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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Everette’s writing pulls you in by appealing to your senses. Her visual descriptions make it easy to picture the scene and you can smell the food as Mackenzie’s Texas family prepares for the celebration.
I can’t remember what grade I was in when I learned about Juneteenth, but I do know that there wasn’t much detail about the celebration. Basically, we knew that it was a Black American celebration of freedom in America, but that was just about it. So I found it interesting to learn about the tradition of eating and drinking foods that slaves were forced to serve to their masters, but were never allowed to consume themselves. I had no idea that red soda water existed back then!
I like how Everette shows how progress has been made with Juneteenth becoming an official national American holiday. But she also points out that there is still a ways to come when the caucasian twins next door share their story of a country club, made up exclusively of exclusively white members, celebrates Juneteenth but doesn’t allow their black employees to have the day off. They also comment that the club’s staff is mainly black and Hispanic.
This little book makes a big impression. I only wish that the title was a little more interesting than “Summer Vacation.” But this is only book one of Mackenzie and Cristen’s adventures, so I hope Everette gives the rest of the series titles that reflect their fun and educating nature. The cover art is cute pencil work, but I think it would really pop if the artist used Photoshop or some other program to digitally color in everything.
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
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