Wednesday, May 15, 2013
"A perfect book
Looking for that perfect book, one you can’t put down? Now add carnival life, ghosts, a dog, a pig and an amazing young girl named Bee. Now you have the making of such a book. Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco is that title. Beatrice, known as Bee, is an orphan living in a traveling carnival show. She and her caretaker, Pauline, live in the back of one of the trucks. Bee was born with a large, diamond shaped birthmark on her face which she tries to hide with her hair. Bee is also the object of cruel remarks and actions by both children and adults. All the while, Bee is helped through these horrible events by a kind, older woman in an orange, floppy hat. The interesting thing is, only Bee and her dog, Peabody, can see this woman. When Pauline is assigned to a new carnival the owner is setting up, Bee is left on her own. When the time comes for her to escape, she and Peabody rescue a lovely, little pig named Cordelia. The three set off on an amazing journey. This book is truly a page turner. With chilling moments throughout, two worlds come together. This book is one for an older reader, grades 5 & up, in my opinion. I loved this book. Beholding Bee truly left me wanting more. I hope you’ll feel the same. "
Friday, March 29, 2013
Thank you for this lovely review from Sarah Rachel Egelman
"Ever since Bee’s parents died when she was quite young, she has lived with the traveling carnival, sleeping in the back of a truck and serving hot dogs to those who stare at her and mock her. The birthmark, covering much of one side of her face, may be a “diamond” to Bee but to others it is an ugly curse and an excuse for cruelty. Bee’s only protector is Pauline, another carnival employee, who was entrusted with Bee’s care. Bee and Pauline, young and lacking resources, dream of a home of their own, far from the mean ways of their boss Ellis and those who would hurt Bee because of how she looks. When Pauline leaves the carnival, and leaves Bee behind, Bee sets off in search of the home she longs for and maybe even a family who will love her as she is.
BEHOLDING BEE is a compelling and tender examination of identity and belonging by Kimberly Newton Fusco. It is also an enigmatic novel that packs an emotional wallop but remains ever hopeful.
"Set against the bleak landscape of World War II America, BEHOLDING BEE is an amazing and tender story with fascinating characters and a few wonderful twists and turns."
Though Pauline is devoted to Bee --- watching out for her, teaching her, loving her --- the pull of romance is too strong for Pauline to resist. In her mid-twenties, and never having had a boyfriend, she is charmed by Arthur, the flirtatious newcomer to the carnival. And, even though it breaks Bee’s heart (not to mention that of Bobby, the shy pig keeper who is quietly in love with Pauline) and leaves her vulnerable, Ellis sends Pauline away with Arthur. With Pauline’s departure, Bee comes to rely on the stray dog, Peabody, she has adopted and Bobby, who, in the weeks before he himself leaves the carnival looking for work, teaches her how to run fast. Running fast, Bobby believes, may save Bee from danger.
But the running that Bee does is both away from danger and toward security. After she leaves the carnival (with Peabody and also a piglet named Cordelia,) Bee finds her way to the curious house of Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Swift. Mrs. Potter is a kindly old woman who had been appearing to Bee for years, but who no one else could ever see. Mrs. Swift is a slightly more stern old woman who, along with Mrs. Potter, seems to have been expecting Bee to arrive at their doorstep. Living with Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Swift is strange, but Bee feels safe and happy. She enrolls in school, where she has to face a new set of challenges, finds new friends and meets new enemies. Life with Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Swift is almost magical, bittersweet and full of emotional surprises. Still, Bee never gives up hope for a reunion with Pauline and creating with her the life they had always wished for.
Set against the bleak landscape of World War II America, BEHOLDING BEE is an amazing and tender story with fascinating characters and a few wonderful twists and turns. There is much heartbreak and loss in these pages but it is realistically optimistic. This is a delightful novel with a good balance of tension and whimsy. Its exploration of family, friendship and self is set in a beautiful tale following a powerful and unique protagonist.
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on February 25, 2013
Thursday, February 21, 2013
'Beholding Bee' is local author's third young adult novel
By ARLINE A. FLEMING, Valley Breeze & Observer Correspondent
FOSTER - Her public voice is soft and sweet, a little shy, somewhat poetic.
But on the written page, the voices created by Foster resident Kimberly Newton Fusco shout out with resiliency and tenaciousness, strong little literary characters, young but memorable.
There's nothing soft about these girls, especially the one who takes flight in Fusco's latest novel for young people, "Beholding Bee," which will be launched on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Foster's Tyler Free Library, 81A Moosup Valley Rd. at 1:30 p.m.
"It's my favorite library in the whole world," explained the long-time town resident and award-winning writer who launched her previous books, "Tending to Grace" and "The Wonder of Charlie Anne," there, a place she often brought her own children for story hours.
A mother of four children ages 15 to 25, Fusco and her husband, Steven, came to the area after their oldest son was born, she said, finding "a warm and generous community" in Foster, and a place not far from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette where she was an award-winning reporter and editor. After more than 15 years of writing on deadlines, and with the family increasing in number, she decided to give herself a chance at writing from home.
A devoted reader, she returned to her book roots, producing a successful first novel in "Tending to Grace," published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, which earned her awards and a place in the publishing world. Her second, "The Wonder of Charlie Anne," continued with that same type of success, and her third has been released this week with early recognition, too. It will also be published by Faber and Faber, London, "making it an international book," she notes.
While the accolades are abundant, Fusco is quick to point out that "Beholding Bee" was many years in the making, and the inspiration actually goes back to her early days as a reporter when she covered a traveling carnival in Bristol. The idea simmered, as did the planning, writing and publishing tasks, which added up to four years.
"I'm really precise and I take a lot of time with every single word," she explained.
A personal writing habit sometimes includes writing poetry about the character's feelings and "then I rewrite it into prose. I love poetry and that helps me get into the character. I get so deeply into their emotions."
Fusco not only allows poetry to transmit her into the character, but she says she also sets up her computer margins so that the page mimics a newspaper column as she creates. "It's how I write."
She also makes a habit of finding a photo that resembles in her mind the character she is creating. She produces one of what Bee might have looked like if she stepped off the pages of the book.
Bee is an orphan. The time period is 1942. And she lives in the back of a tractor trailer with Pauline, her unofficial guardian. Bee also has a birthmark on her face that she spends a good amount of time attempting to hide. When Pauline leaves to work for another carnival, Bee runs away to create a new life - one that turns out to be quite imaginative and includes women in history.
BookPage, a monthly book review distributed to some 450,000 readers, describes Fusco's writing in "Beholding Bee" as being "lyrical prose (which) enhances the magic of the story as we are drawn into Bee's unconventional world and her touching transformation."
"With an arrestingly original voice, this book stays with you long after reading. Anyone who has ever felt lonely will find a friend in Bee," notes Faber and Faber, London.
While Bee is a fighter, so is the girl in Fusco's first novel, "Tending to Grace," where young Cornelia tends to remain quiet rather than announce her stuttering to all the world. She has something of Fusco in her. As a child, Fusco was "a young person who stuttered, and writing gave me a chance to express myself.
"I am drawn to characters like Cornelia who put on bigger boots and keep going," Fusco writes on her website, www.kimberlynewtonfusco.com .
Kristen M. Chin, director of the Libraries of Foster, describes Fusco as being "generous with her time and knowledge." Recalling an earlier book launch at the local library, Chin said it was "standing-room only.
"In addition to being Foster's most celebrated author, she is also much loved and respected by everyone who knows her, and she is widely known."
Fusco earned her master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, New York, and her bachelor's degree from Roger Williams University, Bristol. While at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, she won a second prize in the 1992 National Awards for Education Reporting, and in 1988, a first prize for investigative reporting for her series "Poverty and Education in Worcester."
Living in Foster, notes Fusco, inspires her to write. The sounds of nearby animals and the plentiful woods for walking help clear her head to think. From the family's "new" old house, Fusco creates literary people comfortable around animals, which is no surprise given the sheep that roam her own front yard and her childhood in Upton, Mass., where Fusco said the family kept chickens and a pig. She was also able to walk to her own great-grandmother's house most days for a visit.
"We were very close," she recalled of Dorcas Brewster Newton, and Fusco dedicated "Beholding Bee" to her.
The little girl who spent days with her great-grandmother has grown up to become a celebrated writer, which also means she must make public appearances, give talks, and lectures.
"That's something I really grew into. I enjoy it now. I really love talking to kids," she said.
Fusco said she is almost finished with the first draft of another book, one which includes a strong friendship with a boy. Her sons have asked her about creating boy characters, and she smiles, saying, "It's not easy to jump the fence."
Though she has devoted four years to the development of "Beholding Bee," Fusco says that while it is a big adjustment being that patient in seeing the outcome, "I love this more than anything I've ever done. It really feels like a dream come true.
"I'm very determined. I've always been tenacious. That part of me is in all my characters, too."
So what does she hope "Beholding Bee" does for the readers who step into its magical world? "I hope they get it. I hope they see how much I love language. It's just so joyful to write," she said.
And one more "hope" from this local author about her books, which are on school reading lists nationwide:
"I hope that they make a difference in a child's life somewhere."
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
"When you think about it, though, isn't it better to believe in a kiss so soft you cannot hear it or see who is giving it to you? You are special when you think like this" - Bee
"I simply do not know where to begin. I am warning you now this is going to be more of a love letter than a review. Beholding Bee was one of the most beautiful, most magical books I have ever read!
Kimberly Newton Fusco's writing was superb. Utterly flawless. Her lyrical flow made the words bounce off the page, and play a stunning and vibrant film in my mind. I have never had a book come to life quite like this. The author's world building was crafted so beautifully. I love how she separated the book into 3 parts. It really broke down Bee's transformation perfectly.
The characters, oh gosh, those characters! Bee is the main character and what a character she is. She is so strong and mature at 12 years old. She is so precious, I absolutely fell in love with her. Bee will forever be in my heart. There were qualities of Bee that I saw in myself, and there are certain experiences we share; It was a pleasure to be able to relate with her. Don't think that Bee is the only spirited character, oh no! The author penned a vivacious secondary cast. Everyone has their spot and plays their part. Lots of stories are told and by the end, your heart will be swelling!
This book tackles it all; World War II, bullying, family matters and self discovery. Bee's world will unfold right in front of your very eyes. I am so happy I had the pleasure of reading this novel.
Magical, enchanting, and simply wonderful."
Sunday, February 10, 2013
"Historical fiction with a beguiling touch of fantasy, Beholding Bee takes place in New England in 1942. The traveling carnival is the only life eleven-year-old Bee (short for Beatrice) has ever known. Her parents were circus people who died in a truck accident when she was four. Ever since then, she’s been looked after by Pauline, who loves her, teaches her to read, and tries to protect her. They sell hotdogs and popcorn at the carnival. But the owner thinks Bee is old enough to start earning her keep by sitting in the look-see booth, where people would pay good money to gawk at the diamond-shape birthmark covering nearly half of her face.
Then Pauline is forced to go to Poughkeepsie and help set up a permanent carnival, and Bee’s only other friend, Bobby, leaves the traveling show to work in a factory building bomber engines. Bee takes her scruffy stray dog, Peabody, and Bobby’s runt of a pig, Cordelia, and runs away.
But Bee’s never completely alone, because the lady in the floppy orange hat, a lady only Bee can see, is always there when Bee needs her the most. When Bee finds the lady with the orange hat on the porch of a wonderful old house, she knows she’s home. Will a normal life, with school and friends, be possible for Bee now? Or will her diamond-shaped birthmark, or questions about her guardians, prevent her from finding happiness?
A luminous novel about standing up for yourself, finding your inner strength, and discovering the gems within. Bee’s a feisty character, who stomps around in worn-out work boots and overalls, but she’s also terribly vulnerable, and often holds her long hair tight over her face. Reading this, I got inside Bee’s head completely. This is one of those quiet books I’m so fond of (like the author’s previous novels, Tending to Grace and The Wonder of Charlie Anne), although there’s plenty of conflict for young Bee. Short chapters (some only a page or two) keep the pace moving along briskly, and the first-person present-tense narration gives the story immediacy.
The prose is so beautiful it’s poetic, making the novel highly quotable. Confronting two bullies who want to stare at her birthmark, Bee says they “stand grinning, as close to us as dug graves.” After her first day of school, where Bee endures humiliation, she comes home and cries in bed. “…whatever grit I had inside me is gone. I am soft as petals.” And when she learns more about her real family, and especially about all the women who came before her, she says, “I feel their bones gathering within me, knitting their strength to my insides.”
Monday, January 28, 2013
Here's the review:
"We all know that there is magic in the world—and it is not the spells-and-wands kind of magic you find in most fantasy books. Real magic is created by love and conjured up by need. In Kimberly Newton Fusco’s enthralling Beholding Bee, there is an abundance of real magic. And it’s a good thing, because Bee needs all the help the world can give her.
Orphaned at the age of 4 by carnival folk parents, Bee is raised by a teenager, Pauline, who helps her run the hot dog stand. The carnival’s owner decided to keep Bee because he hopes to use her as a “freak show” attraction when she gets older.
In the 1940s when this story takes place, being born with a large diamond-shaped birthmark on your face can make you an object of fear, ridicule and fascination. Bee spends most of the early parts of this story trying to keep her hair pulled down over one side of her face. Only Pauline and a strange old lady in a floppy hat—a lady only Bee can see—give her comfort. When Pauline leaves to work at another carnival, Bee is on her own and more scared than ever. With a stray dog and a piglet as her companions, Bee finds the strength to run away to the nearest town, and, miraculously, finds the house where the old lady lives.
Here the magic truly begins as Bee makes a home for herself. She follows the guidance of the ghostly lady and another “aunt” as she learns to cook and shop and go to school. As all the pieces come apart and then come together again, Bee finds her voice and the strength of self to show the world who she really is. Fusco’s lyrical prose enhances the magic of the story as we are drawn into Bee’s unconventional world and her touching transformation."
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
MY NEXT BIG THING is my novel about Bee, an 11-year-old orphan who escapes the travelling carnival where she lives with her scruffy dog, Peabody. She cannot, however, escape the taunts about the diamond-shaped birthmark on her cheek until, with help from two very old friends - whom only she can see – Bee discovers that the real jewel is within herself.
What is the working title of your book? BEHOLDING BEE.
Where did the idea come from for the book? I was a journalist for many years after graduating from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. One day I was sent out to write a story about a traveling carnival. I found a little girl who lived and worked for the carnival and slept in the back of a tractor-trailer and I wrote a feature about her. I thought that one day I would write a novel about a girl like that.
What genre does your book fall under? Literary fiction for young people.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I think I’ll ask my daughters who they think would make a good BEE!
What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book? A tender novel about finding your voice and your place in the world.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It took me about a year to write the first draft. My editor then asked for two revisions and then a few smaller changes before it went to copy editing. It’s a long process: from first paragraph to finished book took almost four years.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My British publisher says the novel is for literary young readers who loved Anne of Green Gables. So, there’s definitely something of a strong and feisty character in BEE.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? I was a young person who stuttered and I have always been interested in people who are set aside by society for one reason or another. But what really interests me is what do they do with that? Do they put on bigger boots and keep going? Or do they flop? Bee is definitely someone who puts on bigger boots.
What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest? I think the book is about five things:
1. The strength of the human spirit
2. Overcoming adversity with resilience and heart.
3. The pain of isolation, and the realization that whatever our life may become is up to us for the choosing.
4. The healing power of community.
5. The strength of women throughout history -- and how those women can be an inspiration to girls today.
When and how will it be published? BEHOLDING BEE will be published on Feb. 12 by Knopf and by Faber and Faber, London, this summer. The British edition will be titled THE DARING ESCAPE OF BEATRICE AND PEABODY and will feature a different cover.
It is my honor to tag and introduce you to three people - two writers for young people and one for adults: Linda Crotta Brennan, Laurie Smith Murphy and Dell Smith.
Linda Crotta Brennan is the award-winning author of over a dozen books for young people including The Black Regiment of the American Revolution and Marshmallow Kisses, which was chosen as one of Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books of the Year. When Rivers Burned: The Earth Day Story will be out in Spring 2013. She is an instructor with the Institute of Children’s Literature. http://lcbrennan.blogspot.com/
Laurie Smith Murphy, a third-grade public school teacher, is the author of a completed novel, Melody's Song, and a picture book, Daddy Dance. Her work-in-progress is the middle grade novel, Fairy Girl. A member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for many years, and a former Regional Advisor for the Southern New England chapter, she is currently searching for an agent and publisher. She blogs about her two passions: writing and teaching at http://lauriesmithmurphy.blogspot.com/
Dell Smith is a novelist and short story writer whose writing has appeared in Fiction, J Journal, Hacks (10 year Grub Street Anthology), and the Grub Street Free Press. He is a founding writer of the group writing blog Beyond the Margins www.beyondthemargins.com. His story, Younger Things, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. http://www.smithdell.blogspot.com/