffi and Robyn Feltman are advocates of education, reading and the environment. Two of their favorite sayings are:

Nothing ventured, nothing gained”

You must be the change you want to see in the world”

Karen Cioffi is a former accountant turned author and freelance writer. She has a number of articles in ezinearticles.com. Karen spends part of her day managing Virtual Book Tours, following up on emails, and writing. She also watches her 2 ½ year-old grandson two-three days a week. She is co-moderator of another yahoo group, Intense Writing which covers children’s stories from picture books to young adult. She is currently revising a chapter book, Walking Through Walls and working on a non-fiction article for children. In addition to this she and Robyn are working on another picture book and a science fiction middle grade short story. Karen plays a little piano and guitar and does art work for friends and family. She lives with her husband, Donald Ventrice, in New York City.

Robyn Feltman holds a master’s degree in Children’s Literature and is a fourth grade elementary public school teacher. She is an initiator of environmental and humanitarian projects in her school; one of the projects is the Oambassador Program. Robyn lives in New York City and will be finishing her Administration/Supervision degree in December 2008.