Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction

Aaron Becker’s Journey trilogy concludes with Return (and a giveaway!)

Aaron Becker’s beautiful series of wordless picture books reaches a conclusion with the release of Return. Beginning with 2014’s Caldecott Honor-winning book, Journey, readers follow a young girl who escapes into a magical land, courtesy of her red marker. In Quest, the girl and her friend encounter a king that they must rescue, armed with their imaginations and their markers. Now, it’s time for the girl to return home – what final adventure awaits her?

The adventure begins with Journey

journey_coverA 2014 Caldecott Honor Book

Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship.

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.


…and continues with a Quest

questAaron Becker, creator of Journey, a Caldecott Honor book, presented the next chapter in his stunning, wordless fantasy.

A king emerges from a hidden door in a city park, startling two children sheltering from the rain. No sooner does he push a map and some strange objects into their hands than he is captured by hostile forces that whisk him back through the enchanted door. Just like that, the children are caught up in a quest to rescue the king and his kingdom from darkness, while illuminating the farthest reaches of their imagination. Colored markers in hand, they make their own way through the portal, under the sea, through a tropical paradise, over a perilous bridge, and high in the air with the help of a winged friend. Journey lovers will be thrilled to follow its characters on a new adventure threaded with familiar elements, while new fans will be swept into a visually captivating story that is even richer and more exhilarating than the first.


… and now, it’s time to Return.


Before Return is released on August 2nd, enter the Journey Giveaway from Candlewick Press for your chance at winning a prize pack, containing hardcover copies of Journey and Quest! One winner from the US or Canada will win. Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance!


Giveaway details

1 prize pack includes:

1 hardcover copy of Journey by Aaron Becker

1 hardcover copy of Quest by Aaron Becker


Parents and educators, there’s a great Journey Trilogy Activity Kit with activities to stimulate your children’s imaginations!

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Blog Tour: Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares Excerpt

The publicity team for Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares was kind enough to give me a sizable excerpt to feature, so you can get sucked in like I did. Read, enjoy, and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win your own copy of the book, plus some nice swag!


Excerpt from Chapter 10, Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares, by Tom DeLonge and Suzanne Young


Jarabec splashed some water on his face, clearing off the dust and grime. “I was like you, Poet,” he said, using the bottom of his shirt to wipe his eyes. “A Lucid Dreamer—a bit of a lost soul. The man who owned this garden taught me through my dreams. He too, was a Poet. I learned how to garden, at first. Dreams can be useful that way. An indestructible training ground. I could kill the plants and bring them back without ever damaging a single stem. Eventually, the man’s lessons extended into other skills: how to fight, how to be strong, how to survive. And long after he was gone and this place had been razed, I recreated it—every detail near perfection.” Jarabec glanced around, and for a split second, Poet saw a touch of melancholy cross his features.

“It’s beautiful,” Poet said. Jarabec smiled, and crossed the yard to his monocycle, squatting in front of it to adjust a piston near the tire. “So this means I can enter your memories?” Poet asked. He wasn’t sure he wanted that sort of invasive power.

“No,” Jarabec said. “You can’t enter a memory. What you’ve done is enter my dream.” Jarabec stood, wiping his palms along the thighs of his pants. “You see,” he continued, “most people start their dreams in the Waking World— at their jobs, their homes, their memories. Their personal dream world is only slightly different. A few, like you or me, can get deeper, find a place like Genesis.

“Occasionally, a lost soul will end up in the Dream World. That’s where you come in,” Jarabec said. “You can guide them out; bring them home. You return them to the safety of their dreams with your tunnels. Someone like you can gain access to anywhere, I suppose. We don’t know the limits yet.”

Poet walked over to sit on a bench, facing Jarabec. There was so much he wanted to know that he wasn’t sure where to start. He ran his palm roughly over his face and looked at the Dream Walker. “So you can enter my dreams, too?” Poet asked.

“No,” Jarabec replied. “That is a Poet’s talent. When I found you on the subway, you’d already left your dreams on your way to Genesis. And this time, you found me.”

Poet thought about that, nodding his head. “My brother and I would share dreams, though,” Poet said. “Does that mean Alan—?”

Jarabec shook his head. “No, your brother is not a Poet. All that time, you were in his dream. You tunneled in and lived it with him. Perhaps neither of you realized.”

“Okay,” Poet said. “Well, then what was up with that thing, the Night Terror—it almost killed me.” He could still picture the creature’s glowing red eyes, the way it was ready to devour him.

Jarabec nodded, and crossed to a vertical garden planter with shelves and picked up a pair of garden shears, examining the blade. “You’re right,” Jarabec said, running his thumb along the sharp edge. “But it didn’t. And it won’t. You’ll find a way to kill the Night Terror when you need to.” Jarabec walked over to a row of rose bushes, trimming off the buds that were wilted.

Old habit, Poet thought. Jarabec’s movements were deliberate and practiced, as if the dream was pulling him into his old role.

“Why didn’t you just kill the monster in the subway?” Poet asked him. Surely the Dream Walker was better equipped to handle murderous monsters than he was. Jarabec clipped a dead rose and let it fall to the ground.

“Because it’s not my Night Terror.”

“Fair enough,” Poet said, holding up his hands. “Explain things, then. Are there rules to this? Because, honestly, I have no fucking clue what’s happening.”

Jarabec turned to him and looked him over. “I can’t tell you how to beat your Night Terror. You have to find the answer in yourself. He’s the manifestation of your fear.”

Poet scoffed. “You can’t give me a hint?”

“No.” Jarabec touched his chest, and the armor opened, his Halo rising up above his shoulder.

Although Poet had seen it before, in this calm moment, he was struck by the beauty of the Halo. The sphere was gold and majestic. He narrowed his eyes as the Halo began to revolve around them, and noticed its scrapes and scars. Scorch marks.

“So that’s your soul?” Poet asked quietly. He’d seen Jarabec use it to protect them, but he hadn’t thought about how it would be affected. “It’s…damaged.”

“It is,” Jarabec said, watching the Halo circle. “And I feel every wound.” He touched his chest. “A constant ache in the Waking World. Some Dream Walkers have little left of their Halos—their souls harden like a weapon. Let’s just say their waking selves can become a bit unfeeling because of it.”

“So it changes who you are in the other reality,” Poet asked.

“Oh, yes. But it was a choice we made,” Jarabec said. “In the dreamscape, your soul is your life. And the souls of Dream Walkers are especially bright—so strong they can exist outside of our bodies. They protect us, but at great cost. It’s not a decision to be made lightly.”

“But…how?” Poet asked. “How did you release your soul?”

Jarabec stiffened and glanced at the bamboo fencing, as if waiting. Poet listened a moment, but heard nothing. Still, the Dream Walker’s change in demeanor piqued his concern. “That’s a story for another time,” Jarabec said. “Right now we need to figure out how we can develop your talents. Get you ready.”

“Talents?” Poet said. “Well, I can break into your dreams, apparently. Create giant holes that I can pull people through. I used to be able to make stuff, but not always. And not when I was in the city.”

“No, you won’t be able to,” Jarabec said. “In your dreams, you control your surroundings, so long as you can focus your mind. But in Genesis—the Dream World—you’re just a Poet: a guide for the lost souls.” The Dream Walker began to pace, his Halo widening its circle to follow as he walked the rows of flowers, rubbing his chin. “And it is exceedingly rare to meet a Poet. Most know better than to be found.”

Poet leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “And why’s that?”

“Your bright souls make you targets,” Jarabec said. “If REM were to get his hands on one of you, you can’t imagine the havoc he could inflict on the Waking World. The power of your soul would allow him passage to destroy and terrorize. To cause nightmares. And nightmares give him strength, power. He won’t be content until the entire world dreams of destruction and misery. And even then, that probably won’t be enough.”

Posted in Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

This is Where it Ends Giveaway

Marieke Nijkamp’s brilliant look inside a school shooting, This is Where it Ends, isn’t in stores until January, but you can win an advance copy from Sourcebooks NOW through November 1 – this Saturday!

this is where it ends

Check out their Tumblr and enter the giveaway for a chance to win an advance copy of the book, plus a chalkboard and chalk. Once you’ve read the book, take to the chalkboard and let us know how it made you feel! Snap a photo and share on your Tumblr, Twitter, and other social media networks, and use the tags #thisiswhereitends #sourcebooksfire.

This is a great opportunity to check out a new book AND let people know what you think! Enter the giveaway before it’s too late!

Posted in Horror, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Spotlight Tour: Rin Chupeco’s The Suffering!

I just finished reading Rin Chupeco’s The Suffering – the sequel to last year’s The Girl from the Well – and you are in for a treat. Well, you’re in for an even bigger treat, because Sourcebooks Fire has a Rafflecopter giveaway for you, along with an excerpt from The Suffering!

sufferingThe Suffering
By Rin Chupeco
September 1, 2015; Hardcover ISBN 9781492629832; Trade Paper ISBN 9781492629849
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Praise for the Suffering:

“Rin Chupeco’s The Suffering is a horror lover’s dream: murders, possessed dolls, and desiccated corpses. I cringed. I grimaced. You won’t soon forget this exorcist and his vengeful water ghost.”
–Kendare Blake, author of Anna Dressed in Blood

“Chupeco deftly combines ancient mysticism with contemporary dilemmas that teens face, immersing readers in horrors both supernatural and manmade. The Suffering is a chilling swim through the murky waters of morality.”
–Carly Anne West, author of The Bargaining and The Murmuring


Breathtaking and haunting, Rin Chupeco’s second novel is a chilling companion to her debut, The Girl from the Well.

The darkness will find you.

Seventeen-year-old Tark knows what it is to be powerless. But Okiku changed that. A restless spirit who ended life as a victim and started death as an avenger, she’s groomed Tark to destroy the wicked. But when darkness pulls them deep into Aokigahara, known as Japan’s suicide forest, Okiku’s justice becomes blurred, and Tark is the one who will pay the price…

Goodreads Link:

Buy Links:


Books A Million-





chupecoAbout the Author:
Despite uncanny resemblances to Japanese revenants, Rin Chupeco has always maintained her sense of humor. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. She’s been a technical writer and travel blogger, but now makes things up for a living. Connect with Rin at

Social Networking Links:

Excerpt from The Suffering:
It’s still early morning when our group is given clearance to enter. Aokigahara is a deceptive forest. It has all the hallmarks of a popular tourist destination: narrow but well-maintained hiking trails with a surprising amount of litter, not to mention strips of tape and ribbon wrapped around tree trunks. The leader explains that hikers use them as markers to maintain their bearings. Later on, one of the other volunteers whispers to us that some of the tapes were left by those who came here to kill themselves, in case they decided to change their minds. The revelation horrifies Callie.

A few miles into our hike, anything resembling civilization disappears. Roots crawl across the hard forest floor, and it’s easy to trip if you’re not constantly looking down. We’re outside, but the trees make it feel claustrophobic. They reach hungrily toward the sun, fighting each other for drops of light, and this selfishness grows with the darkness as we move deeper into the woods.

It’s quiet. The silence is broken by the scuffling of feet or snapping of dry twigs as we walk. Every so often, volunteers call back and forth to each other, and rescue dogs exploring the same vicinity that we are will bark. But there are no bird calls, no sounds of scampering squirrels. We’re told that there is very little wildlife in Jukai. Nothing seems to flourish here but trees.

This deep into the woods, any roads and cleared paths are gone. At times, we’re forced to climb to a higher ledge or slide down steep slopes to proceed, and there’s always some root or rock hiding to twist an ankle.

And yet-the forest is beautiful. I like myself too much to seriously think about suicide, even during my old bouts of depression, but I can understand why people would choose to die here. There is something noble and enduring and magnificent about the forest.

That sense of wonder disappears though, the instant I see them. There are spirits here. And the ghosts mar the peacefulness for me. They hang from branches and loiter at the base of tree trunks. Their eyes are open and their skin is gray, and they watch me as I pass. I don’t know what kind of people they were in life, but they seem faded and insignificant in death.

Okiku watches them but takes no action. These are not the people she hunts. They don’t attack us because they’re not that kind of ghosts. Most of them, I intuit, aren’t violent. The only lives they had ever been capable of taking were their own.

I’m not afraid, despite their bloated faces, contorted from the ropes they use to hang themselves or the overdose of sleeping pills they’ve taken. If anything, I feel lingering sadness. I can sympathize with their helpless anguish. These people took their own lives, hoping to find some meaning in death when they couldn’t find it in life. But there’s nothing here but regret and longing.

And there’s that tickle again, so light it is nearly imperceptible. Something in this forest attracts these deaths. It lures its unhappy victims with its strange siren’s call and then, having taken what it needs, leaves their spirits to rot. A Venus flytrap for human souls.

Something is wrong here, and suddenly, the forest no longer looks as enticing or majestic as when we arrived.


18509623New in Paperback from this Author: The Girl From The Well

Praise for The Girl From The Well:

“[A] Stephen King-like horror story.” -Kirkus Reviews

“Told in a marvelously disjointed fashion.” -Publishers Weekly STARRED Review

“This gorgeously written story reads like poetry.” -Brazos Bookstore

“Darkly mesmerizing.” -The Boston Globe

“A superior creep factor that is pervasive in every lyrical word.” -Booklist


The Ring meets The Exorcist in this haunting and lyrical reimagining of the Japanese fable.

Okiku has wandered the world for hundreds of years, setting free the spirits of murdered children. Wherever there’s a monster hurting a child, her spirit is there to deliver punishment. Such is her existence, until the day she discovers a troubled American teenager named Tark and the dangerous demon that writhes beneath his skin, trapped by a series of intricate tattoos. Tark needs to be freed, but there is one problem-if the demon dies, so does its host.

With the vigilante spirit Okiku as his guide, Tark is drawn deep into a dark world of sinister doll rituals and Shinto exorcisms that will take him far from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Japan. Can Okiku protect him from the demon within or will her presence bring more harm? The answer lies in the depths of a long-forgotten well.

Goodreads Link:

Buy Links:



Books A Million-





Click here for a Rafflecopter giveaway!


Posted in Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Spelled by Betsy Schow – an excerpt and a giveaway!

I recently reviewed Betsy Schow’s Wizard of Oz/fairy tale mashup, Spelled – now, you’ve got the chance to win your own copy, courtesy of Sourcebooks! Check out the excerpt below, and make sure to enter to win!


Spelled, By Betsy Schow

Sourcebooks Fire

June 2, 2015

Advance Praise for Spelled

“A cute adventure with romance set in a world full of fairy-tale mash-ups. Readers will love Dorthea’s evolution from spoiled princess to strong, confident heroine… For Oz fans, this work is a great clean-read alternative to Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die.” –School Library Journal

“This wickedly funny, fast-paced adventure has it all: brains, courage, and heart. (Plus a kickin’ pair of heels.) .” –Jen Calonita, author of The Secrets of My Hollywood Life and Fairy Tale Reform School series

“Fairy tale survival rule #1, do NOT read this book late at night. You will wake up your entire family with loud laughter. Fairy tale survival rule #2, if you love the Wizard of Oz, clever fairy tale mash-ups, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen until the very end, you MUST read Spelled.” –J Scott Savage, award winning author of Farworld, Case File 13, and the Mysteries of Cove series.

A hilarious and snarky reimagining of the world of Oz, along with many other fairy tales injected throughout, “Spelled” is one fabulous read…Kick off those silver slippers and tuck in with this wonderful tale!” —Senator Sipes, Lil Book Bug (Palmdale, CA)

Book Info:

Talk about unhappily ever after. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the not-so-charming prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving Dorthea with hair made up of emerald flames and the kingdom in chaos. Her parents and everyone she loves are stuck in some place called “Kansas.” Now it’s up to Dorthea and her pixed-off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse…before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.

Amazon | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound | Kindle |  Nook

Betsy Schow:

Betsy Schow is the author of the memoir Finished Being Fat, and has been featured on The Today Show and in The Wall Street Journal. She lives in Utah, but travels the country with Color Me Rad 5k, and partners with nonprofits to teach kids creative thinking and how to reach their goals.

Website| Twitter

Excerpt from Spelled:

Most of the crowd had dispersed. The final few stragglers looked at me with the all­ too-common look of fear mixed with trepidation. Pix ’em. They were just servants. It wasn’t like their opinion mattered.

Only one remained, watching me with open curiosity. He looked to be in his late teens or was magically enhanced to appear so. He could have been a hundred for all I knew. I’d never seen him before in my life. He was handsome enough, for a commoner, even in his worn leather pants and cracked work boots. A foreigner, his hair was unruly and dark auburn, which complemented his tanned but dirt-smudged complexion, though the tall, dark stranger vibe was ruined by his piercing pale blue eyes.

Well, I’d had enough of being a sideshow for the day. “If you’re the new gardener, the hedges are overgrown and in need of a trim.” I pointed in the direction of my father. “While you’re there, you can help the king with the wisps.”

The young man’s expression clouded over, but he didn’t move.

I stamped my foot and pointed more forcefully. “Off with you. Courtyard’s that way. Be sure to clean those awful boots before coming back in.”

“Someone told me I’d find a princess of great worth here. One with the strength to be the hero this realm needs.” He stared at me with those unsettling blue eyes. They were cold, like ice water—made me shiver from head to toe. Then his gaze seemed to search even deeper. Finally, he looked through me, like I was nothing.

In brisk steps, he strode across the marble to the courtyard. But before crossing the threshold, he turned back to glare at me with his lip curled ever so slightly. “It seems she was mistaken.”

Just like that, I had been sifted, weighed, and found wanting.

I felt my own lip curl in response. How rude! Who the Grimm was this peasant to judge me? I was wearing a Glenda original. Original! Not some fairy-godmother knockoff worn by those servant girls turned royal. I was a crown princess, for the love of fairy, and no one dismissed me.

Before I could put the boy in his place—down in the dirt, where he belonged—a clatter came from behind, making me nearly jump out of my shoes. I checked and was relieved that Sterling had simply dropped his sword. By the time I looked back, the gardener was gone.

After stowing his blade, Sterling held up his shield, not in defense of the entrance but so he could look at his reflection. “Clearly he’s blind and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

I didn’t ask for Sterling’s opinion, but it made me feel better.

Until he opened his mouth again.

“Worth, pffft. I mean, look around at all the jewels. Your palace has everything you could ever want. Honestly, I don’t know what you’re fussing about. Why would anyone want to leave?”

Because a cage is still a cage, no matter how big or glittering the bars are.

And I would find a way free, no matter the cost.

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance at a copy of Spelled!

Posted in Preschool Reads

Daredevil Duck Blog Tour! Author interview and contest!

daredevil duckDaredevil Duck, by Charlie Alder (May 2015, Running Press) $16.95, ISBN: 9780762458929

Recommended for ages 3-7

Daredevil Duck wants to be brave. He really does, but there are so many scary things out in the world: fluttery things, the dark, heights – what’s a wannabe daredevil to do? One day, Daredevil Duck is called on to help a friendly Mole save his balloon, stuck up in a tree. This is Daredevil Duck’s big moment: can he face his fears and save the day?

This is a great story for the preschool and Kindergarten set. It addresses common fears, and tells a sweet story of how one young duck faced and overcame those fears in order to help someone. If that’s not great motivation, what is? It also addresses bullying, which is so important to tackle in these early years, when kids are forming their social patterns.

Most of all, Daredevil Duck is just fun. The book has interesting die cuts and flaps that kids will love exploring, and it adds great interest to a read-aloud. I love keeping the kids in suspense for a second or two before opening a flap and giving them an exciting reveal, and they love the delicious anticipation. The cartoony artwork, with bright primary colors inside a thick black outline, gives a child-friendly welcome to the story. Emphasized moments and text will catch readers’ attention and keep them giggling.

I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book for review, and read it to my preschooler storytime classes, where it went over very well. The kids loved the reveals under the flaps and gatefolds, and they loved going on Daredevil Duck’s brave journey with him. A fun read-aloud to add to the collection.


I was thrilled to get Daredevil Duck‘s author, Charlie Alder to answer a couple of questions. Read on for more!

coffee-bearMomReadIt: Would you call Daredevil Duck an accidental superhero?
Charlie Alder: That’s a good question! Well, Daredevil Duck wants to be a superhero, but his fears get the better of him every time. It’s only when he’s really determined to help a new friend, and his fears have to be put to one side, that he realizes anything is possible! This realization is totally accidental to him, so I guess he really is an accidental superhero!

MRI: Is Daredevil Duck based on anyone you know?
CA: I would say Daredevil Duck is very similar to my little boy at age 4 or 5! Initially, when I first started coming up with story ideas and character sketches he was very much his own character, but as the story started to progress, I realized he had taken on many of the traits, hopes and fears of my little boy, and indeed many of his friends.

MRI: What advice would you have for anyone who wants to be a superhero, daredevil, or just sleep without a night light? How can someone channel Daredevil Duck in his or her own life?
CA: Well, being brave can take many different forms, from trying a new sport, making new friends or eating a new vegetable! Throughout the story Daredevil Duck kept telling himself he couldn’t do things, that he was too scared, but he never really tried! When he really tried to rescue the yellow balloon he surprised himself! The only way you’ll really know if you can do something or not is to try it, it doesn’t matter if you fail, at least you have tried… and you never know, you may surprise yourself too!

You can follow Charlie Alder on Twitter @chuckie346, or visit her author website for more information. Thanks, Charlie!

Win your own copy of Daredevil Duck with this a Rafflecopter giveaway
-good luck!


By Charlie Alder
Blog Tour Schedule
5/4 Wife Hat, Mom Hat
5/5 Geo Librarian
5/6 In The Pages
5/7 Stacking Books
5/9 Bea’s Book Nook
5/10 ReaderKidz
5/11 Coffee for the Brain
5/12 The Picture Book Review
5/13 Mrs. Brown Loves Bookworms
5/14 Mom Read It
5/15 Unpacking the POWER of
5/16 Cheryl Rainfield
5/17 Unleashing Readers