Wednesday, March 11, 2015

BLOG TOUR with INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY: Jack at the Helm by Lisa DoanJack


Jack's parents have bought a farmhouse in Nepal.  It'll be the site of a new religion--their latest get-rich-quick scheme.  sure, the Berensons don't know quite how to get to the place.  But once they arrive, their plan is sure to work.

When the Berenson family's travels leave Jack lost in the wilderness of Nepal, a patched-up old raft is the only way to track down his mom and dad.  At least this time, Jack has company.  He's riding with Harry from Connecticut, a traveling dude who has been trying to find himself--and who also wound up stranded.

As Jack and Harry ride down a winding river, they'll have to watch out for rocks, rapids, and even crocodiles!


Lisa Doan is the author of The Berenson Schemes series – Jack the Castaway, Jack and the Wild Life and Jack at the Helm. She received a master’s degree in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her extensive travel in Africa and Asia and eight years spent living in the Caribbean were the basis for the series’ international settings. She has hatched her share of harebrained schemes, including backpacking alone from Morocco to Kenya, hitchhiking across the Sahara with Nigerian car dealers, sauntering off on an ill-advised, one-person walking safari, and opening a restaurant with no actual restaurant experience. Her occupations have included master scuba diving instructor, New York City headhunter, owner-chef of a “sort of Chinese-like” restaurant, television show set medic, and deputy prothonotary of a county court. Visit the author and download free, CCSS-aligned curriculum guides at


Poor Jack, his parents have once again left him stranded in the middle of a foreign country. This time, it's Nepal where they have gone to set up a monastery for the new religion they have created.  But Jack isn't alone this time, his parents picked up a 'disciple' named Harry along the way.  The two must survive rafting down a Nepalese river while facing crocodiles, storms, and waterfalls.  Can Jack find his parents and somehow manage to convince them that Nepal really isn't the place for them?

I have enjoyed this series quite a bit.  Jack is a sympathetic character who is a nice contrast to his completely irresponsible parents. It's quite amusing to have Jack behaving more like a parent than the actual parents. I especially like the setting and the chance to read about conditions so very different from my own.  Child readers are likely to find Jack a fun character to read about while being grateful they aren't in his shoes.  Harry was a nice addition to the story seeming to have more in common with Jack's parents than he himself, but at least willing to listen to Jack. Unfortunately for Jack, not being familiar with the area in which he finds himself stranded, he doesn't always make the best decisions (did I mention a waterfall?!), but his natural caution and durability lead him to carry on despite the challenges that beset him.


Book #1

Jack's parents have been chased out of Tokyo, gone broke in Greece, and hosted Nairobi's least successful safari. Next they're taking Jack on a Caribbean vacation,whether Jack wants to go or not. The Berensons are about to start a snorkeling business. It's their latest get-rich-quick scheme. With these experienced world travelers at the helm, what could go wrong? Jack is used to staying indoors and not taking chances. When his parents take him out on the water, he ends up shipwrecked. Now Jack has to survive on a tropical island...and avoid a whale shark that's cruising along his beach.

18705862Book #2

In number 2 of The Berenson Schemes series, the Berensons arrive in Kenya for their latest get-rich-quick scheme, building a Maasai warrior camp for tourists. Sadly, Jack is accidentally left stranded in the Masai Mara.

Jack homesteads on the African plains, surviving on Chips Ahoy cookies and instant coffee. He spends his days fighting off the local wildlife, attempting to home-school himself with his only text book (‘Seventh Grade in an Hour’) and working on a plan to get out of the Masai Mara alive.


How do you decide where to send Jack and his parents next? 

I really wanted to use places I knew well. Researching foreign places online and in the library is great, but it can only go so far in giving you a sense of place. I wanted to be able to describe what it smells like and sounds like. I also wanted to have a pretty good idea of what could go wrong. (No Berenson trip ever goes right.) I lived in the Caribbean for eight years, so the island in Jack the Castaway is loosely based on my old home, the island of Roatán in Honduras. As well, I have spent a lot of time traveling all over Kenya and have been on many safaris, so that was the setting for Jack and the Wildlife. The third book was slightly different—I had spent plenty of time in Nepal, but I chose it for the symbolism of eastern religions’ concept of acceptance. It seemed the appropriate place for Jack to realize that he was never, ever going to transform his parents into his idea of the ideal mom and dad. They are who they are, and Jack had to figure out how to work around their amazingly bad parenting.

What led you to create this book series in the first place? 

I was always on the lookout for a story that could be set in different locations around the world, but what sparked this particular idea was an article I read about “helicopter parents.” Apparently, there are parents these days who circle their kids like Blackhawk helicopters, monitoring every move and doing their homework for them. I thought it would be hilarious to have a helicopter kid who finds he has distinctly un-helicoptering parents. There is nothing Jack Berenson would like more than to be hovered around and monitored, but that’s not what he got!

What's something about you that most people don't know? 

That despite having lived and traveled in some of the buggiest places on earth, I am terrified of bugs. If there is a bug in my house, it must be destroyed or I will not go to sleep. I know this is ridiculous, but it feels like a war in which one of us has to die. I still shudder at the memory of past bug experiences, like the two times in the Caribbean that I found tarantulas in my house. Or the time my Australian traveling buddy came inside from using an outhouse in Kenya and had a cockroach in her hair. Or the time I was camping at night in the Sahara and, with my ear pressed against the sand, it sounded like there were people walking. The sound kept getting closer and I wondered if it were Tuareg journeying somewhere. Until a big, black beetle sauntered by my face. AHHHHH, these things haunt my dreams.

What's your favorite/least favorite thing about writing?

My favorite thing is being able to create something from nothing. Writing doesn’t take any special tools except a curious mind and a willingness to stick with it. You don’t need a license to do it, you don’t need a factory to produce it and each writer’s individual stories are like thumbprints—never like anybody else’s. My least favorite thing is the pay! When you factor in the hours that go into writing a book, it starts to make a Dickens sweatshop look like a solid career path. Of course, you’ll notice even the Berensons have enough sense not to get into this business as a get-rich-quick scheme.


One lucky winner will win all three Berenson Schemes books: JACK THE CASTAWAY, JACK AND THE WILDLIFE, and the newest release, JACK AT THE HELM. (U.S. addresses only.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Follow along on the blog tour!
Mon, Mar 2
Just a Little Creativity
Tues, Mar 3
The OWL for YA
Wed, Mar 4
Once Upon a Story
Thurs, Mar 5
Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Mar 6
Children's Book Review
Mon, Mar 9
The Compulsive Reader
Tues, Mar 10
Books Unbound
Wed, Mar 11
Geo Librarian
Thurs, Mar 12
The Late Bloomer's Book Blog
Fri, Mar 13

The Hiding Spot

1 comment:

  1. Hi Heidi - thank you so much for participating in this blog tour - much appreciated!


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