Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Magician's Elephant

Is there anything better than a Kate DiCamillo novel???? Nope, I don't think so! SO when I started The Magician's Elephant, I knew I was in for a treat. She just does not disappoint! Once again, a tender story of a little boy who loses his parents and is left with an elderly militaristic man to raise him. Little Peter is convinced his small sister, whom he was asked to care for by his mother before she died, is still alive. When he visits the fortune teller, she confirms to him that his sister is indeed alive and that the elephant will lead him to her. Peter is encouraged and discouraged - he wants to find his sister, but there is certainly no elephant! That is the greatness - an elephant appears magically in his town and the journey begins. I love the way this tender story weaves itself together - each character plays a part in bringing you to the end - the grand culmination of love and family. Yoko Tanaka is a superb illustrator and weaves her spell again with the beautiful illustrations that lend to the mysterious quality in this story. Marvelous!! Visit the WEBSITE too - it is wonderful! And the scuttlebutt is that 20th Century Fox is soon to begin a movie based on the book - I'll take it!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Tom Davis stands out to me as an author - he challenged me greatly with Fields of the Fatherless and now, with his fiction debut, Scared, I am challenged again. Scared is the story of a reporter sent to Africa to capture photos of the AIDS crisis. He travels thinking it is just another job, but what he finds when he gets there changes his life forever. It is not an easy read - your heart breaks for these children trapped in a country that is torn by AIDS and poverty. If you are touched and want to help visit ScaredtheBook or Hope Chest make a difference.

Scared - A Novel on the Edge of the World from Children's HopeChest on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Pick Me Up

DK Publishers sent me these new books that makes me want to say, "DK's done it again!"

Pick Me Up is a book that will make kids (and adults) want to pick it up!!! It reminds me of "almanac information" but the format is fun and easy to read! TONS of information in here - more than one can catch in one reading FOR SURE! This is a book that kids will check out over and over to find something new! What a fun read!

Open Me Up is a human body/anatomy book that is just "WOW" - it is detailed and intricate and yet will capture kids of all ages. DK is famous for their wonderful illustrations and this book is no exception!

How to be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train It will be one that I will have a hard time keeping in the library! It is a book that is packed with puzzles, games and optical illusions - all to help kids think creatively and sharpen their minds. Another great title!

Lastly, Children's Book of Art - also by DK - this is an amazing introduction to the world's most amazing paintings and sculptures. Not only does it feature the works, but it gives important background information like - what technique they used in their work, different styles of art, and other art galleries all in one book! I am SO wishing I had this one last summer for our Summer Reading Program, but I'll take it now and pass it all around!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Wonders Inside the Human Body

Silver Dolphin Books sent me a copy of The Wonders Inside The Human Body - another great book published by this company. This book makes the study of anatomy quite interesting - the see-through layers create a depth and excitement to this book. It is stunning and will be a hit with students and teachers alike. Another bonus? It is a large book so the drawings are intricate and so interesting - what a fun read.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Spotlight - Ancient Egypt Explorer

I was sent a copy of Spotlight: Ancient Egypt Explorer by Silver Dolphin Books and wanted to share it with you!! This is such a fun idea for learning history! You need a flashlight - be ready!! You shine your flashlight throughout the pages and you discover things hidden in Ancient Egypt in ancient tombs! I love the whole concept! Pages have wheels to turn as well that allow you to see different objects in the pictures. Even with the wheels, I think this will hold up well in our library - and I can't wait to put it out!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sounds of the Wild - Safari

I was sent a copy of Sounds of the Wild - Safari by Maruice Pledger by Media Masters Publicity and immediately was hooked! What a beautiful book of Safari animals - a giant pop up book with sounds! This might not be one that will be on our library shelves, but it is SO worth owning!!! The pop ups are amazing - there are WONDERFUL explanation pages that give you the names of the animals (great for teachers!!) - and the noises make you feel like you are there! LOVED IT!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Just finished Sharon Shinn's latest book, Gateway and what does it make me want to do?? FIND MORE!! I had never heard of her before and now I am off to order more of her titles for our library! This book was such a treat! Not only did I love the whole idea of the main character being a girl adopted from China - but it was a thrilling ride through time travel that kept me excited to turn pages. I was totally wrapped up in Daiyu's story and the romantic storyline with Kalen - in a world where she can't stay. Yep, you will enjoy it - pick it up and enjoy the ride! (It is a Young Adult book but that doesn't stop me!!!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Books By Release Date Calendar

Want to know when new Teen or YA books are coming out??
Teens Read Too has a wonderful website with forthcoming books listed out for you. Check it out!
Books-By-Release-Date Calendar

Saturday, November 14, 2009

AKA: Becky Crocker

And if that doesn't make you want this cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks - then I'll give you MORE!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this cookbook - I know, I can hear you moaning, "Becky, you don't even cook!" And that is kind of true - BUT IF I were to take up cooking, this would be my BIBLE!!! The step by step instructions (and pictures, THANK YOU Pioneer Woman!!) make the recipes do-able. This is what Joe made this morning - French Breakfast Puffs - oh my word YUMMY! And not only do I want to try every recipe in the book, it's also a coffee table book - LOVE the photography!!! SO there, I think I mainly want it for the pictures but hey, it also works to show Joe the pictures - then he cooks what he sees!!! (snicker, snicker!) I have to be honest, I do LOVE this woman - not only is she the world's GREATEST blogger, she's also a homeschool mom! She's got the Marlboro Man - I've got the Modem Man - what's not to love!?!?!?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Weight of Silence

All I really need to say on this one is "Heather Gudenkauf is genius". I thoroughly enjoyed The Weight of Silence - it was intriguing from page one! I couldn't believe that at this time in my life (having a daughter that is not speaking) I would have a novel on my desk that is about a little girl that would not talk - but I did! I was drawn in immediately - it starts with a bang - two little girls disappear and thus the novel pummels head-long into the mystery of where the two have disappeared to and how they got there. I LOVE the discussion questions at the back - I think it would make a great book talk book as it brings up some great issues. Another great read, I tell you, I am on a good-book-streak lately!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Flat Stanley Contest

Here is a Flat Stanley contest you MIGHT NOT want to miss!!!
Spread the word - or maybe not - I know, it's hard to share those contests when you want to win!! :)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Frappe with Philippians

I was sent a copy of Sandra Glahn's Frappe with Philippians Coffee Cup Bible Studies and asked to do a book review on it. I enjoy Bible Studies and thought this might be right up my alley - and IT WAS! I am a BIG fan of Glahn's new series. (And it's not just because I adore coffee either!!) These studies are just plain do-able - they are not so theological that they go over your head. The daily sections are not so long that you can't accomplish them. They are packed with cultural history to help you understand the text more fully. They are filled with scripture - even printed right out for you in the book - I like that since I often do my studies "on the go". I am impressed - it 's a great new series that makes me want to grab my girl friends and my coffee and sit and enjoy!
So, just in case I haven't convinced you, here is more from the publisher. (And don't forget to read all the way to the bottom of the post - there is a BIG DRAWING you won't want to miss!

About the Books:

(Dallas, Texas)- There's nothing better than curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee--and there's no better book than the Bible. Sandra Glahn continues her series of Coffee Cup Bible Studies, presenting Kona with Jonah and Frappe with Philippians. Using creative teaching resources, including the Internet, art, online study groups and more, Glahn provides a special blend of bold and flavorful experiences that will bring participants back for a second cup of God's Word.

Kona with Jonah begins with a brief history of Jonah and Ninevah. Merging historical event with current modern day practicality, Glahn invites readers to take a walk in Jonah's sandals. Coffee sippers will find it hard to escape the similarities as these two worlds collide. Prayer, mercy, city revival and other strong themes will perk the interest and heart of diligent students.

Frappé with Philippians brews for five weeks of strong, powerful conversation about Paul and the heroes of the Philippian church. With detailed study time spent examining the letters of Paul to the Church, readers will come away feeling like they have met with the man himself. With sections entitled "That God Will Get me Out of Here, and Other Prayer Requests Paul Doesn't Make," Glahn keeps the tone of the study light, without disrespecting the seriousness of the study of God's Word.

A Chat Over Coffee w/ Sandra

Women who typically feel they don't have the time to do Bible Study find your studies relevant and easy to use. What's the secret to making the study inviting?

I don't know if there's one secret. Different things appeal to different people. But I do know that with my own personal Bible study time, I've been able to stay fairly consistent Monday through Friday when my daughter is at school. But on the weekends everything changes in our household. Sometimes we travel. Or we sleep later on Saturday. And we rise and go to church on Sunday. Result: my routine gets disrupted. For this reason I often have a more difficult time doing Bible study on the weekends. So I designed the series for Monday-through-Friday study with only short devotional readings on the weekends. The weekday time can require twenty minutes or more; the weekend readings take less than five minutes.

I think the studies also appeal to the right-brained person. As an artsy type, I sometimes engage more with the Bible if I can write out a prayer, draw, view a related video, compose a story, sing a song... And I wrote this series with that person in mind. The devotionals are also full of stories, which most of us love to hear.

In addition (and this is probably the main reason), when I was working full-time, I wanted a study I could stash in my purse without having to lug a Bible and a commentary. I wanted to use my lunch break for a quiet time without parading my resources in front of people. And I think it helps that the Coffee Cup series books don't look like typical Bible studies; they're all-inclusive (text, commentary, questions included); they're small enough to throw in a briefcase or diaper bag; and they're both spiral and bound--making it easier to use on a treadmill or fold in the lap and write on while sitting. In short they're designed for the multi-tasker. I heard from an ob-gyn who uses them as she's sitting in the doctors' lounge waiting for babies to arrive.

And one more thing--I also include a prayer at the end. I heard from an eighty-something man who told me how much those prayers meant. All his life he had struggled with prayer, and that guidance helped him respond to God. I'm glad that a series directed to women didn't scare him off!

In Jonah with Kona, what do you hope participants will take away and apply to their own lives?

We tend to like our own causes best; we like our own country best; we like our denomination best; we like our own families best; we prefer the schools we attended, the neighborhoods where we grew up, our own political party or cause, our gender--even our brand of peanut butter. And somewhere along the way we cross the line from preference to prejudice. We pray for our loved ones but rarely, if ever, our enemies. Mention atheists, opposing politicians, humanists, materialists, homosexuals, and radical feminists in most churches today, and the response you'll evoke will sound nothing like, "Let's pray right now for God to pour out his love."

Genesis tells us that humans are fellow creations of one maker. The qualities of God that so angered Jonah are the very qualities we most need: grace, compassion, patience, mercy, abundant love, and truth. And not just for those we love--but for those we hate. For those who have wronged us. For those who want us dead. For those with whom we strongly disagree. The only possible way we can demonstrate such remarkable goodness is through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The focus of Frappé with Philippians is the life of Paul and the early church. What kind of historical research did you do and did you learn any surprising facts as you compiled your information?

I think it's enormously important to understand the world in which Paul was writing. Let's take the view of women, for example. The Jews were the most conservative. The Greeks were better, though greatly influenced by Aristotle's low view of women. And the Roman women had the most freedom--even owning property and supervising gymnasiums. Knowing a city's predominant citizenship helps us understand Paul's letters on such issues.

My PhD work relates a lot to the Greek pantheon and Greek and Roman history. The historical backgrounds for the Bible books are essential, and fortunately they interest me.

I also love getting a sense of the geography, if I can. I had the advantage this summer of taking a clipper to follow the journeys of Paul. Some of our stops included Corinth, Troas, Neapolis, Philippi, and Athens.

One sentence out of the mouth of a guide in Corinth really stuck with me, as she provided a key to understanding the cities we visited. She mentioned that while American visitors seem generally uninterested in talk of gods and goddesses, knowing which member of the Greek pantheon a city worshiped is essential to understanding that city's mentality. The more I thought about this, the more sense it made:

ATHENS. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, so citizens of Athens wanted their city to reflect culture, religion, and philosophy. And sure enough, in Acts 17 we find Stoic and Epicurean philosophers hanging out at the Areopagus (Mars Hill). Paul affirms them for being religious, and rather than dissing their many false gods, he zeroes in on their altar to the unknown God and tells them about this Almighty one who was not made with hands--One who is never far from any of us.

CORINTH. Corinth was the home of Aphrodite, goddess of love (and not the agape version). Behind the city ruins stands a towering hill at the top of which sat Aphrodite's temple. One could not walk down the street without being conscious of its prominence. Might that explain why the Corinthians had so many issues with sexual immorality, and why Paul tells them that it's good for a man not to touch a woman (1 Cor. 7:1)? For the sake of the kingdom, he encourages them to consider embracing sexual abstinence rather than marrying. How fitting that in a city that prides itself on being a center of love, Paul pens the beautiful definition of true love--known to us as the love chapter (1 Cor. 13).

EPHESUS. Ephesus was home to the virgin Artemis who loved her virgin status and was immune to Aphrodite's love arrows. Among other things, Artemis was the goddess of the hunt. If you take a close look at the Artemis statues from the first and second centuries, you find her legs covered with numerous animals and flanked by a couple of deer. Now, usually we think of women as gatherers and men as hunters. And the fact that Artemis was a hunter suggests she had a less-than-feminine persona. In Ephesus we find stone work with the Amazon story (these women were way independent!), and guides tell visitors that the city was founded by an Amazon queen. The Book of Ephesians was probably intended for more than one city (like Laodicea), so we don't find much that points to a specific city's mentality in that book. But we do find 1 Timothy directed to Paul's protégé in Ephesus, and in it we find an emphasis on widows, women teaching false doctrines, and the need to marry and have children.

When reading the New Testament, I think it's important to find out something of its geography and certainly what member of the Greek pantheon each book's readers were up against. How its authors approached the cities' demons can provide insight for us into engaging a culture that's in love with worldly wisdom, immorality, and a low view of family.

One fortunate blogger from each participating blog will be entered into a grand prize drawing for a coffee themed tote bag, twelve oz of Starbucks Sumatra and signed copies of Kona with Jonah and Frappe' with Philippians. Leave a comment here by Nov. 9 and you will be entered!

I LOVED these ideas and didn't want to leave them out:
Creative Ways to Have Girlfriend Bible Studies

• Get ripped with Ruth. Meet at the health club and walk side-by-side on the treadmill with your BFF. The study’s spiral binding and modest size lends itself to being stashed in a gym bag. You won’t even have to pack your Bible. The text is included.

• Inhale the aroma of java as you enter your favorite coffee shop. Order yourself a cappuccino, and then hang out around the table with friends discussing Colossians.

• For your friend’s birthday, give her chocolate-covered coffee beans and a Coffee Cup Bible study. Promise her an hour every week of your time for building your friendship on what lasts.

• Invite the person who does your nails to consider the words of Jesus. Provide a copy of Mocha on the Mount, and every time you’re together discuss what you’re both learning as you go through it.

• Schedule an extended “Spiritual Spa Day” together by watching and discussing a movie about Esther as you kick off bi-weekly meetings around your kitchen table. Contemplate what the Hadassah spa—Esther’s year of beauty treatments—must have been like. Then consider the part of her beauty that was deeper than skin.

• You don’t have to sip your cuppa joe in a shop that starts with an “S.” Grab some colleagues and organize a small group study. You can nurse your favorite beverage in the company cafeteria, the hospital coffee shop—even your local McDonald’s.

• Brew a pot of coffee in your church kitchen and meet one evening per week with members of your congregation. Engage in a lively discussion about Deborah, Jael, and Samson’s mother as you go through Java with the Judges.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Christmas Carol

This looks WONDERFUL - wanted to make sure it hadn't missed your radar!!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Leslie Patricelli Blog Tour

When I was asked if I could be a stop on a blog tour for Leslie Patricelli - I just smiled! I can not even tell you how much we LOVE Leslie at our house! Her book, Higher! Higher!, is a constant favorite - on that Chloe asks me to read again and again!

So I was honored that I could interview Leslie as well. Here is what Leslie had to say!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I wanted to be an artist before a writer. When someone asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" my answer was always, "An artist!" In Junior High I refined that, and for my career day interview, I told my teacher I wanted to be a commercial artist and a ski instructor. The teacher kind of laughed at me, like "good luck, kid!" (And he didn't even know I would grow up and marry a musician!)

In college, I started to think about kids' books, since I'd loved them as a kid, and it's seemed like a perfect thing to do if you love to write and draw. I wasn't aiming for that as my career, though, mainly because I had no idea how to get there. At the University of Washington (then, at least) you got pretty pigeonholed into a major and I didn't want to do only art or only writing. I decided to major in communications and thought I might be a graphic designer, until I went to an advertising agency and a copywriter convinced me that he had the fun job. So I aimed for that, and my first job out of college was to write copy for direct mail (that's "junk mail" to everyone who's not in the industry). I learned a lot; like how to write incomplete sentences and use lots of ellipses and exclamation points!!!!!!!! (Basically to write like I was talking.) I also learned that I didn't really like going to an office every day.

Thus I began my path as a "freelance artist" – or "I don't know what I want to do, but I know I don't want to do that!" So I quit the working world and went to Italy, where I traveled, skied and worked as a nanny. I did lots of journal keeping, drawing and reading on my adventure. Before I came home, I had resolved to be a cartoonist . I started my career by self-publishing a cartoon book about the espresso craze of the early 90's in Seattle, called, 'Espresso Served Here!' My cartoon book helped me get a freelance job with Microsoft doing clip art illustrations in their children's division. This led to seven years of freelancing for Microsoft, mainly animating characters (anyone still have Rover the dog on Windows XP? He's mine!).

At Microsoft, I met career writers, animators, and illustrators. I shared an office with Kevan Atteberry, a fantastic illustrator. He told me about a Children's Book class that he had taken at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle. I took the class, which was taught by two author/illustrators, Keith Baker and Laura Kvasnosky. In the class, I met my awesome critique group (Margaret Chodos-Irvine and Lorie Ann Grover), who helped me stay on the path of getting a book published. Six years after that, my first books came out! (Note: Be sure to look up all those author's names I just dropped, if you don't already know them, you'll find some great children's books!)

What is the story behind the first book you got published – how many tries to find a publisher, etc.?
I mentioned my cartoon book, 'Espresso Served Here!' – it was the first book that I submitted to a publisher. I submitted it to Sasquatch Books, in Seattle, twice. The first time, it was a very rough draft. When I got a rejection, I called the publisher directly and asked why they didn't want to do it. I could tell it was too rough for them to even consider it. So I finished the whole thing with final art and resubmitted it. This time they considered it, but ultimately didn't take it. I was pretty broken-hearted, but I'd learned a lot and finished the book, so I decided to self-publish it. My uncle, who owned a printing company, helped me print it. My parents helped me fund it. I had a basement full of books and I sold them all going door to door to bookstores and espresso stands. I did a second printing, but by the time I'd gotten rid of the majority of that one, I was tired of acting as a publisher. So, several years later, when I started down the road of submitting children's books, I knew I wouldn't self publish again. Some people have great success with self-publishing, but you need to be prepared wear every hat in the entire venture – sales, marketing, accounting, etc. This time, I just wanted the artist hat.

The first children's book that I put together to submit was a poetry book starring these characters I'd worked on that I called Dandelion People. I got my poems and art into a dummy (mock-up) in my book class, but I never did get the idea working well enough to submit it to a publisher. I ended up moving onto another story that I wrote and illustrated, called 'The Nut'. I sent 'The Nut' to twelve publishers and got twelve rejections. I was encouraged to receive several rejections directly from editors (Not Enough Story!). That meant my book was getting onto their desks. I also got a personal rejection by phone and the editor was interested in seeing more. Unfortunately, I didn't really have more that I thought they'd be interested in. Also, I was started on a new project, which was my son. Little did I know that a year later, he would be the one inspiring my first published books.

I started drawing my board book baby in an infant CPR class right after my son, Beck, was born. The nurse was listing all the terrible things that could happen to my new baby . She went on and on, and I started drawing pictures of this baby doing everything she was talking about – sticking forks in outlets, falling down stairs, swimming in the toilet, choking on venetian blind cords, etc. I kept drawing the baby character during different parenting situations. Then, when my son was one, and sticking everything in his mouth, and I was following him around saying, "Yucky! Yucky!" I came up with Yummy Yucky to help teach kids what they can or can't stick into their mouths. I sketched it out and decided to do two other opposite books to go with it: Quiet Loud and Big Little. I put all of my sketches into book dummies and sent them to two publishers. Both of them wanted to publish them. Good fortune!

By the way, my original Yummy Yucky submission had the baby eating all sorts of really dangerous and poisonous things on the yucky pages. It had to be toned down quite a bit for publication!

How do you choose your topics for your books?
I don't choose them, they choose me! It sounds cliche, but it's true. Ideas pop into my head and the ones I like, I eventually sketch out into my sketch book. There are plenty of unfinished ideas in my sketchbooks that will probably rest there forever. But, if one seems like it's working, and I'm enjoying doing it, I'll keep at it. Once I pursue an idea enough to send to the publisher, it is ultimately up to them which books will move forward from there.

What is your favorite food??
Hard to say, because I love almost all food (except uni sushi – I'll pass on that), but being a good (half) Italian girl, I'll pick spaghetti with Italian sausage and fresh tomato-basil sauce.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Also hard to say, because I love so many of them. I'll stick with picture books to narrow it down. I still love my favorite authors from my childhood, Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak and Shel Silverstein. My favorite book as a kid, and my kids now love it, was Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr. I think it's funny that Mog, who forgets everything, was my favorite book as a kid, because I am always spacing out and forgetting things. On the other hand, my sister's favorite book was called 'The Dead Tree', by Alvin R Tresselt, about a dead tree that spawns new life. She grew up to be an evolutionary biologist! With my own kids, I find myself re-reading Peggy Rathman, Ian Falconer, Lauren Child, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Jon Sciezka and J Otto Siebold, to name a few recent favorites, but by no means all.

Who has inspired you as a writer?
I was initially inspired for my own board books by Lucy Cousins, Todd Parr and Nina Laden. They taught me to keep it simple. Also, all the other authors and illustrators I've mentioned in this interview!

Plans you can share for upcoming books?
My next release, 'The Patterson Puppies and the Rainy Day' comes out on November 11. It's the first book that I've done that stems from an incident in my own childhood (it has to do with lots of water and a blue carpet!). It also has far more text than anything I've done to date. They are a cute family of four little puppies - two boys and two girls. I stole the personalities of the puppies directly from my own children. I am also done with the second Patterson Puppies book, called 'The Patterson Puppies and the Midnight Monster Party', also inspired by an incident from when I was a kid. I hope to do lots more Patterson Puppies books. Right now, I am in the middle of painting two new board books, 'Tubby' and 'Potty', starring my baby character. Look for those next fall! I'm also working on a rhyming picture book about a monkey drummer, and a middle grade novel (a brand new thing for me). Lots of fun stuff!

What has been one of your favorite books to write?
The process is so different for each book that I don't really have a favorite. Sometimes, they are complete in my head before I ever sketch them out, like Higher! Higher! Sometimes I have an idea and sit down and type all the words before I draw any pictures, like 'The Birthday Box' and the Patterson Puppies books. Sometimes I start with a picture and then find a story in it, like 'Binky'. I have absolutely loved writing my middle grade novel, I am amazed to see what stories emerge from my fingertips (but I have a feeling that editing that one could be my biggest challenge yet!)

Where is your favorite spot to write?
I really don't have one, I'll write anywhere that I can when I can find the time. I can tell you where I least like to write – my desk.

Can you tell us a bit about your family….
I come from a big, giant Italian family in Seattle with lots of cousins, aunts and uncles. I have a scientist sister, Gail, who creates bird robots (really – Google her!), and a dentist dad and hygienist mom who are retired now, but still clean our teeth. They also make excellent grandparents (when they are not off traveling or having fun). I have a drummer husband, Jason, who teaches music to kids, drums with local bands, and also teaches skiing here in Sun Valley. I met Jason in college and we have three hilarious children who are growing up too fast. They are Beck (10), Tia (7) and Tatum (5). For Halloween they are going to be Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King's 'It', a giant orange Ugly Doll (which my Mom sewed – it is incredible!), and a mummy. Beck is a fantastic musician like his Dad. Tia and Tatum love to draw and create. The messes they make are unbelievable! Our house is creative, fun, loud and messy!

And her books are just as good as her interview!! I received a copy of her latest book, The Patterson Puppies and the Rainy Day - just this week to review for this blog tour. I just LOVED it! I tell you, you can't go wrong with Patricelli!! Her stories are heart warming - and ones kids WILL relate to - and her illustrations are SO fun!

Thanks again to Leslie Patricelli for appearing, courtesy of Provato Marketing, for other stops on the tour please check

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Testing the Ice

Testing the Ice - A True Story about Jackie Robinson is Sharon Robinson's wonderful tribute to her father. And what a tribute it is! The book not only shares Robinson's life as a ball player, but his fight to overcome racial prejudice and his own fear - that of water. It is inspiring - and such a wonderful story of a part of Robinson's personal life. The illustrations, done by Kadir Nelson, are AMAZING and only add to the tenderness of this story. I fell in love with this book - ALL of it! And I am excited that I get to share it with you!

Big Honcho Media provided me with a copy of the book to use to review AND they have a contest going where you can receive your own copy as well. Details are here:
One (1) winner from your site receives a TESTING THE ICE prize pack!
Kidorable Hat, Glove & Scarf set (random styles - see attached image) copy of Testing the Ice

Four (4) additional winners will receive a copy of the book!
Prizing Values:
The grand prize pack is valued at $52.99
The books are valued at $16.99 each

Shipping Guidelines:

Prizing is only available to United States mailing address only.
(International readers can enter if they have a friend in the States who can
accept their prizes by mail.)

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO is leave a comment on this post - remember, you must be a U.S. mailing address. With your comment - make sure and leave an email so that I can contact you if you win!!

This is truly a book you will want on your shelves - it is inspiring - we all have fears we can overcome and this will encourage us to do just that!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The 13 Days of Halloween

Carol Greene has written a parody on "The 12 Days of Christmas" - it is so fun and kids will truly relate! It's catchy and Tim Raglin's illustrations are SUPERB!! Here is what the publisher had to say about Greene:

Carol Greene wrote her first poem when she was six years old (it was about a spider). To date she has published over a hundred books for children. Tim Raglin brings his wacky imagination and wonderfully odd cast of characters to The Thirteen Days of Halloween. His previous books include Five Funny Fights, Pecos Bill, and The Birthday ABC. He received a silver medal from the New York Society of Illustrators for his book Uncle Mugsy & the Terrible Twins of Christmas.

This is a new Halloween title - not-to-miss!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Swiss Courier

My favorite type of reading used to be historical fiction - that was what I devoured. Well, since working in a library, I have broadened my reading quite extensively and hardly read historical fiction anymore. So, when I heard of the blog tour for The Swiss Courier, I wanted to join in and give myself a REASON to read hist. fiction again. AND I was so glad I did, Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey DO NOT disappoint! What a great, fast-paced read - you will be hooked from the start and learn something along the way. World War Two history always intrigues me.

About the Book:
It is August 1944 and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich. When Joseph Engel, a German physicist working on the atomic bomb, finds that he is actually a Jew, adopted by Christian parents, he must flee for his life to neutral Switzerland. Gabi Mueller is a young Swiss-American woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) close to Nazi Germany. When she is asked to risk her life to safely "courier" Engel out of Germany, the fate of the world rests in her hands. If she can lead him to safety, she can keep the Germans from developing nuclear capabilities. But in a time of traitors and uncertainty, whom can she trust along the way? This fast-paced, suspenseful novel takes readers along treacherous twists and turns during a fascinating--and deadly--time in history.

About the authors:
Tricia Goyer is the author of several books, including Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, both past winners of the ACFW's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance. Goyer lives with her family in Montana. To find out more visit her website:
Mike Yorkey is the author or coauthor of dozens of books, including the bestselling Every Man's Battle series. Married to a Swiss native, Yorkey lived in Switzerland for 18 months. He and his family currently reside in California.To find out more visit his website: Would you like to hear an interview with the authors? Then go HERE.

Thank you, LitFuse, for providing a copy of The Swiss Courier for me to review.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Once I broke that "I will never do this" and read Twilight - I have since been more willing to broaden my horizons and try others along the vampire/werewolf theme. So Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater was one that now interested me. The book totally caught me from the first page - Grace is mesmerized by a werewolf that saved her life - although she can only watch the wolf from afar. She spends lots of time outside trying to just see her wolf with the yellow eyes. But what happens when the wolf becomes human?? That is the story of Sam and Grace - I was totally caught up in the story - Sam's struggle to stay human and stay with Grace. Sam has to battle the cold to stay human and that becomes quite a challenge. Really, it was a great book - held my interest the whole way through. I know it's getting rave reviews, and well it should, however I would think twice before you hand it to your teens - the sexual tension is great and does culminate in sex between Grace and Sam. I would definitely stay with mature readers on this one.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bear-ly There

I was sent a ARC copy of Bear-ly There by Rebekah Raye and LOVED it. What a fun story - one I think all kids will enjoy - but especially fun as it is very boy-friendly! What would you do if you found a bear roaming in your backyard - possibly bothering your geese?? That is just what Charlie has to decide - how to deal with the big bear! He is clever and kids will enjoy the fun ending to this book! The illustrations are also marvelous - they are so realistic that it seems you can reach right out and touch the bear. The book is a wonderful story that even teaches about the habits of bears - I thoroughly enjoyed it and am sure kids will too!

***The best part of this blog tour is that Tilbury House is offering giveaways for readers that leave comments - look at what they are giving away:

We will draw 9 lucky winners from all of those who leave comments on the participating tour posts from (October 16-30) to win one of the following prizes:
- A set of four art cards (2 sets available)
- A signed wildlife art print
- An original sketch from Bear-ly There
- An original sketch from The Very Best Bed
- An original sketch from Thanks to the Animals
- A copy of Bear-ly There, The Very Best Bed, or Thanks to the Animals, signed by Rebekah Raye
Winners will be announced on Oct. 31, US/Canada addresses only, please.

So leave a comment and you are entered!! And don't forget - catch Bear-ly There - it is a treat!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Climbing the Stairs

I just finished Padma Venkatraman's WONDERFUL Climbing the Stairs. I was sent this ARC Copy and asked to review this on my blog. As I thoroughly enjoy literature set in India - I was thrilled to do so! It was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I enjoyed seeing the culture of India through 15 year-old Vidya's eyes. Vidya is not at all trapped by her society's view of women - she wants to go to college and progress on her own terms! I like that about this fun protagonist - she is spunky and not afraid to "buck" a bit. Her life is not easy - but that is the beauty of this book! I was captured from page one and plan to tell my teens all about it! This one is NOT to be missed!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Blog Tour - Boy-sterous Living

I was asked to review the book Boy-sterous Living by Jean Blackmer. But, as much as I am SO excited to read the book, I still have not had time with the flurry to pack for our trip to China. SO - I am going to give you info on the book that looks absolutely wonderful and then, when I read it, I will blog a review on it.

About the book: Raising boys isn't easy. Life with them is loud. If it's quiet, they're probably up to something. Boys are messy, competitive, fearless, and proud. Living with them pretty much guarantees that you're in for an adventure.

In Boy-sterous Living, Jean shares a few of the priceless stories and laugh-out-loud lessons that she and her boys have experienced over the years. With humorous insight and practical advice, she offers encouragement and ideas to help both mothers and fathers impact and shape the lives of their sons. From understanding their love of sports to overcoming the superman complex, Jean shows moms how to find joy and contentment in everyday life by celebrating the laughter, passion, noise, and endless energy boys bring to our lives.

About the author: Jean is currently the Publishing Manager for MOPS International and she's been free-lance writing for 16 years. She has been published in a variety of local and national publications, including: Guideposts, MomSense, Today's Christian Woman, Christian Parenting Today, American Girl, Proverbs 31 Woman, Chicken Soup for the Mother and Son Soul, Chicken Soup Cookbook for the Busy Mom's Soul, Focus on the Family's Teen Phases, Guideposts Miracle Series, and others.

She also co-authored her first book, Where Women Walked: Powerful True Stories of Women's Perseverance and God's Provision. (Tyndale/Focus on the Family, 2004) This book was nominated for a Gold Medallion Award.

Jean graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder with a Bachelor's (1987) and a Master's (1992) degree in Journalism. She lives in Boulder with her husband Zane; three boys, Josh, Jordan, and Jake.

Can't wait to read it!!! With three boys of my own - it sounds "right up my alley"!!

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