March 3, 2015

Blog Tour: Jack at the Helm by Lisa Doan - GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY

Blue Slip Media asked me if I wanted to be a part of the blog tour for Jack at the Helm by Lisa Doan. It looked like a great middle grade series, so I said yes for sure!  

Later today you'll see my review of Jack at the Helm, but right now I have a guest post from Lisa.

About Lisa Doan

Lisa Doan is the author of The Berenson Schemes series – Jack the CastawayJack 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

About the Berenson Scheme Series

Jack the Castaway
In their latest get-rich-quick scheme, the Berensons move to the Caribbean and invent a new sport. While Jack learns to drive the boat, his parents attempt to ‘drift-snorkel’ in a strong current. Sadly, Jack is set adrift in the Caribbean Sea. 

Jack and the Wildlife
The Berensons arrive in Kenya for their latest get-rich-quick scheme, building a Maasai warrior camp for tourists. Sadly, Jack stranded in the Masai Mara.

Jack at the Helm
The Berensons travel to a remote region of Nepal to launch their latest get-rich-quick scheme – gathering disciples for a religion they invented. (They expect it will take the world by storm.) Sadly, on an overnight trip to their new international headquarters in the town of Shangrilala, Jack is lost. Again.

Welcome to The O.W.L.!
Today Lisa is talking about Taking Risks

How cautious is too cautious?

I’m going throw out a four letter word here—RISK. Risk is what The Berenson Schemes series is really about. Throughout the madcap adventures spanning the globe, risk-averse Jack gains confidence and learns to take action when he can’t be entirely certain of the end result. By the end of book three, Jack at the Helm, Jack is better prepared to meet life’s challenges. Temperamentally, he’s still the same careful Jack, but he’s grown into his best version of Jack.

I wanted to explore the world of the risk-averse child because it’s easier than ever to be risk-averse. We’ve built safety systems into everything, and this cannot go unnoticed by children. I suspect that an observant and temperamentally cautious child concludes that danger lurks around every corner. They notice that when they are careful, they receive praise. They notice that adults are laser-focused on managing that other child, the high-risk-taking child—the “do now, think later” child. (You know the one—that young person who sets himself on fire for a YouTube video and then is surprised at the burns.) The cautious child intuitively understands that safety has become a moral high ground. And so perhaps the cautious child redoubles his or her efforts and plays it ultra-safe. Is that good? Is that what we were going for?

What a hard question, because even if we acknowledge that a particular child is highly risk-averse, and acknowledge that maybe that’s not good, we are left with the ponderous and irrefutable facts that sit on the other side of that. Which are—sure, this child may be hiding from life a little bit, but this child is going to make it to adulthood. This child will not set himself on fire, or fall off a trampoline or forget to put on a bicycle helmet. This child will stay alive.

I can’t argue with that. I didn’t try to come to a conclusion about what would be the right level of risk-taking, but I wanted to ask the question. If we owe it to high-risk-taking children to reel them in, do we owe it to risk-averse children to reel them out? Do we have a duty to push them out into the world, to take some chances, even if they might get hurt? And what are the ramifications if we don’t? What do you think?

Thank you for these thoughts Lisa! I know I always struggle with this when it comes to my kids!!!


One lucky winner will win all three Berenson Schemes books: 


(U.S. addresses only
Must be at least 13) 

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  1. Lisa I can't wait to read this series to my son Jack!

  2. Jill - thanks so much for having me. Stephanie - how wonderful your son's name is Jack - one of my favorites which is why I picked it. I hope your Jack enjoys Jack Berenson's adventures!

  3. I'm always looking for adventure stories for my boys. I love that this series seems to incorporate geography, too! I definitely want to check out these books. They look fun! :)

    1. Hi Bluerose - yes, a kid will learn a lot about these far off places - the culture, what it looks like, what it smells like - and hopefully they won't notice they are learning anything!

  4. always need action- packed boys' books. this looks like an incredible series!

    1. Hi Anne - you can find out more about the series at - there's a page of fun info and links for kids.

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  5. Looks like an interesting series! Thanks for the recommendation, Jill!