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Viewing Blog: The Children's Book Review, dated 5/2012
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The Children's Book Review aims to help parents choose the best books for their kids. Named one of the ALSC Great Web Sites for Kids, this blog is powered by Bianca Schulze (and Luisa LaFleur, who reviews bilingual books). The Children's Book Review's slogan is "Growing Readers" -- and its goal is to "remember old favorites and search for new ones."
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1. Backseat A-B-See by Maria van Lieshout

Reading level: Ages 1-4

Add this book to your collection: Backseat A-B-See

Video courtesy of Vroom! Vroom! From the backseat, what do you see? Whether on a cross-country road trip or a quick jaunt across town, there’s no end to what a child can see from the backseat of a car. Using familiar road signs, this striking book introduces little ones not just to the alphabet but also to the world around them. Equally perfect for transportation-obsessed children and those just learning to read, this fresh and dynamic picture book will entertain and educate at home, in the classroom, and on the go.

Maria van Lieshout is the author-illustrator of several picture books whose “loosely drawn pen and ink illustrations…wring Oscar-winning expressions from the slenderest curves and squiggles” (Publishers Weekly). She was born and raised in Holland and now lives in San Francisco

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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2. Ann Hood Discusses Childhood Fantasies & “The Treasure Chest” Series

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 29, 2012

Ann Hood

Ann Hood is the talented author of many bestselling novels such as The Red Thread and The Knitting Circle (soon to be an HBO film starring Katherine Heigl). Her new series of books, The Treasure Chest, about Felix and Maisie Robbins’s amazing time travel trips in which they meet historical figures is un-put-a-down-able. We talked with Ann about her childhood fantasies, destiny, and her exciting future projects.

Nicki Richesin: You’ve written some incredibly beautiful novels. Why did you decide to write for children?

Ann Hood: I have had the idea for books for middle readers in which kids time travel and meet famous people as children for a very long time. When I was in 2nd grade, I read all of the Childhoods of Famous Americans series—they were the only books I could get my hands on since my town didn’t have a library. I used to daydream about hanging out with Amelia Earhart and Clara Barton. So a good dose of the inspiration for the series stems from my own childhood fantasies.

NR: Could you tell us a bit about your characters Felix and Maisie Robbins the adventurous twins in The Treasure Chest series. What do they discover in Jewel of the East

AH: It was really important for me that my characters have contemporary problems, that they learn something from history that they can take back to the present with them. Their parents are newly divorced; they’ve relocated; they’re the new kids in school; Felix is popular and Maisie isn’t; and as the series progresses they have to deal with a death and their parents each getting involved with someone new. In Jewel of the East, they meet a young Pearl Buck as a child in China. They even have to flee to Shanghai with her family during The Boxer Rebellion.

NR: You feature historical figures Clara Barton, Alexander Hamilton, Pearl Buck (and Harry Houdini in Book # 4 Prince of Air available on August 7). Why did you choose these particular famous heroes for Felix and Maisie to encounter on their adventures?

AH: I choose the historical

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3. The “First Look” Series of Board Books

By Nina Schuyler, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 21, 2012

After reading so many books with talking bunnies and dogs, of mice that look cuddly and sweet, of mischievous cats and raccoons, it’s a relief, of sorts, to enter the world of realism, especially one that has the stamp of the prestigious Smithsonian Institution. The realism comes if not through the photographs, then through the information.

In the “First Look” series of board books, published by Soundprints, you find out in “First Look at Insects,” that the praying mantis uses her long back legs to catch a snack and that a dragonfly can fly forward, sideways, and even backward. In “First Look at Space,” you get to learn about the solar system, the sun and the Milky Way. And in “First Look at Dinosaurs,” you begin the long journey of learning the correct pronunciation of dinosaurs, in addition to finding out about the dinosaurs’ myriad defense apparatuses—horns, club tails and big teeth. With the purchase of these books, you’re entitled to download an e-book and also printable activities, such as making your own insect out of an egg carton or creating your own bug dessert with chocolate pudding.

In the “Baby Animals” series, published by Soundprints, you are treated to wonderful photographs of different animals—in “Baby Penguin Waddles,” “Lion Cub Roars,” and “Fawn and her Family,” the sentences are simple and relate to the photograph. These books, too, come with activities and e-books to download.

In “Where Do I Live?” you get to play a guessing game.  The animal gives you clues, quietly slipping in facts about itself in a rhyme scheme, and you guess the name of its home. For instance, “I am a bumblebee, striped all over. I bring nectar home from a patch of clover. Worker bees live in my home, and it is filled with honeycomb. Where do I live?” Turn the page. “A hive!”

These series are a nice addition to remind you and your little one that these animals, in fact, exist

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4. The Secret World of Arrietty, Based on the Book “The Borrowers”

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 22, 2012

In celebration of the Walt Disney Studios and the legendary Studio Ghibli release of THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY on Blu-ray & DVD Combo Pack we present you with clips from the film and bonus material.

Classic anime style, beautiful scenery and music, a strong female character, loss & friendship—this is everything you want your children to watch.

“”The Secret World of Arrietty,” as fans of “The Borrowers“ will have sussed out, is based on the first of five books Mary Norton wrote about tiny people who primarily live off what they appropriate from human beings (or “beans,” as they call them). … Part of the charm of the Borrowers books, a quality shared by the movie, is the theme of the tiny making wonderfully do in a world inhabited by, and made for, the big (like parents). … [W]hile she’s 14 going on 15, and three or so inches going on four, Arrietty seems bigger because her courage, along with her fluid form and softly dappled world, come by way of the famed Japanese company Studio Ghibli, where little girls rule, if not necessarily as princesses. … Studio Ghibli and Arrietty have a way of taking you where you may not expect, whether you’re scrambling through rooms as large as canyons or clambering into the safety of an outstretched hand, a simple gesture that says it all.” — Manohla Dargis via The New York Times

“Just as there are those who look forward to every new Pixar animated film, there are also those who cannot wait for the new releases from Japan’s Studio Ghibli. … The Secret World of Arrietty, based on Mary Norton’s children’s book series The Borrowers, is about a tiny family who are part of a secret world of four-inch people who live underneath the floorboards of homes, “borrowing” things they need from human “beans” that won’t be missed. … As with all Ghibli films, whether it is tiny people in Arrietty, a goldfish princess in Ponyo, or forest spirits in Totoro, the fantastical living in tandem with normal humans never feels weird or questionable. And though you never know where it’s going and how it’s going to end up, the ride is always interesting because nothing ever feels contrived or predictable. Rather there is a quiet gentleness and a deep beauty that resonates no matter if you’re a child or an adult. It speaks to all without needing to be labeled a particular genre—other than animation.” — Zorianna Kit via Huffington Post

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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5. Reissued Classics for a New Generation of Readers

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 24, 2012

I love the nostalgia of rediscovering books with my daughter I had nearly forgotten from my childhood. I remember her exact expressions (of laughter or surprise) as I read about Ferdinand as he’s stung by a bee; baby ducks strut across a busy Boston street in Make Way for Ducklings; and when Madeline proudly displays her appendix scar to her friends and poor Miss Clavel.  I think you’ll find these classic books recently reissued will enchant the next generation of kids too.

Taka-Chan and I

As told to Betty Jean Lifton (photographs by Eikoh Hosoe)

This is kind of a cuckoo idea for a book: a dog named Runcible digs a hole in Cape Cod that tunnels to a Japanese beach where he meets an adorable little girl named Taka-Chan. An evil sea dragon agrees to free Taka-Chan if they can find the most loyal creature in all of Japan and place a white flower at his feet. Hosoe’s breathtaking black and white photographs blend seamlessly with Lifton’s compelling story. The heroic duo’s devotion, friendship, and determination make this book one you’ll treasure always.

Ages 5-9 | Publisher: New York Review Books| April 3, 2012

The Little House 70th Anniversary Edition

By Virginia Lee Burton

This little house is not on the prairie, but resides in a peaceful setting with green fields full of daisies, apple trees, and happy critters all around. That is, until the builders and town starts to slowly encroach upon the little house’s surroundings. Winner of the 1942 Caldecott Medal, this is a sweet testament about how to appreciate the slower pace of life in the verdant countryside. The new edition comes with a bonus audio CD. For more details on Burton and her award-winning books, check out this film about her life and work.

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | April 17, 2012

Andrew Henry’s Meadow

By Doris Burn

As a child, I first fell in love with Burn’s detailed illustrations. Then, of course, her story inspired such a sense of creativity as Andrew resourcefully takes care of himself and builds his own village of houses and nutty inventions. It gave me an inkling of life’s possibilities

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6. Labyrinth’s Door – Anyia “Dream of a Warrior”

Author Showcase

By Jacquitta A. McManus, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 26, 2012

Come and dream with Anyia as she pushes the boundaries of her traditions to follow her dream of becoming a Warrior.

Labyrinth’s Door – Anyia “Dream of a Warrior”

By: Jacquitta A. McManus

Labyrinth’s Door – Anyia: Dream of a Warrior is a story of a young girl, Anyia, whose dream of becoming a Nagoran Warrior is infused with adventure and danger. Running from her duties as a Yora, she dares to break tradition to follow her own dream, during a time when Empress Zarina threatens the magic treaty that protects her village.

Review by: Wayne S. Walker (HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW)

Have you ever had a dream of becoming one thing when everyone expected you to become something else? In the lands of Ethonia, Anyia lives in Nagoran Village, where her father is Chief over several neighboring villages. However, the Empress Zarina wishes to break the treaty and bring war to Ethonia. Anyia wants to become a great warrior like the legendary female warrior Amoonda and bring honor to her village. She even disobeys her father’s orders to stay in the village because she wants to go see Amoonda. However, she is expected to become a Yora like her mother to lead the ladies of the village in the crafts of cooking and cleaning, and she chafes under what she sees as the restrictions of the village. Her father says that her disobedience dishonors him and appoints a youth named Dekka to watch her.

However, Anyia runs off and is captured by some of Zarina’s Thor warriors for Zarina to use as a means of breaking the treaty. Will Anyia escape? And will she ever learn that her first responsibility is to her family and her village?

Author Jacquitta A. McManus says that it was daydreaming which led to the idea of “Labyrinth’s Door” to provide the background for stories in faraway lands where magic was real and anything could happen. Anyia–”Dream of a Warrior” is a fantasy adventure MagBook that is the first installment of Anyia’s journey. It certainly is an exciting tale in which Anyia, and the readers, come to understand some important lessons about the need for showing proper respect in their treatment of others. Yet, Anyia also shows a great deal of spirit and determination. Included in the book are a section on learning to draw Anyia, a maze, and some word puzzles that will appeal to youngsters. I look forward to reading further episodes in the life and times of Anyia.

Available in Paperback and Kindle.

For more information, visit: www.WorldsToDiscover.com

The Author Showcase is a place for authors and illustrators to gain visibility for their works. This article was provided by the author. Learn more …

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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7. May 2012: Best Selling Kids’ Books, New Releases, and More …

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 7, 2012

Here’s the scoop on the most popular destinations on The Children’s Book Review site, the most coveted new releases and bestsellers.

THE HOT SPOTS: THE TRENDS

Five Family Favorites with Catherine Newman

Books for Boys: 5 Funny Kids Books

Best Young Adult Books with Andrea Chapman of Reading Lark

How Picture Books Play a Role in a Child’s Development

Where to Find Free eBooks for Children Online


THE NEW RELEASES

The most coveted books that release this month:

The Serpent’s Shadow (The Kane Chronicles, Book Three)

by Rick Riordan

(Ages 9-11)

Theodore Boone: The Accused

by John Grisham

(Ages 8-12)

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

by Eric Litwin

(Ages 4-7)

The Enchantress (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel)

by Michael Scott

(Ages 12-17)

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8. Five Family Favorites with Cindy Hudson

Five Family Favorites: Leading Bloggers Share their Family Favorite Books, #2

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 8, 2012

From left to right: Catherine, Cindy, and Madeleine Hudson.

For our second installment of Five Family Favorites, we asked Cindy Hudson to share her family’s all-time favorite books. Cindy is the author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press, 2009) and the creator of the wonderful Mother Daughter Book Club.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two daughters.

From the time our girls were born, my husband and I had fun reading to them. We started with titles like Pat the Bunny and Dr. Seuss books before working our way up to novels to read out loud as a family when they got older.

Reading time was always my favorite time of day, as the four of us piled together on the bed, snuggling under blankets in the winter or enjoying the feel of a breeze from the window in summer. Often, our favorite books were ones that made us laugh or painted a vivid picture of another time or a different world. Here are five of our all-time favorites, books we’ve read more than once and wouldn’t hesitate to read again, even though the girls are all grown up now.

Charlotte’s Web

By E. B. White

Until I read the book by E. B. White I thought Charlotte’s Web was just a cute movie for kids. But the rich story in the book about the unlikely friendship that develops between a spider, Charlotte, and a pig, Wilbur, stole my heart. What seems to be a simple story on the surface has so much more beneath it, from the meaning of true friendship, to being resourceful while bringing about change to your world, to suffering grief from loss and learning how to carry on afterward. And as you would expect from a classic that has stood the test of time, adults can appreciate the deeper meanings while both generations enjoy the surface story. (Ages 6-11. Publisher: HarperCollins)

Boy: Tales of Childhood

By Roald Dahl

Ever wonder where Dahl got the ideas for some of the wacky and evil characters that punctuate his fiction? You’ll find out when you read Boy: Tales of Ch

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9. Best Young Adult Books with Forever Young Adult

Best Young Adult Books: Top Picks from YA Bloggers in the Know, #2

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 9, 2012

We asked the sassy ladies at Forever Young Adult (you know Sarah, Jenny, Erin, Meghan and Megan) to choose the five books they’re most anticipating reading this spring and summer. A website devoted to all things YA, Forever Young Adult consists of five women who say they haven’t yet grown up. They write a mix of book reviews, movie analysis, TV posts and fashion, all with a hefty dose of sarcasm and hyperbole, that can be found at foreveryoungadult.com. We’ve enjoyed reading their hilarious accounts from everything to an obsessive love of Dolly Parton to their guilty confession about secretly reading novels by Nora Roberts.


 

At Forever Young Adult, the only thing we love more than new books is an early summer vacation in which to read those books.  Here are five books that are piled at the very top of our suitcases.

Underworld

By Meg Cabot

In this second book of Meg Cabot’s Abandon series, seventeen-year-old Pierce Olivia is being held captive in what we’re pretty sure is hell.  Not metaphorical Hell.  Actual Hell.  Her captor’s the mysterious (and scorching hot) John Hayden, who claims that he’s keeping her safe from the malicious Furies haunting Pierce’s life.  But can John Hayden be trusted?  And can Pierce manage to escape Hell for a second time?  This book is from reigning YA Queen, Meg Cabot, so expect a lot of humor, some super-swoony love scenes and an ending that has you begging for more.

Ages 14 and up | Publisher: Scholastic, Inc | May 8, 2012

When You Were Mine

By Rebecca Serle

In this refreshing twist on Shakespeare’s classic play, author Rebecca Serle explores the perspective of Rosaline, the girl Romeo kicked to the curb after he met Juliet. Heartbroken after being dumped by her long-time crush, Rosaline must pick up the pieces and redefine herself, even as tragedy unfolds around her. Set in present day, this novel is a deeply compelling look at adolescent identity and transformation, and Serle manages to breathe new life into the cliché of star-crossed lovers. Every character’s voice hums with authenticity, and the romance is intense enough to make even Shakespeare jealous.

Ages 14-17 | Publisher: Simon Pulse | May 1, 2012

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10. Giveaway: Weaverworld: Grimsnipe’s Revenge

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 14, 2012

Enter to win one of two autographed paperback copies of Julia K. Rohan’s Weaverworld: Grimsnipe’s Revenge.

Weaverworld is a mystical place that can also be a dangerous. With friends at his side, Jack must find a way to fight an evil force before it succeeds in destroying both his family and the Weaver way of life.

Giveaway begins May 14, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends June 10, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

Reading level: Ages 9 and up

Paperback: 365 pages


Overview: 
Jack Fisher is a boy in trouble. Disobedient and rebellious, he fights with his sister Jillian, challenges his parents’ authority and fails his classes at school. But when temptation overpowers his better judgment during the annual family reunion the consequences are more drastic than anyone could have imagined.

Ignoring his grandmother’s warning to stay out, Jack goes up to the attic and tries on his grandfather’s old bomber jacket and boots. Suddenly transported to a world called Weaverworld, Jack must quickly adjust to his new reality. Weaverworld is a mystical place and the longer he’s there the more willing he is to let go of the rules from his life in the Realworld.

But not everything is as enchanting as it seems. Jack soon learns that Weaverworld can also be a dangerous and terrifying place as the vengeful Grimsnipe enmeshes him in an ever more dangerous web of intrigue. With his new friends at his side, Jack must find a way to fight this evil force before it succeeds in destroying both his family and the Weaver way of life.

Available in hardcover, paperback and e-book (to come).

About the author:  From the time Ms. Rohan could put pencil to paper she began escaping the Realworld through her drawings and stories. As a young teenager her creative energy turned to music and she began a part-time career as a musician and singer-songwriter. She returned to school as an adult and earned an Honours English Literature degree from Concordia University. Ms. Rohan’s short stories and poems have been published in literary magazines and her two independently-released music CDs are available online. She resides in the country outside Montreal with her husband and a charming tabby cat named “Twister”. Weaverworld is her first full-length work of fiction.

How to enter:

  • Fill out the required fields below
  • Maximum entries: Three (3)

Giveaway Rules:

  • Shipping Guidelines: This book giveaway is open to all participants with a US or Canadian mailing addresses.
  • Giveaway begins May 14, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends June 10, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST, when all entries must be received. No purchase necessary. See official rules for details. View our Add a Comment
11. Talee and the Fallen Object

Author Showcase

The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 15, 2012

Come and discover a new character in a new world, Talee and the Fallen Object.

Talee and the Fallen Object

By: Jacquitta A. McManus

One early Saturday morning, Talee had nothing to do. So she ate a puffy muffin and decided to read one of her favorite books. Just when she was about to start chapter three of her book, out of the corner of her eye she saw a mail flyer drop something from a bag. It fell through the air and landed on one of the smaller floating landmasses. A bag of treasure, she thought as she looked out the window. But is it a bag of treasure?

Review by: Wayne S. Walker (HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW)

Eight-year-old Talee lives on the planet Gala, which has two moons. She loves to read and write about great adventures, especially treasure hunts. Her favorite colors are purple and yellow, and her favorite food is wild puffy yellow muffins with pink icing, which her mother fixes every weekend. Gala is an amazing planet because the land floats in the air. People get from place to place by Calpas, which are big, friendly, flying animals. Early one Saturday morning, Talee has finished her puffy muffins and is reading one of her favorite Captain Jewel books about a bag of treasure that was hidden in a lost city when she sees a mail flyer go by outside her window and something falls out of the mail flyer’s bag.

The object lands on a small floating landmass and starts to smoke when it hits the ground. Thinking it might be a bag of treasure, Talee takes one of her family’s Calpas to look for it. Will she find it? What will it be? Like McManus’s Labyrinth’s Door: Anyia—“Dream of a Warrior,” Talee and the Fallen Object is a fantasy adventure tale, but for a slightly younger set. In addition to the storybook, there is an accompanying coloring book for youngsters with an artistic bent. It begins with a page, which starts the adventure, and as the child looks at each scene and colors it in, all the scenes together will make up Talee’s story. At the end, there are some pages where the readers can write their own Talee adventure based upon the pictures, which have been colored. Children who like to think about living on or visiting other planets will especially enjoy these books.

Available in Paperback and Kindle.

For more information, visit: www.WorldsToDiscover.com

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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12. Interview with Melissa Walker: The Hardest Working Woman in YA Literature

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 16, 2012

Melissa Walker

Melissa Walker may be the hardest working woman in YA literature. She’s young, talented, and whip-smart. Her bestselling novels include Violet on the Runway, Violet by Design, Violet in Private, Lovestruck Summer, and Small Town Sinners. She also blogs her heart out at IHeartDaily, BeforeYouWereHot, and ReaderGirlz. Melissa’s most recent novel Unbreak My Heart will be published on May 22. Listen in as we discuss writing, motherhood, and what happens when you break up with your best friend.

Nicki Richesin: Congrats on Unbreak My Heart (out this May 22 from Bloomsbury). Love the title! Could you tell us a bit about the novel and how the character of Clem first appeared to you?

Melissa Walker: It’s the story of a girl who has lost her best friend, through some fault of her own, and is dealing with the aftermath of the friendship breakup. But she’s also about to spend the summer with her family on a sailboat–not the best place to wallow alone. At the end of the day, my editor wrote the line that sums it up best; the book is about “The year that broke her heart. The summer that healed it.” Clem has been in my head for a long time, since I suffered a friendship breakup. I always knew I wanted to write about someone who experienced that same thing.

NR: You got your start working as an editor for ELLEgirl and Seventeen. What did working for these publications teach you about writing?

MW: I think that having a “real job” that let my inner seventeen-year-old speak made me realize that there’s a place for that voice (the one in my head).

 

NR: I had the pleasure of meeting your mom in your hometown Chapel Hill, North Carolina as part of the Crush tour (full disclosure: Melissa contributed a beautiful essay to the collection). She said you have always been a writer. Did having such a strong identity as a writer early on h

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13. The Rock of Ivanore by Laurisa Reyes

Author Showcase

The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 18, 2012

The Rock of Ivanore

Publisher:  Tanglewood Press

Release Date:  May 15, 2012

Ages:  8 & up

Page Count: 356

Flamingnet scored The Rock of Ivanore 9 out of 10, and awarded it a Flamingnet Top Choice Award.

“Young readers…will delight in this opening title in The Celestine Chronicles series, which delivers a fantasy adventure for a reluctant readership.” – Booklist

“Marcus is a hero who engages challenges in a way that is both human and admirable.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“This is a swift and compelling epic that readers of high fantasy will love!” — Tony Abbott, author of The Secrets of Droon

“Magic! Swords! Mysterious cloaked figures! A good choice for middle-grade fantasy lovers.”   – Marissa Burt, author of Storybound

“If we could take the tone of Lord of the Rings and make it 10-year-old friendly, we’d have The Rock of Ivanore.” – Shannon O’ Donnell, Project Mayhem

“Fast paced and very engaging.” – So Simply Sara

“Elementary school libraries and middle school libraries can confidently add this book to their collections.” – Cerulean Librarian

ABOUT THE ROCK OF IVANORE

The annual Great Quest is about to be announced in Quendel, a task that will determine the future of Marcus and the other boys from the village who are coming of age. The wizard Zyll commands them to find the Rock of Ivanore, but he doesn’t tell them what the Rock is exactly or where it can be found. Marcus must reach deep within himself to develop new powers of magic and find the strength to survive the wild lands and fierce enemies he encounters as he searches for the illusive Rock. If he succeeds, he will live a life of honor; if he fails, he will live a life of menial labor in shame. With more twists and turns than a labyrinth, and a story in which nothing is as it seems, this tale of deception and discovery keeps readers in suspense until the end.

Middle readers will find that The Rock of Ivanore fits nicely among the traditional fantasies they so enjoy. They will also appreciate its fresh and inventive take on the genre.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laurisa White Reyes has been writing since the age of 5 when she wrote her first poem on a scrap of poster board. After earning a degree in English at California State University at Northridge, she spent thirteen years writing for various magazines and newspapers, working as a book editor, and teaching creative writing. She gave up all that six years ago to follow her lifelong dream of writing novels. Her first book, The Rock of Ivanore, released in May 2012.

Besides writing, Laurisa is also a voracious reader. She also loves musical theater, chocolate, sushi, ancient history, bearded dragons, and rain storms.  She lives in Southern California with her husband, 5 children, 4 birds, 2 lizards, 2 turtles, 1 fish, 1 dog, and a partridge in a pear tree.

LINKS:

Author Website: 

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14. Laurisa White Reyes Discusses “The Rock of Ivanore”

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 18, 2012

Laurisa Reyes

Laurisa White Reyes has been writing since the age of 5 when she wrote her first poem on a scrap of poster board. After earning a degree in English at California State University at Northridge, she spent thirteen years writing for various magazines and newspapers, working as a book editor, and teaching creative writing. She gave up all that six years ago to follow her lifelong dream of writing novels. Her first book, The Rock of Ivanore, released in May 2012.  She lives in Southern California with her husband, 5 children, 4 birds, 2 lizards, 2 turtles, 1 fish, 1 dog, and a partridge in a pear tree.

TCBR: After writing in newspapers and magazines for many years, your first novel, a middle grade fantasy called The Rock of Ivanore, has hit the shelves. Thirteen years is a long time to wait. Why the wait? And what made you choose to pursue this story first?

Laurisa Reyes: I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. After college, I spent a decade writing for magazines and newspapers. But what I really wanted to do was write novels. So about six years ago I turned my attention to fiction. I have five children and I read to them at night before bed. One night my son asked me to make up a story instead. That story eventually became The Rock of Ivanore. I spent a year writing it, two years submitting it to publishers, and three years getting it from contract to publication. It’s been a long process, but well worth the wait.

Described as having more twists and turns than a labyrinth, and a story in which nothing is as it seems, what do you think (or hope) children will enjoy the most about your debut novel?

I think kids have always enjoyed fantasy stories and magic. I hope my readers will not only enjoy the fast-paced adventure, but will also relate to the characters who face the same kinds of challenges we all face—self-doubt, building friendships, making choices between right and wrong. But mostly I hope kids will want to read the entire series.

Tony Abbott (author of popular humor, fantasy, and adventure books) said, “[The Rock of Ivanore] is a swift and compelling epic that readers of high fantasy will love!” How does it feel having such a great blurb from one of your favorite authors?

I met Tony at a writer’s conference in Los Angeles a few years ago. He is the author of the popular chapter book fantasy series The Secrets of Droon, but he also writes contemporary fiction. My favorite is a book called Firegirl. I had left my copy at home, so he was gracious enough to mail me a new signed copy. When I later asked him if he’d look at The Rock of Ivanore, he was happy to do it even though he’s very busy. He’s a very  kind and generous man.

What does it take for a children’s book author to be considered a favorite of yours?

I just have to love their books! I’m a big fan of Newbery Award winning fiction. L

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15. Giveaway: Stay Close to Mama

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 2, 2012

Enter to win an autographed copy of Stay Close to Mama by Toni Buzzeo.

Preschoolers will relate to Twiga’s desire for independence in this gorgeously illustrated picture book about baby giraffe that is oh so curious. This story of a mother’s love will soothe and delight readers of all ages.

Giveaway begins May 2, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends May 30, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

Reading level: Ages 1-5


Overview: 
In the wide, shining world there is so much to see, and Twiga is curious. But Twiga’s tall, tall Mama wants her baby to stay close, stay safe from the dangers that lurk near each  irresistible sweet smell and sparkling sight that Twiga finds.

With lyrical text and enchanting illustrations, this story of a mother’s love will soothe and delight readers of all ages.

About the author: Toni Buzzeo is the New York Times Best Selling children’s author of sixteen picture books with three more forthcoming. For sixteen years, she worked as a school librarian in Portland where she honed her knowledge of children’s literature.  Combining this knowledge with her love of children, Toni writes about characters of all stripes (including giraffes dinosaurs, loons, ducklings, teachers, and librarians) who explore their worlds, their relationships, and themselves in settings that include peaceful Maine lakes, rocky lighthouse islands, the African savannah as well as aquariums and the interiors of fictional public and school libraries. Toni is well known for her lively spirit and her sense of humor. Visit: http://tonibuzzeo.com/

How to enter:

  • Fill out the required fields below
  • Maximum entries: Three (3)

Giveaway Rules:

  • Shipping Guidelines: This book giveaway is open to all participants with a US and Canadian mailing addresses.
  • Giveaway begins May 2, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends May 30, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST, when all entries must be received. No purchase necessary. See official rules for details. View our privacy policy.

Sponsored by Hyperion Disney.

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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16. Interview with Toni Buzzeo

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 2, 2012

Toni Buzzeo

Toni Buzzeo, MA, MLIS, is a New York Times bestselling author as well as a career library media specialist. She writes picture books for children as well as many professional books and articles and lives on a colonial farm in Maine. We talked to her about her new picture book Stay Close to Mama (Disney, Hyperion, 2012), her first book The Sea Chest (Dial, 2002), and she happily shared some words of wisdom to inspire young readers. 

I understand that you began writing poetry as a teenager before entering the world of children’s literature as a children’s librarian, a book reviewer, and, finally, an author of children’s books. You obviously have a very strong passion for children’s books. What would you say is the driving factor behind your passion?

Children often ask me that question in their own way when I visit schools. I never have to mull over the answer because it is so clear to me. I think children are the most important people in this world, no matter who or where they are. I love children for their freshness, their unique perspectives, their readiness to say exactly what is on their minds, their willingness to be vulnerable in ways adults find so difficult. It’s a cliché, I suppose, but I love them, too, because they are our future. So my books are, in a way, my thank you notes to them.

Are there any particular learning experiences as either a librarian or book reviewer that you feel influence your writing style or the topics you choose to write about?

I don’t think there are many professions that afford you the real depth of knowledge of children’s books that being a children’s librarian does. I learned, by sharing so many books with children, just how subtle you can be in drawing a character (such as Frances in Lighthouse Christmas or Mr. Todd in Adventure Annie Goes to Kindergarten), how silly you can be in playing with language (Annie “squizzles” into her sparkle tights), how profound you can be in talking about loss (like the sinking of the ship off the shore in The Sea Chest), and still depend on your young readers to take the ride with you and to appreciate what you’ve done. I never have to second-guess my readers’ responses because I know just what they will respond to—in my own work and the work of other authors I share with them.

Your new picture book Stay Close to Mama (Disney, Hyperion, 2012) is delightfully sweet. Independence is certainly something that little ones strive for—Twiga, your story’s protagonist most certainly does. What inspired you to tell this particular story? And, how did you manage to keep T

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17. Giveaway: Because Your Mommy Loves You by Andrew Clements

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 3, 2012

Enter to win a copy of Because Your Mommy Loves You and Because Your Daddy Loves You by Andrew Clements and illustrated by R.W. Alley.

Perfect for Mother’s Day and every day after, Because Your Mommy Loves You is as heartwarming as its predecessor, Because Your Daddy Loves You.

Giveaway begins May 3, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends May 31, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

Reading level: Ages 3-8


Overview: 
In this sweet companion book to Because Your Daddy Loves You, a little boy and his mom go on a hiking trip and camp out under the stars. Mommy is as calm and reassuring, but also goes far to foster her son’s independence in an encouraging and loving way. As heartwarming as its predecessor, this read-aloud book is sure to become a family favorite.

About the author: Andrew Clements is the author of many best-selling books, among them the middle grade novel Frindle. He lives in Westborough, Massachusetts, and can be found at www.andrewclements.com.

About the illustrator: R. W. Alley is the illustrator of many beloved picture books, including the Paddington Bear series. He lives in Barrington, Rhode Island. Visit him at www.rwalley.com.

How to enter:

  • Fill out the required fields below
  • Maximum entries: Three (3)

Giveaway Rules:

  • Shipping Guidelines: This book giveaway is open to all participants with a US mailing addresses.
  • Giveaway begins May 3, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends May 31, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST, when all entries must be received. No purchase necessary. See official rules for details. View our privacy policy.

Prizing courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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18. Giveaway: The Cupcake Club: Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 4, 2012

Enter to win a copy of The Cupcake Club: Peace, Love, and Cupcakes by sweet duo Sheryl and Carrie Berk.

Introducing the delicious new children’s book series, The Cupcake Club—a treat for readers and cupcake connoisseurs, alike.

Giveaway begins May 4, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends June 1, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Paperback: 208 pages


Overview: 
Meet Kylie Carson.

She’s a fourth grader with a big problem. How will she make friends at her new school? Should she tell her classmates she loves monster movies? Forget it. Play the part of a turnip in the school play? Disaster! Then Kylie comes up with a delicious idea: What if she starts a cupcake club?

Soon Kylie’s club is spinning out tasty treats with the help of her fellow bakers and new friends. But when Meredith tries to sabotage the girls’ big cupcake party, will it be the end of the Cupcake Club?

About the authors: Sheryl Berk, New York Times bestselling author of Soul Surfer, and her nine-year-old daughter, Carrie, a cupcake connoisseur who has reviewed confections from the world in her Carrie’s Cupcakes Critiques newsletter, have cooked up a delightful new series sure to be a treat.

How to enter:

  • Fill out the required fields below
  • Maximum entries: Three (3)

Giveaway Rules:

  • Shipping Guidelines: This book giveaway is open to all participants with a US or Canadian mailing addresses.
  • Giveaway begins May 4, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends June 1, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST, when all entries must be received. No purchase necessary. See official rules for details. View our privacy policy.

Prizing courtesy of Sourcebooks, Inc.

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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19. Introducing the Delicious Duo Behind the Sweet New Series, The Cupcake Club

The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 4, 2012

Introducing the Delicious Duo! The Mother-Daughter writing team behind the sweet new children’s book series, The Cupcake Club.

For years, Sheryl Berk has been a top ghostwriter/book collaborator in Hollywood. “I’ve worked with everyone from Britney Spears and Carmen Electra to Whitney Port and Tia Mowry,” she explains. She also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Soul Surfer with Bethanny Hamilton (also a hit movie). But even with all those A-listers, her 9 year old daughter Carrie remains her favorite writing partner. Here’s how the two cooked up the idea for The Cupcake Club book series:

Carrie: I was having a sleepover with my BFF Jaimie. We were bored so I took out some paper and started writing a story. It was about four girls who started their own cupcake club. I showed it to my mom.

Sheryl: She was learning about realistic fiction in Second Grade, and she was a huge fan of Judy Moody books. But she was always looking for a book series she could relate to more.

Carrie: I wanted to read about cupcakes!

Sheryl: So she wrote up a summary of her idea, and I sent it to my literary agent.

Carrie: We got a book deal really fast and I was excited. I was going to be an author.

Sheryl: It’s great to work with her on the series. She draws inspiration for the characters and their adventures from her school, her friends, her teachers. There’s a realness to The Cupcake Club, and that comes directly from the fact that it’s written by a kid. The book deals with issues that kids deal with, like bullying, crushes, friend drama.

Carrie: My mom and I talk about how the book will go: what the characters will do, what problems they’ll have, how they’ll solve them. Then she writes the first draft and I edit it.

Sheryl: Sometimes she can be a little tough! I get comments in the margins like, ‘A kid would never talk like that!’ or ‘Needs more explanation!’ She has some very strong opinions.

Carrie: I want it to sound like a kid said it. And I read a lot, so I know what’s a good book for my age.

Sheryl: And we also incorporate a lot of crazy cupcakes in the story. Stuff like a cannoli cream cupcake, a spaghetti and meatball cupcake, or maple red velvet.

Carrie: I watch Cupcake Wars and take notes. Then I give my mom some ingredient suggestions. I just saw a cupcake with pickles and peanut butter and I want to do something like it for Book 3!

Sheryl: We work closely with a recipe developer, Jessi Walter from Taste Buds. Carrie does a tasting and they talk over what cupcakes we want to create from each book.

Carrie: Like The Eco-licious Cupcake from Peace, Love and Cupcakes. I’m an EcoKid in my school, and I really wanted to give readers a recipe that was all organic and used recycled paper cupcake wrappers.

Sheryl: I’ve learned a lot about cupcakes from Carrie, and I think she’s learned a lot about the writing process and publishing business from me.

Carrie: I never knew how many times you have to revise a manuscript! My favorite part i

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20. Chloe, Instead By Micah Player

Reading level: 3-6

Add this book to your collection: Chloe, Instead

Video courtesy of : Molly always dreamed of having a sister who is just like her. But she got Chloe, instead. These two sisters are nothing alike: Molly loves to color with crayons. Chloe prefers the taste of wax. Molly loves to read. Chloe prefers to nibble a book’s spine. Molly is frustrated! But then she realizes that maybe sisters aren’t the ones next to you on the piano bench, they’re the ones dancing to the music you play! This humorous, perceptive snapshot of sibling love is perfect for those who may need a bit of convincing what fun little siblings can be!

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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21. How Can a Cartoon BEE Help Children Learn?

Author Showcase

By James Rumpf, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 6, 2012

In the early 1980s, Joe Oriolo, creator of Casper the Friendly Ghost and producer of over 260 Felix the Cat episodes, originated a cartoon character named Professor Beetoven. He devised Professor Beetoven along with 25 other cartoon characters. Hundreds of scripts were created around these characters. There is a script for any subject or situation imaginable. In 1985, James Rumpf and Joe Oriolo created a 23-minute cartoon pilot titled “Friends Make the World Go Round: The Adventures of Professor Beetoven.” This pilot aired on HBO and was rated #1 for its category, beating out “The Smurfs”! Unfortunately, Joe Oriolo passed away from cancer during this same year. My father, who was partners with Joe Oriolo, never continued this great project. In 2012 after barnstorming on the best thing to do with these great characters, I decided to create a line of children’s storybooks.

James Rumpf II, April, 2012

“It was so fun, I didn’t know I was learning.”

For more information, visit: http://cartoongems.com/

The Author Showcase is a place for authors and illustrators to gain visibility for their works. This article was provided by the author. Learn more …

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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22. Books for Mikey: Reluctant Readers’ Books

(He won’t read it.  He hates everything.) #1

By David Teague, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 7, 2012

Sometimes, as I ponder tactics for encouraging the “reluctant readers” in my life (typically late-elementary through middle-school boys), I cast my mind back to an earlier generation’s paragon of averseness, Mikey [Life cereal commercial].  Only instead of confronting Mikey with healthy breakfast cereal, in my imagination, I confront him with fiction.

Try it along with me:

“What’s this thing?”

“Some book.  S’posed to be good for you.”

“Did you try it?”

“I’m not gonna try it.  You try it.”

I’m not gonna try it.”

“Let’s get Mikey.”

“Yeah!”

“He won’t read it.  He hates everything.”

Pugnosed brothers shove the book at Mikey.  Mikey digs in.

“He likes it!  Hey Mikey!”

“When you bring a book home, don’t tell the kids it’s one of those nutritional things printed on paper you’ve been trying to get them to read.  You’re the only one who has to know.”

The more I think about it, the more I feel like this brief but brilliant piece of dramatic art offers everything a well-meaning mom, dad, grand-parent, teacher, librarian, author, or other concerned literacy advocate could ask for.  Conflict, suspense, and the power of creative omission to outwit the refusenik.  When it comes to fiction for Mikey, might as well keep the Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Thiamin and Riboflavin content to yourself.  And leave really appetizing stories lying around on the breakfast table.

Now, my cereal metaphor is only going to stretch so far.  Therefore, to the point.  Here are some titles old and new that I find delectable and predict will appeal to the appetites of particular Mikeys out there:

Sporty Mikey

A few books for Mikeys who believe that sports matter, REALLY matter, and by that I don’t mean “will Mikey win the big game” but instead:  will Mikey change his life, the lives of his friends, the history of his country . . . and, possibly, in so doing, also win the big game, or race, or whatever:

Crash, by Jerry Spinelli.

Jackie and Me, by Dan Gutman (or any of his “Baseball Card Adventures”)

Funny Mikey

A few books for Mikeys who demand an average fifteen jokes per page ranging from really corny to pretty classy, but always FUNNY:

Whales on Stilts, by M. T. Anderson

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