Posted in Uncategorized

Build up your 5-Minute story libraries!

5-Minute Story collections are big news in my library. Parents love being able to get a volume full of storybooks and only carry one book home. Sometimes, they take the place of the 3 or 4 picture books that are out at the moment, so kids can still take home their favorite story. They’re great gift ideas, too; they economical in an age where we’re laying out upwards of $15 for a picture book. I’ve got a couple to crow about here.

5-Minute Stories by Margaret Wise Brown, (Sept. 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684128495

Ages 1-6

For anyone who thought Margaret Wise Brown only wrote Goodnight, Moon and The Runaway Bunny, I have news for you: publishers have been working with her estate to publish recently discovered books with new artists for a few years now. This collection of 5-Minute Stories includes eight stories by Ms. Brown, and all have that wonderfully calm cadence that kids love to listen to. Most rhyme, all have the repetition of concepts and sounds that help kids grasp the narrative and jump in after a couple of pages. The stories explore concepts and seasons (Count to 10 With a Mouse; A Song for All Seasons; Sleep Little Angel; All the Families); adventure (Away in My Airplane); nature (The Tickly Spider); and soothe at bedtime (Sleep Little Angel; All the Families; Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears; Wish Upon a Dream). They’re fully illustrated and unabridged, so readers will lose nothing from the picture book to this collection.

It’s a lovely anthology of stories, illustrated with calming pastels and muted colors, featuring adorable mice, spiders, bears, butterflies, and kids. 5-Minute Stories by Margaret Wise Brown is a good volume to keep on hand for your readers, a nice way to introduce reaaders to Margaret Wise Brown beyond her two most famous stories, and a good gift idea to hang onto, whether it’s for a baby shower or for the holidays.


Disney Stories for 2-Year-Olds, (Sept. 2019, Studio Fun International), $12.99, ISBN: 9780794444341

Ages 2-6

Who loves Mickey Mouse? Any of your Disney fans will love this anthology of 14 stories, all starring the original Mickey Mouse crew: Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Huey, Duey, and Louie, Daisy, and Pluto are all here. Stories run about 12-14 pages long; each story is brightly illustrated, has bold, brief sentences, and are good for kids starting at 2 and going up to at least 6. Kids will love seeing Mickey and his friends go camping, help put on a parade, visit an airport, and give a cow a bath! Throw in some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse songs in between stories for extra fun, and have Mickey and friends coloring sheets available.

These are especially helpful for libraries like mine, where many Disney/Mickey books are hard to find, or in formats that get quickly beaten up in circulation. A nice volume like this is a quick and easy go-to for anyone who wants Mickey Mouse stories, and a nice all-in-one to have on hand at home.


Disney Stories for 3-Year-Olds, (Sept. 2019, Studio Fun International), $12.99, ISBN: 9780794444358

Ages 3-7

More Disney 5-minute stories! Slightly longer and wordier, these 14 stories are simplified versions of favorite Disney movies, including classic favorites like 101 Dalmations, Lady and the Tramp, and Alice and Wonderland, and newer picks like Aladdin, The Lion King, and Hercules. The colorful pictures depict favorite scenes from each movie, and stories run about 12-14 pages long; sentences are slightly longer and there’s more text on each page, making this a good start to read with 3-year-olds, and to keep reading all the way up through the early grades. I’ve been reading through these with my 2nd grader, and he loves them – he can read most of them on his own, and I love the chance to curl up on the couch with him and read these to him at the end of a long day. Familiarity with the movies brings the chance to talk about the scenes as you read (fair warning: Bambi and Dumbo are in here. My family knows I have refused these two movies since I was 5, and this goes for the stories, too. Get a stunt reader in for you if you need to.) Pair with Disney coloring pages, or pull up your Disney DVDs and make an afternoon of it.

As with Disney Stories for 2-Year-Olds, this is a nice anthology to have handy for kids who want to read through their favorite Disney movies, but are finding the pricing for each book a little much or just can’t find each book available.

Any of the 5-Minute Stories are great gift ideas, great anytime books, and handy go-to books on your storytime shelves.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Middle grade entrepreneurial books kids will want to read: From an Idea to…

I had a bit of business book success a few years ago when I put Notch’s – the creator of Minecraft – bio on the shelves at my first library, but books about successful businesses aren’t always easy to come by for a middle grade audience. This new series from Case Marketing founder Lowey Bundy Sichol tries to fill some of that gap, taking brands that are uber-popular with tweens and breaking down the companies’ histories, successes, and setbacks.

From an Idea to Disney: How Imagination Built a World of Magic, by Lowey Bundy Sichol/Illustrated by C.S. Jennings, (Feb. 2019, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1-328-45361-7

Ages 10-12

From an Idea to Disney is part bio on Walt Disney, part bio on his empire, from Mickey Mouse and Steamboat Willie to Disneyland, Disney World, and all of Disney’s acquisitions. The chapters are quick, explain business practices in plain language and include callout boxes with definitions for specific business terms. Disney’s story focuses on the development of the family-friendly, inclusive brand, Walt Disney’s desire to create full experiences for families at his parks, and how the Disney family pushed back at what they perceived an over-merchandising of the brand in the 1990s, bringing about a management change that brought Disney back to Walt’s original vision.

Inspirational quotes from Walt himself run throughout the book, and black and white line drawings add visual interest. A Walt Disney Company timeline, bibliography, and source notes round out the volume.


From an Idea to NIKE: How Marketing Made Nike a Global Success, by Lowey Bundy Sichol/Illustrated by C.S. Jennings, (Feb. 2019, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1-328-53062-2

Ages 10-12

Global athletic shoe giant NIKE began as high school athelete Phil Knight’s grad school project for an entrepreneurship class. Despite pushback from his critical father, he made a go of it, bringing his high school track coach, Bill Bowerman, into the fold. Bowerman would go on to create the “waffle iron soled” sneaker that would grip surfaces better – and ruined his wife’s waffle iron in the process. From an Idea to NIKE concentrates on the value of marketing in NIKE’s success, from athletic endorsements, to the Just Do It campaign, to running different sales channels, including NIKETown stores and the ability to order customized shoes online. The book mentions NIKE’s struggle to survive shortly after going public, when Reebok rose to popularity in the early ’80s; their quest to gain footing in Europe and the soccer market, and dealing with endorsed athlete scandal.

As with From an Idea to Disney, From an Idea to NIKE is loaded with fun facts, business term callouts, quotes from Phil Knight, and black and white line drawings. There’s a NIKE timeline, a list of the brand’s top endorsement deals, a bibliography, and source notes.

If you have nonfiction readers that have an interest in how business or brands work, stick a toe into the water and put a few of these into your collection. They’re quick reads and offer a beginning look into the business world. Focusing on entrepreneurs can be inspirational for readers – consider a book club or program where kids can come up with their own entrepreneurial idea? Have books like Jessie Janowitz’s The Doughnut Fix and Jacqueline Davies’s The Lemonade War handy. Other titles in the series include From an Idea to Lego and From an Idea to Google.



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

What if Mulan traveled to the Underworld? Reflection tells the story!

Reflection (A Twisted Tale), by Elizabeth Lim, (March 2018, Disney Book Group), $17.99, ISBN: 9781484781296

Recommended for readers 10+

What if Mulan had gone very differently? What if Captain Shang was mortally wounded in his battle with Shan Yu, and was dying? In this latest Disney Twisted Tale, Mulan travels to the Diyu, the underworld, to bargain with ruler King Yama for Shang’s life. ShiShi, the Li family guardian lion, accompanies Mulan, but finding Shang is only part of the quest: they have to make their way through Diyu before dawn, and demons, ghosts, and ancestors are at every turn. Mulan is still disguised as Ping, which causes more stress as Mulan wrestles with her own identity and Shang’s trust.

This is my first Twisted Tale, but it is not going to be my last! I loved this different takes on one of my favorite beloved Disney movies. Author Elizabeth Lim keeps the essence of what makes Mulan such a strong, favorite character: her inner strength is tempered by her introspection and moments of self-doubt, making her at once relatable and inspirational; her daring and confidence and her incredible heart, make her one of the most memorable Disney women in print and on the screen. Shang is along for the ride here, but goes through his own moments of self-awareness. ShiShi is Shang’s guardian and counselor and brings some well-timed humor to the story (Mushu doesn’t play as big a part in Reflection, but he is there!). Reflection has the spectacle of a big-screen release, with the space to bring internal conflict to the fore. I loved it, and so will your Disney readers. Grab the set, if you don’t have them yet, and put them in the hands of your fantasy readers. Let them know that Ursula’s up next, with September’s Part of Your World.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Preschool Reads

Disney Princess: Dream Big is a hit!

Back in July, I had a cover reveal for one of the latest books in the Put Me in the Story series, Disney Princess: Dream Big! I’m really excited, because I just received my copy in the mail, and it’s a beauty.


Since I’d gotten softcover copies of the NatGeo books for my son back in June, I decided to check out the hardcover for my niece, who is just discovering Disney Princesses. I’m thrilled with the quality of the book! It’s a gorgeous, sturdy hardcover with quality pages that will stand up to repeated readings.

Dream Big puts readers on a mission: visit each Princess in the book; discover their dream; and check off the Princess’s name on the back of a passport that’s included in the book. You can cut out the passport – treat the book like a journal!

There are 11 Princesses in all to visit, from Ariel to Tiana. Each spread spotlights one Princess, gives a little bio on the Princess, and ends with a mention of the Princess’s dream, and an invitation to the reader to share her/his dream, too. For instance, Belle loves her books, and each one takes her on a new adventure. There’s a list of Belle’s favorite book genres, and a space for your reader to list her favorite books.


The art is beautiful, colorful, and inviting. Kids are engaged by the direct invitation to connect through the text and activities in the book.



A final spread sums up the Princesses’ strengths and dreams, and asks readers to connect the Princess with her big dream. Readers are also invited to write or draw their own special dreams and how to make them come true. It’s a fun way to capture a moment in time that kids will look back on and smile at one day. Think of it as bullet journaling for the preschool set.


As with all Put Me in the Story books, you upload pictures of your little one and give the site the name you’d like to use; they will generate a story featuring your little one that becomes a keepsake. Dream Big is a great gift, and I can’t wait to give this to my little Princess. You can get your own copy of Dream Big at the Put Me in the Story site, and seriously, look around the site; they have some great books, both fiction and non-fiction, that kids will love.

Full disclosure, I received a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review. But I plan on adding a few Put Me in the Story books to my Christmas shopping list, because I love them and think they’re beautifully done.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Put Me in the Story goes Disney Princesses: Cover Reveal!

Put Me in the Story has a new book coming out, starring the Disney Princesses! I’ve got a cover reveal for you right here:


DreamBigPrincess_CoverReveal_July8_12pmESTHere’s what you need to know:

The book’s title is Disney’s Dream Big Princess! You can personalize the book by putting in your own princess’ name. It will be available in August 2016 via Want to know when the book will be available? Sign up for Put Me in the Story’s email to make sure you don’t miss out, plus get exclusive deals on personalized books and gifts.

Follow Put Me in the Story on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and use the hashtag #DreamBigPrincess to follow the discussion!


Posted in Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Middle School, Teen, Tween Reads

Trollhunters: YA from Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus

trollhuntersTrollhunters, by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus/illus. by Sean Murray (Jul 2015, Disney/Hyperion), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1423125983

Recommended for ages 12+

In September 1969, a rash of kidnappings in San Bernardino left parents terrified. The reign of terror ended some 100+ missing kids later, with the final disappearance being young teen Jack Sturges, who was riding bikes with his younger brother, Jim, at the time.

Forty-five years later, Jim has grown up and become a father, but the scars from Jack’s disappearance remain. His son, Jim Jr., grows up behind steel shades and locked doors, curfews and phone calls to police if he’s the slightest bit late. He’s not exactly big man on campus at school, either – his best friend, “Tub”, is bully fodder who lives with his grandmother and her legion of cats.

The thing is, weird things are starting to happen in San Bernardino all over again, and Jim’s right in the line of fire – no matter what his father does to keep him safe. Trolls aren’t fantasy, they’re a horrific reality, and Jim finds himself sucked into the world of the Trollhunters, where he and his band of fighters will come together to save San Bernardino, and possibly, the world.

How do you not read a YA book written by Guillermo del Toro? Especially when said book starts out with this:

“You are food. Those muscles you flex to walk, lift, and talk? They’re patties of meat topped with chewy tendon. That skin you’ve paid so much attention to in mirrors? It’s delicious to the right tongues, a casserole of succulent tissue. And those bones that give you the strength to make your way in the world? They rattle between teeth as the marrow is sucked down slobbering throats. These facts are unpleasant but useful. There are things out there, you see, that don’t cower in holes to be captured by us and cooked over our fires. These things have their own ways of trapping their kills, their own fires, their own appetites.”

I’m not versed in Daniel Kraus’ work, but that will change shortly. The two together have created what I hope is the first of an ongoing middle school/YA series that blends gratuitous gore, ooze, humor, and a strong story about family and what makes a family into a book you won’t want to put down. Trollhunters gives us action, a touch of horror – it is del Toro, after all – and a loving story of loss, rediscovery, and family. Reluctant readers? Give them this book, and they’ll be demanding more (and that’s when you introduce them to Hellboy comics, novels, and movies).

This book is great to give to boys, but there’s some serious girl power in here too. Jim Jr.’s crush, Claire, can hold her own against a school bully as well as against anything else the authors throw at her. Sean Murray’s illustrations are wonderfully gross and gooey, with dark and murky colors to fill out your imagination.

All in all, Trollhunters is a great mid-summer read. Don’t miss it! The only question I’ve got now is, when will we see the movie?

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Tween Reads

Disney Fairies – The Secret of the Wings graphic novel – A WhatchaReading Review!

secretofthewingsDisney Fairies: Secret of the Wings, by Manuela Razzi/illus. by Antonello Dalena (Papercutz, July 2014). ISBN: 9781597077309

Recommended for ages 6-12

Oh come on, I’m not the spoiler-y type. But I will say that Papercutz’s adaptation of the Disney Fairies’ 2012 feature film, Secret of the Wings, is adorable. And I’m not even a Disney Fairies type of girl.

Read the rest of my review over at WhatchaReading! If you want a copy of the Secret of the Wings DVD to go with your graphic novel, you can pick it up at You can also pre-order the graphic novel on


Posted in Media, TV Shows

Media Review: Jake and the Neverland Pirates (Episodes: The Golden Egg/Huddle Up) (Walt Disney Studios, 2011)

Directed by Kelly Ward. Disney Junior, 22 minutes. Walt Disney Studios. 2011

Recommended for ages 2-5


Jake and the Neverland Pirates is Disney Junior’s answer to Dora the Explorer. Jake (voiced by Colin Ford) and his friends, Izzy (voiced by Madison Pettis) and Cubby (voiced by Jonathan Morgan Heit), are a multicultural group of children playing pirate games along with their parrot friend, Skully (voiced by David Arquette). Disney favorites Captain Hook and his mate, Smee, always seem to find a way to show up and meddle in their fun. Each 11-minute episode involves a quest of some sort, and Jake and his friends interact with the viewer by asking them to help out and solve problems and cheer them on. Each episode’s close rewards the team – and the viewer – for their teamwork by providing them with “pirate doubloons” that goes in the group treasure chest, which the viewers help Jake count. In The Golden Egg, Jake and his friends find a gold-colored egg, and set off to find who it belongs to. Captain Hook (voiced by longtime Captain Hook voice actor Corey Burton) and Smee (voiced by Jeff Bennett) are hot on the team’s trail, thinking the egg is an actual gold egg. Huddle Up finds Jake, Izzy and Cubby playing a game of “pirate football” until Captain Hook steals the ball, believing it has special powers. Jake and his friends set off on a quest to get the ball back from Hook.


The series is highly interactive, and children familiar with Dora will enjoy the familiarity. Like Dora, each episode resembles a video game, with tasks to complete; the team collects gold doubloons that float in the air to put in their treasure chest at the end of each episode. Members of the pirate rock band, Captain Bogg and Salty, end each episode with a pirate song.


Captain Hook and Smee are similar to Dora’s Swiper, the wily fox who tries to swipe Dora’s objects. Jake and his friends go on quests and provide the viewers with prompts to help them along; there are musical interludes throughout each episode, and a celebration at the end. It’s a good introduction to mainstay Disney characters – Peter Pan has appeared in at least one episode – for younger viewers, and Captain Hook and Smee are goofy here, less threatening than they are in the movie Peter Pan. Each episode emphasizes the importance of teamwork. With the Disney name on the cartoon, caregivers know the production values will be high. The animation is computer-generated, with bright colors and fluent action to keep viewers’ attention. The main characters have expressive, happy faces while the antagonists have exaggerated features that make them less menacing, more caricature-like.


Each episode runs roughly 11 minutes, which makes this a good addition to a pirate story time or a teamwork story time. The show is a pleasant way to keep children entertained while reinforcing lessons on preschool basics and teamwork, and the musical ending provides an opportunity to get the kids up and dancing. Learning a pirate jig would be a fun way to conclude a library program showing a Jake and the Neverland Pirates episode. The Jake and the Neverland Pirates section of the Disney website offers free printables that attendees can color and take home, and the Oriental Trading catalog and website has a wealth of pirate supplies that can be bought in bulk for relatively low cost, including fun pirate eye patches to hand out.


Posted in Media, TV Shows

TV Show Review: Good Luck Charlie (Disney Channel, 2011-Present)

Recommended for ages 9-14

Good Luck Charlie is a Disney Channel show that follows the Duncan family, a family of six. The title refers to the youngest, Charlie (Charlene), and the videos that her family makes for her as a guide to growing up. Every video ends with her oldest sister (and star of the show) Teddy, played by Disney Channel favorite Bridgit Mendler, wishing Charlie “good luck” as she navigates her wacky family.

The show sticks to the Disney formula of having present, loving parents who tend to need more supervision than the children. While lacking much of the smart-alecky backtalk that some of the Nick shows have drawn fire for, the Duncan children, particularly the middle schooler Gabe, have no problem talking to their parents as their peers. Mom Amy may be a nurse, assuming a degree of intelligence, but she craves attention like a child; Dad Bob has his own bug-extermination business but seems to be lucky he can function on his own, as he comes across dim-witted beyond belief.

Each Duncan child is a stereotype: PJ, the oldest son, takes after his father in being slow-witted; high-schooler Teddy is the straight-A, neurotic overachiever; middle-schooler Gabe is the caustic, scheming pre-teen, and toddler Charlie steals the show with a cute word or smile.

The formulaic characters provide a comfortable familiarity to the ‘tweens who watch the show – they know what to expect, they know that they’ll get a laugh, and they know everything is neatly resolved by the end of the episode. The parents manage to be loving and supportive and offer disciplinary action when warranted; for instance, when Teddy is caught in a lie, she is grounded; when Teddy goes through a bad breakup with her boyfriend, her mother is there to hold her and tell her it will be okay. The kids come together and care for one another and their parents and have friends who they surround themselves with. They are good kids, a good family, with their quirks – kind of like most families.