Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads, Uncategorized

Guess the birdie! Who is Singing?

Who is Singing?, by Janet Halfmann/Illustrated by Chrissy Chabot, (July 2021, Pen It! Publications), $20.99, ISBN: 978-1954868373

Ages 2-6

Take a walk and listen on any given day, and you’ll hear a cacophony of birds: tweets, chirps, screeches, and coos abound; even city kids can hear a dove coo, a pigeon scold, and a blue jay (like the one who likes to argue with the squirrels, right outside my window). Who is Singing? is author Janet Halfmann’s tribute to some colorful, musical birds, all identifiable by their songs. Using each bird’s defining song, repetitive verse, and a noticeable characteristic for each bird, Janet Halfmann introduces readers to the gentle art of bird-watching and bird-listening, giving readers 11 fairly familiar birds to start out with. You’ll recognize pigeons, “begging for treats along a city sidewalk”; “bully loud and bold” blue jays screaming; cheery chick-a-dees, “dressed up for dinner in a black cap and bib”, and more. Ms. Halfmann encourages the birds to “take a bow”, making for a fun readaloud where you can invite your littles to take a bow – or let a bird puppet or flannel take their own bows when you announce them, too.

Chrissy Chabot’s illustrations are bright and lovely, photorealistic birds that will help readers more easily spot and identify them the next time they’re out and about. A lovely little story to read out loud, and works well with a lapsit. Print out some coloring pages and let the kiddos envision their own colorful birds and make some music of their own!

Posted in Uncategorized

Blog Tour: StarPassage – Cyber Plague

If you’ve been waiting since 2018 for the next chapter in Clark Rich Burbidge’s StarPassage series, your wait is over! CyberPlague, the fourth book in the YA paranormal/time travel adventure series, is on shelves now.

StarPassage: CyberPlague, by Clark Rich Burbidge, (Oct. 2021, Deep River Books),
$15.99, ISBN: 978-1632695789
Ages 10-14

Excerpt from the Prologue:

Across time and space another dreamer was greeted by confusing images. Courtney moved rapidly through a long dark hallway. She was led by someone, who pulled her by the wrist. She seemed to have difficulty running. Something was wrong. But she couldn’t tell what it was. Moving with urgency, she sensed they were being hunted by something dangerous. A tug on her arm told her she needed to move faster. The danger was closing the distance.

They approached a double door with signs that were unreadable in the dark. She wanted to slow down and figure out where she was. What is going on?

Her guide burst through the double doors into a large space. It was pitch dark, but suddenly, as if Christmas tree lights had been turned on, small pinpoints of multi-colored light appeared randomly scattered around the room. Their greens, yellows, reds, and blues were not bright enough to provide real light, so she continued to stumble along behind her guide.

They ran, looking for something. The double doors they had just passed through flew open, banging against the walls, and she heard footsteps and voices—lots of them. An angry mob! Her mind flooded with fear. Everywhere she looked she saw the multi-colored pinpoints. The guide turned a corner, then another, and a third. The pursuing mob’s footsteps faded a little.

She heard someone fumbling with a doorknob and a door squeaked open. “In here,” a voice said. “Stay down. I need to think. Be very still.”

She followed the hand into the room, heard the door latch lock, and sat down against the cold metal door they had just entered. The footsteps grew closer and stopped outside the door. She heard rhythmic chanting as if words were being repeated in unison by the mob. Courtney couldn’t understand what they said.

Suddenly, she felt as if she’d sat on an ant mound or had burst open dozens of spider sacks. Thousands of little legs were crawling all over her. She let go of the guide’s hand and frantically tried to brush them off. Courtney wanted to scream but knew the pursuers would hear. Valiantly, she tried to swallow the cry. Her panic mounted as she felt the crawling things burrowing into her skin.

It overwhelmed her senses. Self-control vanished, and a blood-curdling scream exploded from her as she sat up in bed, viciously fighting to get the crawling things off her.

She felt arms wrap around her. “It’s just a dream, Court. You’re all right. I’m here.”

Website and Social Media:

Website: http://www.starpassagebook.com

Facebook: @clarkrburbidge

Buy links:

Amazon | B&N | Bookshop

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Itch the Witch learns about real friends in The Twitchy Witchy Itch

Twitchy Witchy Itch, by Priscilla Tey, (June 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763689810

Ages 4-7

Itch the witch is having friends over to tea, but the worries are tickling her brain: is her house too twitchy? After some whirlwind housecleaning, her friends, Fidget and Glitch arrive, each with their own quirks, but Itch is too worried about her home’s appearance to enjoy herself. She casts another spell to get rid of the fidgets and glitches, only to discover that she’s banished her friends to the closet along with the itches, fidgets, and glitches! A humorous story about what really matters, Twitchy Witchy Itch shows readers – big and little! – that real friends don’t worry about appearances: they just want to spend time together.

Digital and gouache artwork gives feeling to the sensations described in the story: Itch has what looks like curly hair all over the house. As a proud pet mom, I feel Itch’s pain; my home is itchy, too. Fidget the witch appears blurred, in a constant state of fidgeting; she’s technicolor, and spreads her fidgets and colorful world to her surroundings. Glitch looks like a glitchy computer screen, with colorful, geometric smears that remind readers of a buggy video game. Like Fidget, she spreads her glitchiness around, but Itch doesn’t realize that these are her friends, sharing themselves with her; she immediately sees everything as a reflection on her and a need to be perfect. The rhyming text offers great opportunities for readaloud interaction, with knocks and amusingly worded spells for everyone to chant together.

 

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Anne Ursu’s The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is brilliant!

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy, by Anne Ursu, (Oct. 2021, Walden Pond Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780062275127

Ages 9-13

Anne Ursu is an undisputed champion of kidlit fantasy. I’ve devoured The Real Boy and Breadcrumbs and am in awe of how she creates these incredible worlds with characters that are so realistic, so well-written, that looking up and realizing I’m still in my living room, dog across my legs, with a book in my lap, can be a little jarring. Her latest story, The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy, is kidlist feminist fantasy at its best. Taking place in a fantasy world and time, Marya Lupu is a girl living in a kingdom under attack from an army called The Dread. Her parents are straight-up awful; they dote on her brother, Luka, because in this world, the young men are sent into service as sorcerers to fight the dread while, if they’re lucky, the girls and families get to live off the sorcerer’s reputation. This sets the siblings up against each other, which never ends well: sure enough, on the day Luka is to be evaluated by the sorcerers for his skill, chaos ensues and it leads right back to Marya. The next day, a letter from a school called the Dragmoir Academy shows up for Marya: it’s a school for wayward girls, and her parents can’t pack her off quickly enough.  What she discovers at the Academy, though, are a group of young women who are far more than just a bunch of “troubled” young women, and the Dragomir Academy has a darker history than they’re owning up to.

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is about women, power, and fear. It’s a school story, with different personalities and the conflict that comes with putting that many personalities together under stressful circumstances; it’s also a story of hidden women, hidden messages, and who really controls the dialogue, whether it comes to today’s news or a high-fantasy novel about a land under threat from a horrific enemy that devastates everything in its path. Brilliantly written, with characters that readers will love; Marya is a smart young woman who’s been beaten down for a long time; unlike many of the other girls in the novel, though, she refuses to second-guess or question herself when it’s time to take action, and she motivates her schoolmates to own their own power, too.

Anne Ursu is an award-winning, National Book Award-nominated fantasy author. Visit her website for more information about her books and teacher guides, and upcoming events.

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy has a starred review from Kirkus and is an Indie Next pick.

Posted in Uncategorized

For activists in training: Protest! How People Have Come Together to Change the World

Protest! : How People Have Come Together to Change the World, by Emily Haworth-Booth & Alice Haworth-Booth, (Nov. 2021, Pavilion), $22.50, ISBN: 9781843655121

Ages 9+

A primer for burgeoning middle-grade activists, Protest! offers a glimpse into the history of protest activism, from the ancient world, through the suffrage and Civil Rights movements, through to today’s global social change revolutions, like the Black Lives Matter and the Toys Protest movements. Twelve chapters detail 38 uprisings, but the focus is on how people come together to stand up against injustice. Each chapter includes Tactics sections that provide more insight into approaches protestors have used, including gardening (like Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement in Kenya); sports (the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics); and transportation (the Civil Rights Freedom Riders). Comic book illustrations have big kid appeal and put both a humorous and readable spin on the nonfiction text. Artwork is done in shades of gray and red-orange, popping off the page, demanding to be seen. A final section discusses young people fighting for environmental justice – some as young as nine years old – that will empower kids to take action on their own. Protest! offers ways for kids to recognize and grow into their own power as activists for causes they’re passionate about.

Posted in Uncategorized

There’s a Dodo on the Wedding Cake!

There’s a Dodo on the Wedding Cake, by Wade Bradford/Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536208849

Ages 4-8

Mr. Snore is back in this comical follow-up to 2018’s There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor. He’s back at The Sharemore Hotel, this time to play violin at a wedding taking place at the venue, when he notices a dodo bird sampling the wedding cake! He shoos the dodo off, and appoints himself guardian of the cake, taking on all manner of characters who venture too close: but who’s a guest, and who’s a pest? This is, as Kirkus calls it, “a riotous, rib-tickling comedy of errors” that kids are going to laugh out loud reading or listening to as a readaloud. This begs for a flannel adaptation where you can nominate readers to come up and place a new animal on or near the cake, and make sure to get a nice big pink *splat* for the finale. Acrylic and ink illustrations have a pleasing, vintage feel to them, giving some old-school glamour to the hijinks. More Mr. Snore, please!

Author Wade Bradford has free, downloadable resources, including some great plays for kids, on his author website. Kevin Hawkes is an award-winning illustrator. Visit his website for more of his artwork and information about his books.

Posted in Uncategorized

Celebrate YOU! How to Have a Birthday

How to Have a Birthday, by Mary Lyn Ray/Illustrated by Cindy Derby, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536207415

Ages 4-8

All the expectations of a birthday are wrapped up in this warm, enjoyable tribute to the most special, most personal, of days. How to Have a Birthday is a celebration of the potential of the birthday: “On the morning of your birthday, you can tell already that the day is not like others. / Maybe you wake early, wondering what will happen. / You know something will. / And that’s your first present: you get to wonder”. It’s a celebration of all the ways we mark the day, from songs and gifts, to rituals and traditions to mark the passing of another year; it’s the power of the birthday wish. The story follows three children as they observe and enjoy their days, in their own ways, with the people in their lives, and the mixed media illustrations are created in warm, soothing colors that wrap readers in their cozy world and invite them in to celebrate. A great birthday story for a special storytime, make reading this a part of your own rituals and traditions.

Posted in Uncategorized

This is a Kobee Manatee Virtual Book Tour Stop!

The fourth Kobe Manatee adventure takes Kobee and friends, Tess the Seahorse and Pablo the Hermit Crab, to Belize on a mission to help Kobee’s cousin clean up plastic pollution so she can open up her new underwater bistro. As the friends are on their way, they see for themselves what plastic pollution looks like, as they help rescue a turtle with a plastic bag wrapped around her, and see the effects of climate change around them. As they dodge some scary marine life and discover the amazing Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize, what started as a quick trip to help out a family member turns into a big adventure with lots to learn!

Kobee Manatee: Climate Change and The Great Blue Hole Hazard, by Robert Scott Thayer/Illustrated by Lauren Gallegos
(Sept. 2021, Thompson Mill Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780997123999
Ages 4-8
There have been a spate of children’s books confronting climate change and pollution, particularly focused on single-use plastic, lately, and with good reason. It’s killing our planet and suffocating our oceans. Kobee Manatee and his friends are the latest group to confront the plastic menace; artwork shows plastic ever-present in the details – a discarded water cooler bottle here, plastic bags and straws there – and a subplot directly involves a bag that wraps around a poor turtle. The story is about exploration and friendship, too, as Kobee and friends are heading toward Belize to help his cousin open her underwater cafe. The story includes fun facts on every page, and story details provide further insight into sea life, like a Portuguese Man of War – not a jellyfish! – and how underwater life is affected by climate change. Colorful illustrations are kid-friendly, and the underwater world is vibrant and beautiful, hopefully inspiring readers to fight to cut down on plastic use and pollution.

Follow Kobee’s author, Robert Scott Thayer, on Twitter and Instagram (where you’ll also discover a giveaway!)!

Follow Illustrator Lauren Gallegos on Twitter and Instagram! See more of Lauren Gallegos’s artwork at her website.

BOOK DETAILS

Kobee Manatee® Climate Change and The Great Blue Hole Hazard

ISBN: 9780997123999 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 9780997123951 (eBook)

32 Pages and 4th Installment in the Award-Winning Kobee Manatee® Children’s Educational Picture Book Series

Publish Date: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Thompson Mill Press

Where to Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Kobee-Manatee-Climate-Change-Hazard/dp/0997123990/ref=sr_1_2?crid=NLRPRF5R2OZP&dchild=1&keywords=kobee+manatee&qid=1631112443&sprefix=Kobee+Manatee%2Caps%2C170&sr=8-2

Price: $17.99 Hardcover

Visit other stops on the Kobee Blog Tour!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

The Book of Hugs: Tim Harris tells you everything you need to know about hugging

The Book of Hugs, by Tim Harris/Illustrated by Charlie Astrella, (Sept. 2021, Flowerpot Press), $12.99, ISBN: 9781486721047

Ages 4-7

Hug-master Tim Harris – seriously, he is a world record holder for giving hugs – has written the book that’s just what we need right about now. It’s all about different types of hugs: happy hugs, sad hugs, fast hugs, bear hugs, they’re all in here, and Tim tells you how to give them. He even gives you the important steps to follow to give the best hugs: make sure the recipient wants to receive a hug; open those arms up really wide, and hug them nice and tight, but cozy and comfortable. You can make people feel better with a hug, and you can give someone a quick hug or a nice, 10-second hug. Are you friends with a monkey? There’s monkey hugging tips in here, too! Adorable illustrations of Teddy Bear Tim – our guide to hugging – and his monkey friends are like hugs themselves: warm colors, softly illustrated, and with all the wonderful emotions that a good hug evokes: closed eyes, tucked in heads, and joyful smiles. The word on consent makes this a particularly great read-aloud for preschool through the lower grades. Cheerful endpapers show cascades of yellow bananas – you have to have them for the monkeys, you see!

Tim Harris is a disability advocate, Special Olympics athlete, and restaurateur who had hugs on the menu of his New Mexico restaurant, Tim’s Place. He closed his restaurant, but is now a motivational speaker and heads up Tim’s Big Heart Enterprises. Visit his Instagram page here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Children’s Book Council announces Kids’ Book Choice Awards Finalists

I apologize for the uneven posting schedule these days. I’m trying to get back on a more regular schedule again – trust me, it isn’t for lack of books – and get back into a routine overall. Thanks for sticking it out with me.

Okay, now for the good stuff! The Children’s Book Council announced their Kids’ Book Choice Awards finalists today! This is a great list for Readers Advisory and Collection Development, because it’s chosen by kids and has 15 great categories. Here, you’ll find categories like Favorite Book Cover; Favorite Illustrated Character; Best Book of Facts, and Best Books of the Year, broken out by grades, so every group gets their say. You can find the list of finalists, by category, here.

Readers – kids and teens – can vote at EveryChildaReader.net/vote. Grownups – librarians, educators, parents, caregivers – can vote for the kids in their care, or collect votes from a group (your classes, reading groups, groups of kids at your library) and submit them into a group ballot. Voting is open from now until November 14 and this year’s winners will be announced in early December.

If you haven’t visited the Children’s Book Council site before, I really urge you to click over. There are great reading lists and reader resources promoting diverse and inclusive reading to be found. The companion site, Every Child a Reader, is the place to go to find out about the Kids’ Book Choice Awards, Children’s Book Week, Get Caught Reading, and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (this year, it’s Jason Reynolds!). Plus, there printable bookmarks, coloring sheets, challenges, and more!

About the Kids’ Book Choice Awards
The Kids’ Book Choice Awards (previously the Children’s & Teen Choice Book Awards) are the only national book awards voted on solely by kids and teens. Launched in 2008 by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader, the awards provide young readers with an opportunity to voice their opinions about the books being written for them. The 2021 program relaunch includes a new name, logo, and categories with finalists selected through nationwide long list voting.