Showing posts from December, 2013

CYBILS REVIEW: Serafina's Promise by Ann E. Burg

SERAFINA'S PROMISE A Novel in Verse by Ann E. Burg Scholastic Press, 2013 ISBN: 978-0-545-53564-9 Middle Grade Contemporary/World Grades 4-8 Reviewed from copy provided by publisher for Cybils. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Serafina has
a secret dream.

She wants to go to school
and become a doctor
with her best friend, Julie Marie.

But in their rural village
outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti,
many obstacles
stand in Serafina’s way--
little money,
never-ending chores,
and Manman’s worries.

More powerful even
than all of these
are the heavy rains
and the shaking earth
that test Serafina’s resolve
in ways she never dreamed.

At once heartbreaking and hopeful,
this exquisitely crafted story
will leave a lasting impression
on your heart.


Serafina, a young Haitian girl, wants more than anything to go to school to become a doctor.  But her dream seems impossible when she has to spend all day doing chores to help her mother who is about to have another baby. It was the loss of a previous ba…

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: The Christmas Train by Thomas S. Monson

Tour Schedule
by Thomas S. Monson, illustrated by Dan Burr
Shadow Mountain, 2012
ISBN: 9781609071820
Picture Book


In this children’s picture book, President Thomas S. Monson recounts a Christmas memory from his childhood. As a boy, he yearned for an electric train. To his delight, on Christmas morning he got exactly that a train that operated through the miracle of electricity. Then he noticed a second train that his mother had purchased for the boy down the street whose family was struggling. Although it was only a wind-up train, it had an beautiful oil tanker car, which little Tommy wanted for his own. Soon after, Tommy s mother invited him to accompany her to the neighbor s home to deliver the gift. Young Mark was thrilled with his new train and, of course, didn t notice the missing train car. However, a remorseful Tommy did. What happened next will bring the spirit of Christmas into every heart and home. Illustrated by renowned artist Dan Burr, The Chr…

Some Fun Christmas Picture Books!

WHERE TEDDY BEARS COME FROM by Mark Burgess, illustrated by Russell Ayto Peachtree, 2008 ISBN: 978-1-56145-487-7 Picture Book Grades 1-3 Review copy provided by publisher in return for honest review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

In the middle of a deep, dark forest, all the creatures are fast asleep. Except for a little gray wolf who cant sleep a wink. But the little wolf knows just what he needs to get a good nights sleep: a teddy bear to cuddle, just like in his favorite story book. So the next morning little wolf sets off on an adventure to find a teddy bear. But exactly where do teddy bears come from? The little wolf asks the Wise Owl, but he doesn't know. He asks the Three Little Pigs, but they suggest he speak to Little Red Riding Hood. Finally, when he is very tired the little wolf stumbles upon a kindly man with a bright red suit and a long white beard who needs a helping hand. But good deeds never go unrewarded. So when the little wolf wakes up the nex…

BLOG TOUR/GIVEAWAY: Kirby Puckernut and the Christmas Surprise by Alicia Richardson

Tour Schedule

by Alicia Richardson
Els Mere Elves, LLC, 2011
ISBN: 9781450729390

Kirby Puckernut is Santa’s cleverest little elf. While dreaming up marvelous toys for good girls and boys, Kirby has his best idea yet – a real elf in every home, all through the holidays, spreading Christmas Magic Santa finds the perfect family and allows Kirby to serve as the test elf for the first momentous visit. Fun and adventure are at every turn, but not everything goes as planned… Will Kirby’s idea be a success?

Amazon * Barnes & Noble




Author Alicia Richardson has created a new Christmas classic with her children’s book, Kirby Puckernut and the Christmas Surprise. Alicia Richardson resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and four children. She has always had a flair for storytelling, and has given life to a special little elf named Kirby Puckernut.

Website * Twitter * Facebook

5 winners w…

CYBILS REVIEW: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

COUNTING BY 7S by Holly Goldberg Sloan Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013 ISBN: 978-0-8037-3855-3 Middle Grade Contemporary Grades 5-8 Reviewed from library copy. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

In the tradition of Out of My MindWonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family. 

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.

Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to…


Scenes From a Book Tour  by Guest Blogger Stacy McAnulty
In October, my debut picture book, DEAR SANTASAURUS, was released. Since then, I’ve been visiting schools and bookstores. It’s been great meeting hundreds of kids and families. It’s also been funny and emotional. Here are some of my favorite moments.
I went to visit my nephew’s school. The 2nd graders knew that I was related to their classmate, but one little girl couldn’t remember how. She pointed to my nephew and asked me, “Are you his grandma?”  I’m only 30-something. I guess that’s not too young for gray-covering hair dye and wrinkle cream. I got some on the way home.
At that same school, a boy asked me, “Are you famous?” I told him no, not really. He wanted my autograph anyway. “In case you get famous someday.”
I find preschool visits to be a fun challenge. The 4 and 5 year olds can’t sit still very long, and I’m also distracted by all the nose picking. (I guess it’s a habit that comes with all that not-being-able-to-sit-still.)…

CYBILS REVIEW: Losing it by Erin Fry

LOSING IT by Erin Fry Amazon's Children's Publishing, 2012 ISBN: 978-0761462200 Middle Grade Contemporary Grades 5 and up Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Bennett Robinson loves baseball, especially watching Dodgers’ games with his dad while munching on burgers and fries—the perfect “game food.” Baseball even helped Bennett and his dad get over his mom’s death from cancer. But there’s no way Bennett could ever play baseball. Bennett is fat, the kind of fat that gives you belly button sweat stains and makes it tough to get off a saggy couch.

But on one perfect, baseball-watching day, everything changes. Bennett’s dad is taken away on a stretcher, and Bennett doesn’t know if he will live or die.

Now Bennett has to move in with know-it-all Aunt Laura, his mom’s sister, who hates Bennett’s dad. And Aunt Laura is making it her personal mission to Get Bennett Healthy. Bennett knows that Aunt Laura will take over his entire …

CYBILS REVIEW: Ultra by David Carroll

ULTRA by David Carroll Scholastic Canada, 2013 ISBN: 978-1-4431-1918-4 Middle Grade Contemporary Grades 5-8 Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Quinn has been called a superhero and a freak of nature. At age 13, he's an amazing distance runner. He takes on the second-hardest challenge of his life when he enters his first ultra marathon: a grueling 100-mile, 24-hour-long race that will push him to the very limit of his endurance.

While Quinn struggles to go on — up a mountain and through the night, as his muscles break down and he begins to hallucinate — we learn why the ultra-marathon is only the second hardest thing he has endured in his young life. And maybe this devastating event from his past is exactly what Quinn has been running from . . .
Framed as an interview with a media commentator after Quinn's newsmaking finish, this remarkable debut novel from ultra-marathon runner David Carroll reminds us that when we dare…

CYBILS REVIEW: The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher

THE WIG IN THE WINDOW by Kristen Kittscher HarperCollins Children's Books, 2013 ISBN: 978-0-06-211050-3 Middle Grade Contemporary Mystery Grades 4-8 Reviewed from purchased copy. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Best friends and seventh graders Sophie Young and Grace Yang have made a game out of spying on their neighbors. On one of their midnight stakeouts, they witness a terrifying, bloody scene at the home of their bizarre middle-school counselor, Dr. Charlotte Agford (aka Dr. Awkward).

At least, they think they do. The truth is that Dr. Agford was only making her famous pickled beets! But when Dr. Agford begins acting even weirder than usual, Sophie and Grace become convinced that she’s hiding something—and they’re determined to find out what it is.

Soon the girls are breaking secret codes, being followed by a strange blue car, and tailing strangers with unibrows and Texas accents. But as their investigation heats up, Sophie and Grace start to crack under the pres…

CYBILS REVIEW: Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill

BO AT BALLARD CREEK by Kirkpatrick Hill, illustrations by LeUyen Pham Henry Holt and Company, 2013 ISBN: 978-0-8050-9351-3 Middle Grade Historical Fiction Grades 2-5 Reviewed from purchased copy. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

It's the 1920s, and Bo was headed for an Alaska orphanage when she won the hearts of two tough gold miners who set out to raise her, enthusiastically helped by all the kind people of the nearby Eskimo village.

Bo learns Eskimo along with English, helps in the cookshack, learns to polka, and rides along with Big Annie and her dog team. There's always some kind of excitement: Bo sees her first airplane, has a run-in with a bear, and meets a mysterious lost little boy.

Here is an unforgettable story of a little girl growing up in the exhilarating time after the big Alaska gold rushes.

Five-year-old Bo lives with Jack, an African American cook and Arvid, the mine blacksmith who adopted her when her mother rejected her. She loves the v…

CYBILS REVIEW: The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER by Kevin Henkes Greenwillow Books, 2013 ISBN: 978-0-06-226812-9 Middle Grade Contemporary Grades 2-4 Reviewed from purchased copy. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

When Billy Miller has a mishap at the statue of the Jolly Green Giant at the end of summer vacation, he ends up with a big lump on his head. What a way to start second grade, with a lump on your head! As the year goes by, though, Billy figures out how to navigate elementary school, how to appreciate his little sister, and how to be a more grown up and responsible member of the family and a help to his busy working mom and stay-at-home dad. Newbery Honor author and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes delivers a short, satisfying, laugh-out-loud-funny school and family story that features a diorama homework assignment, a school poetry slam, cancelled sleepovers, and epic sibling temper tantrums. Illustrated throughout with black-and-white art by the author, this is a perfect short novel fo…

CYBILS REVIEW: Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

BETTER NATE THAN EVER by Tim Federle Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013 ISBN: 978-1-4424-4689-2 Middle Grade Contemporary Grades 6-8 Reviewed from purchased copy. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he'd settle for *seeing* a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There's an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom.
Nate Foster wants to be on Broadway more than anything.  His family doesn't understand this and so when the opportunity to audition for E.T.: The Musical arises he can't pass it by.  But it means leaving home on his own while his paren…

BLOG TOUR/GIVEAWAY: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard by Lars Guignard

*About the Book*Title: Ghost Leopard (Zoe and Zak Series, Book #1) Authors: Lars Guignard Publication Date: July 21, 2012 Publisher: Fantastic Press Pages: 338 Recommended Age: 8+ Summary (Amazon): Zoe and Zak are lost in exotic India, where gods and magic still exist. Before they can find their way home, they just have to do one little thing… …Save a mythical creature from an ancient evil that wants to rule the world. When Zoe Guire goes along on her mom’s business trip to India, things get very weird, very quickly. An elephant god speaks to her from the bottom of a swimming pool… She and her classmate Zak get locked in a trunk and shipped off to a strange city near the foothills of the Himalayas… and a crazy snake charmer tells them they’ve been chosen to protect a mythical creature called the Ghost Leopard from an ancient evil that wants to take over the world. As they travel deeper into the majestic mountains known as the Realm of the Gods, things get even weirder. If she and Zak w…