Posted in gaming, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Blog Tour: You’re Pulling My Leg Jr!

My family and I are gaming fans. We love our tabletop games, and I also love finding new games that will get my third grader thinking and using his imagination. I’ve also been looking for ways to game with my library kids now that we’ve gone virtual. You’re Pulling My Leg ticks both of these boxes, and the best part is that it’s easy, fun, and hilarious.

Here’s the deal: You’re Pulling My Leg! is adapted from a board game to adapt to… well, *gestures* THIS. The game, now in book format, has two volumes: You’re Pulling My Leg!, and You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior Edition, both by Allen Wolf and Morning Star Games. The objective is to come up with hilarious stories, based on a prompt, while your fellow players try to figure out whether or not you’re bluffing.

You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior Edition, by Allen Wolf,
(Aug. 2020, Morning Star Publishing), $12.99, ISBN: 9781952844027
Ages 9+

You’re Pulling My Leg!, by Allen Wolf,
(June 2020, Morning Star Publishing), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1952844003
Ages 12+

 

Here’s an example: the question is “Tell Me About Something You Found”. Folks, I’m a children’s librarian in an urban public library system. I guarantee you I will tell you a story of something I found that you will either scream with laughter or horror over, but I can get outrageous and YOU MAY NOT KNOW, or I can be kind of low-key and keep you guessing. A conversation from a game about two weeks ago:

Me: “One day, when I was cleaning out the shelves in the storage room, I found – behind the craft sticks and the finger paints – a box of comic books from an old Summer Reading program I’d run. So, you know… I was there, and the comics were there, so I started looking through the box, right? Because there may be an issue of Batman I hadn’t read before, and my lunch hour was coming up. So I’m shuffling through this box of comics, and I find a photo. It must have fallen off the person’s desk when they were packing the box, because there was no way this photo was sent to me on purpose, it was buried at the bottom of the box. The photo was of a guy dressed up like Batman – no, seriously, like Batman, with the cape and the boots and the belt and all of it! But when I looked closer… it was STAN LEE. What the heck was Stan Lee doing dressed as Batman?”

Kiddo: “No way, Mom! Stan Lee does Marvel movies, you’d never find him dressed like Batman.”

Foiled again, my friends. My kid knows me too well. But you have to admit, I made it plausible, right? Let’s try another example.

Me: “Tell me about a time when you caught something.”

Kiddo: “This one time… in gym… at school… my friend and I were throwing a basketball at each other back and forth, because it was gym, right? So he threw it to me, and I caught it, and I kicked it at him, and he picked it up and he sneezed on it but he didn’t tell me and when he threw it at me and I grabbed it, it felt wet and then I ended up catching a cold because he had a cold and that’s why he sneezed on it.”

Me: “Oh my GOD, that’s SO GROSS, WHY WOULD HE SNEEZE ON THE BALL? Is that why you had that cold at the end of last year? Is that how I caught that cold? I felt like garbage for a week, WHAT THE HECK MAN?”

Kiddo: “Gotcha.”

Me: “You made that up?”

Kiddo: giggles madly

Me: “Don’t you ever tell me you can’t write a personal narrative for ELA ever again.”

You see, my friends? This game is GOLD. Librarians, if you’re doing virtual programming, including class visits, this is perfect for getting kids playing and laughing along with you. You can make it as quick or stretch it out for as long as you’d like, and you’ll never play the same game twice. Are you doing a NaNoWriMo program? Let this be your guide. Do your kiddos need to write a small moments personal narrative? There are plenty of ideas here. Each book comes with pages dedicated to Game Highlights, where you can write down some of your funnier/more poignant observations and return to them to expand on, or just keep as a fun journal of a really stressful time. Enjoy.

Games Website: MorningStarGames.com

Twitter: @MorningStarGame

Facebook: @morningstargames

Instagram: @playmorningstargames

Author Website: AllenWolf.com/yourepullingmyleg/

Twitter: @theallenwolf

Facebook: @theallenwolf

Instagram: @theallenwolf/

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Sometimes A Wall…

A group of children play with walls, both figurative and literal, at the neighborhood playground in this rhyming picture book that explores the feelings that come up when walls enter the conversation. Walls have been a big topic of discussion in our adult lives over the last few years, and a book like Sometimes a Wall… helps put things into perspective for children AND adults.

Sometimes A Wall, by Dianne White/Illustrated by Barroux,
(Oct. 2020, OwlKids), $19.95, ISBN: 9781771473736
Ages 3-7

 

There are so many walls at the playground! A sprinkler can make a spill wall; kids can climb a rock wall. These are walls that invite people to work together, to play together. But some walls come between people, as one child finds out when friends make a wall to hide behind, taunting and being cruel to those left out. Being behind a wall gives children a different point of view, as we see one child adopt a crown and refuse to play with others entirely, and then we discover that walls can separate and bring feelings of isolation and regret. But these kids can look at a wall as a new opportunity, and decide to make it a structure that welcomes everyone in the end. Some paint and a feeling of community is all it takes to mend walls and hearts.

The story is touching, using few words, but they are words that wield power, especially when paired with Barroux’s colorful artwork. When the children work together, there’s color and happy faces; when the wall initially goes up, the landscape is dominated by the giant gray wall, giving the children’s cruel facial expressions even more menace; putting a gray cloud around the child left brings a sadness to their posture and to the reader. The artwork and text work beautifully together, never overwhelming the page or the reader, to tell a moving story as eloquently and simply as possible.

A wonderful book to have ready to read to younger children, and a good choice to have available for school-age children, to start important discussions.

A conversation with a friend got author Dianne White thinking about different kinds of walls, both physical and metaphorical. Sometimes a Wall… is an exploration of these, and, with it, an invitation to take down barriers and find common ground. Dianne’s other books include Green on Green and Who Eats Orange? A long-time elementary school teacher, she lives with her family in Gilbert, Arizona. To learn more, and to download discussion guides and more, visit Dianne’s website at DianneWrites.com. You can follow her on Twitter @diannewrites or on Facebook.

Barroux lives in Paris, France, and has studied photography, art, sculpture, and architecture. His work has been published in The New York Times and The Washington Post. He believes that the world needs fewer walls and more trees. You can follow him on Instagram @barrouxillustrations.

“Rhyme, rhythm, and simple art – all including references to walls – show children expressing different emotions and behaviors… Mending walls for the nursery crowd.” – Kirkus Reviews

Author Dianne White has put together a fantastic packet of information for readers, parents, and educators:

The “Why” Behind the Book

A Letter to Parents and Educators

A Letter to Young Readers

Discussion Guide

Sometimes a Wall… Discussion Guide

 
A lesson in 3 Movements…
Intro to the Unit (PLEASE READ FIRST!)
1st Movement: TOGETHER (I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoët)
2nd Movement: APART (Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi)
3rd Movement: REGRET. NEW START? (Sometimes a Wall… by Dianne White, illustrated by Barroux)
 
Coloring Pages for Younger Students
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Super Rooster Saves the Day!

Get your cape on, put on the Chicken Dance, and turn up the volume, because here comes SUPER ROOSTER!

Super Rooster Saves the Day, by Maureen Wright/Illustrated by Rob McClurkan,
(Oct. 2020, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542007788
Ages 4-7

Ralph the Rooster wants to be a superhero. He borrows the farmer’s kerchief to use as a cape. He reads superhero books. He crows flies, makes himself invisible… within reason, of course. The other farm animals are a bit dubious as to Super Rooster’s status as a superhero, but his best friend, Rosie the Pig, is always in his corner! Life on the farm really isn’t terribly exciting, but one day, when the farmer leaves the radio on in the barn, Ralph hears a song that changes his life… the Chicken Dance. With a cheep-cheep-cheep, a flap-flap-flap, a wiggle-wiggle-wiggle, and a clap-clap-clap, he is off and running! The only problem? Where Ralph sees opportunities to be a superhero, the other animals see the ordinary: until the chance to save the day appears. Will Ralph rise to the occasion and save the day?

Super Rooster Saves the Day is such fun! The digital artwork is expressive and cartoony, with picture book and comic book-type panels throughout; there are sound effects and repetition, making this a super read-aloud choice and a great book to give to your superhero fans. The colors are bright and the text is bold and black, popping right off the page. The sound effects and Chicken Dance movements just beg listeners to jump up and dance along.

Absolute fun for a farm or a superhero readaloud – heck, add some of John Himmelman’s “To the Rescue” books (Chickens, Cows, Pigs, Ducks) and have the best of both worlds. And whatever you do, play The Chicken Dance LOUD.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour Kickoff (and a giveaway!): THE ITTY BITTY WITCH

I’m so excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Trisha Speed Shaskan and Xindi Yan’s adorable story about being small yet mighty, The Itty Bitty Witch! I reviewed this fun story about a little witch with a big spirit back in July, so today, I’ve got an interview with author Trisha Speed Shaskan. Enjoy!

The Itty Bitty Witch by Trisha Speed Shaskan/Illustrated by Xindi Yan,
(July 2019, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542041232
Ages 4-7

“Caregivers and teachers will be pleased with the multiple extensions the story offers, all wrapped up in a Halloween theme. Proving size does not matter, this itty-bitty witch casts a bewitching spell.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A familiar portrayal of [a] determined, lone underdog who discovers her sense of worth.” —Publishers Weekly

 

And now, the Trisha Speed Shaskan interview. Thank you so much to Trisha and to Barbara at Blue Slip Media!

MomReadIt: As someone who was always first or second on the size order line at school, I love and appreciate Betty’s story! What inspired you to write THE ITTY-BITTY WITCH?

Trisha Speed Shaskan: Thank you! I’m so happy you enjoyed The Itty-Bitty Witch. When I was a child, Halloween was magical because the neighborhood kids took over the streets at night, in costumes. Because of my love for Halloween, the first book I chose at a RIF event was Tilly Witch by Don Freeman, a story about a witch who feels happy instead of wicked on Halloween! Drat! That story inspired me to write and read witch stories as a child and into adulthood.

As a child, I was also one of the smallest or shortest kids in my class. And I played many sports—too bad I couldn’t race atop a broom like Betty! I was often the one girl athlete on a team of boys. Kids called me “short” and “Tommy” since I was seen as a tomboy. I didn’t like being labeled because it set me apart from other kids. And although my height and ability to play on any team was often an asset, I didn’t always see it that way. In The Itty-Bitty Witch, Betty is similarly given a nickname she doesn’t like (“Itty-Bitty”) but learns that being small can be a strength.

MomReadIt: Betty starts out being bullied because she’s small, but her bullies change their tune when they see that Betty wins the Halloween Dash! As an educator, how did you teach younger kids about self-acceptance and resiliency?

Trisha Speed Shaskan: My husband/children’s book author and illustrator Stephen Shaskan and I teach kids how to create comics and graphic novels. Recently, we taught a class that had only two students in it, which allowed us to get to know them. Eleven-year-old Brian told everyone he wasn’t a good artist. He clearly felt insecure. But by the end of the class he said he created the best drawing he’d ever created. He built that confidence and in turn self- acceptance in a couple hours. How? First, Stephen and I built a relationship with the kids in the room by listening to them. We learned Brian’s favorite TV show (“Zig and Sharko”), and the names of the cows on his family’s farm. We joked around. Stephen and I modeled the drawing activity. The students made suggestions and Stephen drew a character out of simple shapes. Next, we set out tools for the students to use, such as geometric templates. The template helps kids who don’t feel they can draw the shapes consistently. I praised Brian for his focus and for using the template. I sat down next to him and drew. I’m not a trained artist so I had a hard time drawing the hand. I failed. Stephen gave me an example of a how-to-do it from a drawing book. Brian encouraged me. Brian had a difficult time drawing part of the snowman from a new angle. I encouraged Brian. By the end of the day, Brian invented a hexasnowman, drew it from different points of view, and told us he was going to draw it more at home. How do you get kids to accept and love themselves? First and foremost, build a positive relationship with them. Give them tools. Give them specific praise that focuses on the process, not result. Be honest. Take risks alongside them or share your mistakes or failures. Lift them up.

MomReadit: Will Betty return in another adventure?

Trisha Speed Shaskan: Betty’s return is yet to be determined, but I do have more stories about her brewing!

MomReadIt: How would you encourage younger kids to start their own storytelling?

Trisha Speed Shakan: I write from my own experiences and imagination. But I also write to learn about myself and the world. If kids want to write stories, I encourage them to explore the world through activities and books! Take a walk outside. Develop a hobby. Learn about a subject you enjoy. Learn about an animal you love. While exploring and learning, you’re sure to collect story ideas! Pay attention to the stories you love and why you love those stories, whether it’s a book, a TV show, or a movie. When you set out to write a story, think about those elements and how to incorporate them in your story.

Thank you so much!

When Trisha Speed Shaskan was a child, Halloween meant bobbing for apples, daring to touch brains (which may have been noodles), and—best of all—wearing costumes. She still loves dressing up for Halloween. Trisha is the author of more than forty children’s books, including Punk Skunks and the Q & Ray series, both illustrated by her husband, Stephen Shaskan. Trisha lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with Stephen; their cat, Eartha; and their dog, Beatrix. Learn more at www.trishaspeedshaskan.com.

Find her on Twitter and Facebook

 

Xindi Yan grew up in a small city called Wuhu in China, and like Betty, she was always the smallest in her class. Standing a little shy of five feet, she still can’t reach the high shelves in grocery stores and sometimes finds that shoes made for kids fit her best. But her size didn’t stop her from chasing her big dreams of being a published artist in New York City. Xindi is the illustrator of Sylvia Rose and the Cherry Tree by Sandy Shapiro Hurt and the Craftily Ever After series by Martha Maker. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and hopes to have a puppy one day. Learn more at www.xindiyanart.com

Twitter: @xindiyan

Instagram: @xindiyanart

One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Itty-Bitty Witch, courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway!: What if Everybody Thought That? by Ellen Javernick

What if Everybody Thought That?, by Ellen Javernick/Illustrated by Colleen Madden, (Aug. 2019, Two Lions), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1542091374

Ages 4-8

The third book in Ellen Javernick and Colleen Madden’s “What if Everybody…” series takes a look at our internal dialogues. You know what that means… those moments when you think you’re keeping your feelings to yourself, but those thoughts come out in other ways. Here, we see crossed arms, pouts, and sneers as kids make suppositions about classmates with special needs, classmates who stutter, kids on the playground that want to play basketball, but may be a little shorter than the others.

Many of us grew up being told that “you can think it, but just don’t say it”, but What if Everybody Thought That? is here to tell you that thoughts can be toxic, too. What if Everybody Thought That? is all about how what we think influences how we act toward others. Kids scrunch up their faces and glare at foods from other cultures at an international food fair, or decide that a special needs classmate who mispells a word isn’t smart enough to be in their class. Alternating spreads illustrate a situation where classmates thinking devaluing thoughts, only to have those conclusions turned on their head when the children show other talents. The classmate who had trouble spelling vacation? He’s a whiz at robotics. That food fair turns into a success when kids try exciting new foods and rave about their experiences. A boy with a stutter can sing with a clear and strong voice, bringing his classmates to their feet with resounding applause.

What If Everybody Thought That? is here to remind readers to give everyone a chance. We’ve all got different talents and abilities, after all. The book also illustrates how thoughts can lead to action – if we think devaluing or negative things about one another, it can eventually lead to us “othering” people – separating and isolating people who aren’t like us. As one boy says to another, “I think we should all be more thoughtful”. What if everybody thought that? Ellen Javernick’s repetitive message challenges readers to pause and take a moment to ponder what would happen if positive, as well as negative, thoughts were to go viral. It creates a thoughtful atmosphere, and provides opportunities for strong class discussions and teachable moments.

Colleen Madden’s artwork presents a multicultural group of kids with a wide range of abilities and challenges, and includes quiet background lessons that support and emphasize author Ellen Javernick’s message. A playground blacktop has encouraging messages, like, “You can do it!” written in chalk; a girl with alopecia stands in a bathroom that sports graffiti-ed statements like, “How do you know, if u don’t ask?” and “Put yourself in someone else’s s-h-o-e-s”; a stage curtain hosts the message, “things are seldom what they seem”.

This is a great series, and one that I’ll be reading during class visits in the coming school year. What if Everybody Said That? went over well last year, and I’m looking forward to introducing visiting teachers and students to What if Everybody Thought That? this year.

Want a chance at winning your very own copy of What if Everybody Thought That? Check out this Rafflecopter giveaway! (U.S. addresses only, please!)

 

Ellen Javernick is the author of more than twenty books for children, including the Children’s Choice Book Award finalist The Birthday Pet, illustrated by Kevin O’Malley, and the bestselling picture book What If Everybody Did That?, illustrated by Colleen Madden. She has been an elementary school teacher for more than twenty years and currently teaches second grade. She lives in Loveland, Colorado.

Colleen Madden is the illustrator of numerous children’s books, including the picture book adaptation of All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey and the bestselling picture book What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick. She lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons. To see more of her work, visit: http://www.mbartists.com/cgi-bin/iowa/artists.html?artist=77

Posted in Non-Fiction

Galápagos Girl/Galapagueña Blog Tour Stop: A note from author Marsha Diane Arnold!

So now that you’ve read about how I loved Galápagos Girl/Galapagueña, here’s a little somethin’ extra: a guest post from author Marsha Diane Arnold about the editorial process, and “the words that got left behind”. Enjoy the post and photos, and thank you so much to Ms. Arnold for sharing with us!

The Words I Left Behind – Galápagos Girl by Marsha Diane Arnold

Thank you, Rosemary, for inviting me to blog about my newest picture book, Galápagos Girl, coming September 18th. This book is dear to my heart. It began on my 2007 trip to the Galápagos where I met Valentina Cruz, our naturalist guide. She was born and raised on the Galápagos Island of Floreana. She and the unique animals of the islands inspired my book. I wanted to write about the fantastic Galápagos creatures from the perspective of a young girl who grew up on the islands, surrounded by wild nature.

Valentina on left, with fellow travelers.

 

But it’s now 2018! This book was a long time coming. There were so many stories Valentina told me about her family and growing up on these exotic islands. I wanted to share them all with the world, but of course, I couldn’t. Cut! Cut! Cut! There are dozens of unique animals on the islands. I wanted to share them all in my book too, but they wouldn’t all fit. Cut some more!

Some of the beautiful Galápagos birds that didn’t make it into the book.

 

Top left – Galápagos Hawk, top right – Nazca Booby

 

Bottom left – Oystercatcher, bottom right – Flightless Cormorant

“Kill your darlings” is advice that has long been given to writers. It’s a challenge to us to delete extraneous text and get rid of phrases we hold closest to our hearts. But our books all have to face the “killing of darlings.” Galápagos Girl was no exception.

I wrote scores of drafts, trying to decide which stories, which animals, and which words to keep. In the manuscript I submitted, Spanish words and phrases were sprinkled throughout. I’d spent hours deciding where to place these and confirming my translation was right. When it was decided to make the book entirely bilingual, most of these phrases were deleted. Also, because we were now approximately doubling the words that would fill the book, the text needed to be…Cut!

Valentina shared many stories of her father. They could easily make a book of their own. Once, she wrote to me that her father, who loved the ocean, “had the scent of the sea in his skin.” Now her young son tells her she has “the scent of the sea in her skin.” I loved this thought and included it in a few drafts. But my writers group didn’t think it worked. Cut!

The text below is from a 2009 draft, where I again drifted toward telling Papá’s story. Valentina’s tales of him where inspiring me, just as his life had inspired her. Valentina even had an old photo of him riding their donkey, Pepegrillo. But I needed to get back to Valentina’s story. Cut!

“Papa, the teacher, the sailor, the fisherman, the farmer,

taught Valentina to read and showed her the ways of nature.

He liked to ride his donkey into the village

and take a book with him to read along the way.”

Eliecer Cruz Cevallos and Pepegrillo

 

Looking over more old drafts, it was obvious I wanted that cute Pepegrillo to be in my book. In a 2010 draft, I wrote:

“Sometimes Valentina walked the two miles to school barefoot,

Sometimes she wore old shoes,

Sometimes her older brother and sister carried her on their back.

On special days, she got to ride Pepegrillo, the donkey.”

 

You guessed it.  Pepegrillo and these lines had to be…Cut!

When I asked Valentina if there was anything she didn’t like about growing up on the Galápagos, she emphatically replied, “No.” She loved every minute of it and felt it was a privilege to be able to live there with her family. Her stories made me want to be part of her family too; these feelings show up a little in the following text. It also mentions the broken tortoise shells Valentina found, which was a plot line I had followed. Yes, this was all…Cut!

“The family’s farm was called The Well – El Pozo.

In the kitchen, Valentina helped Mamá make papaya and guava jam.

From the acacia tree, Valentina and Papá watched boats come into port.

When Valentina’s eleven older brothers and sisters

milked cows and weeded gardens,

Valentina fed bananas and plums to Santa Cruz and Isabela.

When they searched hillside caves for pirate treasure,

Valentina searched for a Floreana tortoise

to keep Santa Cruz and Isabela company.

All she found were broken shells.”

I originally called the turtles Santa Cruz and Isabela, but in the book, they are Carlitos and Isabela. There’s a story behind that too.

 

A few of the amazing Cruz family.

 

Though many stories are not in the book, we now have the delightful Galápagos Girl, thanks to my agent Karen Grencik, my editor Jessica Echeverria, the entire Lee & Low team, many helpful scientists and researchers, the wonderful artist Angela Dominguez, and, of course, Valentina Cruz.

Just a few words now, that were not cut!

“And every day she danced.

Bopping up and down

With lava lizards

Stamping her feet with

Blue-footed boobies

Twirling pirouettes

with sea lions.”

 

If you want to hear more Galápagos stories, I’d love to share them with you when I visit your school or festival. You can contact me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MarshaDianeArnoldAuthor/, www.earthsvoices.wordpress.com., or the “Write Marsha” link at  www.marshadianearnold.com, my main website, which is being restored.

Posted in Fantasy, Teen, Tween Reads

#StarPassage Book 3 Blog Tour and Giveaway: Mercy and Honor

The third book in the StarPassage series is here! The YA paranormal/time travel adventure series by Clark Rich Burbidge hit shelves on June 21st and draws on the power of family and faith.

StarPassage Book 3: Honor and Mercy, by Clark Rich Burbidge,
(June 2018, Deep River Books), $15.99, ISBN: 9781632694782
Ages 9-14

Author Clark Rich Burbidge was kind enough to write a guest post, where he talks about his research process as he wrote StarPassage: Honor and Mercy. Enjoy!

The StarPassage series required a ton of additional research. There is an entirely separate effort with each passage introduced. I want to get the details correct but recognize that there are times when some things are unknowable so I need to take a little literary license. Knowing when to do that is an art. For example I have ridden in a B-17 on four occasions. Each time was exhilarating as it taxied on the runway, began revving up and let loose the brakes for take-off. Sitting in the rough seats with only a seat belt seemed inadequate as we bounded down the runway. Then in the air flying through canyons below the tops of the mountains rising on either side viewing the countryside below. They allow you to move around to all the different stations. The narrow walkway through the bomb bay with bombs hanging on each side (unarmed ones) and crawling from the pilot’s cockpit down through the narrow cave-like passage to the nose where the navigator and bombardier sat was the most interesting. I sat out in the plexiglass bubble where the bomb site was still affixed to its post and looked down thousands of feet and imagined what it would have been like with flak bursting around having to concentrate feeling so exposed. Then it struck me. I was not alone. It felt like the small compartment was crowded with the spirits of those who had actually lived and too often died in this small space during times of conflict. It was a moving experience to sense some small part of their souls. Emotion overwhelmed me and tears ran down my cheeks as I felt these great souls trying to encourage me to tell part of their stories in a way that others living in freedom today would understand. “Help them to know that we did this for them,” I felt them say. “And never forget how dear life is.” It was a powerful and unexpected moment in that crowded space. It isn’t just the research you do in libraries or understanding the times and places one writes about. It is reaching across time and touching the souls who lived it, feeling the spirit of their lives, their emotions, fears and hopes. It is part of understanding why they did it and how they endured such unimaginable torment on a daily basis.

I have also walked the Gettysburg battlefield on three separate occasions. I have stood more than once at the stone marking the end of the Union line on Little Round Top where Joshua Chamberlain’s 20th Maine stood with their line reversed against the furious charges of Oates’ Alabamians. I have crawled through the rock outcropping of Devil’s Den and climbed the hill from the Confederate’s point of view. Again as I stood on Little Round Top and at other places on the battlefield I felt, as many others have reported, the spirits of those long past who stood against incomprehensible ferocity of war with no possibility of retreat. Again, I wondered how any human could bear the stress and fear and remain.

Every person, young and old, should take the opportunity to stand where others stood and reach across the generations to touch them, understand their time and know the real meaning of freedom. Yes, one might say that to effectively write the StarPassage series with its time travel/paranormal theme that I had to engage in time travel/paranormal myself. And so I did. That is where my research took me, far beyond libraries and diaries. It took me through time and space to better understand in some small way the people of that time. Our young generation would be well served by reading the results of my research and then reaching out to understand as well. There is too much wasteful in-the-moment roller coaster riding that take them nowhere and protesting or resisting when they have little personal knowledge of that which they object to or of the real people who lived it. We are all better served by a little personal time travel.

Here’s a brief excerpt from  Chapter 1 of Honor and Mercy. Want a chance to win a copy of your own? Check out this  Rafflecopter giveaway! (U.S. addresses only, please!)

Find StarPassage and Clark Burbidge on social media:

Websites: www.starpassagebook.com/, www.giantsinthelandbook.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clarkrburbidge/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/clarkrburbidge

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Black History Month: Heroes of Black History – Spotlight on Barack Obama

Heroes of Black History: Biographies of Four Great Americans, (Dec. 2017, Time for Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-68330-776-1

Recommended for readers 8-12

This Time for Kids collection highlights the life stories of four great African-Americans: Harriet Tubman, who led slaves to freedom; Jackie Robinson, the groundbreaking athlete and first African-American baseball player to play for the major leagues; Rosa Parks, the civil rights pioneer who refused to give up her seat on the bus; and Barack Obama, the first African-American President of the United States.

With photos and artwork, fast facts and timelines throughout the book, this is a great book to have on hand in homes, classrooms and libraries for help with homework and reports and is essential reading for everyone. Civil Rights activist and NPR correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault’s introduction discusses how Black history provided her with the “invisible armor”  she needed to meet life’s challenges.

Spotlight On: Barack Obama

As part of the Heroes of Black History Book Tour, I’m spotlighting Barack Obama’s biography. The 40-page spotlight on our 44th President’s life is loaded with photos and a timeline, and covers his life from his birth in Hawaii to his 2017 farewell speech as he left office. The profile covers his relationship with his mother and grandmother; his mother’s remarriage and their subsequent move to Jakarta, Indonesia, and his return to Hawaii to live with his parents at the age of 10. We read about his marriage to Michelle Obama and births of his daughters, Malia and Sasha, and the story of his political rise from Senator to the White House. I was happy to read about the 2004 Democratic National Convention; the convention where Obama’s moving speech made Americans sit up and take notice – I still remember a coworker at the time coming to work the next day and telling me, “That man is going to be our next President.”

An appendix includes 19 additional Heroes profiles, from W.E.B. DuBois to John Lewis, a glossary and full index to round out this great reference. You can find a free curriculum guide and downloadable Fast Facts sheets on each icon.

 

Posted in Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: How to Catch a Monster!

Ready to Catch a Monster? Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton sure are – this is the newest in their “How to Catch…” series!

How to Catch a Monster by Adam Wallace & Andy Elkerton
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication Date: September 5, 2017

 

A USA Today Bestseller! From the creators of the New York Times bestselling How to Catch a Leprechaun and How to Catch an Elf!

Get ready to laugh as a young ninja heads into the closet to meet the monster that’s been so scary night after night! But what if things aren’t what they seem and our monster isn’t scary at all? What if our ninja hero is about to make a friend of strangest sort?

There’s a great storytime activity kit you can download for FREE. There are plenty of activities for your next Halloween read-aloud: discussion questions, coloring sheets, a maze, even a word search.

Adam Wallace is a children’s writer and cartoonist living in Australia. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling How to Catch series and Only You Can Save Christmas.

Andy Elkerton is a children’s book illustrator based in the United Kingdom.

Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2wVzyMw

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2xJziV5

Book Depository: http://bit.ly/2xw4rv8

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/2hwpQ14

 

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Posted in Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: The Queen is Coming to Tea!

The Queen is coming for tea! Ellie has to make sure everything is perfect, and travels the world, with her faithful friend, Langley, at her side, to orchestrate the best tea party ever. A fun look at tea parties, with a bit of global flavor. Fun for storytime – have the kids bring in their own stuffed animals for a post-storytime tea party! – and have tea recipes ready for the parents to take home and enjoy with their kiddos. Display with How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea by Kate Hosford, Jane O’Connor’s Fancy Nancy and Fancy Nancy Tea Parties, and Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf! by Judy Sierra for a fun tea time display.

The Queen is Coming to Tea

Author: Linda Ravin Lodding
Illustrator: Constranze von Kitzing
Published: February 7, 2017, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN: 9781492607571; $16.99; Hardcover

Can Ellie and her furry friends get everything ready in time for tea with the Queen?

One day there was a knock at Ellie’s door. There stood the Queen’s Footman.

“A message from Her Royal Highness.” He offered Ellie a note on a silver tray.

May I please come for tea?

Sincerely yours,

The Queen Herself

When Ellie finds out the Queen is coming to tea, she snaps to attention! With her best friend, Langley the Elephant, Ellie travels to Paris, China, Italy, and New York to make sure they have everything they need for tea with the Queen. But will the Queen patiently wait? And what exactly will be waiting for the Queen?

About the Author and Illustrator:

LINDA LODDING is originally from New York, but has spent the past fifteen years in Austria, the Netherlands, and now lives in Sigtuna, Sweden. Visit her at http://www.lindalodding.com.

After finishing her studies, CONSTANZE VON KITZING worked in the cover department at Der Spiegel. She now works as a freelance illustrator, teaches, and runs an art shop in Cologne, Germany, where she lives with her family.

Peach Mango White Iced Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

4 Cups Water

3 White Tea Bags

1 Peach

½ Cup Chopped Frozen Mango

1 tbsp sugar plus Sugar to Taste

 

Instructions:

Boil the 6 cups of water; remove from heat.

Steep the tea bags about 5 minutes; remove bags and allow tea to cool to room temperature.

Add chopped peaches and mango to a mixing bowl and mix with sugar; let fruit soften.

Place fruit in pitcher and pour cooled tea on top; add sugar to taste and stir.

Chill and serve.

 

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