Monday, December 17, 2007

The Magic Violin

Recently, somewhere in cyberspace, I met up with Mayra Calvani - she is not only a fun person to email, but she is an author!! When she mentioned her new children's book, I couldn't pass up a chance to read her PDF copy. It was WONDERFUL!!! So, I am thrilled today to feature Mayra and her new book! The Magic Violin is the story of 8 year old, Melina, who wants to be a violinist. In her struggle to play, she begins to lose her confidence and that is when her Rumanian teacher mysteriously steps in to help. I just love the whole premise of the book - I can truly relate as I encourage my kids daily to "keep practicing" ~ for that is the only way to become talented! The illustrations are also wonderful in this story. It is just an all-around wonderfully-told story. You do not want to miss it - I plan to purchase it as my children's Christmas book for this year - it will be such a great story to re-read year after year! (And it doesn't just have to be at Christmas either!!)

While you are out - make sure and stop by Mayra's blog and check out her contest!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I was told, by a friend, that I would enjoy Chris Bohjalian as an author and so far, my friend was right! I just finished Midwives by Bohjalian and what a read! I thoroughly enjoyed the story told from the daughter's perspective - that was new and different AND I have just found such great stories about midwives lately - I love that!!! This is a wonderful mystery all around a midwife that performs a C-Section on a patient and that patient dies. (Ok - so I condensed a VERY complicated plot - but you get the idea!!) A law suit ensues and this story is that of the daughter's (of the midwife) "take" on the whole ordeal - how it affects her family, how she feels, the entire court case. She leaves no detail out, and I really came to care for this family - the ending will leave you cheering and in disbelief - it is really a great read.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chronicle Box!!

Awhile ago now Chronicle Books sent me a WONDERFUL box of books to preview. All I can say is that I Loved them all!! I have since had my kids test them for me and ALL have passed the Mom test and the kid test!!

First - the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, Jr. Edition - this one my son just laughed and laughed over and then in the next breath would say, "There's some useful stuff in here!" So, from my 12 year old son, "It's a good one!!"

Second - Squiggles by Taro Gomi - what can I say about this one except BUY IT!!! I have used it in story hour here at the libray and the kids BEGGED me for more pages, I have let my boys doodle in it and they love it as well. It's a great one and I already have the second one ordered too!

Third - Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivan Walsh and J. ooto Seibold - another GREAT one!! I collect a new Christmas book every year and this is mine for this year! I loved Olive, the book, but this deluxe edition is wonderful with pop-ups and other fun details.

So - Christmas gifts, books for your library, books for yourself - go check these out - they are WONDERFUL!!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Goodies for You...

I have just run across some fun tidbits that I thought others might enjoy:

*Reading Rants has just come out with their 2007 Top Ten Teen Books. This is a good list - some great titles are on there - and A BIG CHEER for Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt - I'm hoping that one wins a Newbery!!!!

*The Public Library of Westland in Michigan has a great collection of 100 Books Your Child Should Hear Before Starting School. Reading aloud is one of my greatest soapboxes - so you DON'T want to get me started!! Their site says reading aloud to children will:
  • Improve listening and communication skills
  • Build vocabulary
  • Teach that written word has meaning
  • And foster a love of reading

And I agree!! So let's get reading!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Liberation of Gabriel King

All I can say is, "WOW!!" This book is absolutely wonderful - I have all of my boys reading it quick before I take it back to the library. K. L. Going's book, The Liberation of Gabriel King is just superb!!! I love it that the main character, 4th grader, Gabriel King is afraid of everything. I love it that his best friend, Frita, is set to "liberate" Gabriel. I love it that deep down Frita also has her own fears. I love it that it interweaves so nicely prejudice. I love EVERYTHING about it, and you can be sure ALL of the kids that come through my library will know about it too!!! And here I go to read another of Going's books - she is a new-found blessing!!

Peony In Love

I SO LOVED Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See that I just could not wait to read her latest book, Peony in Love. In all honesty??? I was disappointed! First of all, you start off with a wonderful love story and within a few mere chapters you kill off the female in that relationship - I could hardly get over that. THEN, the entire rest of the book is following that female character as a ghost in the after world - as she watches other women love the man she loved - I am telling you, it was SO sad, even bordered on depressing for me. What I do love about See's books is the strong Chinese culture and history. I feel like I know more of Chinese culture when I read her works. I guess it just shows that NO BOOK can compare with Snow Flower - that was, and still is, definitely one of my favorites!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Wow - what a website. For those of us that book buy - this one looks to be quite helpful. Today I ran across Lookybook. You can visit this site and look through books before you purchase them. I need to go check it out a bit more, but so far, I see it as a great tool for my job!! Maybe you will find it useful too!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Land of the Silver Apples

My guest blogger (my husband!!) has just finished The Land of the Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer - SO I asked him to give me a brief synopsis - he took me literally on the word "brief"!! If you want to know more - go check it out and read it!! He did reiterate that ANYTHING by Nancy Farmer is a MUST-READ!
"I have yet to find a book by Nancy Farmer that I don't like. I have read the House of the Scorpion, The Sea of Trolls and The Land of the Silver Apples.
I am looking forward to the release of The Islands of the Blessed in 2009.
In this story Jack is suspended from home after freeing a slave girl named Pega. He moves in with the
Bard, who also shares his house with Pega. Jack ends up needing to go on a mission to save his Father and reclaim Lucy, his sister.

This book is a sequel to The Sea of Trolls - another of my husband's favorites!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Robert's Snow - Nancy Wallace

Nancy Wallace is the illustrator I have chosen to focus on for the Robert's Snow fundraiser. She is an illustrator I HIGHLY admire, and I go back to her books over and over for story hours here in our library!

Her Snowflake is titled "Snow".

Snowflake medium: cut paper and acrylic paint

I asked Nancy for some insight on why she decided to be a part of Robert's Snow: "When I first heard about Robert’s Snow for Cancer’s Cure, three snowflakes ago, I immediately wanted to be a part of this very special fund raiser. I had worked for many years on pediatrics with hospitalized children, at Yale-New Haven Hospital as a Child Life Specialist and Child Life Coordinator. We used the creative arts – art, music, puppetry, PLAY and expressive media to encourage children to express their thoughts, feelings, fears… and their imagination.

About creating this snowflake, SNOW was the title and subject of my first picture book published in 1995! It is coming out again this fall, 2007, as a board book. One of my favorite questions from a child after having read SNOW to a group of young children at a library program was, “Do you think the snow rabbit is real?”

I have an M.A. in Child Development from the University of Connecticut. I write full time and love sharing with children about being an author and illustrator.

My book Baby Day! is given to infants born at seven Connecticut Hospitals, through READ TO GROW/ BOOKS FOR BABIES, a Connecticut, community inspired, literacy program."

*****Nancy has kindly offered to give away a signed copy of one of her books!!! She is giving away Snow! If you are interested in being included in the giveaway - just leave a comment below AND link to this on your blog (if you have one). I will notify winners within two weeks!!

Some of her other books include:

Children’s Picture Books and Video/CDs
Written and illustrated by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

SNOW Marshall Cavendish Board Book (fall 2007)
“The strength of this gentle book is the way it captures the quiet magic and cozy charm of a cold snowy day with loved ones. The simple origami collages are endearing…”
New York Times Book Review
Artists and Writers Guild Books (fall 1995)
- A National Parenting Publications Honors Award Winner
- Featured selection of the Children’s Book of the Month Club

Shells! Shells! Shells! Marshall Cavendish (spring 2007)
“A stellar introduction to mollusks and the shells they make; an informative, accessible and necessary addition to any seaside library and every school where oceans are studied.”

Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! (paperback edition) Marshall Cavendish (spring 2007)
“Highly recommended.” Library Media Connection, *STARRED REVIEW
- A Texas 2x2 Reading List Book
- International Honor Book Winner, Society of School Librarians

Tell a Bunny (paperback edition) Marshall Cavendish (spring 2007)
“The humor of the twisted telephone conversations is sure to please even slightly older readers, and the illustrations might inspire budding artists.” Publishers Weekly
- A Junior Library Guild Selection

The Kindness Quilt Marshall Cavendish (fall 2006)
“Wallace’s familiar illustrations have a charm that always appeals. But here, it’s the idea behind the story that will attract attention. Parents and teachers will find myriad uses for this book, with its gentle message and practical approach to making a better world.” Booklist

Look! Look! Look! Marshall Cavendish (spring 2006)
“This adorable and informative look at a mouse family the “borrows” a postcard depicting a famous painting is a winning choice. … a charming foray into the world of art, complete with a helpful glossary and lessons on how to make a self portrait. This is not only an amusing, creative story, but also an adventure into art that encourages originality while inspiring creativity. Great for libraries and elementary art instructors.” SLJ

Alphabet House Marshall Cavendish (fall 2005)
“Intricately cut-paper collages overflow with details and wit, giving readers numerous opportunities for letter- appropriate objects. The vignettes provide easily identifiable items for new learners as well as more esoteric objects to challenge older readers. The energetic colors of the collages combined with the intriguing and changing scenarios are bound to capture readers’ attention.” Kirkus
- Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy from 2005 award
- Best Books for Babies (Beginning with Books - a nationally recognized leader in early literacy)
- Winner - 2006 Connecticut Book Awards – for Best Illustrator

A Taste of Honey paperback edition Marshall Cavendish (spring 2005)
“Readers travel backwards to the bee and learn all about the way honey becomes available to spread on Lily’s bread. Wonderful cut paper illustrations detail every step of this fascinating process. An added bonus is the Bee game and a list of honey facts.” Children’s Literature
- The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval
- Kids’ Pick of the Lists
- Foreword Press Award
- Texas Library Association 2 x 2 reading list (1 of 20 children’s books selected)
- ALA Booklinks Lasting Connection

Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! Nutmeg Media Videocassette (winter 2005) CD (coming)
“Through a week’s worth of activities, Buddy, with his mother’s help, learns about parts of a seed, different types of seeds, and seed germination. “… also reinforces sorting, comparing and contrasting, counting, problem solving, and sequencing. Days of the week, colors and deductive reasoning are also touched on. There’s even a little nutritional information…. This well planned, beautifully executed production flows together seamlessly and has multiple classroom applications.” School Library Journal

The Valentine Express Marshall Cavendish (late fall 2004)
“Wallace’s bunnies are so adorable they could be discussing how paint dries and they’d still be fun to look at, and the story brings home the pleasures of Valentine’s Day, a red-letter day on most kids’ calendars. Perhaps most important, the book stresses how sharing the holiday spirit can make everyone happy.” Booklist

APPLES APPLES APPLES Marshall Cavendish paperback edition (fall 2004)
“This book is a wonderfully imaginative read-aloud. Watching a family of bunnies go apple picking, young readers learn how apple trees grow, marvel at how many kinds there are to eat, and get a good idea of how an apple orchard works.” Bookselling This Week
- Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year 2000
- Kids’ Pick of the Lists
- NEBA Pick of the Lists

Seeds, Seeds, Seeds Marshall Cavendish (spring 2004)
“Clearly written and brightly illustrated, this will be an appealing addition to classroom units on seeds and germination.” Booklist
- Children’s Book Council - CBC Showcase Nonfiction Picture Book
- Society of School Librarians International Honor Book
- Texas 2 x 2 Reading List
- Library Media Connection *STARRED REVIEW

The Sun, the Moon and the Stars Houghton Mifflin (fall 2003)
(poems written, collected, and illustrated by N.E.W.)
“Each colorful page is beautifully designed, and the well executed cut-paper collages draw readers into the poems, enhancing the mood suggested by the words. All of the selections are appealing, amusing and gentle in tone. A perfect choice for storytime, this collection will also be useful for inspiring creative writing.” School Library Journal

Leaves, Leaves, Leaves Marshall Cavendish (fall 2003)
“Wallace successfully blends fiction and nonfiction, art and informational text. Buddy Bear and his mama go on leaf walks during the different seasons of the year. They observe, collect and examine leaves and trees in various stages of their annual cycles. During these excursions, the little bear asks probing questions and his mother answers using clever analogies and other techniques of a gifted teacher. The cub’s lively curiosity will be contagious to readers and his playful riddles will add to the enjoyment.” School Library Journal
- The Association of Booksellers for Children - Best Books Recommendation
- Society of School Librarians, International Honor Book
- A Best Children’s Book of the Year (Outstanding Merit) – Bank Street College

Recycle Every Day! Marshall Cavendish (spring 2003)
“Wallace’s illustrations are her very recognizable cut paper collages done here with found and recycled paper. The story is a Be Green message.. there are plenty of ideas youngsters can act upon to be kinder to the Earth. An excellent introduction to this increasingly important subject.” Kirkus Reviews
- Featured in Newsweek’s Hot Tips Growing Up Green - Family
- AN NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
- A Best Children’s Book of the Year – Bank Street College

Baby Day! Houghton Mifflin (spring 2003)
El Dia del Bebe - bilingual Baby Day! Houghton Mifflin (fall 2003)
“Simple pictures and text show a baby’s day filled with objects of all colors, textures, and shapes. Cut paper collages are layered to create visually stimulating illustrations that will interest even the smallest child. Endpapers consist of graphic black-and-white designs perfect for young babies, while the lyrical text, combined with the bright images, will entice slightly older children. Stiff pages with rounded corners and a small format make this a perfect choice for tiny hands.” Kirkus Reviews
- CHILD magazine, a best book of 2003

Pumpkin Day! Marshall Cavendish (fall 2002)
“Although there are many other books on this topic, this one stands apart because of its simple, yet dynamic collage artwork and the quality and quantity of information that is tucked into the text in all sorts of interesting ways. The origami and paper collages placed against pure backgrounds are the best Wallace has done to date and that’s saying something.” Booklist *STARRED REVIEW
- Bank Street College of Education Best Books of 2002
- ALA Book Links, Lasting Connection 2003
- A Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Titile

Count Down to Clean Up! Houghton Mifflin (fall 2001)
“This is a pleasing developmentally appropriate volume that not only supports the math concepts but will be a welcome addition for neighborhood studies. Delightful.” Kirkus Reviews
- Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year 2001 *Starred review

Paperwhite Houghton Mifflin (fall 2000)
“Using her signature cut-paper rabbits, Wallace has created a gentle tale in which two neighbors nurture a narcissus bulb… What follows is a lovely paean to the simple acts shared by friends as they monitor the plant’s progress.” School Library Journal * STARRED REVIEW

Rabbit’s Bedtime Houghton Mifflin (fall 1999)
Hora de dormir del conejo Houghton Mifflin (bi-lingual Rabbit’s Bedtime fall 2000)
“As a young rabbit prepares for sleep, the pleasures of the day are recounted in couplets… While the rhymes and imagery are highly accessible, Wallace has added incidentals that expand the age range for the book and are fun to discover and identify.” Kirkus Reviews
- Children’s Book of the Month Club Selection
- Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award
- Selected for ALA’s El dia de los ninos/el dia de los libros 2002
- Included in “Great Books for Babies and Toddlers” 2002

Friday, November 02, 2007

Miss Spitfire

All I can say is - I am not often left in tears and this book did me in. I just sat and sobbed. Miss Spitfire ~ Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller is a wonderful story of Annie Sullivan - the brave woman that was the only one that could "reach Helen Keller." Her story is compelling - I could not put this book down, and I found myself thinking about it throughout the day. I have read other stories of Helen Keller, and I always find them fascinating, but this one has got to be my favorite. What a woman of strength - Annie Sullivan did not give up but kept trying to reach Helen - and, at the end, when the breakthrough occurs - I was left in tears - the bond they forged is amazing - one that totally inspired me!! I just can not say enough good about this book! I LOVED it!!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

River Boy

Tim Bowler has written an intriguing novel, River Boy. It is the story of 15 year old, Jess and her dying grandfather. Her grandfather refuses treatment for his heart problems and instead wants to accompany the family on a vacation. It is not easy for Jess, or her family, to have her grandfather along and watch him slowly die, but he is determined to finish a painting before he leaves this life. It is a sad story - strong with family - which I love!! It has an interesting twist though as Jess meets a boy at the river when she goes to swim - but as you read you wonder - is he really just a boy or could he be connected to her grandfather!?!? Captivating read - one worth enjoying!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Saving Levi

I just finished one of THE MOST powerful adoption books I have ever read! Saving Levi: Left to Die...Destined to Live by Lisa Bentley is a very touching story of one little boy - severely burned - who is left to die - even wrapped in burial clothes and found in a field. The story of his life - all that people would go to for a baby that no one has even adopted - is extremely powerful and extremely touching. You just see God's Hand at work to save this little boy's life. Bentley has told Levi's story in such a wonderful book - I encourage all, whether you have any interest in adoption or not, to pick up this book and read it - it is life changing.

To see Levi's website - go HERE. And to learn more about the orphanage near Beijing that the Bentley family was called to start for special needs children, go HERE.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Adoption Book List

Have anyone needing children's books on adoption?? Here is a good list!

If A Tree Falls at Lunch Period

Today I finished Gennifer Choldenko's If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period. I absolutley HAD to read this one as I loved her book, Al Capone Does My Shirts. I will preface by saying it didn't hit me AS HARD as Al Capone, but I did like it, and I think teens will enjoy it as well. I especially liked that it SO wonderfully hits junior high/high school right to the heart - Choldenko knows teens and that comes through so brilliantly in this novel. It shows how mean kids can be to each other and yet, how sometimes goodness wins out!! It also brings up the sometimes-touchy issue of race and there again, Choldenko brings up the subject with ease - not being preachy, but certainly getting her point across. I came to love Kirsten, the main character, and think she is a wonderfully strong female character. She befriends a black boy at her, very white, school and that is the beginning of a close friendship - with a hint of surprise. It is fast moving and switches narrators with each chapter - either Kirsten or Walk, her black friend. Thank you, Gennifer for another moving novel!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

October Pay It Forward Giveaway!!

Yes - the Random Generator did it again and chose #2!!!! So Amanda - you have won this month's giveaway. Please contact me with your snail mail and I'll get it right out - Enjoy!!!

Watch starting in November for another Pay It Forward and thanks all for playing along!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Robert's Snow Video

What a great idea - ALL of the snowflakes shown by auction times - with beautiful Christmas music to really "get you in the mood"! Take a moment and watch the snow fall, and then go and bid on them - what a great cause!

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Long Way Gone

A Long Way Gone ~ Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah is my latest read. Was it a fun read?? No. Was it an easy read?? No. Am I glad I read it?? YES!! Ishmael's story is powerful and should be read. I do not like to read about children that have a tough life, but I think we need to be aware. Sierra Leone is full of civil unrest and that comes out so vividly in this story - and then when boys/children have no family left - they have all been killed by the war - those boys have no choice but to be a part of the army. They are told to do horrible things, often become addicted to drugs, and then have to go through rehabilitation to go back to a "normal" way of life. This is Ishmael's story - his time in Sierra Leone, his rehabilitation, and his life after. This book definately kept me reading - I just wanted to keep going to find out how his life would turn out. I would recommend it HIGHLY, but I do think it needs to be an older audience - there are some graphic scenes - which also help to remind us of how awful we can treat each other.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Little Scholastic

Once again - it feels like Christmas at the library and I just have to share!! I sent an email to Scholastic asking to see some of their new "Little Scholastic" titles. Boy did they EVER come through!! I received a box of Little Scholastics today and they are all I hoped they would be!!

From touchy-feely books to Interactive to Musical - I LOVE THEM ALL!!! I like their premise that "the latest research on the development of children aged 0-3" shows that children need these qualities in books:
  • Interactive components
  • Rhyming, repetitive, or predictable text
  • High contrast images
  • Familiar subjects and surroundings
  • Simple concepts
  • Distinct leveling between the ages 0-3
If you haven't seen them, go HERE and check them out!! And if you haven't ordered them for your children or library - I say they are "Must Haves"!! Oh yes, and you do need to check out their website as well - they have some great information for parents - quick tips, interactive tools AND MORE!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Robert's Snow

It is finally here!! It is time for bloggers to showcase an illustrator each day from now through November. We will feature an illustrator that has made a snowflake for Robert's Snowflake - a wonderful online auction to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Sadly enough, it all began when Grace Lin's husband, Robert, was battling a long battle with cancer. He passed away just a few short months ago and this is ALL IN HIS HONOR.

Each blogger that wanted to participate has chosen an illustrator/illustrators to showcase. I asked right away for Grace and was so pleased to be allowed to post on her snowflake. I am a BIG, BIG fan of Grace Lin - she is just one of THE BEST, in my humble opinion!!! And not only that, I feel honored to showcase her as it was her husband that this whole auction is in honor of! I asked Grace for some background of why she became a writer/illustrator and she said:

"I grew up in Upstate NY and I knew at an early age that creating children's books was what I wished to do. In my book, "The Year of the Dog" the main character enters a National Book contest and wins 4th place. That really
happened to me and it was from there on that I knew I wanted to make books for my job."

Grace has written so many wonderful books that I could not even begin to tell you our favorite over here, but I will say that she was a favorite LONG before we ever adopted our daughter from China, and now her "Asian flair" just makes her books all the more sweet to us!! When I asked Grace about participating in the blog event she said "I would like to try to participate in promoting Robert's Snow as it is very important to me. My hope is that the fundraiser continues on forever, so that Robert will always be remembered." These last few months have not been easy for Grace but she believes firmly in Robert's Snow and has decorated a beautiful snowflake.

"My snowflake is called "Flower." Amidst white snow, a vividly clothed girl stands like a flower. I painted it when Robert was declining, while things like hope and happiness were not obviously in the landscape. Yet, even in those days, we were able to find bits of beauty and bittersweet joys. Those moments were like finding flowers in the snow. "

Grace added, "I thought it might be interesting for people to know that the style I painted my snowflake was inspired by Chinese Cloisonn├ę." I think her snowflake is stunning! If you want to bid on Grace's, or any other snowflake, head over to the auction site and check them out! What a great cause!

Oh yes, AND one last thing!!! Grace has graciously offered to give away a wonderful gift here at my blog!! All you need to do is leave a comment on this post and you will be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of her book, Lissy's Friends, AS WELL AS an accompanying Lissy Doll!! (Ok, to be honest I'd be jealous except, yes, we already have them both!!!) And if you don't win - go ahead and buy a set for yourself anyway - you won't be disappointed!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Double Bind

I was given a recommendation to read anything by Chris Bohjalian and so I picked up Double Bind. I must say, it was quite a read. Not probably one I would have picked up on my own, but from page one, I was intrigued. I won't say "hooked" because sometimes I kept wondering "Where is this going??" But it kept me guessing all the way to the end, and I was surprised at how it all concluded. Laurel - the main character - is given an assignment for her job to prepare some photos, left by a homeless man, for a fundraiser for their homeless shelter. However, in all of her research, she becomes quite entrenched in the project and even leaves friends and family behind to solve her puzzle. I loved the mystery involved, and it is an interesting study into mental illness. I won't say it's the best read ever, but it did keep me interested - and yes, the ending was quite a shock - not at all what I was anticipating!

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Chester by Chester aka Melanie Watt!!! What a riot - I mean really, how often does a cat take over and start writing the book only to be replaced by the mean author?!!? This book had me laughing out loud - what a treat!! And don't miss the front cover - he even has a place reserved for his much-deserved award!! You've gotta love this cat!

Little Skink's Tail

Little Skink's Tail by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein was sent to me as a review copy by Sylvan Dell Publishing and, boy, are they going to be glad they sent me a free copy!! I immediately hopped on their website and have been telling people about them ever since!! They are so educational - I LOVE the emphasis on science, animals, math, etc. and then, to tie it in, they have great links off of their site to enhance your teaching - I am telling you - you need to go check it out!! Look especially for the "For Creative Minds", "Teaching Activities", and "Learning Links" sections. It's like hitting the jackpot!!

Book Blogs

What a great list!!! Just in case you ever wanted a comprehensive list of book blogs - this might be it!!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Annick Press

Annick Press sent me a package of books today to review and I must say, "I am impressed!!" This is a publisher I was not familiar with (aside from THIS GUY!!!) and now I just high-tailed it over to our book distributor and ordered hard cover copies of every book they sent me! These are wonderful books! Here are some of my favorites:

Shen and the Treasure Fleet by Ray Conlogue - an exciting story of adventure set in old-world China. (I took it home to my 12 year old to read, and he WON'T put it down!!! I keep telling him it's my turn!! Good thing he's a fast reader!)

True Stories from the Edge - Dangerous Crossings! by Antonia Banyard - here is another series that I intend to get the WHOLE set!! Fun adventures, non-fiction geared to ages 8 and up. My boys WILL LOVE these!

Archers, Alchemists and 98 Other Medieval Jobs you Might Have Loved or Loathed by Priscilla Galloway - another WONDERFUL non-fiction book - I am ALWAYS on the lookout for great non-fiction - libraries need MORE of that!!! There is another in this series that I have on order already too!!!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Ruth Ohi picture books - the illustrations are endearing and the stories are simple and fun! Me and My Brother and Me and My Sister are on my order as well now!

If you haven't checked out this publishing company, DO SO!!! Their website is also invaluable to teachers - it has some some live interviews with authors and great teaching ideas. Thanks, Annick Press, for sending me books and introducing me to your WHOLE new world of exciting books!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pay It Forward

October's Pay It Forward Giveaway is Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's book, Cave of the Dark Wind - A Never Land Book. (Yes, I chose a junior book this time - just to keep you guessing!!) The rules are the same - just leave a comment and you are entered!! Winners will be drawn on Monday, October 22nd. As always, I would love a link on your blog (if you have one) so that others know about the book giveaway. And then, when you are finished, you may use the book as a Pay It Forward drawing on your blog - let's keep them all floating around the blog world!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Swift Pure Cry

Siobhan Dowd's book, A Swift Pure Cry is a Young Adult Fiction book that just did not sit well with me - I barely even wanted to review it - but since I try to keep track of all that I read - I will at least mention it. The main crux of the story is quite sad - three children left very unattended after their mother dies and their father resorts to drinking as a form of forgetting. But the oldest child, Shell, also turns to a boy to spend her time and becomes pregnant. The ending turns into a crime scene as a baby is found dead so Shell has to prove her innocence. Sad, far-fetched maybe - I felt it was just not a great read.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How Do You Say That???

Just what I've always wanted - a way to find out how to say all of those tough author names!!! And HERE it is!!!

Oh and one more tidbit - I have been selected as a Judge on the CYBILS site for the Non-Fiction category - to see my name in lights - go HERE!!! How fun is that - so here I go, off to read, read, read!!! (What's new?!?!?)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pay It Forward

I used the Random Generator and here is the lucky winner - #5!!!!!

So Paige, send me your snail mail address and I will get it right out to you!!!
Congrats and Enjoy!!


I'm a WINNER - well, for a book, at least!!! Yes, Jenn - choose me to win one of her fabulous books. If you want to be a winner too - go HERE and see her fabulous website!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Me & Emma

I literally JUST FINISHED Me and Emma by Elizabeth Flock and I am saying, "I just can't believe it!!!" At first I was totally taken in by the story - a VERY dysfunctional family - a mother that remarries a total jerk - he abuses the two daughters - the abuse is horrible - physical, verbal, and sexual - you come to almost hate the mom and her new husband. But, in the telling, you come to love Carrie and Emma. Carrie lives just trying to protect Emma - life is not easy for them, but they stick together and protect one another. They eventually meet Mr. Wilson - a kind, elderly neighbor - who teaches them how to use a gun - yes, you know where this is going - I thought so too - BUT - NO YOU DON'T!!!! There is an absolutlely amazing turn right at the end - I was stunned - that is all I will say - SOMEONE please read this so we can chat!!!!!!

I loved the storyline - it was quite a touching story - but yes, it was tough to read - I just HATE it when adults abuse children - enough said!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Robert's Snow

This is such a great cause - and you all know how much I love Grace Lin - well, her husband has recently passed away from cancer and this fundraiser will help raise money for cancer research. I am glad to be a part of it for more information coming soon!!! If you'd like more information - go here. And another great informational link is here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monk and Neagle

It's OUT!!! It's official - Monk and Neagle's new CD is out!!! I can not even tell you how much I loved this CD - it is WONDERFUL!!! I was sent an early "blogger" copy and have been listening ever since. I would encourage you to go check it out! You will be glad you did!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


The Cybils are back and ready to begin for another round!! If you blog about children's or teen's books and want to participate - stop by their blog and see how to get on board - I am looking forward to it!!! Hope to see you there!!

Go to Bed, Monster!

Go to Bed, Monster! by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz is a new book that crossed my desk that I just had to blog about! We have all had (or know children who have) a fear of monsters. That is why I am so excited about this book - a little girl draws a monster and then spends much of the night entertaining him until it's time to go to bed. This monster doesn't WANT to go to bed - so she must get creative to get him to fall asleep - you will love what she ends up doing!!! This is a super book an the illustrations just add to the appeal!

Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See?

If you love THIS or THIS or THIS as much as I do - then you will be thrilled to see this - Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle. All new animals - I can't wait to use it in story hour!!!

What Kinds of Seeds are These?

What Kinds of Seeds are These? by Heidi Bee Roemer and illustrated by Olena Kassian is a wonderful non-fiction children's book on Seeds and Plants. It is very well done - it shows you the seeds on one page and then shows you the plant it comes from on the next - what a great way to visualize the two and how they go together. It would be a great tie-in with THIS!!

Fish, Swish! Splash, Dash!

Suse Macdonald has done it again!! I just loved her latest book, Fish, Swish! Splash, Dash! This is an adorable counting book that never ends - BECAUSE, when you get done, you just flip it over and keep going! The cutout fish are gorgeous - the colors are bright and fun - it would be a great tie-in with a fish unit as well. Make sure not to miss this one - it's a winner!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Blue Nowhere

I go to our local public High School every month and join in on a book discussion group. This month's book was The Blue Nowhere by Jeffrey Deaver. I wasn't excited when they told me the book choice - I had never read this author and he didn't seem to be my regular type of reading, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is fast-paced page turner from page one!! I am telling you even when we discussed it today at the high school, the kids all agreed - just when you thought it couldn't get any worse - it just keeps on throwing you for turns!! The whole book is based on computer/hacking crimes but isn't so technical that you get lost. However, it is guaranteed to make you think twice before you get on the internet next time - for a minute, I almost considered giving up my blogs (ok, only a milli-second and then I gave up that idea!!).

To find out where Deaver's idea for The Blue Nowhere came from - click HERE to read the author interview.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Nicole Baart's Blog Tour

I am officially the second stop on Nicole Baart's blog tour - how fun is that?!!? Nicole's first book, After the Leaves Fall, is due out SOON!!! I received a copy and devoured it, and I can't say enough good about it. I did not want it to end and now I can't wait for the sequel!! So, I was thrilled to interview her as a stop on her blog tour. So grab a cup of coffee and enjoy chatting with Nicole:

When did you realize you wanted to write a book?
My earliest memories include wanting to be an author, so I can’t really pinpoint when it all began. I’ve practically been a bookworm since birth and a wannabe author for nearly as long.

How long have you been working on your books?
I wrote After the Leaves Fall in just under six months in my spare time. The book more of less flowed out of me, which is kind of funny because the story was very new in my mind. I have some stories that have been rattling around in there for years, but for some reason I struggle to finish them. Then along comes this character of Julia De Smit, and suddenly I’m writing over 700 pages of her story in no time. Summer Snow, the sequel, came out equally as fast as the first one. I guess together they took me a year to write. Who knows, maybe my next book will be like pulling teeth--it could take years to finish! (Though I kind of doubt it, the story is mostly written in my head already.)

I’ve heard it is a trilogy that you are writing. Can you give us some background? Will they all be about the same characters, what is the main storyline, etc?
Honestly, I don’t know if these books about Julia will become a trilogy or not. Summer Snow is definitely a sequel; it picks up only weeks after the conclusion of After the Leaves Fall. But I’m not sure if there will be a third book or not. I’m not sure if Tyndale would even want a third book in this series! I guess we’ll have to see what happens.

However, I can tell you that Summer Snow contains most of the same characters that readers will hopefully have grown to love in After the Leaves Fall. Plus, there are a few new characters that I am particularly fond of! I don’t want to give anything away, but I’m just crazy about these new additions to Julia’s already complicated life.

As far as a main storyline goes, in both books Julia continues the journey to understanding herself and her place in this world. It’s a simple concept, but something that I think we all struggle with. I think in some ways I wrote After the Leaves Fall because I’ve seen so many people (including myself) stumble through life struggling with those big, existential questions: Who am I? What am I here for? Am I valuable/loved/needed? And often our culture tries to convince us that if we can’t answer those questions with something brilliant and wonderful we are worthless. Our story isn’t worth telling. Instead we focus on the glamour stories, the happily ever after endings, the impossible unrealities we view from our couches. I wanted to tell the story of a normal young woman and show how her life can be, and is, very beautiful even though it is nothing extraordinary in the eyes of the world. In fact, in many ways Julia is a failure in the eyes of the world. That’s the best part about her--her brokenness is exactly where her beauty takes root.

Is it all fictional or does something from your past play into the storylines?
Julia and I don’t have a lot in common. But in some ways I suppose she embodies some of my deepest fears--I think a psychologist would probably be able to show me how I used her to role-play my own reactions to some ugly situations that life could have thrown at me. Or maybe I’m overanalyzing! Anyway, there is very little in her character that is drawn from me.

Two specific elements of the book are very real to me though: the role of Julia’s grandmother in her life and her deep connection to and appreciation of nature. I am very attached to both of my grandmothers and the character of Nellie is an amalgamation of my sweet grandmas. And all the descriptions of the Midwest--the weather, the scenery, the hidden beauty--are from my own experiences. I love Iowa, I think it’s beautiful, and I think that sentiment definitely comes through in the book.

How do you juggle being a busy mom and an author?
It’s hard! I have not been able to write much this summer because our schedules have been so off, and I’m definitely feeling it. I’m just not myself when I’m not writing. But on the other hand, I have had times when I’m writing too much and not spending enough time with my family. It’s a tough balance to strike sometimes, but we (my husband Aaron and I) are learning as we go and willing to adjust as necessary. For now, I write a lot in my head and then scramble like a madwoman when I have time alone with a pen and paper. My mom watches the boys one morning a week and Aaron takes a morning, too, so that’s when I’m most productive. I can do about a chapter a week.

Tell us about the moment when you found out that Tyndale wanted you!
Wow, I don’t know how to describe it. It’s so silly to say this, but I guess I felt like my body no longer had room for my spirit. I wanted to crawl out of my skin because there wasn’t room for me inside of it anymore! For days I just floated around the house smiling like an idiot. Aaron would catch me grinning to myself and start laughing. We laughed a lot for a few weeks. Oh, and my family took me out to a really nice restaurant and gave me a bunch of silly “authorly” gifts: a pair of reading glasses with a long, bead chain, a ream of paper, a pretty scarf…

Who is your favorite author?
Do I have to pick just one? I’ll pretend you wrote authors… J

I love rich language (which explains my adoration for poetry) so I’m a huge fan of Annie Dillard. One of her essays is like eating a single piece of dark chocolate--I could savor it for an hour. This love of language also makes me a sucker for English authors (Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare, etc.). As for newer authors, I’m crazy about Leif Enger’s debut novel Peace Like a River. I could read it again and again.

Thanks Nicole - can't wait to see you read/speak in person soon!!! Now everyone RUN out and buy a copy!!!

If you want to visit other blogs on the tour click HERE.

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