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The Scholastic Kids Press Corps Interviews Michelle Obama!

22 Nov

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As of the end of November  I will no longer be a Scholastic News Kid Press Corps Reporter. In December, I turn 15 and that’s too old for the Kid Press Corps – yup, washed up at 15!😉

So there is nothing like going out on a high note! I am very happy to announce that I and seven other Scholastic Kid Press Corps Reporters got an exclusive interview with First Lady Michelle Obama!

First Lady Michelle Obama joins Scholastic News kid reporters for a group photo following an interview in the Map Room of the White House, Oct. 6, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

First Lady Michelle Obama joins Scholastic News kid reporters for a group photo following an interview in the Map Room of the White House, Oct. 6, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

We interviewed Mrs. Obama about her last victory garden harvest at the White House, her experiences as First Lady, and what she plans to do next! We interviewed her in the Map Room in the White House.img_1842

For the entire story click over to the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps blog by clicking HERE

I was also very happy to meet some of my fellow Kid Reporters, and my Scholastic editors in person. It is an AMAZING group!

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My Latest Scholastic Kids Press Corps Article: Writing for Kids

18 Nov

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Hi there blogosphere!

I would like to tell you about my latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps article.

It is about conversations I had with four middle-grade authors at the Lititz Kid Lit Festival in Lititz PA.

Here’s the blurb – “Four authors talk about the joys and challenges of writing for middle-graders.”

Find out what Isaiah Campbell,

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Amy Ignatow,

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Matthew Cody,

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and Dianne Salerni have to say about writing for middle-graders.

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Click HERE to read the whole story on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps blog.

My Latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Article – The World is Watching: the US Election

4 Nov

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Check out my latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps article over at the Kids Press Corps Notebook blog!

With  the American Presidential election just around the corner, spoke with people outside the US to see how they  are feeling about the election in America this year.

A big thank you to Catherine Johnson CatherineMJohnson.com, D. Tulloch, from ThePatientDreamer.com, and Dr. Myra Garces-Bacsal, from GatheringBooks.org for giving me their perspectives on the election.

Click HERE to read the whole article!

My Latest Scholastic Kids Press Corps Video Interview

2 Nov

KidsPressLogoSo what have you been up to?

You don’t say…

Me?

Oh well you know,

this and that.

Got an A on a science test,

 

AND I GOT TO INTERVIEW THE NEW LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS, DR. CARLA HAYDEN!!!

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For a book-nerd like me this was my “holy grail” of interviews. Dr. Hayden in an amazing person and I have been trying to get an interview since she was nominated by President Obama way back in March. Well I finally got one and I am still fanboy-ing over it.🙂

You can check out the video interview at the Scholastic Kids Press Corps blog by clicking HERE.

 

Review Round-up and WINNER of the Lockwood and Co Giveaway!

1 Nov

Today’s post is about a trio of fun books that really caught my eye!

BUT FIRST I have a winner to announce!

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The winner of the complete Lockwood and Co series plus the pumpkin carving set (Thank you Disney Hyperion for the awesome prize!) is

Ken W Christensen!

Congratulations Mr. Christensen!I will be contacting you for your mailing address.

 

Up first –

notpictureThis is Not a Picture Book!

By Sergio Ruzzier

40 pages – ages 2+
Published by Chronicle Books on May 3, 2016

Summary from publisher: In this quirky yet sweet picture book about the joy and power of reading, Duck learns that even books without pictures can be fun. While he and his friend Bug may struggle at first to decipher their book, they stick with it, and before long they discover that not only can they read it, but it deserves a place on the shelf with all their favorite picture books. Author-artist Sergio Ruzzier has created a fanciful tribute to books of all kinds. It includes both words AND pictures.

Why I like it: The illustrations are a feast for the eyes! At first duck is upset that the book he found has no pictures- only plain old words.

notbook2Once he starts reading the book the illustrations reflect how his world comes alive.

notbook3This is EXACTLY what happens when I read!😀

The story shows kids just how cool reading a book can be. The text is simple so early readers can read it to themselves. I think it would make a great bedtime story too. I really love everything about this book!

Next up –

papillonPapillon, Book 1: The Very Fluffy Kitty

By A.N. Kang

40 pages – ages 2+
Published by: Disney-Hyperion on September 6, 2016

Summary from publisher: Papillon is a very fluffy kitty. So fluffy that he’s lighter than air! His owner tries to weigh him down, but Papillon just wants to fly.

One particularly sunny day, he floats right out the window! Exploring the wide world is exhilarating, but it’s also a little scary. Will his new friend, a bird, be able to help him find his way home?

Whimsical art and airy text come together seamlessly in this delightful debut by A. N. Kang.

Why I like it: Who wouldn’t love a book about a big fluffy kitty who is lighter than air? Seriously, what a unique story concept. Papillon is SO fluffy he just floats. His owner Miss Tilly has to come up with a solution so her kitty doesn’t float away. She tries to weigh him down but the only thing that works is having Papillon wear costumes.

Which, of course as Papillon is a cat, he is not thrilled about.

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So Papillon decides to go without the costumes and Papillon floats out the window and is soon lost. Kang’s illustrations are a perfect compliment to her story.

And for my final review!

burpornotTo Burp or Not to Burp: A Guide to Your Body in Space.

By Dr. Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti

Illustrated by Theo Krynauw

56 pages – ages 7+
Published by Annick Press; Reprint edition October 11, 2016

Summary from publisher: Of all the questions astronauts are asked by kids, the most frequent one is “How do you go to the toilet in space?”
This book not only answers that question, but many others about the effect of zero gravity on the human body:
How do you brush your hair in space? What happens when you sweat? What does food taste like? The best thing is that the answers are provided by Dr. Dave Williams, a NASA astronaut who speaks from first-hand experience. Written for kids ages 7 to 10, this book uses age-appropriate language to explain the different phenomena that astronauts encounter during a mission. The bright, colorful pages, short blocks of text accompanied by photos and humorous illustrations make this a very attractive choice for young readers. The opening message from Dr. Dave empowers kids to follow his example by believing in themselves and following their dreams.

Why I like it: So these are questions, I really was curious about. How do you go to the bathroom in space? What about brushing your teeth, taking a shower or sleeping in space? This book is packed full of illustrations and real photographs showing how these things are done. The text is laid out nice with to the point textboxes. The formatting of the book is nice and will appeal to reluctant readers. Written by an expert (Williams) that knows about living in space, the book gives you a real understanding of the day-to-day challenges of being in space. A very fun and informative read!

Review! The Bowl and the Stone by Bish Denham

20 Oct

bowlThe Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands

By Bish Denham

109 pages – ages 8+

Published by Bound Post Publishing on October 3, 2016

Synopsis- from the author –
It’s 1962. Sam and her best friend, Nick, have the whole island of St. John, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, as their playground. They’ve got 240 year-old sugar plantation ruins to explore, beaches to swim, and trails to hike.

But when a man disappears like a vapor right in front of them, they must confront a scary new reality. They’re being haunted. By whom? And why? He’s even creeping into Nick’s dreams.

They need help, but the one who might be able to give it is Trumps, a reclusive hunchback who doesn’t like people, especially kids. Are Sam and Nick brave enough to face him? And if they do, will he listen to them?

Their carefree summer games turn into eerie hauntings, and Sam and Nick learn more about themselves and life than they could ever have imagined.

What I Thought- This was a really good book with a solid story-line. I really love the setting and Denham’s description of the Caribbean. The story also teaches you about the culture in the Virgin Islands. The friendship between Sam and Nick (and Trumps) is a highlight of the story. It rings true to the reader and is enjoyable to read about. The story is an intriguing ghost story and mystery that is written well for Denham’s young audience.   The story is slightly scary, with the right amount of tension for a young person’s mystery. This is a good clean read.

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I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Who is Bish Denham?

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Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over one hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there whom she visits regularly.

She says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. The ruins of hundreds of sugar plantations, built with the sweat and blood of slave labor, litter the islands. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. It is within this atmosphere of wonder and mystery, that I grew up. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on some of that magic.”

The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, is her third book and second novel. You can find Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales and A Lizard’s Tail, at Amazon.com.

To learn more about Bish, you can visit her blog, Random Thoughts, at www.http:/bish-randomthoughts.blogspot.com.

She can also be found on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BishDenham/Author

Twitter @BishDenham

And Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6439315.Bish_Denham

My Latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Article: The White House Celebrates Advances in STEM

5 Oct

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I recently went to Washington, D.C. to cover a White House conference showcasing efforts to make STEM education more engaging in high schools. Read my interview with Secretary of Education John King, and Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Click HERE to read the whole story on the Kids Press Corps Notebook blog!

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Secretary of Education John King and me

My Latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Article: The 2016 National Book Festival

1 Oct

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I recently went to Washington, D.C. to cover the 2016 National Books Festival as a Scholastic News Kids Press Reporter!

Click HERE to read the whole story on the Kids Press Corps Notebook blog and check out a video of me interviewing the awesome authors Calvin Trillin, Sharon Robinson, Raina Telgemeier, and Pam Muñoz Ryan about their most recent books!

Me interviewing the Library of Congress' Chief Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian Jane Sanchez

Me interviewing the Library of Congress’ Chief Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian, Jane Sanchez

Review and GIVEAWAY! Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs by Eric Litwin

28 Sep

groovyGroovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs
Series: Groovy Joe #1
Written by Eric Litwin
Illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld
40 pages – ages 3+
Published by Orchard Books on August 30, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher-Meet Groovy Joe, a fun-lovin’, guitar-strummin’, doggy-ice-cream-eatin’ pup as he wrangles three hungry dinosaurs and soon has them singing, grooving, and sharing! 

Groovy Joe was living the dream.
He had a spoon and tub of doggy ice cream.
And he started to sing:
Love my doggy ice cream! Love my doggy ice cream!

Eric Litwin, author of the bestselling and beloved Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, and bestselling artist Tom Lichtenheld, illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, have created a captivating new canine character who will groove his way into readers’ hearts and have them grooving and giggling all the while. In his debut adventure, Groovy Joe faces three roaring dinosaurs hungry for his doggy ice cream! Oh no! But Joe knows just what to do and soon enough he has them all sharing while moving and singing along.”

What I Thought- This is a really nice picture book! I really liked Mr. Litwin’s Pete the Cat series, and the positive message it sends, and this new series looks like it will be just as great! The illustrations are very fun, summing up the signature rhyme and rhythm of Mr. Litwin’s writing perfectly. The book has repetitive phrases, so kids will be able to follow along easily, and even read together with their parents. Groovy Joe is a good role model, always showing kindness, and not yelling at the three dinos that kick down his door (that is extreme kindness right there!). This is a great new book, and kids will love the new series, with the next book coming out in Fall 2017! Love the groovy music downloads that go with the book too! I wonder if Groovy Joe will ever meet Pete the Cat!😉

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Check out the Groovy Joe website HERE for a discussion guide, music and more!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eric Litwin is a #1 New York Times bestselling author who merges music and early literacy together. He is the author of the first four Pete the Cat picture books and the exciting new musical series The Nuts. Eric’s books have sold more than 6.5 million copies and won eighteen state and national awards, including a Theodor Geisel Seuss Honor Award. Eric is a popular performing artist who plays guitar, sings, tells stories, and brings books to life. Visit him at ericlitwin.com.

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: Tom Lichtenheld is the illustrator of the New York Times bestsellers Duck! Rabbit!Exclamation MarkSteam Train, Dream TrainShark vs. Train; and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, which has been on the bestseller list for over three years. He has also written and illustrated a number of books, including What Are You So Grumpy AboutCloudette, and E-mergency, a Publishers Weekly and Boston Globe Best Book of 2011. For more information, visit him at tomlichtenheld.com.

Check out the trailer!

WIN A Groovy Starter Pack!!!

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One (1) winner receives:

  • a copy of Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs
  • a “Get Groovy” art-print from the illustrator.

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment, but, if you want, you can also describe a time when something you did made somebody’s day!

The giveaway will be closed on October 4th, and the winner announced on October 5th!

Giveaway open to US addresses only.

Prizing and samples provided by Scholastic.*

Visit the website HERE to hear the free downloadable musical performance of this rocking story in English and Spanish! While you’re there, check out “The Groovy Dance,” Joe’s very own doggy dance track!”

*Please note that I am partnering with Scholastic for this post.

Review, Interview & Giveaway! Diary of a Tokyo Teen by Christine Mari Inzer

22 Sep

tokyoteen1Diary of a Tokyo Teen: A Japanese-American Girl Travels to the Land of Trendy Fashion, High-Tech Toilets and Maid Cafes

Written and Illustrated by Christine Mari Inzer

128 pages – ages 12+

Published by Tuttle Publishing on September 6, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “Born in Tokyo to a Japanese mother and an American father in 1997, Christine Mari Inzer spent her early years in Japan and relocated to the United States in 2003. The summer before she turned sixteen, she returned to Tokyo, making a solo journey to get reacquainted with her birthplace. Through illustrations, photos, and musings, Inzer documented her journey.

In Diary of a Tokyo Teen, Inzer explores the cutting-edge fashions of Tokyo’s trendy Harajuku district, eats the best sushi of her life at the renowned Tsukiji fish market, and hunts down geisha in the ancient city of Kyoto. As she shares the trials and pleasures of travel from one end of a trip to the other, Inzer introduces the host of interesting characters she meets and offers a unique—and often hilarious—look at a fascinating country and an engaging tale of one girl rediscovering her roots.”

What I Thought- This was a rather interesting book, chronicling the time that the author as a teen went to Japan by herself to visit her grandparents, and her experiences there. The book is funny, as the American-ized Inzer experiences the differences in the two cultures first hand. There are hand-drawn comics and illustrations throughout the book, providing a lot of humor and information at the same time.

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One thing I liked was how she combined the actual photos of the time she went along with her illustrations. It was a nice blend and created a cool contrast on the page. There are some really good thought-provoking quotes in there – like in the end when Inzer gets back to America and says “I guess I will always feel halfway home.” That’s a sentiment many kids who identify with two different places will connect with. There were some really great funny moments too so the whole story has a great balance. Inzer’s writing style blends seamlessly into her comic illustrations, making the story feel less like a comic or graphic novel, and more of a traditional novel.  The book is also a wonderful informal travel guide, and Japanophiles will like hearing about places to see – I know I did! I will be looking for more titles coming from this promising young author!

Five out of five bookworms for this book!fivebooks

For a complete preview of Diary of a Tokyo Teen, visit Tuttle’s website HERE

Christine Mari Inzer was kind enough to agree to an interview with me!

bloglogo When did you decide to publish your musings from your trip? Why?

 

tokyoteenBefore I had even left for Japan, I decided that I wanted to create a book about my experiences there. My mom is Japanese and I was born in Tokyo, so it holds a special place in my heart. I also love the travelogue genre and combining comics with my love of Japan was something that came natural to me.

bloglogo Have you gone back to Japan since the time the book was written?

 

tokyoteenYes, I have actually gone back twice since the book was first written, most recently in August. My grandparents live near Tokyo, so we try to visit every other year. I’m always excited to return.

 

bloglogo Your book is funny, while also being an informal travel guide for Japan, with most of the humor being supplied from the illustrations. What made you decide to have the book be partly in comic form? Did it make it easier to write in information on Japan?

 

tokyoteenI feel like drawing has always been the easiest way to express myself. In a way I do think that it also made it easier for people to visualize Japanese culture, which is so colorful and vibrant in itself.

 

bloglogo If you could write another book like this, say for another country, would you?

 

tokyoteenI would love to make another book like this! I would definitely love to have an opportunity to travel to Europe and do the same thing, especially someplace like France or Spain.

 

bloglogo What aspect of Japan interests you the most? What would you say someone MUST see if they go to Japan?

 

tokyoteenFor me, going to Japan is a multidimensional experience, and there’s never really been a single aspect of it that I like the most. I love everything! However, if I can share one thing I love to experience in Japan, it would be Shibuya Crossing at night.

 

Thank you Ms. Inzer!

Now for some exciting news!

You can enter a giveaway to win a copy of this book courtesy of Tuttle Publishing by commenting below on something you love about Japan or something that you really enjoyed when visiting another country and discovering a new culture!

The winner will be chosen on 9/29 (and announced on 9/30) by random draw out of all the comments – good luck!

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