2022 Reading Challenge

2022 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 260 books.

Book Review AND Excerpt AND Giveaway: Mockingbird in Mark Twain’s Hat by Kaia Alexander

Mockingbird in Mark Twain’s Hat, is an adventure story full of animals that talk. Wynne is a precocious mockingbird born in the rural south in the late 1800s. His whole family are singers, but at four days old, he wants to be a novelist just like his hero, Mark Twain.

When crows attack his nest, he’s swept away on an epic adventure along the Mississippi River. Wynne learns to read and write, makes new friends in surprising places, and is mentored by Mark Twain himself. Full of delightful quotes from Mark Twain, this novel for children ages 8-12 shines with important lessons of character, perseverance, love, and the importance of friendship.

The Excerpt

Chapter 4

Extraordinary Words


When the little girl went to school the next morning I pulled out my picture of Mark Twain and sat down on the brass swing in the center of my cage to study it. He seemed to be smiling at me, specifically me, as if to convince me that there are no mistakes; that my life was just beginning. But how was I going to get out of the cage and back to the Willem Woods? I pined all day thinking about it. A few times the girl’s mother came in and brought me a worm or two, but aside from that, the door was closed and I was left to my thoughts. That was, until the tiny terror of the house appeared. 

The smallest of the girl’s family was a powerful child of three who seemed to want nothing more than to rip every feather from my body from the first time he laid eyes on me. With a stout frame and hair as yellow as straw, he bowled into his sister’s room and spied me in the cage. Within a minute he had a stack of books set on the chair so he could stare into my cage with menacing eyes that spoke of the terrible fate only an overly mischievous child is capable of inflicting on an animal.

He crawled down from his makeshift ladder, only to return with an iron prodder from the family’s fireplace. “Stick ‘em up!” He shoved the prodder into my cage and I jumped to the swing. “Bam! Bam!” he yelled, poking the instrument at me. “You’re dead!” 

I leaped and fluttered and shouted for help to avoid certain death at the hands of the little devil. I must have made quite a ruckus because a few moments later the children’s mother appeared and yanked him from the stack of books on the chair and ripped the metal prodder from his hands. He wailed and flailed to get it back, but his mother held firm.

“James Edgar, you leave that bird alone this instant!” She crouched down to his level so their eyes met. “If I see you in your sister’s room up to no good again, you will not go to the fair with us over the weekend. You can stay here and muck the barn stalls instead. Do I make myself clear?”

The boy twisted his toe into the floor. “Yes, Ma’am.”

The boy’s mother cupped her hand to her ear. “What’s that? I can’t hear you.”

“Yes, Ma’am!”

“That’s better. And this is not a toy. You could poke someone’s eye out with this.” The boy’s mother lifted the iron prod out of reach. 

I shuddered in my feathers. 

Once he was gone, I made two important decisions. The first was that I had to do everything possible to let my family know I was alive. The second was that I would finish my book. I had learned how to write without breaking my quills, but there was no ink inside my cage and no slippery bark, which meant I had to remember what it was I wanted to say and set it down later. 

But there was another, greater problem: I just didn’t know as many words as I imagined a real writer would need to write a whole book. What was more, I wasn’t too sure how to spell even the ones I did know. 

I needed to learn more words, but not just ordinary words; my heart longed for extraordinary words. Words that were big enough to describe the sky, and the sadness I felt being away from my family. Words that could make a reader swoon. Yes, I needed extraordinary words.

On these matters, Providence conspired in my behalf. That evening, Mary-Liz pleaded with her father for a new writing slate; she promised to take on twice as many chores around the house if he would. He consented, but under the condition that she not bring home any more wild animals. Her brother’s behavior also meant that she could take me with her to school the next day, seeing as that would be the safest place for me till I was fully fledged. 

I felt strength rush into my limbs again. Taking me with her to school meant we would pass beneath my crepe myrtle tree, and I could see my family. I nearly turned a flip in my cage when I thought of seeing my parents and siblings again.

But that next morning, Mary-Liz unfolded a faded blue tablecloth and covered my cage. “Wouldn’t want that mean old Grey Cat to see you and get any ideas,” she said. “I’ve got to protect you.”

At any other moment I might have remembered with gratitude that, in fact, the little girl had saved my life, but this particular morning, I felt crazy inside knowing I would pass right beneath my family’s tree we may not even see one another.

Copyright 2021, Kaia Alexander

My Review

What a darling book this was! Kaia Alexander has crafted a lovely tale about growing up and growing into yourself, despite what those around you tell you is or isn’t possible… Through the story of a mockingbird who wants to be a writer, and who finds himself far afield from his sheltered childhood on the path to doing so, she presents life lessons, wit and wisdom – as well as more than a little adventure and villainy, and the eponymous Great Author himself! The illustrations add a lovely dimension to the story, which is appropriate for children young and old. I’m a long-time fan of clever and unique children’s books, and am happy to add this to my collection.

Thank you to the author for my obligation-free review copy of this delightful story!

Praise for Mockingbird in Mark Twain’s Hat

“We LOVE this book! As we finish each chapter, we can’t wait to find out what happens next! I am ordering another few copies as gifts for my daughter’s friends.”- Yaron, Amazon

“With ‘The Mockingbird in Mark Twain’s Hat’, Kaia Alexander is at the top of her formidable writing talents. She has mastered historical fiction, screenwriting and with this, a timeless children’s story. This is a delightful adventure featuring unforgettable animal characters that will become embedded in the heart of every reader. Whether you read this to a little one or gift it to a child to read, this is an ideal book that entertains and enthralls with every page while evoking a period and piece of literary history. I believe that Mark Twain himself would approve! Kaia not only brings her beloved animals to life, but she evokes the universal yearning to uniquely express oneself, like the protagonist of the story, Wynne. Above and beyond a simple children’s story, Kaia weaves in thematic layers that remind me of myth and legend. I guarantee that the characters and story will stick with you forever and inspire children to be themselves, challenge themselves, and learn to write! They may even become interested in Mr. Twain himself, just like Wynne. Or maybe, the kinds of songs that Wynne learns to sing, and that they can learn to sing their own.”-Stuart Volkow, Amazon

“Like all Kaia Alexander’s books, it’s a page turner and you can’t put it down! A delightful adventure with twists and surprises. Love the characters and the illustrations. This is a great gift book for children as well as adults and sure to become a classic!  ”- S. Peck, Amazon

About Kaia Alexander Mockingbird in Mark Twain’s Hat

Kaia Alexander is an award-winning novelist, filmmaker, and writing coach, as well as founder of the Entertainment Business League, who can be found surfing her native California coastline.

Website: https://kaiaalexander.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThisisKaia

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Giveaway Mockingbird in Mark Twain’s Hat by Kaia Alexander

This giveaway is for 1 print copy to 3 winners. It is open to Canada and the U.S. only and ends on July 1, 2021,midnight pacific time.

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5 comments to Book Review AND Excerpt AND Giveaway: Mockingbird in Mark Twain’s Hat by Kaia Alexander

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