Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Pippa’s Night Parade!

Pippa’s a little girl with a BIG imagination, but sometimes, that wonderfully wild imagination runs a little TOO wild!

Pippa’s Night Parade, by Lisa Robinson/Illustrated by Lucy Fleming,
(Oct. 2019, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542093002
Ages 4-8

Pippa is a spunky little girl who armors up in masks, scarves, and boots, but they’re not match for the villains, monsters, and beasts that spring out of her books at night and menace her. Pirates threaten her, dragons roar at her, and bears growl at her as her bookshelf becomes alive. What’s a reader to do? Pippa has a plan: she invites the monsters to come to a “Scary Night Parade” in her room, where she puts her maker skills to work and creates costumes even a monster would love! The scary party turns into a spectacular fashion show, where the former baddies strut their stuff. Talk about modern problem-solving!

Pippa stars a young girl of color, a dedicated fan of books and reading with a love of dressing up. The cartoony art is rendered in bold, colorful purples, yellows, and pinks. The dramatic shadows of the villains on the rise, the enchanted books flying around her room, with the dragon emerging from a book in golden flame, are all beautifully, fantastically created, giving readers a feel for fantasy entering Pippa’s reality. I love the way Pippa faces her fears and uses her imagination to help her conquer her bedtime monsters. Absolute fun for Halloween, bedtime reading, or dress-up storytime.

Lisa Robinson was born in Kampala, Uganda, to Peace Corps volunteers who later became world-traveling diplomats. When she was a child, her family moved frequently, so books became her best friends. She now works as a psychiatrist and writer. She holds an MFA in creative writing for young people from Lesley University. She is also the author of Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten!, illustrated by Eda Kaban, and has more books forthcoming. She lives in Massachusetts with her family and three cats. Learn more about the author at www.author-lisa-robinson.com, or on Twitter: @elisaitw.

Lucy Fleming, like Pippa, has a wonderfully wild imagination, which she uses to create illustrations for children’s books. She has illustrated more than twenty titles, including River Rose and the Magical Christmas by Kelly Clarkson and For the Beauty of the Earth by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint, which was a Junior Library Guild Selection. She is a graduate of the University of Lincoln in England. She lives and works in a small town in England with a cup of ginger tea in hand and her cat close by. Learn more about the illustrator at www.lucyflemingillustrations.com.

Instagram: @illustratelucy

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Pippa’s Night Parade, courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Tiger Vs. Nightmare: Friends watch out for each other!

Tiger vs. Nightmare, by Emily Tetri, (Nov. 2018, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626725355

Ages 7-11

Tiger’s got a monster who lives under her bed! But it’s okay – this monster is her best friend. She shares her food with Monster, and they plays games and hang out together every night until it’s time for lights out. While Tiger sleeps, Monster scares her nightmares away. But a big nightmare is waiting in the dark, and Monster can’t fight this one alone – Monster is pretty scared, too. It’s up to the friends to work together to get rid of this nightmare for good.

Tiger vs. Nightmare is an adorable intermediate/early middle grade graphic novel about friends, bedtimes, and scaring away those big, bad nightmares. The Nightmare is spooky, but not so scary that it will give little readers nightmares. I read it with my 6-year-old, and he was fine. Honest. There are positive messages about teamwork, trial and error, facing fears, and friendship. The watercolor and pencil artwork adds a dreamy feel to the story, and the color schemes run cool blue for nightmares, warm colors for the dawn. Monster is blue, linking to the world of nightmares, but as Monster also offers support and comfort to Tiger; I think of blue as more of a bridge between the dreaming and awake worlds.

Tiger vs. Nightmare has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

The Dogs is a gripping YA thriller with a touch of the paranormal!

thedogsThe Dogs, by Allan Stratton (Sept. 2015, SourcebooksFire), $16.99, ISBN: 9781492609384

Recommended for ages 12+

“Mom and I have been on the run for years.  Every time he catches up with us, we move to a new place and start over. But this place is different.  This place is full of secrets. And they won’t leave me alone.”

Cameron and his mother are on the run from his abusive father. They make their way to their latest home, a broken-down farm with a history that no one wants to talk about. Their next door neighbor/landlord has secrets of his own, and he’s bullied by the kids at school who taunt him about the dogs they say haunt the farm. Tired of pulling up stakes at a moment’s notice and living an invisible life, Cameron is drawn to Jacky, a young boy he sees on his property. The thing is, Jacky isn’t there – or is he? Is Cameron imagining things, or is he talking to a ghost? What are the mysteries surrounding the house and the dogs, and are Cameron’s memories about his own past able to be trusted?

I love a good thriller, and The Dogs is one of the best ones I’ve read this year. Cameron, as an unreliable narrator, keeps the readers on their toes as he shifts between memory, imagination, and reality. The plot and subplots are woven together beautifully to give readers a creepy, often chilling, adventure that left me with a clenched jaw and the cold sweats. Stratton takes the mental and emotional toll that domestic violence takes on a family; the constant fear that a mother on the run deals with, and weaves them into a murder mystery, adding a dash of ghost story to the mix. There’s something for everyone here, and I can’t wait to get this book into my teen patrons’ hands. There are so many great topics for discussion here; I’m thinking of featuring this as a kickoff selection to a Teen Reads book club I want to begin this Fall.

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

Welcome to the Dark House: where reality turns deadly!

darkhouseWelcome to the Dark House, by Laurie Stolarz (Hyperion, July 2014). $16.99, ISBN: 9781423181729

Recommended for ages 14+

Imagine your favorite horror movie director emails you about a contest – where YOU can be in his next movie. All you have to do is tell him about your worst nightmare. For six winning contestants, it’s the chance of a lifetime. For the seventh – a girl named Ivy Parker – it’s the chance to finally rid herself of a real-life nightmare that’s haunted her since she was a child.

Seven fans of horror director Justin Blake find themselves part of his next movie, based on his Nightmare Elf series. They all have secrets – some darker than others. That’s the price of admission. But shortly after settling in and getting to know one another, the group starts experiencing strange things – one member has gone missing. There are strange messages and bloodstains showing up. This is all part of the movie, right?

I loved this book. It’s a great, old-school slasher movie brought to YA, updated with a splash of reality show drama. We get a good backstory for each of the characters (within reason – read the book to see what I mean) – their personalities, their motivations, their secrets – and their interactions with other characters. These folks don’t gel together and become instant BFFs; there are personality clashes and internal issues that affect their actions and interactions. Set within the larger-scale story of Justin Blake’s contest, it’s a great character-driven story. Not all the characters are likable or even sympathetic. I appreciated that.

The book is a horror novel, so expect violence and mind games. If you’re a horror fan, you’ll love this book. If you’re an old school slasher movie fan like I am, you’ll recognize a lot of the tropes that make those movies (and the experience of watching them) so much fun. The book’s ending will hopefully leave you like it did me – wondering when we’ll find out more.