Posted in Humor, Non-Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Quantum Theory explained in rhyme: The Cat in the Box

The Cat in the Box, by Chris Ferrie/Illustrated by Kevin Sherry, (June 2019, Sourcebooks), $17.99: ISBN; 9781492671237

Ages 14+

The Cat in the Hat meets quantum physics with Chris Ferrie’s The Cat in the Box. The story is similar in structure to Dr. Seuss’ classic, giving it a tongue-in-cheek twist. The narrator sits with Schrödinger himself, puzzling out a problem, when a box shows up. It’s a cat! Can the cat solve the problem? Schrödinger thinks so – and all the cat has to do in this situation is “see and not see”. Whew! What a relief. The story explains Schrödinger’s theory in rhyme that the folks on The Big Bang Theory would love: “Schrödinger used/this cat in a box/to dream up the first/quantum paradox/A paradox is something/that doesn’t make sense/There must be an assumption/that is causing offense”. The cat is the winner in this story, giving the two humans a lesson in quantum physics and probability, sing-songing, “The more math you know, the happier you’ll be”. An author’s note on Schrödinger recounts the original hypothesis, which didn’t end nearly so well for the cat.

The illustrations are black and white, with a big, googly-eyed scientist and a googly-eyed cat. Mathematical symbols and atomic symbols abound, with occasional reds for emphasis. The fun artwork is a perfect match for the light tone of the rhyme, and makes this a great book to keep around for teens and college students who may need a little brain break from studying.

Can younger kids read this? Of course! It’s a fun rhyme, loaded with math and science terms, and there are adorable cats and wacky scientists telling readers that math is fun. They may not get the bare bones of quantum physics, but they’ll pick up new science and math vocabulary.

Chris Ferrie, bringing a love of science and math to the kiddos.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

BookExpo: The Picture Books!

Okay, another BookExpo post at last. There was SO much to see, it couldn’t be contained in just one post. Here’s a little bit of a rundown on picture books I saw/picked up.

June

A Home for Leo, by Vin Vogel, (June 2018, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781503902602

Recommended for readers 4-8

Leo’s a baby who becomes separated from his family and ends up being raised by seals. He loves his seal family, but his differences – he doesn’t look like anyone else; he can’t hold his breath for as long as they can – weigh on him, making him feel like “an empty shell”. He’s found by a family who “rescues” him from the seals, and his parents, who recognize him on TV, come to take him home. Leo’s happy to be with his family, but there’s a lot to adjust to, living among people. He misses his other family, and he misses the sea… maybe there’s a way that everyone can be happy? The digital illustrations are bright and defined, with friendly and diverse families. The story is a nice pick for adoptees, or just about any kid who doesn’t feel like they fit in.

 

August

The Kiddie Table, by Colleen Madden, (Aug. 2018, Capstone), $15.95, ISBN: 978-1-68446-002-1

Recommended for 5-8

An 8-year-old girl has to sit at the kiddie table at the family Thanksgiving dinner, and she is NOT having it! This laugh-out-loud rhyming story will have readers laughing along with you as our protagonist endures the indignity of being given a sippy cup, and having her toddler cousins pelt her with food before she finally blows her stack. When Mom calms her down and gives her a talking to, readers will learn how to maturely handle a situation before the meltdown hits, and how to ask for what you want when things don’t go your way. I love the colors, the artwork, and the extra details, like the child art hanging from the walls, Thanksgiving dishware, and naturally, flying food. A fun add to your holiday bookshelves!

 

Grow Up, David!, by David Shannon, (Aug. 2018, Scholastic), $17.99, ISBN: 9781338250978

Recommended for readers 3-7

David’s back! The little boy who’s perpetually in trouble shows readers what it’s like to be the kid brother in his fifth picture book outing (not counting the Diaper David board books). From the cover of the book, where David jumps up and down on his older sibling to wake him, it’s a nonstop “David!” fest that echoes sentiments every little brother or sister has heard time and again: “You’re too little!”; “Stop following me!”; “That’s MINE!”; “Give it back!” As with other David stories, just when David has driven everyone berserk, big brother takes a step back, engages David, and the story ends with a hug. Or a noogie. You be the judge. Who doesn’t love a David story? My 6-year-old loves David’s antics – mostly because they map so well to his own – and with two much older brothers, this book is going to ring very true for him, just like it will for other readers who have older siblings, cousins, or students in school that like to throw their age differences around. David Shannon books are a win for all!

 

Boo-Boo! (Terrific Toddlers), by Carol Zeavin & Rhona Silverbush/Illustrated by Jon Davis, (Aug. 2018, Magination Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781433828751

Recommended for readers 3-5

This sweet little book is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. A little girl named JoJo likes to run! She falls down and bumps her chin, sending Daddy running to pick her up. The little toddler cries about her “boo-boo” while Daddy comforts her and takes her home to fix the boo-boo. There’s wonderful repetition here: the toddler repeats everything Daddy suggests, but with “NO!” in front of it: “No fix!” “No wash!” “No Band-Aid!”, all of which are age-appropriate responses. Daddy responds appropriately, too, keeping his cool and finding simple methods to deflect JoJo until the boo-boo is taken care of, and JoJo and Daddy are both happy again. The artwork is soft and realistic; JoJo and her dad are wonderfully expressive, and a note to parents and caregivers helps parents understand how to cope with their own boo-boo moments. JoJo and her dad are people of color. I really like this Terrific Toddlers series and think I’ll be putting a set in my library.

 

September

The Steves, by Morag Hood, (Sept. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1-4926-6914-2

Recommended for readers 3-7

Next up, another hilarious book from Morag Hood, whose 2017 book, I Am Bat, made me laugh out loud trying to get through storytime. The Steves promises more of the same: two puffins, each named Steve, battle it out who’s the better Steve. The Stevest Steve, if you will. Like two preschoolers, the insults fly fast, furious, and absolutely hysterical. When the insults go too far, the Steves have a time-out, work out their differences, and… are joined by another Steve. This book begs to be read out loud, and the art will make readers laugh as hard as the text, with accusatory feather-pointing, mountains of fish, and colorful, bright artwork.

 

My Wish For You, by Kathryn Hahn/Illustrated by Brigette Barrager, (Sept. 2018, Scholastic), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-338-15040-7

Recommended for readers 4-8

Actress and author Kathryn Hahn’s inspiration for this book is her six-year-old daughter; these are her wishes – all parents’ wishes – for their daughters as they grow. Illustrated groups of diverse young girls play and grow together across the spreads as life advice counsels them to “Be afraid. Be fearless. Have BIG, BIG feelings”; and “Make sure you are HEARD. SAY what you mean unless you can’t find the words. Then SHOUT it out till the words come back”. Uni the Unicorn illustrator Brigette Barrager creates fun, light images of girls climbing trees, catching stars, listening to music, and playing dress-up together, creating a very sweet love letter from mothers to daughters, with an undercurrent of empowerment. I’d pair this with Stacy McAnulty’s Beautiful; check A Mighty Girl for more girl-empowering titles to display, booktalk, or buy.

 

Star in the Jar, by Sam Hay/Illustrated by Sarah Massini, (Sept. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4926-6220-4

Recommended for readers 4-8

A young boy finds a fallen star, prompting him and his sister to find a way to send the star back home. When they succeed, he discovers not that he lost something by giving it away, but that he’s found a friend. Published in the UK earlier this year, Star in the Jar is an upbeat, quiet story about friendship, empathy, and a little magic.  The siblings have a close relationship, and work together on solutions to return the star to its home in the sky. A nice addition to picture book collections and could be a cute bedtime story/pajama storytime choice.

 

 

October

Pterodactyl Show and Tell, by Thad Krasnesky/Illustrated by Tanya Leonello, (Oct. 2018, Flashlight Press), $17.95, ISBN: 9781936261345

Recommended for readers 3-7

This rhyming tale about a boy who brings his pterodactyl to school for show and tell will have readers laughing as the dino wreaks havoc on the school day. He tries to eat some classmates, and has teachers hiding behind their desks, but he also finds time to have fun in the playground, enjoy a math lesson, and demonstrate how to brush his teeth! The kids aren’t as open to the new experience as the ptero’s human is, but he gets a quick promotion to fourth grade out of it. Too bad the fourth grade doesn’t seem to allow show and tell! The rhyming is fun, but the pictures sell it in this book; the expressive, goofy-faced pterodactyl is never a threatening figure, which makes the reactions from classmates and faculty even funnier. Watching a winged dinosaur upend the school from classroom to cafeteria is likely every kid’s dream, and will go over in a big way here. Absolutely fun reading – who doesn’t love a dinosaur?

 

Good Morning, Snowplow!, by Deborah Bruss/Illustrated by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson, (Oct. 2018, Scholastic), $17.99, ISBN: 9781338089493

Recommended for readers 4-7

This gentle rhyming story about a snowplow driver and his dog getting ready for a night’s work is perfect for readers who love Sherri Duskey Rinker’s Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Mighty, Mighty Construction Site. Acrylics, colored pencil, pen, and collage artwork comes together to create weathered-looking trucks and snowflakes that dominate the pages while still appearing delicate. A good addition to your seasonal and transportation books.

 

 

Lorraine, the Girl Who Sang the Storm Away, by Ketch Secor/Illustrated by Higgins Bond, (Oct. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4926-1692-4

Recommended for readers 4-8

Another rhyming story! I love it! This story of a young, African American girl named Lorraine, who lives with her grandfather, Paw Paw, in Tennessee is too much fun. The girl and her grandfather make music together: she’s got a penny whistle and he’s got a harmonica (called a French harp here). They start noticing things going missing around the farm, but that’s pushed aside by the arrival of a big storm that terrifies Lorraine. She and Paw Paw try to make some music to push away the noise, but discover their instruments are missing! Thankfully, Paw Paw encourages Lorraine to sing instead, and the two sing away that storm. The next morning, the storm has passed and they discover their missing treasures in the base of a tree, downed by the storm. The crow that’s been visiting them has been stealing stuff from them all along! This is a beautifully illustrated book, depicting a loving relationship between a girl and her grandfather; the fonts change size and color for emphasis and become part of the scenery. The acrylic paint creates a realistic slice of life in the Tennessee Hills. Absolutely add this to your shelves.

 

Miracle on 34th Street, by Valentine Davies/text adapted for picture book by Susanna Leonard Hill/Illustrated by James Newman Gray, (Oct. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4926-6986-9

Recommended for readers 4+

Here’s one for the Christmas collections! For the first time, the popular Christmas movie is being adapted into a picture book. Oscar-winning screen writer Valentine Davies penned this story about a little girl named Susan, who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus until she meets Kris, a jolly, bearded gentleman who plays Santa at Macy’s. When he reveals that actually is Kris Kringle – Santa Claus – Susan isn’t sure, but he encourages her to be childlike and believe in things, even if you don’t always have proof. When he’s taken to court by a jealous supervisor at Macy’s, it’s up to Susan’s mother’s friend, Fred, to convince the judge of the same. This adaptation retains the heart of the movie classic, with warm-colored illustrations. Schedule a viewing of the classic film and get your displays up!

 

We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands, Illustrated by Rafael López, (Oct. 2018, Scholastic), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-338-17736-7

Recommended for readers 3+

Finishing strong here! The popular folk song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”, gets a multicultural, nonsectarian adaptation with Rafael López’s beautifully illustrated update. The award-winning illustrator puts the world in “our” hands – the kids’ hands – and creates a feeling of empowerment and unity through diversity and understanding.  The words can be sung to the tune of the original folk song, or make up your own tune! Invite readers to clap along, hold hands, and dance along. It’s a feel-good book with a feel-great message! There’s sheet music for instruments at the end of the book, and a note about the original song. The mixed media illustration is incredible, with bright colors, blending, and texture. A must-add, and I’m keeping my eye on this for Caldecott.

 

That’s it! Whew! And this is just a smattering of what we’ve got coming our way this Fall. Get those book carts ready to order!

 

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Where does your mind go during class?

Free Association: Where My Mind Goes During Science Class (Adventures of Everyday Geniuses), by Barbara Esham/Illustrated by Mike Gordon, (May 2018, Sourcebooks), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492669951

Recommended for readers 4-8

Emily is a  young student who loves doing science: the hands-on stuff, not the rote memorization that comes with the routine school day, which tends to set her mind off, wandering. Emily wants to be like Albert Einstein, setting her off into a daydream where Einstein climbs out of a classroom poster; he ends up sticking around as a quiet mentor throughout the book. After catching Emily daydreaming again, her teacher gives her a science journal – a way to be mindful of when she’s paying attention, versus when her mind is about to wander. Emily discovers that the journal is just what she needed, and the teacher, impressed with a theory Emily comes up with in her journal, encourages the whole class to keep science journals and use their imaginations.

The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses is a series of books for kids who may learn in nontraditional ways. Where My Mind Goes During Science Class addresses everyday boredom in class – come on, we all know it happens – as well as how to reach students with ADHD. The teacher embraces creativity and imagination, and understands that journaling can lead to some pretty exciting work – bravo, teacher! Emily speaks for most kids when she grouses, “It seems like the only thing we do in science is memorize information from a book”. Who hasn’t felt like that at some point? Emily is relatable to all kids (and a heck of a lot of grownups). Back matter talks to readers who are “everyday geniuses” and offers tips for focusing and centering themselves when their minds wander. The story font is set in OpenDyslexic, a font specifically designed for readability with dyslexia; an impressive commitment by the publishers to readers. Kids may recognize illustrator Mike Gordon’s artwork – he illustrates the super-popular Robin Hill School Easy Reader series.

Find out more about the Everyday Geniuses at the series website. This looks like a good series to have in classroom and library collections, to introduce kids to different ways of learning. I’m going to request other titles in the series from my libraries, to get to know this set better. The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses series is Reading Rockets Recommended, a Parents Choice Award Winner, and an ALA Booklist Pick.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Serendipity Agency Lit Contest is back!! Writers, get ready!

Last year, I posted about the Serendipity Agency’s 5th Annual YA Discovery Contest. Well, writers, get ready: the 6th Annual Contest is in full swing, and they want your submissions! Details from Serendipity follow:

THE 6TH ANNUAL

YA DISCOVERY CONTEST

HAS BEGUN!

NO QUERY? NO PITCH? NO PROBLEM!

 

Get in front of top YA Editors and Agents with only the first 250 words of your YA novel!

Serendipity Literary Agency in conjunction with Sourcebooks Inc. is hosting their sixth annual Young Adult Novel Discovery Competition.

Have a young adult novel—or a YA novel idea—tucked away for a rainy day? Are you putting off pitching your idea simply because you’re not sure how to pitch an agent? No problem! All you have to do is submit the first 250 words of your novel and you can win exposure to editors and a reading of your manuscript by one of New York’s TOP literary agents Regina Brooks.   Regina Brooks is the CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency and the author of  the award winning book Writing Great Books For Young Adults now available in a second edition.

Great Prizes The Grand Prize Winner will have the opportunity to submit an entire manuscript to YA literary agent Regina Brooks AND receive a collection of gourmet teas from Possibiliteas.co!

The Top Five Entrants (including the Grand Prize winner) will receive a 15 minute, one-on-one pitch session with Regina Brooks, one of New York’s premier literary agents for young adult books.  They will also receive commentary on their submissions from editors at Scholastic, Random House/Penguin, Little Brown, Candlewick, Bloomsbury, Simon and Schuster, and Abrams Books.

First 50 Entrants will receive a copy of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.
Here’s How It Works: The rules of the contest are simple, and entering is easy.  Submit entries of ONLY the first 250 words of your manuscript and the title via the contest website at serendipitylit.com/contest.   One entry per person; anyone age 14+ can apply. There is a $15 entry fee.  Open to the U.S. and Canada (void where prohibited).  Entries for the YA Novel Discovery Contest will be accepted from 12:01 am (ET) November 1st, 2015 until 11:59 pm December, 2nd, 2015 (ET).

YA literary agent Regina Brooks and her team will read all of the entries and determine the top 20 submissions.  These submissions will then be read by editors at Scholastic, Random House/Penguin, Little, Brown, Candlewick, Bloomsbury, Simon and Schuster, and Abram Books.  Judges will whittle the top 20 down to five, and each of the five winners will be provided commentary on their submissions.

—NOVEMBER IS NaNoWriMo—

In honor of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org) – an international event where aspiring novelists are encouraged to write an entire novel in 30 days – this contest is meant to encourage the aspiring YA author to get started on that novel by offering an incentive for completing the first 250 words.

so… ENTER NOW!

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

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!