Sunday, March 3, 2024

Today's read... Mind Over Monsters by Betsy Uhrig

Who wants to go on a monster hunt? I'm always on the look-out for a light-hearted, fun read, which pulls into an exciting adventure...and I'm really hoping I found that in this book. Oh, and I love the lacrosse rackets on the cover because I could totally see that as a great monster-hunting tool. Hmm...maybe that would scare away the possums, which have been relentlessly attacking my chicken coop this year (Can you believe we've already caught six of them?) Only one chicken lost, so far, though. So, I'm winning the battle this round.

Anyway, let's head into today's read and see if it's a winner!



MIND OVER MONSTERS
by Betsy Uhrig
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Middle Grade Paranormal
302 pages
ages 8 to 12


COMING...
JULY 16th!!!




Gordon Korman meets Scooby-Doo when anxiety-prone middle schoolers try a mindfulness app that has them face their fears all-too-literally in this spooky and humorous middle grade adventure.

FACE YOUR FEARS! That’s what the meditation app with the cheesy name De-stress-o-rama is telling Lena to do. She’s one of seven always-worried middle schoolers trying out this new app to see if it can help students handle stress. But something is going wrong—very, very wrong.

The group’s fears are becoming all too real, first lurking and dangling, then chasing them around and threatening to swallow them whole. From a stubborn inky blob that is fear of the dark, to the queasy giant in sweaty underpants that is fear of public speaking, monsters are invading Cranberry Bog Middle School! Can Lena’s group of worriers figure out how to conquer their fears before the whole school is swarmed?


GOODREADS     /     PUBLISHER


MY TIDBITS

Monsterly tension hits humor and heart in an exciting adventure with characters to love.

Lena is in the seventh grade and a born ball of stress. When she's called to the school's office, she's sure the world's about to end. Instead, she's asked to skip Homeroom every morning and take part in testing an app meant to reduce stress. At first, everything is great, and she's actually enjoying the calming sessions. But when nightmares begin, and she discovers a blob of goo on her pillow the next morning, the calm part is over. The students' fears are turning into monsters, and those are more dangerous than a semester test could ever be.

This book is sold as a Scooby-Doo meets anxiety prone kids, and the comparison isn't bad. Lena's a kind person, who isn't quite comfortable in her own skin but does her best to deal with everything even with a constant hum of anxiety. The author lets us sink into her situation (family, friends, and school), while slowing edging into the growing threat. The meditation-app had me smiling, especially as it sets off the main plot (clever and time fitting!). It also allows the other characters to gain a foothold with their, obviously, distinct personalities and quirks before the monsters begin to trickle in. And these monsters are imagination pure with a dangerous touch to keep the tension high. While there is heart and threats galore, it's the constant, gentle humor, which makes it fun.

While the main plot circles around the anxiety-ridden group of monster fighters as they literally face their fears head-on (got to love this bunch!), there are a couple sub-plots to add heart. Lena's best friend is changing, and while she tries to bare with her friend's new interests and priorities, the rift between them grows. There's also a lovely, family dynamic, especially on the sibling end as Lena's personality sits seemingly on the opposite end of her older brother's. Mix in the new forming friendships, and it's a rich adventure from beginning to end. And tons of fun, too.



And here she is...

Betsy Uhrig is the author of The Polter-Ghost ProblemDouble the Danger and Zero ZucchiniWelcome to Dweeb Club, and Mind Over Monsters. She was born and raised in Greater Boston, where she lives with her family and way more books than you are picturing. She graduated from Smith College with a degree in English and has worked in publishing ever since. She writes books for children instead of doing things that aren’t as fun. Visit her at BetsyUhrig.com.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Today's read... The Quiet Forest by Charlotte Offsay

 Can I start by saying that forests are anything but quiet? Well, in Winter they are but, otherwise? No. Not at all. We lived nestled up to one...which I love...but it is so loud. Forests are calming, though, but maybe not in today's read. When I saw the cover on this book and read the blurb, I had a feeling it was going to go off in an interesting direction. Plus, I'm ready for some green, outdoor vibes. So, let's take a peek!

Note: This one is going onto my possible favorites of the year list, which is really unexpected, but I can't deny how much I enjoyed this one.



THE QUIET FOREST
by Charlotte Offsay
Illustrated by Abi Cushman
Paula Wiseman Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

COMING MARCH 12th!!!

When a small action creates a snowball effect that disrupts the peace of the animals, the forest and a bear cub restore order once more in this delightfully funny picture book.

A mischievous mouse wanders alone in a quiet, nothing-to-do forest. Until one small mishap snowballs into a chain of outrageous events, causing the whole forest full of animals to have a very loud day indeed. Can they find a way to bring calm and quiet back to their home?



MY TIDBITS

This is a read that grabs listeners' attentions, has them giggling, and even will have some joining to 'read' along. 

A mouse wanders through the forest and finds something, which inspires to a bit of mischief. What starts out as a rude but isolated incident, takes an unexpected turn...which leads to something even worse. A hilarious chain reaction soon has the entire area of the forest in an uproar until a sudden gesture changes everything.

The little mouse with its backpack seems harmless and cute, at first, so when it suddenly does something slightly mean, it flips the entire atmosphere on its head and rolls right into a delightful, mounting chaos. The animals' surprise and reactions come across wonderfully in the illustrations and guarantee giggles as they helplessly find everything going crazy around them. The illustrator has built in some traits and objects from the 'human' world, making each moment that much more familiar and sillier. Even flipping through the illustrations without the text will bring smiles.

While the illustrative side adds the right humorous twist, the text cleverly plays its own game. It presents the tale to make sure its clear what's happening but creates a light-hearted repetition, which builds with each scene. It invites readers to join in, especially since this is one of those books, which will be getting that ever-loved word 'again'.

Making sure goodness settles in, a heart-warming solution opens the door to friendship with an unexpectedly simple gesture. It brings calming forgiveness and care as it makes sure to settle things back down...but not without leaving off with a last, fun twist. 

I do see this one becoming a favorite for some listeners.



And here they are...

Charlotte Offsay is the author of several children’s books including A Grandma’s MagicChallah Day!, and The Big Beach Cleanup. When she is having a particularly loud day, she can always count on her two small bear cubs and husband to bring calm and quiet back to their home in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at CharlotteOffsay.com. 


Abi Cushman is the author-illustrator of Soaked!Animals Go Vroom!, and Wombats Are Pretty Weird. Abi is also the illustrator of The Quiet Forest by Charlotte Offsay. She lives deep in the wooded suburbs of Connecticut with her husband and two mischievous kids, who make her home very loud indeed. Visit her at AbiCushman.com.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

What's Coming in March?

Whispers of Spring are in the air, and while I do love reading by my fireplace, I also can't deny the freedom and possibilities that open up as the temperatures rise. I'm going to ignore the quickly increasing garden/farm work...okay, not really. But I will find some time to sit in the sun and read a few pages here and there. At least, the bugs aren't here quite yet.

So, what books will I be hoping to catch some warmer days with outside? 


THE QUIET FOREST

A tale about a forest and animals seems like a great way to get ready for Spring. This one should be humorous, too. It's centered around a timid mouse, its small mistake, and the huge amount of chaos, which results from it. The cover has me curious to see what else is involved. I'm looking at this one on the 1st.

Picture Book



MAMA'S LOVE LANGUAGE

Growing up between two cultures is the theme of this read. I believe a girl goes through personal growth as she first goes against her mother's 'oddities' and wants to fit in with the kids at school. I'm hoping it carries as much goodness as that steaming bowl of rice in the picture. Let's dive in and see what it's about on the 3rd.


Picture Book




HOW WE BECAME INTERGALACTIC SUPERHEROES

I was missing a scifi read last month, so I'm going to make sure to hit it early this time. I've read books from this author before and do enjoy his writing style. Plus, I'm sure that this bunch of kids is going to offer quiet the adventure. Maybe some humor, too? Ready those space suits because I'll be launching into this one on the 4th.


Middle Grade Science Fiction





STANDING WATER

The cover caught my eye thanks to the artistic flair. The switch from forest to girl to water intrigued me. Anyway, this heads into the dystopian realm and one in the not-all-too-far-away future. I don't know much about it; the blurb was pretty scant on details. But I want to give it a shot and see what happens. I'll be diving into this one on the 6th and really can't even tell you what to expect, since I have no clue.


Young Adult Dystopian





THE LOSS OF THE BURYING GROUND

High-seas adventure, warring nations, twins, and (my favorite) historical fiction mark this read. It's been a bit since I hit something with ships. Combine that with a sibling twist, and I was instantly intrigued. The twins find each other only to discover they are on different sides of a war. It promises non-stop action and should bring all sorts of tension. Find out more with me on the 9th.


Young Adult Historical Fiction




EASTER BUNNY, WHERE ARE YOU?

It's flap-book time! I've always loved books with flaps and, of course, won't pass on the chance to take a peek at one. With Easter coming up, it's a perfect fit to this month's list. Let's take a peek and see what we can find on the 15th!

Board Book Seasonal




THE GREAT PUPTECTIVE

I don't think I have to even say why this one caught my interest... isn't it super cute? It's the start to a new graphic novel series for chapter book readers and promises tons of fun and a little mystery, too. I'm looking forward to see what these characters are up to and have a feeling it's going to put a smile on the face. Join me on the 18th to solve this mystery and swim in cuteness.


Chapter Book  /  Graphic Novel   /   Mystery




FINCH HOUSE

Sold as Encanto meets Coraline, this read holds haunted house goodness, a move, and a girl, who doesn't want to let go of her family ties...not that I know what's going to make her lose family ties, but I'll find out. The cover carries a spooky tone, and the blurb promises a bit of adventure, friendship and more. I'm hoping it strikes a nice balance between paranormal and character depth, and am excited to see if it hits my expectations. I'm exploring this one on the 20th.


Middle Grade Paranormal




CLOSET OF DREAMS

Walking on the border between dreams and reality, this tale heads into a closet, where a boy has stored all sorts of dreams. I believe this one sits in reality while exploring the realm of imagination. I'm, honestly, not sure what to expect but it has received good reviews and appears to be a wholesome read while inviting in with dreams and adventure. I'll let you know what I think...and what this one is really about on the 25th.


Children's Fiction





THE INFINITY RAINBOW CLUB

This is part of a series, which centers around neurodivergent characters. This one centers around a boy with ADHD, who is doing his best to concentrate on his taekwondo classes and battles with distractions...especially thanks to a nemesis. It's written for early readers, and I'm curious to see how the author tackles this. Find out with me on the 28th.


Chapter Book Contemporary







Every month, I have a larger pile of books next to me than I could ever get to. But every month, books are delayed or don't meet my expectations, which means I have a few openings suddenly pop up. The Joker Read is the book on the very top of my pile, which I'm looking forward to, somehow, squeezing in.


THE WILDCAT BEHIND GLASS

This read was first published in 1963 in Greece and has been enjoyed in many countries over the years. For the first time in 50 years, it's being re-translated into English. It's a historic read with a hint of fantasy and hits many social issues. It's received quite a few prizes over the years, too. Since I haven't taken a look at this one, yet, I'm looking forward to finally diving in. But when will I get to it? Well, that's the question.


Middle Grade Historical





Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Today's read... Ballerina Wisdom for Dance and Life by Once Upon A Dance

 

Ballerina Wisdom for Dance and Life

Reflections and Advice for Pre-Professional Dancers by Once Upon a Dance

Blackberry Book Tours

February 27 - March 01

27 pages

ages 8 to 18

Book on Amazon

* A Celebration of Ballet and Beauty! *

Discover the magic and grace of ballet in this charming book that features tips and advice from dancers, alongside gorgeous watercolor illustrations. Whether you're an aspiring dancer or a fan of the art form, you'll find inspiration and joy on every page.

Ballerina Wisdom for Dance and Life is the perfect gift for anyone who loves dance. Performers and artists of all ages will appreciate the sage wisdom. Teen and adult dancers who dream of a professional ballet career will relish the stunning images and apply these secrets to success!

Brought to you by the mother-daughter duo, Once Upon a Dance, named a Top 10 Author (2022) by Outstanding Creator Awards and honored with over 50 book awards and a Kirkus Star. They donate all royalties to charities through 2030. Teacher Terrel grew up dancing, and she taught dance for decades. Ballerina K is living her dreams as a professional ballerina.


MY TIDBITS

With inspiring and uplifting messages, this book offers a bounty of wisdom for ballerinas, dancers, and more.

Each page holds words of wisdom with dancers in mind. The passages are short and pack punch, making them just right for a small jolt of encouragement, support, inspiration, or simply warmth. They are easy to digest and bring food for thought as they address various moments all dancers face at one time or another. It's clear that the authors speak from experience, and each saying comes across as honest and open. It's the type of book to grab up time and again, picking out those words which are needed most at the moment.

The illustrations display ballet dancers in various moves and positions. These are very well done, carry a dreamy atmosphere, and will ring familiar with anyone involved in ballet. It was a treat simply to flip through these and gaze at them.

At the end of the book, several more thoughts and tips are presented in a blocked style...as if trying to stuff in extra goodness. These are also very insightful and offer gems of wisdom and knowledge. 

This makes a great gift or is even a lovely edition to the home library. While the words do concentrate on ballet, they ring true for many other areas, where resilience, patience, continual practice, and more are constantly required. It's a book, which offers so much more than a quick read. 


About the authors...

Once Upon a Dance is a mother-daughter duo who share a passion for dance and storytelling. Teacher Terrel and Ballerina Konora create books that spark imagination and inspire children to move, breathe, and connect.

Five series span ages 3-16::
📖 Dance Stories with Props (for age 3+)
📖 Dance-It-Out! Creative Movement Stories (4-9) 
📖 Dancing Shapes: Ballet and Body Awareness (6-9)
📖 Ballet Inspiration & Choreography Concepts (8-12)
📖 Ballerina Moments: Insights, Ideas, and Inspiration aboutDance (12-16)

Once Upon a Dance was named a Top 10 Author of 2023 by Outstanding Creator Awards, and they’ve been honored by over 50 book awards and 2000+ 5-star reviews. They donate all royalties this decade to charities supporting the arts, animals, environment, or people. Visit DanceStories.com for more info.

https://onceuponadance.com/

https://www.instagram.com/once_uponadance/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/20931758.Once_Upon_a_Dance

https://twitter.com/Terreld2

https://www.facebook.com/OnceUponADanceViralDancing

https://www.amazon.com.br/Once-Upon-a-Dance/e/B08PCB7FRN/


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Today's read... Bunny and Clyde by Megan McDonald

It's time for a bit of mischief! The title on today's read will probably give most of you a hint in which direction this tale will go...or sort of. I had to smile when I saw the pair running around with toilet paper. Does anyone teepee houses anymore?  (Gosh, toilet paper has gotten expensive.) Anyway, this is a chapter book for those beginning readers and promises...well, I'm not exactly sure what this one will entail. So, let's jump right in and find out.



BUNNY AND CLYDE
by Megan McDonald
Illustrated by Scott Nash
Candlewick Press
Chapter Book   /  Adventure
128 pages
ages 5 to 8

COMING...
MARCH 12th!!!



Two New York Times best-selling creators—Megan McDonald, author of the Judy Moody series, and lauded illustrator Scott Nash—team up for a droll comedy about an endearingly inept pair of outlaws.

Get ready for a wild ride with Bunny and Clyde! These by-the-rules buddies, a rabbit and a chipmunk, are sick and tired of being good. For once, they want to know what it’s like to be baddies—rotten to the core! They want thrills and excitement! But to get really good at being bad, they’re going to need some experience . What if the dastardly duo started returning library books late on purpose? Or borrowing markers without asking? Everyone knows it’s a swift downhill slide from there—as long as there’s an unprotected piggy bank in town! Unless, of course, their best attempts at mastering bad deeds are strangely misconstrued . . . Author Megan McDonald brings her quick wit and ear for dialogue, matched by Scott Nash’s deft animal characterizations, to a hilarious caper of criminal intentions gone awry.

GOODREADS     /      CANDLEWICK PRESS


MY TIDBITS

Bad has never been so bad as this duo does their best to turn their goodie-two-shoes reputation around and slide into the world of crime.

Bunny and Clyde have a reputation of being very good, but they're sick of it. It's time to ditch rules and become as bad as bad can be. The question is how. Since they don't have a clue what truly bad means, they head to the library to find out. After some research, they're ready to lead a life of lawlessness and head out to cause as much trouble as possible. But for some reason, being bad isn't nearly as easy as it seems.

I'm going to start with the illustrations and just say how much I enjoy the depiction of these two. There are slight nods toward the namesakes (love those outfits) for the older audience, but the rest of the scenes stay familiar to readers. They balance with the text to help readers along with the plot and add a wonderful touch to the story.

The tale moves along at a constant pace, offering something exciting during each, short chapter. Bunny and Clyde's escapades tiptoe into trouble, which will have readers amazed at their 'bad' ideas and wondering if the two will really go that far...because some of their ideas will definitely get them into trouble. It's a tantalizing dance along the line between good and evil (age appropriate), which will have eyes widening, frustration hitting when things don't work out, and silent sighs of relief hiding behind smiles. 
It fits the audience level nicely with a larger font, appropriate vocabulary, and still an fun tale with surprises. 

I'm hoping to get a chance to see what these two might come up with next.



And here they are...

Megan McDonald is the author of books for young readers and the creator of the Judy Moody and Stink series. Her other titles include Daisy Jane, Best-Ever Flower Girl and Shining Star. She lives in California.

Scott Nash has illustrated more than 40 children’s books, including Camping Day, Beach Day, and the Flat Stanley series. He loves to visit schools to talk about his work. He also operates a graphic design studio called Nashbox, and lives and works in Peaks Island, Maine.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Today's read... Haru: Spring by Joe Latham

 

HARU: SPRING
Book 1
by Joe Latham
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Middle Grade Fantasy /  Graphic Novel
272 pages
ages 9 to 12


COMING...
MARCH 12th!!!



Haru, a small bird who dreams of flying, and their best friend Yama, a talkative boar, are used to being in the shadows. But when Yama finds a strange artifact that causes sinister effects, the two are swept into an epic journey to destroy the artifact and save the world.

In The Valley, best friends Haru and Yama both dream of leaving as they’re bullied at school, frustrated at home, and struggling to figure out who they are. One day, a powerful artifact connects itself to Yama, and they discover that they’ll have to journey to The Beacon in search of answers.

Created by artist Joe Latham, this beautifully illustrated graphic novel series is a coming-of-age tale that spans the changing of seasons. Beginning in spring and ending in spring—the cycle complete. A story of heart, growing up, and the sacrifices we make for those we love, Haru is perfect for middle-grade readers.


GOODREADS     /      ANDREWS MCMEEL


MY TIDBITS

Adventure, friendship, and an exciting adventure swirl around unexpected heroes, who are determined to stop evil and save the world.

Haru is a small bird, who would love to fly,  visit the world beyond the forest, and escape the small-minded bullies at school. Luckily, Haru has a best friend, Yama, who might be a boar but shares some of the same problems. Together, the two head out for adventure.

This is the first book in the series, and the plot runs exactly along the same lines—a beginning with much story to come...which means that diving into the following books will be a must to see where the adventure is heading. 

This starts with a short tale about a battle between dark and light, where darkness' heart is left behind. It sets the background as well as a bit of urgency to the adventure. Then, we meet Haru and get to follow along through a bit of family and into troubles with others at school, where bullies reinforce Haru's desire to see more. When Yama comes in, sympathy builds and makes the friendship that much more golden. It's after this that the adventure first sparks. While the characters seem adorable, there's quite the dark side to the adventure...so much so that it eases this more toward the upper end of the age group and tweens. I wouldn't suggest it to more sensitive readers. For those readers who enjoy more, this darker side does create a nice tension and gives it a unique edge.

The illustrations carry an interesting mix and are well-done. It's enjoyable to flip through these and see the colors mix with the mood. The characters and their lean toward 'cute' meet this darker edge in all the right ways. The illustrations carry the tale well and make the moments sit.

While the cover seemed to radiate cuteness, this is a read with tension and dark twists. There are messages surrounding bullying, dreams, friendship, and going beyond the comfort zone to do what's right as well as the first sense of a coming-of-age adventure. The pacing felt a rough, grabbing at times and having me skimming at others, but it's a unique read in many ways. Fans of adventure with darker moments and heart-filled characters will enjoy it.



And here he is...

Joe is a Human Person, based in Bristol (UK). He makes comics, illustrations and designs for other humans. In his own words, he is "a tall nerd" and he plays the drums. He also likes to hang out with his cat. He uses Instagram and Twitter to post project updates and artwork.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Library read... Enemies in the Orchard by Dana VanderLugt

It's library time! I ran across a post on Twitter recommending today's read. It's set in the US during World War II and takes an new twist on some interesting, historical details. It's written in verse for the middle grade (which already has me hoping its done well...I'm picky on verse novels) and promises to hit the emotions hard. It caught my curiosity enough that I did a search online at our library, and while it isn't available in our small town, I was able to order it in from a few towns over.  (Got to love modern libraries!)

This one was released just last September and is relatively new to the market. I'm a bit surprised that I didn't see it floating around earlier, but my radar does tend to have a few blind spots. So, off we go and see what this one is about! 



ENEMIES IN THE ORCHARD
by Dana VanderLugt
Zonderkidz
Upper Middle Grade / YA Historical
288 pages
ages 9 to 18









Set against the backdrop of WWII, this achingly beautiful middle grade novel in verse based on American history presents the dual perspectives of Claire, a Midwestern girl who longs for college even as she worries for her soldier brother, and Karl, a German POW who’s processing the war as he works on Claire’s family farm. This poignant and moving story of an unlikely connection will stay with readers long after the final page.

It’s October 1944, and while Claire’s older brother, Danny, is off fighting in World War II, her dad hires a group of German POWs to help with the apple harvest on their farm. Claire wants nothing to do with the enemies in the orchard, until she begins to notice soft-spoken, hardworking Karl. Could she really have something in common with a German soldier?

Karl, meanwhile, grapples with his role in the war as he realizes how many lies Hitler’s regime has spread. But his encounters with Claire—the serious girl with gentle eyes—give him hope that he can change and become the person he wants to be.

Inspired by the little-known history of POW labor camps in the United States, this lyrical verse novel is told in alternating first-person poems by two young people on opposite sides of the war. Against a vivid backdrop of home front tensions and daily life, intimate entries reveal Claire’s and Karl's hopes and struggles, and their growing attraction to each other even as the war rages on. What are their chances of connection, of redemption, of peace?

GOODREADS    .....   AND A LIBRARY NEAR YOU!


MY TIDBITS

Every word counts in this beautifully formed novel, which explores war, hatred, loss, and human connections.

With Claire's older sister married and her brother across the ocean to fight in the war, she feels a bit out of place on the apple orchard with her parents and wishes things could return to a somewhat normal state. While she constantly worries about her brother's safety, her father has more to deal with and is also concerned about the pending apple harvest, since workers are scare. So, he's more than ready to sign-up for a governmental program, which has POWs (German soldiers) working on farms. Claire not only catches comments about the evil workers at school but isn't convinced its safe herself, especially since soldiers like these are trying to kill her brother abroad. As the days pass, tensions ease, and she's even willing to talk to one of the captives. But when news of her brother's death arrives, everything changes again.

I've read several novels in verse, but this is, by far, the best one I've come across, yet. The author manages to weave the story naturally into poetic form...never feeling forced or fake...and masterfully uses the words to build the world and emotions. All the while, the reader is drawn into the story until the fact that it's in verse, almost disappears.

This is told from both Claire's and Karl's point of view with the chapters switching back and forth between them (for the most part). Not only do the titles of each chapter keep any confusion away, but the voices are very distinct, and the perspectives, coming from opposite ends of the situation, are more than easy to distinguish. Claire's fears and concerns are very understandable as she tries to find footing in an uncertain time. While there are scenes at the small school, these only filter in when it drives the story forward and add fuel as needed. Karl's thoughts come across just as naturally. With the two juxtaposed positions, the similarities, concerns and hopes of both sides come across nicely and open up food for thought. 

The world is well set in the time frame. Not only did the author stay grounded in life during the time but also did an excellent job on the German direction. Kudos on that front! It was no problem to sink into the scenes and see them coming to life. It draws in, never leaves a moment of boredom, and hits on the emotional level well. 

I do recommend this one to even those readers who aren't huge poetry fans, since this one really flows that well. I do, however, see this as a slightly better fit to older audiences (tweens and teens) rather than the middle grade group. While this is perfectly fine for the age group, Claire's concerns surrounding schooling, future carrier, and the growing romance itself, are more geared to this slightly older age group.








Saturday, February 24, 2024

Today's read... Just Try It! by Phil and Lily Rosenthal




JUST TRY IT!
by Phil and Lily Rosenthal
Illustrated by Luke Flowers
Simon & Schuster
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

COMING MARCH 5th!!!


From Netflix star and New York Times bestselling author Phil Rosenthal and his daughter Lily comes a hilarious picture book about a food-loving dad encouraging his picky eater daughter to just try something new.

Phil has one rule about try everything at least once. Otherwise, how will you know what you like? His daughter Lil disagrees. She already knows what she likes—just bread and pasta with no sauce—and that’s all there is to it!

When the two go to a food truck festival, Phil tries introducing Lil to all kinds of delicious cuisine, but she doesn’t budge. Just when it looks like it’s going to be a very long day, an unexpected mustard accident changes everything.

GOODREADS     /      SIMON & SCHUSTER


    MY TIDBITS

A father's enthusiasm slams against the picky eating habits of a daughter in a way, which leaves a smile.

There's a rule in Phil's family: try everything at least once. Lil, his daughter isn't convinced that it's a good rule, though. When they head to a festival to find food trucks offering all sorts of treats, Phil can't wait to try everything. Lil won't touch a thing until a strange accident changes everything.

This is an energetic read, which hits upon the simple idea that everything should be given, at least, a try...well, when it comes to food. The father, Phil, is a food enthusiast, and his excitement beams from the page. Lil's attitude clashes hard, creating a wonderful contrast. While her behavior could slide into a negative direction, the author has cleverly made sure to use slightly odd food choices to keep readers sympathetic and understanding her attitude. After all, who wants clams on their noodles? 

The illustrations and text work well together and build the words around various scenes. It adds to the active atmosphere of the colorful food trucks and smiley Phil.

The message also hits with a bit of humor and seals off in the expected, positive direction. This does make a nice read-aloud for various settings.



And here they are...

Phil Rosenthal is the creator and host of the Emmy-nominated Somebody Feed Phil. He also created the hit CBS comedy, Everybody Loves Raymond, which was nominated for over seventy Emmy awards, and won fifteen awards, including for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2003 and 2005. He is also the bestselling author of the book Somebody Feed Phil the Book. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Monica Horan (who played Amy on Everybody Loves Raymond), and their two children. Visit him at PhilRosenthalWorld.com.

Lily Rosenthal is an actor, writer, and producer known for her love of food across platforms. After graduating from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Lily ventured into the world of acting and influencing, working with restaurants and brands to establish herself in the LA food scene. In her free time, Lily developed the concept for Liv a Lil, a nonprofit that brings restaurants across Los Angeles together for cultural collaborations, giving all proceeds to an organization of the chef’s choice. She credits her father, Phil, for giving her a love of travel and genuine excitement towards food due to the family rule instilled in Lily at a young age: just try it.

Luke Flowers is the illustrator of more than fifty children’s books. He illustrated the New York Times bestselling A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers and Disney’s The Muppet Christmas Carol: The Illustrated Holiday Classic. He is also both author and illustrator of the Moby Shinobi series which has sold more than one million copies. When Luke isn’t in his creative cave he enjoys puppetry, playing banjo, basketball, and outdoor adventures with his family. He lives with his wife and three children in Colorado Springs.


Friday, February 23, 2024

Today's read... You Stole My Name Too by Dennis McGregor

I'm heading into the realm of poetry with today's read. It was released a couple of weeks ago and is the companion to the author's first book, You Stole My Name .  I didn't read this first one, but it appears it pointed out shared names between animals with subtle humor (bull — bullfrog). In today's read, the author now shows how some plants share the names with animals. I'm expecting amazing illustrations and enjoyable poetry to go with it. And I'm curious to see how all of this fits together.

So, off we go!





YOU STOLE MY NAME TOO
by Dennis McGregor
Blue Star Press
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8


The second addition to Dennis McGregor's fun picture book series features vibrant, hand-painted illustrations and curious questions like "why does the crab apple share its name with the crab?"

You Stole My Name Too features another amazing collection of illustrations that takes you and your child on a colorful journey through nature's most fascinating plants and animals and their namesakes.

The fun pairs of flora and fauna that are featured in this sequel
• Chick and Chickpea
• Cat and Catnip
• Dog and Dogwood
• Hedgehog and Hedgehog Cactus
• And many more!

A beautiful "children's coffee-table-art book" for all ages, You Stole My Name Too is a clever, creative follow-up to You Stole My Name , a perfect book series for parents and children to read and enjoy together.

GOODREADS    /     AMAZON     /    B&N


MY TIDBITS

Subtle humor melds with poetry, animals, and botanic goodness in this beautifully illustrated book.

These pages take a peek at names shared between animals and plants. It's a large book, allowing for viewing space, and with these gorgeous illustrations, that's a plus. One side of the two-page spread holds a poem, written in large font. These are whimsical, most flow well, and each introduces an animal as well as a plant, which holds a similar name. The text is age appropriate and does work well for a read-aloud. The illustrations are on the other side. The animal and a section of the plant are depicted. That's it. The background stays white, which works extremely well since it allows the animals and plants to remain at the focus of attention. And these are beautifully done.

While gazing at the illustrations already makes this an enjoyable read, the unique plants offer a bit of educational goodness. Some are recognizable, but most are more unfamiliar. There's something to be learned for both young readers and older ones. The poetry holds cute twists and fun, but its the name sharing which makes it fun. While some poems explain a bit about the name or plants, others don't...which is to bad, since a little bit more information would have been nice. It's a lovely poetic read, which can be visited and enjoyed time and time again.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Today's read... The Backyard Kids: Snowed In by Regina Oakes

The kids headed north (road trip!) this last weekend to discover the slopes, and for all but one of them, the first time snowboarding down the hills. While there isn't any sign of snow here on the farm, their pictures had me snow dreaming. That made today's read a great grab for the week.

This is part of a series about a group of friends and should be written in a somewhat journal form (?) I'm excited to see how it's put together and meet this smiley bunch. So, grab those gloves and scarves because we're heading into a wintery adventure.



THE BACKYARD KIDS
Snowed-In
by Regina Oakes
Illustrated by Danielle Devine
Middle Grade Contemporary
203 pages
ages 8 to 12









The Backyard Kids are at it again with another thrilling adventure. This time they find themselves on an unforgettable and snowy quest. The kids stumble upon a mysterious time capsule that takes them on a scavenger hunt through the City of Somerville. Who buried the time capsule? Where is the scavenger hunt leading them? Is there really a reward at the end? AND why does one clue lead them to a place no person has ever gone before? Find all the answers (and more) in their TOP secret journal.
GOODREADS     /     AMAZON

MY TIDBITS
With this group of friends, life is guaranteed to be tons of fun.
A 120-question math test marks the next torture arranged by the school, but then, the Backyard Kids don't expect anything else, thanks to the evil principal waiting to drag them to the dungeon...umm office. Luckily, a huge snowstorm hits and shuts down the school for an entire week. Determined to see each other, they shovel snow paths between their houses (tons of work) but discover a strange box along the way. Inside is a surprise, which sends them on a scavenger hunt...which might mean the best snow closure ever.
This is written in a journal format, in which each character writes their perspective and thoughts. It makes for a fun read with personality galore, since each personality is so different from the other. Add the illustrations, and it's a read that even reluctant readers won't shy away from. It's quick, fun, and invites in.
The predicament is one that many readers would enjoy finding themselves in...well, outside of the massive amount of shoveling the kids do and the evil principal. Snow-dreams hit with the huge storm and set a great scene for the following adventure. The secrets of the box and the hunt, which ensues, might be a classic plot direction, but it works well and adds some unexpected twists along the way. 
While friendship, obviously, rings true in these pages, the journal style with the different voices brings each character to life. It's fun to root for them every step of the way and wish to jump right into the fun, too. It will be exciting to see what this gang has planned next.



Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Today's read... Shells... and what they hide inside by Helen Scales

We've had some warmer days lately, which has me garden dreaming. Actually, I'm heading out to buy some seeds today and get the first seedlings started. It also has my kids vacation-dreaming, which usually includes water and shell hunting. No, we don't always go to the beach, but they manage to discover shells (and rocks) everywhere.

Today's read heads right down these lines and opens up to the world of shells. It's a board book with...and this always makes me excited...flaps! It promises tons and tons of flaps, which, I'm guessing, means the shells can be opened up. (Yay!)

Anyway, let's take a peek and see what treasures we can find.




SHELLS
...and what they hide inside
by Helen Scales
Illustrated by Sonia Pulido
Phaidon Press
Board Book Nonfiction
16 pages
ages 2 to 4

COMING APRIL 17th!!!

A richly illustrated, informative, and interactive introduction to shells for children aged 2-4 with over 40 interactive flaps In this board book companion to  What a Shell Can Tell , award-winning marine biologist and documentary maker, Helen Scales, introduces children ages 2-4 to the wonders of shells. With over 40 flaps to lift creating interactive opportunities on every page, stunningly lifelike illustrations, children are encouraged to observe, engage with, and understand a range of shells and environments. 
From where shells are found and who lives in them, to what a shell’s look and feel can reveal about its inhabitant and environment. The book expands on a child’s natural instinct for collecting things, nurturing their interest and curiosity in nature by giving them simple observation skills that will help them to explore the connections between objects found in nature and the wider ecosystem, as well as building their vocabulary. With a timely message of environmental stewardship combined with stunning illustrations, this book encourages children to explore and care about the world around them. 



MY TIDBITS

Grab those buckets and bags because this one inspires to head outside and discover the world of shells.

This book is like going on a shell hunt with tons of surprises to find. From beaches to gardens, a variety of shells are explained and portrayed. Young readers learn that shells come in many colors and shapes, and can be found in more places than just along the ocean beach. To add to the fun, each shell can be opened (a flap) with more to discover inside. And there are quite a few flaps.

While this is a board book sold for ages 2 to 4, I'd recommend it more for ages 3 to 8. The board book style makes it robust, which works especially great for the flaps. The text is a little heavy for the youngest readers, but the slightly older audience will have no trouble understanding it. The facts aren't heavy, but rather, are more intuned to introduce readers to the variety and purpose of shells. The fun of discovering shells stays front and center throughout the read, and this is especially true with the flaps. Inside aren't just surprises on the illustration side but also hints, tips, and words of encouragement. 

The illustrations project energy, joy and life on every page.  The portrayed individuals are playful and full of smiles. The shells are large and detailed as their environment, habits, and more are shown. While many young readers will connect shells with the beach, this pushes beyond that and shows where they can, sometimes, even be found in the backyard. All of this is done in a gentle flow without heavy facts.

Shells, their variety, and the fun in discovering them come across on every page, making this a great read to inspire shell hunting or simply to get readers to discover more about the world outside. It works well for individual as well as group settings and can be used to inspire a project or used with a group theme.