Mom Read It

If the kids are reading it, chances are I have, too.

Secrets revealed, but whodunit? The Cabin, by Natasha Preston October 24, 2016

cabinThe Cabin, by Natasha Preston, (Sept. 2016, Sourcebooks Fire), $10.99, ISBN: 9781492618553

Recommended for ages 14+

A group of friends heads up to a cabin for a weekend of drinking and bonding, a last hurrah before they head to university, and their separate ways. Mackenzie grudgingly goes at her best friend, Courtney’s, behest; it’s the first time they’ve all gotten together since two of their group died in a car accident months ago. The night starts off innocently enough, but when Mackenzie wakes up the next morning, Courtney and her boyfriend, Josh, have been brutally murdered. There’s a killer among them, and Mackenzie and Josh’s brother, Blake, find themselves drawn to one another as they try to figure out who could have done this.

The Cabin is a YA whodunit. Mackenzie is desperate to find out which of her friends could have done this, partially because she wants so badly to believe that an outside force did this; that none of her friends could have the ability to betray and do something so horrific, let alone to friends in their social circle. Blake, Josh’s estranged brother, is closed off, arrogant, and trusts no one except Mackenzie. As the two dig deeper into Mackenzie’s friends’ backgrounds, they start discovering that everyone has secrets, but what would drive someone to kill? The police, especially investigator Wright, are a bit hapless – Wright is borderline obsessed with making either Blake or Mackenzie confess their guilt, and comes off more as a mustache-twirling villain than someone who’s actually helpful. Mackenzie’s parents are a bit oblivious, despite their obvious concern for their daughter. The pace is a bit slower than most whodunits, and the biggest problem here for me was that I didn’t really like any of the characters, including our heroine. The final couple of chapters kept me on edge, though, and the ending was nicely executed.

Add to your YA mystery shelf if you have a strong readership and if you have fans of the slow burn.


A little bedtime Shakespeare: Mabel and the Queen of Dreams

mabel_covMabel and the Queen of Dreams, by Henry, Joshua, & Harrison Herz, (July 2016, Schiffer), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764351372

Recommended for ages 4-8

Little Mabel is an expert at not going to sleep. After she’s gone through her usual routine of excuses, she asks for a bedtime story. Mom is too happy to oblige, and spins a tale about the Fae Queen, who paints children’s dreams, but will only visit when Mabel closes her eyes, Mabel’s mom describes the Fae Queen and her hazelnut chariot; her dragonfly steed, and the dreams she paints. The words wrap themselves deliciously around Mabel – and the reader’s – imagination, drawing us into the Fae Queen’s world and leaving us all waiting for a visit.

I love this book. I love that a bedtime story for children is inspired by Shakespeare! The Fae Queen comes from Romeo & Juliet, in a soliloquy spoken by the character Mercutio, when he describes how a fairy queen influences  dreams. Lisa Woods’ artwork adds another dimension to the story, with subdued colors and sketch-like illustration; the children’s dreams are portrayed as children’s drawings with bright colors, taking us into their imaginations to see mermaids, superheroes, astronauts, and brave knights. The Fae Queens’ fantasy elements are sweet and inviting, and my favorite part – when Mom tells Mabel how she will feel the Fae Queen’s presence in different ways – are beautifully rendered. I read this to my little one and tickle his nose and neck as the Fae Queen describes hovering and traveling over Mabel. The entire story creates a bedtime experience, lending itself to sweet nighttime cuddling and the promise of a dream adventure. An author’s note at the end gives readers Mercutio’s full speech, and Hamlet’s “What dreams may come” speech.

This book is a wonderful addition to bedtime bookshelves and collections. It’s a hit in our home.


I was thrilled to be able to ask author Henry Herz a few questions about Mabel and the Queen of Dreams – read on!

MomReadIt: I love that you adapted Shakespeare for a picture book audience! What inspired you to create a bedtime story and use the Queen of the Fae as a character?

Henry:  There is something that tickles my funny bone about taking a familiar folk tale and tweaking it. Fractured fairy tales are quite popular – consider INTERSTELLAR CINDERELLA by Deborah Underwood or NINJA RED RIDING HOOD by Corey Rosen Schwartz. The idea popped into my head to write a picture book based on a scene from Shakespeare. As I researched, I came across that oft-forgotten (at least by me) scene in Romeo and Juliet in which Mercutio waxes poetic about the little fairy queen Mab. Queen Mab affects sleepers’ dreams as she flies past, and I thought, what a great premise for a bedtime picture book. Plus, I love getting young readers interested in fantasy, and the idea of writing an urban fantasy bedtime picture book was irresistible. I hope that MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS may spark in young readers some interest in reading more Shakespeare.

MomReadIt: Is your main character named Mabel as a nod to Queen Mab?

Henry: That is correct. In my story, Mab is a sleep-resistant girl. In the original, tiny fairy queen Mab’s hazelnut chariot is drawn through the air by a dragonfly. And we have the original Shakespearean soliloquy by Mercutio as an author’s note, so that young readers can compare the original with this modern version.

MomReadIt: I see that your sons are co-authors. How did they contribute?

Henry: They’ve been co-authoring with me since they were about 8 and 10 years old when we first collaborated on our self-published high fantasy early chapter book, NIMPENTOAD. I draft the stories and they review them, giving me feedback from a young reader’s perspective. They have also been instrumental in selling the book at book fairs, farmers markets, etc. They’re even better salesmen than they are writers. Although now that they’re 14 and 16, doing this with Dad isn’t as cool as it used to be…

MomReadIt: I hope we’ll see some more classic works for little ones from you and your family in the future. Thank you so much!

Henry: Thank you very much, Rosemary. We appreciate your support! Readers interested in learning more about our books can visit our website at



Reblogged: Spirit Day 2016 October 22, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rosemary Kiladitis @ 5:07 pm

My friend over at By Hook or By Book blogged about Spirit Day two days ago. Please take the time to read it.

I didn’t realize what today was until I saw my friend Vinnie’s post at For anyone who’s unfamiliar, the idea for Spirit Day began with one incredible teenager, Brittany McMillan, …

Source: Spirit Day 2016


A Realist who plans to survive: Radical, by E.M. Kokie October 21, 2016

radicalRadical, by E.M. Kokie, (Sept. 2016, Candlewick), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763669621

Recommended for ages 14+

Bex is in a constant state of readiness. She just knows the Big Thing is coming – worldwide crisis, breakdown of society, whatever you want to call it – it’s coming, and she’s going to be ready. She trains, she preps, she plans. She’s the only one in her family that seems to have her eyes open, after all. Until her older brother Mark discovers Clearview, a new group that seems to take survival as seriously as she does. She’s not sure how she feels about a stationery place, at first; she feels like she’d do best on the move, in a smaller group, but she’s drawn in by the group, who seem to welcome her. They don’t appear to be like most survivalist camps – they don’t have a problem with Black members, for starters, and no one seems to care that she doesn’t look like most girls should – at least, according to what her mother thinks a girl should look like.

Bex is training and working at her uncle’s gas station when she meets Lucy – Lucy, who doesn’t have a problem holding her hand in public or with kissing another girl. While Bex lets herself get lost in Lucy, her brother, Mark, is falling in with some more extreme members at Clearview. He’s becoming more hostile and more secretive. Bex knows she should say something, but she’s used to her parents choosing Mark over her. There will come a time where Bex has to draw the line, though: can she save herself, even if it comes at the cost of her family?

Radical is a different kind of novel on several levels. Bex is a brilliant, breakout character, for starters. She’s a butch lesbian, a character we don’t normally see in LGBTQ YA fiction. She’s comfortable with herself, and frustrated with the discomfort of everyone around her: most notably, her mother, who constantly compares her to her more feminine, average teen cousin. Her father shares some of Bex’s survivalist interests, but treads between loving Bex for who she is and trying to smooth things between Bex and her mother; sadly, both parents fail her where their son is concerned. Her Uncle Skip is a strong supporting character and is the parental figure Bex needs: concerned and loving, he knows to give Bex her space while communicating his concerns about Clearview.

The novel has elements of YA romance in it, to be sure, but it’s not a YA romance. It’s a gritty, taut work of realistic fiction that takes readers into the mind of a teenage survivalist who finds herself questioning everything she’s understood to be true: who to trust, what to believe, and whether or not family is forever. Radical is a strong entry into YA fiction and breaks new ground in LGBTQ fiction. Add this to your LGBTQ collections and booktalk this as the breakout work it is.

Author E.M. Kokie’s website has information about all of her books, links to social media, her blog, and an events calendar.


Pure Adorableness: Pug Meets Pig

pug-meets-pig_1Pug Meets Pig, by Sue Lowell Gallion/Illustrated by Joyce Wan, (Sept. 2016, Simon & Schuster), $17.99, ISBN: 9781481420662

Recommended for ages 3-7

Pug is a happy-go-lucky pup, living the good life. He’s got his own house, his yard work, his food bowl, and his doghouse. When Pig joins the family, though, Pug is not thrilled. His routine is completely thrown off, because Pig is in all of his business; Pig’s eating his food, hanging out with his friends, and sleeping in his doghouse! What’s a Pug to do? Can Pug and Pig work it out so they can live in the same space happily?

This is the sweetest story about change, learning to share, and welcoming a new friend (or family member). Kids will recognize Pug’s feelings, especially kids that may be starting school and meeting new kids (and having to share supplies and toys) for the first time, or even closer to home, welcoming a new sibling or family member to their home. Pug’s reaction to sharing his toys, yard, and bed is spot-on for toddlers and preschoolers learning to share. Ultimately, the good-hearted Pug and eager to please Pig come together to share, and kids will, too.


The fun begins with the book’s endpapers, where readers follow along on Pug’s very busy day (and later, Pug’s and Pig’s day). I am in love with Joyce Wan’s adorable art. Her board books, You Are My Cupcake and We Belong Together are in heavy rotation at my storytimes (and in my home). Her Kawaii-inspired art never, EVER ceases to make me squeal, and Pug Meets Pig brings on the cute attack thousandfold. I almost passed out from cute overload. True story.



Bonus goodies: Joyce Wan’s website offers a discussion and activity guide, plus an activity kit that will see quite a bit of action at my library. There are also coloring sheets galore! Author Sue Gallion’s webpage also links to the activity kit and coloring sheets, and to Publisher’s Weekly‘s starred review. The book has also been selected for the Society Of Illustrators 2016 Original Art Show, an annual exhibit which showcases the year’s best children’s picture books.



Adorable art plus a fun, sweet story that kids will love? Pug Meets Pig has it all. Add this one to your storytime collections, and put it in cuddle time storytime rotation. My little guy can’t get enough of this book, and neither can I. We’re getting a Pug & Pig Trick or Treat book in 2017, so watch this space for more of my incoherent squealing over this series.



Book Trailer Reveal: ELF, by Max Dune October 20, 2016

Filed under: Fantasy,Teen,Young Adult/New Adult — Rosemary Kiladitis @ 9:00 am
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A Dark Knight bedtime parody: Goodnight Batcave October 18, 2016

batcaveGoodnight Batcave, by Dave Croatto/Illustrated by Tom Richmond, (Oct. 2016, MAD Magazine), $14.99, ISBN: 9781401270100

Recommended for ages 5+

“In the great gray cave, there were a lot of bats, and souvenirs saved…”

Margaret Wise Brown could never have seen this coming: her sweet bedtime story has been turned into seemingly countless tongue-in-cheek retellings, including Goodnight iPad and Goodnight Goon. Goodnight Batcave is MAD Magazine’s take on the sleepytime classic and takes readers inside Batman’s inner sanctum, The Batcave. Batman’s wiped out and ready for bed, but his rogues gallery – including both fan favorites and old reliables, from Joker to Bane – just won’t behave and decide to attack the Batcave, maybe in the hopes of catching Bats unawares for the night? Using Goodnight Moon‘s familiar rhythm, Dave Croatto hilariously inserts Batman references that any fan worth their Bat-insignia pajamas will love. Bats flips and whips, knocks out knaves and bowls Penguins down the stairs. At the end of the night, Alfred is there, as always, to send Master Bruce off to sleep.

Tom Richmond’s art is classic MAD style, with exaggerated facial expressions and a superhero chin that you could land a Bat-Plane on. There are fantastic little references and Easter eggs for fans, including a nice showing by Ace, the Bat-Hound, and a quietly, ever-present Bat-mite, who snuggles up to Bats when their shift is finally over. The giant penny and T-Rex are there, and – this is MAD, after all – Alfred E. Neuman makes a cameo.

Younger Bat-fans will get a kick out of the fun take on a Bat-time story, and grown-up Batfans will love having this one on their bookshelves alongside favorite graphic novels and trade paperbacks.