Ramona Heikel
Biography of a Children's Books Reviewer

Born to review!

Ramona Heikel
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When a book delights me, I write a review of it for myself so I can savour the experience. It’s like taking a photograph of a friend and keeping it in an album so you can look at it and relive the moment years later. And each review is filed in my big blue binder, which is bursting at the seams. Most of my reviews have been of books written for adults, but now that I have more and more excuses to read children’s books (yay!), I am writing more reviews of them.

I’ve always loved reading children’s books—and reading them aloud—whether as a child, student, babysitter, tutor, mom, teacher or children’s writer. Children’s books and magazines make me feel giddy, the same way I feel when I have Play-Doh in my hands, color with crayons, or walk into an elementary school. I love the bright colors, happy art work and the imaginative, funny stories.

I have kept many of my childhood books, enjoying the comic adventures in Beverly Cleary’s books like Ramona the Pest (yes, I do think she wrote this book about me), the gentleness of Winnie the Pooh and E.B. White, and the old fashioned elements of magic or fantasy in The Chronicles of Narnia. Believe it or not, I also kept my old elementary math textbooks and word puzzle books.

On my bookshelves are also many of my sons’ books, such as the books of Francis Hook, Mark Twain, Bill Peet, Russell & Lillian Hoban, Margaret Wise Brown and non-fiction books about trucks, fighter jets, space travel, and hockey. For the reading groups I taught at school, I chose the hilarious humor of Louis Sachar in the Sideways School series, the delight of the early Fancy Nancy books and classics like A Wrinkle in Time.

All these years I thought I was saving these books for my kids or future grandkids. But when I culled my collection of books, I realized that I was keeping my children’s books because I cherish them!

Now a bit about my non-book life. I had planned to be a teacher as I was growing up, but impulsively changed my mind in grade 12 and completed a Bachelor of Science in Math and Geophysics. I married and had two sons, and count my years at home with them as the most important, joy-filled time in my life (so far!). I enjoy new experiences and challenges and have had a variety of jobs, including ocean research, software development, computer training and marketing, and oil and gas engineering. But by far the most satisfying was working as a Teaching Assistant where I taught my own math and reading groups and special needs kids. I am currently an engineering assistant and tutor for students from kindergarten through high school.

At the age of eleven I submitted poems to my favorite magazine, ChildLife, but they sent me my first rejection slip, explaining that they didn’t accept submissions from children. Forty years later, I succeeded in getting an acceptance letter from a children’s magazine! My writing has appeared in Highlights for Children, Clubhouse Jr, Guide, eHow, publications for my alma mater, the Colorado School of Mines, and various other publications and anthologies. I provide copyediting and content for wisdomwithwealth.org, and am an experienced technical writer. I have also self-published a math supplement for grade 4-6 math students, combining math problems with fiction.

When not working, writing or reading, I enjoy walking in the park, hiking in the mountains, photography, treasure-hunting at thrift stores, word puzzles and math puzzles, and—being a research-a-holic—surfing the internet. I love to travel, especially to warm, seaside destinations, and to new places where I can explore beautiful natural scenery.

Get to know Ramona a little better at her site, Happily Writing.

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