Thursday, June 13, 2019

Summer Camp Pick: Camp Shady Crook

Camp Shady Crook
by Lee Gjerstsen Malone
276 pages
ISBN: 9781534422261

Archie Drake has the perfect scam at summer camp: pretend to somehow be related to THE Archie Drake, a famous billionaire. All the campers whisper and think he is the son or grandson of the guy
anyway, so why not just play along? Rich kids will give him money, candy, clothes and luggage if they think he's rich, too. The truth is: Archie is there on scholarship, but he's not fessing up to that.

When smart aleck girl Vivian shows up and threatens to ruin his scam, Archie cuts her in for a piece of the action. Secret partner Oliver doesn't want a girl to be part of their team, but Archie convinces him it's better to keep her close where they can watch her.

Camp Shady Brook is the worst summer camp on the east coast, maybe even in the entire nation. Ms. Hess runs it like an evil prison matron. The owners haven't spent a dime in upkeep on the camp and it shows. Screen doors hang loose on cabins, the lake is polluted, decks are full of splinters and shaky, the food is worse than slop, and the kids have nothing to do. Archie and Vivian make it their business to find out where all the tuition money goes, and they suspect Miss Hess of stealing it.

Camp Shady Crook is a delightful middle grade romp perfect for readers who love summer camps and cons. Even reluctant readers will find the short chapters an inviting and entertaining read.

Brilliant cover art and art continues on spine to make this book attractive in a book case or on a shelf in the library or retail book store.

Here is the spine art

Recommended grade 5 and up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Camp Shady Brook

anyway, so why not just play along.

Archi Malone has the perfect


Saturday, June 8, 2019

YA Pick: The Voice in My Head

The Voice in My Head
by Dana L. Davis
Ink Yard Press
308 pages with Questions for Discussion
ISBN: 9871335998497

The Voice in My Head is a WINNER!

Twins Violet and Indigo have always been close, but since Violet's diagnosis, Indigo feels pushed away. Her pretty, popular, perfect twin is dying. There is no cure, and worse, Violet has decided to die on her own terms: with dignity. Choosing assisted suicide and her death date puts her twin Indigo into a panic. How can Violet  think about leaving her? And why would she choose death? How will she (Indigo)  navigate without her sister? Feeling lost, Indigo climbs a building, considering suicide herself. Before she lets go, she hears a voice in her head. She realizes she doesn't want to die after all. Choosing life, Indigo tries to save herself but falls.

Waking up in the hospital, Indigo tries to make her family see it was an accident. As the voice in her head keeps her company, Indigo decides to take Violet to The Wave, a remote rock in Arizona where the voice tells her Violet will make the trip and live. Violet has her own rules. The entire family packs up with the help of a preacher and the church bus and travels to the desert. The family each reads Violet a letter, and little brother Alfred asks Violet (when she dies) to promise to be his best ghost IRL (Alfred talks in text lingo!)

The voice in Indigo's head is comic, irreverent and sounds just like Dave Chapelle. The voice tells Indigo that God is omnipotent and can do what she wants. She can make a bet if she wants because she's God. At one point, God responds, "duh." Indigo tells the voice there's no way God would say Duh, but the voice retorts that it invented language and it can say whatever it wants.

Alfred, Indigo, Violet and God (Dave Chapelle) are characters that will stay with readers long after
closing the pages. The bond between sisters and the entire familial vibe is so perfect that Davis better be looking to bring this story to screen, and no one is better at it than her! (Dana L. Davis is an actress and Hollywood insider).

The Voice in My Head is on its way to award season! I predict several state awards including Texas Lone Star list (grades 6-8) and/or Texas Tayshas list (grade 9-12). I predict The Voice in My Head will be on @Cybils Fiction shortlist and top 10 Teen Fiction (and I'm never wrong)!

Highly, highly recommended grade 7 and up. Suicide, assisted suicide, and death. Discussion questions are included as are resources for suicide prevention. The family is religious and God plays an important part in this book. The Voice in My Head is perfect for private and parochial schools and church reading groups. No profanity, violence or sex.

FTC Required Reading: I received the book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Club Pick: Lie To Me

Lie To Me
by J.T. Ellison
original copyright 2017
Paperback available September 2019
407 pages
ISBN: 0980778330950

A twisty, dangerous psychological thriller is just right for a summer beach read.

"Moves at a blazing-fast pace and smoothly negotiates more twists and turns than the backroads of Tennessee. It will keep you guessing every step of the way to the surprise ending." --Lisa Scottoline, NY Times bestselling author of One Perfect Life 

Dark psychological marriage noir, Lie To Me will leave readers breathless and exhausted. Once a reader begins this book, it's impossible to stop reading. Page-turning action and twists within twists within an enigma are fast paced and tragic.

Married literary giants Sutton and Ethan Montclair's life is idyllic--from the outside. They are each accomplished writers earning big paychecks and hordes of fans. When Ethan has trouble writing, and Sutton wants out of a publishing deal, their finances take a downturn. They welcome a new baby boy that Sutton never wanted. Ethan tricked her into having the baby, and she still blames him. When their baby dies, their entire world unravels as they blame one another and lie about everything.

When Sutton suddenly disappears, friends and family whisper that Ethan must have something to do with it. He swears he knows nothing about his wife's disappearance and turns to the bottle for solace. Suddenly, Ethan has found his muse and begins writing the best prose of his entire career. The police build a case against him, and an unknown narrator drops in here and there to warn the reader that someone is pulling the strings. Just when it looks like Sutton may have been found or Sutton is to blame, other strings are pulled.

This is one wild ride and a great book for adult book clubs who will be talking about it long after they've read it. Pick this one up today for your beach vacation or your home staycation. Good luck figuring out who's to blame!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I did not receive monetary compensation for my review of this book.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Interviewed by Romance Writer Mary Ann Marlowe, Author of Dating by the Book

I was interviewed by Mary Ann Marlowe, author of Dating by the Book. She had questions about bloggers and reviewers and how we affect books and the publishing market.

Her interview is located here 

I loved her book and you will too! If you love Indie bookshops, quaint towns, book clubs, close friends, drinking tea and/or wine, handsome love interests, fun dialog, and some unexpected twists and turns along the way, pick up Dating by the Books. My review is here 

From Mary Ann's blog: 

Six months ago, writer and bookstore owner Maddie Hanson was left at the altar. Since then, she’s had zero interest in romance—despite the fact that she runs a book club full of sexy eligible bachelors. But when her latest novel is panned by an anonymous blogger who goes by the name Silver Fox—and who accuses her of knowing nothing about passion—she decides to prove her nemesis wrong by seeking a romance hero in real life . . .

There’s the smoldering rock musician, the bookish college professor, and her competitive childhood friend who may want to steal her bookstore more than her heart. Even Silver Fox is getting in on the action, sending Maddie alarmingly—and intoxicatingly—flirtatious emails. And that’s not all. Her ex wants her back.
Now Maddie is about to discover that like any good story, life has twists and turns, and love can happen when you least expect it—with the person you least expect . . .

Pre-order now!

Amazon | BN | Kobo | Google Play | BAM!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

YA Pick: In the Neighborhood of True

In the Neighborhood of True
by Susan Kaplan Carlton
320 pages
ISBN: 9781616208608

Don't be fooled by the pretty pink cover and precious corsage; this pink book is one of the most important books of the year. Set in 1958, the message is timely today: love your neighbors. Don't judge people by the color of their skin, their religion, their family lineage, their financial status or their outward appearance. Judge them by the quality of their character. Sound familiar?

When her father dies suddenly, Ruth's family is forced to leave their urban lives in Manhattan and move to her grandparent's estate in Atlanta. The year is 1958 and race relations are at a boiling point in the South. Ruth is enrolled in an exclusive private school where girls of her privilege are given a genteel education.

Debutante season looms, and fish-out-of-water Ruth finds herself in lessons to learn how to be a Southern lady. No one has asked if Ruth is Jewish, and she never mentions it. Her mother is mortified and accuses Ruth of "passing" as a white deb, not a Jewish girl. Ruth wants to fit in and not cause trouble. Ruth joins the "pastel posse" of debs and hopes to be crowned Magnolia Queen like her mother and grandmother before her.

Ruth meets handsome golden boy Davis Jefferson and accepts an invitation to a dance. Soon she's dating him and falling in love. Everything is wonderful, and Ruth loves her new life.

In the "separate but equal" Jim Crow South, Ruth learns that Negros have to sit in the balcony at the movies and drink from different water fountains. She grew up in Manhattan and has never seen this before although she has to admit in her old neighborhood, she has rarely seen a person of color. The rabbi at her temple wants his congregation to support equality for all people, but  talk of politics and racial tension frighten Ruth.

When her temple is bombed, Ruth discovers Davis was there that night. He swears he had nothing to do with it, but Ruth suspects he's telling, "in the neighborhood of true," a lie. Ruth has a decision to make: embrace her religion and family or deny her background to live a lie. If she doesn't speak up, what kind of person is she?

Readers will love "vintage" details that bring the era to life, and cheer for Ruth as she navigates society and religion. Algonquin has another book winner! In the Neighborhood of True is sure to be on the top of every award list this year! The author does a brilliant job of creating unforgettable characters whose everyday decisions are complex and often unexpected.

Kudos to Susan Kaplan Carlton for bringing history to life and telling a story based on the real life bombing of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation (The Temple) in Atlanta in 1958. Five suspects were arrested; one went on trial twice, yet all charges were later dropped.

Highly, highly recommended! You MUST read this book. It is amazing. In the Neighborhood of True would be a great whole class read and YA Teen Book Club read.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Nobody Hugs a Cactus
by Carter Goodrich
Illustrated by the author
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
48 pages
ISBN: 9781534400900

Hank the cactus lives alone, and that's all right by him. He doesn't need anyone. Once in awhile, someone will mosey by: Rosie the Tumbleweed, a cowboy, a lizard, an owl, but no one wants to give a cactus a hug.

Hank grumbles at all the visitors and is happy when they leave him alone. Hank is quirky, mean-spirited and rude to everyone.  For a long while, no one comes by. Hank wonders where everyone has gone. A paper cup blows onto Hank, and he can't get it off. Lucky for him, Rosie comes by and helps him.

Hank grows a beautiful flower to give to Rosie the next time she comes by. When he presents his very own flower, Rosie hugs him, and tumbleweed and cactus get stuck in a hug! My favorite line of the book is, "After all, it's better to be stuck in a hug than stuck all alone."

Cover art depicts a scowling Hank all alone in a window. By the last page, Hank and Rosie are hugging and all smiles.

Recommended age 2 and up. This fun read will introduce young readers to the desert and its creatures, and the lesson about friendship and family is a bonus!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Middle Grade Pick: Caterpillar Summer

Caterpillar Summer
by Gillian McDunn
304 pages
ISBN: 9781681197432

Available: April 2, 2019

Caterpillar Summer captures a poignant and honest portrayal of a sibling relationship in which the older sibling must take on the parent role. Cat has never had time to be a kid. She's always taken care of special needs Chicken and talked him out of his "meltdowns." In fact, Cat is the only one who can control him. Chicken needs constant supervision as he is prone to wander off and get lost.

When the siblings have to spend three weeks with their grandparents for the first time in EVER, Cat finally has a summer where she can explore on her own. As she discovers more about the rift between her mother and her grandparents, Cat wonders why the adults can't just fix their differences. She may have to become the CATalyst to heal her own family.

A treasure for middle grade readers who love a story of family ties and sweet sibling relationships. This book is suitable for all school, One School, One Book reads and classroom reads. It would be a great choice for a summer reading book as well.

Recommended grade 4 (good readers), grade 5 and up.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Non-Fiction PIck: Even More Lesser Spotted Animals

Even More Lesser Spotted Animals: More Brilliant Beasts You Never Knew You Needed To Know About
by Martin Brown
David Fickling Books
56 pages
ISBN: 9781338349610

Available: July 30, 2019

Make room for unique and beautiful animals! Martin Brown has done it again! He's knocked it over the fence and out of the park with a brilliant cast of animal characters who will fascinate, educate and enamor children.

From rodents like the giant kangaroo rat to large mammals like the Syrian brown bear (who does not come from Syria at all,) kids will learn about each animal's ecosystem, status of the species (endangered, for example), diet and fun facts. Each animal comes to life in colorful illustrations by Brown. He captures each species' personality in facial expression and body movement or posture.

A title page in the front of the book directs readers to their favorite animals and the helpful glossary teaches new vocabulary terms for budding zoologists and animal fans.

Fans of animals and non-fiction readers will love this book. This book is a great pick for reluctant readers who are sure to find interesting facts and build reading skills. A MUST HAVE for all animal collections.

July is a long time to wait for this book to hit the shelves. Make sure this one goes on your to-order list.

HIghly, highly recommended grade 3 and up and all animal lovers.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Picture Book Pick: Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas

Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas
by Aaron Blabey
Illustrations by the author
Scholastic Press
ISBN: 9781338297133

From the author illustrator who charmed kids with Pig the Pug books, a new star is born!

Brian is a piranha with an unusual appetite for fruit. Other piranhas laugh at his odd diet and declare that piranhas don't eat fruit. He loves peas, silverbeets, bananas, but doesn't offer them any meat. They tell him they'd rather eat feet or bum!

Children will laugh out loud at clever illustrations and cute, quirky prose. Sure to be a childhood favorite read and will appeal to kids who love odd creatures and sea creatures. Brian is one cool piranha!

Highly, highly recommended for all early readers. Quite the fun read!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Picture Book Pick: All Your Need Is Love (Beatles' song)

All You Need is Love
by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Illustrations by Marc Rosenthal
Little Simon
40 pages
ISBN: 9781534429819

Beatles iconic tune "All You Need Is Love" finds a new, much (MUCH) younger audience with early readers in this adorable picture book illustrated by Marc Rosenthal.

A bear emerges from hibernation to hear a bird singing "All You Need Is Love." Enchanted by the bird's song, he follows the little blue bird. As they travel into the city, other animals follow the bird and soon a parade of animals and a boy follow the bird sharing their message with those they meet. An explosion of color and art on the final pages make a city park come to life with love and humanity.

Masterfully realized on the page, the bear will be a children's favorite.

Simply beautiful! Buy this for all the kids you love! Grandparents (Beatles' fans) will have to have this book to share their youth with their grandchildren.

Highly recommended for early readers and their parents and grandparents.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Picture Book Pick: Not Your Nest!

Not Your Nest!
by Gideon Sterer
Illustrations by Andrea Tsurumi
Dial Books for Young Readers
40 pages
ISBN: 9781534429819

An industrious yellow bird builds a lovely nest for herself and is proud of her accomplishments. When she's finally ready to rest and enjoy her hard work, she finds other animals are just as pleased with her beautiful nest.

She is surprised when a  zebra (on the cover), a larger bird, a brush hog, a giraffe, a gorilla, a crocodile and other animals loungevin her nest. She moves on--building nest after nest until the tree breaks and the animals have to find another place to rest.

They are happy to share their nest with the sweet bird who took them in.

Young readers will laugh out loud at the animals' pushiness to "share" the bird's nest. Illustrations by Tsurumi are hysterical and capture each animal's personality and emotions.

Likely to become a bedtime favorite, kids will love to name all the animals they encounter. This is a must have for any young reader. Cutest book of the year!

Highly recommended for all preschool readers and animal lovers.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Book Club Pick: Dating By the Book

Dating By the Book
by Mary Ann Marlowe
Kensington Books
336 pages with Book Club Discussion Questions
ISBN: 9781496718211

Available June 2019

Maddie Hanson is nursing a broken heart since being left at the altar by Peter, her almost husband. Pouring her heart, money and time into acquaint indie bookstore, The Mossy Stone, Maddie struggles to keep the business afloat.

When old friend Max stops by every day, almost all day, offering to help and a partnership, Maddie is fierce to keep her store her own. Daily visitor Charlie is a local English professor, but not really love interest material. Enter old flame Dylan, the one who got away and left town to seek fame and fortune in the music industry. Dylan exudes hotness and all the ladies notice.

Maddie has no shortage of bachelors to choose from, but her writing keeps her busy. Her first book is due out soon, and when a reviewer slams it on a blog, Maddie is stunned. The writer, known as Silver Fox, claims the romance in her novel feels stilted and fell flat for him. At first Maddie is mad and sad, then she responds to the reviewer against her friend Layla's advice to ignore the guy.

Friday nights are book club night at the shop where Maddie and MEN read Pride and Prejudice, Gone With the Wind and Jane Eyre. As Maddie continues to respond to Silver Fox online under her pen name Claire, she thinks about meeting him.

Ex-Peter is warning Maddie that he wants to sell the shop, her shop! Maddie had better figure out her tangled finances and her equally tangled online "love life."

Clever cover design screams at romance readers to buy this book. This cover is my favorite of the year so far. Marlowe continues to offer readers spunky heroines, small town "feels," quirky love interests, and fun plots. You'll want to move to Orion after meeting this cast of characters.

Recommended for adult book clubs and all romance readers.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher.  I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

#AMM Connect: MG Contemporary: FAKING IT

I have entered #AMMConnect. 

Hi, I'm (Pamela) Thompson McLeod. I write #MG contemporary. Kyle is an eleven-year old who enters a recipe contest winning a coveted spot on a junior chef show. Just one problem: Kyle can't cook! It's a recipe for disaster unless BFF science nerd Addie and YouTube videos can teach him.

I write to tell stories about characters I've met in life. Kyle and Addie remind me of so many middle school kids I've known in the library!

I'd love to be a great mentee and learn more about writing and story pacing. I consider all feedback and stand up for my story when I feel it needs to stay the same. I'd love to work with my mentor and become writing pals going forward. So much writing is quiet, introverted time that writers need a circle of like friends. I know FAKING IT resonates with  beta readers and CPs I've been lucky enough to find and feel very close to finding an agent. FAKING IT is a Readers' Favourite in the Write Mentor Children's Writing Awards 2019. With a mentor's help and guidance, this story will be the best it can be! #ownvoices for weight issues; #STEM for cooking and molecular gastronomy.

Three of Kyle's recipes are included in the last pages of the book. In fact, Kyle's entry for Grown Up Grilled Cheese is a recipe I created and entered in an online contest. Like Kyle, I NEVER cooked my recipe and yet it won! I've become addicted to entering contests with recipes I create on paper but never cook; I've placed in three contests using my strange method, lol. I share Kyle's addiction for cooking shows and molecular gastronomy.

There is a page of YouTube Molecular Gastronomy channels approved by Addie and Kyle as well.

As a career librarian, I see precocious, genius kids like Kyle and Addie in their natural habitat on a daily basis.

Once again, here's Kyle's and my recipe

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Picture Book PIck: Dragon Night

Dragon Night
by J.R. Krause
G.P. Putnam's Sons
32 pages
ISBN: 978525514244

"Cozy. Well-crafted bedtime reading." --Kirkus Reviews

Young Georgie is afraid of the night. The dragon is afraid of the knight. When the dragon steps from the pages of Georgie's favorite book, they form a friendship that is sweet and mutually beneficial. Together they travel through the night until the dragon teaches Georgie that the night is beautiful and full of stars. It's quiet and tranquil and Georgie falls asleep by his dragon.

Next day, Dragon worries because he's afraid to get back in the book. Georgie saves the day and makes the dragon a new story book where the knight is kind.

Quiet, beautiful illustrations in soothing tones are perfect for a bedtime read. A quaint way to teach children and speakers new to English about homophones. Who can resist a book in which a character steps out of a book? Magical!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Interview with Author Greg Howard, author of The Whispers

The Whispers is my pick for best Middle Grade Book of 2019!
I'm never wrong. See my five star Review Here. As a reviewer for both School Library Journal and
VOYA and a Cybils fiction judge, I have an uncanny record for
picking the winners. My interview with Author Greg Howard follows:

Interview Questions for Greg Howard

Some questions are about your book, middle grade books, writing and life.  
Readers, parents, bloggers and librarians will want to know about you, the author.

What is the MOST important lesson you learned from an elder
(grandparent, parent or other)?
There is a scene in The Whispers where Riley’s parents have him and his brother
decorate two empty laundry detergent bottles up as people, writing the name
Can’t on one and If on the other. Then their father digs two small graves in the
backyard where they have a funeral and bury can’t and if. This came directly
from my childhood. My father directed my brother and I to do exactly
the same thing and after we buried those words in the backyard,
we weren’t allowed to use them anymore. It was a powerful lesson that might
have slipped by me as nothing more than a game or a fun exercise at
the time, but that lesson stuck with me for a lifetime. I don’t say I can’t do
something, or I could if this or that. No excuses - just do it, whatever it might be.

In the author note, you write about losing your mother at a young
age and how grief manifested itself to keep you safe. Besides
the alternate story, did you have any other coping mechanisms?
Television was definitely one of my main coping mechanisms and a great escape
from reality. I would get lost in all those stories for hours and I felt like the
characters were part of my life, like my friends. I particularly remember
being obsessed with Samantha Stephens. Yes, that Samantha
Stephens—the good witch married to the mortal and whose mother appeared
out of thin air at the most inconvenient times wearing fabulous flowing lingerie.
Bewitched was one of my favorite TV shows because it opened up a world
in which anything was possible with the crinkle-twitch of your mouth,
snapping your fingers or flailing your hands in the air.

When you were writing this book, did you have any idea how
impactful it would be on young readers’ lives? (dealing with grief,
coming out, knowing their true gender?)
Honestly as I was writing the book, I wasn’t really thinking about that. I simply
had a very personal story that I had to tell. But when the first draft was done,
going through the editing process, I started to feel the weight of that possible
impact. But if I can reach just one queer kid living out in the country
somewhere who feels alone and isolated and show them that
they’re not alone and that they matter, I will feel like I did my job.

Middle grade books are beginning to address topics that were
usually only tackled in YA. Besides being queer (and I hope
I’m using the right word here. If I’m wrong, please correct me.
What other term or terms, can be used?), what topics would
YOU like to see in middle grade books?
It is absolutely fine to use the word queer as it’s a very inclusive word.
I love that we are seeing more difficult topics tackled in middle grade
because kids that age are dealing with these issues every day. I would
love to see more middle grade books tackle the problem of racism
and xenophobia. Kids are taught this thinking from a very young age,
so it’s never too early in childhood development to address, in my

Writers go through many stages: drafting, editing, rewrites,
more editing. How long from start to finish book, did it take for
The Whispers? How many edits did you do as a writer?
It took me about five months to write the first draft of The Whispers.
The book had not been sold yet, so I went through it a couple of times
before I sent it to my agent who always has wonderful editorial
insights. I believe we went through two more rounds of developmental
edits before she sent it out on submission. So that’s four rounds of
edits right there. Then when the book sold to Putnam/Penguin
I went through another round of developmental edits with my editor,
and then four rounds of line edits. And yes, each time, you have to
start from the beginning and go through the entire manuscript. And then
when I knew it was my very last chance to catch anything, I went through
it one more time before turning in the final draft. That’s ten times
through the manuscript after the first draft was complete. And yes,
we still missed a couple of things, but I’m not about to spill the
beans. We will correct those on the first reprint.

What was your favorite book as a young child? As a teenager?
My favorite books as child were those in the Encyclopedia Brown
series. My favorite book as a teenager was The Shining. Go figure.

What is the best book (any genre) you’ve read in the last year
and why?
I recently read Beloved by Toni Morrison for the first time.
The language is so beautiful and effortless even though the story
is completely raw and devastating.

What living celebrity, sports figure, actor or person do you
admire most?
Barack Obama—to me he is the embodiment of grace, wisdom,
and perseverance.

If you had millions of dollars, what charity would you help?
If you had millions of hours, what charity would you volunteer
your time for?
I would gladly give a million dollars to the ASPCA to help protect
animals against abuse and cruelty. And if I had millions of hours
to donate, I would spend it in animal shelters.

What would you tell 8-year-old Greg if you could?
You are not alone. And you matter.

Complete the following statements: (you can be funny or serious):

I’m happiest when: my dogs look at me.

My current state of mind is: Contentment

My favorite saying, proverb, quote or wisdom is:
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget
what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou

The funniest thing about growing up in the South:
The road signs.

Thank you to Greg Howard. It’s a pleasure to see
The Whispers doing so well and kids embracing Riley’s story.

Monday, January 14, 2019

STEM Pick: Picture Book: The Very Impatient Caterpillar

The Very Impatient Caterpillar
by Ross Burach
Illustrations by the author
Scholastic Press
32 pages
ISBN: 9781338289411

Quirky and quaint, this very impatient caterpillar will have young readers in giggles. The cover art says it all: Is it time yet?

A caterpillar see others climbing a tree and wants to know here everyone is going. They tell him they're going to build their chrysalis and metamorphosize. He doesn't know what that means, but he doesn't want to have severe FOMO so he follows them.

The others build their chrysalis like good, patient caterpillars except for our impatient friend. He wants to know how long this will take, and when he finds out it's TWO WEEKS, he's batty! He tries to wait, but emerges early thinking he's a butterfly. When he tries to fly, SPLAT! He gives in and tries a second time doing everything to pass the time: he wants a comic book, he tries to order a pizza, he'd like to play a game,  and wonders what he'll do if he has to go to the bathroom (sure to cause laughter!) The other caterpillars shush him. A squirrel has a great time watching the action.

When he finally changes, he wants to know where everyone's going. They tell him "we're migrating." He goes along asking, you guessed it that famous question children ask on long trips (on short ones as well) Are we there yet?

Hilarious art by the author is captivating and the use of cartoon balloons enhance the cartoon-like story. STEM for caterpillar to butterfly and migration, this is a great read-aloud for early science classes.

Highly, highly recommended pre-school to grade 3.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Picture Book Pick: Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt

Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt:
The True Story of the Quest for America's Biggest Bones
by Carrie Clickard
Illustrations by Nancy Carpenter
A Paula Wiseman Book
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
40 pages
ISGN: 9781481442695

Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt is a delightful romp in history that highlights American history and one fascinating facet of forefather Thomas Jefferson. Just one year after winning independence from British rule, Thomas Jefferson touts America as the greatest place to live. It's a beautiful country with land and riches for settlers. In King Louis' court in France,  Count Baffon begs to disagree. He says America is a swampy, dirty place. Jefferson makes it his job to prove Baffon wrong.

Jefferson begs his scouts to find the largest animal in America to show how much bigger and better America is. Soon, Jefferson receives pelts from every type of animal imaginable and giant bones arrive. When they assemble the skeleton, it's a giant sloth. Count Baffon is unimpressed. Then the most amazing discovery, the bones of a giant mammoth!

Fascinating author's note and a list of who's who are included for future history buffs. Whimsical illustrations by Nancy Carpenter breathe life into history. The illustrations are so deftly handled that people jump off the pages! Rhyming content is fun and will keep younger readers interested. This picture book has wide appeal for any readers who love history, archeology, dinosaurs, adventure and touches of whimsy. Much more than a picture book, this is a must read and a must have for all collections.

Highly recommended for early readers. Pre-school age may not sit still for the entire read, but a young one who loves dinosaurs and bones will find this fascinating. Grade K-up (depending on child's attention span).

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Middle Grade Pick: The Whispers

The Whispers
by Greg Howard
G.P. Putnam's Sons
Penguin Random House LLC
229 pages
ISBN: 9780525517498

Heartfelt, beautiful, mesmerizing and a tale that will captivate readers!

The Whispers is this year's must read for young readers, teachers, parents, everyone! It is that middle grade book  readers will remember long after finishing it.

Riley is ten when his mother disappears. He misses her and sees her influence everywhere he looks. He tries to find her in the whispered voices he hears at twilight. He prays that the voices can tell him where she's gone or better yet, bring her back home. The whispers is a story Riley's mama used to tell him every night.

Riley's family doesn't mention Mama. Photos of her have been put away as if she never existed to anyone but Riley. His grandparents refer to his "condition." Riley has two conditions: his foggy memory on the day his mother went missing and his secret "condition"--the fact that he likes boys.  His family considers Riley quiet, weak and a "Mama's boy." He is introspective, creative and soft-spoken.

Riley has to meet with "Fat Bald Detective" many times. The man keeps asking him the same questions. What does he remember about the day Mama disappeared? Riley remembers she was lying on the couch and he touched her hand. Then, he went out to play and Mama went missing. Riley doesn't see why the cops aren't searching for whoever took Mama. Why do they keep questioning him? He didn't have anything to do with her disappearance, but he does have secrets.

Everyone deals with grief differently. Riley's father becomes a shell of himself hardly speaking to anyone and he won't make eye contact with Riley.  Riley remembers Mama and how they learned a word a day from a calendar. Mama would make him use the word in a sentence and Riley continues the practice. He turns to "the whispers" to find his Mama.

The Whispers has a favorite trope of all time: the unreliable narrator--ten, now eleven-year old, Riley. He has developed an alternative narrative where "...your head and your heart tell you a different story in order to protect you" (from the Author's Note). His memory loss is a break with reality and his coping method.

The Whispers is my early pick for Best Middle Grade Book of the Year and are you listening, Bluebonnets? I believe this book will be a Texas Bluebonnet pick and other states will step up to the plate. This is a must have for all collections and a must read. The Whispers would be a great book to read as a class and the discussions would help so many kids.

Highly, highly recommended and DO NOT MISS THIS ONE.
Grades 5 and up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.