About Abigail Lewis-Bowen

Posts by Abigail Lewis-Bowen:

“Teacher” is finalist in CLIPPA awards

“Today the Teacher Changed our Seats” has been named as a finalist in the 2014 K-2 CT CLIPPA (Children’s Literature Independently Published Principals’ Award) awards. 
Children’s Literature Independently Published Principals’ Award celebrates books for elementary-school-age children that offer fun, learning and creativity and were created by authors who have self-published their works. The books nominated for the CLIPPA are judged by Elementary School Principals, Reading Specialists and Distinguished Authors.
From the review:Many messages fill the simple text and hand painted illustrations. The story is about mathematical concept of grouping at face value, but clearly addresses a child’s fear of being excluded. Story illustrates that not only a teacher, but children, can resolve problems. Illustrations present extensive racial/ethnic diversity.


Frances Gilbert, Author for All Ages

Here is a recent interview with Writer Donna Marie Merritt

Frances Gilbert, Author for All Ages

Salmon for Breakfast

Salmon for Breakfast

January; crisp frost on the lawns and hedges; a cold, clear, blue sky.  Leila looked out of her bedroom window. Everything  looked clean and sharp like a picture postcard; no one about, no insanitary dogs, no sign of the spandex jogger, no nosey tourists.  The village was getting back to its proper, ordered, peaceful self. After breakfast she would do her rounds.

She went downstairs and checked her pantry. No bread; no milk in the fridge either. Leila frowned breakfast was becoming a problem. There was no more liberating from next door since her appalling neighbor had moved into town to live with her daughter; no breakfast prayer group or coffee mornings either since the minister had moved away, and with her, it was rumored, that interfering social worker.  May be there was a swig of sherry left, that would be enough to start her rounds and if the village shop was open on the way back, Gladys might give a her a free coffee. She usually made one for the bus driver, but often he hadn’t popped in so she gave it to Leila, “Shame to waste it,” she always said.

There was just an inch in the sherry bottle, Leila swallowed it down and swilled the bottle out with water for a second taste.  She pulled on her boots and her old sheepskin coat and, taking her plaid shopping bag, set out. Her neighbor’s cottage had a ‘For Sale’ sign propped against the hedge. Leila had pulled it down twice already, now she wrenched it down again and carried it round to the back where she shoved it into the untidy forsythia hedge that separated the properties. She was hoping her friend Monica would be able to move in.  Monica, always generous with sherry and meat pie suppers, had often spoken of moving to the village. The rest of the gnomes had gone from the front garden, thank goodness; perhaps Helena, from the village committee, had got someone to remove them.  She made her way across to Helena’s lovely house standing back from the end of the green. There was a big blue car parked on the gravel drive. Her husband must be home again.  Leila checked the basket hanging on the gate post where Helena left money for the paper boy. No money, but yesterday’s paper, good, something to read anyway.  Leila tucked it into her shopping bag and moved on. She crossed the stream and went up the lane. According to Gladys, people had just moved in to one of the two new houses at the top. The place had a haphazard air – no curtains, boxes stacked on the porch.  A jumble of bikes sprawled between the house and the garage. Leila was alarmed. Bikes usually meant youths and youths meant trouble – she would have to keep an eye on the situation.  A cardboard box lay by the gate post full of potatoes and onions. Leila helped herself to several potatoes and an onion; lunch taken care of. She stowed them away in her bag and headed back down the lane turning left on to the graveled path that ran in front of the cottages on this side of the stream.

These cottages had been the original village street, together with the pub, the church, the vicarage and the old smithy which was now the village shop. Leila never had to worry about these cottages, they were always well kept, gardens ablaze in the summer with flowers and ancient twisted fruit trees. Leila respected them and had only ever helped herself to an apple or two, nothing else. She passed old Margaret’s blue front door remembering how Margaret had made such a fuss last summer saying someone had broken in and been in her bed too!  Poor old thing.  She turned up the track to the older buildings at the back. They had been small stone barns at one time and were now let out some times to holiday makers, but Leila was not in favor of that. That nosey social worker had rented one. Leila wondered if she had left anything behind. She went round the back and looked in the kitchen window the table was covered with piles of crockery and pans. She pushed open the door, it stuck on the uneven tiles, but Leila wriggled around it. She looked in the pantry, empty, not even a tin of cat food. Leila shrugged, you couldn’t always be lucky. She rather liked the mugs on the table though, they were pretty, little village scenes. She took two, one for her and one for Monica. When the weather got better they could have coffee in the garden. She didn’t bother going into the other cottage, it was being done up and there was building material piled up in front. She didn’t want to get caught by early workmen.

The shop wasn’t open yet. She could see a light in the back, they must be getting ready, Gladys and Agnes. She would go up the lane opposite the bus stop and look at Jennifer’s house and then come back past the bungalows. Sometimes Ron, next door to the Harrison fellow who was so ill, would be in his garden, he often gave her a handful of beans or peas, but of course it was way too early in the season for that.

She walked round past the war memorial and the bus stop and looked up the lane.  She didn’t approve of Jennifer’s house. It was one of four stylish new builds in the grounds of a bigger, demolished house,  fortunately on a bend screened by hedges and shrubbery from the old garden.  Mostly Leila tried to ignore them, but she couldn’t ignore Jennifer; she was becoming quite a problem in Leila’s opinion, always having parties loud with flashy young people, or weekend guests who filled the pub, shrieking and screaming, playing ridiculous quiz games and crowding out the proper villagers. Leila remembered the red headed musician from last year who had been a frequent weekend guest; she had had to deal with him.

She reached the house; the gate was open, the garage door too and the car gone; the front door ajar; Leila stepped in. The hall was a mess, boots all over the floor, jackets and scarves tossed onto an old oak pew.  Leila sniffed, typical, dashing off somewhere. She supposed Gladys’ mother Joan would be in later to tidy up, but perhaps she, Leila, should just check there was nothing left on in the kitchen. She pushed open the swing door; maybe she could liberate something for breakfast.

“Doing your rounds are you?”  Ron from the bungalows was standing behind the island.

“What are you doing here, where’s Jennifer?”

“Gone on holiday, I’m just unblocking her sink for her, Gawd, knows what she puts down it.”

Leila looked at the state of the kitchen; Jennifer must have been having one of her gatherings. There were glasses and china stacked together messily on the draining board and the island held several foil covered platters. Jennifer’s little cat crouched over one whiskers twitching.

“Get off you little scavenger!” Ron swiped at it with a dish towel, “Salmon that is, she can smell it a mile away. Go on get off!”

Leila’s mouth watered. She peeked under the edge of the foil. Dainty quarter sandwiches of smoked salmon on brown bread.  “So wasteful,” she sniffed. Her fingers crept out, perhaps she could quickly liberate just one or two.

“Here take a few,” Ron was wrapping a pile of the little sandwiches in foil, “might as well, Joan will only throw them out, and have a bit of this.” He hacked off a lump of cheese from another platter added a handful of crackers and wrapped them in a piece of kitchen paper.

“Poor old thing,” said Ron to his wife later that morning, “She looked half famished, twitching at the salmon just like that cat.”

“She gets by,” said his wife, “I saw her coming back from the shop with her coffee, Gladys always has one for her, we see she’s alright.”

Back home Leila neatly documented the day’s rounds in her notebook. She unwrapped the sandwiches and opened the bottle of wine she had liberated from a crate in Jennifer’s hall and smiled with satisfaction.  Potato fry up for lunch, cheese and wine for dinner – the village never let her down.


In the Hands of a Masterful Writer

Review of “Where is She Now” by Ina Chadwick,
Connecticut Muse Winter 2009

“There is no doubt you’re in a
masterful writer’s hands when
the first page of a book sets a
scene so visceral, so clearly
evoked that you know you’re going on a bleak
journey whether you want to or not.
In Frances Gilbert’s grim, deftly evoked tale,
Where Is She Now, a newborn’s mysterious death
propels the plot forward as the young mother,
Rosemary, who remembered the elation of seeing
her newborn with “wisps of black hair over tiny
perfect ears and long fingers over the blanket,”
disassembles in front of our eyes, leading us into a
dense fog as can only be found in a small British
working class town where the story is set.”



Review of “Where is She Now” by Charlie Bray, http://theindietribe.com

October, 2013

This is the second of Frances Gilbert’s books that I have had the privilege of reviewing and I set out to do so with trepidation, as I was so captivated by the first one, She Should Have Come for Me. I doubted this one would measure up, but I need not have worried. If I was rationed for space, I could sum up Where is She Now in one word – Brilliant!

Frances’s characters are so real, with real vulnerability, real flaws, real guile. As with many people in real life, you never really know where you stand with them, or what to believe.

Rosemary gains the reader’s empathy by the delicate path she treads through life, often seeking assurance from inanimate every day objects. This in itself speaks volumes of her mind set. Undoubtedly she carries baggage and is surrounded in mystery – all the more enticing for the reader. There are effectively two Rosemarys, which makes the reader’s task of understanding her even more complex.

She clearly understands more than the reader gives her credit for, and this is evidenced in a scene towards the end of the book – Rosemary looked at Brian, but he had turned away, he was looking out of the window. Rosemary knew he wanted to get back into that ordinary world, the courtyard swept clean by the rain and the busy street at the end with coffee shops and supermarkets and busy ordinary people 

She is constantly open to comparison with her husband, Brian and inner self, Anna, but the author never allows you to settle into comfort with any of them.

The wonderfully crafted setting is created from an amalgam of two English towns and plays an integral part in the story.

The superb ending is probably not one you were expecting.

So, in my eyes, a 100% sucess rate for Frances Gilbert. Two books reviewed, two winners.

Also available from Amazon.co.uk

Searching for Sanity

Review of “Where is She Now” by Nina Sankovitch, http://www.readallday.org/blog/

December 15, 2009
Frances Gilbert’s “Where Is She Now” is a stunning psychological thriller that probes the lucidity contained within madness, and the fear that rides along when trauma suppresses knowledge.  Rosemary is a young woman who may have witnessed a crime or she may have participated in it: she cannot remember as her memory is fogged both by prescribed drugs and by her own terror of discovering the truth. She is a woman fighting to hold onto her sanity and protect her child; she is a pawn in a power struggle between her mother and her husband; she is a visionary who sees past wrongs, and struggles to restore balance in her universe.
Deemed crazy by some, pitiable by others, and gifted by just a few, Rosemary as presented to the reader is all of these and much more: she is a woman alone fighting demons from within and without.  Can I believe her?  Is she crazy or horribly sane? I became enthralled with her as I read on, and increasingly saddened by her situation. Rosemary’s loneliness and confusion is heartbreaking, as are her efforts to find guidance and companionship in made-up characters and anthropomorphized objects.  When Rosemary finds herself witnessing infanticide from centuries past, I shuddered for her; when she found unexpected alliance in her struggle, I hoped for her.
Gilbert’s writing is lyrical and clear.  She does an excellent job portraying the fear and anxiety of someone shaken to the core by trauma, by guilt, and by helplessness in the face of very real danger.  Gilbert takes her time creating Rosemary and her space in the world. Slowly, details accumulate and surely, the reader is drawn into the mystery of Rosemary’s child, the question of Rosemary’s sanity or insanity, and the struggle for Rosemary’s survival.
The final unraveling of the truth is unexpected, believable, and riveting.  Kindness comes in the form of strangers while treachery begins at home.  Where Is She Now left me gasping and roiling, breathless and blown away.  This is a wonderful novel.

Frances Gilbert at Wallingford Artist Showcase, Feb 8

Frances Gilbert will be appearing at the Wallingford Public Library on Saturday February 8th for the annual Artists Showcase from 1 – 3 p.m. CT authors will be on hand to read from their works and sell books. The Wallingford Public Library is located at 200 North Main, Wallingford, CT

Give the gift of reading through Kabuki Helps and Toys for Tots

Cookie Thief and Elephant Blue among suggested books to give through Kabuki Helps and Toys for Tots

Kabuki Helps has joined with the United States Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program to promote the gift of reading for children in need. Frances Gilbert’s books can be purchased on the Kabuki Helps website for shopping to the Toys for Tots program.  Just go to www.kabukihelps.com   and use code Toy$TotsB to receive a 10 percent discount on purchases.

Kabuki Helps is a community of parents and teachers committed to making learning fun, has joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots Literacy Program to help put books in the hands of children most in need.

“The gift of a book this holiday season can make a huge difference for a child’s future,” said Lisa Hayes, founder of Kabuki Helps. “Literacy opens doors and can help break the cycle of poverty.”

To encourage donations, Kabuki Helps will pay for shipping to Toys for Tots on items purchased through its website for the Literacy Program. Books on the site are appropriate for children in Grades K-5. All are educational, as well as fun, helping children develop basic skills in math and reading.  Shoppers also can support Toys for Tots when they purchase books as gifts for family and friends.  Ten percent of every purchase from Kabuki Helps goes to support a charity of the shopper’s choice.

Suggested books for the Literacy Program include:

·       Varun’s Quest, an engaging adventure for children in grades 3-4 that teaches them to think like scientists as they solve a mystery about the plants and animals.

·       The Cookie Thief, by Frances Gilbert, a clever story about honesty, geared to early readers and pre-readers

·       Elephant Blue, a book of children’s poetry that will be appreciated by children through age 10.

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Dec 14: Willington Public Library Holiday Authors Event

Frances Gilbert will appear at the Holiday Authors Event on December 14 at the Willington Public Library, from 9 am – 3 pm.  The Willington Library is conveniently located in Willington, CT on Route 74, with easy access off I-84.

Kabuki Helps 0

Kabuki Helps has just listed Frances Gilbert books on their site. Kabuki Helps sells books, games and educational material in support of any registered charity or school.   If you are interested in supporting supporting your local school or a particular charity buy through them!  http://www.kabukihelps.com/