Tuesday, April 28, 2015

READY-TO-READ: Sparky and Tidbit by Kathryn O. Galbraith


An intrepid do-gooder dog named Sparky and an eager young pup named Tidbit star in this charming Level 3 Ready-to-Read that's all about helping others, gaining confidence; and learning to read!

Brave and bold Sparky receives a K-9 badge for his birthday and cannot wait to start doing heroic things. But he's having a hard time finding ways to help. Then he hears Tidbit, the neighborhood pup, yipping and howling away because he is the worst in his class at reading. Sparky sighs. He can't possibly help with that or can he?

Join the adorable team of Sparky and Tidbit in a story that will teach young readers that with a lot of patience and a little help from a friend, reading will become as easy as it is fun!


I quite enjoyed this early reader not only for the cute dogs, but for the sweet message about being a hero and the value of patience and a listening ear.  Sparky is thrilled when he receives a requested K-9 hat, badge and collar for his birthday and he immediately sets out to become a hero.  But he can't seem to find anything heroic to do, no mean cats to defeat and no bone robbers to catch.  But when he hears Tidbit, a young dog, crying he can't help but respond.  It turns out though that all Tidbit needs is help with his reading and this discourages Sparky.  His compassionate heart though can't help but melt at the young dog's discouragement and so he sits and listens as Tidbit stumbles through his book.  Not only is this a book about a different kind of hero, but the value of persistence.  A cute book with a great message for young readers who are finding learning to read a difficult prospect.


  Coming this April 28th, Diana’s first book for readers eight and up is a thrilling adventure story, perfect for people who like their books with a side of rocketships and hidden treasure. Find out what secrets are hidden beneath the Maryland countryside in...

OmegaCityOmega City

Gillian Seagret doesn’t listen to people who say her father’s a crackpot. His conspiracy theories about the lost technology of Cold War-era rocket scientist Dr. Aloysius Underberg may have cost him his job and forced the family to move to a cottage in the sticks, but Gillian knows he’s right, and plans to prove it. When she discovers a missing page from Dr. Unerberg’s diary in her father’s mess of an office, she thinks she’s found a big piece of the puzzle–a space-themed riddle promising to lead to Dr. Underberg’s greatest invention. Enlisting the help of her skeptical younger brother, Eric, her best friend, Savannah, and Howard, their NASA-obsessed schoolmate, Gillian sets off into the ruins of a vast doomsday bunker, deep within the earth. But they aren’t alone inside its dark and flooded halls. Now Gillian and her friends must race to explore OMEGA CITY and find the answers they need. For while Gillian wants to save her dad’s reputation by bringing Dr. Underberg’s secrets to light, there are others who will stop at nothing to make sure they stay buried...forever.


“With seamless writing, a thrilling plot, lots of engaging science puzzles, and remarkable characterization, Peterfreund's exciting tale keeps the adventure solidly in the foreground. Young readers looking for a page turning quest should get into this planned series on the ground floor." — Booklist *Starred* Review 

"Peterfreund's focus on character development is complemented by the equal attention she gives to the vast underground city itself. Gillian’s instincts to protect her friends and clear her historian father’s tarnished name are admirable, but Peterfreund gives every character the opportunity to grow, revealing themselves for who they really are."Publishers Weekly 

“With nonstop action, sly humor, and nothing short of the end of the world at stake, Omega City is the alpha book in a new series that mashes up mystery, scifi, and action/adventure into a thrilling novel you’ll want to devour in one sitting. I did, and I can’t wait to read what comes next!”Peter Lerangis, New York Times Bestselling author of the Seven Wonders series 

“Peterfreund’s boundless imagination takes on a new and exciting adventure!”Jessica Day George, New York Times Bestselling author of Tuesdays at the Castle” 

“Diana Peterfreund takes us to an underground city that’s utterly mind-blowing, yet disturbingly possible. A knockout of a story that will have readers cheering straight through to the final, shocking, twist.” — #1 New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman

Diana Peterfreund has published ten novels for adults, teens, and kids, including the four-book Secret Society Girl series (Bantam Dell), the “killer unicorn novels” Rampantand Ascendant (Harper Teen), For Darkness Shows the Stars (a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen’sPersuasion), and Across a Star-Swept Sea (inspired by the classic series The Scarlet Pimpernel). Her newest novel, OMEGA CITY, is a contemporary adventure novel for younger readers set in a secret bunker city somewhere under modern Maryland. Her works have been named to the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age list, the Capitol Choices (metro DC-area) reading list, and the Texas Lonestar List, as well as having been named to Amazon’s Best Books of the Year. In addition, she’s written several critically acclaimed short stories and a variety of non-fiction essays about popular children’s literature. Diana lives outside Washington D.C., with her family.


Monday, April 27, 2015

NONFICTION MONDAY: 50 Things You Should Know About the First World War by Jim Eldridge


The story of the War, brought to life through illustrations, photographs, diaries, and newspaper reports.

In this illustrated exploration of World War I, readers discover what caused the war and why it eventually affected every corner of the globe.

The key battles, events, and figures are all explored and recounted in succinct and easy-to understand text while illustrations and photographs bring the past vividly back to life.


Jim Eldridge is the author of many books for children, including titles in the My Story series, the Warpath books, and How to Handle Grown-Ups. He has had 250 TV scripts broadcast in the UK and internationally for children's and teen television, and is also the creator and writer of Radio 4's long-running comedy-drama series, King Street Junior.


50 Things You Should Know About the First World War is divided into fifty sections, each examining one aspect of the war, either a key event or a key aspect of the war.  Some of the topics covered are trench warfare, poison gas, A Christmas Truce, England under attack, assassination of Franz Ferdinand and many others. This is the sort of book that I would hand to a reluctant reader who wants to learn more about the war but doesn't want a big, long, text-heavy book.  Each section is 1-2 pages and is made up of photographs, diagrams, and short explanatory paragraphs giving details about the topic.  For such a brief book (80 pages, including a glossary and a who's who of important historical figures), it covers all the major aspects of the war, including a look at related events.  However, for a reader who is looking for more details this general coverage may not be entirely satisfying, but it makes for a great starting point.

BLOG TOUR w/ GUEST POST: Ava and Taco Cat by Carol Weston


Ava desperately wants a pet for her eleventh birthday-but gets way more than she bargained for when she adopts T-A-C-O-C-A-T.

When Ava Wren hears about an injured yellow tabby with mismatched ears, she becomes obsessed and wants to rescue him. She even picks out a perfect palindromic name: T-A-C-O-C-A-T. But when Taco joins the family, he doesn't snuggle or purr-all he does is hide. Worse, Ava's best friend starts hanging out with Zara, a new girl in fifth grade. Ava feels alone and writes an acclaimed story, "The Cat Who Wouldn't Purr." What begins as exciting news turns into a disaster. How can Ava make things right? And what about sweet, scared little Taco?


I enjoyed reading more about Ava and her family.  When Ava's mother tells her about an injured cat Ava desperately wants to adopt it.  But she struggles once Taco joins the family since he spends most of his time hiding from them.  In addition she struggles with maintaining her friendship with Maybelle and feels she is losing her best friend to the new girl Zara who can't seem to mind her own business.  But once again Ava uses her writing to help herself cope with her problems.  Unfortunately, her writing once again threatens something she holds dear and she is faced with choosing to do the right thing or what her heart wants.  

Carol Weston has once again opened a window into the heart and mind of an 11-year-old girl who's growing up whether she wants to or not.  I really liked Ava's thoughts and the wordplay that fills the book, including onomatopoeia, palindromes (like T-A-C-O-C-A-T), and alliteration. Truly, this is a book that many young readers will be able to relate to. Highly recommended.

GUEST POST by Carol Weston

 Authors often struggle with plots and with how exactly to “enter” a book. With AVA AND TACO CAT, I was lucky that the initial barebones plot came easily.

Two years ago, I was spreading out my towel by Windmill Lake in Armonk, a suburb where I grew up just north of New York City. It was a beautiful day and a neighbor who plays summer volleyball with my husband walked over and I asked about her two daughters. “Does Cara still want to be a vet?” I said.

Paula answered, “Yes, but last week someone brought an injured cat into the clinic where she works, and omigod, Cara took it home! It’s the last thing she needs! The poor cat had a gash on its neck and…”

            Maybe it’s because I’m a cat person, or maybe it’s because my character’s mom
works for a vet named Dr. Gross, but next thing you know, my imagination was running wild – and I was chasing after it. I don’t think I even heard the update about her second daughter, Danielle. I was already picturing my character, Ava, begging her parents to let her keep an injured little cat. But what would happen if they said yes?

When I finished writing AVA AND TACO CAT (note the palindrome!), I wondered why I’d never put a cat in any previous books. I mean, there are plenty of novels about a-boy-and-his-dog, and it made sense that I’d want to write about a-girl-and-her-cat. When I was a preteen, I probably spent as much time with my cat and my diary than with any one particular person.

As for my current rescue cat, Mike, he’s more bad-ass than purr-ball. He likes affection only on his terms, and I wonder if he noticed that last year, I was observing him extra closely and sometimes even took notes on his behavior or the twitch of his tail.

By the way, my editor, Steve Geck, and illustrator, Victoria Jamieson, both have rescue cats too. We all adopted them from PetCo!

Of course this new novel is not just about a rescue cat. It’s about how fifth-grade friendships can feel both fragile and rock solid. And as with the first book in the series, AVA AND PIP, it’s about the power of writing. Ava is a word nerd (in the best way) who likes to write more than she likes to read, and although she is learning to write better and better, sometimes her writing gets her into big trouble.

One great thing about writing kids’ books: I can get my characters into boiling hot water—and get them safely out again.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: Go, Pea, Go by Joe Moshier


Pea Junior has to go, go, go, go! The end feels so far away, but with his family and friends cheering him on, Pea knows he can make it and go number one!

A potty chart, a sheet of stickers, and the lyrics and music notation for the "Go, Pea, Go!" song are included to make an easy, all-in-one, go-to book for parents to help ease the pressure of the race to the Pea Bowl.


Joe Moshier is a character design artist who has worked on such films as Bolt, Hercules, Chicken Little, The hunchback of Notre Dame, and Rise of the Guardians.  He attended California Institute of the Arts and lives in Los Angeles, CA, with his family.

Chris Sonnenburg has worked in development, direction, and as an artist at a variety of animation studios. He attended California Institutde of the Arts and lives in Valencia, CA.


Go, Pea, Go is specifically designed for use with young children who are being potty trained.  I found it a cute way to encourage children to keep trying to use the toilet. Pea has to go and with the help of family and friends he succeeds in making it despite all the distractions and possible disasters he faces along the way. The included chart and stickers could for the right child be a fun tool to help children learn to to go potty when they need to.  A fun resource for the right child.


This contest will run from 4/22 to 5/4 @ 12 AM EST. We will give away ONE prize pack that includes a pea plush, pea beach ball, pea tote bag, pea hair clips, stickers, and a copy of the book. THREE people will win a pack including a pea beach ball, pea postcards, stickers, and a copy of the book. FIVE runners up will receive a copy of the book and stickers. Winners will be contacted by email and must notify us within 48 hours of the notification email with address and acceptance. Please note that winners can be from the US only.

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By Joe Moshier and Chris Sonnenburg
Blog Tour Schedule


Thursday, April 23, 2015

MIDDLE GRADE FANTASY: The Impossible Race by Chad Morris


In the final book of the Cragbridge Hall trilogy, Abby, Derick, and their friends must utilize their skills in time travel and technology to survive roving bands of dinosaurs, race through space, build robots, and fight virtual dragons.

It’s known as the Race—an annual tournament where teams of students compete in the hopes of winning an unbelievable prize. But before this year’s competition, Derick and Abby receive a terrifying message from the future: Charles Muns’s plan to control history is going to succeed. It will cost countless people their lives and change the destiny of the world. And there is nothing anyone can do to stop them.

Despite the danger, the twins gather their friends and enter the Race, ready to compete against the best of the best in order to claim what might turn out to be a key of ultimate power.

Can they compete the Race in time and stop Muns? Or has the future already been written?

A page-turning, time-travel adventure that teaches powerful lessons about choice and consequence, believing you can do hard things, and valuing our history.


Chad Morris would love to be able to control animal avatars, see history in 3D, and show everyone how he imagines stories. Since the inventions that would make that possible currently exist only in his imagination, he settles for reading, writing, playing basketball, rappelling down an occasional slot canyon, dating his wife, and hanging out with his five awesome kids. Chad speaks Portuguese, can play the Phineas and Ferb theme song on the guitar, and does decent impressions of a velociraptor and Voldemort—but not at the same time. He isn't very good at fixing his car, shopping for anything, cooking, or growing hair.


The conclusion to the Cragbridge Hall trilogy is full of twists and turns and plenty of excitement.  Abby and Derick and their friends are once again up against Charles Muns who is determined to use the Bridge (a time travel device) to control the world.  After receiving a message from the future that shakes them up, Abby and Derick are forced to face off with Muns without the aide of their parents and grandfather.  It all seems to revolve around the Race that the school sponsors every year.  After recruiting as many of the best students as they can, the team must win the Race in hopes of stopping Muns once and for all.  Once again, Chad Morris takes readers on a thrill ride as we follow the twins through their adventures.

I loved the technology that Morris has created.  The ability to use virtual reality to be a falcon for instance would be fantastic, especially for those like me who tend to be a bit klutzy.  I also really appreciated that the possible consequences of changing the past are explored along with the ramifications of the desires of one person overpowering the good of the whole.  I enjoyed this book very much.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

PICTURE BOOK REVIEW: Juna's Jar by Jane Bahk


Sometimes a simple, everyday object can take you away on great adventures. Juna and her best friend, Hector, have many adventures together, and they love to collect things in empty kimchi jars. Then one day, Hector unexpectedly moves away without having a chance to say good-bye. Juna is heartbroken and left to wonder who will on go on adventures with her. Determined to find Hector, Juna turns to her special kimchi jar for help each night. She plunges into the depths of the ocean, swings on vines through the jungle, and flies through the night sky in search of her friend. What Juna finds is that adventure and new friends can be found in the most unexpected places. Coupled with dreamy watercolor illustrations by Felicia Hoshino, Juna's Jar is a heart-warming and whimsical tale about the power of the imagination.


Juna's Jar presents an adorable story about friendship and the power of imagination.  When Juna's best friend moves away she is very sad, but with the help of her brother, she continues to explore the world around her by placing various things in her kimchi jar. She starts with a fish in her jar.  During the night when everyone else is sleeping, Juna goes on an adventure with the fish through the ocean searching for her friend, Hector.  By the end of the book, Juna has come to terms with the loss of her friends and even manages to make a new friend.  A delightful book that encourages imaginative play and respect and admiration for the environment.  A definite winner.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Charlotte Zolotow's new poetry collection: Changes

“Few writers for small children so empathize with them as does Charlotte Zolotow.” — Zena Sutherland, children’s literature reviewer and scholar

“Ms. Zolotow’s own picture books — she wrote more than 70 — were cleareyed explorations of the interior landscape of childhood by one who had obviously not forgotten what it felt like to dwell there.” – Margalit Fox, The New York Times

Charlotte Zolotow (1915-2013) was a distinguished author and editor of children’s books, and one of the most important contributors to children’s literature. During the course of her career she wrote more than 70 books, many of which are picture-book classics, including the Caldecott Honor medalist Mr.Rabbit and the Lovely Present.

Now, for the very first time, and published on the occasion of her 100th birthday, Zolotow’s most beloved seasonal poetry will be available in one collection— Changes:  A Child’s First Poetry Collection (9781492601685; April; $16.99; Hardcover; Poetry; Ages 3-6).

Illustrator Tiphanie Beeke’s resplendent watercolors work beautifully with Zolotow’s poems, which capture the beauty of nature at different times of the year. Children will follow along as the seasons change with each poem. There is spring with the business of nest-building, summer with its abundance of roses, fall with the tangy perfume of chrysanthemums, and winter with the frozen pond surrounded by whiteness.

Poetry and nature lovers of all ages will delight in Zolotow’s classic poems and Beeke’s lovely illustrations, making Changes a perfect poetry collection for every child.

Monday, April 20, 2015


These books are the perfect way to celebrate a child’s individuality and what makes them special, and are also great for Pre-School and Kindergarten graduation gifts.  The giveaway books include:

Just One You from the Sesame Workshop
April 1, 2015; 9781402297359; $10.99; Hardcover
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky- Juvenile Fiction/Picture Book
Ages 3-7, Grades Pre-3

There is nobody else in the whole world just like you! Elmo, Big Bird, and all the rest of the Sesame Street friends are here to tell you just how special you truly are!

You! by Sandra Magsamen
April 7, 2015; ISBN 9781492619345; $16.99; Hardcover
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky- Juvenile Fiction/Picture Book
Ages 0-5, Grades Pre-3

A life full of adventure first requires big dreams. And big dreams need big encouragement. From world-renowned author and artist Sandra Magsamen comes YOU!, offering inspiration and hope to readers from 1 to 100. Includes colorful, lively illustrations along with whimsical rhyming text that can be cherished in almost any setting.

My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess by Heath McKenzie
May 5, 2015; ISBN 9781492615200; $16.99; Hardcover
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky- Juvenile Fiction/Picture Book
Ages 4-8, Grade Pre-3

Rules are meant to be broken in this laugh-out-loud picture book about staying true to yourself.

One little girl gets her greatest wish of becoming a princess – only to discover that the rules of royalty are no fun. She has to have perfect hair and eat daintily and dance gracefully -- boring! So, she decides to make up her own rules...

1 winner receives a copy of all three books
US only

Answer one of the following questions in the blog comments for this post and then fill in the form.
1)      What talent or hobby makes you special?
2)      What is your big dream?
3)      What book would you give to a new graduate?

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Toad Weather by Sandra Markle


There's nothing to do on a rainy day, Ally thinks. But Mama says shes seen something amazing, so despite Ally's misgivings, she sets out with her mother and grandmother. On her journey, she sees all sorts of things: dripping awnings, splashing cars, storm drain geysers, and oil slick patterns. They turn the corner, just in time to see a big crowd. Whats happening?


Sandra Markle is the author of more than two hundred children's books, which have won numerous awards, including Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, IRA/CBC Children's Choice, NSTA/CBC Outstanding Trade Books for Children, NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended, and ALA Notable Books for Children. She lives in New Zealand.

You can visit Sandra Markle’s website here.


Thomas Gonzalez was born in Havana, Cuba, and moved to the United States as a child. An artist and painter, he also illustrated The House on Dirty-third Street and the New York Times bestseller 14 Cows for America. He lives in Georgia.

You can visit Thomas Gonzalez’s website here.


Sandra Markle has written another fun environmentally friendly tale.  What makes this one particularly interesting is that it occurs within a city and it's based on a real yearly event (see author's end note).  Not only does the author provide a sweet story about a mother, grandmother, and daughter enjoying the rainy weather but they also help out the toads trying to cross the road to get to the pond to mate and reproduce.  And the road is really closed to allow the toads to make their journey safely.  Just proves to me that humans and wildlife can adapt to each other. I especially loved how well the text and illustrations complement each other.  It's nice to read something in the text and see it reinforced in the illustrations (which are gorgeous).


The activity ideas for a book like Toad Weather are endless.  The easiest activity would be to wait for a rainy day and then go for a stroll just to see what can be seen. This book would also make a great opening for investigating unusual natural events that might occur in your own area or doing research on toads or another animal.  The book would work well for a unit on rain or on how animals adapt to the weather.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015



When a little girl moves to a new town, she finds a place called Butterfly Park. But when she opens the gate, there are no butterflies.

Determined to lure the butterflies in, the girl inspires her entire town to help her. And with their combined efforts, soon the butterflies—and the girl—feel right at home.

Elly MacKay's luminous paper-cut illustrations and enchanting story encourage community, friendship, and wonderment in the beauty of everyday life.

Free poster on reverse side of book jacket.


Elly MacKay is the author and illustrator of IF YOU HOLD A SEED and SHADOW CHASERS.  She attended Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and now her artwork is sold around the world, including through her Etsy.com shop, Theater Clouds.  To learn more about Elly, visit her website (see below), her facebook page or her twitter account.

Author's Webpage                         Butterfly Trail Blog Tour Page


Elly Mackay presents a sweet story about a young girl finding a place for herself after her family moves.  Initially unhappy moving from her country home to the city, the girl finds hope in the nearby Butterfly Park. But when she discovers there are no butterflies in the park she is determined to bring them in and she recruits her neighbors to help her.  The remarkable thing here are the illustrations which are clearly scenes created using cut-paper.  It creates a real feel of community and atmosphere which I found soothing and beautiful.  The theme of finding and creating beauty wherever you are also shines through loud and clear.
Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Story Time kit by Kristin Aagard