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Viewing: Blog Posts from the Reviews category, dated 5/18/2012 [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 64
1. Books Like The Hunger Games? Try Divergent by Veronica Roth

If you liked The Hunger Games, try Divergent by Veronica Roth.  Another dystopian YA novel, Divergent is set in Chicago during a time when society has divided itself into five factions:   Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite.  (And yes, these five names are real vocabulary words–one of my kids was wondering–so reading Divergent just might help you on the vocab section of your ACT/SAT tests). Five factions existing in an uneasy peace:  Abnegation (self-denial/selflessness), Amity (friendship/goodwill), Candor (honesty/frankness), Dauntless (brave/fearless), and Erudite (intelligent/knowledgeable). At age sixteen, teens must choose what faction they will join.  They are run through a battery of tests (akin to a Myers-Briggs personality test or Harry Potter’s sorting hat) to determine where their natural abilities lie, but ultimately the decision is left up to the individual.  Most teens choose the faction they grew up in–genetically speaking, a logical choice. Beatrice Prior has been raised in Abnegation.  She admires her parents selflessness, their constant giving and putting others needs ahead of their own.  At the same time, she’s tired of always putting everyone else’s needs before her own, of always wearing functional, plain clothes that don’t draw attention, of always being so very, very good.  She doesn’t always feel unselfish, [...]

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2. Books Like The Hunger Games? Try Divergent by Veronica Roth

 If you liked The Hunger Games, try Divergent by Veronica Roth.  Another dystopian YA novel, Divergent is set in Chicago during a time when society has divided itself into five factions:   Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite.  (And yes, these five names are real vocabulary words–one of my kids was wondering–so reading Divergent just might help you on the vocab section of your ACT/SAT tests). Five factions existing in an uneasy peace:  Abnegation (self-denial/selflessness), Amity (friendship/goodwill), Candor (honesty/frankness), Dauntless (brave/fearless), and Erudite (intelligent/knowledgeable). At age sixteen, teens must choose what faction they will join.  They are run through a battery of tests (akin to a Myers-Briggs personality test or Harry Potter’s sorting hat) to determine where their natural abilities lie, but ultimately the decision is left up to the individual.  Most teens choose the faction they grew up in–genetically speaking, a logical choice. Beatrice Prior has been raised in Abnegation.  She admires her parents selflessness, their constant giving and putting others needs ahead of their own.  At the same time, she’s tired of always putting everyone else’s needs before her own, of always wearing functional, plain clothes that don’t draw attention, of always being so very, very good.  She doesn’t always feel unselfish, [...]

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3. Books Like The Hunger Games? Try Divergent by Veronica Roth

 If you liked The Hunger Games, try Divergent by Veronica Roth.  Another dystopian YA novel, Divergent is set in Chicago during a time when society has divided itself into five factions:   Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite.  (And yes, these five names are real vocabulary words–one of my kids was wondering–so reading Divergent just might help you on the vocab section of your ACT/SAT tests). Five factions existing in an uneasy peace:  Abnegation (self-denial/selflessness), Amity (friendship/goodwill), Candor (honesty/frankness), Dauntless (brave/fearless), and Erudite (intelligent/knowledgeable). At age sixteen, teens must choose what faction they will join.  They are run through a battery of tests (akin to a Myers-Briggs personality test or Harry Potter’s sorting hat) to determine where their natural abilities lie, but ultimately the decision is left up to the individual.  Most teens choose the faction they grew up in–genetically speaking, a logical choice. Beatrice Prior has been raised in Abnegation.  She admires her parents selflessness, their constant giving and putting others needs ahead of their own.  At the same time, she’s tired of always putting everyone else’s needs before her own, of always wearing functional, plain clothes that don’t draw attention, of always being so very, very good.  She doesn’t always feel unselfish, […]

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4. 2012 NLWC Day Two Fotos

Michael Sedano

The second day of the National Latino Writers Conference wraps workshop sessions and segues into editor and publisher panels.

La Bloga-Tuesday will have a full report and an exciting idea.


Michelle Otero relates the beauties of the Alzheimer Poetry Project in 'Burque. Using dichos becomes an avenue to old memories locked away inside a brittle ill-functioning brain.


Open Mic 








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5. Top 100 Children’s Novels #71: Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles

#71 Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles (2005)
28 points

“I come from a family with a lot of dead people.”

What a great opening line. Comfort Snowberger has attended 247 funerals, which is a lot for anybody, much less a 10-year-old. Her family runs Snowberger’s Funeral Home, where their motto is “We Live to Serve,” so Comfort and her dog, Dismay, are used to being around grieving folks. That’s not a problem. Her daddy tells her, “”It’s not how you die that makes the important impression, Comfort; it’s how you live.”

I lovedlovedloved this book. Deborah Wiles has such talent. I was in Snapfinger, Mississippi. I could see the inside of Snowberger’s Funeral Home. I was terrified on the rock with Comfort and Dismay. (And annoying Peach.) I wanted to slap Declaration’s snooty face. And I was most definitely inside Comfort’s closet with her as she sat with her mayonnaise jar of freshly-sharpened pencils. I cannot say enough great things about this one. It’s my favorite kids’ novel of all time. - Kristi Hazelrigg

When people love this book they looooooooove this book.  Funny to consider that in a way it’s a sequel.  Deborah Wiles wrote Love, Ruby Lavender in 2001 perhaps little dreaming that the follow-up Each Little Bird That Sings would find a devoted following.  This is an entry into what we New Yorkers call (not without affection) “Southern Girl Novels”.  It pretty much hits everything you expect from such a book (meaning, good food, quirky locals, etc.) while remaining touching not treacly.  A delicate balance.  A delicate book.

The plot summary from my own review reads, “When you grow up in a funeral home like Comfort Snowberger has, you have a healthy understanding of death. And within a single year Comfort’s Great-great-aunt Florentine and Great-uncle Edisto have joined the choir invisible. When Edisto died the funeral would have been beautiful had it not been for Comfort’s scrawny, big-eyed, unable-to-quite-grasp-the-concept-of-dying, seven-year-old cousin Peach. Peach managed to faint into a punch bowl, throw up, scream, and generally (in Comfort’s eyes) make a nuisance of himself. Now Florentine’s funeral is coming up and Peach is in Comfort’s life again. Even worse, her best friend Declaration Johnson has suddenly turned mean. Real mean. If it weren’t for her dog Dismay, Comfort might never know how to get through the next few days. But it takes losing the most important thing in her world to get our heroine to realize what it is to forgive both yourself and others around you.”

Various awards have included:

  • Golden Kite Honor Book
  • Bank Street Fiction Award
  • E.B. White Read-Aloud Award
  • Winner, California Young Reader Medal

There’s a tour journal for those of you teaching the book in some way.

Said Booklist, “Wiles succeeds wonderfully in capturing ‘the messy glory’ of grief and life.”

SLJ had some minor qualms, “Sensitive, funny, and occasionally impatient, Comfort is a wholly sympathetic protagonist who learns that emotions may not be as easy to control as she had assumed. While the book is a bit too long and some of the Southern eccentricity wears thin, this is a deeply felt novel.”

Kirkus seriously liked it, “Despite the setting and plot, the story is not morbid but

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6. Top 100 Children’s Novels #73: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

#73 The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (1972)
27 points

My mom read this to us (my sister and I, and sometimes all the kids at church while we were waiting in costume for our own Christmas pageant) every Christmas, and we’d crack up every year. I read part of it to my class during my one year of classroom teaching, and I still remember one of my more difficult students exclaiming, about the Herdmans, “Man, they were REALLY bad!” – Libby Gorman

People should read this every Christmas. Laugh out loud. Be thankful the Herdmans don’t live in your town. - Kristi Hazelrigg

Or come to your library after school for that matter. It is with the greatest of pleasure that I welcome them to this list, though.  In this, Robinson’s surprising Christmas classic, she somehow managed to do the impossible.  She made an original Christmas story that was honestly real, human and touching.  The difficulty in making a book like this cannot be stressed enough.  If you want proof you need only sit and wait for the holidays to roll around and for 500+ new Christmas stories to roll into bookstores and libraries, amusing briefly, lasting almost never.  That’s where Robinson is different.  Her book lasted and lasted and lasted and remains pretty much the top Christmas chapter book for kids out there outside of A Christmas Carol.

In The New York Times Parent’s Guide to the Best Books for Children, editor Eden Ross Lipson describes the book in this way: “What is the true meaning of Christms? When the ramshackle, chaotic, impossible Herdman children are cast in the annual Christmas pageant, some important lessons are learned all around the community.  This could have been treacle, but it’s told so deftly it has become a classic.  Good to read aloud.”

It pretty much as the best opening of any book out there too.  Pay attention to the tone.

“The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s old broken-down toolhouse.

The toolhouse burned right down to the ground, and I think that surprised the Herdmans. They set fire to things all the time, but that was the first time they managed to burn down a whole building.

I guess it was an accident. I don’t suppose they woke up that morning and said to one another, ‘Let’s go burn down Fred Shoemaker’s toolhouse’ … but maybe they did. After all, it was a Saturday, and not much going on.”

God, if we could bottle writing like that . . .

As a child I know that on a personal level I identified strongly with the book’s nameless main character.  I couldn’t tell you her name or what she looked like or even much of what she did.  But the way she would stand back and try to avoid any and all trouble and confrontation with the Herdmans resonated.

I do find myself wondering, if this book were written today would the Herdmans still be allowed to smoke cigars?  I know they didn’t in the

6 Comments on Top 100 Children’s Novels #73: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, last added: 5/20/2012
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7. Top 100 Children’s Novels #75: The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

#75 The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright (1941)
27 points

This book and its sequels are some of my favorite books of all time. The characters are well defined and the stories feel fresh and immediate. – Laurie Zaepfel

#51 on the last poll and #75 today.  By now you’ve probably noticed that most of the books seem to have fallen on this poll.  What’s supplanted them in the hearts and minds of readers?  Oh.  You will see.

The plot according to American Writers for Children, 1900-1960 reads, “In The Saturdays, Randy, Rush, their older sister Mona, and their younger brother Oliver decide to pool their allowances so that each Saturday during the winter one of them can afford to do something special in New York City; the book follows their escapades, some of which are more successful than others: Mona, to the distress of her parents, spends her share of the money at the beauty parlor; Oliver gets lost at the circus; Rush goes to an opera; and Randy goes to an art museum and meets Mrs. Oliphant, who becomes a fairy godmother of sorts to the children.”

According to American Short-Story Writers Since World War II: Fifth Series, “Thimble Summer remained Enright’s most popular children’s book until 1941, when the first of the Melendy family stories, The Saturdays, was published.”  I would dare say that it remains her best known work to this day (Newbery winner aside).  For the interested, there are three other books in the Melendy series.  The Four-Story Mistake (1942), Then There Were Five (1944), and Spiderweb For Two (1951).

And the dialogue really is good in this book.  I mean really really good.  I don’t usually quote large swaths from the books on these lists, but this just had to be noted:

“And for heaven’s sake don’t play Bach,” ordered Randy. “It’s so jumpy for today.”
Rush slung his leg over the piano stool and sat down. With both hands he began to play slow deep chords that fitted together into a wonderful dark mysterious music.
“Yes, that’s better for today,” approved Randy. “What is it, anyway?”
“Bach,” said Rush without turning his head. “Just shows how much you know about music.”
“Not an awful lot,” admitted Randy humbly.
“Not any,” said Rush.
He played another bar.
“Not many people your age do, though,” he added kindly.

Of her characters, Ms. Enright herself would say, “”Perhaps they are always a little more reasonable and ingenious than live children are apt to be. . . Their conversations are to the point; in the tales about them, as in tales about adults, they cannot be allowed all the ragtag slack of daily life, all the humdrum comings and goings and yawnings and coughings and desultory chatter.”

J.D. Stahl in the April 1998 edition of Hollins Critic points out, though, that “Unlike the majority of writers for children during the era of World War II, she did not exclude awareness of the war from her children’s fiction. In The Saturdays, Rush and Randy, two of the memorable Melendy children, stare at the Rorschach-like outlines of a leak on the ceiling of their New York City house. Rush sees a shape like a big fat fish, or a heart, ‘and a thing like a baseball mitt, and a kind of lop-sided Greyhound bus.’ But Randy sees something else: ‘You’ve missed Adolf Hitler,’ she says. ‘See up there? That long fady line is his nose, and those two little chips are his eyes, and that dark place where you threw the plasticine is his mustache

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8. Top 100 Children’s Novels #76: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

#76 Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (2007)
26 points

Books geared to those reluctant reader boys – and boy did they work – had so many boys reading that were never readers before this series. – Cheryl Phillips

These books are funny, fast reads that kids love! They have started the “diary” book craze! – Gina Detate

At last he arrives!  The book that indeed is responsible for the hoards of notebook novels we see published left and right today.  Wimpy Kid was one of those phenomenons that arrived at precisely the right moment.  Its rise coincided with the publication of books like Shaun Tan’s The Arrival and Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  These were all books that did not slot easily into single categories sometimes because they were for readers of all ages (as with Tan) or because they dared to mix and meld together text and image.  In Wimpy Kid’s case, this format was a natural offshoot of its webcomic status.  Still, it’s really more novel than graphic, so it fits on this list just fine.

The description from my original review of the book reads, “First things first. Boys do not have diaries. Girls have diaries. Let’s get that straight cause things could get messy if we don’t. Basically, what we have here are the gathered thoughts and memories of Greg Haffley. Greg’s got a pretty average life, all things considered. His older brother is a jerk, his younger brother annoying, his best friend a doofus, and his parents perfect dweebs. To top it all off, Greg’s been thrown into his first year of middle school and things are really weird. Suddenly friendships are shifting and Greg’s not sure who he wants to be. Add in some haunted houses, wrestling, downhill games involving bodily injury, forbidden cheese, and basic family fears and you’ve got yourself one heckuva debut.”

I always cite Wimpy Kid as the whole reason paper books have no reason to fear the electronic uprising.  Consider its status.  Any kid can go to Funbrain.com and read Wimpy Kid online for free.  That’s their choice.  But you know what they really want?  To get their hands on the paper edition.  Maybe it’s the diary format but kids want to hold that puppy in their hands and turn the pages themselves without any smooth electronic gobblety-gook in the way.

Can you believe that since its publication its gotten its own Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon:

Movie:

And . . . okay, just a balloon and a movie.  Still, not too shabby for a former webcomic, no?

  • Be sure to read this post by designer Chad Beckerman on the many different Wimpy Kid covers out there fro

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9. Top 100 Children’s Novels #78: Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

streat18#78 Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (1936)
25 points

This is another book that is practically perfect in every way. I love the detailed back story, the changes in the characters’ abilities and personalities as they come in and out of the spotlight, the sisters’ devotion to one another, and their yearly vows, and the mostly realistic portrayal of poverty, and what a family must do to overcome the odds and achieve a happy ending. I also think the many literary references to Shakespearean monologues and other plays are a wonderful addition that keep kids aware of all the great literature out there for them to discover. – Katie Ahearn

From #65 on the last poll to #78 on this one, I don’t think a 13 point different is all that bad.  Certainly this book isn’t a household name and yet it appears on my Top Chapter Novels lists with systematic regularity.  Folks clearly love it and, when you get right down to it, they have every reason to.

The description of the book according to the Noel Streatfeild website reads: “Ballet Shoes tells the story of Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil, who were adopted as babies by Great Uncle Matthew (or “Gum”). Pauline was the only survivor from a shipwrecked boat, Petrova the orphaned child of a Russian couple, and Posy the daughter of a widowed ballet dancer. They are looked after by Gum’s great-niece, Sylvia, and her old nurse, Nana.  When Gum goes away on an extended journey, money becomes tight, and Syliva decides to take in boarders. Two of the boarders, Doctor Smith and Doctor Jakes, take over the education of the children (much to the relief of Sylvia, who had been teaching them herself when she could no longer afford to send them to school.)  Doctor Jakes tells Pauline that ‘the three of you might make the name of Fossil really important, really worth while, and if you do, it’s all your own.’ As a result of this, the three sisters make a vow: ‘We three Fossils vow to try and put our names in history books because it’s our very own and nobody can say it’s because of our grandfathers.’  Another boarder, Theo Dane, is a ballet teacher at The Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training. After seeing Posy dance, she arranges for the head of the school, Madame Fidolia, to train them free of charge. This means that as each child reaches the age of twelve, she will be able to work professionally on the stage.  Pauline soon shows talent as an actress, while Posy is clearly a gifted ballerina. Petrova, however, would rather spend time working with Mr. Simpson (another of the boarders) in his garage. As the story progresses, first Pauline and then Petrova reach the age of twelve and get parts in various plays, while Posy becomes more and more focused on her dancing.”

How did it come about?  Well we learn in Noel Streatfeild: A Biography (by Angela Bull), that Ballet Shoes was the result of a kind of fad in England. “The early 1930s were a crucial time for ballet. Diaghileff’s death in 1929, followed by Pavlova’s in January 1931, seemed to leave the world of dancing without leaders or direction; but a number of great Russian teachers, exiled by the Communist revolution, had settled in L

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10. Top 100 Children’s Novels #79: The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

#79 The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
25 points

Another great book about the lines between fantasy and reality becoming blurred. Deliciously fun and creepy. – Marianne Minnich

When I went back to read this a couple year ago, I didn’t imagine for a second that it would live up to my memories – particularly the elements of mystery and mysticism. I was wrong. Though I can think of several other Snyder books that are deserving, this is the one that has stuck with me through the years. – Mark Flowers

Well somebody’s certainly moving up in the world.  On the last poll Snyder’s best-known novel had the distinction of being number 100 on the nosie.  This time around it has apparently scratched and clawed its way up to a cushy #79 spot.

Ms. Snyder was a writer from day one, or at the very least a storyteller.  Growing up she says of her childhood, “And then there were games. Some were secret, some less so, and most of them grew out of a compulsion to endow everything animal, vegetable and mineral with human characteristics. I suspect that all very young children are naturally given to anthropomorphism, but with me it must have been almost a full-time occupation. Not only animals, but also trees, plants, toys, and many other inanimate objects had personalities, and sometimes complicated life histories. Often these creatures seemed to have been in need of a helping hand. I built leafy shelters for homeless insects, doctored demons, most of whom haunted closets and the dark corners of rooms. Although they really frightened me, I don’t think I would have wanted to be talked out of them. They were my demons and we had a working relationship.”

The Egyptian Game was her fourth book and came out in 1967.  The Simon & Schuster website describes the plot of the book this way: “The first time Melanie Ross meets April Hall, she’s not sure they have anything in common. One look at April’s upswept hair, false eyelashes, and ragged fox-fur collar is enough to convince Melanie that April won’t have an easy time fitting in with the sixth graders at Wilson School.  But April has some surprises in store, like the fact that she enjoys reading and playing imagination games just as much as Melanie does. The two even discover that they both love anything to do with ancient Egypt! In a storage yard behind the A-Z Antiques and Curio Shop, Melanie and April start to play the Egypt Game. Before long, there are six Egyptians instead of two. They meet to wear costumes, hold ceremonies, and work on their secret code. Everyone enjoys the game until strange things begin to happen. Has the Egypt Game gone too far?  With a touch of charm and a whole lot of imagination, Zilpha Keatley Snyder transforms an abandoned junkyard into an Egyptian court in this Newbery Honor-winning mystery.”

The book won a Newbery Honor in 1968 alongside Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E. L. Konigsburg (Atheneum), The Black Pearl by Scott O’Dell (Houghton), and The Fearsome Inn by Isaac Bashevis Singer (Scribner).  The ultimate winner?  A little title by the name of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

Says Ms. Snyder of the story, “the beginning seeds of The Egypt Game were sown during my early childhood, as is true of a great many of my books. A fift

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11. Top 100 Children’s Novels: #80: The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright

#80 The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright (1942)
25 points

Seems fairly funny that not only would The Saturdays make it onto this list but its sequel to boot!

The plot from Wikipedia reads, “During the height of World War II, the Melendy family find themselves moving out of New York City and into the countryside. Randy, the third child of the Melendy family, feels saddened and sombered by the move. But the house they move into turns out to be an adventure unto itself. The Four-Story Mistake is an odd-looking house with a rich architectural history, surrounded by bucolic countryside. The four Melendy children soon become absorbed in the adventures of the country, adjusting themselves with all their accustomed resourcefulness and discovering the many hidden attractions that the house has to offer. Oliver discovers buried history, Rush is stranded in a tree during a storm, Randy finds a diamond in the most unlikely of places, and Mona learns what it truly means to be an actress. And none of them could have ever guessed at the secret hidden in their very own play space, the office—a secret that had been shut away for over 60 years.”

There is a truly beautiful article at NPR by author Mairsa de los Santos called Taking Comfort in a ‘Four-Story Escape’ that puts this book into the larger context of children’s literature and what books mean to kids.  At one point she says, “Enright, the author of The Four Story Mistake, is a writer who gives you an an entire, flesh-and-blood person in two sentences. Mona, Rush, Randy, and Oliver are utterly alive, and are complicated, but they are uncomplicatedly happy. They stage elaborate plays, ice skate at night, and collect scrap metal. Always together, always living with an abundant, freewheeling joy. They have reasons to worry — motherlessness, World War II — but they don’t. When I was with them, I didn’t either.”

There’s also a top notch review of the book at Jen Robinson’s Book Page.  Jen really knows how to get inside the heads of the child characters.  Plus I like this quote she located:

” ‘That suitcase looks as if it were laughing out loud,’ Randy said.
‘Oh, stop being whimsical,’ snapped Rush.”

  • Check out the original interior art on the book’s website (isn’t it nice that Macmillan cared enough to give it all these bells and whistles?).

Publishers Weekly said of the book, “The Melendys are the quintessential storybook family…[their] ardent approach to living is eternally relevant.”

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12. Oli’s Uncommon Cents by Deborah Allen

5 STARS From the back cover: Through the life and death of her grandfather, 12-year-old Oli receives a pouch that holds the lives of abandoned,  but unique coins, coins adopted by her grandfather—and now hers.  Bearing their mint inscription, In God We Trust, Oli’s coins entrust their lives with hers as she searches for the [...]

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13.

A PICTURE BOOK that is "GREEN" and FUN!



Today I am pleased to bring you a wonderful
new picture book by a talented
multi-published writer, and friend -
Mayra Calvani





by Mayra Calvani
Illustrations: Alex Morris 
Guardian Angel Publishing - Academic Wings
Follow the water droplets in their journey from the clouds to the earth and back to the clouds again. Written in a lyrical style, the book takes a new angle on the water cycle by showing the feelings it evokes in people.


About the author:
Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults.  and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Visit her Website and get the first two lessons of her popular Walking on a Rainbow Picture Book Workshop FREE! 

This author knows a thing or two about writing books that are fun, educational, and also HOOK a child's interest.  The illustrations by Alex Morris marry perfectly with Mayra's words.  Read this to your child - you will both learn that water is not all wet.  

So, now for the inquisition . . . my questions and Mayra's answers:

When did you first begin to write for children?

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14. List of Great Middle-Grade Mysteries for the Summer (my post at Criminal Element)

In case you're new to MG mysteries, or if you're just looking for a few good books...

Check out my post at Criminal Element, where I talk about some of my favorite MG mysteries. So you can stop giving Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to the tweens in your life--not that we don't love them. But there's so much fresh stuff to read in MG mystery. And these books are good for adults, too.

Happy Summer!

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15. We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han: Review

SPOILER ALERT. This book is a part of the Summer series. If you have not read the previous two books you will be spoiled…just sayin'.

We'll Always Have Summer (Summer, #3)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (April 26, 2011)
Hardcover: 291 Pages
Series: Summer #3
Genre: YA Contemporary
Jenny Han's Website | Blog | Twitter
From Goodreads. It's been two years since Conrad told Belly to go with Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah have been inseparable ever since, even attending the same college-- only, their relationship hasn't exactly been the happily ever after Belly had hoped it would be. And when Jeremiah makes the worst mistake a boy can make, Belly is forced to question what she thought was true love. Does she really have a future with Jeremiah? Has she ever gotten over Conrad? It's time for Belly to decide, once and for all, who has her heart forever.


Review by Kate
WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE SUMMER, by Jenny Han, is the romantic conclusion to this amazing series about being a teenager and appreciating all there is to young love. We left Belly off with Conrad letting Jeremiah "have" her, leaving Conrad shippers waiting in the wings to see if they had just one more chance together.

I am so in love with this series and I am partly happy that I waited to read all of them at once, I don't know if I would have been able to wait to read each subsequent book. But I have to say out of all of them, this was my least favorite. Now hold on before throwing tomatoes at me, I did like it plenty but I did have one issue:

One of my biggest issues was the teen marriage. I tend to steer away from books that approach this issue because (1) it shows how little respect teens have for their parents and (2) it seems like an excuse to create drama, and there was enough drama and sexual tension between Belly and the brothers to give me hot flashes. Personally, I didn't like that part of it, but I'm sure others who are fans of the series might have liked it…it just wasn't for me.

Since the whole "wedding" took up most of the book, I soaked up with scenes between Belly and the brothers outside of the marriage-talk. It was interesting to see Belly and Jeremiah outside of the beach house. His true colors came out, making her realize that their life wasn't just the summer. I looooved the scenes with Conrad and Belly. They had me tied up in knots and I wanted to scream at them, "Just get together already!"

Marriage issue aside, I thought this was a perfect ending to the series. I think all of these kids did a lot of growing up in a short amount of time and I was very pleased with how Han wrapped it up. I would recommend this book as a beach read (no pun intended) or a cozy up by the fire kind of series.

1 Comments on We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han: Review, last added: 5/19/2012
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16. Rereading Unwind

Unwind. Neal Shusterman. 2007. Simon & Schuster. 336 pages.

The prologue:  The Second Civil War, also known as "The Heartland War," was a long and bloody conflict fought over a single issue. To end the war, a set of constitutional amendments known as "The Bill of Life" was passed. It satisfied both the Pro-life and the Pro-choice armies. The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. However, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent may choose to retroactively "abort" a child...on the condition that the child's life doesn't technically end. The process by which a child is both terminated and yet kept alive is called "unwinding." Unwinding is now a common and accepted practice in society. 

First sentence: "There are places you can go," Ariana tells him, "and a guy as smart as you has a decent chance of surviving to eighteen." Connor isn't so sure, but looking into Ariana's eyes makes his doubts go away, if only for a moment. 

Did you know there is going to be a sequel to Unwind?! I know!!!! It's very exciting news. As soon as I learned about Unwholly--which releases in late August 2012--I knew I just HAD to reread Unwind. It's been years since I read Unwind, and essentially I just remembered how great it was and how it was near impossible to put it down. It was just so intense, so compelling, so DIFFERENT from what I was used to reading--at least at the time.

And I am very glad I took the time to reread this one. It is just as great as I remembered.

Imagine living in a world where—if you're a teenager—your life is constantly in danger. If you anger your parents just one time too many, you could be on the next bus out of town heading to a Harvest camp or the "chop shop" as it's called in slang. Your organs—every single part of you (except maybe your appendix), stripped away and 'donated' to make someone else's life better. This scenario is about to become terrifyingly real to three teenagers.

Connor is a guy who hasn't always had the best temper or attitude. But he never thought his parents could be so cruel as to unwind him just because he's going through a "difficult" stage. After accidentally finding the papers that will end his life—at least as he knows it—he decides to run away. After all, if he can manage to survive for two or three years—until his eighteenth birthday—he'll be safe and legal.

Risa is a girl from the State Home. She is a musical prodigy, but after making a few mistakes at a concert, she's told she's reached her potential in life and that she can best serve society now as an Unwind. After all, they can only feed and house so many, and new babies arrive all the time. It's normal to eliminate at least 5% of the teen population every year.

 Lev is different from Connor and Risa. He's only thirteen. But the big difference? Lev has known all along that he was 'destined' to be unwound. He's a tithe. A baby set apart from birth—chosen from birth—to be sacrificed on his thirteenth birthday for the good of society. He is told that his is a holy service, a holy life. It's a "religious" and "spiritual" experience or gift. After all, there is no greater gift of love than when a man lays down his life, right? When these three meet for the first time, it is pure chaos. But their lives, their destinies, are woven together for better or worse. C

3 Comments on Rereading Unwind, last added: 5/20/2012
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17. When Pinterest Goes Too Far


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18. Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Witch's Brew by Heidi R. Kling

Welcome to Author Heidi R. Kling
Heidi R. Kling earned her MFA in Writing for Children from the New School, and is the author of multiple-award nominated novel Sea (Putnam/2010). She’s published short stories and essays to anthologies Truth & Dare(UK/US), The Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls (Smart Pop), and The First Time.  Heidi loves to obsess over young adult lit and pop culture, so make her day by visiting her on heidirkling.tumblr.com or on Twitter at @heidirkling 1 Comments on Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Witch's Brew by Heidi R. Kling, last added: 5/20/2012
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19. Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Dead Letter Office by Kira Snyder

Welcome to Author Kira Snyder
Kira Snyder is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her television work includes the Syfy Channel shows ALPHAS and EUREKA and the People’s Choice Award-winning vampire drama MOONLIGHT, which aired on CBS. Kira’s plays have been performed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Circle in the Square Theatre School, the Burton-Taylor Theatre in Oxford, England, the Bay Area Independent Theatre Fringe Festival, and Stanford University. Also a game designer with a Masters degree from NYU-Tisch’s interactive media program, Kira has produced games for Electronic Arts, Purple Moon, Microsoft, There.com, the MIT Press textbook Rules of Play, and Yahoo, including EA’s seminal alternate reality game MAJESTIC. She is a proud geek and loves sci-fi and videogames, reading and playing when she’s not writing or designing. You can reach virtual Kira on Twitter @sugarjonze.  


Interview
Q: If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
A: I'd love to visit the past -- go swing dancing at the Savoy, say -- but would want to live in the future. Exciting times lie ahead, and I'm a big fan of antibiotics and being able to vote.

Q:  If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
A: Cocktails with Dorothy Parker would be fabulous.

Q: Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
A: Because it's a tasty genre mash-up with something for everyone: YA urban fantasy spiced with Southern Gothic and a teen girl detective heroine.
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20. Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Arcania by Liz Maverick

Welcome to Author Liz Maverick


Liz Maverick is the best-selling, award-winning author of thirteen novels.  Liz and her books have been featured in USA TodayCosmopolitan MagazineThe Chicago Sun-Times and more. Known for writing fast-paced, unique plots, she created the USA Today bestselling author continuity series Crimson City and wrote the Cosmopol

1 Comments on Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Arcania by Liz Maverick, last added: 5/21/2012
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21. Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Kate Daniels has a new job and a new life.  She is now mated to the Beast Lord and must perform new duties such as presiding over disputes and displaying her dominance.  But, an even bigger change is that she is now running her own business.  However, business has not been great.  When she is asked to do a job for the vampires, Kate thinks it will be a quick case, but it soon turns into something much more.  Once again Kate is embroiled in a battle between different types of creatures and she will need to use all of her wits and even her friends wits to figure it all out and save the day again.


Filed under: fantasy

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22. Friday night timewaster.

I shot the serif.

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23. wild and precious life

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day…

—from “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver

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24. Summer Lovin Giveaway Hop Sign Ups


Summer Lovin Giveaway Hop
July 11th to 17th


Co-hosted by Tifferz Book Review


Young Adult Romance 
& Clean Adult Romance 


HOP RULES:



  • You must host a giveaway on your site, you are responsible for obtaining a prize for giveaway and taking care of the shipping charges. 
  • You must giveaway a "romance", either Young Adult or "clean" adult. 
  • Your giveaway post must include the hop image & linky (or links to the hosts' sites if you can't get the linky to work). 
  • Please only 1 mandatory entry - Keep it simple no long list of things for people to do.
  • Your post must be live by 12:01 EST on July 11th. (That is 9 pm July 10th if you live in California) 
  • The giveaway must be specifically for this hop. 
  • Your site must be family friendly - no erotica or 18+ sites. Your site & giveaway must be free of steamy images and book covers. If it would embarrass me to have my teenagers see it, it can't be on your site. 
  • It is your responsibility to check the linky on July 11th to be sure you are still on the linky and that your link is accurate. Please send me a direct link to your post when it goes live. 
  • If you are using Rafflecopter set it to begin on JULY 10th and to end on JULY 18th. Do not use the point values +4, +5, +10 + 25, etc.


  • To sign up to host a giv

    2 Comments on Summer Lovin Giveaway Hop Sign Ups, last added: 5/19/2012
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    25. Book Spotlight & Giveaway: I See Me Books



    The perfect gift for a new big brother or sister! The Super, Incredible Big Brother/Sister book from I See Me! comes personalized with big sibling's name and the name of the new baby. The book reassures big sibling that he is loved and appreciated... and it rewards him for helping out and being a "super star" with his new sibling. It comes with a coordinating Super Incredible Big Brother/Sister award medal with a place on the back to write the proud big brother's name!


    Do you have a Big Brother or Big Sister in your life you want to celebrate!!? (Even if not in your immediate family...a niece, nephew or grandchild that is a big brother or sister??)

    I See Me Books have recently been featured on the Today Show, www.babble.com, www.babycenter.com and more. These books have become popular among celebrities including Courtney Cox, Brooke Shields, Jessica Alba and Rachel Zoe. Rachel Zoe was just photographed reading our "Who Loves Me?" book in Life & Style magazine this month (p. 13)! Also, these books are carried by upscale retailers such as Pottery Barn Kids, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and more.


    You can take a look here...

    Use the code "incredible" to save 15% off through May 31st. 

    Giveaway Details 
    1 copy of either The Super, Incredible Big Brother or The Super, Incredible Big Sister
    Open to US only
    Ends 6/3/12

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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