Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Erik the Great, from This Kid Reviews Books

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be able to present this amazng young man to all of you. Erik the Great, a young blogger and reviewer who has his own site "This Kid Reviews Books" has made quite an impression on me. He is smart, humble, intelligent and someone you want to get to know. I greatly respect his dedication to books, authors and readers, and I believe we should spread the word. He sets a good example for other blogger/reviewers to follow and comes across with  maturity and an impressive attitude far beyond his age.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I would like to thank you for asking me to do this interview Ms. Brown! I live in a family of four with a younger sister and super nice parents. Besides reading, I also really love to build with LEGOs. I am a part of a LEGO robotics team in the Junior LEGO League. I have a first degree junior black belt in TaeKwon-Do. I have been studying TaeKwon-Do for close to five years. I like to swim, fish and camp (especially roasting marshmallows on a campfire and making s’mores). I have a fish named Tommy and I hope we are getting a dog soon.

If I may be so bold, how old are you and how long have you been reviewing books?

I am ten years-old and going into the fifth grade. I started my blog in January 2011 and I started reviewing books for my town’s local newspaper in January 2012.

What gave you the idea to start a blog?

I got the idea to review books when my grandmother told me she was shopping for a book for me and didn’t know what to buy. A kid in the store told her to get me “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda”. He said it was a good book and that I would like it, so she bought it. Well, it is a good book and I did like it. I thought that if my grandmother would take the advice of a kid maybe people would read reviews that I write and it could help other kids and grown-ups find books they like. I told my parents I would like to write reviews in newspapers, but my Dad suggested a blog as a place to start.

How much help/support do you get from your parents/family?

I get a lot of support and help from my parents (not just with the blog but life in general). My family (including my little sister, Josie) is very supportive. My parents make sure everything on my blog or things sent to me is kid-friendly. They are always telling me about internet safety. They help me by proof-reading things I write and help me with getting pictures and information about books and authors off the internet. My little sister sometimes helps me with younger-kid books. I’ll ask her what she thinks about certain books and it helps me write my review.

What is your favourite type of book to read?

I pretty much like every genre, but I really love to read fantasy/science fiction books (like Amethyst Eyes ;) ). I like how it makes you use your imagination. I also am very fond of history and historical fiction.

How do you deal with a book you don’t like?

I think the hardest part about reviewing a book is saying that I really don’t like it. I try to be very honest when I write reviews and I always try to say why I didn’t like something in a way that is polite. A good thing is that I usually like something about every book I read! For example, if I don’t really like the plot of a book there is usually a good character or illustrations that I can write something nice about. I still will give the book a lower rating, but I can say what I did and didn’t like about it.

Have you ever considered writing a book?

I actually have written a book! I wrote it for a school project two years ago and I really liked it. I kept adding to the story and editing it. It is now about 10,000 words long. I am hoping it will be an early chapter book. I have had a couple professional authors read and critique it. This summer I am editing it and re-writing parts. I hope that someday I can publish or self-publish it. The book is called “The Adventures of Tomato and Pea.” Here’s a summary of it:

Tomato is the planet Oarg’s greatest crime-stopper (Pea is his sidekick). The diabolical villain Wintergreen and his gang have been trying to get rid of Tomato and his friends and take over Oarg for years. In a plan gone bad, Wintergreen and his gang and Tomato and his friends, get caught in a rocket ship and crash land on a strange planet called EAR-TH. The story follows the fighting bunch of aliens on EAR-TH as they try to get along and survive on the strange planet.

What would you like to be/do when you grow up?

I really would like to be an inventor. I like building things and creating. I am always trying to learn how things work and why they work the way they do. I also like to write a lot. I think I would like to be an author and write about things that interest me.

How involved are you in community reading activities? Can you tell us a little about them?

At the moment I am clueless about local reading activities because we just moved to a completely new town. Where I used to live, I was in a boy’s books club that met once a month at my local bookstore. I went to a lot of book signings and activities at my local bookstore and library. We are going to find the local library this week in our new town and I hope that they have programs like my old library had. I am doing a summer reading list for my new school. If there isn’t a kid book club here, I want to start one.

I’m sure you’ve come across kids who don’t like to read. Do you have anything to tell them that might motivate them to get into reading?

I usually ask them “What do you like to do?”Or “What are you interested in?” and then I suggest books that have to do with what they like. My parents never tried to make me read. They would always leave books around on subjects I was interested in (like superheroes or nature) and I would end up reading because I liked the subject. I also think that some kids who don’t like to read will like comics or graphic novels. Even if a kid is just reading a Peanuts comic strip, they are still reading.

What do you think about violence in our books? Television, movies and videos have a rating system, but books do not. (I’ve come across some scary things over the years). How much is too much? How do you think violence impacts readers?

For real young kids I think there shouldn’t be any violence (unless it’s cartoonish, like Batman clobbering the Joker). For my age and reading level I think books with a little or vaguely described violence is OK. For example, I read a book called “George Washington’s Socks” by Elvira Woodruff. The book takes place during the Revolutionary War and it gives the reader an idea of how harsh the war was. There were battles, injuries and death in the book but it didn’t go into a lot of detail and made it a great book for grade school-aged kids. I think in that book’s case the violence helped in the plot because I learned about a historical event. My parents won’t let me read books with any graphic violence in it or books with real “dark” plots. They decide how much is too much for me, but I also don’t care to read anything too violent. I think that letting young kids read (or watch) a lot of graphic violence changes them so that they may become violent and/or maybe think that it’s a normal thing.

Here is the link to Erik's blog, a great place to stop by and find out what he thinks about the books he's read. Personally, I wish my reviews were as great as his own. He puts much thought into what he writes.

and if you're up for a littel more reading, here is his post on Amethyst Eyes


  1. Fabulous interview! Erik is a great kid and reviewer. I check out his website all the time. :)

  2. I think you are well on your way to being an inventor, Erik! What a blessing your parents are to you. They care enough to shield you from danger on the Internet, and you are smart enough to appreciate them. And, I admire your honesty in your book reviews. It's difficult, but you can't go wrong with the truth!

  3. Awesome interview, both of you. Erik's a neat kid. Sure wish I had been as ambitious at age 10. It took me till high school to write 10,000 words.

  4. Hi, Erik. So glad to know a little more about you, and wow! - a black belt! - I'm so impressed. This is a great interview! I see you put a lot of thought into your answers, and as always, you are a super role model for other kids. I'm so surprised you've only been doing your blog since Jan '11 because you seem to be a very professional reviewer. I hope you do start that book club, if your new town doesn't have one. You definately need to spread all that love of books around! Congratulations to your parents for being wonderful! Thanks, Debbie for good questions, and having Erik as your guest. Great choice! best wishes to all.

  5. Thank you Ms. Brown for interviewing me!
    @Renee C. - Thank you for reading my blog!
    @Jarm Del Boccio - Thank you! My parents ARE kind and loving and great and awesome and...
    @michelleisenhoff - Thank you Mrs. Isenhoff! ;)
    @Jo Marshall - Hi Ms. Marshall! Thank you for the compliments!

    Thank you all,

  6. It was a pleasure to have you on my blog Erik. Looking forward to talking to you in the near future, and thank you for stopping by.