Posted in picture books

Pie for Breakfast brings everyone together!

Pie for Breakfast: Simple Baking Recipes for Kids, by Cynthia Cliff, (Apr. 2021, Prestel Junior), $16.95, ISBN: 9783791374604

Ages 6-9

Hazel and her dad love baking together, and the house smells delicious when they do! When Hazel has the idea to organize a bake sale for the school fair, with the proceeds benefiting the library, she recruits her friends and their families to help, with delicious results! Each family’s recipe makes it into Pie for Breakfast, and they sound delicious: pumpkin empanadas, vegan chocolate cake, easy jam tarts, nankhatai cookies, and strawberry mochi are only a few of the fourteen recipes you’ll find in here. Each spread features an illustration of one of Hazel’s friends and, in some cases, family members, baking in their home; the opposite page has the recipe laid out, step by step, with all the ingredients listed. Pie for Breakfast is recipe book within a story, and it’s inclusive in every way: families are multicultural and diverse in every way. Families from different cultures enrich the bake sale with their own recipes, making for a rich bake sale menu. Important tips for baking are in the back matter, including making sure an adult is there to oversee and help out. The artwork is cheerful and colorful, and the endpapers lay out the feast that awaits within the book. What a fun book!

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

20 Recipes Kids Should Know is delicious!

20 Recipes Kids Should Know, by Esme Washburn/Photos by Calista Washburn, (April 2019, Prestel), $16.95, ISBN: 9783791385075

Ages 8+

Esme Washburn is a 12-year-old cooking enthusiast. Her sister Calista is a 17-year-old photographer. Together, the two sisters have come up with a delicious book of easy-to-make recipes for kids. These 20 recipes provide a nice variety for a burgeoning chef: there’s a choice of breakfasts, lunches, dinners (called Mains here), appetizers, sides, and desserts, plus two extra recipes for “Back to Basics Bread” and “Popovers That Pop”. There’s something for everyone here, from meat-based dishes to vegetarian fare. Ingredients are easily attained at your local grocery store, and the directions are numbered, step-by-step, and written out in short, simple sentences that allow readers to have the book propped open, ready to follow along with a glance as needed.

The photos are just beautiful. I’m assuming that Esme Washburn, as the cook, plates her food for photos, and does a scrumptious job; Calista Washburn creates lovely foodscapes on pastel dishes, with culinary flourishes like dishcloths, measuring spoons, and fresh foods to add to the visual appeal. The Quintessential Grilled Cheese Sandwich is begging me to take a bite out of it, with its crispy, textured bread and melted cheese sitting on a plate; the Creamiest Mac and Cheese would be the perfect accompaniment to it, with gooey, melty cheese peeking through the wagon wheel pasta. (Yes, I’m a cheese fanatic.)

An introduction provides the important stuff to go over: weights and measurements, safety tips, guidelines for prep and cleanup, and a glossary/cooking techniques section are all here to help get new cooks up and running. Esme writes an introduction before each recipe.

20 Recipes Kids Should Know is a nice addition to a young cook’s bookshelf. There’s no firm minimum age noted here, so I’d say that, as a parent or caregiver, you know when your kids are ready – and require guidance. I’ve got a 15-year-old who I still keep an ear out for, and I’ve got a 7-year-old who I stand at the stove with while he cooks up his own scrambled eggs. (My oldest is 20 and has a pretty firm hand on cooking, but he’s been cooking with me since he was 3.) Bottom line? Use your judgement and err on the side of caution, but encourage them to try some cooking with the Washburn sisters and lend a hand. It’s science!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Bone Soup puts a Halloween spin on a classic!

Bone Soup: A Spooky Tasty Tale, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli/Illustrated by Tom Knight, (July 2018, Simon & Schuster), $17.99, ISBN: 9781481486088

Ages 4-8

Naggy, Craggy, and Scraggy are three hungry witches. Alas, their cupboards are bare, but for a single bone. A single bone, you say? Piff-Poof! Naggy Witch has a plan: Bone Soup, the perfect Halloween treat! The witches travel throughout the town, gathering delights from the local monsters: a bit of water here, an eye of a giant there, some old toenails and some slimy sludge, until the entire town has contributed to a bone-chillingly delicious meal for all! Based on the classic tale, Stone Soup, Alyssa Satin Capucilli puts a wonderfully fun spin on this perfect read for preschoolers and, Kindergartners (and more!).

There’s repetition here that invites readers to join in: “Piff-Poof!” Naggy Witches cries as each ingredient goes into the cauldron, and the witches chant, with each stop, “Trick-or-treat! Trick-or-treat! We’ve something unusually good to eat. It’s bone soup, soup from a bone. A savory morsel is all it needs!” Get the kids chanting, let them be little monsters or witches, and pull out a cauldron (it’s Halloween season, you can find a $1.99 trick or treat cauldron anywhere) to let them throw goodies in.The charcoal and pencil art is adorable, with green, crazy-haired witches, giant blue monsters, and googly-eyed mummies and skeletons. The fonts are big and readable, changing size and color for emphasis. There’s a recipe for Naggy Witch’s Bone Soup at the end of the book, with thoughtful substitution suggestions for those of us who may balk at juice of a toad or colored flies. Author Alyssa Satin Capucilli has a great storytime activity kit for free download on her site, complete with word games for older readers, and a printable recipe to hand out to parents. My kids and my library kids know and love Ms. Capucilli’s Biscuit books, so that could be a good intro when telling parents about the author.

This would be a great feltboard storytime activity, or you can get creative and make your own eyeballs (ping pong balls are good), toenails (cut up some index cards into slivers), and a bone or two (it’s Halloween, there are plush or plastic bones to be found everywhere). I love this story, and can’t wait to get it in front of a group of Kindergartners next week for a Halloween storytime!

 

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

Don’t read on an empty stomach: NatGeo Kids Food Fight

Food Fight! A Mouthwatering History of WHO Ate WHAT and WHY Through the Ages, by Tanya Steel, (Sept. 2018, National Geographic Kids), $19.99, ISBN: 9781426331626

Ages 10-14

Did you know that the Visigoths demanded 3,000 pounds of pepper as a gift when they conquered the Western Roman Empire in the 5th Century AD? Or that some medieval bakers whitened their flour with ground bones or chalk? Those are just a few of the wild food facts readers will pick up when they pick up Food Fight! by former Bon Appétit and Food & Wine editor Tanya Steel. Food Fight! is a history of food, combined with some fantastic (and frightful) facts, and recipes. The book covers food fads and eating habits from 14 different moments in history, from the prehistoric era through the 1960s, and there’s a special chapter imagining a future life (and food) on Mars! There are fun Popcorn Quizzes (you can’t have a plain pop quiz in a book about food) throughout, and amazing and hilarious photos, plus quotes from kid chefs who’ve made and enjoyed the 30 recipes you’ll find here. The book kicks off with safety tips, and a food timeline, recipe index, bibliography, and further reading and resources rounds everything out.

Kids in my library are big nonfiction fans, and Food Fight! offers history, fun, and kid-friendly recipes all in one volume. It’s a fun add to collections, and a good gift for budding chefs and food historians. (Psst… introduce older tweens and teens to Alton Brown’s excellent Food Network show, Good Eats, for more food history and cooking tips.) It’s a big plus that author Tanya Steel is a major name in the food journalism, so she knows how to write about food and food history, and she makes it accessible to younger readers. Plus, she originated the White House’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ State Dinner, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, which brought recipes created by young chefs from each state to the White House. Kids are invited to make and upload photos of their Food Fight dishes – check out the Instagram tag #natgeofoodfight, and check out the Food Fight webpage for more info.

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade

Spotlight on THE DOUGHNUT FIX

Yoinks! I had a scheduling malfunction yesterday; please enjoy today’s spotlight on Jessie Janowitz’s book, The Doughnut Fix (also reviewed here last month): and enjoy a giveaway opportunity (read through to the end of this post)!

Title: The Doughnut Fix

Author: Jessie Janowitz

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

Superfudge meets The Lemonade War in this funny, heartwarming series debut about change, adventure, family, and of course, doughnuts.

Tristan isn’t Gifted or Talented like his sister Jeanine, and he’s always been okay with that because he can make a perfect chocolate chip cookie and he lives in the greatest city in the world. But his life takes a turn for the worse when his parents decide to move to middle-of-nowhere Petersville—a town with one street and no restaurants. It’s like suddenly they’re supposed to be this other family, one that can survive without bagels and movie theaters.

His suspicions about his new town are confirmed when he’s tricked into believing the local general store has life-changing chocolate cream doughnuts, when in fact the owner hasn’t made them in years. And so begins the only thing that could make life in Petersville worth living: getting the recipe, making the doughnuts, and bringing them back to the town through his very own doughnut stand. But Tristan will soon discover that when starting a business, it helps to be both Gifted and Talented, and It’s possible he’s bitten off more than he can chew…

 

Jessie Janowitz grew up in New York City and is still living there with her husband and three children, all of whom love doughnuts as much as she does.

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Indiebound

 

Rookie Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts*

Parental supervision necessary for frying

Makes 8 doughnuts and 8 doughnut holes

Ingredients

Vegetable oil

1 (8-count) tube of premade, large biscuit dough (found in the refrigerated dough aisle at supermarkets)

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Fill a large saucepan with vegetable oil to a depth of 1 inch.

Heat oil over medium heat until it reaches 365°F. You can measure the temperature with a cooking oil thermometer. Or, drop a single kernel of popcorn into the oil as it’s heating. When the kernel pops, you’re ready to fry.

While the oil heats, open the biscuit tube and separate the rounds. Use a 1-inch-round cookie cutter to cut a hole in the center of each biscuit. Save the holes.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a large shallow bowl.

Add 2 doughnuts to the hot oil at a time. Cook, turning once, until golden brown—about 1 minute per side.

Drain on paper towels and immediately toss in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts and holes.

* Ready to graduate from rookie to experienced baker? You can make the Doughnut Stop’s life-changing chocolate cream doughnuts too. Visit jessiejanowitz.com for the original recipe.

 

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1 cup light brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 pinch of salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

18 ounces semisweet chocolate, in bars

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cut parchment paper to cover baking sheets.

Put the light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and softened butter into a large mixing bowl and cream together in an electric mixer on medium.

In a small bowl, crack the eggs and mix them with the vanilla extract.

Combine the egg mixture with the sugar and butter mixture and mix thoroughly on medium.

In another bowl, combine the baking soda, salt, and all-purpose flour.

Add the flour mixture to the sugar and butter mixture in the large bowl and mix on low. Don’t overmix.

Break the chocolate bars into chunks.

Add the chocolate, coconut, and walnuts to the mixture and stir with a spoon.

Once combined, scoop the dough out with a tablespoon and place the balls on the baking sheet. Leave about two fingers width between each cookie.

Bake cookies for 12 minutes.

Remove cookies from the oven and leave on the baking sheet for 1 minute. Then, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

 

Want a chance at winning your own copy of The Doughnut Fix? Check out this Rafflecopter giveaway! U.S. addresses only, please. Good luck!

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

Fiction plus food is a winning reader combo!

Who doesn’t love curling up in your favorite reading spot with a snack and a book? These middle grade reads feature yummy treats as part of their stories – perfect for reading groups and snack suggestions (minus the flying pig cookies: read on)!

Love Sugar Magic, by Anna Meriano/Illustrated by Mirelle Ortega, (Nov. 2017, Walden Pond Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780062498465

Recommended for readers 8-12

Leonora Logroño’s is an almost 12-year-old whose family owns Love Sugar Magic, the local bakery that makes the most delicious cookies and cakes. She’s the youngest among her five sisters, and she just knows the family is keeping something secret from her. With a little snooping and gentle, sisterly nudging, Leo learns the truth: her family are brujas – witches – who infuse their baked goods with rich magic. Leo discovers she has some magic ability already – it usually manifests in early adolescence – and decides to put it to the test by helping Caroline, her best friend, with a crush on at school, but things go upside down pretty quickly… Leo may need to draw on her sisters to make things right!

I adore this story! It’s got humor, great characters with a rich Mexican heritage, and they’re strong, smart young women. Leo is headstrong, sure – what tween isn’t? – and reacts to feeling left in the dark about family business by taking matters in to her own hands. It’s one thing, after all, to enchant flying pig cookies, but it’s entirely something else to play with someone’s free will. But the magical mix-ups are largely hilarious and mostly harmless. Readers can relate to Leo’s frustrations about being considered “too young” for the secret stuff, and author Anna Meriano makes Love Sugar Magic into a nicely handled cautionary tale about rushing into things without taking the time to think. I’m thrilled that this is the first book of a new series – I want to spend more time with the Logroño family. Especially that feline snitch, Mr. Gato. There are some tasty-looking recipes at the end of the story – you’re on your own for the magic – and the book is sprinkled with Spanish and English phrases that really bring readers into its world.

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble has starred reviews from School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Shelf Awareness.

 

The Doughnut Fix, by Jessie Janowitz, (Apr. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $16.99, ISBN: 9781492655411

Recommended 8-12

Eleven year-old Tristan is a New York City kid who’s pretty happy with life as it is until his parents announe that they’re moving upstate. Petersville, New York, to be exact. It ain’t Westchester, this is up in the mountains. There’s one road, no restaurants, and a general store that used to sell legendary doughnuts, as Tristan discovers one morning, as he rides around town trying to find something to do. But Millie, the general store proprieter, stopped making the donuts, and if Tristan – a baking enthusiast who’s sold on the legend of these doughnuts – wants the secret recipe, he has to provide Millie with proof that he’s going to use it wisely. He needs a business plan. Luckily for him, Petersville does have a public library (whoo hoo!), and with the help of his new friend, Josh, Tristan starts pulling it all together to bring the chocolate cream doughnuts back to Petersville.

The Doughnut Fix surprised me with its depth and its readability. It’s very readable, very engaging, and provides smart tips on starting one’s own business for kids – throughout the story, Tristan refers to his library copy of Starting Your Own Business for Dummies, and drills things down into kid-digestible bits. It’s empowering! Teachers can challenge kids to read this book and create their own summer job business plans, or librarians (and caregivers) can produce a similar challenge as a summer reading program. There are recipes and a recap of important information for starting a business at the end of the book. The story emphasizes themes of friendship, collaboration, planning, and budgeting, offering solid life lessons for middle graders.

Both books are great reading group selections that lend so much to deeper exploration, from Mexican culture and its celebration of ancestry, to life in a small town versus life in a city. Food is the easy in to discussing these books, but there are great ideas waiting to be touched on in each. These are great adds to your shelves or your gift list.

Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Teen, Tween Reads

Last Minute Shopping? No worries, find a bookstore!

I saw a piece on the news today that said today – December 23rd – is the second biggest holiday shopping day of the year.

https://giphy.com/embed/3oEjI1erPMTMBFmNHi

via GIPHY

If you still have kids and teens on your shopping list, I humbly offer a few more suggestions to make the season bright.

Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, by Carrie Ann DiRisio and Broody McHottiepants/Illustrated by Linnea Gear,
(Oct. 2017, Sky Pony Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781510726666

Recommended for readers 13-17

You know him. You may have loved him. He’s the EveryBroody – that dark, brooding bad boy main character that shows up in darned near every YA novel. He’s got a deep, dark history; he has trust issues; he may be an intergalactic prince, a scoundrel smuggler, or… dare I say? a sparkly vampire. Here, we get the scoop – straight from the Broody’s mouth – on what it’s like to be a Brooding YA Hero. It’s a writing guide with a wink and a nudge to YA tropes, with some straight talk – in the form of nemesis Mean Girl Blondi DeMeani – about smashing the patriarchy and recognizing the value of diverse characters. Give this to your fanfic writer, your feminists, and anyone who loved Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie. And if you’re not already following the @broodingYAhero account on Twitter, you are doing yourself a disservice.

 

Hey, Baby! A Collection of Pictures, Poems, and Stories from Nature’s Nursery, by Stephanie Drimmer,
(Nov. 2017, National Geographic Kids), $24.99, ISBN: 978-1426329319

Recommended for ages 4-12 and beyond

It’s an entire book of baby animal pictures. The cutest, funniest, littlest baby animals. This is a win-win for everyone! Added to the pictures are the sweetest companion folktales, stories, and poems, to make this a great gift for new moms and moms-to-be, kids who love their baby animals, and middle-aged librarians who follow accounts like @emergencykittens and @fluffsociety on Twitter. Add a copy of NatGeo’s Animal Ark, for more beautiful photos and poetry by Newbery award winner Kwame Alexander.

 

A World of Cookies for Santa, by M.E. Furman/Illustrated by Susan Gal,
(Oct. 2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt),$16.99, ISBN: 9780544226203

Recommended for readers 7-10

Take a tasty sleigh ride around the world and find out how children across the globe celebrate Christmas, from the different names Santa goes by (Papai Noel, Father Christmas, Christmas Baba, to name a few) to the tasty treats left out for Santa and his reindeer to enjoy on their journey. Try your hand at a multicultural Christmas with nine recipes for holiday cookies, included at the end! Pair with a copy of Clement Moore’s classic The Night Before Christmas and add a few cookies.

 

Top Elf, by Caleb Zane Huett, (Sept. 2017, Scholastic Press),
$14.99, ISBN: 978-1-338-05212-1

Recommended for readers 9-12

Santa’s ready to pass on the Big Red Suit. The call to competition goes out across the North Pole, and Ollie the Elf decides to go for it. Thing is, he’s up against Santa’s kids, a bullying elf named Buzz, Ramp, who swears he’s a kid, but looks and smells suspiciously grown-up, and even his best friend, Celia. How’s Ollie going to prove he’s the Top Elf for the job? This middle grade story is pure Christmas fun and adventure with a touch of Christmas magic. Stick this in a stocking for readers who love a good giggle, and add a couple of candy canes and some hot cocoa mix – maybe with a Minecraft or Lego mug. 

 

Ultimate Dinopedia, Second Edition, by “Dino” Don Lessem/Illustrated by Franco Tempesta,
(Oct. 2017, National Geographic Kids), $24.99, ISBN: 978-1426329050

Recommended for readers 8-13

It’s the ULTIMATE dinosaur encyclopedia! This updated edition is one of the most comprehensive dinosaur references going, with profiles on favorite dinos like the T-Rex and Velociratpr, to new finds like the Anzu, Kosmoceratops, and Yi. There are maps, comparison renderings to show kids how they stack up against different dinos, and descriptions of dino diets, geographic areas, and eras. There are over 600 dinosaurs in this volume, with profiles for 10 newly discovered dinos, and a comprehensive dino dictionary. Full-color illustrations from dinosaur artist Franco Tempesta come right off the page – look at that T-Rex on the cover! – and “Dino” Don Lessem – a world-renowned dinosaur presenter who also happened to be the dinosaur adviser for the first Jurassic Park movie – writes in a language that respects, but never speaks down, to readers. Kids love dinos. They’ll love this book. Tuck a tube of dino toys in the stocking and call it a holiday.

 

The Witch Boy, by Molly Ostertag, (Oct. 2017, Scholastic Graphix),
$12.99, ISBN: 978-1-338-08951-6

Recommended for readers 8-13

Aster is a 13-year-old, raised in a society of of supernatural beings. The girls are raised to be witches, the boys, to be shapeshifters. That’s the way it is, and anyone who falls outside those lines faces exile. Aster waits for his ability to shift to kick in, but is fascinated by magic, despite the disciplinary action and ridicule he faces. Aster befriends a non-magic neighbor named Charlotte, who goes by Charlie, who has her own frustrations with gender lines at her school; neither can figure out what the big deal is, saying, “You should just be allowed to do it!” Charlie discovers Aster’s magic abilities, and tries encouraging him to continue practicing magic; Aster will need that support when a mysterious force threatens his community; he may be the only one able to save them. A brilliant story about smashing gender expectations, The Witch Boy is a brilliant, compelling story about finding one’s place and speaks volumes to every kid out there who feels, at some point, like she or he doesn’t fit in. Molly Ostertag is the writer/artist on Shattered Warrior and the webcomic Strong Female Protagonist. The Witch Boy has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal, and Fox Animation has feature film rights. Bundle this one up with Victoria Jamieson’s All’s Faire in Middle School.

 

Bet You Didn’t Know!, by National Geographic Kids, (Aug. 2017, National Geographic Kids),
$19.99, ISBN: 978-1426328374

Recommended for readers 8-13

Kids love fact books; when they’re accompanied by amazing photos and include facts like, “A storm on Neptune was a wide as THE ENTIRE EARTH”, “Chewing gum can make your heart beat faster”, or “The Bahamas once had an undersea post office”, this becomes GOLD. Pair this one with NatGeo’s Weird But True Christmas, and you’re set.

 

The World of the Bible: Biblical Stories and the Archaeology Behind Them, by Jill Rubalcaba,
(Nov. 2017, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1426328817

Recommended for readers 9-13

More than a book of Bible stories, The World of the Bible is a great reference for budding history buffs and archaeologists, going deeper into the text to study the time periods and geographic locations where these stories took place, to learn more about human history. Stories like Moses and the Ten Commandments and the Garden of Eden get a closer look, accompanied by classic paintings, photos, and illustrations of the lands where the events in the Bible took shape. Give to your budding young Indiana Jones or Lara Croft.

 

1,000 Facts About the White House, by Sarah Wassner Flynn, (Sept. 2017, National Geographic Kids),
$14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-2873-2

Recommended for readers 8-13

Wild and crazy facts about the most famous house in America: The White House. Learn about White House ghosts, events like the Easter Egg Roll, and presidential pets. Check out photos of the interiors and exteriors of the White House and grounds, and view some of the history-making moments that took place there. Learn about the different people who live and work there, those who keep it safe, and those who built it. There are groups of fun lists, like 25 Rooms That Rock, and there are loads of cutouts and info bits throughout. It’s a fun reference on American History for history fans. Pair with a copy of Weird But True! US Presidents and you’re set.

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Little Women gets a middle grade update!

Littler Women: A Modern Retelling, by Laura Schaefer, (Sept. 2017, Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781481487610

Recommended for readers 8-12

The March sisters are back in this updated version of Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Little Women. Now, they’re coping with a dad who’s deployed overseas, and the girls are contending with school dances, sleepovers, and crushes. The characters are a little younger: Meg is 13 and a freshman in high school; Jo is 12; Beth is 10, and Amy is 9, and their overall personalities are wonderfully close to their original personas. Jo loves hockey, while Beth prefers to stay at home or visit their neighbors, the Lawrences, to play piano. Laurie and Demi are back in this update, too, with age-appropriate crushes on the March girls. Author Laura Schaefer sticks pretty close to the original story, with a happier resolution to Beth’s story. Each chapter contains a fun activity from one of the March sisters, including crafts and recipes. The sisters also create a family ‘zine, which I love – and tips on creating one – and I’m thrilled to see that ‘zines are becoming a thing again, popping up in books like Littler Women and Moxie.

 

Littler Women is such a good introduction to the classic for middle graders. It encourages creativity and emphasizes the bond between sisters, between family, and between friends; there are disagreements between characters, but they are able to work things out every time. Talk up the similarities and differences between Little Women and Littler Women (don’t forget to mention Little Men), and maybe even have a viewing of one of the several movie adaptations of the original. Definitely fun reading, worth adding to your shelves or giving to a classic-minded reader who loves a good story.

Author Laura Schaefer is also the author of The Tea Shop Girls series. Her website offers links to her blog and information about school visits.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction

DK shows kids how to eat the rainbow with Eat Your Greens, Reds, Yellows, and Purples!

eat your redsEat Your Greens, Reds, Yellows, and Purples: Children’s Cookbook, by DK Children (May 2016, DK Children), $12.99, ISBN: 9781465451521

Recommended for ages 8-12

Article after article tells adults and kids alike to “eat the rainbow”, but what does that really mean? Skittles, after all, tells us to “taste the rainbow”, but I’m pretty sure that’s not exactly the same thing. Simply put, to eat the rainbow means to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables; each color comes with different benefits. DK’s newest cookbook, Eat Your Greens, Reds, Yellows, and Purples teaches kids and adults alike what it means to eat the rainbow, with fun facts and 25 vegetarian recipes for kids to try. There’s a section on food prep: how to slice an avocado, seed a tomato, or dice an onion. Knife skills and cooking instructions are noted with an exclamation point, so readers know to get an adult to help.

There’s something for everyone here – honest! Detailed, step by step instructions and photos let readers know what materials we need – equipment as well as food! – and tasty recipes, including spinach and phyllo tarts, black bean and guacamole quesadillas, red pepper hummus, cornbread, and mango-pineapple ice pops.

Helpful callout signs and arrows provide fast facts on the benefits of each food color; for instance, did you know that greens like spinach and broccoli provide vitamins and fiber, while red foods like tomatoes and cherries protect your body’s cells? Purples help fight disease, yellows boost the immune system, and oranges contain beta-carotene, which helps keep your eyes, skin, hair, bones, and teeth in working order.

A good addition to a children’s collection where you have older kids that are ready and able to start making simple recipes with adult assistance. You can also check out this printout from the Whole Kids Foundation on “eating the rainbow”. It would make a good class handout!

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Middle School, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Spotlight Tour: Cupcake Club – SWEET VICTORY!

The Cupcake Club books are hugely popular at my library. They’re a fun middle grade series of books that are positive for kids, because one of the authors happens to be 9 years old. Check ’em out!

Sweet Victory (The Cupcake Club), by New York Times Bestselling Author Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk

9781492620822-PROctober 6, 2015; TP ISBN 9781492620822

Book Info:

Title: Sweet Victory (The Cupcake Club)

Authors: Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk

Volume Number: 8

Release Date; October 6, 2015

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Praise for the Cupcake Club Series

“9-year-old author has recipe for success.” – The Washington Post, KidsPost

“Kids and cupcakes are the perfect recipe!”—Sophie and Katerine, stars of TLC’s DC Cupcakes

“Sheryl Berk and her nine-year-old daughter, Carrie, have cooked up a delightful new series sure to be a treat.” –New York Family

 

 

Summary:

The eighth book in a delicious series by New York Times bestselling author Sheryl Berk and her cupcake-obsessed daughter, Carrie.

MVP Sadie knows what it takes to win- both on the court and in the kitchen.

But when Coach Walsh gets sick and has to temporarily leave school, Sadie’s suddenly at a loss. What will she do without Coach’s spot-on advice and uplifting encouragement? Luckily, Sadie’s got Peace, Love, and Cupcakes on her side. Her friends know what the power of friendship-and cupcakes- might be just what Sadie needs! Together, they rally to whip up the largest batch of sweet treats they’ve ever made, all to help support Coach Walsh. When the going gets tough, a little PLC goes a long way. But this record-breaking order might just be too much for the club…

Can the girls put it all together in time to score a win for Sadie- and Coach Walsh

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26167052-sweet-victory?from_search=true&search_version=service

Buy Links:

Amazon- http://ow.ly/SimdJ

Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/Simpk

BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/SimzW

!ndigo- http://ow.ly/SimPn

Indiebound- http://ow.ly/Sin0b

About the Authors:

Sheryl & Carrie Berk_Sugar and Spice_no photo credSheryl Berk, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Soul Surfer, and her daughter Carrie, a cupcake connoisseur who has reviewed confection from around the world in her Carrie’s Cupcake Critiques newsletter, have cooked up a delightful series sure to be a treat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt from Sweet Victory (The Cupcake Club)

For a few minutes, the room was silent as the girls thought hard.

“Feet!” Lexi suddenly tossed out. “Or maybe socks? Isn’t that what you wear to jump on a trampoline?”

“Flies,” Sadie added. “They’re always in the air. And little boys love bugs, right?”

“Falling,” Jenna grumped. “As in splat on your face or butt. Which is what I would do on a trampoline.”

“Um, I’m not seeing any of those things on a cupcake,” Kylie tried her hardest to envision their suggestions, but all she could see was Jenna flopping on a trampoline face-first. As cupcake club president, Kylie had the power to veto an idea-and smelly feet and flies didn’t sound particularly appetizing.

“What about balloons-balloons go up, up, and away if you accidentally let them go,” Delaney suggested. “And they’re pretty and colorful-and every birthday party has them.”

“That’s just it,” Sadie jumped in. “Cupcakes with balloons on them are so ordinary. We’re PLC. We can do better than that.”

Lexi took out her sketchbook. Designing cupcake decorations was her job. “Sadie’s right. What if we did something like this…” She drew a cupcake with blue piping around the edges and a black fondant top to represent the trampoline. In the middle of the cupcake was a small figure of a boy bending his knees with his arms in the air. “Ooh, that is amazing,” Kylie said, watching as Lexi used her colored pencils to bring the cupcake to life on the page. “We could use fondant to mold the little jumping guys.”

“And no boring vanilla or chocolate flavors either,” Jenna insisted. As the official taste tester, it was her job to make each cupcake delectable. “I’m thinking chocolate-chocolate chip cake filled with marshmallow and churro cupcakes with a hint of cinnamon to give the vanilla a kick.”

“Nice.” Sadie high-fived her. “Do you suppose we’ll get to try out those trampolines when we make the delivery?”

“Tu major que yo- better you than me!” Jenna said. “I get motion sickness if my little brothers bounce on the couch.”

“Then I’d say we have a plan,” Kylie said, taking notes in her binder. “Let’s get jumpin’ on those cupcake recipes.”

Also by Sheryl and Carrie Berk:

9781492604365-PRFashion Academy

July 7, 2015; TP ISBN97814926016233

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Summary:

Fashion-forward MacKenzie “Mickey” Williams is thrilled to be accepted to FAB Middle School (Fashion Academy of Brooklyn), a school that serves as a training ground for the fashion designers of tomorrow. (Their motto: “We are SEW FAB”). But when her daring fashion looks get laughed at by some of the FAB A-listers, Mickey wonders whether standing out is such a great idea. So when friendly classmate JC comes up with a plan to help Mickey fit in, she decides to take the ultimate fashion risk-ditch her personal style for good.

One mega makeover later, pink-haired Mickey Williams mysteriously disappears, and the trendy, blond “Kenzie Williams” shows up on the FAB scene, blending with the other students in a way Mickey never could. But when Mickey starts to lose herself “Kenzie,” she’s not sure that fitting in is worth cutting herself down to size…

Goodreads Link:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21996360-the-fashion-academy

Buy Link:

Amazon- http://ow.ly/SiqKI

Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/Sir33

BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/Sire4

!ndigo- http://ow.ly/SirnF

IndieBound- http://ow.ly/SiryQ

Runway Ready (Fashion Academy)

January 5, 2016; TP 9781492604365

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Summary:

Project Runway meets Fame in a trendy new series from the authors of The Cupcake Club!

1. Balloons

2. Spaghetti

3. Rainbows

If you were to ask Mickey Williams, these would not be her top points of inspiration for designing a party dress. But in fashion, the client is always right…and Mickey’s client happens to be fashion legend Victoria Vanderweil’s five-year-old granddaughter. Even though it’s the toughest assignment Mickey’s gotten during her time at the Fashion Academy of Brooklyn, she can’t pass up the opportunity to impress a top designer like Victoria.

But when Cordy turns out to be a tiny terror with non-stop demands, the assignment goes from hard to impossible. Not only that, but Victoria wants Mickey to babysit Cordy during NYC Fashion Week! Can Mickey pull off her project and pass, or will it fall apart at the seams?

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26457233-runway-ready

Pre-Order Links:

Amazon- http://ow.ly/SiwCt

Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/SiwwT

BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/Siwmi

!ndigo- http://ow.ly/Siwas

IndieBound- http://ow.ly/Siw3E

 

9781492601623-PRExcerpt from Fashion Academy Sheryl Berk & Carrie Berk:

After spending the weekend with her aunt, Mickey concluded that Olive wasn’t that bad—at least not as bad as her mom made her out to be. She was just a bit uptight. It was hard for Mickey to understand how she and her mom could be sisters, much less fraternal twins. They had the same curly strawberry blond hair, though her mom highlighted hers and wore it long and loose and Olive pinned hers back in a tight bun. She recognized her aunt’s eyes as well—they were emerald green, just like her mom’s. Too bad she hid them behind thick tortoise shell glasses. Then there was her style: Olive looked like she had stepped out of a time warp. She wore a ruffled pink blouse, long pearls, and an A-line brown skirt. Maybe she was going for a retro 50s vibe? It was the opposite of her mom’s ripped jeans and vintage rock tee shirts. Maybe there had been some mistake and they were switched at birth? Maybe her Granny Gertrude got confused and accidentally picked up the wrong baby in the park one day?

Olive was also a neat freak who insisted that everything be “spic and span” and in its place.

“Mackenzie, clean up after yourself!” she scolded when Mickey left her sketchbook and colored pencils on the kitchen table. No one called her Mackenzie; her mom only used it when she was mad at her. It was a name she barely recognized or answered to. But as many times as she corrected Aunt Olive, she insisted on calling her by her “proper name.”

“Mom calls me ‘Mickey’ and I call her Jordana sometimes,” she tried to explain.

“I don’t care what you call your mom or she calls you. And you call me Aunt Olive out of respect,” she warned her.

Mickey wrinkled her nose. “Really? Mom says she called you Olliegator when you were little. I think that’s cute.”

Olive pursed her lips. “I’m an adult,” she replied sternly. Aunt Olive was an executive assistant at a big law firm, and she took everything very seriously. “Your mother needs to grow up.”

But that was exactly what Mickey loved about her mom—how she was such a free spirit and never cared what anyone thought or said about her. Mickey tried her hardest to be that way, but sometimes it was hard.

For the first day of FAB, she set her alarm for 6 o’clock so she would have time to style her outfit properly. She was proud of how it had all come together. She’d taken a beaten-up denim jacket from a thrift shop and dyed it black before adding crocheted doilies for trim at the collars and cuffs. It said exactly what she wanted it to say about her: “I’m edgy but feminine.” And wasn’t that what fashion was all about? Not just a trend or a style, but a reflection of who you are and how you’re feeling? That was what Mickey loved about designing the most, and what she had written on her FAB application:

“I love how you can speak volumes with a single stitch. Fashion should be fearless! I want to be a designer who always colors outside the lines and thinks outside of the box…”

She was pretty sure Aunt Olive didn’t see it that way. Her idea of taking a fashion risk was wearing a skirt that was hemmed above the knee.

“Does it really go together?” she asked, noticing how Mickey had paired her jacket with a white tank top and bike shorts, both of which were splatter-painted with green and yellow drips.

“It isn’t supposed to go,” Mickey told her. “It’s supposed look creative, which is what FAB is all about. Pushing the envelope!”

She added a pair of green cat’s eye sunglasses.

“Well, it’s colorful,” her aunt sighed. “I’ll give you that. And so is your hair. Good heavens!”

Mickey had created green stripes in her long, wavy blond hair with hair chalk.

“Now for the finishing touch!” she said. “No outfit is complete without accessories!” She slipped her feet into a pair of black high top sneakers, tied the yellow laces, and grabbed her bag.

“What is that?” her aunt asked, scratching her head. She squinted to make out the words on Mickey’s tote.

“It used to say ‘Louis Vuitton’—it’s a bag you keep a really fancy expensive bag in. Which if you ask me, is pretty silly,” Mickey explained.

Olive seemed puzzled. “You mean a dust bag? You made that out of a dust bag?”

Mickey spun the tote around. “Two of them, actually!” The other side read, “PRADA.”

“What? How? Why?” Olive asked.

“Well, it’s perfectly good flannel,” Mickey replied. “And don’t you think it’s kinda funny? A statement about recycling? I used two leather belts for the straps and jazzed it up with some studding at the seams. It cost me about $4 total at the flea market!”

She threw the bag over her shoulder and glanced at the clock. It was 8, and the school bus would be along shortly to pick her up on the corner.

“Your breakfast is ready,” Olive said, handing her a glass of green sludge. This was worse then yesterday’s quinoa and fruit concoction! She missed her mom’s breakfasts of left over Chinese Take Out omelets or cold pizza. But Aunt Olive insisted she start the first day of school with “something healthy and nutritious.”

“Do you have any chocolate milk?” she asked, getting up to check the fridge for something edible.

“This is better for you. It’s fresh kale, celery, cucumber, ginger and a touch of agave. It’s delicious.” She took a big sip of her own glass and licked her lips.

Mickey wrinkled her nose. It didn’t look or smell delicious. “I think I’ll grab something in the cafeteria,” she said, pushing the glass away. “I’m too nervous to eat.”

It wasn’t entirely a lie. She was pretty terrified for her first day at FAB. Just then, Mickey’s phone rang.

“All ready to conquer the world?” her mom asked.

“I think so, Jordana,” she replied.

“Ah, I see. We’re trying to sound very mature this morning. Send me a picture of the first day outfit and call me tonight. I want to hear all the deets.”

Mickey smiled. Her mom was trying to sound cool. “I will. Love you.”

As the bus pulled up to the corner of Columbus Avenue, Mickey took a deep breath. This wasn’t just the first day of FAB. It was the first day of the rest of her life. The first day of everything.

Here’s your chance to win a complete Cupcake Club Collection: Books 1-8! Check out this Rafflecopter giveaway!

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