Time length to read: varies (middle grade chapter book)
Age recommend: 9 and up
Author: Hugh Willard
Publisher: Peak City Publishing
Price: $3.99 (kindle edition) $8.99 (Amazon & Barnes and Noble) $9.00 (Peak City Publishing)
Today I am excited to bring you a middle grade chapter book that is filled with heroes, adventures, and great values. The Goodwill Vultures Club: A Day of Heroes, by Hugh Willard, is about a kid named Buzz and his pet vulture…yes, his pet vulture. Don’t be surprised or fooled by the unusual pet, because this vulture named Roberta (Rob for short) is a pet that has helped several throughout the community where Buzz lives. After Buzz and his father discover Rob injured while on a camping trip, they decide to keep her to help nurture her back to health. In the process, Buzz learns that because of his pet bird Rob, he has grown and changed for the good. Along with some friends and Buzz’s brother Jason, and a couple other pet dogs, Buzz and Rob help a girl with autism find her happiness again, and they learn that heroes can come from anywhere, even if it is from the most unusual pet.
This is a great book because it teaches many great lessons to readers. It shows readers not to judge and be fooled by the outside appearance of a person or a pet, for the beauty lies within. It also shows examples of great friendship and teamwork as the book is filled with nothing except how Buzz’s friends are supportive of him and his pet bird Rob. The book also addresses autism, as there is a girl named Chrissy in the book who has autism, and how she starts to become a happy individual because of the help of Buzz, his friends, and of course Rob. The book is also filled with comical humor that children can easily relate to. You’ll find yourself laughing and learning as you read along with Buzz and his friends.
So if you are looking for that great new read to read to your children, or perhaps for your child in middle school, I would highly recommend this book. You’ll find yourself wanting the next book in the series soon enough. And yes, I said series! This book is just the first book to The Goodwill Vultures Club series by Hugh Willard. If you would like more information on when the next book may be out, I have included the author’s website and the publishing company for this book below.
I had a chance to do an Author Interview with Hugh Willard himself. You can find the interview below. Enjoy!
Author Interview with Hugh Willard
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a single father, with two daughter and two dogs. And yes, the dogs in the Goodwill Vultures Club book series are directly taken from my two canine girls. I am also a psychotherapist in a private practice and consider my writing to be an important extensions of this book. I am passionate about animals and nature. And I think the laughter and unvarnished curiosity of children are two of our greatest natural resources.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When not attending to my day job, I spend precious time with my family, attend to matters at home, grab snippets of time to read, take morning walks with my dogs, play guitar and occasionally go for bike rides.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I was inspired to write The Goodwill Vultures Club: A Day of Heroes after two events. I had a very vivid dream several years ago about vultures that made me see them in a whole new light. They are often cast as dirty birds that delightfully feed on the bad fortune of others. This dream helped me to see them as nature’s unsung garbage collectors. They go about their job with no praise or recognition. The second experience was seeing over 20 vultures begin to gather every morning in a large tree in my next door neighbor’s yard. They came every day until my neighbors, understandably, had to cut the tree down. I began to feel an affinity for them. Out of these two experiences, I started to think about how we often fear people and things about which we know little. It felt like a natural bridge to use a vulture as a symbol for how this occurs in our relationships with each other.
How did you come up with the title?
The title seemed to come organically from the thoughts about how we all need to work more towards accepting differences in each other. Early in the thought process about the book, I envisioned the main character having a tree house, which easily conjured up images of a club with his friends.
Where do you get your ideas?
It’s fascinating for me to start writing with a very bare bones outline and see different paths literally unfold in mid sentence. In those moments, the ideas certainly feel spontaneous. In addition to this, I love just observing things around me. It is frequently in the most nondescript, mundane sequence of events that I make mental notes, thinking to myself, ‘I can use this in my book.’
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
We still have a lot to learn about accepting people and things that are different than us. Many people are afraid of things they don’t know. I suppose that’s a little bit natural, but my message is that we need to take the time to learn more about each other before we make negative judgments.
What books have most influenced your life most?
My goodness, there are so many. I’ll name just a few: Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, because I strongly identified with Huck; The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd, a book that reminded me that we can find peace in the messiness of life and relationships; The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, which inspired some of the events in the second Goodwill Vultures Club book ( coming out soon!); most books by Judy Blume. I love her deft ability to balance frivolity with harder themes, and certainly seek to emulate this in my writing for kids. The list goes on and on.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
For me, a good story rides on the backs of very well developed characters. Of course, the story line itself is important. There has to be a directions for the story, some conflict or challenge that will keep the reader engaged throughout. But I most often find that I identify with different characters when I’m reading, so being intentional in developing the personalities, motivations and minds of the characters is really key.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’ll take a small risk here. TV and video games are great entertainment, but they usually don’t help us to grow and to become more alive and better able to manage our experiences and relationships. Books do. Books stimulate us in ways that make us better; better friends, better students, better sons and daughters, and better stewards of our world. Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness…” Reading books is an excellent way to travel.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author in exchange for a fair review and book spotlight. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”