Born in Germany to Holocaust survivors has made Mark very sensitive about bullying and this is a theme that can be found in his books.
He knows a lot about kids having taught elementary school in Central Islip, New York, a job he loved and as an adjunct professor of education at SUNY Old Westbury. He is proud to be named Elementary/Secondary Teacher of the Year by the New York State Reading Assoc., 1989, among other honors.
A LAUGH A MINUTE
Mark believes laughter is the best way to help children learn almost anything. So his world is full of impossible imaginary creatures and funny stories to make children laugh. He loved making kids participate while they learned problem solving in his classrooms. His first published books, The Rockhound Science Mysteries, won Learning Magazine’s Teachers’ Choice Award, 2001, and featured short funny mysteries children love solving with fun experiments. Like his other books, this series helps children learn how to solve problems with comical stories and comical characters.
Making kids laugh and raising awareness about bullying are two themes of his novel, The Midnight Diet Club, formerly, You Never See Fat Vampires, a humorous, slightly scary, novel about bullying. Mark was bullied as a child and loves his main character, Esme, an overweight teen-age girl, who faces three sinister bullies who may or may not be vampires. Mark uses vampires and humor to create a story that he calls a lesson in friendship, love and hope. He believes "bullies are the vampires in our schools and society and we need to put a ‘stake’ in bullying now".
"My book The Midnight Diet Club, which won first prize in the Florida Writer’ Association Royal Palm Literary Awards for Young Adult Fiction, was inspired by my desire to help children understand the terrible effects of bullying, not just on the victim, but also on the bullies," he explains.
"As the son of Holocaust survivors, and bullied myself as a child, I have always been concerned about this serious problem. My parents were Holocaust survivors who suffered so much because of hate and prejudice. I never met my grandparents since they and most of my family were killed during this awful time in history.
"In school I was horrified to learn about slavery and was inspired by meeting Dr. Martin Luther King at Queens College and hearing him speak about how we can change the world non-violently. It is this message that I try to share with others using humor and characters I hope children will like."
THE MIDNIGHT DIET CLUB
She learns the club is under the control of the fiendish, but funny Dr. Ghoulash, who also may be a vampire? Will she continue on her path to club membership knowing she could be risking her soul and everything she has always believed in, or will she find a way to foil the sinister plot of her arch enemies?
This Amazon 5 star rated book is soon to be an audiobook.
"It’s a funny twist on vampire legend that is really a story about bullying, friendship, and ultimately the hope that we can defeat our worst enemies if we work together," mark says. " I loved writing it and am grateful so many children are enjoying this first book in a new series that I hope will help ‘put a stake in bullies’, the vampires in our schools and society."
"My hope in using vampires in this book was to show children that bullies are like the vampires in our society, striking the weak and the alone, out of the darkness of hate and prejudice," he said.
"I love reading stories about the supernatural and vampires, and know kids do too. So I thought it would be fun to create a vampire story that also shows how to deal with bullies and the problems of popularity, self-image and all the things that every teen-ager goes through. I loved writing this book and am happy when I get letters that it is helping children face these problems. Because I was bullied, I know what it feels like and hope my story shows bullied children they don’t have to go it alone."
In Book 2, coming soon, Esme will learn about her secret past and once again face her bullies, but this time with a totally new insane scheme by Dr. Ghoulash, the vampire, where he once again plays on the need to be popular to make slaves of the children in Esme’s school.
"I think it is a very funny book," Mark added, "but like my others, has a lesson I hope children will learn while they are laughing."
Other books by Mark:
The Rockhound Science Mysteries, a funny series helps children become scientist detectives, catching crazy crooks by performing fun experiments, like making orange juice ice pops, to help Rockhound, a teen-age dog detective, solve crimes.
Mark wrote the first of these mysteries when his Principal told him he had to teach science. "I was the worst science teacher ever," he said, "awful with experiments, even setting fire to a classroom, and not liking the text books, (BORING!), so I created these short, funny stories, to show my students that science is just a great way to solve mysteries," he said.
"The series won Learning Magazine’s Teachers’ Choice Award and has been enjoyed by children all over the country. They are now available in a bilingual version too and I will soon be adding new additions to this popular series of fun books, including a game very soon."
He has also written Bullystoppers Handbook. It's available at http://www.bullystoppersclub.com/ and includes free downloadable activities to help children, parents and teachers deal with this serious problem.
For adults, he has written How to Sell Your Books Checklist – a simple to use checklists to help authors promote their books – and coming Soon from Solstice Shadows Publishing, ECTOS: The Ghost Doctor’s Assistant about a young woman who must work with the devious chairperson of the university parapsychology department to rid herself of a ghost and a murderous stalker.
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