The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen
Book One, Second Edition
Genre: Middle Grade / Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: June 12, 2016
# of pages: 70
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It’s the beginning of summer and Uncle Mike and Aunt Melanie invite Mackenzie for an extended summer vacation in their hometown of Houston, Texas. On the first day, Mackenzie finds her cousins, Cristen and Chloe, helping their parents prepare a special meal. Come and learn about the holiday and celebration of Juneteenth with this first book in The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, a cultural journey of joy, family, and fun!
Summer Vacation is the first installment in The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, a five part journey of family love and fun. Each adventure finds the cousins learning history, exploring cultural themes and traditions, and discovering the joy in the world around them.
PRAISE FOR SUMMER VACATION:
“I read Summer Vacation by Belinda Everette. I thought it was educational regarding the true history of Juneteenth and portrayed realistic events in the lives of the characters. I did pass it on to one of my daughters with a special interest in children’s books. This seems to be a good moment for this kind of story, with increased interest in African-American history with readers of all ages.”
— Ronne Hartfield, Co-Chair, Harvard University Arts Education Council, Executive Director, Art Institute of Chicago, Author
“Summer Vacation is very good. This book is entertaining and informative. The author has given us a unique way of presenting history to our children. This book should be published in Spanish and other languages to share this history with other cultures.”
— Irma P. Hall, Academy Award nominated American Actress, Poet, Author, Language Educator (ret), Dallas Public School System, 30 years.
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Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
From my earliest memory I’ve always gravitated to young children and babies. As the oldest of our four siblings, I have been in a nurturing role within my family, helping my mother and my grandparents, sharing, and helping care for my two brothers and sister. Giving, teaching and helping children is so rewarding. It is my great privilege to help children; to raise their consciousness and awareness is an investment in tomorrow.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
The promise in this story. I like to think Summer Vacation gives young readers a bit of history, an unfortunate part of that history is ugly, but it is a significant part of American History, that shows the resolve and resilience of the human spirit, in the Juneteenth Holiday.
I also loved showing the traditions and love in the African-American family unit. There are never enough stories for children showing the parents and family as the primary source or go-to resource for our youth. Summer Vacation celebrates the family as well as the tradition and history of the oldest African-American holiday in this country.
What cultural value do you see in reading and storytelling?
I have a little quote I use when I autograph books that sums up the value I place on the written word:
“Reading is a gift. Open a book and give yourself a present.”
You can enjoy the most vivid, exhilarating experiences while exploring a world broader than what you can imagine. You can learn more about yourself through the eyes of new cultures and people in places that you may never physically see, but gain greater insight because of what you read.
What do you think characterizes your writing?
My book was recently reviewed by Ronne Hartfield, Co-Chair, Harvard University Arts Education Council. She described my writing as a “unique style of relating to children and sharing history.” I aim to relate to my target audience, tweens, and present a story that they can enjoy but also learn a bit about themselves.
How does your book relate to your spiritual practice?
In my story, Summer Vacation, the characters use of the Bible and the reverence they have for it as a teaching, sacred part of daily life mirrors what I was taught and how I was raised to adulthood. The Word of God is given priority and its value represents respect, strength, and guidance.
How important are names in your books?
Because I write children’s fiction that focuses on a specific age group (9 – 13), I have a wealth of character names and qualities from my time spent as a Girl Scout Troup Leader, Room Mom for my granddaughter Mackenzie’s elementary school classes, her friends and the neighborhood children. All have personality traits that I try to capture in my characters.
What do plans for future projects include?
For the last two years I’ve been writing a memoir that covers a twenty year period of my life that I refer to as my “journey to faith.” It is a very cathartic process and I hope the end project will help others on their personal walk to spiritual enlightenment.
What do you like to read in your free time?
Free time? What a luxury! When I do have a bit of downtime, I read whatever I can get my hands on. Periodicals, Vanity Fair is my absolute favorite, and novels. The occasional memoir or autobiography will end up on my nightstand along with the “to-do” lists, notes for my existing writing projects and my wish-list.
Like most people, when life throws lemons, you make lemonade and that was certainly the case for Belinda Everette, the author of The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen book series. After twenty-six years as a Senior Vice-President for several Fortune 500 financial institutions, life circumstances required a change. Belinda put down her briefcase, enrolled in Rice University’s creative writing program, and began to pursue her lifelong dream of writing.
When not writing, Belinda supports several of her favorite charities which focus on providing housing and improving living conditions for those in need, including Houston’s Star of Hope, Covenant House, and Houston Achievement Place.
“Family is my greatest joy,” Belinda adds “nothing is better than a houseful of family and friends with lots of children running around, enjoying a delicious meal and good Christian fellowship.” Cooking, entertaining, and music along with daughter Ashley, son-in-law Ron, and grandchildren, Mackenzie and Evan, keep live full and happy. Belinda and her constant companion, a four-year old Shih Tzu, reside in suburban Houston, Texas.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
1 Grand Prize Winner wins:
Signed Copies of Summer Vacation and It’s Just A Song, plus a tote bag
2 Other Winners each win:
Signed Copies of Summer Vacation plus mouse pads
July 20 – July 29, 2016
Check out the other great blogs on the tour!
7/20 Hall Ways Blog – Review
7/21 Country Girl Bookaholic – Excerpt #1
7/22 Reading By Moonlight – Author Interview #1
7/23 Margie’s Must Reads – Review
7/24 StoreyBook Reviews – Guest Post
7/25 The Crazy Booksellers – Excerpt #2
7/26 Missus Gonzo – Review
7/27 Byers Editing Reviews & Blog – Author Interview #2
7/28 The Librarian Talks – Promo
7/29 My Book Fix Blog – Review
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