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Viewing Blog: Lori Calabrese Writes!, Most Recent at Top
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The official blog of award-winning children's author, Lori Calabrese. You'll find book reviews & recommendations, author interviews, writers tips and recommendations, and everything related to children's publishing.
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1. Glamourpuss by Sarah Weeks

Glamourpuss has it made, living with the Highhorsens who are gazillionaires. Her only job is to be glamorous and she's very good at it. Then her glamorous life is disturbed when Mr. Highhorsen's sister arrives from Texas with her dog, Bluebelle.

 Glamourpuss instantly dislikes Bluebelle, who ends up stealing all of Glamourpuss' thunder. No way can anyone else be more glamorous than Glamourpuss, but Bluebelle is always parading around in showstopping outfits. When Bluebelle chews up all of her own fancy clothes, Glamourpuss realizes that Bluebelle wants to be glamorous without the clothes, so Glamourpuss takes Bluebelle under her wing.

In the end, Glamourpuss realizes that when it comes to being glamorous, less is sometimes more, but when it comes to having friends, you can never have too many.

 This is a fun picture book with beautiful illustrations. Young readers might be captured by the glittery cover, but they'll find a nice tale that reminds us all that less is sometimes more.

 Age Range: 3 - 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool - Kindergarten
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (February 24, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0545609542 ISBN-13: 978-0545609548

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2. Frank! By Connah Brecon


About the Book: 

Try as he might (or might not), Frank is a bear who is always late. And when he starts school, the trouble really begins.

Frank has very good reasons, like the time he had to save a cat stuck in a tree and the morning he found himself challenged to a charity dance-off, and even the time he had to rescue a family of bunnies from a huge, smelly ogre.

Frank's teacher has heard enough of Frank's excuses, but what happens when a giant zombie lizard king really does attack the school?

Sometimes there is truth to the most unusual of circumstances, and being helpful can pay off in the most unexpected ways.

What I thought:  

Frank! is a really fun picture book. We all know that one person who is always late and that's why we'll all be able to relate to Frank. Frank comes up with some of the most absurd excuses for being late--I mean, it's not often you're mistaken for a famous dancer and get challenged to a dance-off by an Elvis look-alike. It's also not often that you find a family of bunnies being bullied by an ogre and must say something. That's why in the end, when a giant zombie lizard king really does attack the school, it's Frank who comes to the rescue. I absolutely love the illustrations and find them to be pretty unique compared to other picture books on the market. Children will especially love the bright colors and will pick up the quirky appeal. This would be a great picture book to use in the classroom to discuss making excuses, being on time, and working together. Then everyone can have their own dance off!

Additional Information:

Age Range: 3 - 7 years
Grade Level: Preschool - 2
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Running Press Kids (September 30, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0762454237
ISBN-13: 978-0762454235

Watch the Frank! Book Trailer:

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3. The Princes Charming Return in The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom rocked middle-grade literature last year as it dared to go where no other book had dared to go--into the worlds of the men behind some popular fairy tales. We're all familiar with the stories of Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty, but author Christopher Healy decided to introduce us to Prince Liam, Prince Frederic, Prince Duncan and Prince Gustav--the princes behind these fairy tales.

This year, Healy has taken it another step further with the sequel, The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle. Our Princes Charming do not disappoint and 
they have to save the day again.  Liam is forced to marry Briar Rose, who is only interested in Liam's treasures. However, when Briar Rose discovers that a popular sword is missing, she forces Liam and the princes to find it. Only problem is, it was stolen by the Bandit King and is in the witches' old castle, which nobody dares step foot in. 
You can expect the same things you'd find in any fantasy tale. Yes, there are castles, fairy princesses, dragons, giants and trolls.  And yes, there's adventure. But you'll also find a large amount of humor, and a look into the princes who are often overlooked. The princes' characters really come out in this book.  They're cartoony, silly and all out zany, but that's what moves this story along nicely. And just when you thought there would be no more stories to tell about the princes, you'll find yourself looking forward to the third installment.

Additional Information:
Reading level: ages 8 and up 

Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Walden Pond Press (April 30, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0062118455
ISBN-13: 978-0062118455

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4. The Dragon and Dangerous Princess blog tour

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing children's book authors Jim Averbeck and Dashka Slater for their “Dragon and the Dangerous Princess” blog tour. Jim Averbeck is celebrating the release of his latest picture book, OH NO LITTLE DRAGON and Dashka Slater is celebrating the release of her new picture book, DANGEROUSLY EVER AFTER. I just love the fact that the two authors have teamed up together to shout-out their books and each one presents a new take on your typical dragon and princess characters.


What was the inspiration behind OH NO LITTLE DRAGON?
Dashka and I have been touring the blogs and I’ve mentioned elsewhere about the name of my guide on a trip to China being “Xiao Long” which means “Little Dragon” and how I wanted to write a story with a positive attitude toward boys. So maybe for this blog I’ll talk about inspiration for the visual look of the book. I saw that someone on Goodreads said the art was “Charles Schultz - inspired” and, while I didn’t think of it while I was doing the art, I am an admirer of his work. I grew up drawing pictures of the Peanuts characters, particularly Snoopy, who had a sort of pop culture blossoming in the 70s. I can definitely see his influence in the art for this book. I was also inspired by the clean feel of books by someone like Oliver Jeffers.  I love how he uses lots of white space around his boldly colored characters. That’s why the backgrounds in my book have been set in white and simple grey, bringing all the focus on Little Dragon and his awesome fire.

Why were you determined to show that boys have another side than just the rambunctious one?
Because they do. But lately in kid’s lit there has been a trend toward loud, crude depictions of boys for humor’s sake.  I like a lot of those books, but I wanted mine to have a boy who sheds a few tears.

I noticed on your website, you have a unique way of making dragons--out of toilet paper tubes! How did you come up with that idea?
Dashka and I had a booth at a “mini-maker faire” in Oakland. I knew I wanted to do a craft that was cheap, easy, and dragon related. I saw a blog online about making dragons out of TP tubes. It was very simple- basically coloring the tube, drawing eyes and sticking a red streamer in its mouth for fire.  I thought it might be good for the smallest kids.  But older kids needed something more challenging. Then I saw these:
and I thought, I could actually sculpt dragon heads with the kids. So I figured out how to cut fold and bend a TP tube to get what I wanted. The results are here:


What was the inspiration behind DANGEROUSLY EVER AFTER?
When my son was in first grade, he came home from school one day and announced he was going to write a story about a queen who wants to plant rose seeds but ends up planting nose seeds instead. I immediately pictured all the comic possibilities of sneezing, snoring nose plants and I was wild to read the story. So I did what any mother from a writing family would do -- I pestered the poor child incessantly. “When are you going to write that nose story?” “Are you still planning to write the nose story?” “How are you coming on that nose story?” Finally I asked him if it would be OK if I  wrote that nose story. In my version the queen became a princess, and the princess had a fondness for dangerous plants. The tone of the book was inspired by E. Nesbit’s fairytales. I discovered her when I was about ten and I instantly fell in love with her sly humor. I loved the way she talked to the reader, as if she understood that children are much more clever and perceptive than anyone gives them credit for.

Why were you determined to show another side to princesses?
I actually never set out to write an unconventional princess tale -- it just never occurred to me to write a conventional one. I made Amanita be the kind of character I like to read about -- someone feisty, unusual and a bit bossy (kind of like me, in fact). Because the story idea came from my son, I wrote it imagining boys reading it as well as girls and I’ve been delighted to discover that boys like it as much as girls do. But really, I just wanted to write a funny story that takes place in a slightly off-kilter fairy tale universe and that I hoped would appeal to everyone.

What effect has having two parents as writers had on your career?
I suppose it made the life of a writer seem both more and less possible. I grew up reading, being read to, and discussing books, and books were constantly being quoted or referred to when anyone tried to describe something. (Conversations in my family tend to begin with, ‘What are you reading?”)  Because they are both writers, my parents always encouraged me to pursue my love of words -- and gave me lots of feedback (not all of it positive) on whatever I wrote. So I understood that writing was something that people actually did for a living and that it was hard work and required lots of revisions. I also understood that it involved lots of rejection and not very much income, which made me think I had better find some sort of alternative career. Unfortunately for my bank account, I never found anything else I was willing to work as hard at. Yet here I am, making my living as a writer, which is something that still seems miraculous to me. I still send early drafts of my books to both my parents for critiques, too.

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5. How to make spaghetti cupcakes

I'm excited to be a part of the CUPCAKE AND CRUSHES blog tour, spreading the word about the second installment of the delightfully delicious CUPCAKE CLUB series. You can read my review here, but today I'm happy to share with you a great guest-post from Carrie and her mom: A recipe for spaghetti cupcakes!

Learn how to make this incredible cupcake. It may sound a little unconventional, but put it together just right and you have a delicious—and clever—lunch!

Jeremy’s Pastalicious Cupcakes

Spaghetti Cupcakes
Makes 6
                1 Cup tomato sauce
                4 ounces ricotta cheese
                3 ounce Parmesan cheese
                8 ounces shredded mozzarella
                1 tablespoon milk
                1 egg
                1 package pre-cooked whole wheat spaghetti
                1 package of turkey meatballs

1.       Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
2.       In a large bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, grated mozzarella cheese, 1 tablespoon of milk, and 1 egg.
3.       Pour the cooked spaghetti into the bowl with the tomato sauce cheese mixture. Toss the spaghetti in the mixture, making sure to coat all of the noodles.
4.       Add spoonfuls of the mixture into greased muffin tins. It can come up to just below the top of each opening. Press down so the noodles are packed into muffin tin—they will apart if not packed enough.
5.       Dip the turkey meatballs in tomato sauce and the top of cupcakes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
6.       Bake for eighteen to twenty-two minutes.
7.       Let cool for a few minutes. Run a butter knife around each one to loosen.

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6. How to throw a pajama party

I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of the BEDTIME PAJAMA PARTY BLOG TOUR promoting Jeanne C. Blackmore’s new children’s book HOW DOES SLEEP COME?  Elizabeth Sayles’ illustrations paint the coziest, most relaxing pictures that will have the little ones yawning in no time.

Before bed, Jacob asks his Mom, “How does sleep come?”  His mom answers with soothing images that leave Jacob’s eyes drooping as he lifts off to dreamland. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky has been kind enough to provide a Pajama Party Kit that will keep the party interested and provide the children the ability to become a part of Jacob’s bedtime adventure. 

BEFORE the party starts:
·       Download invitations that are sure to get responses! 
·        If you want to create your own invitations:
o   Use construction paper to cut out little pajama bottoms and write the desired information on the legs.  Use colored ribbon to make a cute bow on the top to look like pajama draw strings. Put in an envelope and send.
·        Dress to impress in your snazziest pajamas. (Don’t leave out your stuffed animal for comfort!)
·        Make sure you have all your food and materials ready and set up for the guests. (I always have extra so that everyone smiles.)
o   Food Ideas:
§  Milk and Cookies:
--Cookies made in moon, star, and teddy bear shapes
§  Cupcakes with moons and stars as decoration toppings
§  Sliced Apples with Peanut Butter (but check for allergies first!)
·        Decorations are easy for a Pajama theme!  Push living room furniture out of the way first.  Throw pillows around the living room and place plenty of blankets around for a cozy atmosphere.  To add affect, create a starry sky by hanging white twinkly lights around the party area.

DURING the party:
·        Use the creative writing stars found in the Sourcebooks Pajama Party Kit as an icebreaker.  You can ask questions such as, “What is the best bedtime snack?” or “What stuffed animal do you cuddle with at nighttime?”
·        Easy obstacle course to get energy out before reading the book:
o   Pretend they’re Jacob sprinting to his bed before lights out: jump the pillow, crawl under the chair, go around the footstool and end up in the living room (or party area) for the reading. Have crepe paper “finish” and “start” lines taped to the floor.
·        As you read HOW DOES SLEEP COME have the kids count sailboats and guess what animal will appear next.  Then, ask them how they think sleep comes.
            This would be the perfect time to bring out snacks! (see above)
·         Like the rabbit in HOW DOES SLEEP COME, race and hop around.  To add effect: make a blanket out of cotton balls on the floor, so that it feels like clouds and snow. 
·        Pajama Contest with winners and prizes for most comfy, most sleepy time props, brightest PJs, and more.  Prizes could be a small plush toy or candy.
·        If it’s a sleepover, have a sleeping bag relay race (similar to potato sack race)
·        Decorate pillowcases to make your very own Dream Canvas to sleep on!  
o   Buy blank pillow cases and assorted permanent markers (safe to sleep on) and draw away!
o   You can also use the pillow case as a cape to look like Jacob on the cover.

Use the downloadable Sourcebooks
Pajama Party Kit for activities that will allow the kids to interact with Jacob’s bedtime in How DOES SLEEP COME?

·        Slip one of the cookies they might have enjoyed during the party into a cellophane CD envelope, tie with colored yarn, and add a nice Thank You note or tag.  On the less expensive side, simply use sandwich baggies or saran wrap!
o   The Thank You note can be made with colored construction paper cut out in moons or stars, punch a whole, and attach to yarn!
·        Packets of hot cocoa mix, so when they go home and get ready for bed, they can feel all snuggly and warm.
o   To jazz up the packets, add a Thank You note using the ideas listed above.
·        Make your own bookmarks with dreamlike pictures like the ones you find in the book
·        Purchase glow-in-the-dark stars and put a few in 5.5 " L x 1.5 " W envelopes. You can write Thank You on the front and draw on moons and stars.

Have fun planning your Pajama Party to celebrate HOW DOES SLEEP COME?

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7. How Does Sleep Come lulls little ones to sleep

When it's time to put your baby to sleep, do you often turn to the tried-and-true staples? You know what I'm talking about... Time for Bed, Goodnight Moon, or the Very Hungry Caterpillar. I love these just as much as the next Mom, but I was excited to discover HOW DOES SLEEP COME by Jeanne C. Blackmore that was published in September.

In her picture book debut, Jeanne Blackmore creates the perfect soothing atmosphere for your little one to fall asleep. A mother is putting her son to bed when he asks, "How does sleep come?" Jacob's mom tucks him in and goes on to describe how sleep is like snowfall, a fog, a cloud, a cat and more.

“Sleep comes quietly. Like a snowfall that blankets a meadow on a dark starry night, and lays down a soft white canvas for rabbits to leave footprints.”

The text is beautiful and calming to read, just what you need to set the mood for nighttime. The illustrations also have a magical way of capturing that same calm and provide an amazing backdrop for any child to quietly, silently, softly, peacefully, and gently fall asleep. A must have for any new baby!

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (September 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1402271050
ISBN-13: 978-1402271052
Source of review copy: Publicist
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

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8. Give young readers a lesson in art history

Looking to give your young artist a lesson in art history?

Celebrate art with Linnea in Monet's Garden. To celebrate the book’s 25th anniversary, Sourcebooks is bringing Linnea in Monet’s Garden back to print this October to inspire a new generation! Young readers join Linnea on her art-inspired adventure in France: visiting Monet's garden, standing on his famous Japanese bridge, gazing at the water lilies, stopping by Notre Dame, watching the sun rise over the Seine, and stepping into the colorful world of the impressionists.

This book is a wonderful addition to any aspiring artist's collection.Young readers will be fascinated by the reproductions of Monet's paintings, family photographs and beautiful watercolor illustrations of Linnea's adventures. If you're also planning to bring your young artist to Paris, the anniversary edition includes a list of museums and things to do in Paris. It's amazing that 25 years after it's orginal publication, this book is still a great resource that captures the magic of art.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; 25 Anv edition (October 2, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1402277296
ISBN-13: 978-1402277290

Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

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9. Tabbed board books perfect for toddlers

If you're looking for sturdy, toddler-friendly board books, look no further. These wonderful books by Palm Kids will not only stand the test of time, they'll also provide kids with hours of entertainment.

COUNTDOWN BY THE SEA introduces kids to numbers 1 through 10. Together you can countdown from 10 and find different items you find by the sea. For example, the number 10 features 10 chairs, ten buckets and ten shovels and it's up to your little ones to find them. Kids will have fun as you read the rhyming story and they'll be captivated by the vibrant colors on each page.

Additional Information:

Hardcover: 20 pages
Publisher: Palm Publishing; First Edition edition (May 15, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1607277018
ISBN-13: 978-1607277019
Source of review copy: publisher

 When you need a break from practicing your numbers, check out COLORS UNDER THE SEA. Tabs on top of the book feature a different colored fish. Just turn to the page and your child will learn all about that color! The rhyming story makes for a fun read-aloud  and in the corner of each page, children are asked to find certain items. I love the fact that each of these books are sturdy, durable and offer tabs on the top of each book, making it easy for children to turn to the page they'd like. Kids will love the theme, rhyming story and bright colors. Definitely a must for the toddler in your life.

Additional Information:
Board book: 20 pages
Publisher: Palm Publishing; First Edition edition (June 15, 2012)
ISBN-10: 160727700X
ISBN-13: 978-1607277002
Source of review copy: Publisher

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10. A story that inspires us to never give up hope

We've been inundated by stories of replacement refs and blown calls, but if you're looking for an inspirational story when it comes to football, be sure to check out BELIEVE: MY FAITH AND THE TACKLE THAT CHANGED MY LIFE by Eric LeGrand.

Eric LeGrand has an amazing story and he shares it in this memoir, available as both an adult and young adult edition. LeGrand is a former defensive tackle for the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights football team who suffered a severe spinal cord injury and was left paralyzed by a crushing on-field tackle during a heated game with Army. This book chronicles his journey from his youth to becoming a football player to his injury to his remarkable quest to walk again.

There's no doubt this story has received national attention as LeGrand's positive outlook and strong faith should be something we all can learn from. I was so touched by this story and I'm glad I had the opportunity to read about LeGrand's experience. I hope young readers get the chance to snag this book because it not only brings more attention to spinal cord injuries, it inspires us all to never give up hope.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Hardcover: 224 pages Publisher: HarperCollins; Young Readers' ed edition (September 25, 2012) ISBN-10: 0062225820
ISBN-13: 978-0062225825
Source of review copy: Publisher

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11. Seed by Seed teaches young readers about Johnny Appleseed

My son's kindergarten class is starting their apple unit this week and perhaps yours is, too. If that's the case, you might want to check out the latest picture book by Esme Raji Codell, SEED BY SEED: THE LEGEND AND LEGACY OF JOHN "APPLESEED' CHAPMAN.

We've all heard the folktales of Johnny Appleseed and this picture book introduces young readers to the American hero. Young readers are transported to a different time. A time where there are no airplanes in the sky and phones ringing, but rather the creaking of wagon wheels and the crackling of campfires. Young readers learn that the tales of Johnny Appleseed are three parts legend, one part fact, and stories we're not sure are true. 

SEED BY SEED is a great addition to any library or school and kids will love the fact that any apple they eat today might possibly be a descendant of a tree planted by Johnny Appleseed. The book dives into how Johnny Appleseed changed the landscape of a nation and encourages young readers to plant their own seeds.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (August 21, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0061455156
ISBN-13: 978-0061455155
Source of review copy: Publisher

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12. A Poem As Big As New York City is an inspiring journey through the Big Apple

At the heart of children's literature are children, so what better way to celebrate their creativity than by putting together an entire book written by New York City students?

A POEM AS BIG AS NEW YORK CITY was organized by the Teachers & Writers Collaborative, a 45-year old nonprofit organization that offers creative writing programs for students and teachers throughout the five boroughs. What they did is not only inspiring, but it's a reminder of what young people are capable of. For two years, the Teachers & Writers Collaborative implemented a curriculum framework that served as a guide for students to write in poetry workshops. Students were instructed to imagine the poem as a character, traveling through the city and observing all it has to offer. And the result is an entire book that's a  kid's-eye view of The Big Apple, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the subway, the Statue of Liberty and more.

I was born and raised a New Yorker and this book transplanted me back into the heart of the city. The sights, sounds and images are amazing and I can only imagine the creativity it took to put this entire project together. The poem is a great read, and the illustrations by Masha D'yans are truly unique.

For more information about Teachers & Writers Collaborative, please visit www.twc.org

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 5 and up
Hardcover: 38 pages
Publisher: Universe (September 4, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0789320835
ISBN-13: 978-0789320834
Source of review copy: Publicist

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13. Introducing my Etsy Shop Clay a la Mode


I'm excited to announce that I've set up shop on Etsy! I LOVE books and I LOVE writing, but another outlet for me has been polymer clay. Polymer clay is so versatile, easy to work with, and you can create such amazing things! You'll find various items, including...

Women's Bracelets...

Girl's Bracelets...
Fun charms...

And more. I would truly be honored if you would head over to Clay a la Mode on Etsy and favorite my page, tell a friend about it, or just peruse for your future gift needs. You can also follow Clay a la Mode on Facebook, so you're the first to know when new items are listed.

I look forward to sharing more of my creations with you and can't thank you enough for your continued support!

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14. New write on wipe off books a must have for your young reader

If you have a little one who's learning how to write his numbers and shapes, you don't want to miss the new books by Palm Kids. These books have a handle on top, so they can easily be carried to Grandma's house; they come with a write-on erasable marker; and the sturdy pages are like a dry-erase board in that your child can practice writing IN the book, then it can easily be erased.

One of the books is 10 LITTLE TEDDY BEARS. In this one, kids will enjoy the rhyming story that follows 10 teddy bears as they count from one to ten. Each page features vibrant colors and cute illustrations will grab a young readers' attention. Not only will your child be able to write in the book and practice writing his numbers, he can count the objects on the page, literally helping him put two and two together!

Additional Information:
Board book: 24 pages
Publisher: Palm Kids; First Edition edition (January 15, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1607276976
ISBN-13: 978-1607276975
Source of review copy: Publisher

Another book is SHAPES ON THE BUS. A take on the famous kids' song, "Wheels on the Bus," this one changes the words a bit to teach young readers all about their shapes! For example... The windows on the bus are perfect squares, Perfect squares, perfect squares. The windows on the bus are perfect squares With four sides, all the same. Not only does this make for a great read-aloud, kids will love being able to write in the book, practicing drawing everything from squares to circles to stars and octagons! At the end of the book, kids get a chance to review their shapes and are also shown how to draw a house and a cat using the shapes they learned. As if that's not enough, each book also includes an easy-to-download FREE bonus musical audiobook, e-book and printable activities to add to the learning fun!

Additional Information:
Board book: 24 pages
Publisher: Palm Kids; First Edition edition (January 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1607276984
SBN-13: 978-1607276982
Source of review copy: Publisher

Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

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15. Dive into Restricted Waters

A mysterious black crust that sinks ships at sea while it also threatens to destroy the entire East Coast? Enter the young adult novel, RESTRICTED WATERS by Kara Lynn Conyer, the perfect read for any young budding marine biologist.

For months, this mysterious black crust has been spreading up the East coast, so world-renowned marine biologist, Dr. Candace Warren, has organized a team of experts to find the source of the destruction. Sixteen-year-old Alannis Summers volunteers to intern on the trip and it's believed that the black crust may have started in the mysterious islands of the Cubbarros. Allanis sets out to uncover the mystery and discovers a government conspiracy with a ton of adventure! On top of that, there’s also the drama of her relationship with Jake, another ship mate.

Anyone interested in marine biology will enjoy RESTRICTED WATERS. The book is full of drama and moves along quickly, taking you into the depths of the ocean.  Allanis is a strong character who must dig deep within herself to uncover the suspicions and also uncover her self-identity. What I love most about this book is that it's written by Kara Lynn Conyer who was a science diver for the Smithsonian Institution. With experience of being in the middle of the ocean, Conyer provides such vivid descriptions, you'll definitely feel as though you're on the expedition.

Additional Information:
File Size: 253 KB
Print Length: 160 pages
Publisher: Waterhouse Books (July 11, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Source of review copy: Author

Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

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16. The MapMakers Sons changes the way boys look at reading

As most of you know, I have two boys, so I was intrigued to learn that a new publisher was starting and their mission was Middle Grade Books for boys. Let's face it, the market is inundated with the latest romantic vampire read and boy books usually get overlooked. Most parents and educators are always on the hunt to find ways to promote reading amongst boys, so it's refreshing to see Move Books want to change the way boys look at reading.

Their first title is THE MAPMAKER'S SONS by V.L. Burgess and I believe this will definitely help Move Books with their mission. Thomas Hawkins is like most boys in that he likes to hang with his friends, have pretend sword fights, and create his own adventures. However, he's a student at the Lost Preparatory Academy for Boys, a place full of rules and certainly not fun. I mean, bells alert the boys when to wake, when to eat, when to shower and more. One night, Tom decides to silence the bells, but instead finds a pirate who has come to deliver Tom's inheritance from a father he never knew--an old map. The map leads Tom back home to The Five Kingdoms where Tom learns his father was a mapmaker and Tom discovers a brother he never knew he had. Together, they must solve a prophecy to save the world and their lives.

THE MAPMAKER'S SONS is a quick read, which boys will love and they won't want to put it down because it's packed with mystery and action. Who doesn't love a story where you interact with pirates, voyage to a mysterious land and take on an evil ruler? If that doesn't appeal to boys, then I don't know what will!

Please visit Move Books for a preview of Chapter One.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Pages: 176
Publisher: Move Books (October 2012)
ISBN: 978-0-9854810-0-1
Source of review copy: Publisher

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17. Discover Sarah Crossan's writing process

In a world without air, what would you do to breathe? Sarah Crossan's debut novel, BREATHE, follows three teens dealing with that dilemma when they leave everything they know behind.

About the book: In a barren land, a shimmering glass dome houses the survivors of the Switch, the period when oxygen levels plunged and the green world withered. A state lottery meant a lucky few won safety, while the rest suffocated in the thin air. And now Alina, Quinn, and Bea—an unlikely trio, each with their own agendas, their own longings and fears—walk straight into the heart of danger. With two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, they leave the dome.

The book goes on sale on 10/2, but you can check out the author Sarah Crossan in this video discussing her writing process.

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18. All About Poop a sure hit with young readers

Want to know which book is the biggest hit in my house right now? It's ALL ABOUT POOP by Kate Hayes. Yes, when you have two boys, anything that contains bathroom humor is guaranteed to be a hit.

ALL ABOUT POOP tackles the subject so many of us probably don't want to think about, but young readers will be fascinated by because just say the word poop, and chances are, they'll be laughing hysterically. As soon as you open the book, you can't help but smile as you see the boy with his pants around his ankles, spraying air freshener in the air. (don't worry, he has underwear on!) From there, young readers learn why our bodies make such stinky goop from eating and digestion, and where it goes after we flush. Not to mention cleanliness and germs.

What I really love about this book is that it's written in rhyme, making it a fun read for an unpleasant subject. Young and old readers will get a kick out of the illustrations as you see poop in its various forms and even falling from the sky in parachutes! If your kids are in that 'bathroom humor' stage, ALL ABOUT POOP will not disappoint and they won't even realize they're learning all about science.

Additional Information:
Paperback: 38 pages
Publisher: Pinwheel Books (September 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 098542480X
ISBN-13: 978-0985424800
Source of review copy: Publisher
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

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19. Buddy up with Raymond Alligator

In need of a good friendship story? In ARE YOU MY FRIEND: A RAYMOND AND SHEILA STORY by Annie Fox, young readers will buddy up with Raymond Alligator.

It's not easy being the younger brother and Raymond Alligator feels left out as he watches his sister Sheila play with her best friend, Ilana Iguana. Raymond knows some alligators need a friend, but he tries to convince himself he doesn't since he has his own friend, a stuffed animal named Snowball. When he's caught spying on the girls, Ilana snaps at Raymond and yells, "My little brother Iggy always does the same thing. It's because they don't have any of their own friends." Raymond feels sad, but a while later, Raymond sees Iggy playing in his backyard. Since Iggy looks lonely, too, Raymond decides to go over and play with him. They discover they enjoy being together and can make their own plans.

Making new friends can be difficult for anyone, but in ARE YOU MY FRIEND, Raymond proves that even though it can be a bit scary, the reward can be huge. This is an endearing story--one sure to help encourage kids to make that first step. At the end of the book, you'll find a parent guide that will help start a discussion with your child about feelings. Be sure to check out the rest of the Raymond and Sheila stories as they tackle even more of life's challenges.

Additional Information:

Paperback: 34 pages
Publisher: Electric Eggplant (June 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0983958017
ISBN-13: 978-0983958017
Source of review copy: Publisher

Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

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20. Move over James Bond. Here comes Chase Danger

Move over James Bond. Here comes Chase Danger.

In CHASE DANGER: SUPER SPY--MYSTERY OF THE SPECIAL SAUCE, young super sleuths are introduced to a different kind of spy-- one who is 6-years-old and born to hunt down evil villains.

In this first book of the series, it's up to Chase to solve the mystery of the special sauce. Chase is at the Danger family's favorite Saturday night spot, Zalezgon's Chunk o'Cheesy Pizzeria, but there's a new cook whipping up his own special sauce and a rumor that a sea monster is living beneath the wharf. Chase must get to the bottom of this. He sneaks out of the pizzeria, discovers a mini submarine, battles a terrifying octopus, builds a super vehicle, takes on a flying saucer to uncover Igor Fimple's master plan to control people's minds.

CHASE DANGER is a fascinating read, full of humor and action and a mysterious 6-year-old girl named Ali Bali who I'm sure we'll see again in Book 2. Young readers will be captivated by this young super spy, the vibrant illustrations, and read-along CD included with the book. Step into this world of super spies and super villains and I'm sure you'll be looking forward to more Chase Danger adventures.

Additional Information:
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Magic Fire Music Studio; 1ST edition (2011)
ISBN-10: 0983657408
ISBN-13: 978-0983657408
Source of review copy: Author
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

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21. A Story of a Galapagos Fur Seal

The Smithsonian Institution and Soundprints have teamed up in the past to produce exciting books about animals kids love and they're at it again with FUR SEAL GROWS UP (part of Soundprints' Read and Discover Books).

In FUR SEAL GROWS UP, young readers follow a day in the life of  a Galapagos fur seal. Not only will readers enjoy the life-like illustrations, but they'll be fascinated to learn that a fur seal has four flippers, his long whiskers help him find fish in the dark water, and he eats squid.

This is a wonderful book for beginning readers. The large print makes it very easy to read; a glossary in the back helps young readers learn new words; and the illustrations make it feel as though you can reach out and pet these beautiful creatures. Be sure to check out some of the other books in the series including, "Hello Dolphin!"and "Gray Wolf Pup's Adventure."

Additional Information:
Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Soundprints; First Edition edition (May 15, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1607277255
ISBN-13: 978-1607277255
Source of review copy: Publisher
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

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22. Cover Reveal of Solstice by PJ Hoover

I'm thrilled to be one of the very first to show you the cover of the highly anticipated SOLSTICE by PJ Hoover coming from Tor Teen in June 2013. I can't wait to read this one. Take a look at the cover...

It's literally smoking, isn't it? If you're a fan of dystopia, mythology, and romance, you won't want to miss this one. Here's a sneak peak about the book:

Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles that threaten to destroy the earth. Amid this global heating crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom. Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth. An imaginative melding of mythology and dystopia, Solstice is the first YA novel by talented newcomer P. J. Hoover.

Are your juices flowing yet? If that's not enough, Cynthia Leitich Smith, New York Times  bestselling author says, “Solstice is one red-hot read—it intrigues, sizzles, and satisfies.”

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to get my hands on this one and it will be a wonderful addition to the Young Adult section on your bookshelf! To celebrate the SOLSTICE cover reveal, PJ Hoover will be running a contest on her blog today in which she'll be giving away a handful of books, so be sure to visit her blog and enter for a chance to win!

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23. Entice proves this is one gripping series

I'm a big fan of Jessica Shirvington's novel, Embrace and couldn't wait to read the next book in the series, Entice, which was released this month. In Embrace, we were introduced to Violet, who learns she's a Grigori--part human and part angel and struggles with embracing it or not. Yes, she chooses the angel path, but it doesn't make things easier when you throw in a love triangle, and a battle between good and evil.

In Entice, Violet is back and not only is she trying to embrace the fact she's a Grigori, she's also trying to figure out her relationship with Lincoln. As you turn each page and discover how hot their chemistry really is, you'll be screaming for them to be together already, however that would be too easy, which is why Shirvington serves up this dramatic read. On top of the romance, Violet tries to save the one thing the Exiles could use to destroy the Grigori and is up against Phoenix, who knows how to affect Violet. Who can she trust and why is everyone hiding something?

Entice offers a few new characters, but delivers the same roller coaster ride full of emotions. Hot, spicy, wild, dark, and crazy, Entice is a must read for 2012. I love Violet's character, who is strong and doesn't back down from her challenges and the action is non-stop as you step into a world full of mystery and intrigue. If you haven't read Embrace, I highly recommend reading it and if you do, you'll find yourself diving right into Entice.

Counting the days for Emblaze!

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (September 4, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1402268432
ISBN-13: 978-1402268434
Source of review copy: Publicist
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

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24. Lula's Brew now available in print

One of my favorite illustrators is Elizabeth Dulemba. Her artwork is so colorful, vibrant and always has such a fun feel, which is why I wanted to share with you that LULA’S BREW, her popular children’s book app which has been downloaded over 10,000 times, is finally available as a hardcover picture book - just in time for Halloween!
LULA’S BREW was one of the first children’s book apps available for the iPhone and iPad and follows Lula who faces quite the dilemma. Lula's Aunties want her to be a witch like them. But Lula would rather study cookbooks than spell books (and hates to fly on a broom). Lula wants to be a famous chef. In desperation, the Aunties insist she try to make one last potion. Lula secretly adds her cooking flair and creates a brew that bewitches the entire town, including her Aunties! This fun rhyming tale transcends the typical Halloween story to appeal to cooks and "foodies" throughout the year.

Dulemba offers free activities for Lula’s Brew on her website, Dulemba.com, which include a word find puzzle, coloring pages, computer wallpaper, recipes, etc. She also offers a new free coloring page on her blog every week for teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents to enjoy with their children. With over 1.5 million visitors per year, and over 3,000 subscribers, it’s quite popular.

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25. Back to School Offers and Giveaways

The pencils, Post-its, labels and notebooks are all stocked, which means it's time for school. When school starts, many companies offer great deals to help your kids feed their imagination, so here are a few you might want to check out...

Scholastic has unveiled Storia--an eReading app that works on multiple platforms, from a PC to an iPad or Android tablet.From favorite picture books to the hottest news series, Storia has the titles kids want, by the award-winning authors they love to read. With close collaboration from Scholastic's reading experts, Storia offers you and your child more than 1,500 highly curated titles for all ages and reading levels—and the list is growing all the time! They're currently running an offer where you get 5 FREE ebooks when you download the Storia app.

Check out this exclusive offer from Kellogg's and Scholastic: When you purchase two specially marked Kellogg's products or one Kellogg's Tri-Pack at Walmart you'll receive a coupon for a FREE book of your choice* from Scholastic (up to a $5 value)! Enter the codes found inside participating boxes at KelloggsFamilyRewards.com/Scholastic. Watch for your confirmation email containing your Scholastic Book Coupon. Then, click here to choose your book!

Scholastic has teamed up with Purell for the Healthy Starts for Classroom Smarts Sweepstakes. Visit this website and enter today for your chance to win a $250 back-to-school shopping spree, 25 Scholastic books and Purell products.

Did you know you can turn bottles of SunnyD into Free books? Help your child's class collect 20 SunnyD UPC labels, send the labels to your child's teacher who then mails in the official entry form. 20 labels= 20 Scholastic books for the classroom! Visit SunnyD.com for all the deets!

When you buy any Brita water bottle, Scholastic will send you a free children's book, The Magic School Bus. For deets on how to receive your book, visit Scholastic.com/brita.

When you buy GoodNites Underwear, just mail one proof-of-purchase UPC and you can receive a free book! This offer begins August 20th to October 31st or until all 150 books have been claimed.  To receive a Free Scholastic Book (while supplies last), mail one (1) proof-of-purchase UPC from any GoodNites Underwear product along with your name, daytime phone, email address, and complete mailing address to:
GoodNites Underwear Book Offer
557 Broadway PO BOX 711
New York, NY 10012

I think this is so cool--Scholastic News Kids Press is hiring a team of reporters ages 10-14 to cover everything from the election to celebrity news to sports and more. Visit Scholastic.com/kidspress between August 1st and October 19th to apply.

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