DECEMBER 5 - 18, 2008 • PAGE 7 Zelda transparent Star Mag

Zelda Zebraman, who, naturally, dresses in black and white stripes, knits kippot for all head shapes in A Mitzvah for Zelda by Susan Wigden, illustrated by Iosi Salem (Pitspopany Press,2008, $12.94 pb).

Mr. Blatt, whose head is flat, puts on his new red kippah and exclaims, “It feels just fine ... to have a kippah that looks so divine.” In this rhyming story for preschoolers, Zelda knits and knits for heads small or large, flat or round, until her bright red hair turns white, and then it’s the turn of those she once helped to help her.

With its brightly colored, playful illustrations, youngsters are certain to enjoy this story and its gentle message of doing mitzvot.

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Book: Chapter Two: The Magic in Baseball

Authors: Susan and Bruce Wigden

Cover Illustrator: Bruce Wigden

Publisher: Tex Ware, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1-935500-04-9

Related website: www.swigden.com (authors)

Language level: 2 (some euphemisms and a common childhood term for bird droppings)

Reading level: Ages 9-13

Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Wigden, Susan and Bruce. Chapter Two: The Magic in Baseball (published in 2009 by Tex Ware, Everett, WA).

Have you ever thought about wanting to do something but were afraid that others might make fun of you because you weren't very good at it? Jake Daniels is a ten year old boy who lives in Staten Island, NY, with his parents and narrates the story. He likes baseball, but when his father, who has all kinds of baseball trophies from when he was a kid, takes him to Little League tryouts, he sees that other kids his same age are much bigger and stronger than he is, and he gets so scared that he throws up. He's sure that his schoolmates Josh and Alex are laughing at the mistakes that he makes.

Back at home, in the apartment building where the Daniels family lives, their eighty-three-year-old neighbor Mr. Flynn is a magician, and after telling him all about the tryout disaster Jake wants to learn some magic tricks. So Mr. Flynn lets him borrow an old magic book, and Jake begins studying. Then Mr. Flynn has a stroke and has to go to a rehab center. They decide to do a magic act together for the center's talent show where Mr. Flynn will be the announcer and Jake will do the tricks. Mr. Flynn tells Jake to make sure that he rereads chapter two in the magic book. What will Jake learn from the book that he can apply to baseball too?

This middle-school grade novel uses a fictional plot to show how kids can develop self-confidence through hard work and determination. There are many things to like about it. Instead of having a bunch of children off to themselves, it shows a young person in whose life adults play an important role. There is the inter-generational relationship of Jake with Mr. Flynn, showing how both young and old can have mutual interests, and through that Jake, who already loves his parents, learns to respect and trust them even more. Also, the reader will discover that life can sometimes take a surprising turn and that a positive attitude and a sense of humor can prepare us for the unexpected. I believe that most pre-teens will find Chapter Two both interesting and relevant.

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Cloudy Skies Over Miami

Author: Susan Wigden

Cover Illustrator: Bruce Wigden

Publisher: Tex Ware, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1-935500-14-8

Related website: www.swigden.com (author)

Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)

Reading level: Ages 9-13

Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Wigden, Susan. Cloudy Skies Over Miami (published in 2010 by Tex Ware, Everett, WA). When you have been around people who are much older than you are, have they ever said or done things which you find hard to understand? For his twelfth birthday, Josh, who lives in Staten Island, NY, with his parents, receives a ticket to Miami, FL, to spend a whole week of winter vacation with his grandparents who have moved there. It will be his first time to fly on a plane all by himself. After getting up early to get to the airport and enduring the indignities of airport security, he gets on the plane and finds that the people sitting next to him are a young woman with her little boy who constantly sings the A-B-C song as loud as he can, though not in the proper order, and is sticky from eating a lollipop.

As the plane prepares to land, the pilot announces, Cloudy skies over Miami, which becomes a metaphor for Josh's experiences there. Not only do his grandparents say and do things which he doesn't understand, but they want him to do things which aren't cool and even seem embarrassing to him. In addition, who do you think are niece and little grandnephew to Grandpa and Grandma's best friends, Al and Anna? Grandpa overhears Josh phoning his mother about how awful the experience has been, so he leaves to go fishing with Al on Al's boat.'Later that day, while jogging on the beach, Josh learns that two older men have had a serious boating accident and are in the hospital.' Are they Grandpa and Al?' Will the skies over Miami ever turn sunny and bright for Josh?

Cloudy Skies Over Miami might be thought of as a coming of age story, and it is one to which most modern middle school age readers can probably relate. Anyone who has ever experienced the generation gap will appreciate the emphasis on the need for respect of age by younger people and also for respect of youth by older people.Wigden says in her message from the author, "If you have elders in your family, whether they are grandparents, uncles, aunts, or godparents, they may not always act or talk about the same things as you and your friends. Just remember, you are an important part of their lives, and they will be loving you for a long time. Trust them, talk with them, and share your honest feelings. These are the people who matter most in your life and with whom your memories are created. I certainly enjoyed such aspects in the book as loving family, connecting the generations through mutual respect, and growing up with an appreciation for grandparents."

Staten Island Advance

Thursday November 06, 2008

STATEN ISLAND, NY - WEST BRIGHTON -- Schools are always knee-deep in activity by the time the half-way mark of the semester rolls around. Take Blessed Sacrament School, for example. Students ranging from pre-kindergarten age through eighth-grade have learned alot and made plenty of memories over the last few weeks.

First, pre-kindergarten students in teacher Susan Tringali's class welcomed children's book author Susan Wigden.

The Eltingville writer treated students to a reading of her book, "Suppose," which encourages children to use their imaginations to see their bodies in outrageously funny ways.

"Suppose your legs were made of cement," she read slowly, "and no matter what, they couldn't be bent." As she read, she showed youngsters an illustration of a boy with legs of concrete attempting to pedal a bicycle - just one of many in the book - met with uproarious laughter from the audience of 3- and 4-year-olds.

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The Virginia Jewish News

Click on article to see a readable copy
Jewish Press

Zelda Pic

Title: A Mitzva for Zelda
Article by: Yocheved Golani

Posted Feb 25 2009
Title: A Mitzva for Zelda
Author: Susan Wigden
Illustrated by Iosi Salem
Publisher: Pitspopany Press

 A heartwarming story about a fictional lady who knits kippot for oddly shaped cartoonish heads, A Mitzva for Zelda is a good book for young readers and little listeners. It can put smiles on every face as it teaches about reciprocity and the concept of gratitude.

Unlike the ever-worsening spoiled boy featured in Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree," the grateful recipients of Zelda's patient generosity pay her back in considerate fashion.

After creative and kind Zelda grows too old and weak to make her famous headgear, she looks back upon her past with satisfaction and wistfulness. Her happiness grows when her customers present her with oh go get the book from local Jewish shops and find out for yourselves. This lap-sized paperback book is a charming conversation starter about good middot. Iosi Salem's pictures are bound to delight young eyes as parents, teachers and other adults look approvingly on.

Suppose, is a delightful and funny book, June 8, 2009

By M. Mitchell

I bought this book for my grandson and I'm glad that I did. I highly recommend Suppose to young readers. I must have a little child in me because I loved reading it too. The illustrations were also marvelously created. I can't say enough about this well written book. Just buy it and read it. You will be glad that you did. Susan Wigden has a wonderful and delightful imagination.

4.0 out of 5 starsA Mitzva for Zelda, June 26, 2009

The old punch line some Jews have heard goes like this, "Am I my brother's kippa?" As far as Zelda Zebraman is concerned, this is true. As we are introduced to her on the first page, we find that, "Zelda Zimmerman was a mentch indeed--For she knitted kippas for those in need." Lessons in how to treat others follow with a fairly consistent rhyming format, while colorful and humorous cartoon illustrations add to the fun. Each man who comes to Zelda has an unusually shaped head, but Zelda is always able to hand-knit the right sized kippa, and they all go home pleased with their gift. But Zelda grows older and can "no longer knit for those in need. But her friends all remembered her very good deeds." Eventually Zelda is rewarded for her mitzvah of knitting kippot by those she has helped in the past. This book is meant for the pre-school age child and is a helpful introduction for them to learn the importance of performing good deeds. It is geared towards more traditional Jewish audiences since there are no women in the story that wear kippot. Libraries may have concerns about the book since it is published in paperback, but generally, a child should enjoy the sheer silliness of the story. Ben Pastcan

We would like to thank the Staten Island Advance for giving us permission to place this article on our website.

A magical encounter between 2 authors and a boy by Jamie Lee
Wednesday September 02, 2009, 2:43 PM

Photo courtesy of Bruce Wigden
Married for 37 years, the novel marks the first literary collaboration for the Widgens, both former teachers.

ELTINGVILLE -- http://blog.silive.com/southshore/2009/09/small_9-02-09-book.JPGAll it took was a trip to the supermarket for Eltingville couple Susan and Bruce Wigden to realize that the children's book they had been collaborating on was meant to be.

Over the past several months, the husband and wife had worked together to turn an idea into a reality and put the finishing touches on their first combined literary release -- a mid-grade novel entitled "Chapter Two: The Magic in Baseball."

All that was left to do was to complete the book jacket, which Bruce had been designing.

"We decided we wanted a Staten Island boy to be on the cover of the book," said Mrs. Wigden. "Oddly enough, I met a boy with his mother at a Pathmark food store and immediately felt that he would be the perfect boy for the cover."

When she approached the mother and asked if the woman would be interested in having her child pose for the cover photos, she learned of a curious, perhaps even "magical" twist.

The book is centered around the experiences of a 10-year-old South Shore boy named Jake.

The youngster in the supermarket?

His name is Jake Milo. And he's 10 years old as well. And he's from the South Shore. "It was all so perfect," said Mrs. Wigden.

The story is a fitting microcosm for the Wigdens' new tale.

The plot of "Chapter Two" centers around the relationship of Jake and an elderly neighbor, Mr. Flynn, but also abstractly focuses on the "implausible connection between baseball and magic," according to Mrs. Wigden.
That connection is the reason for the intriguing title because at one point in the story, Mr. Flynn tells Jake to re-read chapter two of the magic book he has given to him and to look for a lesson that goes deeper than just magic.

"It is our belief that young people are missing out by not having a connection to our senior population," she said. "And that both have much to share and learn from each other."

The Wigdens have been married for 37 years, but the novel marks the first literary collaboration for the two former school teachers.
Mrs. Wigden, who worked in the Staten Island Montessori School pre-k program for almost 20 years, has released two rhyming picture books (one with a soon-to-be-released sequel). Wigden, who taught intermediate and high school mathematics from 1970 until his 2003 retirement, has published several online math lessons and curricula.

"Chapter Two" leans heavily on the personal experiences of the co-authors as it is set in Staten Island and features several scenes at the Great Kills Little League, where Mr. Wigden coached and managed teams in the 1980s and 1990s.

"[The book] is a feel good story that children will easily relate to," said Mrs. Wigden. "Although the publisher has deemed this appropriate for ages 8-12, the authors feel this warm, sensitive story reaches out to all ages."

Because of that belief, the couple is already set to visit several Island schools for author process discussions regarding the new release.
The first school will be Bernstein Intermediate School, where Milo is a student.

"It would be nice to take a break from demons and aliens and read a tender story of true friendship," said Mrs. Wigden.

For additional information about or to purchase a copy of "Chapter Two: The Magic in Baseball," which is set to be released by Tex Ware Publishing within the next few weeks, visit www.swigden.com. The price is just $9.99. Anyone interested in having the Wigdens speak at a school or library may e-mail swigden@yahoo.com.

Here is what sixth grade assistant principal, Dina Testa, said about our visit to IS 7 on 9/23/09.

"What a great day you gave the students of IS 7.  There is nothing like meeting the author of a book.  We appreciate what you have done for us.  We cannot wait to see you in May."

Here is what principal Janet Scheiper said of our visit to her school:

"I just want to thank you on behalf of the students and teachers of Eltingville Lutheran School for your visit today.  Your presentation was so very interesting.  The students were totally absorbed in what you shared with them and, as you could tell from the questions they asked, listened to your every word!  You inspired us all to write, and gave us the important steps it takes to be published.  I'm sure some future authors were listening to you today.

Once again, we thank you and look forward to your return to our school in the spring when you will meet with our youngest grades.
Here is what 5th grade teacher, Rosemarie Leto, wrote to Diane, of the Staten Island Advance.

Dear Diane,
    
The wife-husband writing team, Susan and Bruce Wigden, came to OLQP, earlier this month and spoke to the 4th, 5th and 6th graders at an assembly.  Bruce introduced Susan and she talked about writing a story and getting it published.   The students were mesmerized during the assembly, then asked a million questions and they are now printing out stories they have composed and asking me to edit them.  Alfonse wrote about a dinosaur, Kristina wrote a realistic fiction story about a family she dreamed up.
    
Photos are of those who purchased the book.  (The boy with Susan is a former student of hers. )  Let me know if you want names of the students in the photos.  I have permission all around to have the story and photos in the newspaper and on the Wigdens website.
    
Thanks, Rosemarie Leto
 
PS  I just finished the book. Great story.  Let me know if you want to borrow it.
 
    
Quotes from the Principal and me:
 
"With the emphasis on writing this year, this was the perfect assembly for our students.  The children were engaged from beginning to end.  We envision 'budding authors' in our midst!"  Theresa Signorile, Principal, OLQP School
 
"Susan has really inspired my students.  When they see a book, it's no longer just something to READ, now they think: I can WRITE a book!  Some of them have actually started to compose and save their work on their computer."  Rosemarie Leto, 5th Grade teacher, OLQP School

The following article appeared in the Staten Island Advance regarding my newest novel "Cloudy Skies Over Miami" and the cover boy Charles Montalbano and his winning essay.

 

On December 15, 2010 an article about me appeared in the Sun-Sentinal. Please click on the link to read the article: Children's Author ...

Photos from the Staten Island AdvanceThis article appeared in the Staten Island Advance on June 2, 2011

Meet the author

 

Thursday, June 02, 2011 2:22 PM

Staten Island Advance By Staten Island Advance


Susan Wigden, who lives in Great Kills, recently joined students at Blessed Sacrament School, West Brighton, to discuss her middle-schoolnovel, “Cloudy Skies Over Miami.” Despite its title, the book is set on Staten Island and features familiar landmarks. The author also visitedwith 4-year-olds at Castleton Hill Moravian Pre-school in Castleton Corners to share her picture book,“Suppose at the Supermarket.” To arrange for an authorvisit, contact Mrs. Wigden at: swigden@yahoo.com,or visit her website www.swigden.com.
Photo by Bruce Wigden

For additional articles from the Staten Island Advance please click the link.

Here is an interview with Beach Bound Books:

Meet Susan Wigden, Author of Suppose and other stories

Picture
What inspired you to become a children's author?

I have always loved to write, but my inspiration to become a published author of picture books, began during my years working with preschoolers.  It was exciting for me to witness children remembering rhyming stories more than anything else. During my many hours of reading books to children, I became more and more excited to see the impact books made in their lives. My first rhyming picture book, Suppose was born from the creative and silly minds of children, who have endless creativity and imagination.


How long did it take you to write your first book Suppose?

As a person who loves to rhyme, the story came easily to me, and to be honest it took only one hour.

How long did it take to get Suppose published?

My Suppose manuscript was sent to thirteen publishers, and the thirteenth publisher took the plunge with me.  I was notified after six weeks and the acceptance telephone call I received, was and will always will very memorable.  However, it was one year later that the book was released.

How many books have you written, published and unpublished?

Though I was extremely fortunate to have been published so quickly with Suppose, this is not the standard case for me or most writers.  I have written over one hundred stories, about fifty of them in rhyme.  These have a special place in my important files and in my heart, in spite of the fact that they remain unpublished.  As of now, I have four rhyming picture books, with two more to be released in the immediate future.  I also have two mid-grade novels, one of which I co-authored with my husband, Bruce.

What do you hope children will learn from your books?

My two mid-grade novels are written in hope to re-connect the generations through mutual respect, trust, and friendship.  My picture books are written to encourage children to continue to see life "out of the box" and to never give up being silly.  Having said this, I also want younger children to read stories about connecting with their elders, and giving back to those who have cared for us.  Two of my picture books deal with this delicate subject, in an age appropriate way!

Children's authors don't always get to choose who illustrates their books. Are you happy with how your illustrations turned out? Are the characters as you imagined them?

My first two picture books are illustrated by artists I did not choose.  I had the pleasure of a phone conference with one of them and fortunately the two of us were on the same page when it came to what we envisioned for the characters.  The other book, the illustrator did his own thing completely, with the exception of my vision of the main character.  Both worked out well.I have had three other artists, who I was able to choose.  Two books are from the same illustrator and she did a splendid job.

My two newest artists are hand picked by me, and I receive samples of their work as they progress.  I always think each page of of their drawings are better than the one before. 

Are you working on any other books?

Presently, I am taking a writing break, simply because writers wear many hats, and one is getting their books out into the world.   I visit schools in NY, NJ, and south Florida where I  do an interactive program (for children Pre-K through second grade) from scenes inside my picture books.  The children love to get involved and have such fun matching picture rhymes.  For the older children, (third through eighth grade) I do an author visit where I discuss the steps to becoming published.  I especially like when a school takes on one of my novels as a reader, as this gives me the opportunity to communicate on a personal level with the students.  For me, being an author has much to do with meeting the people I write for, and they happen to be, our future.

Find out more about Susan Wigden and her many books by visiting www.swigden.com