Fran Lewis, Hello and welcome, we are so pleased to have the honour of having you with us. If we were to sit down in front of you and were so keen to listen to you about your book, where would you start, from how you got the idea to write your book, how you imagined your story, or when you actually began to write it, why did you agree to write books, and particularly your first book, we want to listen to you whatever you want to say and from wherever you want to start, and of course please don't forget to give us the link to where we can buy it?
The one thing that everyone should know about me is that the three children’s books that I wrote are about my life growing up in the South Bronx. The first two books My Name is Bertha and Bertha Speaks Out are true stories that happened to me and my feelings about the events are included. Bertha Fights Back was written in memory of my student Janine Gonzalez who died in the first tower on Sept. 11th and to honor the memory of others who lost loved ones that day.
I have written three children’s books and one on Alzheimer’s The Alzheimer’s book was written in order to raise awareness for a cure and to raise funds for research. I have given Memories are Precious to many people to see what their reactions would be. I was surprised when my doctor and his wife said it should be required reading for anyone that wants to learn about the illness, the stages and caregiver tips too. It includes my mom’s story and feelings from the day she found out she was diagnosed with the illness until now. It has resources for those who need to get help for a family member or a loved one too. Dedications from family, authors throughout the world, and stories of how others have dealt with this illness when family members were diagnosed helps the reader understand why there is an urgency to find a cure.
My three children’s books are based on true stories that happened to me growing up in the South Bronx. I was always overweight and a total klutz. My mom decided that dancing lessons and ice- skating lessons would help make me graceful and agile. Not really. She also expected me to always be perfect and get straight 100’s one every test I would ever take. You have to read Bertha Speaks Out to see what I finally have to do and more. Bertha Fights back is a chapter book and helps children deal with real life issues that kids face in middle school today. My niece, Dani Nicole Miller co-authored the book with me. My niece, Jamie Miller illustrated the book and all of the covers for all of my three children’s books.
Links and sites:
this is my blog
Memories Are Preciouswww.barnesandnoble.com
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1. I attended P.S. 67 in the South Bronx and JHS 44 on Prospect Avenue where I grew up on Southern Blvd. and Tremont in the South Bronx. P.S. 67 was on 180th and Mohegan Avenue. High school was Columbus and I graduated in 2 years to be followed by Hunter College and I graduated in 3 years. My first two masters were from Lehman College in the Bronx. The first is in Education and the second in Reading and learning disabilities. My next master’s is from Manhattan College in Riverdale and it is in Administration and Supervision. I also received a PD diploma along with my master’s degree.
2. I became interesting in writing books when I retired from teaching when my mom was diagnosed with dementia Alzheimer’s in 2003. I decided not to spend my time doing something constructive. I started out writing short stories about things that happened to me growing up. I guess that is when I realized I could take all of the short stories and turn them into a children’s book. My Aunt Tova Ross made me promise before she passed away that I would write a book about my life growing up in the South Bronx and I kept my word. I wrote about my dancing lessons, ice skating fiasco and other things from my childhood that I felt I wanted to share with children. I was always overweight as a child and I got picked on a lot by my friends and family. I decided to write these stories to help teach children how to deal with these issues and other real life issues they face today in an intelligent and humorous way.
3. I have written three books in my Bertha Series and I am working on my fourth. The first is My Name is Bertha which includes short stories about my dancing, ice skating, and bowling lessons and more. Bertha Speaks Out tells about how I dreaded long car rides and the funny things that happened along the way. It tells about how I dealt with my mother who insisted that I get perfect scores on all of my tests or I had to write the test over. I learned to deal with difficult girls in school and it tells how we came together when a family member gets dementia. Bertha Fights Back is my first chapter book and it is dedicated to 9/11 and to one of my student’s who died in the first tower. It deals with hate crimes, peer mediation and what happens when Bertha is accused of doing something and is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It teaches adults what happens when a good kid does the wrong thing and learns the hard way. It does not have a happy ending but it teaches important lessons to kids about tolerance and understanding and more.
Bertha is my grandmother. She was my father’s mother and my sister said that I looked like her growing up. She was not a happy person and at times when I would get angry she would call me Bertha. I would call her Tillie after my grandmother’s sister Tillie who she reminded me of.