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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!

9/11 Through the Eyes of Kids Born in 2001

11 Sep

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I was going to title this post, Remembering 9/11 but that would be wrong because 9/11 to me, is a history lesson. I was born in December of 2001, just three months after the horrible events that occurred fifteen years ago on 9/11. My generation will not remember it, but we can learn from it.

I was asked to participate in a round-table discussion on NPR’s Here & Now program last week. Myself and two other kids who were born in 2001 were asked to come on and talk about what we know and have learned from 9/11. It is part of a series Here & Now did, reflecting on 9/11 fifteen years later.

To hear the podcast of the round-table interview, click HERE. You can also access the other segments of the series on 9/11 there.

Although my generation will not remember 9/11, I can honestly say; we will not forget.

My Latest Scholastic News Articles on the Little League World Series

31 Aug

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Hello blogosphere!

I wanted to let you know that my latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps article(s) are out! I got to cover the Little League World Series (LLWS) in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. It was a fun ten-day tournament and a very exciting final game.

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I have one on the Kids Press Corps site about the “behind the scenes” at the LLWS – click HERE!

There is a video of some interviews I did – click HERE!

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And an article on the main Scholastic news site about the final game! Click HERE!

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Hope you enjoy them!

Review! 101 Things to Do Outside

17 Aug

101outside101 Things to Do Outside

by Susan Hayes

Illustrated by  Shahid Mahmood

Editors Fay Evans, Lydia Halliday

144 pages – ages 8-12

Published by  Walter Foster Jr, (Division of Quatro) on March 1, 2016 (Published by Weldon Owen in  Great Britain 2015)

Synopsis from Publisher- “From animal tracking and survival skills to using a compass and growing vegetables, 101 Things to Do Outside is the perfect guide for young explorers and aspiring adventurers longing for a taste of the great outdoors. Right outside your front door, there’s a world bursting with adventures just waiting to be explored. This pocket-sized book is overflowing with things to try, do, learn, and remember (plus it has a handy checklist!). Includes helpful step-by-step illustrations and plenty of activities and lessons. Actvities include: Outdoor games such as beach basketball and giant chess; Outdoor art projects such as build a hammock and making bark rubbings; Outdoor nature activities such as bug hunting and fossil hunting; Outdoor gardening activities such as planting a boot garden and creating an herb window box; Outdoor exploring activities such as cooking on a campfire and sending message with a flashlight. The fourth installment of the 101 Things series encourages children to step away from the computer screen and experience nature firsthand from their very own backyards.”

What I Thought- This is a decent guide to doing things outside. The instructions are thorough and easy to understand. I really liked the format of the book – it’s spiral bound like a notebook. Each page has a description of an activity along with illustrations to help and a list of materials.  There is also a little check box at the bottom of each activity so you can mark that you’ve done it – nice feature.

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The pages are colored and have an “outdoorsy” feel about them.  The instructions also point out good times to ask an adult for help. There are games, crafts and some science based activities. Most of the activities are probably good for third graders and younger, with a few things for older kids. I took the book camping with us last week and read it. It gave us some ideas of things to do! I can see parents handing the book to kids who say “I’m bored” or using it as a way to get their kids outside more.  Overall a fun book that is a great boredom buster!

For a full preview of the book, visit the publisher’s website by clicking HERE.

I give this book four out of five bookworms!fourbooks

BOOK TRAILER REVEAL for The Arrow Realm by Donna Galanti Plus EXCERPT!!!

15 Aug

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BOOK TRAILER REVEAL + GIVEAWAY FOR JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM!

I’m thrilled to unveil the trailer for book two in Donna Galanti’s fantasy adventure Lightning Road series, JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM, arriving August 30th. The Midwest Book Review calls book one, JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD, “a heart-pounding thrill ride full of unexpected twists and turns from start to finish.”  Grab book one for just $.99cents now through September 20th.

Be sure to enter the fun giveaway package at the bottom of this post that includes a paperback of book one, poster of the Lost Realm, bookmarks, and a $25 B&N gift card (U.S. only). Sign up for Donna’s Thunderclap book release campaign and help her zap the world through social media with her lightning message!

ABOUT JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM:

On August 30th take the lightning road back to a world of beasts, bandits, and heroes in book two of the Lightning Road series. Join Joshua in a new fight for power in the Arrow Realm. Can Joshua and his friends conquer an unstoppable evil?

Joshua never thought he’d return to the world of Nostos but is soon called to the Arrow Realm to free his imprisoned friend, King Apollo, kidnapped as a power pawn in Queen Artemis’s quest to conquer every realm. With his loyalties divided between our world and theirs, Joshua wonders whether he alone can restore magic to the twelve powerless Olympian heirs and save all those enslaved. But when he finds himself abandoned in his quest, he fears he cannot only save those imprisoned—but himself as well.

“Fast-paced and endlessly inventive, Joshua and the Arrow Realm is a high-stakes romp through a wild world where descendants of the Greek gods walk beside you, beasts abound, and not everything—or everyone—is as it seems.” ~ Michael Northrop, New York Times bestselling author of the TombQuest series

JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM BOOK TRAILER:

EXCERPT:

A faint rumble groaned through the whistling wind.

Boom!

Thunder ripped the sky overhead.

Charlie reached the frozen pond, spinning across it. “Woohoo! I win! You Americans can’t beat us at speed!”

Lightning flashed. It zinged across the pine trees like brilliant sunlight. A seed of terror flickered inside me.

Boom! Boom!

Another flash scorched the sky.

Charlie’s smile fell to a frown as he raced across the ice, peering up into the swirling clouds.

We both knew what lightning could do.

Suddenly, sneaking outside for a moonlit sled ride before Bo Chez got home from his monthly poker game didn’t seem so smart.

The sleet turned to snow. Icicles flew off trees like glass splinters, shattering on the hard snow. As I shot toward the pond, a tree on the edge moved. Its branches swayed in the swirling snow.

It wasn’t a tree, but a girl! She stumbled through the mad flurry, arms outstretched.

“Charlie, look!”

Gusts snatched the words away as my sled hit the ice and careened out of control on the bumpy surface. The girl staggered and fell onto the pond. I twisted my sled away to avoid hitting her and smashed right into Charlie. With a yelp, he pulled me up, and we clumped toward the girl. We lifted her up, half dragging her back up the hill to the house in the pelting snow and sleet.

“Who is she?” Charlie yelled.

“No idea,” I yelled back.

He said more, but his words were lost in the wind.

My lungs burned with the cold and effort. There was only one reason someone would appear with lightning—to steal us. This girl might appear like a waif unprepared for a storm but I couldn’t trust that’s all she was.

PRE-ORDER JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM:

Amazon: HERE!

Barnes & Noble: HERE!

MEET DONNA GALANTI:

Donna

Donna Galanti is the author of The Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). She attended an English school housed in a magical castle, where her wild imagination was held back only by her itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). There she fell in love with the worlds of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and wrote her first fantasy about Dodo birds, wizards, and a flying ship. She’s lived in other exotic locations, including Hawaii where she served as a U.S. Navy photographer. She lives with her family and two crazy cats in an old farmhouse, and dreams of returning one day to a castle. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. You can find her at http://www.donnagalanti.com.

BOOK REVIEWERS:

E-book ARCs (Advance Reader/Reviewer Copies) are available for this next thrilling book in The Lightning Road series! Email donna(at)donnagalanti.com for copies and specify the format you’d like.

GIVEAWAY:

a Rafflecoptegiveaway

Joshua and the Arrow Realm ebook.jpg

Creative Kid Thursday! The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey as reviewed by Olivia and Oscar!

4 Aug

Hi Everyone! Today, I am featuring two kid book reviewers, who blog at Kidbookreviewer.com. The book they are reviewing is called “An Author’s Odyssey”, and is the fifth book in “The Land of Stories” series, written by Chris Colfer.

I’ll hand over the reigns to them now!

Hey there! We’re Olivia (12) and Oscar (9), brother and sister, and we both have a giant love of books. We started our book review blog about a year ago because we found we both loved passionately talking about books, and wanted to share that love with young kids all over the world. Since then, we’ve also interviewed a multitude of our favorite authors. Besides reading, reviewing books, and interviewing authors, we love writing, traveling, swimming, and hanging out with our family and friends.

61nae8ovpsl-sx337-bo1-204-203-200_origRating: High Five! [Note from Erik, see their rating system HERE!]

Who We’d Recommend to: Fans of Peter and the Starcatchers, fractured fairy tales, and the Whatever After series.

Synopsis (from Amazon):
In the highly anticipated continuation of the Land of Stories series, Conner learns that the only place to fight the Masked Man’s literary army is inside his own short stories! 

When the twins and their friends enter worlds crafted from Conner’s imagination, finding allies no one else could have ever dreamed of, the race begins to put an end to the Masked Man’s reign of terror. Can the twins finally restore peace in the fairy tale world?


 

Olivia’s Review; I’ve eagerly anticipated this next installment in the Land of Stories, and it hasn’t disappointed! The characters were all spot-on, and I loved getting to see Connor’s imagination through his stories and how they reflected the Bailey twins’s adventures. The writing was humorous and fast-paced – there was never a slow moment in the story. The plot was exciting and suspenseful, a perfect read for kids of all ages. I fell in love with this series a while ago and am thrilled that there will, indeed, be another book in the series after this one. Overall, an exciting, action-packed, super creative, funny, clever fifth installment to the Land of Stories!

Oscar’s Review: I really loved this book. In every chapter when you thought something was going well, the ship would sink and everything would be submerged and the story would be shaken. I really don’t have that much to say about this book because I love it so much, but I do have one thing: most who read this book will love it as they’ve loved, in turn, the first, second, third, and fourth books in the series. There was also a HUGE, interesting, and unexpected twist that really shook up the story and increased the suspense and excitement levels by a tenfold. I think this book would really appeal to reluctant readers because it is an action-packed, fast-paced fantasy story that pulls you into the book from the start.

 

Thank you very much Olivia and Oscar for reviewing this book! Don’t forget to check out their blog HERE!

Double Review! Animal Bites from Animal Planet by Laaren Brown

26 Jul

wildanimalsWild Animals
Series: Animal Bites
Written by Laaren Brown
Photography from Various Artists
80 pages – ages 6+
Published by Animal Planet on June 21, 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis- “With more than 200 gorgeous animal photos of lions, giraffes, ibexes, flamingos, hippopotamuses, and many others, Animal Planet Wild Animals is a fun, habitat-by-habitat guide that provides kids in the first years of schooling with the perfect bite-sized view of their favorite wild animals. Arranged thematically with focus on animal behavior and family relationships, young readers will explore sections about animal bodies, baby animals, food, play time, conservation and more. Special book features designed for this age group include Quick Bites sidebars with cool animal facts, simple infographics, and illustrated maps of life in the African savannah and Amazon rain forest.”

 

farmanimalsFarm Animals
Series: Animal Bites
Written by Laaren Brown
Photography from Various Artists
80 pages – ages 6+
Published by Animal Planet on June 21, 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis- “With more than 200 gorgeous animal photos of cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, llamas, and many others, Animal Planet Farm Animals is a fun, habitat-by-habitat guide that provides kids in the first years of schooling with the perfect bite-sized view of their favorite farm animals. Arranged thematically with focus on animal behavior and family relationships, young readers will explore sections about animal bodies, baby animals, food, play time, conservation and more. Special book features designed for this age group include Quick Bites sidebars with cool animal facts, simple infographics, and illustrated maps of life in on the farm and at the petting zoo.”

What I Thought about these books- This was a nice look into basic farm animals that kids know and love and wild animals that some kids may never have heard of. The books are organized very well, and are eye-pleasing. Kids will love looking at the fact boxes and realizing that baby ostriches are as big as chickens when hatched and that a Valais Blacknose Sheep is about as tall as a skateboard. It includes ways that kids are similar to the animals, and things you can do to help the animals. The photos are big, bright, and capture the spirit of the animals! The author has a way of writing nonfiction while still making it interesting to kids, keeping them reading. I recommend these books to kids that want to know about these types of animals, and to classrooms to open a unit.

I give these books five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! This is the Earth by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander

20 Jul

thisisThis is the Earth

Written by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander

Illustrated by Wendell Minor

40 pages – ages 5+

Published by HarperCollins on February 23, 2016

Synopsis- This is the Earth, where we all live. Only, humans aren’t the only things living on the Earth. We share this planet with all of the animals, the birds, and the fishes. If we ruin it, we will not have a world to live in. We need to change, for this is our Earth.

What I Thought- This is a gorgeous picture book about keeping the Earth clean. Shore and Alexander’s rhyming scheme is wonderfully subtle, in a sing-song way. The book shows the land getting more and more changed from humans. It introduces everything as “This is the…” such as “This is the land…This is the river…” etc. finally introducing “This is the landfill…This is the pipe”. I think that this was a great way of teaching about pollution and being green, as it then goes into things you can do. Minor’s illustrations are absolutely stunning, and are perfect for the book.

Here is a peek –

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For a full preview visit the HarperCollins website HERE

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

My latest Scholastic News Article! Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea

18 Jul

My latest Scholastic News Article came out recently. It is about the Washed Ashore Art Project, a project where trash was collected from beaches in the northwest US to create sculptures of wildlife effected by trash.

Here is the opening: “An estimated 315 billion pounds of plastic trash are swimming in our oceans today. This mass of garbage is deadly to creatures that call the ocean their home. Yet many people are unaware of how immense the problem is.

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Click HERE to go the Scholastic Kid Press Corps Notebook and read the rest of the article!

Review and Taste Test! Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook by Katie Chin

13 Jul

katiechinKatie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen
Written by Katie Chin, recipes by Leeann Chin and Katie Chin
Photography by Masano Kawana
Foreword by Raghavan Iyer
160 pages – ages 12+
Published by Tuttle Publishing on April 26, 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis – “Author Katie Chin’s love of cooking blossomed at an early age—watching and later helping her renowned mother, Leeann Chin, prepare delicious Chinese dishes in her popular restaurants. Born in China, Leeann was an award-winning restaurateur and author revered for her ability to demystify Chinese cooking for the American home cook. Katie inherited her mom’s passion and talent, and has become a respected food writer and television personality in her own right. Sadly, Leeann passed away in 2010, but her recipes live on. Katie is eager to share her mother’s food legacy with you in this book—an homage to Leeann’s mastery of all that Chinese cooking has to offer.
This treasury of family recipes includes many unique dishes that Leeann developed during a six-decade career in the food business, including time-honored classics that she herself learned from her mother in China. Some dishes reflect Leeann’s Chinese-American childhood or are recipes which Katie and Leeann developed while together. Others are creations that Katie has developed more recently. Woven throughout the book are fond memories and anecdotes from Katie’s childhood, always involving cooking and eating with her mom.”

What I Thought- First, I just want to say that the reason I suggested ages 12+ for this book is just because that is around the age where I think it is reasonable to start cooking without omnipresent supervision (of course, this is up to the parents). These recipes can be made by younger kids, but parental supervision should be present throughout the cooking. That being said, the book is an excellent cookbook, with clear instructions. I liked that Ms. Chin did not assume that the reader/cook already knew information, including things such as “Basic Cooking Techniques and Tips” and “Understanding Chinese Ingredients” so the reader/cook is not left in the dark. All of the back material was very interesting and is a great help in learning to cook Chinese food. The recipes themselves are easy to read, and include simple ways to cook and prepare the food. The anecdotes into Ms. Chin, her mother, and how she gets her kids to eat things like mushrooms and spinach really make the book more personal. The book is filled with great color photos of the steps and finished dishes. This was a great cookbook!

I give this book five out of five bookworms! fivebooks

Knowing me, you probably aren’t surprised that I decided to cook something with my family from the cookbook. We chose to make the “Crystal Shrimp Dumplings” found on page 30-31. My sister Josie helped make the dumplings too.

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We started by making the filling with cilantro, egg white, cornstarch, sugar, pepper and sesame oil.

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We prepared the shrimp as it said in the cookbook so it won’t taste “fishy.”

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We minced the shrimp in a food processor and added it to the filling mix.

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Then it was time to fill the dumplings.

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I don’t think our wrap job was as pretty as the ones in the book – but pretty good for beginners!

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Next we cooked the dumplings!

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YUM!!!

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They were delicious! The soy sauce had balsamic vinegar in it, and it gave it a nice citrus-y flavor somehow. Ms. Chin really knows how to make a meal!

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