Tag Archives: bibliophile

July 2015 UBFP Column

6 Jul

NOTE: I will be away camping this week, so I won’t be able to answer comments, until I get back (unless there is internet connection in the campground) ;) . Have a nice week!

I write for the UBFP Newspaper!I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the July 2015 issue! The street and online version were just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE or you can read the whole story below! I am especially happy about this article because my special interviewee is SUSANNA LEONARD HILL!!!
I hope you like the article!

So You Want To Be A Picture Book Author?

by Erik Weibel

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Have you ever seen something so wonderfully simple you thought to yourself, “I can do that!”?  If you’ve ever read a 300+ paged novel, you probably have thought about how hard it must be to write one, right? All those words, plots, subplots, that would be impossible to tackle. And then you look at a 30-paged picture book and think, ‘boy, this book must be easy to write! It’s 30 pages, and mostly pictures!’

I was stunned to learn how incredibly difficult it is to write an effective picture book. To learn more about this grueling writing process,  picture book author, and creator of Making Picture Book Magic, an online teaching course about writing picture books, Susanna Leonard Hill, has thankfully agreed to answer a few questions of mine!

Erik: What do you think is the most difficult part in writing a picture book as opposed to a novel?

SLH: I think the most difficult part of writing a picture book is the distillation.  Novels are difficult in their own way – longer, more complicated, with multiple layers and subplots – but a novel writer has a little more leeway, a little more room to maneuver.  In picture books literally every word counts because the word count is so limited.  A picture book writer must tell an entertaining, compelling, emotionally rich story… in under 500 words.  And that’s not easy!

Erik: No, it most definitely is not! In your opinion, what are some of the best picture books out there (well, besides yours, of course!)?

SLH: (Aw shucks, aren’t you nice?! :) )  I like that you asked “in my opinion”, because writing is so subjective!  “Best” for one person isn’t always best for another.  But some of the recent books I love (as opposed to many older titles…!) are Z Is For Moose by Kelly Bingham, Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zeitlow Miller, Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison, and I Am Cow Hear Me MOO by Jill Esbaum.

Erik: I LOVED Sophie’s Squash! You developed a course that teaches people how to write a picture book, called Making Picture Book Magic. Is there a certain writing formula you teach to your students or is it more of a process?

SLH: Writing is definitely a process.  There is no formula that I know of.  If there were a formula, chances are that anyone who followed it would produce a story that was… well… formulaic. :) I try to teach my students about all the important elements of a story – character, conflict, emotion, etc. – and offer them different ways to think about how those elements might work together to make an enjoyable, satisfying story.  There is a lot of writing and revising, going back and forth as ideas develop and the writer experiments with the best way to tell their particular story, work-in-progress until the story is finally told in a way that the writer is happy with.

Erik: That was really well put. In a word (or not!), how important is word choice in picture books?

SLH: In a word? Crucial!  A picture book writer has so few words to work with.  Every single one must carry its weight.  Today’s marketplace supports picture books that are 500 words or fewer.  Preferably fewer.  (Although there are always exceptions.)  Writing a picture book is a bit like managing a budget.  A writer has only so much to work with, and once it’s spent, it’s gone.  In addition, in picture books, the illustrations are meant to tell half the story, so the writer must choose the words that convey the story while simultaneously bringing to life the elements that the illustrator can’t show, such as sound, touch, taste, and smell.

Erik: I’ve never thought of the word count like a budget. That’s a great analogy. What is your best advice to someone who wants to write a picture book?

SLH: Read picture books – lots and lots of current picture books – so you get a feel for what makes a picture book work today.  The picture books we read growing up had a different feel, longer word counts, and in many cases the illustrations supported the story but were less critical in terms of telling half the story.  So it’s very important to familiarize yourself with what works currently.

          Educate yourself.  Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing picture books.  Read books.  Take classes online or in person.

          Immerse yourself in the writing community.  Picture book authors and illustrators are among the most genuine and generous people out there.  They are always willing to lend a hand, share what they know, help others along the road to success.

Write.

Write.

Write some more.

There is no substitute for practice.

Thank you for being an interviewee, Ms. Hill!

Susanna Leonard Hill is the award winning author of nearly a dozen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice),No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), and Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner.)  Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, with one hopefully forthcoming in Korean.  Her newest book, Alphabedtime!, is forthcoming from Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Books, in Summer 2016.  She lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with her husband, children, and two rescue dogs. Find her on the web at Susannahill.com

Review! Nightborn by Lou Anders and GIVEAWAY WINNER!!!

3 Jul

The winners of The Princess and The Pony Giveaway are:

Sue Morris!!!

And

Kristen!!!

Princess and the Pony FINAL TEXT.pdf

I will be emailing you to get the address you want your prize sent to! Congratulations! :D

nightbornNightborn

Book 2 Thrones and Bones Series

By Lou Anders

368 pages – ages 8+

Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on July 14, 2015

Synopsis- Karn Korlundsson was quite happy learning to manage his family’s huge farm. So Karn didn’t understand why a wyvern (a small dragon-type thing) had to come out of the sky and kidnapped him from a local trading market. When he gets to the home of Orm, a giant linnorm (a type of dragon), Karn finds out that Thianna Frostborn, his half-giant friend, while on a mission for Orm, got captured by an enemy force. Orm says that she was looking for another Horn of Osius for him. The Horn can control reptiles, like wyverns and lizards, and Orm wanted to destroy them (for the safety of such reptiles listed). Orm now wants Karn to look for it too, but all Karn wants to look for is Thianna. Unfortunately, Karn soon finds out that finding Thianna and the horn isn’t his only problem.

What I Thought- This was a great sequel to Frostborn. I like that it still has the great adventurous feel of Book 1. Sometimes you don’t get that in a series – but this carries it off very well. The message in the story about friendship is awesome, and subtle enough so that you don’t realize that you are learning a lesson. Karn is a great character that you really connect with. His friend was kidnapped, and he wants to rescue her – nothing will stop him. But throw in a giant dragon, and a promise too, and you have an adventure! Thianna was a good character, but you would think that her traveling the world would make her more street-wise, and less newbie-like when it comes to things. Her character was still awesome. The story had a lot of twists and turns. It was fun to read. I think that this is an amazing series!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Alistair Grim’s Odditorium by Gregory Funaro AND GIVEAWAY WINNER!!!

29 Jun

The winner of the Vanishing Island Giveaway is:

ELI PACHECO!!!

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Congratulations! I will be emailing you to get your info to send you the book!

odditoriumAlistair Grim’s Odditorium
By Gregory Funaro
432 pages – ages 9+
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 6, 2015

Synopsis- Grubb (spelled like the insect, but with an extra ‘B’, and no last name) is an orphan. He was taken in as a babe by the kindly but elderly Mrs. Smears. Sadly, Mrs. Smears dies when he was just six. Mr. Smears, angry and in grief, turns out to be a not-so-nice man. When Grubb runs away to get rid of bullies (and Mr. Smears), he accidentally hitches a ride with a mysterious “Mr. G”. It turns out that Alistair Grim (Mr. G) is a collector of magical items (he collects them in the Odditorium), and he needs help that Grubb can give. Grubb becomes Mr. G’s apprentice and soon finds himself in a life and death battle to keep the magic out of evil hands.

What I Thought- This was a really good book! Grubb is a great character! You really feel for him, and hope that his life turns out for the better. Alistair Grim is also a cool character. He seems like that interesting, distant uncle that everyone likes. The Odditorium is a fascinating building that I would love to check out. The Odditoria of the Odditorium is also awesome. If you don’t know what I mean, read the book! You’ll love it! I really like Mr. Funaro’s writing style. There is a ton of description, without it ever bogging the story down. It really made me feel like I was in London during the 1800’s. At 432 pages it is a story that a reader can really sink into and enjoy. The non-stop action will keep readers interested in the story and the characters keep you wanting to learn more.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Review and Giveaway! The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton #PonyTime

25 Jun

 

Princess and the Pony FINAL TEXT.pdfThe Princess and the Pony

By Kate Beaton

40 pages – ages 4+

Will be published by Arthur A. Levine Books on June 30, 2015

Synopsis- From the Publisher: “Princess Pinecone knows exactly what she wants for her birthday this year. A BIG horse. A STRONG horse. A horse fit for a WARRIOR PRINCESS! But when the day arrives, she doesn’t quite get the horse of her dreams…

princess-and-the-pony-1

From the artist behind the comic phenomenon Hark! A Vagrant, The Princess and the Pony is a laugh-out-loud story of brave warriors, big surprises, and falling in love with one unforgettable little pony.

What I Thought- This was a cute picture book set in viking times. Princess Pinecone is a young princess whose parents don’t seem to understand that she’s a warrior princess. They give her cozy sweaters instead of armor and warrior stuff.

PrincessandPony2

I like how this book is about being yourself, and not what society says you are. It also shows that you can make the best out of any situation… and it has farting ponies ha ha ha. The illustrations have just the right amount of detail and they add to the humor in the story. The story isn’t about girls not being able to be warriors – there are plenty pictures in the illustrations. It’s just that Princess Pinecone’s seems to have been labeled more princess than warrior. The twist in the story (at the battle scene) was unexpected, and made me laugh. The book reminds me of one of those fractured fairy tale cartoons. Overall very cute story with a nice message.

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I give this book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

About the Author

Photo credit: Notker Mahr.

Photo credit: Notker Mahr.

Kate Beaton is the author of Hark! A Vagrant, her #1 New York Times bestselling collection of comics which began as a webcomic in 2007. The Princess and the Pony is her first picture book. She is the recipient of multiple Harvey awards, andher work has been featured in the New Yorker, Harper’s, and The Best American Comics Anthology. Kate lives in Toronto,and you can find her online at www.beatontown.com and on Twitter as @beatonna.

LEARN MORE

Learn more at Scholastic.com

Visit the author at BeatonTown.com

Follow Kate Beaton on Twitter

NOT YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS prize pack!!!!!!! Thanks to the great people at Scholastic, I get to give away TWO copies of THE PRINCESS AND THE PONY !!!

Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing provided by Scholastic.

All you have to do is comment and next week on July second, I will pick two winners out of all the comments – pretty easy peasy huh? :) Good Luck!

BLOG TOUR AND GIVEAWAY! Vanishing Island by Barry Wolverton

22 Jun

vanishing island preview tour banner updated

I am very excited to share this book with you. It is the beginning to a very promising series and even better – one of you will get to win a signed ARC of the book! Details of the giveaway are at the bottom of the post. :)

VanishingIslandHC

Vanishing Island
By Barry Wolverton
Book 1 of the Chronicles of the Black Tulip
352 pages – ages 8+
Will be published by Walden Pond Press on September 1, 2015

 

Publisher’s Summary- Does  the Vanishing Island really exist? And if so, what treasure—or terrible secret—was hidden by its disappearance?

It’s 1599, the Age of Discovery in Europe. But for Bren Owen, growing up in the small town of Map on the coast of Britannia has meant anything but adventure. Enticed by the tales sailors have brought through Map’s port, and inspired by the arcane maps his father creates as a cartographer for the cruel and charismatic map mogul named Rand McNally, Bren is convinced that fame and fortune await him elsewhere. That is, until his repeated attempts to run away land him a punishment worse than death—cleaning up the town vomitorium.

It is there that Bren meets a dying sailor, who gives him a strange gift that hides a hidden message. Cracking the code could lead Bren to a fabled lost treasure that could change his life forever, and that of his widowed father. But to get there he will have to tie his fate to a mysterious Dutch admiral obsessed with a Chinese legend about an island that long ago disappeared from any map.

Before long, Bren is in greater danger than he ever imagined, and will need the help of an unusual friend named Mouse to survive. Barry Wolverton’s thrilling adventure spans oceans and cultures, brings together the folklore of East and West, and proves that fortune is always a double-edged sword.

What I Thought- This was an amazing book! It had adventure, comedy, excitement, mystery – pretty much anything you could want in a book! Bren is a character you would like to meet in real life. He has dreams, and he’s clever in how he gets them achieved. Mouse is a cool character too. I really like how Mr. Wolverton doesn’t hide that sea isn’t always exciting – at times Bren is just sitting around at sea. There is death throughout the story, but it is not graphic/gory. There are some illustrations that will be put in the final version of the book, but not in the ARC that I read (they weren’t in yet), and they play a role in the story, so that was sad for me. Guess I’ll have to get the completed version! This is a solid start to a new series. :)

WHO IS THIS BARRY WOLVERTON?!?

Barry Wolverton Author Photo

Barry Wolverton is the author of Neversink. He has more than fifteen years’ experience creating books, documentary television scripts, and website content for international networks and publishers, including National Geographic, Scholastic.com, the Library of Congress, and the Discovery Networks. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee. You can visit him online at www.barrywolverton.com.

Links for Barry Wolverton: 

Website: http://www.barrywolverton.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wolvertonhill

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bwolverton

Instagram: https://instagram.com/wolvertonhill/

Check out all the stops on this awesome tour!

Blog Tour Schedule: 

6/15 Blue Stocking Thinking:  bluestockingthinking.blogspot.com
6/16 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia:  hauntedorchid.blogspot.com
6/17 Small Review:  smallreview.blogspot.com
6/18 Maria’s Melange:  www.mariaselke.com/
6/19 Unleashing Readers:  unleashingreaders.com
6/19 The Hiding Spot:  thehidingspot.blogspot.com
6/22 This Kid Reviews Books:  thiskidreviewsbooks.com
6/23 Mundie Kids:  http://mundiekids.blogspot.com/
6/24 Page in Training:  https://pageintraining.wordpress.com
6/25 Novel Novice:  novelnovice.com

BLOG TOUR PAGE HERE!

Connect to Walden Pond –
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ WaldenPondPress
Facebook: https://www. facebook.com/WaldenPondPress

Website/Blog: http://www. walden.com/books/

Pinterest: https://www. pinterest.com/waldenpondpress/

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

All you have to do is comment in the comment section below telling me you want to WIN! (well you can comment somewhere else, but I won’t see it) and on June 29th I will pick one name out of a hat of all the entrants. US residents only please. Good Luck!

VanishingIslandHC

 

Deployed dads deliver #FathersDay message w/ @UTR4Military & #GuessHowMuchILoveYou

21 Jun

Happy Father’s Day to the best dad around – my dad (of course I am bias) :)

dadday

I am lucky that I get to spend father’s day with my dad. There are many kids out there who aren’t so lucky. Their dad’s are far away serving our country. I was invited to share this special dad’s day post and am happy to do it because I think it is awesome.

 

Bestselling storybook Guess How Much I Love You and nonprofit United Through Reading help deployed military dads deliver a special message to their kids, perfect for Father’s Day

While millions of children will be celebrating Father’s Day with their dads on June 21, for many children whose fathers are serving in the military, dad won’t be at home. But thanks to nonprofit United Through Reading and a very special storybook, there’s a way for every dad to tell his kids he loves them this Father’s Day – however far away he might be.

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jennifer Kleve, left, a medic with Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah, helps set up a camera for U.S. Army Capt. Jacob Estrada, right, security force commander for the PRT, prior to his participation in a United Through Reading Read-a-thon on FOB Farah, Jan. 18.  Participants in the program were encouraged to read to children in their families or to students at Birch Elementary in Idaho, to promote childhood literacy.  United Through Reading is a non-profit organization that enables deployed service members to share their love and support with their children by reading books aloud on DVD.  PRT Farah's mission is to train, advise, and assist Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district, and provincial levels in Farah province Afghanistan.  Their civil military team is comprised of members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup/released)

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jennifer Kleve, left, a medic with Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah, helps set up a camera for U.S. Army Capt. Jacob Estrada, right, security force commander for the PRT, prior to his participation in a United Through Reading Read-a-thon on FOB Farah, Jan. 18. Participants in the program were encouraged to read to children in their families or to students at Birch Elementary in Idaho, to promote childhood literacy. United Through Reading is a non-profit organization that enables deployed service members to share their love and support with their children by reading books aloud on DVD. PRT Farah’s mission is to train, advise, and assist Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district, and provincial levels in Farah province Afghanistan. Their civil military team is comprised of members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup/released)

Nonprofit United Through Reading keeps military families connected by offering service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to their children at home from locations worldwide. Although the story may be recorded in a tent in Afghanistan, the child sitting at home watching it can feel like daddy’s home for a few moments before they go to sleep, or whenever they need him. Guess How Much I Love You celebrates the unique bond between father and child, and has struck a chord with many military families. The story serves as a reminder to children that no matter how far away they may be from their parent, their love remains strong enough to bridge even the greatest distances.

A boy listens to a reading recorded by his grandfather, U.S. Coast Guard Chaplain Gregory N. Todd

A boy listens to a reading recorded by his grandfather, U.S. Coast Guard Chaplain Gregory N. Todd

This heartfelt video was created especially for Father’s Day and features military parents reading Guess How Much I Love You to their children back home in a United Through Reading recording. Watch the video here: http://youtu.be/-PvcCmSkfZE

Or Right below!

This program is making a difference in people’s lives.

Here are some quotes from families who have taken part in the United Through Reading program.

​ “The one thing that the kids wanted more than anything — time with their daddy — I could not give them but United Through Reading did.  I cannot thank UTR enough for what they do.  It is truly an amazing gift that they have given to our family and words will never be enough to express our gratitude! Rex recorded Guess How Much I Love You with United Through Reading. We love it and it is one of our favorites!
Veronica Boblett, Navy Spouse 

 

Pearl was only 5 weeks old when her Daddy left on a 9 month deployment with the USS George H.W. Bush. It was a tough time for us all. We were understandably worried that she might not remember him by the time he got back….We really believe that the videos Austin recorded with United Through Reading helped Pearl to bond with her Daddy the most.”

Emma Kolar, Navy Spouse

 

GHMILY Anniversary Edition Cover ArtGuess How Much I Love You is celebrating its 20thanniversary in 2015. Now available in a deluxe anniversary edition, Guess How Much I Love You is one of the most successful children’s books of all time, selling 28 million copies and published in 53 languages. Published by Candlewick Press, Sam McBratney’s timeless, endearing story of Big and Little Nutbrown Hare, beautifully rendered in Anita Jeram’s watercolours, has charmed people of all ages. It has become one of the world’s best-loved picture books, and the phrase ‘I love you right up to the moon and back’ has come to signify a way of saying ‘I love you’ to someone special. You can find out more about this extraordinary book here http://www.guesshowmuchiloveyou.com/us.

 

ABOUT UNITED THROUGH READING

United Through Reading is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) public benefit organization that has been around for more than 25 years; it’s mission is to unite military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together.  United Through Reading offers service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to children at home which eases the stress of separation, maintains positive emotional connections, and cultivates a love of reading and early childhood literacy.  At nearly 200 recording locations worldwide, service members can read to the children who are special to them from units on ships, in tents in Afghanistan, on bases around the world, and at more than 40 USO centers worldwide.  Since its inception, nearly 2 million military parents, spouses and children have benefited from the program. Find United for reading online at www.unitedthroughreading.org

ABOUT CANDLEWICK PRESS

Candlewick Press is an independent publisher based in Somerville, Massachusetts. For over twenty years, Candlewick has published outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages, including books by award-winning authors and illustrators such as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Kate DiCamillo, M. T. Anderson, Jon Klassen, and Laura Amy Schlitz; the widely acclaimed Judy Moody, Mercy Watson, and ’Ology series; and favorites such as Guess How Much I Love You, Where’s Waldo?, and Maisy. Candlewick is part of the Walker Books Group, together with Walker Books UK in London and Walker Books Australia. The Walker Books Group has a unique ownership structure that includes all of its employees worldwide. Visit Candlewick online at www.candlewick.com

Review! Mahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens by Nina Nolan

20 Jun

mahalaMahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens

Written by Nina Nolan

Illustrated by John Holyfield

32 pages – ages 4+

Published by Amistad on January 27, 2015

Synopsis- Mahalia Jackson was a young girl with a ginormous voice. Even while life was tough for her, she still sang what she loved, and she loved gospel. She always sang, and she realized her voice had power. Even though she had to overcome a lot of hardships in her life, she got to sing on TV shows, at Carnegie Hall, and many places she could only dream of! She became and is still know as the Queen of gospel music.

Check out the video below – you’ll know why she got the title!

What I Thought- This is a really motivational picture book that will have you feeling positive. The story of Mahalia Jackson, from cleaning-maid to Queen of Gospel, is truly inspiring. The story stresses perseverance, and working towards a goal. Mahalia, no matter where she was, or how her life was, always sang. The illustrations are gorgeous and make you really smile inside. They capture the spirit of a girl with a goal perfectly and using the talents you are given. The book has a short timeline and more ways to learn about Mahalia at the end of the book. The publisher has the age range as 4+ – this is a great book as an introduction to this fabulous lady and perfect for a younger kid. The resources at the back of the book are a great add-on for older kids.

I give this five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Now excuse me I am going to go download some Mahalia Jackson from iTunes. ;)

Review-o-Rama! or The Aftermath of a Blogger’s Illness

18 Jun

HELLO BLOGGING WORLD!

So I have been sick since Sunday which is weird because I pretty much never get sick. I’ve had a 104 fever until Wednesday. Today it’s down to like just over 100 but I feel a bunch better… and I’m pretty hungry and a shower after laying on the couch 24/7 for four days felt pretty good – so I think I’ll live.

“Why are you telling me this Erik?” you ask.

Well maybe you didn’t but let’s pretend you did. I am telling you so you’ll know why I am posting a bunch of reviews at once – I missed posting on a few days (except Wednesday because that one was written a while ago and I had a guest) – hey if you didn’t read it click on over – click HERE – plus that post has the honor of being my 1000th post of my blogging “career.” ;)

SOOOO HERE WE GO!

nerd12_2Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind

Nerdy Dozen Book #2

By Jeff Miller

272 pages – ages 8+

Published by HarperCollins; Reprint edition on March 10, 2015

Synopsis- Neil Andertol is an expert video-gamer. He’s in the top twelve in the US. And he’s only a kid. He and the other top players (also kids) were recruited by the US Air Force, in order to stop an evil plot (thought out by a wayward genius kid). Now they are joining NASA to recover a top-of-the-line space shuttle that was stolen. It doesn’t help that another giant asteroid (like the one that may have killed the dinosaurs) is supposed to hit Earth in about two weeks…

What I Thought- This was an amazing book! I honestly don’t know how I missed book one! This book brings you up to speed, so reading book one isn’t necessary, but it would make some minor points clearer. Neil is a great character, who, while not perfect, is extremely realistic. The other nerds in the book are people you would probably like to meet in real life. I know I would! It’s pretty cool how all the kids are expert video-gamers, and because of it, they are government secret mission pilots. That would be neat if it would ever happen (or maybe it did, but it’s a secret). Mr. Miller’s writing style has a good mixture of humor, adventure, vivid descriptions, wit, and great characters for an overall enjoyable experience.

I give this book five out five bookworms!fivebooks

zariaZaria Fierce

By Kiera Gillett

224 pages – ages 9+

Published by Keira Gillett on March 6, 2015

Synopsis- Zaria Fierce was not fierce. Or so she thought, that is, until a river troll kidnaps her best friend. Then she, pitted together with his other friends (one of whom is actually a changeling (a creature swapped for a look-alike human)), goes on an adventure up the river, into a world mixed with the modern world and the ancient myths of Scandinavia.

What I Thought- This was a really good book with a great setting and cool plot line. I really liked how it didn’t hide that Zaria was adopted and she knew it . I also liked how her adoptive parents were nice. You don’t see that often in books (as an adopted kid, I like it when adoption is portrayed well). The characters and mythology are realistic, and the mythology was well explained, too. I like how Zaria tries her best to make do in a world she knew nothing about. There are some instances of d*** throughout the second half of the book that some parents may have issues with for younger kids. This was a good book and I will be looking for book 2.

I give this four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

HEY IT’S ALSO ….

CREATIVE KID THURSDAY!!! WOO!

My Creative Kid guest is JOSIE my little sister. ;)

Today Josie is doing a guest review.

peridotThe Peridot Pendant

By Emma Homes

75 pages – ages 9+
Published by Spark Street Communications Pty Ltd on April 17, 2015

 

Summary (from Amazon) Fabrina is devastated when her mother suddenly vanishes. When she stumbles across her mother’s necklace, Fabrina sets out to untangle the mystery of her disappearance. With feisty best friend Vicky, bookish boy-next-door Harry, and her enigmatic cat Mr Whiskers, Fabrina begins to unlock the secrets of her mother’s magical green pendant.

A fast-paced fantasy where stories from long ago are entwined with present, ‘The Peridot Pendant’ is an imaginative tale that will appeal to children nine years and older.

What Josie Thought – This story was cool. I thought it was going to be a mystery but it had fairies in it and the people traveled to another world. I liked Fabrina. She is smart and brave. I liked Vivky and Harry too. They were all goo characters. The Red Cap guy was creepy (the evil fairy that kept her mom). I liked that there was magic in the story and how Fabrina could travel to different worlds. The book wasn’t too long for me, some of the words were kind of hard but I used my kindle dictionary to help me. I liked how well all the characters are described and all about the fairy world. It was a good book to read.

I give it five bookworms fivebooks

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Beach House by Deanna Caswell

12 Jun

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because summer breaks are starting everywhere, and families are going on vacations a lot.

beachBeach House
Written by Deanna Caswell
Illustrated by Amy June Bates
32 pages – ages 3+
Published by Chronicle Books on May 12, 2015

Theme/Topic- going to the beach / waiting

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening

“A long, long drive.
It’s been a year
of dreaming, waiting.
Summer’s here.

Synopsis – from GoodReads: “In a funny and heartfelt celebration of family, vacations, and the joy of the sea, Deanna Caswell and Amy June Bates capture the essence of summer—building sand castles, jumping the waves, and watching the stars come out after a long day at the beach—and the love that warms every moment.

Why I picked this book- This is a really well done summer book. The characters are never named, which is a great touch. The warm feeling the watercolors generate is perfect for this book. I really enjoyed this book, and the rhyme in it had a soft, there-but-not-there feel. This was a great book I would recommend to any family going on vacation to read (whether on vacation or not) or if you just want to dream about warm summer days. :)

Activities and Resources-

I found a cute seashell fish craft for kids on the Crafts by Amanda blog – click HERE

Education.com had a list of 10 Super Sand Activities HERE

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Here are some other great summer books you may want to look for!

onmybeachOn My Beach
By Sara Gillingham
Illustrated by Lorena Siminovich
Puppet board book – ages 2+
Published by Chronicle Books on May 19, 2015

What I Thought- This is a cute board book. It gives a little about a day in the life of a crab, and also gets kids interacting, with the puppet it has.

~

aquaAqualicious
By Victoria Kann
Series: Pinkalicious
pages – ages 5+
Published by HarperFestival on March 3, 2015

What I Thought- This was a great book! It was cool how the mermaid/merminnie in the book was an “actual” thing at the beach for Pinkalicious and her family to see, and not just in Pinkalicious’ imagination. This is a really cool series!

~

paddingtonbeachPaddington at the Beach
Written by Michael Bond
Illustrated by R.W. Alley
32 pages – ages 3+
Published by HarperCollins on June 30, 2009

What I Thought- The Paddington books are a great series. I like how this book slightly encourages counting (seagull #1, etc.), and has a funny ending. The illustrations help make this a good book, too!

 

~

 

 

 

chubeachChu’s Day at the Beach
Written by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Adam Rex
32 pages – ages 3+
Published by HarperCollins on April 7, 2015

What I Thought- This was a really cute book. I like that the animals WANT Chu to sneeze again, even though his first sneeze messed the beach up. It was nice.

~

 

intowavesIn the Waves
Written by Lennon and Maisy Stella
Illustrated by Steve Björkman
40 pages – ages 3+
Published by HarperCollins on April 28, 2015

What I Thought- This was a great interpretation of a song by Lennon and Maisy Stella. Lennon and Maisy are the stars of the ABC TV show, Nashville. The illustrations are fun and really cool!

From HaperCollins –

Head to www.harpercollinschildrens.com/inthewaves to listen and sing along as the girls gather their boogie boards and sip homemade lemonade.”

Review and Blog Tour! The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson

8 Jun

Dungeoneers Blog Tour Banner

Dungeoneers

The Dungeoneers

By John David Anderson

pages – ages 9+

Will be published on June 23, 2015 by Walden Pond Press

Synopsis-

Publisher’s summary:

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.

What I Thought- This was an awesome story set in a medieval time. I really liked Mr. Anderson’s superhuman/superhero books (Sidekicked and Minion), and this one wasn’t a disappointment. Mr. Anderson really knows how to immerse you into the story and not let you out. You get engaged with all of the characters and their stories. Mr. Anderson develops them so well, it makes you feel like you’ve known them all of your life. The fact that there is magic, but that it doesn’t play that major of a role in the story, is a refreshing change from all the magic-oriented stories out there.  The idea of a “rogue” is fascinating and rather cool. Rogues are the dungeoneers that disable traps, pick locks, etc., but they also make great liars and thieves. Colm is a great kid (who happens to only have 9 fingers!), and you get sucked into his adventures learning to be a rogue. Thwodin’s Legions is a cool guild, and one I wouldn’t mind joining. The ending was solid and satisfying but I could see a sequel coming out of it, but apparently Mr. Anderson isn’t into writing series – too bad for us! I’ll just have to wait to read what his brain comes up with next! ;) Another great book from Mr. Anderson!

I give this five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

Check out the book’s trailer!

WHO IS THIS JOHN DAVID ANDERSON?!?

Dave Anderson author photo

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.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?!?

Awesome – check out this interview where Mr. Anderson interviews himself!

Dave Anderson  Interviews John David Anderson –

Part one of a one-part series in which the author interviews himself to ask the hard-hitting questions that other interviewers thought were simply too obnoxious to ask.

DA (just staring)

JDA: What?

DA: No. Nothing. I just never quite realized how handsome you were. Really, quite dashing in a frumpy, track-pants-wearing, unbrushed-hair kind of way. Did anyone ever tell you you look just like Tom Cruise circa 1994?

JDA: I get that a lot. I really liked him in that one movie. Where he punches people and all that stuff explodes.

DA: Yeah, that one was great. All right, let’s get started. So, Midwestern Authors Weekly recently ranked you number seven on its list of Indiana writers who drink too much Diet Coke. How does that make you feel?

JDA: Like I drink way too much Diet Coke, actually. Where was John Green?

DA: Number one.

JDA: Does he even drink Diet Coke?

DA: Does it really matter?

JDA: No. Probably not.

DA: Water is better for you, anyways. You should drink more water. And lose a little weight. And call your mother more often.

JDA: Diet Coke basically is water, if you think about it. Water and acid. And some other stuff I can’t pronounce.

DA: Speaking of acid—I love the opening of Sidekicked, where Drew is dangling above the pool waiting for The Titan to save him and Jenna is complaining about the health teacher and all that. Just curious, though—how deep was the pool?

JDA: How deep? Does that really matter?

DA: Well. I’m just thinking if I’m a supervillain, and I’m going to dunk a guy in a pool of acid, I want it to be at least eight feet deep so that he’s sure to go all the way under. I don’t want his head sticking out or anything. But some of these municipal pools, I’m not sure they go that deep.

JDA: I don’t think that really matters. It’s acid. Drew probably would have died from shock by the time it had dissolved his kneecaps.

DA: Ew.

JDA: I didn’t bring it up.

DA: Touché. All right. Tell us about your new book, The Dungeoneers.

JDA: Well, it has scorpions.

DA: Really?

JDA: Well. One scorpion. But it’s really big.

DA: Does it have alligators?

JDA: No. No alligators.

DA: That’s kind of disappointing. Alligators are cool. Did you know that alligator eggs end up male or female based on temperature? If the egg is warm, it will be male. If it’s cool. Female.

JDA: Makes sense. Females are naturally cool. The Dungeoneers has two main female characters. A kick-butt, multi-weapon-wielding smart-mouthed barbarian named Lena, and a reticent, cuddly-nature-loving druid named Serene. It also has a stuttering mage and a wizard with rabbit ears and…

DA: Yeah, that’s good. I’m done talking about The Dungeoneers. Let’s move on. Let’s talk about what you’re working on write now.

JDA: Well. Right now I’m working on not punching you in the face.

DA: Why? Because I interrupted you in the middle of describing your new book? You know if you punch me, you’ll only be hurting yourself.

JDA: It worked in Fight Club.

DA: Wow. Great book.

JDA: Good movie, too.

DA: Not for kids, though.

JDA: Not like The Dungeoneers. Fun family entertainment for all ages, that one.

DA: Truth. If it’s all right, I’d like to read some questions that were sent to us through email. Hotcrossbuns44 writes, “Are you ever going to write a sequel to Catcher in the Rye?”

JDA: I didn’t write Catcher in the Rye. That was J.D. Salinger. The J. stood for Jerome.

DA: So the answer is no, then?

JDA: Yeah…I’m really not into that whole, write-a-sequel-to-a-book-you-never-actually-wrote-in-the-first-place thing. I’m really more of a write-a-book-that-will-never-be-turned-into-a-series-and-thus-will-never-make-you-a-millionaire kind of guy.

DA: Sucks for you. You probably should have called it Diary of a Dungeoneer and drawn some pictures of stick kids with spikey hair and stuff.

JDA: Now you tell me.

Links for John David Anderson: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anderson_author

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JohnDavidAndersonAuthor?ref=hl
Links for Walden Pond Press:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WaldenPondPress

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaldenPondPress

Website/Blog: http://www.walden.com/books/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/waldenpondpress/

Find the other stops on the tour!

Blog Tour Schedule: 
6/2/2015 Maria’s Melange                                    ​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                         http://www.readnowsleeplater.org/ 
6/10/2015 Charlotte’s Library                         charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com          
6/11/2015    Nerdy Book Club                     https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/  
6/12/2015 The Hiding Spot                         thehidingspot.blogspot.com                      
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