Friday, June 30, 2023

What's Coming in July?

Hello, July! I'm ready for this month. I think. Honestly, we had a few very hot days (extraordinarily hot) last week (105!). My air conditioner broke (ugh!), but we got it worked out. This year, I also have my main farm goals already finished...way ahead of schedule. Hay is cut and bailed. Firewood is split and ready for Winter. I even planted an extra large garden (for me) this year. So, maybe I can lean back and enjoy some days floating or hiking with the family.

No matter what happens, my reading pile is ready to go, and I'm as excited as always. Let's take a small peek at what will be hitting Bookworm for Kids this month.


I'm starting out the month with lots of laughter and fun. This is a series, which has done exceptionally well in the UK and is now hitting US shelves. The 1st in the series was released end of May and the 2nd is scheduled for September. It's a graphic novel and should be landing in humor pure with a fox and a cat as the main characters. Find out more with me on the 3rd.

Middle Grade Humor  /  Graphic Novel


Ready for spooks, myth, and tons of heart? This read has already been published in Japan and is, now, being translated into English. It takes place in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake in Tohoku and centers around three generations of women/girls, who need to locate to a new home. But the house is already inhabited by mythological spirits. Or something like that. Anyway, it caught my interest and I'll be taking a peek at it on the 5th.

Middle Grade Myth / Historical


Hey, cat fans! This read should make your hearts purr. It's about 10 kittens, a mom cat, and tons of paint to create tons of fun. It first appeared last year and is already breaking with a re-release. It promises tons of cuteness and color, and I'll be taking a peek at it on the 8th.

Picture Book


I had this one in my sights last year but ended up shoving it off until now...which was horrible, since I've been really excited to dive into this one. My kids already know the story, although I have made them keep their mouths tight until I take a peek on my own. I'm expecting a dark, exciting, and action packed adventure and will let you know all about it on the 9th.

Young Adult Fantasy / Graphic Novel


I seem to be wrapped up in earthquakes this month. This read heads into romance, a break-up, and then, a short-lived reunion before an earthquake forces the couple apart. I'm expecting a little tension along with the sweetness as the two battle to find each other again amid the natural disaster...including a few fights for survival? We'll find out on the 13th.

Young Adult Romance


I adore the idea of putting a Koala and a California Bear together in one picture book because I'm betting they'll make quite the team. These pages swirl around things readers can do to do their part in helping the environment as well as bring some issues to light. I'm curious how it will come across and will be taking a look on the 15th.

Picture Book


Dubbed as "marvelously macabre", this read is suppose to weave in humor, mystery and more. It's the second in the series (nope, haven't read the first one) and centers around a teen, whose family runs a funeral home. It sounds like it will be quite the ride with colored corpses washing up on shore. Find out more with me on the 21st.

Young Adult Paranormal Mystery


"Discover History's best hoaxes, hijinks, tricks, and illusions"...doesn't that sound fun? This is a nonfiction read, which promises to hold all sorts of interesting tidbits. I'm betting some will have readers diving into their own magic hats. Plus, I'm curious about the historical side...sounds fascinating. I'm always up for some great nonfiction and hope this one doesn't disappoint. Pull out your wands with me on the 23rd to learn more.

Middle Grade Nonfiction


Sold as The Penderwicks meet The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street...and that with the mix of summer camp...  Well, it caught my attention as a possible-perfect-summer read. It includes hanging out with new family and, best of all, treasure hunting. It is a little long for a middle grade read (400 pages), which does make me swallow, but if the story is good, who cares. Let's find out if this one packs goodness or not on the 26th.

Middle Grade Contemporary 


I just loved the cover on this one and found the idea of pigeon detectives so curious that I had to take a peek. And tarts. Who doesn't love a good tart? But seriously, this one screams mystery fun and that for the chapter book level. I believe it is the sixth...eighth....something like that book in the series. So, I'm late to the game as usual. But take a peek at it with me on the 28th.

Chapter Book Mystery

Every month, I stare at my to-read-pile and think 'wow'. It's always taller than the number of days I have to post. Since there are unexpected happenings in the publishing world (constantly), I have no doubt that I can sneak an extra read in here and's just when? I don't know, but it always works out somehow. This month's read is...


The title immediately had me on this one...and the science...and the dog...and the girl's face. I'm expecting quite a bit of humor and what else? Honestly, I'm not sure but can't wait to find out. So, this one is hitting my reading list this month, but when will I have the post up? We'll just have to find out.

Picture Book

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Today's read... Omitted Pieces by Stephanie Hansen

Two days ago, I posted a review for the first book in the Transformed Nexus duology, Replacement Parts.  Today, I'm actually posting about the 2nd! Not only does that mean I read the entire duology (rare for me), but I also did so within a week...which borders on a miracle. Anyway, this is a science fiction series, which shoots off into space, high-tech, high-stakes, and so much more. It's been pretty unique and fun so far, so let's see how this second book finishes the tale off.

Omitted Pieces book cover

Transformed Nexus #2
by Stephanie Hansen
YA Science Fiction



By 2164, the new Sierra is on a new planet with a new problem. The mad scientist Cromwell has kidnapped her mother and set up shop on planet Scepter. In order to save her, Sierra will need to make new friends in this place of glowing leaves and a floating capital.

Back on Vortex, Al's shut down the old facility but will he be able to make it to Scepter? What about those who made it to Earth? Can they all work together or are they closer to danger than they realize?

The amazing conclusion to the Replaced Parts duology, Omitted Pieces, explores new territory and old with dangerous compassion.
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You can read an excerpt from Omitted Pieces here


Very original twists make this a hard read to predict and one to keep the reader on the edge of their seat until the very last page.

Sierra is no longer herself, but she's not complaining since she should be dead. Dealing with a new body isn't her top problem as she's already on a new mission to save her mother...and that on a planet she knows basically nothing about. But she's not the only one facing the impossible. Al might have shut down the facility, but that's only the first step in the battle. Both as well as their friends have a long and very dangerous path ahead of them if they want to save life as they know it.

This book does take off where the first one ended - so it's not a stand-alone. The beginning already holds a very unique take on Sierra, and she finds herself in the middle of a new problem with very new circumstances. To say that there is always something happening in these pages is an understatement. The plot is well-woven and allows the intrigue and secrets to take the reader down unexpected paths. Action and tension abound, and not only for Sierra as this one is told from multiple points of view.

And there's heart. Sierra and isn't only determined to, now, save her mother, but she needs to find her friends. A building romance adds warm moments, and humor also marks dialogue and interactions at just the right time. Add original characters with unique personalities, and it's a read to enjoy.

First book in this series:
Replaced Parts book cover

You can read an excerpt from Replaced Parts (Transformed Nexus #1) here

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Stephanie Hansen author picture
About the Author:
Stephanie Hansen is a PenCraft Award Winning Author. Her short story, Break Time, and poetry has been featured in Mind's Eye literary magazine. The Kansas Writers Association published her short story, Existing Forces, appointing her as a noted author. She has held a deep passion for writing since early childhood, but a brush with death caused her to allow it to grow. She's part of an SCBWI critique group in Lawrence, KS and two local book clubs. She attends many writers' conferences including the Writing Day Workshops, New York Pitch, Penned Con, New Letters, All Write Now, Show Me Writers Master Class, BEA, and Nebraska Writers Guild conference as well as Book Fairs and Comic-Cons. She is a member of the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Author links:
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Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Today's read... Wishing on Matzo Ball Soup by Lisa Greenwald

I've been itching to dive into this read for quite a while, now. I'll admit that it's the idea of a tale surrounding a deli, which grabbed me. I don't think I've run across that in middle grade fiction before. I do love a good deli and found the idea of a girl trying to save her family's business intriguing. Plus, isn't it neat to have a girl, who really wants to run the deli herself one day? This might be a great way to widen the future career horizons for middle graders, too.

In any case, I have high expectations for this read and might enjoy a bowl of matzo ball soup on the side.

Ellie's Deli, Vol. 1
by Lisa Greenwald
Illustrated by Galia Bernstein
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Middle Grade Contemporary
224 pages
ages 8 to 12


Ellie’s family owns the town deli. Its official name is Lukshen Deli, but everybody calls it Ellie’s Deli. When a restaurant group threatens to move in and take over, tenacious Ellie and her BFFs must prove that matzo ball soup and sour pickles are here to stay, in this adorable new middle grade fiction series with recipes and illustrations throughout.

When Ellie accidentally overhears that her family deli is most likely going to close, she does the only thing she can think of. She makes a wish on matzo ball soup.

Eleven-year-old Ellie is feisty, determined, and a little bit anxious. She considers Lukshen Deli part of the family—after all, it’s been around for four generations, ever since her great-grandmother opened it. Along with her BFF, Ava; her sisters, Anna and Mabel; her lunch buddies, Aanya, Brynn, Nina, and Sally; and her grandparents, Bubbie and Zeyda, Ellie is determined to prove that old fashioned Jewish delis can get with the times—but if her plan doesn’t work, the deli will be sold for good.
Ellie’s Wishing on Matzo Ball Soup contains over 30 charming black-and-white illustrations and 14 recipes for quintessential Jewish American deli food, like challah, chicken soup, blintz souffle, and ruggelach. It’s a delightful story about sticking up for what you believe in, business ownership, friendship, and family.


While determination, friendship, and dreams create a girl to root for, the yummy food has the reader wishing they could visit the deli themselves.

Eleven-year-old Ellie has a great family, wonderful friends, and, best of all, delicious food whenever she wants thanks to the family's deli. Unfortunately, the deli's business has been going down hill. When she overhears her parents mentioning they might have to close for good, Ellie's world crashes around her. Not ready to ever give up the deli, she decides to see what she can do to save it. Luckily, she has amazing friends on her side...or maybe not. A new girl throws a wrench into her friendships, and she's learning that there's more problems to the deli than just the declining customer base. Even a wish on the special chicken soup might not be enough to save everything.

This is a charming read from beginning to end. Ellie is a character with a big heart, lots of love, and enough spunk to ensure she can't be underestimated. The dedication she has to her family and friends sets a wonderful foundation, which gives that extra sense of warmth. Friendship drama and family health issues bring all-to-familiar problems, which many readers can identify with in some way or another. While these add depth and heart, they also are handled in wholesome ways, which make Ellie that much more likeable as she does her best to stay afloat and still make a difference.

Ellie's personality drives this tale and inspires. Readers will enjoy watching how she and her friends find solutions where the adults cannot...and none of these stretch beyond the realm of reality. Instead, kids get the message that they can make a difference if they put forth the effort. 

To top things off, there are simple but fun illustrations sprinkled throughout the book. There is also a recipe at the beginning of each chapter. These vary greatly not only in types of food (hearty to sweet), but also span a somewhat wide span of cooking skills, making sure that there are some recipes for the younger end of the age group as well as the upper. If nothing else, parents can lend a hand...which fits to the family togetherness of Ellie's deli. Also, the author has naturally worked in various facets of the Jewish culture and traditions. So, there's more than just a lovely story involved, and I can't wait to see what other adventures Ellie and the deli will bring in the future.

And here they are...

Lisa Greenwald lives in New York City with her husband and two young daughters. She loves sunglasses, reading, the beach, and sushi. Visit her at

Galia Bernstein was born and raised in Israel. Today, she is a full-time illustrator and author who also works in textile design and ceramics. Her debut author/illustrated picture book, I AM A CAT, was published by Abrams Books for Young Readers in 2018, received 3 star reviews, and was translated into 15 languages. Her second picture book, LEYLA, was published May 2019, with a starred review from PW, was named as a Summer 2019 Selection by the Junior Library Guild and was translated to 6 languages.​ Galia lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Today's read... Someone for Sasquatch by Jeanne Moran

Today's read should be packed with fantasy. I haven't read a sasquatch read in quite a while, but I have the feeling this book holds more than that. Honestly, I'm not sure what to expect, so I'm just going to dive right in and see what happens.

by Jeanne Moran
Middle Grade Fantasy
224 pages
ages 8 to 12

When some of her magic-filled arrows don't work, a creative Friendship Fairy invents a new way to connect humans. A rule-following Love Fairy makes trouble for her by reporting this violation to Headquarters. Other fairies begin to take sides.

To settle the growing conflict, Headquarters creates a contest. The two fairies are challenged to find a human companion for the loneliest creature on earth: Sasquatch.

But while the two fairies bicker and compete, they learn about a plot to destroy not only Sasquatch but all cryptid species-including fairies...



Fantasy, mother nature, and friendship come together in an adventurous read with a touch of humor and tons of heart.

As the last remaining of her kind, the Sasquatch is the loneliest creature on Earth. Father Time and Mother Nature are determined to help her find a companion, and humans appear to be the best shot at success, but it's unclear how that will work. When two fairies are discovered to have broken the rules, they are placed in a head-to-head competition to see which one finds a companion for the Sasquatch first. Not only are these two fairies as different from each other as fire is to water, but they soon run across a larger problem. Something or someone is plotting to destroy the magical creatures completely, and to save everyone, they need to learn to work together.

This book dives into a rich fantasy world, which holds not only fairies, trolls, and other mythical creatures but also weaves in fantastical entities such as Mother Nature, Father Time and more. Then, the author throws in modern humans to create two realms joined by portals. To make this even more exciting, the fantasy realm carries familiar aspects from the modern world. It creates a rich world with enough familiarity to draw in, while still allowing the dreams of fantasy to work their magic.

The characters hold quite a bit of personality and spunk. It's fun to meet every single one. The back-and-forth especially between the fairies adds humor, even when more serious tones sink in. Along with the humor and mystery, there are also important messages about friendship. Not only are the fairies very serious about their mission to join humans, but while helping Sasquatch and solving the other problems, they also need to learn to get along themselves. It creates a fun read with heart for more than just fairy fans.

And here she is...

Challenge and change energize me.

In my career as a pediatric physical therapist, I helped hundreds of children gain strength and motor skills. That left me time (ha!) to teach Sunday School, direct an after-school program, organize an international student-athlete exchange, and help plan and implement construction of a new community playground. Along the way, I learned a bit about tang soo do and sudoku, tap dancing and German, whole foods cooking, and the fun of selling on eBay. Anything to avoid cleaning! 

I write fiction and nonfiction for young and young-minded readers surrounded by vinyl records, countless books, and lots of dust bunnies.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Happy (almost) Book Birthday, Schnozzer and Tatertoes: Take a Hike! by Rick Stromoski!

It's happy book birthday time! Well, almost. This book hits the shelves tomorrow, but I grew impatient and picked it up a day early.

It's a graphic novel for chapter book reader and should be sheer fun. My daughter, although a teen, has insisted that I add more graphic novels to my list. She was a huge graphic novel fan as an elementary and middle grade student...she didn't really want to read much else and always headed to this section of the library first. So, I promised her to add more of these in the next months.

Anyway, I'm all over humor and reads, which are simply written to have fun. Let's see if this is a summer winner or not.

Schnozzer & Tatertoes
by Rick Stromoski
Union Square Kids
Chapter Book Graphic Novel / Humor
144 pages
ages 6 to 10

TOMORROW! (June 27th)

A buddy adventure through the forest, starring two best-pal pooches!  Two best friend dogs, Schnozzer (the smart one) and Tatertoes (the cheerful one), set off into the forest on a journey to visit Tatertoes’s mom. Along their adventure, they encounter bees, bears, quicksand, characters from fairy tales, something called “nose spiders,” and  lots  of yo-yo action. Their adventures are told as a series of vignettes, propelled by easygoing but giggle-inducing humor. That plus Rick Stromoski’s lush, illustrative style and charming character designs make for page-turning, chuckle-filled reading.

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A trip with these two characters promises tons of laughs, eye-rolls, and even a few 'huh?s' along the way.

Tatertoes hasn't visited his mother in a very long time and decides it's time to change that. Schnozzer, as always, is ready to go along. Not only does Tatertoes's mother live pretty far away, but neither he nor Schnozzer are quite sure how to get there. With Tatertoes's emergency pack at hand (and what a surprise that pack is), the two set out and run into several unexpected adventures.

Humor and a heaping mountain of nonsense are the driving factors in these pages, and this guarantees smiles, laughter, and snorts the entire way through. With misunderstandings, word play, and silly situations, the two friends never run across even a second of boredom. But more importantly, their friendship always shines through. These too are thick friends and even when they are confused by the other's actions/statements, it never hits a negative note. It's an inspiring relationship, which is tons of fun to join.

The journey has the two meeting various characters along the way. The situations might hint at a little tension, at times, but even these dissolve back into humor. The two not only encounter other animals (owls, bees, and alligators) and sticky situations, but there are also nods at three fairy tales along their way. It creates an unique read with lots of surprises.

The graphics are easy to follow, well drawn, and bring each scene to life. The text is clear and holds a slightly larger font, making it easier for beginning readers to handle. The vocabulary is varied, allowing a bit of reading strengthening without bogging down and ruining the fun. The text is concise and doesn't overload, balancing with the graphics to create the tale. It's a light, quick read, which will satisfy even more reluctant readers.

I enjoyed every page and snorted at the humor several times. Of course, some of it is ridiculous, but that's also the point. It's harmless, fun, and sure to delight many readers.

And here he is...

Rick Stromoski is an experienced and respected cartoonist, known for his comic strip Soup to Nutz, which ran in newspapers from 2000 to 2018. He has also illustrated for advertising, children’s books, and greeting cards. Rick is an active member of the National Cartoonists Society and was president from 2005 to 2007. He lives in Connecticut. You can find him online at 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Today's read... The Invisible Elephant by Anna Anisimova

Today's read greets from Russia! After receiving much love there and in other countries, it's been translated into English. It's a collection of four stories for chapter book readers and surrounds the adventures of a young, blind girl. The illustrations are said to be a treat and the theme very well done.

Let's take a peek and see how this read does!

by Anna Anisimova
Illustrated by Yulia Sidnera
Translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
Restless Books
Chapter Book
112 pages
ages 6 to 12

From beloved Russian children’s author Anna Anisimova comes a heartwarming, beautifully illustrated chapter book about a blind girl who joyfully explores her environment using her senses and vivid imagination, inviting young readers to understand their surroundings in entirely new ways.

For the young, blind heroine of The Invisible Elephant, the world is a thrilling place full of sounds, smells, and sensations. Although she doesn’t see the world outside with her eyes, nothing stops her from interacting with her surroundings with joy and an impressively creative imagination. In four charming stories, we go with her to the zoo, the museum, art class, and get a peek into her wonderfully magical mind where her grandfather's walking cane can transform into a horse and a sled can become a whale. When the time comes for her to learn Braille, we watch how her family and friends cheer her on every step of the way as she discovers how to navigate the world in her own way.

With gorgeous, inventive illustrations by Yulia Sidneva and artfully translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, The Invisible Elephant, is a truly special book that helps kids to value all the different ways of seeing the world.



The world takes on new meaning in a set of delightfully crafted tales, which open up a new view to the world around us while adding a small touch of imagination along the way.

The stories surround the experiences of a young, blind girl as she goes to the zoo and museum, spends time with her grandfather, learns to read Braille, and plays in the snow. The scenes are familiar, but thanks to the girl's fun imagination, each one turns into a playful adventure.

The author has done a wonderful job opening up the world of the blind without ever feeling preachy or awkward. Readers meet the girl as she plays hide-and-seek with her mother...a very usual activity. Her inability to see isn't directly stated but glides in with natural actions. While readers might need a little heads-up about what is happening, the way the stories are told allows this to also be done through discussions, which does begin to help readers learn to understand the more subtle meanings in a text.  The girl's unique circumstance is also never approached with pity, but rather, effortlessly demonstrates how the girl is as normal as normal can be. 

Sentences are kept rather short, and the vocabulary fits well to the intended audience level. This book is broken down into four tales, each with over a dozen, short chapters. This allows young readers to go through a little at a time without feeling overwhelmed. Plus, the lovely illustrations add pleasant pauses as well as a visual means to help understand the stories. 

These are enjoyable reads, which take everyday experiences and mix in a lovely amount of imagination to make dreams fly. Invisible elephants, grandfathers with three-legs, or whales living on balconies are only a few of the fantastical touches, which make each tale enjoyable to read. I see this one especially fitting for classroom and homeschooling settings.

And here they are...

Anna Anisimova is a journalist, editor, and children’s book writer. Born and raised in the north of the Irkutsk region, in the village of Kropotkin, Siberia, Anisimova graduated with a degree in journalism from Novosibirsk State University. Anismova has written more than 10 books and been nominated for several literary awards including the Samuil Marshak Literary Prize, the New Children’s Book Prize, the Vladislav Krapivin International Children’s Literature Prize and others.

Yulia Sidneva is an artist and illustrator, and a member of Moscow Union of Artists. She graduated from the Moscow State University of Printing. In addition to illustrating children's books Sidneva also designs various printed products, gives master classes in book graphics, and works as a designer at Samokat Publishing House.

Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp is a literary translator working from Arabic, German and Russian into English. She translates fiction and nonfiction, and has a particular interest in history, historical fiction, and writing for children and young adults.Her translations include books from Germany, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Russia, Switzerland and Syria. Ruth is a passionate advocate of world literature for young people and diversity in children’s publishing. She is co-editor of ArabKidLitNow! and Russian Kid Lit blogs, and writes about global reading for young people at World Kid Lit, Words Without Borders, and World Literature Today.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Today's read... Replaced Parts by Stephanie Hansen

 Today's read is the first in a two-part post for a science fiction series, which caught my attention, since it swings in a more traditional sci-fi direction. It's been awhile since I've read a series based on galactic adventures between planets, various life forms, and high-tech travel. So, I'm hoping this one will be pretty fun and exciting.

It's time to put on those space uniforms and jet out into the galaxies and beyond!

Replaced Parts book cover

Transformed Nexus #1
by Stephanie Hansen
YA Science Fiction


In the year 2163 a corrupt World Government controls everything on our planet and beyond.

Sixteen year-old Sierra has been so caught up in her own world of saving animal test subjects and her father’s disappearance, she hasn’t paid much attention. When she finally finds his location, she and her friend set off on a covert interplanetary mission to rescue him, she begins to see the corruption first hand.

Discovering that her father has been on the front lines secretly trying to save human test subjects inspires her to join a revolution. But she is afraid of the collateral damage of hurting the people she loves. Will she find the strength to make a deal with the mad scientist Cromwell to save not just her friends and family but everyone?

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You can read an excerpt from Replaced Parts here


Snuggling up between a sci-fi adventure, dystopian tones, and thriller intrigue, this read embraces the imagination while putting the reader on the edge of their seat more than a few times.

Sierra is full-throttle into her science experiments, which will hopefully help her along to her chosen career, but when she stumbles across a message from her missing father, her life takes a drastic turn. Determined to find him, she uses her talents in high-tech to manipulate her identity, sneaks out without her mother's knowledge, and heads off planet, where she hopes to find more clues. Not only has she never been away from her home, but what she discovers outside her known bubble is more than she ever expected. When she does find her father, she realizes her life, thanks to the government, has been a lie. Now, that she knows how awful things truly are, she's more than ready to fight for what's right.

At only around 230 pages, this is a short, scifi read, and considering how packed with action it is, it's a very quick one, too.  The first pages nose-dive right into Sierra's world. It's extremely futuristic, and the author takes the time to reveal Sierra's everyday life and surroundings before heading off into space. It reminded me a little bit of the high-tech fun found in the 1960's cartoon series, The Jetsons...but obviously, on a more serious note. This world-building with all of its details continues through the entire read and creates a true scifi realm with even the belonging jargon found in the characters' dialogue and thoughts. It creates a rich world.

The plot holds just as much thought. Sierra's surrounded with secrets and intrigue, and she has a lot to dig through to discover the truth. Not only is she battling against the lies of the government, but family and friendships add to the mix. It creates depth, adds heart, and still lets the action flow. There's never a dull moment as surprises always await and new challenges appear. None of it is too extreme, either, keeping the read in the solid young adult range. 

As the first book in the series, it lays all the groundwork and more. I did find the concentration on the high-tech descriptions a little much, at times, and had to pause once or twice due to beginning confusion, but all in all, it was a fun read, and I am looking forward to seeing where book two takes Sierra next.

Stephanie Hansen author picture
And here she is...

Stephanie Hansen is a PenCraft Award Winning Author. Her short story, Break Time, and poetry has been featured in Mind's Eye literary magazine. The Kansas Writers Association published her short story, Existing Forces, appointing her as a noted author. She has held a deep passion for writing since early childhood, but a brush with death caused her to allow it to grow. She's part of an SCBWI critique group in Lawrence, KS and two local book clubs. She attends many writers' conferences including the Writing Day Workshops, New York Pitch, Penned Con, New Letters, All Write Now, Show Me Writers Master Class, BEA, and Nebraska Writers Guild conference as well as Book Fairs and Comic-Cons. She is a member of the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Author links:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Instagram
- Pinterest
- TikTok
- Goodreads
- Amazon

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Friday, June 23, 2023

Today's read... Cursed Princess Club Volume Two by LambCat

Today's read isn't only a graphic novel but also the second in a series, which I've actually read so far and enjoyed. Set for the young adult audience (but also completely and utterly appropriate for even middle graders), this series revolves around a princess, who doesn't quite fit into the role like her siblings do. I appreciated the way this one addresses the issues of wholesome and funny, and yet so dark and gripping. If the second volume is anything like the first, it's definitely a winner.

Sit down with snacks and drinks because I'm expecting this one to be a read, which isn't easily put down until the very last page.

Volume Two
by LambCat
WEBTOON Unscrolled
YA Fantasy
352 pages
ages 10 and up

JULY 4th!!!

Just because you’re cursed doesn’t mean you’re not special.

Gwendolyn, the youngest of the King’s three daughters, is living proof that princesses don’t always have it all. She isn’t like a typical fairy-tale princess, or other princesses in the Pastel Kingdom. Gwendolyn, with her big heart and love of baking, isn’t particularly attractive. Unlike her sisters who have woodland creatures do their hair and makeup, or have flowers blossom wherever they sleep, Gwendolyn is a bit…different. So when her father proposes marriage for her and her sisters to make an alliance with the Plaid Kingdom, it breaks Gwendolyn’s heart to hear that Prince Frederick thinks she’s “really ugly.” Overwhelmed and ashamed, she runs away into the forest and encounters the twisted world of the Cursed Princess Club, where her life will never be the same.

The Cursed Princess Club are a ragtag band of outcasts, misfits and cursed princesses who have created an incredible friendship circle. It is among these friends where Gwendolyn learns to embrace her uniqueness and find her people.

In this second book of the series, we learn low self esteem isn’t just for girls! Meet the Princels―princes who have shunned society not because of curses (although one has to wonder…) but because of their own insecurities about their physical appearance and their inability to find romantic partners. And then we have Prince Frederick, who starts to worry if he even deserves Gwen. Plus, you too can learn to be as pretty as a Cursed Princess!



Princes and princesses hit beauty and ugliness with all the right twists and turns, while adding in action, dark moments, heart-piercing emotions, and tons of laughter, too.

Gwendolyn has found her place in the Cursed Princess Club and even seems to have discovered somewhat of a balance with her not-so-really-fiance. If it weren't for her worsening curse, all would be okay-ish. But figuring out how to handle the growing symptoms isn't the only problem she faces. A mysterious person is sending her notes, which she's not sure are as harmless as they seem. Add her and her siblings' first ball in the public eye and an enormous, very deadly spider, and her curse might be the least of her concerns.

I did read the first volume in this series, and the second one starts where that one left off. While volume one lays the groundwork and first adventures, this one lets the action and heart-filled moments take off. Gwendolyn is, now, in a fairly good place, and it's inspiring to see how she's found footing not only with the other cursed princesses but has formed a kind-of friendship with her own prince. One thing I do appreciate about this series is that it doesn't throw both feet into romance but digs its foundations in Gwendolyn's struggles with her curse and self-imaging. Romance might somewhat be there (in an extremely, very broad sense of the word), but it has a monumental way to go before (or even if ) it heads in that direction. And yet, there are enough hints that it might. Somewhat. In any case, Gwendolyn's already grown and shines in her own form of 'princess' light...and this is the theme that this volume tackles. 

While princess-y, this is a read with darker tones...and still, builds in tons of humor, too. These juxtaposed directions make the tale addicting, entertaining, and twisted in all the right ways. The characters and curses are over-the-top and, sometimes, completely ridiculous, and yet, the messages are serious and the danger is deadly. The graphics play along with this flip-flop as they transform from popping colors to dark and dreary scenes. And the mood can flick in a second, which makes it a read not easily put down. I can't wait to see what happens in volume three. 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Today's read... The Island Rescue by Minda Gomez

Today's read is the third in a series, and believe it or not, I have read one of the other books before diving into this one. The series is geared for stronger, chapter book readers and weaves in Spanish (bilingual) as well as animal facts, but there's also a gentle addition of some science fiction tech to the mix. I enjoyed the first book I read from this series and hope that this tale is just as good... if not better. Oh, and it just released a little over a week, it's almost a happy book birthday (but not quite).

It's time to head off to the islands!

Martinez Kids Adventures #3
by Minda Gomez
MoGo Multimedia
Chapter Book Science Fiction
131 pages
ages 6 to 10

"Doña Rosa needs our help." Rico straightened his feathered body and looked at them with round golden eyes. "I can do this." Eyeing the smoking hole in the ground, he hesitated, then jumped in.

Bicultural siblings Rico, Diego, and Araceli Martinez had hoped to enjoy their spring break exploring virtual reality. However, the fun abruptly ends when their inventor friend Don Toño begins work on a new adventure.

While he is out of town, his wife Doña Rosa has an accident and finds herself trapped in the mysterious shed. Unsure of the risks of entering an unfinished adventure, the kids bravely venture into virtual reality to track him down.

Arriving in the tropical Galápagos Islands, the kids discover that they are now animals, able to communicate with the local wildlife. Penguins, lava lizards, birds, and iguanas join them in searching for the one person - or animal - who can save Doña Rosa. If only they could fly over the island!

At the top of the volcano, a colony of giant tortoises awaits them. Will the mysterious Don Tortuga be able to help them save their beloved neighbor? Or will a technology glitch halt the mission in its tracks?

Readers young and old will be intrigued by this page-turning journey and colorful illustrations, and won't even realize they are learning Spanish at the same time!

Bonus Features:
- Spanish glossary and pronunciation guide
- Mexican birthday song
- Simple recipe for agua fresca
- Real-life animal facts
- Online family discussion guide

Complete your Martinez Kids Adventures collection with the other books in the series, available in English and Spanish:

The Secret Door / La puerta secreta
The Arctic Quest / La misión ártica

GOODREADS    /   B&N    /     AMAZON


The three siblings are in for quite the adventure with more than a few facts and surprises.

Rico, Diego and Araceli's adventures are put on pause as their neighbor heads off to South America on a research trip. When the neighbor's wife accidentally locks herself into the high-security shed, the siblings need to find the passcode, or she'll be stuck there for almost a week. Although the latest updates aren't done on their gear, the siblings grab their headsets and head to the Galapagos Islands in search of their neighbor. While taking the form of animals gives the siblings plenty of advantages, finding the neighbor won't be easy...especially since they have no idea what animal form he's using.

First off, this is an exciting adventure. There's plenty of tension, difficult situations, humorous moments, and lots of warmth and heart. The siblings are pretty down-to-earth and do their best to deal with the situations as they come. There's a little back-and-forth as they don't always agree on everything, and this makes them a natural and loveable bunch. They're easy to root for and fun to cheer on. The 'danger' is just right for the age group, making the tale gripping without going over-board.

Then, this is written in a bilingual direction. There are three pages of word explanations (a mini-dictionary) with the Spanish words used in the story and their English translations. This allows readers to expand their Spanish vocabulary, while seeing the words in use during the story. The Spanish is melted right into the English sentences (words just plopping in). Having a bilingual family myself, this made me smile. We toss in words from the other language (visa-versa) like that, too...a very natural habit. 

Lastly, there are animal facts surrounding life on the Galapagos Islands. These come across smoothly during the story, letting readers learn without noticing that it's happening. It covers a wide variety of animals, as well. Add the fun that these animals speak (a side-effect of the high-tech device, which adds the scifi touch), and it's a delight to meet them and their fun personalities.

And lastly-lastly (because this can't be forgotten), there are several helpful editions at the end: a quick summary with illustrations of each animal, the birthday song in Spanish, and an easy drink recipe for kids to make themselves.

Summed up, there's a lot of goodness in these pages. The text is a little longer and suits the medium to high end of chapter book readers nicely. The illustrations break things up well and add more fun to the mix. Plus, they help identify the animals. The tale does start a bit abrupt, and I would highly recommend reading this series as a series because of that. I am looking forward to what adventure this trio will have next.

And here she is...

Minda lives in Minnesota with her husband and three spunky bilingual kids. Their family has created their own brand of "Mexigringo" as they blend their Papi's Mexican culture with their Mami's Minnesotan culture.

Minda is a teacher of English Learners at a local elementary school. She has taught second grade in Mexico and volunteered in Guatemala, Peru, and other parts of Latin America.

Minda is passionate about teaching children to be proud of their bilingual superpowers. She is hopeful that her readers and her own kids will identify with the Martinez family, and remember that speaking more than one language is one of the many things that can make a kid special. (from Goodreads)

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Today's read... The Little Bird Who Wanted to Fly by Breanna Churchill

by Breanna Churchill
Illustrated by Elizaveta Kres
The Brown Bear Book Club
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8 

The Little Bird Who Wanted to Fly is an inspiring, modern-day classic about the importance of patience and perseverance.

“Today, I’m going to fly!”
Little Bird decided the time had come for him to spread his wings and soar through the sky like other birds. But sadly, he discovers his wings need to get a little bit longer and stronger. His caring friends, Bumblebee and Squirrel, offer a hilarious counting dance and exercise to help him fly, but will it work? One day, Little Bird’s parents share a special and powerful message with Little Bird, but will he accept it or give up? The Little Bird Who Wanted to Fly includes the following learning -Color Recognition
- Counting
- Character Traits (Patience, Perseverance, Ambition)
- Time of Day (Morning, Afternoon, Night)
- Wisdom ( Ecclesiates 3:1)
- Healthy Eating Habits
-Problem Solving
- Music and Movement
and more.
The Little Bird Who Wanted to Fly is the perfect gift for any home, classroom, or shelf that a young child can reach



With good messages abounding, this read joins a little bird as it takes the steps toward learning to fly.

Little Bird enjoys its nest but wants to fly. Unfortunately, its wings aren't strong or big enough to carry it, yet. The parents encourage the Little Bird with healthy foods, and friends do fun exercises to help Little Bird built its muscles. But if all of this will help in the end?

It's easy to understand Little Bird's desire to want to fly and no problem to sympathize with the cute creature when it discovers it's still to small. While the parents do their part and offer warmth and care, none of this is as fun as when the friends step in. At this point, the story hitches up a notch in fun. Little Bird does a dance and exercises, which young listeners/readers can join in with themselves. This sneakily also practices those counting skills. When all of this is done, the book also ends on a fun, last note.

It's a straight-forward read, geared especially for Christians, and is simple in the set-up and illustrations. It makes a lovely read-aloud and gets kids involved, which is always a plus.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Today's read... The Last Comics on Earth by Max Brallier

It's graphic novel time! I haven't been doing as many this year as I'd hoped it. So, it's time to change that. Today's read comes from a bestselling author and shoots-off from a previous novel, The Last Kids on Earth. I'm expecting quite the wild, hilarious, and just-pure-fun read with this one...perfect for a lazy day in the self-built fort with snacks on the side. (No, I unfortunately don't have one of these myself).

Let's see if it is!

by Max Brallier
with Joshua Pruett
Illustrated by Jay Cooper & Douglas Holgate
Viking Books for Young Readers
Middle Grade Adventure / Graphic Novel
240 pages
ages 8 to 12

The Last Kids on Earth are creating THEIR OWN COMIC BOOK!

From worldwide bestselling author Max Brallier comes a full-color graphic novel spin-off series based on the #1 New York Times , Wall Street Journal , and USA Today bestselling Last Kids on Earth!

Jack, Quint, June, and Dirk are about to face a challenge unlike any they’ve faced before . . . At their local comic book store, the kids make a startling they’ve read every last issue of their favorite comic, Z-Man , and no new issues are coming...ever! (Thanks a lot, apocalypse.). Nooo!

Our heroes have but one continue Z-Man’s legacy by writing and illustrating THEIR OWN COMIC BOOK! Step one? Knock off their beloved Z-Man and cast themselves as super rad, super goofy, superhero protectors of the mysterious city of Apocalyptia. What could possibly go wrong? Just about everything!

Fans are sure to love this hilarious, action-packed, four-color graphic novel series by the creators of The last Kids on Earth.



Superheroes unite for an exciting, thrilling, and hilarious adventure.

Z-Man left the last adventure on a huge cliff-hanger, and while these kids are super excited to find out what will happen next...they never will. The comics ends there, which just doesn't work. Determined not to let their favorite, comic superhero hang like that, the kids get together to form their own story. Danger, adventure, villains, and much more await them.

From beginning to end, this is a fun adventure to dive into. While the author has had this gang of kids in an earlier adventure, that book does not have to be read to enjoy this one. Jack, Quint, June and Dirk are true friends, while still being as different as different could be...which isn't really the case, since they all love Z-Man, hanging out together, and are great at dreaming up their own superheroes. The adventures they come up with are packed with great attitudes and hearts of gold as they face danger, unexpected twists (lots of these), and heroic moments pure. The humor and enthusiasm beams off of every page as they come against the most amazing villains and tackle impossible situations. And considering this comes from their imaginations, it does go over-the-top in the most delightful ways. 

I'm betting the author and illustrators had fun creating this read, since it lets kids' dreams fly and radiates enjoyment even when things get tense and sticky. The 'realistic' moments are placed in more boring white, black, and blue graphics, while the imagined, superhero amazement is in bold colors. Each superhero gets to present their backstory and their secret hideout, too, which was a nice touch and will have, at least, some readers already planning their own superhero-alter-egos as well as designing their own hideouts. There are messages of friendship and such, but this book is all about fun. And that in heaps and mounds.

And here they are...

Max Brallier
 is a #1  New York Times,  USA Today, and  Wall Street Journal bestselling author. His books and series include The Last Kids on Earth, Eerie Elementary, Mister Shivers, Galactic Hot Dogs, and Can YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? He is a writer and producer for Netflix's Emmy Award-winning adaptation of  The Last Kids on Earth. Visit him at

Joshua Pruett 
is an Emmy Award Winning TV Writer and the only human being on Earth to have written for both MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 and DOCTOR WHO. Joshua has worked in animation for over 15 years, inflicting laughter (and monsters) on others, writing on Disney’s PHINEAS AND FERB, the feature film CANDACE AGAINST THE UNIVERSE and the Emmy Winning adaptation of THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH for Netflix. He is also co-author of SHIPWRECKERS: THE CURSE OF THE CURSED TEMPLE OF CURSES, OR WE NEARLY DIED. A LOT. with Scott Peterson. LAST COMICS is his first Graphic Novel! He’s on Twitter: @zombietardis

Jay Cooper
 is the illustrator and writer of over 20 books for kids young and old, including the national best-selling Your Guide To Not Getting Murdered In A Quaint English Village—and a contributor to the New York Times #1 best-selling series, The Last Kids on Earth. Jay is also a Clio award-winning creative director of theatrical advertising, having crafted art and advertising for more than 140 Broadway shows. Most importantly, his dog is named Bradley Cooper.

Douglas Holgate has been a freelance comic book artist and illustrator based in Melbourne, Australia, for more than ten years. He's illustrated books for publishers includingHarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Hachette, and Simon& Schuster, and comics for Image, Dynamite, Abrams, and Penguin Random House.