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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Childrens Books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,992

Daddy Is My Hero

Happy Father's Day to all you Dads!

'Daddy Is My Hero' Written by Dawn Richards - Published by Random House 2013.

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27. #709 – Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage by Julie Anne Grasso

Frankie Dupont And The Science Fair Sabotage
Written by Julie Anne Grasso
Illustrated by Alexander Avellino
Published by J. A. Grasso       5/11/2015
230 pages    Age 8—12

“Frankie Dupont is less than impressed when he has to attend the Sustainable Science Fair with Kat and Amy. Upon his arrival, he learns that Amy’s brothers have had their robotics chip stolen Keen to recover the chip, Frankie questions the kids in the competition, but everyone seems to have a motive. When baffling clues start rolling in via “Snap-Goss” instant messages, Frankie realizes it will take all of his detective muscles to solve this case.” [back cover]

Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage is the third book in the Frankie Dupont series. This time around, mom and dad are going away for the weekend, leaving Frankie in charge of the detective agency. When he is called to the Sustainable Science Fair, he finds Angus and Archie in angst over their robotic chip, stolen sometime after arriving at the fair. Frankie swoops into action. He finds the twins entry into the fair, or rather just the twins, causes equal angst among the other student entries. Angus and Archie have pranked each of the contestants and none of them are friendly toward the boys. Each contestant has a reason to sabotage the twin’s entry, though none will admit they stole the chip. Frankie becomes more confused the longer he tries to figure out the culprit. If each kid had a reason to take the robotic chip, how does he decide which is the guilty party?

Illustration2SFS correction 4 May 2015

The mystery is not terribly complicated, still Grasso, whose writing improves with each new story, does a great job keeping the reader with Frankie. Kids will not figure out the culprit much sooner than Frankie will. After three outings, the characters remain fresh. Frankie has lost the arrogance he had during the Lemon Festival Fiasco, yet he is still clueless regarding Amy’s admiration. Frankie’s best friend and cousin Kat, who has been his sidekick through the first two stories, is less involved in the mystery of the stolen chip. Frankie’s main motivation comes from Inspector Cluesome, whom Frankie is determined to outwit.

Kids will enjoy the Science Fair Sabotage. The science fair projects are interesting. One has a house built out of stevia-made sugar cubes and another using scrap aluminum to build a working guitar. The ideas of conservation and recycling are clear in the science fair entries, though I would have liked to have read more about why this fair came about, which could have lead to an indepth conversation about these important issues.


The Science Fair Sabotage will entertain readers. The short chapters, divided by student entry, will keep reluctant readers interested. The end works out fine, with Frankie finding the culprit, the science fair going on as planned, and a winner announced. The culprit is not who readers will expect, so keep you eyes peeled to the clues. The Science Fair Sabotage is a fine addition to the Frankie Dupont series.

Next up for Frankie, Kat, and Amy (seems they might have become a team), is a luxury cruise in Frankie Dupont and the High Seas Adventure, scheduled to release in September 2015.

Awards for the Frankie Dupont Series
2014 Wishing Shelf Independent Book SILVER for Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor. (book #1)

FRANKIE DUPONT AND THE SUSTAINEABLE SCIENCE FAIR. Text copyright © 2015 by Julie Anne Grasso. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Alexander Avellino. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Julie Anne Grasso, Australia.

Buy The Sustainable Science Fair at AmazonBook DepositoryAuthor’s Store.

Learn more about The Sustainable Science Fair HERE.
Free Activity Booklet is HERE.
Meat the author, Julie Anne Grasso at her website:  http://whenigrowupiwannawriteakidsbook.blogspot.com.au/
Meet the illustrator, Alexander Avellino, at his website:  http://www.alexanderavellino.com/

Also by Julie Anne Grasso
Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor (review)
Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco (review)
Adventures of Caramel Cardamom #1: Escape from the Forbidden Planet
Adventures of Caramel Cardamom #2: Return to Cardamom (review)
Adventures of Caramel Cardamom #3: Stellarcadia
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Review section word count = 433
Full Disclosure: Frankie Dupont and the Sustainable Science Fair by Julie Anne Grasso & Alexander Avellino, and received from the publisher, Julie Anne Grasso, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonies in Advertising.

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: Alexander Avellino, conservation, ecology, Frankie Dupont, Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage, Julie Anne Grasso, mystery, recycling sustainability, science fairs

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28. Papa's Suns Coming Soon!

I'm thrilled to announce that my latest picture book, Papa's Suns is scheduled to be released shortly.  Below is the official blurb for this book which should be coming out at the end of the month.

Jacob and his grandfather like to spend time drawing pictures together. But after
Papa has a stroke, Jacob is afraid that his Papa will be different. Although Papa’s
body is healing, Jacob discovers that the love between him and his grandfather will
never change.

This book is close to my heart because it based on the relationship between my father-in-law and my daughter. Here is a sneak peek at the cover.  The illustrations are beautifully done by Samantha Bell.

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29. Queen Victoria’s Children’s Book Finally Published

Victoria, Britain’s queen during the better part of the 19th century, wrote a children’s book when she was 10 years old.

That book, The Adventures of Alice Laselles, is now finally getting published. The book is about a 12-year-old girl away at boarding school. The Royal Collection released the title last week. Here is more about the book:

The young royal author tells the tale of Alice, a twelve-year-old girl who is sent away to boarding school after her father remarries.  It reveals Princess Victoria’s natural flair for writing, and tendency towards the dramatic.  When Alice learns she is to leave her home for Mrs Duncombe’s school, Victoria writes, ‘Oh do not send me away dear Pappa’, exclaimed Alice Laselles, as she threw her arms around her Pappa’s neck; ‘don’t send me away, O let me stay with you.’ And she sobbed bitterly.  She introduces a host of characters living at the school, including a ‘poor little French orphan'; Ernestine Duval, and Barbara, the clever daughter of a rich London banker.

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30. 2015 Martha Weston Grant Winner Announced

Lindsey Carmichael from Lewis Lake, Nova Scotia, is the recipient of the 2015 Martha Weston Grant. She  received $1,500 to cover her expenses to attend the annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles. 
Grant coordinator Lissa Rovetch noted the judges, consisting of herself, Ashley Wolff, Julie Downing, Susan McCombs and Dory Weston, received many outstanding applications all of which reflected Martha Weston’s generous spirit.
After publishing more than 50 picture books and easy readers as an illustrator and/or author, Martha (Hairston) Weston published her first middle grade novel shortly before her death. Martha always took time to encourage others, and the Hairston family established the Martha Weston Grant to honor and continue her efforts. The SCBWI wishes to thank the Hairston family for making the grant possible, to the judges for volunteering their time, and to Lissa Rovetch who served again this year as Grant Coordinator. Applications will again be accepted in early spring. Rules and procedures can be found under the Awards and Grants section of the website. If you are interested in applying for this very special grant, please mark your calendars for early next year when the application process opens.


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31. The Dungeoneers Blog Tour


I'm so sorry this is late, dear readers! It's been a day. Part good, part bad, mostly late. Anywho.

Walden Pond Press is giving away a signed hardcover copy of The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson! Read on for more info about the book and author, as well as a Q&A!

About the Book

THE DUNGEONEERS by John David Anderson (June 23, 2015 from Walden Pond Press) 

THE DUNGEONEERS by John David Anderson (June 23, 2015 from Walden Pond Press) 

The Dungeoneers is an action-packed, funny, and heartbreaking middle grade fantasy-adventure from the author of the acclaimed Sidekicked and Minion, John David Anderson.

The world is not a fair place, and Colm Candorly knows it. While his parents and eight sisters seem content living on a lowly cobbler's earnings, Colm can't help but feel that everyone has the right to a more comfortable life. It's just a question of how far you're willing to go to get it.
In an effort to help make ends meet, Colm uses his natural gift for pickpocketing to pilfer a pile of gold from the richer residents of town, but his actions place him at the mercy of a mysterious man named Finn Argos, a gilded-toothed, smooth-tongued rogue who gives Colm a choice: he can be punished for his thievery, or he can become a member of Thwodin's Legions, a guild of dungeoneers who take what they want and live as they will. Colm soon finds himself part of a family of warriors, mages, and hunters, learning to work together in a quest to survive and, perhaps, to find a bit of treasure along the way.

Q&A with John David Anderson

Read Now Sleep Later: Tell us what inspired The Dungeoneers. Was it something from real life or something from fantasy that finally sparked the premise so you could turn it into a novel?

John David Anderson: I’m a fly-by-seat of your pants kind of writer. I don’t outline. I seldom have a plan. I’m lucky if I have a general sense of direction. I go where the story takes me, and The Dungeoneers was literally a “I wonder what happens next?” kind of experience for me. Every day I would sit down to write with wide eyes, eagerly anticipating Colm and party’s next adventure. So the novel started for me just the way it starts for everyone—with Colm complaining about his sisters, one of whom gets sick. I knew he was going to try his hand at pickpocketing. I knew he was going to be good at it. That’s pretty much all I had. The rest, I think, was a great, big blended mess of fantasy tropes from books and films and games (both video and board) dating all the way back to my childhood, cobbled together the deeper and deeper I got.

I will say, though, that my parents often struggled to make ends meet when I was young, and I grew up with a sense of both the powers and dangers of money and the vast disparity between the have-mosts and have-a-littles. I think that sense of class disparity—and the notion that men of talent can find their own path to riches—informed upon the novel from day one. That and the significance of friendships and the price of loyalty were probably the chief motivating themes that drove me forward.

Mostly, though, I had fun with it. I had more fun writing The Dungeoneers than any other book I’ve written. It was basically just one giant roleplaying game for me.

RNSL: If there would be no consequences for you, what would you steal (for the greater good, anyway)? Are you good at sleight-of-hand? (Alethea for example would probably steal kittens. She is pretty sure Thuy and Kimberly would steal all the yarn and books--then distribute them to those in need.)

JDA: If it was for the greater good, I’d probably say I’d go all Jean Valjean and steal food for those in need. There are a lot of problems out there in the world that need solving, but hunger really seems like one that we—as intelligent as we are as a species—could have figured out a solution to. According to some estimates, as many as one out of every nine people suffers from hunger or malnutrition. I know it’s a Robin Hood kind of answer, but if you’re going to be an outlaw…

On a lighter note, if it was me, and there were no consequences or downsides, I would steal Lego. Lego, for me, is the epitome of extraneous expense. I love them. I love the feel of them, the sound of their clicking, the mathematical genius of their construction, but I can’t (usually) justify forking over forty bucks for 300 little pieces of snap-together plastic that’s just going to sit on my shelf. If could just steal them, then I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about spending money on them, though I would feel guilty for stealing them. I guess there’s no Lego without guilt. 

I would say books, but I’m a writer. If I want a book, I go out and buy it anyways.

In paperback. 

RNSL: Did anything specific inspire your cast of characters for The Dungeoneers?

Not really. I’d say my motivating principal was contrast. Obviously I needed a balanced party in terms of talents and professions, but also in terms of foibles and concerns. I wanted them all to be dungeoneering for different reasons, to each have something specific they were questing for, whether it was Serene overcoming her fears, Lena living up to her name, or Quinn gaining control over his power. It’s not all about the gold—though that certainly has its appeal, as Colm Candorly will tell you. The characters were all very distinct for me, which made them easier to write and easier to appreciate. What started as a story just about this one kid picking pockets in the street really became an exploration of this makeshift family getting each others’ backs, growing alongside each other. It’s an ensemble piece.

RNSL: If you still play RPGs, do you always play the same type of character, or do you switch around and try to be different? (I usually try to stay with Barbarian or Paladin... hack and slash, don't get in my way!)

JDA: I play a version of Pathfinders with my family, and I like to switch up who I play, though I tend to gravitate towards multi-talented types. Swordsmen who can enchant their blades with flames. Spellcasters who also happen to be good at throwing daggers. Talking pigs who can transform themselves into fire-spewing dragons. I tend not to play healers. I don’t want people counting on me to bring them back to life all the time. Too much pressure. I also don’t play guys who wear lots of heavy armor, mostly because I feel like they’d get too sweaty.

RNSL: Would ever you consider writing up part of the premise as an RPG? Or at least make up some character sheets for Colm, Finn, etc. :)

JDA: Funny you say that. I actually have Pathfinders sheets and stats for each of the four major characters from the novel. When my family and I played I was Quinn Frostfoot. 

I do create board and card games in my spare time, and if (for some blessed reason) The Dungeoneers was ever to become a thing—you know, like big big—I’d be more than happy to branch out and adapt the story to a more playable format. I think a lot of cool things are being done with game books and interactive fiction now, especially on mobile devices. I can certainly imagine The Dungeoneers taking that form. Maybe some computer genius out there can help make it happen!

RNSL: Did you encounter anything particularly challenging while writing The Dungeoneers that's different from your previous books?

JDA: Honestly third person perspective is a challenge for me. First person narratives come easy because there’s no negotiation, no competition between my voice and that of the main character. I appreciate the limitations that first person narratives provide, so the freedom that comes with panning out to a third person viewpoint—even one focused on one character like Colm Candorly—is daunting at first. I wanted to create a narrative voice that could poke fun one moment with tongue thoroughly in cheek and then get completely serious about the world and its dangers the next. That was tough.

Also the sheer scope of the book was bigger than my previous novels. More characters, more subplots—and so much I wanted to cram in, explore, and make fun of. I’m just grateful my editor let me keep most of it. It’s a hefty book. But fantasy novels aren’t always known for their thinness. 

RNSL: We love the cover. Did you have any input on the final art? Any thoughts you would like to share about it? (It makes us want to grab our dice bags and go on an adventure.)

JDA: Awesome, right? The cover is the work of the incomparable Dan Santat and, at least from my perspective, it was pretty solid right out of the gate. I do remember two significant changes, though. The first was that Quinn was way too confident in the beginning—his facial expression suggested a Gandalf-level of competence, and I remember saying that he needed to be a lot more worried about the spell he was casting (it will make sense when you read the book). The second issue was Lena—we needed her to be hardcore barbarian but still obviously female. The solution, I think, was to just give her a different haircut and more weapons. Other than that, it’s exactly the kind of book I would have picked up as a ten year old aching for a little dungeon diving adventure. I adore the wrap around and the font, but most of all I think I like how it focuses on the team effort. After all, the book isn’t called The Dungeoneer.

Now I’m off to play with my Lego.

About the Author

John David Anderson is the author of Sidekicked and Minion. A dedicated root beer connoisseur in his spare time, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org. Tweet @anderson_author and find him on Facebook.

Blog Tour Schedule

6/2/2015 - Maria's Mélange - mariaselke.com                                 
6/5/2015 - Unleashing Readers - unleashingreaders.com                    
6/6/2015 - The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia - hauntedorchid.blogspot.com          
6/7/2015 - Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - insatiablereaders.blogspot.com     
6/8/2015 - This Kid Reviews Books - thiskidreviewsbooks.com                  
6/8/2015 - Ms Yingling Reads - msyinglingreads.blogspot.com           
6/9/2015 - Read Now Sleep Later - readnowsleeplater.org
6/10/2015 - Charlotte's Library - charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com 
6/11/2015 - Nerdy Book Club - nerdybookclub.wordpress.com
6/12/2015 - The Hiding Spot - thehidingspot.blogspot.com     

Giveaway Time!

One intrepid adventurer will win a signed hardcover copy of The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson. US only, ends 6/25/2015.

  • Open to US only, ends 6/25/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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32. #708 – National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 by Nat. Geo Society & Nat. Geo Kids Magazine

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016
National Geographic Society & National Geographic Kids Magazine
National Geographic Society        5/12/2015
352 pages         Age 8—12

“This New York Times bestseller is packed with incredible photos, tons of fun facts, crafts, activities, and fascinating articles about animals, science, nature, technology, and more. New features include a special section on animal friends; an updated “Fun and Games” chapter filled with all-new games, jokes, and comics; a new “Dino Myths Busted” feature; all new weird-but-true facts, crafts, and activities; a new special “15 Facts” feature in every chapter; updated reference material, and much more! And, this is the only kids’ almanac with mobile media features that allow kids to access National Geographic videos, photo galleries, and games.” [publisher]

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016—Wow, where do I start? Color blasts out from every page. The photography is as spectacular as National Geographic photography has always been—brilliant, intimately detailed, knock-you-off-your-feet fantabulous. Divided into ten sections, the Kids Almanac 2016 begins with a section on interesting things happening in 2016, and then it explores the usual topics of history, culture, science, geography, nature, and animals. The almanac also includes a section on green technology and its effect on Earth, and a section about exploration and survival. Most likely, a favorite for kids will be the section on games. Actually, the Kids Almanac 2016 contains a game throughout the entire 350 pages. In each chapter is a clue. Find all ten clues and you can open up digital extras.

dino mythsIn reading the Kids Almanac 2016, I think National Geographic has covered all the subjects kids will find interesting and all those they need to know about. Adults can get a lot out of this almanac as well. There is a tremendous amount of information in this relatively small book. I loved the animal topics, of which there are many. Kids interested in dinosaurs will find a prehistoric timeline, nine “Bet you didn’t know” facts, and myths. Each section ends with a quiz on that section’s subject. When you cannot get to a place, or want to know what is happening in different places around the world, the Kids Almanac 2016 is a tremendous aid. Kids can also dig a little deeper in subjects they love and learn about subjects they never thought about or thought were dull. There is not one tedious word or picture in the Kids Almanac 2016. Here are a few subjects I found to be amazing:

“Secrets of the Blue Holes”
Animal photography and how to get the shot.
“The Wonders of Nature: the Oceans”

Worlds Wackiest Houses”

“Worlds Wackiest Houses”

“16 Cool Facts about Coral Reefs”
The jokes and comics in Fun and Games
Orangutan to the Rescue (Survival Story)”

What would a National Geographic book be without its gorgeous maps? The Kids Almanac 2016 has plenty of maps and flags. I think the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 is a must read, if not a must have, for kids, especially middle graders who will learn a lot without realizing they are learning. The Kids Almanac 2016 is fun, exciting, and interesting. The pages are colorful, the photographs and images extremely detailed, and the subject matter is diverse.

volcanosThough kids are just now beginning to enjoy their summer school breaks, the Kids Almanac 2016 will keep them reading through the summer, which will help kids during their next school year, make them more informed about their world. Parents concerned about the books their kids read will have not one worry about this almanac. Every word, every subject, and every article is kid-friendly. The National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 is an interesting read that will keep kids hooked long past summer vacation.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ALMANAC 2016. Text and images copyright © 2015 by National Geographic Society. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, National Geographic Society in partnership with National Geographic Kids Magazine, Washington DC.

Purchase National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 at AmazonBook DepositoryNational Geographic.

Kids! Join the National Geographic Kids Book Club HERE!
Teachers and Librarians can find additional information at: http://www.ngchildrensbooks.org
National Geographic Educational site is HERE.

Learn more about National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 HERE.
Check out the National Geographic Society website: http://www.nationalgeographic.com
Find other National Geographic books at: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/books
Learn more about the National Geographic Kids Magazine at the website: http://www.kids.nationalgeographic.com

Kids Almanac 2015 
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 496

nat geo kids almanac 2016

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: and animals, culture, fun, games, geography, going green, history, liss instructive information, maps, National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016, National Geographic Kids Magazine, National Geographic Society, nature, science

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33. Behind the Book with Jennifer Keats Curtis

JenniferCurtisHave you ever wondered what sparks an idea for a book?

Author Jennifer Keats Curtis talks with us about the process of writing Primate School and how one idea lead her to a deep study in animal behavior, feelings and thinking.

When I learned that orangutans were using iPads, my first thought was, Oh good, there’s hope for my mother. Ok, I’m kidding. My real thought was that despite extraordinary study and learning, there is so much about animals that we still don’t know.

As I set off to learn about orangutans and other primates for the nonfiction Primate School, I thought about how much I PrimateSchool_187love animals and want to understand them. I thought about my own connections with animals and my personal belief that animals have feelings and emotions. I believe that they feel joy and sadness, perhaps not in the same way that we do, but that they are conscious, sentient beings and I wish I could better relate and communicate with them. I think that we have missed a lot with animals in the past for fear of anthropomorphizing them.

I joyfully learned about how primates communicate with each other through verbal cues and behavior and how they express themselves, show happiness and love, and learn from each other and keepers. I loved learning about how primates connect to each other and to humans. I was fascinated to learn about aunting behavior among langurs and saddened to learn about the gibbons who had been raised as pets and had trouble relating to other gibbons.

EN-gibbonI wrote Primate School ecstatic to use what I’d learned from cognitive ethologists. Ethologists study animals in their natural settings and cognitive ethologists get to focus on the thinking process, including communication, culture, and learning. I embrace this concept and cannot get enough of what these scientists have to say. Even though that book is complete, I never want to stop learning about what primates and other animals think and feel, how they learn from us, and how we can learn from them. That is one of the main reasons that I write about animals for children.

Award-winning nature author Jennifer Keats Curtis is frequently found among students and teachers, talking about literacy or conservation. In addition to Primate School, Salamander Season, the Animal Helpers series, Baby Owl’s Rescue, Kali’s Story, and Turtles In My Sandbox  for Arbordale, some of her other recent titles include Osprey Adventure, Saving Squeak: A River Otter’s Tale, and Seahorses. Jennifer resides in Maryland, with her family and a wide variety of pets. Visit her website at www.jenniferkeatscurtis.com

Learn more about Primate School and Jennifer’s other Arbordale books here!

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34. The Disappearance of Emily H. Blog Tour

A girl who can see the past tries to save the future in this compelling tween mystery.

Check out The Disappearance of Emily H, read a Q&A with the author, Barrie Summy, and enter to win a copy of the book! (US only, ends 6/23)

About the Book

A girl is missing. Three girls are lying. One girl can get to the truth.
Emily Huvar vanished without a trace. And the clues are right beneath Raine’s fingertips. Literally. Raine isn’t like other eighth graders. One touch of a glittering sparkle that only Raine can see, and she’s swept into a memory from the past. If she touches enough sparkles, she can piece together what happened to Emily.
When Raine realizes that the cliquey group of girls making her life miserable know more than they’re letting on about Emily’s disappearance, she has to do something. She’ll use her supernatural gift for good... to fight evil.
But is it too late to save Emily?

Q&A with Barrie Summy

Read Now Sleep Later: Emily's disappearance is so sinister--how do you balance the seriousness of this topic for the "Age 10 and up" audience?

Barrie Summy: To be honest, it was a bit of a juggling act. The Disappearance of Emily H. is a little more eerie than the i so don't do mystery series, and I was constantly questioning when to rein things in. To lighten the story, I tried to weave in everyday activities (group projects at school, walking the dog, mealtime), humor, and a little romance.

RNSL: A group of girls gangs up on Raine as she's trying to figure out what happened to Emily H. In constructing this interaction, was it informed by personal experience or observing others going through bullying? 

BS: Good question. The bullying subplot was fed mostly by my daughter and her friend, who were both in eighth grade when I was writing this book. They were trapped in the car with me, driving to and from dance lessons, and  we talked a lot (probably ad nauseam for them!) about the bullying they saw/heard about at school, what would feel like bullying to them, what wouldn't, right down to specific incidents. The girls were incredibly helpful.

RNSL: When you were the age that your readers are now, what were you into? Mysteries? Reading and/or writing? Magic? None or all of the above? 

BS: I was into reading pretty much anything I could get my hands on (although I was a huge Nancy Drew fan). I was also writing--angsty diary entries, bad poetry and, oddly, clues for scavenger hunts. My parents had us (I have two sisters) in piano and skating lessons. And there were loads of kids in our neighborhood, so there were street hockey games, tag, Red Rover, and just plain hanging around.

RNSL: What was the most challenging part of writing this novel?

BS: By far, the most challenging part was the first revision when my editor wanted me to move the event that happened at the middle of the book to the 3/4 point. Ack! Suddenly, there was a great, big gaping hole in the middle of the book. There was much pacing and gnawing of nails... and finally the bullying subplot grew into something more important. 

RNSL: Cake or pie? (or both?) 

BS: Love this question! For me, it's pie! I really don't like cake or cupcakes or anything cakey at all. For my birthday, I always ask for a dessert other than cake.

About the Author

Barrie Summy is the author of the I So Don’t Do mystery series starring thirteen-year-old detective Sherry Holmes Baldwin and the recently released The Disappearance of Emily H. Barrie lives in Southern California with her husband, their four children, two dogs, a veiled chameleon, and a fish. There was once a dwarf hamster, but let’s not go there. Visit her online at barriesummy.com.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thu, June 4 - Ms. Yingling Reads - http://msyinglingreads.blogspot.com/

Fri, June 5 - proseandkahn - http://proseandkahn.blogspot.com/

Mon, June 8 - Once Upon a Story - http://mariaburel.com/

Tue, June 9 - Read Now, Sleep Later - http://www.readnowsleeplater.org/

Wed, June 10 - Sharpread - http://mrcolbysharp.com/

Thu, June 11 - Unleashing Readers - http://www.unleashingreaders.com/

Fri, June 12 - Small Review - http://smallreview.blogspot.com/

Giveaway Time!

One sparkly winner will receive a copy of The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy (U.S. addresses; allow 4-6 weeks for delivery).

  • Open to US only, ends 6/23/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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35. Summer Reading Round Up!

Have you compiled your list of books yet? Summer is beginning this month and hopefully your love of reading will be reinvigorated! This is a great time to browse your library, bookstore and favorite review sites for your upcoming book adventures. As an author I am busy writing my own adventures-but also getting prepared to read my favorite authors to myself and to my toddler. How often will you decide to read? Will you set the proper environment for your favorite books? Make it special. Read in the park, on the beach by the pool, in bed, the possibilities are endless-just make sure that you do it. Many of your local libraries have contest-see if you can join. You might just get rewarded for it. -Read something great

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36. Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave Blog Tour


Read on for a Q&A with Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave author Jen White and a giveaway of 3 ARCs of the book (3 winners will be chosen, US only, ends 6/21/2015).

About the book

After their mother's recent death, twelve-year-old Liberty and her eight-year-old sister, Billie, are sent to live with their father, who they haven't seen since they were very young. Things are great at first; the girls are so excited to get to know their father – a traveling photographer who rides around in an RV. But soon, the pressure becomes too much for him, and he abandons them at the Jiffy Company Gas Station.

Instead of moping around and being scared, Liberty takes matters into her own hands. On their journey to get home, they encounter a shady, bald-headed gas station attendant, a full-body tattooed trucker, free Continental breakfast, a kid obsessed with Star Wars, a woman who lives with rats, and a host of other situations.

When all seems lost, they get some help from an unlikely source, and end up learning that sometimes you have to get a little bit lost to be found.


Q & A with Jen White

Read Now Sleep Later: Normally, I'd just start the Q&A right off with the questions, but I have to give you a little backstory on my first question.

I was lost once in our local supermarket when I was about 3. In the Philippines, supermarkets are crazy big. I marched up to the customer service desk and told them my grandpa ("lolo" in Tagalog) was lost, and that they needed to make an announcement to find him. They made an announcement and "found" him. The "my lolo is lost" story got repeated to every one of my siblings and cousins from then on as a survival strategy...)

Now the question--Have you ever been lost? How old were you and what did you do about it?

Jen White: I love your “my lolo is lost” story. Also, so great that your family used that experience as an example of how to respond. I think the feeling of being forgotten or lost is a universal emotion or worry. The idea for Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave came from my own “lost” story. When I was twelve and on vacation with my family, I was accidentally forgotten at a remote gas station for six hours. Luckily, I did have my younger sister and cousin with me. My parents didn’t see us get out of the back of our camper truck to use the restroom and they drove away without us. They thought we had fallen asleep and didn’t realize we were missing until they reached their destination, three hours away. We were, obviously, terrified.  Eventually, a police officer (in normal civilian clothing) came and took us to the police station.  At first, we wouldn’t go with him because he didn’t look like a real police officer. But eventually, we saw his police car and decided that he was a policeman. After being interviewed at the police station, he took us to a foster home where we ate bean burritos and watched Mary Poppins. Soon we were reunited with our family. Now, thirty years later, we can laugh about it. But at the time, it was quite traumatic.  

RNSL: Liberty has a very methodical, scientific approach to life. Is Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave a conscious attempt to encourage young girls to pursue a STEM career or is that just icing on the cake?

JW: No, it was not a conscious decision. I love that idea though, and wish I could take credit for it, but it was definitely a subconscious thing. I think girls should pursue whatever career they choose, and how great it is if SSOTAB opens the door even wider to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) possibilities. I once read that young girls are able to imagine themselves capable of achieving what they see other women accomplish. Because of that alone, it is important to have successful women in every field of study and more opportunities for girls. If I have somehow contributed to an ‘I can’ attitude, then that makes me very happy. And as a mother of girls, I think that it is very important.

RNSL: Billie and "Bertie" have a very strong bond despite their age difference. Do you have a sister, and do these characters mirror your relationship? If not, what informs how you wrote their characters?

JW: Yes, I have two sisters and two brothers. As the oldest of five, I feel like Liberty’s semi-bossy nature I come by naturally. I also have five children (four daughters), so I think I have a pretty good handle on the sister dynamic. That being said, I feel like Liberty and Billie are their own creations. I didn’t imagine a particular person as I wrote them, but I know my experience as an older sister and a mother of girls surely influenced how I wrote Liberty and Billie, albeit subconsciously.

RNSL: There are quite a few secondary characters that help or hinder the girls on their journey. Which was the most fun to write and why?

JW: In some ways they are all my favorites. There’s a true emotional connection behind each character. I would say I really loved, Star Wars Kid (Roger) and didn’t want his story to end. I hope I can create some form of Roger again in my future writing. I also loved Lavender Lady and Orson. They made me laugh and were a great duo to write. And finally, I’d say, I loved Tattoo Guy. I love him because upon first observation he seems intimidating and scary, but as the book progresses we get the whole picture of who he is (compassionate, funny, and smart).  In the beginning he is not who he seems. In general, I think this is true about most people. There is so much more to a person than what we see on the surface  Deep down, everyone has a story that is relatable.

RNSL: When did you begin developing this story, and can you tell us a bit about the journey to publication?

JW: I began writing Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave during the last semester of my MFA program. For some reason, I was really scared to write it. But Liberty’s voice was so persistent and compelling that I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I finally became brave enough to write her. I think part of my fear was that I wasn’t sure where the story was going. When I began to write, I had more questions than answers, and that felt really unsettling. Now, I know that’s just how I write: with a list of questions beside me. After I finished my MFA, I attended a writing retreat for experienced writers in my hometown. The visiting editor was Joy Peskin (who, by the way, is now my editor). That is where she read the first twenty pages of SSOTAB. She then asked for a full. Did I mention that I was crazy excited about that?! After she read the full, she had a lot of questions about the book. She suggested I revise (and, hopefully, listen to some of her revision suggestions) and then send it back to her. It took me a really long time to figure out what I was doing with SSOTAB. I went on to write two other books before I could figure out how to get Liberty and Billie through the desert safely. Once I figured that out, I wrote SSOTAB quite quickly and then sent it to Joy. It had been so long since we had last spoken that I was afraid she wouldn’t remember me. But she remembered. :) She read the full and then took the manuscript to acquisitions. The rest is history. (It was much harder and more traumatic than it sounds.) Just picture an exhausted, bleary-eyed, chocolate covered writer… that was me.

RNSL: Are you working on anything new?

JW: When Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave was purchased it was part of a two-book deal. So yes, I am working on Book 2. It is not a sequel to SSOTAB. It is a whole new middle grade animal. I’ve been having a lot of fun writing it. There are some great secondary characters. Maybe, that’s my thing? And (now that you mentioned it in the previous question) I have another, what you might call, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) main character.  Maybe, that’s my thing, too? :) She is anxious, damaged, and smart.

After I spent so much time with Liberty and Billie in SSOTAB I worried that I wouldn’t love my new main characters the same way, but I’ve found that I do. I guess it’s like when you have a second child. You never imagine that you can love another baby as much as the first but, when the second comes, you do. You love them all.

RNSL: Cake or Pie?

JW: Definitely cake. Any cake, anytime. I’m not picky, but if I had my choice it would be a homemade dark chocolate cake with ganache frosting. If you’re ever in town, I shall make it for you.  It is divine.

About the Author

Jen White grew up in California, the oldest of five siblings. In kindergarten, during a parent/teacher conference, her teacher told her mother, “She’s a little bossy.” Unfortunately, Jen thinks that same assessment might still be made today. She blames it on birth order. 

When she was young she wanted to become an author and a teacher. One of her earliest memories was learning how to read. She remembers how excited she was when she realized she could read the signs she saw through the window when she was in the car with her mother. She also remembers how her stomach hurt when she read out loud because she read with such gusto.

Jen has a degree in English teaching and also earned her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in writing for children and young adults. Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave is her debut novel and was born from the real experience of Jen being accidentally forgotten at a gas station with her younger sister and cousin. Jen currently tries not to boss around her five children and husband in San Clemente, California.

Find her online at jenwhitebooks.com, tweet @jenwhite_, and follow her on Tumblr.

Giveaway Time!

Three lucky winners will get a copy of Survival Strategies of the Almost BraveUS addresses only, ends June 21, 2015

  • Open to US only, ends 6/21/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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37. #707 – Oddfrey Joins the Team by Dave Whamond

oddfrey joins team cover HERE

Oddrey Joins the Team
Written & Illustrated by Dave Whamond
Owlkids Books 8/15/2014
32 pages Age 4—8

“When Oddfrey decides to join her school’s soccer team, she brings a new and unexpected approach to teamwork! On the day of the big game against the Quagville Crushers, nothing is going right—until Oddfrey comes up with a slightly unusual idea. Never afraid to be herself, Oddfrey devises a plan that gives her teammates the strength to be themselves, too. When they all use their individual talents to work together as a team, the results are extremely satisfying—and highly exuberant!” [book jacket]

Oddfrey Joins the Team is the third Oddfrey book (Oddfrey, Oddfrey and the New Kid). According to the publisher, Oddfrey “marches to the beat of her own drum.” With a daisy sprouting from the top of her head, Oddfrey certainly looks odd. I like Oddfrey for a few reasons. First, she likes sports, although her idea of “sports” is sometimes odd. Oddfrey prefers to combine different sport to make a new game. For example, she kicks a basketball into the hoop, rather than shooting it, and bounces a football off her personal sized trampoline, rather than throw the ball to her helmeted dog. Oddfrey’s dog—spotted with big, beautiful, and excited eyes—sticks by her side, always ready to join in her fun. Which brings me to the second and third reasons I like Oddfrey: she does her own thing and she has a pooch for a pal.


I also like Oddfrey because she thinks outside of the soccer sidelines. I only know the basics of soccer: run back and forth after a ball and kick the ball into opponent’s net, which happens less often than one would think. Maybelline—new kid from book 2—asks Oddfrey to join the school’s soccer team—the Picadilla Bees. Maybelline is the star of the team, mainly because she hogs the ball, leaving the other kids to run back and forth. Oddfrey approaches soccer as she does other sports: in her own way. The players are confused and the coach is dismayed, as Oddfrey combines soccer with ballet. Between sending her shoe flying on an attempted kick, balancing on top of the ball, and cart wheeling down the field, Oddfrey does score a goal—GOOOAL!!!—by butt-bumping the ball into the net. Yes, Oddfrey is her own little gal.


The next game is the BIG GAME against the Quagville Crushers. The Bees practice hard. Milton karate-chops the ball down the field (Maybelline: “Just kick it!”). Earl head-bumps the ball (Maybelline: “Use your head, Earl!”). Maybelline gives everyone advice—where is the coach?—even to her friend Oddfrey. Following rules is not in Oddfrey’s skill-set. Poor Maybelline-the-Star, she cannot get it together in the BIG GAME. The Bees are falling fast to the Crushers. Oddfrey puts on her thinking cap and realizes the team name “Bees” must mean something—and it does. Oddfrey uses this to get her team buzzing. What is “Plan Bee,” you ask. Well, you know I can’t say, but read Oddfrey’s new story, Oddfrey Joins the Team, to find out. You’ll do a lot of laughing as you find the answer and read—and see—the exciting conclusion.


The illustrations are action-packed, with details running from spread-to-spread. But you don’t need to like soccer to enjoy Oddfrey Joins the Team. Oddfrey’s pals are interesting in their own right, and the story has less to do with soccer and more to do with ingenuity, friendship, teamwork, and . . . well, if I said the last feature, you might figure out the ending. Both girls and boys will enjoy Oddfrey and her stories. Older kids will also find much to love and enjoy about Oddfrey. Humor runs in both the illustrations and the text, making Oddfrey Joins the Team fast-paced, deliciously funny, and a great story hour book. Oddfrey’s individuality, imagination, and ingenuity are great traits for a character, real or human. Having read Oddfrey Joins the Team a few times, I am ready to skip to the library, Oddfrey-style, and read the first two books in Oddfrey’s, I mean Mr. Whamond’s quirky series.

ODDFREY JOINS THE TEAM. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Dave Whamond. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Owlkids Books, Berkeley, CA, and Toronto, ON.

Purchase Oddfrey Joins the Team at AmazonBook DepositoryOwlkids Books.

Common Core Guidelines HERE
Learn more about Oddfrey Joins the Team HERE.
Meet the author, Dave Whamond, at his twitter:  https://twitter.com/davewhamond
Find more picture books at the Owlkids Books website:  http://www.owlkidsbooks.com



Oddfrey —-A 2012 Texas 2×2 Selection

Oddfrey and the New Kid

Oddfrey and the New Kid

My Think-a-ma-Jink ----Won the Blue Spruce Award

My Think-a-ma-Jink —-Won the Blue Spruce Award

Reality Check----Syndicated Cartoon Strip

Reality Check—-Syndicated Cartoon Strip






Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 594

oddfrey joins the team

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series Tagged: children’s team sports, courage to be yourself, Dave Whamond, friendship, imagination, individuality, ingenuity, My Think-a-ma-Jink, Oddfrey, Oddfrey and the New Kid, Oddfrey Joins the Team, Owlkids Books, Reality Check, soccer, teamwork

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38. Cast Off Blog Tour

Read on for an interview with CAST OFF author Eve Yohalem, and a giveaway (US only, ends 6/20/2015).

About the Book

A tale of pirates, mutiny, and friendship on the high seas, perfect for fans of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

It’s 1663 and there is an extra passenger on board a Dutch merchant ship setting sail for the East Indies. Twelve-year-old Petra has stowed away to escape her abusive father. But she quickly realizes that surviving for months at sea will be impossible without help. So when Bram, the half-Dutch/Half-Javanese son of the ship’s carpenter, finds her hiding spot, Petra convinces him to help her stay hidden... and help disguise her as a boy. 

If Petra is discovered and exposed as a girl, she could be tossed overboard, or worse... returned to her father. And if Bram is exposed for helping her, he could lose the only home—and family—he has. As tensions rise on the ship, with pirates attacking, deadly illness, and even mutiny, Petra and Bram face impossible decisions that test their friendship and threaten their dreams of freedom.

Told in alternating voices and filled with secrets and intrigue, this richly researched novel is historical fiction at its best.

About the Author

Eve Yohalem's first book was Escape Under the Forever Sky, which Booklist called “riveting.” She lives with her family in New York City. To learn more, and download a free curriculum guide for Cast Off, visit her website: eveyohalem.com and on Facebook.


Q&A with Eve Yohalem

Read Now Sleep Later: Cast Off is told from two points of view. How did you keep your characters organized? Are there parts of the story you would try to tell from one POV then realize it was better told from the other POV? 

Eve Yohalem: When I first started writing Cast Off, it was in the third person and only in Petra’s point of view. About fifty pages in, I realized Bram needed to be heard. And after maybe the third draft I decided the story would be much more exciting and immediate if it was told in their own voices. Sometimes the choice of POV was obvious—for example, if the scene only involved one of the characters. But sometimes I wrote it both ways and then picked the one that was better. In case you can’t tell, writing Cast Off involved a lot of re-writing!

RNSL: Your main characters are different genders and come from different cultures. Do you think one was easier to write than the other based on the common traits between you and the character?

EY: The challenge for me wasn’t cultural or gender differences, it was—and is—the character’s emotional state during a given scene. Scenes where my main characters are miserable are painful to write. I have to fight the urge to be protective of my characters, because books where everybody is happy all the time are really boring.

RNSL: When you were the age that your book's audience is now, were you a reader/writer/both? 

EY: I read nonstop as a kid. At one point my mother consulted a doctor to find out if it was normal to read so much. Thankfully, he told her not to worry about it.

RNSL: Your characters have some pretty deep emotional struggles in this novel. Are they built from experience, study, a bit of both? Why did you decide to write about these struggles for this age group? 

EY: Both Petra and Bram are outsiders. Petra is a lone girl on a ship of 300 men. Bram is the mixed-race, illegitimate son of the ship’s carpenter so he’s stateless and nameless. In addition to storms, fevers, and mutiny, they battle loneliness, fear, and persecution in their search to find their place in the world. I’m really not trying to be flip when I say this, but isn’t that a perfect metaphor for middle school?

RNSL: If you're working on a future project, can you tell us a little bit about it?

EY: Sure! I just finished writing a new book called True Fact about a twelve-year-old girl with diabetes who spends the summer searching for sunken treasure with her German shepherd and the obnoxious daughter of a famous Hollywood director. I’m also one draft into a sequel to Cast Off.

RNSL: If there is a book out there that you wish you'd written? What is it, and why do you wish you'd written it? (I'll tell you mine--The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, because it made me feel so much and was so lyrical and beautiful in prose!)

EY: I loved The Time Traveler’s Wife! I really really wish I’d written the George and Martha books. What a friendship!

RNSL: Cake or pie? (or both?) 

EY: Pie. Specifically blueberry, key lime, banana cream, peach, or cherry. But, really, almost any pie will do. 

Blog Tour Schedule

Mon, June 1 - Book Monsters - http://thebookmonsters.com/

Tues, June 2 - The Hiding Spot - http://thehidingspot.blogspot.com/

Wed, June 3 - Books Unbound - http://booksunboundblog.com/

Thurs, June 4 - Unleashing Readers - http://www.unleashingreaders.com/

Fri, June 5 - Read Now, Sleep Later - http://www.readnowsleeplater.org/

Mon, June 8 - Mother Daughter Book Club - http://motherdaughterbookclub.com/

Tues, June 9 - Cracking the Cover - http://www.crackingthecover.com/

Wed, June 10 - The Compulsive Reader - http://www.thecompulsivereader.com/

Thurs, June 11 - The Children's Book Review - http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/

Fri, June 12 - I Read Banned Books - http://www.jenbigheart.com/

Giveaway Time!

Win a copy of Cast Off--just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. US only, ends 6/20/2015.

  • Open to US only, ends 6/20/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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39. #706 – Beach House by Deanna Caswell and Amy June Bates

am cover
Beach House
Written by Deanna Caswell
Illustrated by Amy June Bates
Chronicle Books       5/12/2015
32 pages      Age 4—8


“A long, long drive.
It’s been a year
of dreaming, waiting.
Summer’s here.
“In a funny and moving celebration of family, vacations, and the joy of the sea, Deanna Caswell and Amy June Bates capture the essence of summer—sand castles, tide pools, starry evenings—and the love that warms every moment.” [book jacket]

Well, if you are not fond of overcrowded pools or swimming deep within them to find fantasy and fish of questionable species (review of Pool here), then maybe traveling to the ocean, staying in a summer home, and breathing in the salt air is more to your liking. If so, then Beach House is the perfect picture book to kick off your summer.

After a long drive—“Are we there yet?—the family arrives at the beach house for their summer vacation. The sea beckons, but the car needs unloaded, and the suitcases unpacked.

“Doors fly open.
End of the road.

“To the beach!”
“Not yet—unload.”

Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Amy June Bates. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

So many bags, so much stuff. Amazing one family needs this much for a vacation from daily life. Fun waits as the clothes are hung and shoes arranged. The youngest son and his faithful pal look hopefully out the window at the beach and the water. Then the magic words that get everyone moving. Suits are on, and dad is loaded down with every imaginable beach toy and towels. The family hits the beach. The two kids gleefully run into the water with the puppy right behind them. The toddler plays in the sand, making castles and other sand-filled joys. After a full day of sun, sand, and water, the family cuddles up to a roaring fire for dinner and then the comfort of baths and soft beds. Tomorrow will be another day on the beach. The text, written in rhyme, easily flows off the tongue, fluently rhyming for readers and listeners alike.

bates - dad loaded down

I love the illustrations which overflow with intimate detail. The younger boy, pulling his wagon full of sand toys, has the glimpses of a diaper popping out of the top of his swim trunks. He is obviously a toddler. Another favorite scene has the two older kids—a boy and a girl—in the water playing. Dad is tossing the girl up and into the water. The boy has his hands cupped around his mouth, yelling at mom, who is on the beach with the toddler. I can hear him saying, “Hey, Mom! Mom! Look at me!”

The watercolor and pencil illustrations exude summer on a soft, white, sandy beach that keeps the ocean where it belongs, allowing just a wave or two onto its shore. I am reminded of summer vacations with my family. Five of us crammed into a small cottage, swimming all day, eating ice cream bars on the stoop, and watching my older sister wash the paper plates—a joke I was too young to understand, or even remember without photographic evidence. Beach House brings out memories, or maybe, it will give you pause—a small suggestion—to plan that family getaway.

running into water full spread large

BEACH HOUSE. Text copyright © 2015 by Deanna Caswell. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Amy June Bates. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase Beach House at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesChronicle Books.

Learn more about Beach House HERE.
Meet the author, Deanna Caswell, at her website:  http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/
Meet the illustrator, Amy June Bates, at her website:  http://amyjunebates.blogspot.com/
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 453

beach house

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Amy June Bates, Beach House, Chronicle Books, Deanna Caswell, family time, ocean cottages, relationships, sand castles, summer vacations, swimming

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40. World Oceans Day

SB page 1

June 8th is World Ocean’s Day and a day to celebrate the vast bodies of water and their inhabitants. Museums, aquariums and zoos will hold celebrations this weekend across the country. If you are lucky enough to live on the coast, a trip to the beach is a great way to celebrate this year’s theme “Healthy oceans, healthy planet”.

Of course Arbordale has many books that celebrate the ocean and many online activities that can be done right at home. So today on the blog we have a few fun ways to honor the ocean without leaving the comforts of your own home.

Draw your own Marine Mammal
from Waterbed:s Sleeping in the Ocean


Toothy Sharks
read:  Shark Baby


Find more fun activities on the Marine Life Pinterest Board, or learn more about World Oceans Day!

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41. #705 – Pool by JiHyeon Lee



By JiHyeon Lee
Chronicle Books      5/01/2015
56 pages      Age 3—5

“What happens when two shy children meet at a very crowded pool? Dive in to find out! JiHyeon Lee’s masterful story of a chance encounter takes readers on a journey that reminds us that friendship and imagination have no bounds.” [book jacket]

Pool arrives just in time for summer. Pool wordlessly tells the story of one young boy going to a public pool to find it is crowded. Actually, barely an inch exists between swimmers. He sits on the side of the pool, probably contemplating what to do. Then he dives in and goes below the legs of all those swimmers. Down into the depths of the pool, the young boy meets all sorts of curious water-living creatures. Crazy big-eyed fish, long L-shaped fish, and even a fish resembling a toucan exist down below those swimmers.

Most importantly, the young boy meets another swimmer his own age. The two explore all the life below the other swimmers. Schools of bluefish swarm the young boy, who looks uncertain. The brave outlook of the young girl must give him confidence, as they fearlessly swim among fish with many sharp teeth and come eye-to-eye with a huge whale. As the two swim up for air, the fish follow causing a riotous exit from the water by the other swimmers.


I love Pool. Pool exemplifies the power of the imagination and the pull of kindred spirits into friendship. Pool shows the boy’s problem-solving skills as he decides to go below the swimming feet where there would be room to actually swim. Those above him crowd the water too tightly to even move, let alone swim. Below the surface, this resourceful boy meets another young swimmer and the two find ways to enjoy the water and themselves. Are those fish real? It’s anyone’s guess whether those crazy-looking fish are real or the figment of the young swimmers’ imaginations. Last out of the pool is an inner tube wearing young swimmer, who looks back upon the now quiet and still water. If you saw what this youngster saw, you just might believe.

Pool is perfect for any summer day, rain or shine. Lee used oil pastels and colored pencils to create the beautifully crafted spreads. As the young boy swims below the crowded surface, his trunks turn from a dull grey to a dark blue. The further he descends, the brighter the spreads. I think the message is that one must go beyond the ordinary, innertube crowd to see the wonders of the world and, when finding friendship, enjoy the time together in those wonders you share. Staying on the surface, with the crowd, is safe but often lonely. Pool is Lee’s first picture book. I hope she continues to publish. Her work is collector worthy.

Next time you go swimming, try going down to the depths of your imagination. You just might meet your kindred spirit.


POOL. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by JiHyeon Lee. Copright © 2015 by Chronicle Books. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase Pool at AmazonBook DepositoryChronicle Books.

Learn more about Pool HERE.
Collect Wallpapers no.1 and no.2
Meet the artist, JiHyeon Lee at her pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/kooshles/ji-hyeon-lee-south-korean-illustrator/
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

Originally published in South Korea in 2013 by Iyagikot Publishing.

top book of 2015 general


Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 353



Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Chronicle Books, collector-worthy picture books, imaginative, JiHyeon Lee, Korean born children’s authors and illustrators, Pool, splendid, summer, swimming

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42. #703 – Ten Playful Tigers (A Back-and-Forth Book) by Beth Schwartz and Lynn Seresin & Luciana Navarro Powell

Ten Playful Tigers: A Back-and-Forth Counting Book

Series: Back-and-Forth Books
Written by Beth Schwartz & Lynn Seresin
Illustrated by Luciana Navarro Powell
Capstone Young Readers     8/01/2015
  22 pages       9″x8″      Age 1—4.

“One two three, how many tigers do you see? Count along as one little tiger turns into ten playful tigers (and their mama!). Then start again by counting the butterflies beginning with ten. Little hands and little eyes will delight to explore these sturdy interactive board books from front-to-back and back-to-front. Award-winning team Betty Schwartz and Lynn Seresin have created charming, tactile two-in-one experiences for the littlest learners” [back cover]

Cute little tigers, with big wide eyes and long striped tails, will indeed charm little kids as they count from one to ten and then ten to one (actually, the butterflies begin with eleven, for the smart, observant, little kid). The tiger at number 1 simply walks into the tall grass with one butterfly trailing behind. Turn the page and there are two tigers, greeting one another. With each new turn of the thick and sturdy glossy pages, a new tiger joins in with its siblings. The tigers have a fun morning (or afternoon) doing all sorts of things that will energize young children: climb trees, play in the water, do tricks, play soccer, follow-the-tiger, tumble about, and roar with all the might of a little tiger. These playful tigers will definitely amuse young children.


After a rough and tumble morning (or afternoon), the ten tigers take a nap with mama, making Ten Playful Tigers the perfect bedtime story. Upon waking, kids can count the butterflies from ten (eleven) down to one and then blast off into the rest of their day. Kids will also like turning the pages with the die-cut holes and rubbing Mama-tiger’s orange and black striped fur. Counting from ten to one involves counting the number of holes containing butterflies—on the left side of the spread—and then adding in the one or two butterflies flying elsewhere on the half-spread. Large purple numbers guide kids as they count.


The oversized book may be too large for some little hands, but with help this should not be a hindrance. The illustrations are beautiful, fun, and lively. Even the butterflies change shape and color, seemingly having their own group fun. I especially love the spread with the, wait a minute . . . one, two three, FOUR roaring tigers. They each have four pointy teeth and one large mouth, which when opened wide, makes their nose and eyes seem to scrunch. Ten Playful Tigers is the perfect board book for young children learning how to count.

But wait, there’s more. Once you can count up to ten and then back down to one, it is time to leave the tigers and butterflies for a more ferocious beast—dinosaurs!   Keep reading->
TEN PLAYFUL TIGERS (A BACK-AND-FORTH BOOK). Text copyright © 2015 by Beth Schwartz & Lynn Seresin. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Luciana Navarro Powell. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase Ten Playful Tigers at AmazonBook DepositoryCapstone.

Learn more about Ten Playful Tigers HERE.
Meet the author, Beth Schwartz, her website:
Meet the author, Lynn Seresin, at her website:  bit.ly/LynnSeresin
Meet the illustrator, Luciana Navarro Powell, at her website:  http://www.lucianaillustration.com/
Find more picture books at the Capstone Young Readers website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

Capstone Young Readers is an imprint of Capstone.

Other Back-and-Forth Books
Busy Little Dinosaurs (alphabet)   (reviewed here)
Puppies, Puppies, Everywhere! (opposites)
You’re it, Little Red Fish (colors)

PLUSHop, Hop, Bunny (reviewed here)
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 339

Ten Playful Tigers (A Back-and-Forth Book)


Filed under: 5stars, Board Books, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Series Tagged: Back-and-Forth Books, Beth Schwartz, Capstone, Capstone Young Readers, counting, counting 1-to-10 and then 10-to-1, experiential learning, humor, imagination, Luciana Navarro Powell, Lynn Seresin, rote learning, Ten Playful Tigers, tigers

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43. #702 – Busy Little Dinosaurs (A Back-and-Forth Book) by Beth Schwartz and Lynn Seresin & Luciana Navarro Powell

Busy Little Dinosaurs: A Back-and-Forth Alphabet Book

Series: Back-and-Forth Books
Written by Beth Schwartz & Lynn Seresin
Illustrated by Luciana Navarro Powell
Capstone Young Readers        8/01/2015
22 pages        9″x8″       Age 1—4

“Busy little dinosaurs, as a rule, agree it’s fun to go to school! Follow dinosaurs through an alphabet of activities from A all the way to Zzzzzz. But wait—you’re not done! Go back to A and name the things that start with the letters along the way.” [back cover]

Busy Little Dinosaurs will teach young children their ABCs in an unconventional manner. Each spread contains a four-line verse of rhyme and somewhere in that rhyme is a word with the letter or letters for that spread, going from A to Z. For example, the second spread is for the letters “Gg,” “Hh,” and “Ii.”

Dinos gather together,
hang a flag from a tree,
and imagine they’re pirates,
that sail the high seas.”

At the top left of each spread, in various colors, are the next letters in the alphabet. It would be easy enough to learn the alphabet by learning the letters while ignoring each verse and illustration, but that would not be much fun. The dinosaurs are doing all sorts of imaginative activities, many of which young children could also enjoy. In the above verse, the orange dinosaur looks at a map while wearing a pirate’s hat. The green dinosaur wears glasses and is looks over a different type of map, while the third dinosaur peers through a telescope—“Land Ho!”

Young children will have loads of laughs learning the alphabet with Busy Little Dinosaurs. The colorful, sturdy pages are glossy and wipe off kid-gunk with ease. The “A” dinosaurs enter school with their backpacks and big smiles. Throughout the day, the dinosaurs have a tremendous amount of fun as they enjoy many activities: play instruments, exercise in gym class, play soccer, paint, eat lunch, read books, and take a nap. All make for a rather decent kindergarten day.

Once those dinosaurs awake, they can flip back through the pages and, well, this part is actually a little tricky.

“Now go back to the cutouts
for surprises and fun.
Guess the letter things start with
and then you are done!”

The first spread is now letter “Z,” and in the cutout is a picture of a zebra fish—the object begins with the letter Z. On spread “Y,” the cutout is over the orange body of the yawning dinosaur. This could be the word “yawning” beginning with the letter Y, though not an object. “Ww and Xx” opens to a bookworm or a worm reading—begins with the letter W. But then “Tt, Uu, Vv” opens on the color purple on the dinosaur’s nose. I cannot think of anything beginning with the letter t, u, or v for this “object.” The spreads repeat this pattern of object then body color until the child is back to the front off the book. I love the idea, but do not understand what object each color represents, especially if the letter of the object is one of the letters of the spread, though that was not specified. I can only imagine how difficult it would have been to get an object in one cutout for two spreads. This does give a child the chance to use his or her imagination when deciding what object the colors might represent to them. Unfortunately, as a back-and-forth book, Busy Little Dinosaurs works well going forward and half the time in reverse.

Despite this problem, Busy Little Dinosaurs is a fun, imaginative, interesting, and colorful learning experience for young kids. Learning the ABCs in this manner is more beneficial than simply reciting the alphabet repeatedly until learned. Rote learning is never as much fun as experiential learning. I would highly recommend Busy Little Dinosaurs for teaching young children their alphabet. I believe, learning in this manner—non-rote learning—helps kids learn faster and remember what they learned longer. Busy Little Dinosaurs will have young children excited to learn the alphabet—and that is the best way to learn.

BUSY LITTLE DINOSAURS (A BACK-AND-FORTH BOOK). Text copyright © 2015 by Beth Schwartz & Lynn Seresin. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Luciana Navarro Powell. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone, North Mankato, MN.

Pre-order Busy Little Dinosaurs at AmazonBook Depository—Capstone.

Learn more about Busy Little Dinosaurs HERE.
Meet the author, Beth Schwartz, her website:
Meet the author, Lynn Seresin, at her website: http://bit.ly/LynnSeresin
Meet the illustrator, Luciana Navarro Powell, at his/her website: http://www.lucianaillustration.com/
Find more picture books at the Capstone Young Readers website: http://www.capstonepub.com/

Capstone Young Readers is an imprint of Capstone.

Other Back-and-Forth Books
Puppies, Puppies, Everywhere! (opposites)
Ten Playful Tigers (counting)   (reviewed here)
You’re it, Little Red Fish (colors)

Plus – Hop, Hop Bunny (reviewed here)
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 603

Busy Little Dinosaurs (A Back-and-Forth Book)


Filed under: 4stars, Board Books, Children's Books, Series Tagged: ABC's, alphabet, Back-and-Forth Books, Beth Schwartz, Busy Little Dinosaurs, Capstone, Capstone Young Readers, dinosaurs, experiential learning, humor, imagination, Luciana Navarro Powell, Lynn Seresin, rote learning

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44. #696 – I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

coverI Wish You More

Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Chronicle Books  3/01/2015
40 pages Age 3+
“Some books are about a single wish.
Some books are about three wishes.
This book is about endless wishes.

“Amy Krouse and Tom Lichtenheld have been called the “Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers of children’s books” and here they have combined their extraordinary talent to create a compendium of wishes—wishes for curiosity and wonder, friendship and strength, for joyous days and quiet moments.

What will you wish for?”  [book jacket]

I Wish You More is the perfect book for a (grand)parent to give their (grand)child for any occasion or no occasion at all. I Wish You More is also the perfect book to give the child heading off to college, summer camp, or any other get-away.

I wish you more can than knot.

I wish you more can than knot.

Beginning with two children racing with the wind, a kite flying high above, the text reads:  “I wish you more ups than downs.” Each spread continues with a wish and an image expressing that wish. Children will understand most of the test and each of the images. Lichtenheld has created a multicultural set of children, which make the spreads that more adorable—if this is possible.

I Wish You More is simply a wonderful, joyous, high-spirited, positive celebration of what a wish can do for those who receive them, and for those who give them. There really is not much more to say about this beautiful picture book. Read I Wish You More to a young child and they can learn the benefits of kindness and well wishes toward other humans. And, I believe, you can help your little one with their self-esteem.  I Wish You More would have been in my office and read to every child.

I wish you more stories than stars.

I wish you more stories than stars.

Each spread is one wish—one special wish with an equally special illustration. Narrated by the voice of a parent, I Wish You More  concludes by stating it contains all these wishes, “. . . because you are everything I could wish for . . . and more.”

**Chronicle Books is making two posters from the book available for anyone who would like them. This may be for a limited time, I do not know, so go HERE and get your set of two. They are perfect for any child’s room. There is also an activity kit for teachers HERE.

I WISH YOU MORE. Text copyright © 2015 by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Tom Lichtenheld. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase I Wish You More at AmazonBook DepositoryChronicle Books.

Learn more about I Wish You More HERE.

Meet the author, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, at her website:  http://www.whoisamy.com/
Meet the illustrator, Tom Lichtenheld, at his website:  http://www.tomlichtenheld.com/
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Review section word count = 222

i wish you more

Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: 978-1-4521-2699-9, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, books for parents to give children, Chronicle Books, creative, empowering, I Wish You More, illuminating, reflective, self esteem, Tom Lichtenheld, wishes

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45. How to Read With Your Rising First Graders and Kinders This Summer

For parents of soon-to-be kindergartners and first graders, helping their children be prepared for the start of school can be exciting and daunting (and not just for students).

What can parents do over the summer to help their children maintain the growth they made this past year in preschool or kindergarten and be ready to tackle new topics and skills in the fall?

Below is one way parents can read and explore books over the summer. This model can be adapted for both fiction and nonfiction texts and follows how many teachers practice guided reading, which children may experience the first time in the upcoming school year.

I’m going to model how parents can practice reading using the text, David’s Drawings.

We do not need to, nor should we, ask every question for every book during every reading time. We may have only four minutes of our child’s attention one day and maybe twenty on another. The goal is not to drill our youngest learners in Common Core standards by the start of school.

Rather, the ultimate goal here is to show our beginning and soon-to-be readers how reading can be a joyful, positive experience. This mindset will set them up for the best start to their school journey.

Getting Ready to Read

1. Questions to ask and talk through with our rising kinders or first graders about the book:

  • Who is the author? / Show me where the author is on the cover. What does an author do?
  • Who is the illustrator? / Show me where the illustrator is on the cover. What does an illustrator do?
  • Where is the front cover? The back cover? The title page of the book?
  • As we read, which direction do we read the words?

2. Practice making predictions:

  • Together, look at the front cover. Using the title and picture on the cover, ask: what might happen in the story? What makes you think that?
  • Take a picture walk through the book. Ask: What do you think this story will be about? What do you notice when you look through this book?

3. Build background schema and draw on your child’s past experiences:

  • What do you know about drawing, or making a picture?
  • What types of things do you like to draw?
  • Where do artists get their ideas for drawings and paintings?
  • Who might help you draw a picture?

Reading the Book

  • As you begin to read, make sure the book is between both of you so your child can clearly see the text (and illustrations) and be in the position of the reader (rather than a regular listener at a group story time).
  • Make sure to point your finger to each word as it is read aloud. In doing so, your child can follow the text as well as the storyline and learn that we derive meaning from print—we in fact are not just making up a story to match the pictures we are seeing!

Video examples of parents reading with primary grade students:

After Reading

Discuss the meaning of the text. Here are some questions to check comprehension during and after the reading. (CCSS Key Ideas and Details)

  • Who is the main character? Or, who is David?
  • Where does the story take place? When does the story take place?
  • Where does David get his idea for his picture?
  • What details do his classmates add to David’s tree?
  • How does David feel when the other children draw on his picture? Share a time you felt the same way.
  • Why do you think David decides to make another drawing when he arrives home?
  • What does this story remind you of?
  • Could this really happen?
  • Do you think David is polite? Why or why not?
  • If you were to add one more page to the story, what do you think would happen next?
  • Why do you think the author, Cathryn Falwell, picks the title, David’s Drawings? Do you think this is a good title for the book? Why do you think so?
  • What do you think might happen the next time David starts a drawing in class?
  • Why do you think David isn’t shy anymore at the end of the story?
  • What was an interesting part for you in the story? Or, what part of the story made you smile? Why?

Video examples demonstrating book comprehension:

rising kinder readingExplore foundational skills and language:

  • Please show me a word that starts with the uppercase letter D. Show me a word that starts with the lowercase letter p.
  • Put your finger on a word that starts with b. Put your finger on a word that ends with e.
  • Can you think of another word you know that rhymes with day?
  • Can you show me a sentence that has a question mark at the end? A period? An exclamation point?
  • Can you show me a word that ends in –ed? –s?
  • Find a word that starts with the same letter as your name.
  • Find a word that ends with the same letter as your name.
  • Find a word that has a letter that is in your name.
  • Can you show me the (high frequency) words: the, of, and, a, to, you, on, I, me, my? Many primary grade classrooms build reading fluency with sight word practice. For a review for rising first graders or a peak for rising kinders, here are kindergarten high frequency word lists:

Post-Reading Activities

Done with sitting still? Time to move but keep the connections going!

1. Write or draw an answer to this question: Would you be friends with David?

2. Find a tree near school, at a park, or near your home. Sketch it using a pencil and then later decorate it.

3. Re-read the story or have another adult read the story—re-reading stories is great for helping children practice fluency, make predictions, retell events, and build confidence in eventually reading parts on their own.

For more further ideas on early literacy:

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. In her weekly column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

0 Comments on How to Read With Your Rising First Graders and Kinders This Summer as of 5/18/2015 10:09:00 AM
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46. Bride of Slug Man Blog Tour

I read a super-fun middle grade novel this week--check out the hilarious Kate Walden Directs: Bride of Slug Man by Julie Mata! Check out my review, a Q&A with the author, watch the trailer, and enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter widget below.

About the book:

After her huge success with her first feature-length movie, seventh-grader Kate Walden is eager to start on her next film, a sci-fi romance called Bride of Slug Man. When a new kid comes to town from New York City, Kate thinks she might have a new found film buddy-someone to share her interest with. And it doesn't hurt that he's pretty cute. But it turns out that Tristan is making his own movie, and now the classmates Kate thought were eager to join her cast and crew are divided.

With rumors spreading in school and between sets, Kate finds herself juggling more than just call times and rewrites. And judging from the whispers Kate hears about Tristan Kingsley,she suspects that he isn't interested in having a fellow film-buff friend; he just wants to prove himself as the best filmmaker in school by winning the Big Picture Film Festival. Kate vows to enter too, and tries to focus on just making the best movie she can.

But between the cutthroat popularity contest, a bully situation that goes from bad to worse, and several on-set mishaps, Kate is going to need all the movie magic she can get to make sure Bride of Slug Man hits the big-screen.

Alethea's Review:

Kate Walden is a girl after my own heart, studying filmmaking books and taking steps to make her dreams into reality--er, well, real films about weird and fictional things. (I can relate--at her age I was trying to adapt The Hobbit into a two-hour stage play.) Her friends help her out--er, well, they put their own unique spin on things with their skills and foibles. Her family, including her sometimes annoying little brother Derek, is supportive, if occasionally preoccupied with their own creative endeavors. 

Of course, what middle grade novel on school and friendship is complete without some cute boys to crush on? Things get complicated when the new kid turns out to be a rival in the world of filmmaking, and some bullies get in on the act. As if things weren't SO complicated already.

I really enjoy funny middle grade novels with a little seriousness lying under the skin, so I found Bride of Slug Man really entertaining. The characters are warm and varied. Kate can't just get what she wants--she has to think hard and muddle through confusing feelings to solve her problems. Her mix of enthusiasm and immaturity comes across as authentic tween exuberance, even if the situations are still somewhat cartoonish. 

I'd definitely recommend this to young readers with a creative bent and an interest in realistic school fiction about friendships, family, and of course, filmmaking. 

4 STARS - STAY UP LATE Julie Mata (photo credit: Tony Mata)

Julie Mata (photo credit: Tony Mata)

About the author:

Julie Mata grew up outside Chicago and currently lives in Wisconsin, where she owns a video production business with her husband.. She loves movies and once wrote and directed her own short film. She also loves traveling, gardening, and reading a really good book. Her first book was Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens. For more information, including a downloadable curriculum guide and a filmmaking tip of the month, visit her website: juliemata.com.

Twitter: @juliehmata

Q&A with Julie Mata

RNSL: Kate Walden is my kind of geek. What inspired her character?

Julie Mata: My daughters were a big inspiration. They didn't dream of making it in Hollywood when they were Kate's age, but they did enjoy making movies. I think a lot of kids can relate to that. Kate loves filmmaking, but she also loves spending time with her friends, and making movies together is a great way to do that. Kate may be a bit of a geek, but she's also very smart and sharp, and she's not afraid to pursue a big dream.

RNSL: Kate is looking for a collaborator, but finds a competitor instead. I've been in her shoes before! What gave you the idea for this plot setup?

JM: I thought giving Kate a rival would add some fun conflict, especially if the rival is a cute boy who also likes to make movies. Giving Kate a competitor causes her problems but it also causes her to change and grow throughout the story, as she tries to figure out the new boy's motives. Kids sometimes tend to make snap decisions about people, and Kate does too. She thinks she has the new boy pegged but finds out the hard way that it's dangerous to make assumptions. 

RNSL: What's your favorite kid-appropriate Bride of Slug Man-type movie? Non-kid-appropriate?

JM: Plan 9 from Outer Space is the perfect kid-appropriate sci-fi flick It's a black and white movie from 1959 directed by Ed Wood. Wood thought audiences were only interested in the big picture and wouldn't notice little details like terrible special effects, bizarre leaps in logic, and props falling over. The result is a movie that's hilariously bad and great fun to watch. For non-kid-appropriate movies, I would have to go with the original Alien. Now that's a nasty, slimy slug creature. It doesn't get much scarier than that. 

RNSL: If you could have a dream cast for a film or TV adaptation of your books, who would you get? 

JM: I think that either Lindsay Lohan or Amanda Bynes would have been perfect as Kate Walden back when they were child actors.They were both extremely talented and funny. They grew up, of course, and their lives got complicated, but if I could commandeer a time machine, I'd go back and cast one of them as Kate and the other one as popular girl Lydia.

RNSL: If you could take any book you love and produce the film version, which would it be?

JM: I would have picked A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, but it sounds like Frozen director Jennifer Lee beat me to it and is currently working on a new adaptation. Can't wait to see it! So I'm going with a real dark horse candidate--Precious Bane, written by Mary Webb and published in 1924. I loved it when I was young, and often wished someone would make it into a movie. The main character, Prue Sarn, has a harelip and suffers widespread scorn and distrust, but encounters a man who sees past her defect and recognizes her inner beauty. I found the characters, the stark setting, and the tragic tale so haunting and compelling that I read it many times and still have a copy of it.

Follow along on the blog tour!

Monday, May 18 - GreenBeanTeenQueen

Wed. May 20 - Once Upon a Story

Thurs, May 21 - Read Now, Sleep Later

Fri, May 22 - Curling Up with a Good Book

Tues, May 27 - The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

Wed, May 28 - BookHounds YA

Thurs, May 29 - The Brain Lair

Fri, May 30 - Kid Lit Frenzy

Giveaway time!

One lucky winner will get both of Julie Mata's Kate Walden Directs books. US addresses only, ends May 31, 2015

  • Open to US only, ends 5/31/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

0 Comments on Bride of Slug Man Blog Tour as of 1/1/1900
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47. The Wizard of Oz Blog Tour

Read on for more about the Classic Edition of The Wizard of Oz illustrated by Charles Santore, my Oz memories, and a giveaway!

From Goodreads:

“With stunning illustrations from celebrated artist Charles Santore and a child-friendly, abridged retelling that remains faithful to Frank L. Baum’s original text, this Classic Edition of The Wizard of Oz is a must-have for every family’s library.

”Readers of all ages will follow the Yellow Brick Road on an unforgettable journey that takes them from Dorothy’s gray Kansas home into the blue Munchkin land; the sparkling bejeweled Emerald City; the dark, foreboding forest; and the ruby-red throne room of Glinda the Good Witch in this gorgeously illustrated, classic edition of The Wizard of Oz.”

Like most children of many ages, my first exposure to The Wizard of Oz was the 1939 film/musical version starring Judy Garland. I've never read the novels, but now that I've read the classic edition, I really want to! I'm normally very wary of retellings and abridgments, but the classic edition of The Wizard of Oz does its best to capture the spirit and retain as much as possible of Baum's original text. Coupled with the gorgeous and imaginative watercolors of Charles Santore, this edition is essential for any child's library.

Santore plays with color, from the gray stormy overcast of Kansas, to the vibrant red poppy field, to the rich, almost-monochromatic-but-not-quite Emerald City. The golden hue of the Yellow Brick Road ties it all together. A lithe art-nouveau Glinda contrasts in style with a stumpy Great Oz and grotesque Wicked Witch. And if you're familiar with the Saturday Evening Post, you'll recognize the Americana touches to the illustrations. I get the impression that Santore's imagination caught fire upon reading the book, which he did so reluctantly, then repeatedly. There are so many spreads in this book that I would love to frame, particularly the pages with red poppies and the Queen of All the Field Mice. 

The Wizard of Oz was one of those movies that I had to watch and listen to ad nauseam when I was younger and my little sister was addicted to this film. There was a time I could perform the entire movie with dialogue and song entirely from memory. It's interesting reading the novel, even in abridged format, and encountering so many differences between the classic edition and the film. I will have to dig out my husband's copies of the series from when he was a child, and discover the differences for myself.

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One lucky winner will get a copy of The Wizard of Oz: Classic EditionUS addresses only, ends May 31, 2015

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48. Interview with Anne Sawyer-Aitch, author of 'Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City'

Anne Sawyer-Aitch (pronounced like the letter “H”) is a puppeteer and stilt-walker. When she decided to create her first book, Nalah and the Pink Tiger, she began experimenting with different styles of illustration, and finally discovered a technique that uses her skills as a maker of color shadow puppets. She calls it “Illuminated Illustration”, and it involves cut-away designs, layering, and backlighting. In her capacity as a puppeteer, Anne creates puppet pieces of all kinds: parade floats, giant stilt puppets, and intricate color shadow shows. She is a MN State Arts Board Roster Artist, teaching puppetry all over the state, and has been touring around with her first book & her Nalah and the Pink Tiger show for the last two years. Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City is her second book. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?

In my newest book, Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City, the adventures of Nalah continue! One day Nalah finds herself bored and lonesome because all of her imaginary friends have gone away on vacation. But wait – not all. Mad Tooth, the little mouse who lives in her sock drawer, is still busy munching away on her knee-highs. When she finds out why Nalah is sad, she offers to take her down through the sock drawer into a mouse metropolis. The result is a tale of wild dancing, cousins and mice, taffy and a sock monster.

This book was inspired by my little niece, Nalah. She is a very lively girl who is always getting into mischief. She sparked the first story, Nalah and the Pink Tiger. The series has taken on a life of its own since then. 

Tell us about your children's books.

There are the two Nalah books mentioned above. I have illustrated a book for the MN Humanities Commission as well called The Imaginary Day. My next projects include a third Nalah book (Nalah in Piggy Wig Paris) and a book about animals in winter. The latter is something I started developing when I began painting small creaures sleeping: hedgehogs, squirrels, dormice, sleeping. I want to make a little board book for toddlers that parents can read to them at bedtime.

Describe your working environment.

Ha! I’m a puppeteer as well as an author/illustrator, and that means I save everything. I work in all sorts of mediums, from fabric to clay to paint and paper cutting. I’m always re-configuring my dining room table based on the project at hand. 

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?

What are you working on now?

Aside from the books I mentioned before, I’ll be developing some new puppet pieces, including the Spanish version of Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City, and a Mexican folk tale in toy theatre style. 

Where are your books available?

What was your experience in working with an illustrator author?

I illustrated both of my books. I think both in words and in pictures, so I enjoy doing it that way. I use a lot of speech bubbles in my books. Probably because I grew up reading my Mom’s old Donald Duck comics.

What type of book promotion works for you? Any special strategies you’d like to share?

Because I’m a professional puppeteer, I have a puppet show that goes with the book. I’ve been performing that at various sites and selling books that way. But also through social media, Amazon, Good Reads, and shops that support local artists. 

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Don’t worry about how you are going to publish it. There are lots of ways to do that. You don’t need anybody else’s permission. Focus on making something you enjoy.

Who are your favorite authors?

In children’s ficiton, I love Maud Hart Lovelace, the D’Aulaires, Wanda Gag, William Steig. Also the Harry Potter books. They are so Dickensian.

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49. #699 – Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer & Holly Clifton-Brown

Stella Brings the Family

Written by Miriam B. Schiffer
Illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown
Chronicle Books      3/05/2015
32 pages     Age 4—8

“Stella’s class is having a Mother’s Day cerebration but what’s a girl with two daddies to do? It’s not that she doesn’t have someone who helps her with her homework or tucks her in at night. Stella has her Papa and Daddy who take care of her and a whole gaggle of other loved ones who make her feel special and supported every day. She just doesn’t have a mom to invite to the party. Fortunately, Stella finds a unique solution to her party problem in the sweet story about love, acceptance, and the true meaning of family.” [book jacket]
Stella’s teacher at Elmwood Elementary School announces a celebration for Mother’s Day and each student can invite a “special guest.” Jonathan, Leon, and Carmen are inviting their mothers. Howie even has two mothers to invite! Stella does not have a mother. Her classmates wonder—without a mother—who reads to her at night, helps her with homework, and kisses her when she gets hurt. Stella has many people who do those things. She has her Papa and Daddy, Nonna, Aunt Gloria, Uncle Bruno, and Cousin Lucy. Jonathan suggests inviting them all, but Stella is not sure. On party day, Howie is there with his two mothers and Jonathan is with his grandmother (mom is away in the army). The party is a big hit and everyone has a great time.

kids table

Stella Brings the Family delves into what a family consists of today. No longer simply mom and dad plus kids, today’s configurations of families can be anything that consists of people loving and caring for each other. That can be mom and dad plus kids, or a mom and child, a grandmother and grandchild, even two dads and a daughter, like Stella’s family. Stella Brings the Family is not a book about homosexuality. It does not try to explain why Stella has two dads or anything about the two dads, except that they love Stella.

invite daddy papa stella

What Stella Brings the Family is, is a celebration of family and a celebration of acceptance. None of the kids—or special guests—care about the kind of family each child is a member of, but rather that each child has someone who reads to them at night, helps them with homework, and kisses them when they get hurt. Kids will recognize themselves and their friends in Stella Brings the Family. Debut author Schiffer keeps the story’s focus on Stella, who stands out thanks to her curly red hair.


The watercolor illustrations beautifully render the multicultural and multigenerational family members. The kids’ invitations, with their drawings of family members, are terrific. The invites look like how someone Stella’s age (6—8) would write, though just a little better than most that age might draw. Clifton-Brown elicits the emotional story clearly through Stella’s expressions. At day’s end, the worn out teacher rests her head on her desk. Stella tells her things will not be as hectic for Father’s Day . . . she will just bring two dads, not the entire family. While not a huge twist or a big laugh, the ending is sweet, just like the story.

STELLA BRINGS THE FAMILY. Text copyright © 2015 by Miriam B. Schiffer. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Holly Clifton-Brown. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase Stella Brings the Family at AmazonBook DepositoryChronicle Books.

Learn more about Stella Brings the Family HERE.
Meet the author, Miriam B. Schiffer, at her Young Children column:  http://bit.ly/ReadingChair
Meet the illustrator, Holly Clifton-Brown, at her website:  http://www.hollycliftonbrown.co.uk/
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 384

stella brings the family

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: 2 dads, 2 moms, Chronicle Books, family composition, Holly Clifton-Brown, Miriam B. Schiffer, multicultural, multigenerational, Stella Brings the Family

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50. Review for Blue Ocean Bob by Brooks Olbrys

Join Blue Ocean Bob on his journey to protect all life in the Sea of Kerchoo

Blue Ocean Bob loves the sea and wants to dedicate his life to protecting it. He begins a new job as assistant to Mary Marine, the Island of Roses's leading marine biologist, and with his hummingbird guardian, Xena, by his side, works hard to carry out his duties to the sea creatures both on and off the shore.

When the challenges mount, Bob seeks advice from Doc the turtle, Earl the clam, and Wallace the walrus, who each help him to develop the positive attitude he needs to succeed.

The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob: A Challenging Job is the second installment in this colorful and inspiring early chapter book series that provides young readers with an introduction to timeless principles of achievement.

About the Author

A graduate of Stanford University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, and the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, Brooks Olbrys is the founder of Children's Success Unlimited and a managing director at investment bank Ion Partners. He lives with his wife and son in New York City.

From a young age, Kevin Keele has enjoyed creating artwork in many forms: drawing, oil painting, digital painting, even stained glass. His work has been featured in numerous picture books, magazines, board games, and video games. Though he lives far from any coastline, he has always been fascinated by the ocean and enjoys illustrating its various creatures. Kevin is currently an artist for Disney Interactive Studios. He lives in Utah with his wife and two sons. They are the caretakers of one cat, three chickens, and thousands of Italian honeybees.

This chapter picture book contains 5 different chapters. The first is Helping Hand where Bob must help a seal learn to feed in the deep. When he succeeds in his goal the short chapter is over and it flows into the next day where Bob must now help a pelican stuck in a net. In the third chapter Bob must warn the sea life that a storm is coming to the island. Chapter 4 is a Simple Reminder of why Bob wanted to become a marine assistant when he has a bad day and nothing goes right. Chapter 5 is Diving Deep, Bob must help a stingray thats stuck deep in the ocean.

The story is written in rhyme and runs smoothly throughout the story.  Each chapter teaches a good lesson to the reader. The reader learns about confidence, responsibility, communication, gratitude, and success. The illustrations by Kevin Keele are amazing. He does a fabulous job that will immediately engage the reader. His illustrations are realistic, colorful, and true. Readers will feel like they are apart of the story along with the characters.

The characters are from the original book in the series. They carry over into book 2 to help Bob along with his journey. The characters are supportive and encouraging, except for one. Xena is Bob's guardian, and though guardians are meant to keep us safe and and be our reasoning, Xena is constantly negative. She is everyone's subconscious, the thing that holds us back from doing what we really want by showing us the reality, the dangers, and the difficulty of our dreams. Bob has to not only overcome his fears and doubts but overcome Xena's negativity. She tarnishes the lessons being learned. The stories are embedded with her negativity and existence so it would be hard for the author to leave her out as a character without rewriting the whole story, though she is really not needed. Bob has much to deal while solving the problems at hand, discovering what his true destiny and purpose is.

The great things about this story is that it teaches life lessons. Bob learns to overcome his fears while helping other animals overcome theirs. He listens to the wise animals and to Miss Marine and helps the animals on the island live happily. He follows his dreams. Overall, children who love animals and the ocean are going to love this 50 page picture book.

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