Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Intermediate, Realistic Fiction

Series fiction gift ideas!

There are some nifty things about series fiction: there are usually a few published throughout a calendar year, and they’re usually reasonably inexpensive, so you can scoop up a few as a nice gift. Here are a few I’ve enjoyed lately.

Anna Hibiscus

Welcome Home, Anna Hibiscus!, by Atinuke/Illustrated by Lauren Tobia, (Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-678-6
Go Well, Anna Hibiscus!, by Atinuke/Illustrated by Lauren Tobia, (Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-679-3
Love From Anna Hibiscus!, by Atinuke/Illustrated by Lauren Tobia, (Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-680-9
You’re Amazing, Anna Hibiscus!, by Atinuke/Illustrated by Lauren Tobia, (Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-681-6
Good for readers 6-8

This series is wonderful. While it is a running series, you won’t be lost if you don’t read in numerical order. I came in on books 4-8 and have the first four on request from another library; I was captivated by this slice of life series about a young girl who lives with her paternal, extended family, in Africa. The book celebrates African culture and community, family, and empathy. In Welcome Home, Anna Hibiscus, Anna has returned to beautiful Africa after vacationing with her maternal grandmother in Canada. She’s thrilled to be home, gains a new pet, and eases back into daily life. Go Well, Anna Hibiscus! sees Anna and her family returning to her grandparents’ village, where life is slower; there’s no running water or electricity, and kids don’t go to school. Anna learns how to make new friends and learns from them even as she teaches. In Love from Anna Hibiscus!, Anna’s grandfather discovers that an old friend of his has passed away, leaving a young grandson, Sunny Belafonte, on his own. The boy is starving and steals in order to eat; Grandfather and Anna know they must intervene. You’re Amazing, Anna Hibiscus! is the strongest book in this very strong series: Grandfather is becoming more and more tired. Anna is left to work through the grief that that comes with a death in the family. The books paint a beautiful picture of everyday family life and the compassion Anna and her family have for others. Anna and her family are African but for her mother, who is Anglo-Canadian; something that is communicated through illustration. The black and white illustrations throughout show a loving family and scenes of African life: Anna teaching village children to write the alphabet using sticks and the ground; Grandmother weaves a basket; the kids ride an uncomfortably crowded bus to Grandfather’s village. Originally published between 2012-2016 by Walker Books, the series is now available from American publisher Kane Miller. Give this set to kids and broaden their horizons.

 

Animal Planet Adventures

Dolphin Rescue, by Catherine Nichols, (Feb. 2017, Liberty Street), $14.95, ISBN: 978-1-61893-169-6
Farm Friends Escape!, by Catherine Nichols, (Feb. 2017, Liberty Street), $14.95, ISBN: 978-1-61893-416-1
Puppy Rescue Riddle, by Catherine Nichols, (Sept. 2017, Liberty Street), $14.95, ISBN: 978-1-68330-008-3
Zoo Camp Puzzle, by Gail Herman, (Sept. 2017, Liberty Street), $14.95, ISBN: 978-1-68330-009-0
Good for readers 6-10

Simultaneously available in hardcover or $5.99 paperback, this Animal Planet fiction series debuted earlier this year and blends fiction and nonfiction. I enjoyed the first two books, Dolphin Rescue and Farm Friends Escape!, earlier this year; I just read the next two, Puppy Rescue Riddle and Zoo Camp Puzzle, and can honestly say I get a kick out of this series. It’s a true series in that each book is its own separate adventure; there’s no crossover with other characters or locations, so every book stands alone and makes it easy to dive in and enjoy whatever appeals to readers. Don’t like farm animals much? No worries, just read another book. There’s a major plot running through each book and a mystery subplot that the characters must work together to solve: with Puppy Rescue Riddle, a group of friends volunteer at an animal shelter and have to find a puppy who’s gotten lost in a house; Zoo Camp Puzzle stars twin siblings, temporarily living with and being homeschooled by their father at a zoo while he works on a book. The twins notice that animals are going into hiding, and work to get to the bottom of the mystery. Zoo Camp Puzzle has fun word searches and puzzles throughout (which will necessitate a “Do Not Write in This Book” label on my library copy). Each book also has a cute flip book feature – flip the pages, and see dolphins swim, ducks waddle, puppies run, and zoo animals shuffle along.  The illustrations are in color, and full-color nonfiction sections throughout each book provide information on veterinarians, how animals react to changes in weather patterns, and more. The set is available in both hardcover and paperback. Great set for young animal fans.

 

Ella and Owen

Ella and Owen: The Cave of AAAAAH! Doom!, by Jaden Kent/Illustrated by Iryna Bodnaruk, (March 2017, little bee books), $5.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0368-6
Ella and Owen: Attack of the Stinky Fish Monster!, by Jaden Kent/Illustrated by Iryna Bodnaruk, (March 2017, little bee books), $5.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0369-3
Ella and Owen: Attack of the Knights vs. Dragons, by Jaden Kent/Illustrated by Iryna Bodnaruk, (May 2017, little bee books), $5.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0372-3

Dragon siblings Ella and Owen are forever bickering. Owen is bookish and likes staying home, reading; Ella is adventurous and always ready to push the envelope. In The Cave of AAAAAH! Doom!, the two search for a cure for Owen’s cold, only to go up against an ogre and evil vegetable wizard. In Attack of the Stinky Fish Monster!, the siblings want to surprise their mom with a cake made of delicious stinky fish, so off they go. They end up turned into newts by a wizard named Ken, bargain with a pixie, and find a stinky fish monster: a very large, very grumpy, stinky fish monster. Knights vs. Dragons goes a little deeper as the dragons find a group of knights who hate dragons because they’ve followed a culture of hating dragons for years: fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers have always hated dragons; that’s just the way it is, right? When the knights encounter a group of trolls who hate knights for the same reason – and are a lot bigger, stronger, and scarier than the knights are – Ella and Owen have a chance to teach the knights a valuable lesson about acceptance. This is a fun series – there are four in print at the moment – that kids who love dragons and silly fantasy will enjoy. There are black and white illustrations throughout, but, sadly, no recipe for stinky fish cake.

Unicorn Princesses

Unicorn Princesses: Sunbeam’s Shine, by Emily Bliss/Illustrated by Sydney Hanson, (Aug. 2017, Bloomsbury USA), $5.99, ISBN: 978-1681193267
Unicorn Princesses: Flash’s Dash, by Emily Bliss/Illustrated by Sydney Hanson, (Aug. 2017, Bloomsbury USA), $5.99, ISBN: 978-1681193304
Unicorn Princesses: Bloom’s Ball, by Emily Bliss/Illustrated by Sydney Hanson, (Dec. 2017, Bloomsbury USA), $5.99, ISBN: 978-1681193342
Unicorn Princesses: Prism’s Paint, by Emily Bliss/Illustrated by Sydney Hanson, (Dec. 2017, Bloomsbury USA), $5.99, ISBN: 978-168119338

This series is a no-brainer for fantasy fans who love their unicorns and My Little Pony books. A human girl named Cressida is convinced that unicorns are real, happens upon the Rainbow Realm where unicorns live, and befriends them, receiving a magical key to re-enter their realm whenever she wants to visit. She helps the unicorns out with each visit. In Sunbeam’s Shine, a wizard’s mistake costs Princess Sunbeam her magic yellow sapphire, which causes her to lose her powers. The key to regaining them is to enlist the help of a human who believes in unicorns! In Flash’s Dash, the big Thunder Dash race is coming up, and Princess Flash lets non-unicorns compete for the first time. Cressida’s invited to take part, but the bumbling wizard (who’s also a lizard) casts a spell that covers the track in sticky goo. Bloom’s Ball has Princess Bloom trusting the wizard-lizard with a spell to deliver her special birthday ball invitation by mail, but an errant word brings on an army of quails who wreck the party, leaving Cressida to help salvage the day. In Prism’s Paint, that wizard – seriously, why is he even allowed to practice magic at this point? – changes Princess Prism’s power from turning objects different colors to removing color altogether. Cressida’s got to help find the rainbow to restore Prism’s power. The series is adorable, wacky, and full of good-hearted dilemmas, with black and white illustrations throughout. Bloom’s Ball and Prism’s Paint are due out on 12/26, making them good Kwanzaa gifts, or hold onto them for Little Christmas in January. There are two more books forthcoming in 2018. Trust me, someone you know loves unicorns. I have one little girl at my library waiting desperately for these next two books to come out. Want to mix it up a little? Consider some My Little Pony books, or anything in the Rainbow Fairies series by Daisy Meadows.

Happy reading and happy holiday shopping!

 

 

 

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Blog Tour: Puppy Pals – MURPHY!

9781492634003-prMurphy, by Susan Hughes
November 1, 2016; Trade Paper, ISBN 9781492634003

Book Info:
Title: Murphy
Author: Susan Hughes
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Summary:
The newest adventure in the pawsitively adorable Puppy Pals series!

Kat and her BFF Maya love playing with the puppies at her Aunt Jenn’s grooming business, Tails Up!, and the girls are always there to help a puppy in need.

So when a shy Shetland puppy named Murphy arrives, Kat and Maya can’t wait to play with him. But Kat invites new-girl Grace along, and Maya is less than pleased. Then they find a lost cocker spaniel named Tawny, and the girls can’t seem to agree on what’s best for her. Will Tawny find her way back home? And can Kat be friends with both Maya and Grace? Maybe Murphy can help them sort it all out!

Goodreads Link: http://ow.ly/LtfM305R2HW

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://ow.ly/fRpS305R2Nh
Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/8Rmm305R2VH
IndieBound: http://ow.ly/czVP305R33u

susan-hughes-head-and-shoulder-shot-by-georgia-coles-june-10-2012About the Author:
Susan Hughes is a writer and editor, and has been writing children’s books and articles for nearly twenty years. She has received numerous nominations for Canadian children’s writing awards. She lives with her family in Toronto. Visit Susan at www.susanhughes.ca.

Social Media Links:

Author Website: http://www.susanhughes.ca/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/childbkauthor

 

 

 

Enjoy an excerpt from Murphy right here!

9781492634003-prChapter One

Puppies were scampering across the grass. There must have been over twenty of them!

Some puppies were brown, some were black, and some were brown with white spots. Some puppies had perky ears, and some had floppy ears. Some had big, wide paws; some had little, dainty paws. All the puppies had sparkling eyes and wagging tails.

Kat was in her classroom, sitting at her desk.

Her eyes were closed. She was having her favorite puppy daydream.

Her mother and father smile at her.

“Of course you can have a puppy, Kat,” her mother says.

Her father sweeps out his arm. “Have any one you want!”

Kat smiles too. She looks at all the puppies, and she tries to choose. The little red Irish setter puppy gazing up at her with the dark-­brown eyes? The black-­and-­white dalmatian puppy tumbling across the grass? The adorable wheaten terrier pup with the brown face and the black muzzle?

Suddenly the bell rang. School was over for the day, and the dream ended. But that was okay. Kat had puppy plans this afternoon.

“Let’s go!” Kat said to Grace, who was at the desk next to hers. The girls jumped out of their seats, grabbed their things, and made a beeline for the classroom door. But before they reached it, they heard their teacher’s voice.

“Katherine, Grace, where are you off to in such a hurry?” Ms. Mitchell stood at the front of the classroom. She was smiling.

Kat liked her fourth-­grade teacher a lot. For one thing, Ms. Mitchell knew how much Kat loved puppies—­and her teacher liked puppies too.

“You won’t believe it, Ms. Mitchell!” said Kat. “Remember how I told you my aunt opened up a dog-­grooming salon? We get to help her with a puppy today!”

Ms. Mitchell smiled. “How wonderful!”

“Her business is doing really well,” explained Kat. “She thought it would take some time to get going, but she was swamped with customers all last week. So she asked Maya and me to help out after school. Did you know that Grace loves puppies, just like me?”

“I had an idea that she might,” Ms. Mitchell confessed, her brown eyes sparkling.

Grace chimed in, “When Kat found out, she asked me to help out at Tails Up! too!”

Grace was new to the town of Orchard Valley. She was slim with brown eyes. Grace often wore her long red hair in braids. She reminded Kat of Anne of Green Gables.

It had taken a few days, but Kat and Grace had become friends. Not best friends, like Kat and Maya—­they did almost everything together. Maya liked to tease Kat and make her laugh. She said, “You love puppies, but your name is Kat? That’s crazy!” In return, Kat helped Maya with school projects and told her silly jokes. They had been in the same class since kindergarten, but not this year.

But now Kat had a new friend: Grace. And Maya had agreed to try to be friends with Grace too, even though the girls didn’t know each other at all and they didn’t seem to have much in common. Grace was quiet. Maya wasn’t. Grace had trouble saying how she felt about things. Maya did not.

Kat was keeping her fingers crossed that her two friends—­her best friend and her new friend—­would get along. This was the first time they were going to hang out together. They were going to Tails Up! together, and Kat had invited both girls to come over for dinner after. Maya had been to Kat’s house at least a million times, but it would be Grace’s very first time.

“Well, how lovely!” Ms. Mitchell looked pleased. “Any puppy would be very lucky to have you three looking after him. Have fun, girls!”

Kat and Grace hurried out of the school and across the playground. They stopped to look for Maya. They were all walking to Tails Up! together.

“Sorry I’m late.” Maya ran up, trying to catch her breath. “Okay, let’s go. But just tell me one thing: did I miss the answer to the joke?”

“Oh, right, the joke!” Grace said, grinning. She rolled her eyes. Every morning, Kat told a joke. Today it was, “Why are dalmatians not good at hide-­and-­seek?” As usual, she made her friends wait forever before she told them the answer.

“So tell us, Kat-­Nip,” Maya demanded. “Answer.”

“Are you sure?” Kat teased. “You don’t want to guess again?”

“Oh, please. Put us out of our misery,” Maya said. “Right, Grace?”

“Right!” Grace chimed in.

“Here goes: dalmatians aren’t good at hide-­and-­seek because they’re always spotted!” Kat said.

“Agh!” moaned Grace and Maya.

“Worst joke ever!” Maya complained hap­pily, as they all rushed toward Tails Up!

 

Don’t miss your chance to win your own copy of Murphy! Enter the a Rafflecopter giveaway today! (Runs until November 18, so enter now!)