Archive | Other Stuff Related to Books and Reading RSS feed for this section

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.


I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Who is Bish Denham?


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

To learn more about Bish, you can visit her blog, Random Thoughts, at www.http:/

She can also be found on Facebook:

Twitter @BishDenham

And Goodreads:

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

5 Oct


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!


Secretary of Education John King and me

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

1 Oct


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!😉


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


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


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

Check out the trailer!

WIN A Groovy Starter Pack!!!


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.


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


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


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.


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!


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

MidWestPlayers IMG_1623

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.


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

Joshua and the Arrow Realm ebook.jpg


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!


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



A faint rumble groaned through the whistling wind.


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.


Amazon: HERE!

Barnes & Noble: HERE!



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


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


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 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!

%d bloggers like this: