The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Putty is one of those books you remember long after you finish reading it. Steve LeBel has that rare ability to create very real characters AND paints a stunningly realistic world that they inhabit. I could smell the earth in Bernie’s forest, could feel the texture of the trees, and with such a deep connection to Bernie’s creation I felt true dread that it would be ruined and anger at the reasons why.
Bernie is an embraceable character, a young god with very human concerns and motivations, great inner strength and intelligence that YA readers will surely connect with, and the people who satellite around him are equally real and nuanced. The book reminded me of Harry Potter in that way, focused on the hero but populated by his band of friends and nemesis who each jump off the page with their realism and values.
YA readers will recognize the tactics of the bully that torments Bernie, a very painful situation for many kids who have something very special about them that a mean person wishes to reduce. And while we see the bully landing some attacks, we’re very pleased to watch Bernie grow in his handling of it. He outwits the bully, wisely, and surrounds himself with good people. It’s important for a youngster to see how a bully can be handled, and in this story they get a very good lesson in overcoming unfairness as well as overcoming obstacles to goals. Bernie is a model for overcoming, both outside forces and his own insecurities and doubts, and it’s a clever and witty adventure following him through the adventures and lessons of this book.
Highly recommended. One of the most unique and well-written YA books I’ve ever read.
Judge, 2nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards
The Beverly Hills Book Award just declared book awards for their 2015 contest.
The Universe Builders received a FINALIST award.
The Stargazer Literary Prizes writing competition recognizes life-changing fiction and nonfiction with prizes at a global level. Winners will have demonstrated an outstanding ability to courageously communicate pressing issues, provide insights into the human dilemma and inspire the spirit.The Universe Builders by Steve LeBel has been declared a finalist.
The final selection will be made in October 2014.
Writer’s Digest posted the results of their book contest on their site, so I guess that makes it ‘official.’
They also did an interview with me in which they asked me all about my experience in writing and publishing my book. It was a fun interview and it turned up some interesting ideas, I think. You can find it here:
The magazine will be coming out shortly. It is the May/June issue. It will have the same award announcement and also an abbreviated interview.