Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and a Giveaway: I Am (Not) Scared

How many times have you heard (or said) that famous boast? Anna Kang and illustrator Christopher Weyant bring their fuzzy buddies back for a third installment of fun and friendship. This time, the friends are at an amusement park, psyching one another up to brave a ride on a roller coaster. What’s scarier than a roller coaster? Lots of things: Snakes, a tub of hairy spiders, or a pan of fried ants, for starters!

I Am (Not) Scared, by Anna Kang/Illustrated by Christopher Weyant,
(March 2017, Two Lions/Amazon), $17.99, ISBN: 978-150-3937-45-1

I Am (Not) Scared is perfect for preschoolers and young readers because kids will see themselves in the two friends who learn that there are fun ways to be scared – especially when you’re with a friend. The friends brave a roller coaster with a newfound friend, and let themselves admit to being scared, which brings a giggly kind of relief, doesn’t it? Once the group has conquered their fear, they’re ready to go back and enjoy the thrill of being scared all over again.

Christopher Weyant’s ink and watercolor illustrations are bold, expressive and sweet. The bears are cuddly and friendly, inviting kids to join them on their adventures. The art, along with the bold, black text, makes this a great read-aloud, too. Invite kids to tell you what they think is scarier than fried ants or snakes on roller coasters and watch the wacky responses roll on in. There’s a great activity kit available via Anna Kang’s website, complete with discussion questions, a roller coaster-y maze, courage bracelets to give out, and more!

Get in on the fun with an I Am (Not) Scared giveaway! One winner will receive an I Am (Not) Scared gift pack: a set of squeezable stress balls, two adorable plush characters, and a copy of I AM (NOT) SCARED courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance!

Wife and husband team Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of two other books featuring these characters: Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small and That’s (Not) Mine. Christopher’s work can be seen regularly in The New Yorker magazine and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and dog, Hudson. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.

 

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Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate

Narwhal & Jelly: Besties under the sea!

narwhalNarwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clanton, (Dec. 2016, Tundra Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781101918715

Recommended for ages 5-8

Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal is a wild imagination. Jelly is… not. That’s okay by Narwhal, they both bond over a mutual love of waffles, parties, and having adventures! Together, the two friends recruit other sea friends into their own little group and read the best book ever – so what if it doesn’t have words or pictures? They have imagination!

This hybrid intermediate novel/graphic novel is perfect for beginning readers (psst… and grown-ups) who love silly jokes, adorable art, and fun. Kids will enjoy this Odd Couple under the sea, and learn that friends don’t have to enjoy all of the same things to get along. The art is squeal-worthy adorable, and the dialogue between the two friends is light and fun. Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea has hit it big with readers, too: the book has received multiple awards and praise, including a starred Kirkus review, designation as the Best of the Year in 2016 by both Amazon and Kirkus, and was put on the Texas 2×2 Reading List.

 

If you lovsupernarwhaled Narwhal’s first book, get ready: Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt (May 2017, Tundra, $12.99, ISBN: 9781101919194) is coming in May! In their second outing, the two best friends become super heroes – now, if they could just figure out what their powers are… As with the first book, Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt features three short stories connected by the overall plot thread: in this case, being a superhero and a friend. Friendship, imagination, and self-esteem are enduring themes.

Ben Clanton has some fun extras available online. His website links to his Instagram, if you want to see even more of his art as he posts it; the site hosts his blog, which spotlights even more of his artwork, including this awesome “Jellin'” piece:

jellin

There’s also a Narwhal and Jelly site, with comics, printables, jokes, and early art mock-ups. This is a super-fun set to add to your graphic novels and intermediate books, and you can display with the veritable plethora of narwhal-related books coming out, like Jessie Sima’s Not Quite Narwhal and Wendell the Narwhal by Emily Dove. Make a display and feature some non-fiction narwhal and jellyfish-related books, or get a whole sea life shelf up, featuring fiction and nonfiction for some related reads.

Posted in gaming, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Tabletop Gaming: Monsters in the Elevator

I may have mentioned once or twice that I’ve developed a bit of a tabletop addiction. Since my last post about gaming in the library, I’ve Kickstarted… well, lot; and I’ve discovered great games by going to the Boston Festival of Indie Games every September. This past time around, we discovered yet another game that provides for laughs, smack talk, and great family time.

jasonwiser_monsterselevatoricon

Jason Wiser created Monsters in the Elevator with his 7 year-old daughter, and the premise is simple and hilarious: there’s an elevator going up and down in a building. Monsters are getting on and off the elevator. Elevators have weight limits, right? Each monster has its weight listed on a card, and you have to work together to keep that elevator from getting overloaded and crashing! There’s help along the way – certain monsters get off at certain floors; some monsters get sick and have to leave the elevator, or even better, some monsters let loose some gas that clears the elevator pretty darned fast (there is no end to the joy a card like that brings when my family plays).

It’s a math game, and it’s FUN. The fact that it’s cooperative makes it a great game for younger kids; my 4 year-old is even able to play with our help. We all work together to keep the elevator from falling. My husband got to meet Jason Wiser at BFIG last year and had nothing but great things to say, and I love that he created a family game with his own kid. It’s kid-tested, parent-approved, and now, librarian approved: my Corona Kids and I had some intense gaming sessions with my deck, and I’ll be introducing it to the Elmhurst kids very soon.

Monsters in the Elevator is available for the next five days through IndieGogo, where there are some nice backer gifts, including stickers (because seriously, monster stickers, who doesn’t love that?), and it’s also one of the five games featured on Hasbro’s Next Great Family Game Challenge. If you enjoy and want to support indie gaming, this is a fun, educational one to add to your game pile.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Blog Tour: Busy Builders, Busy Week! Interview with Jean Reidy!

busy builders_1Busy Builders, Busy Week, by Jean Reidy/Illustrated by Leo Timmers, (June 2016, Bloomsbury), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1619635562

Sunday! Dream day! Study, scribble, scheme day. Map, measure, plan a treasure. Gather up a team day!

The author-illustrator team that brought us All Through My Town – a storytime staple at my library – comes together to bring readers a book about working together! Over the course of a week, animal characters pull together to build a brand new playground in their community. Each day brings new things to do, from planning, to digging, to fixing and planting!

This is such a fun story to read out loud, and has entered regular rotation at home. Kids can practice their days of the week and get lost in the rhyming story, which has the added benefit of showing readers how to group tasks to get things done in the best way. On Sunday, the builders come up with plans for their big job ahead; on Monday, they clear the area. Tuesday is for infrastructure: cement, pipes, boards, fixing fences. On Wednesday, we load everything up and take it on the road. Thursday is for getting the place shaped up: drills, nails, rake and spread. Friday, the plants go in and the final details, like painting and sanding, get the park ready for their big opening on Saturday!

I love Leo Timmers’ bright, bold acrylics here. The bright colors and cartoony animal characters are a perfect accompaniment to Jean Reidy’s bouncy, happy rhyming text. Even the endpapers bring on the fun, with yellow, diamond-shaped construction signs featuring different animals working at different tasks leading readers in and out of the story.

Transportation books have done well at all of my libraries, so this is a no-brainer for my collection. If your readers love books like Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, and Kate and Jim McMullan’s series (I Stink!, I’m Brave!, et al), this is a perfect fit. Busy Builders also lends itself to a days of the week read-aloud, right next to fun books like John Himmelman’s Chickens to the Rescue!,  or Albert Bitterman’s Fortune Cookies.

I was lucky enough to get a few minutes with author Jean Reidy, and we talked about Busy Builders, Busy Week! Read on!

 

MomReadIt (MRI): I love the idea of the characters coming together to create a playground! Did you decide on the idea of building the playground as the best way to talk about the days of the week, or did the story come together separately?

Jean Reidy (JR): A little bit of both, I’d say. When my editors at Bloomsbury asked me to write a days-of-the-week book for their list, I loved the idea. So I brainstormed a variety of approaches that ranged from the mundane to the wildly weird. But that’s the way I like to work, creatively uncensored, putting all the possibilities out there. I’ve always wanted to write a construction trucks book, so when I hit on the notion of a “construction week” the only decision left was, “What can we build in a week that will resonate with a child?” Well, a playground, of course. Even better, a playground designed by illustrator Leo Timmers. And while the premise was fun and uncomplicated, the idea of a community coming together to transform an old, abandoned city lot into something fun and beautiful felt like it added an additional layer of meaning to the essential story. I like that layer. I think it gives readers more to talk about. And Leo did a fabulous job bringing it to life.

MRI: When you were working on the text, did you plot out the different phases of construction to help you group together the tasks the characters undertake each day?

JR: That would have been really smart, eh? But my process was a little looser than that. I tried to keep my free association of the topic going as long as I could before I forced it into any kind of order. I wanted to fully explore all the fun possibilities for structure and language. So, I developed word lists—starting with the days of the week and then all the construction actions, sounds, vehicles and tools I could think of. I played with those lists until I sounded out the bouncy rhythm and rhyme scheme I wanted for my young readers. From there, I made sure that the construction tasks were logically ordered and grouped so that the artwork could then bring sense to the process of building the playground.

MRI: You’ve also written a book called ALL THROUGH MY TOWN that features animals as the main characters. Do you think these two books could take place in the same storytelling universe? Could the kids from All Through My Town come and play at the new playground built in Busy Builders, Busy Week?

JR: Oh my goodness! What a brilliant idea! I love unexpected connections, surprises and meta moments in storytelling. So let’s play that out. ALL THROUGH MY TOWN is loosely modeled after the Chicago suburb in which I grew up—a self-contained town with its own shops, library, gardens, fire department and only thirty miles from Chicago. The Chicago and Northwestern train line—now called the Metra—whistled through multiple times each day, taking commuters to and from the Windy City. BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! takes place in an urban area where the characters transform an old empty lot. So yes, let’s have our town characters hop on their train and visit their city friends—all meeting up at that brand new playground. Bloomsbury, how ‘bout it? Readers, toss me a title! Let’s do this!

 

Jean Reidy photoJean Reidy is a two-time winner of the Colorado Book Award. Especially gifted at writing for very young children, Jean is a frequent presenter at national and local literacy, writing, and education conferences and at schools across the country—in person and via Skype. She is a member of the Colorado Council International Reading Association and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and she serves on the board of Reach Out and Read Colorado. Jean writes from her home in Colorado where she lives right across the street from her neighborhood library, which she visits nearly every day. Visit her at www.jeanreidy.com and on Twitter: @JeanReidy.

 

Follow Jean on the BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! tour!

Mon, Aug 22 Cracking the Cover
Tues, Aug 23 Literary Hoots
Wed, Aug 24 NC Teacher Stuff
Thurs, Aug 25 Mom Read It
Fri, Aug 26 Unleashing Readers
Sat, Aug 27 Booking Mama
Mon, Aug 29 Bluestocking Thinking
Tues, Aug 30 Jean Little Library
Wed, Aug 31 Geo Librarian
Thurs, Sept 1 Mrs. O Reads Books
Fri, Sept 2 Where Imagination Grows

Click here for a free classroom curriculum guide and storytime kit!

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to receive a copy of BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! (U.S. addresses, please.)

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Middle Grade, Middle School, Tween Reads

New spooky fun series! Bruce Hale’s Monstertown Mysteries!

werehyenaMonstertown Mysteries: The Curse of the Were-Hyena, by Bruce Hale, (July 2016, Disney/Hyperion), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4847-1325-9

Recommended for ages 8-12

It’s another day in Monterrosa, California, and buddies Carlos and Benny are in class with their favorite teacher, Mr. Chu. Who starts acting really weird. He’s laughing and growling, he’s quick to be angry and aggressive with students, and… well, you’ll read about the chicken incident. Carlos and Benny start investigating the situation, enlisting the help of their local comic book dealer and a classmate who elbows her way into the group, they discover that Mr. Chu has been bitten by a were-hyena, and unless they can find the alpha hyena in a couple of days – in time for the full moon – Mr. Chu is doomed to be a were-beast forever!

This is the first book in a new scary-fun series for middle graders by favorite, Bruce Hale, and it’s perfect for Goosebumps fans who are looking for new territory. The kids rule the stories, there’s great characterization, some laughs, and lots of excitement, adventure, and mystery. Adults take a backseat and let the kids get the work done, but they’re supportive and there to help, like Mrs. Tamasese, the former pro wrestler turned comic book shop owner.

There’s also some very nice diversity in the book, with characters of different ethnicities and abilities (including Mrs. Tamasese, who’s wheelchair-bound, but doesn’t let that stop her from going on adventures).

I loved the book, and think this one will work nicely with the kids here, who have read my Goosebumps collection (in both English and Spanish) until they fall apart. I introduced the Eerie Elementary books to my younger readers, and they’ve snapped them up; something tells me that Monstertown Mysteries are going to find a very happy home on my library’s shelves. The ending sets up for a series very nicely. There’s some fun black and white illustrations that will keep readers’ interest, especially once you get to the Big Bad Hyena.

Add this fun series (number two is due out in the Spring) to collections where spooky and fun go hand in hand. If you’ve got kids in your life who love creeptastic excitement, put this on your list.

Bruce Hale is a hugely popular children’s author: the Chet Gecko, the Underwhere, and School for S.P.I.E.S. series are just a few of his hits. You can check out his author website to learn more about his books, author visits, and find some cool downloads and activities.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Spotlight On: I Wanna Be A Great Big Dinosaur!

This latest spotlight is an adorable story about the grass being greener on the other side. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky presents…

wanna be dinosaur

A little boy wants to be a Great. Big. Dinosaur! Luckily for him, a great big dinosaur is nearby, and is happy to show him the ropes: the roaring, the stomping, the eating LOTS of meat… but the boy has some pretty cool things to show the dinosaur, too! Playing video games and soccer, and eating ice cream are pretty awesome, after all.

Kids will see themselves in both little boy and dinosaur: each wants to try on the other’s life, just to see if things are as cool as they look. It taps into a child’s sense of imagination and play – who among us hasn’t wanted to be a dinosaur? A bird, a butterfly, or something other than who we already are? And when the boy sees things from a dinosaur’s point of view, he realizes that there are some pretty great things about being a little boy, too, and shares them with his dino friend. The verdict: you can be a little bit of both, and be very happy!

I love this book and can’t wait for it to enter my regular storytime rotation. My three-year old LOVES it. We stomp, roar, and chomp on imaginary pteranodon drumsticks as we read it. The art is vibrant and there’s a bigness to it, coming off the page and inviting readers to join in. Words like “STOMP!” and “ROAR!” splash across two-page spreads, contributing to the giant feeling of the story and the words and will keep younger listeners entertained and giggling.

Grab some shoe or tablet boxes, paper, and some dot art painters (really cuts down on the mess), and let the kids make their own dinosaur hats and tails! Add this book to your storytime rotation and your home and library/school collections; it’s a good one.

And now, the Sourcebooks Spotlight – keep reading for your chance to win your own copy of I Wanna Be a Great Big Dinosaur!

Title: I Wanna Be A Great Big Dinosaur!

Author: Heath McKenzie

Release Date: May 17, 2016

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Summary:

Want to find out what it takes to be a Great Big Dinosaur? This book is for you!

More than anything in the world, one little boy wants to be a great big dinosaur. And he’s in luck! A great big T. Rex shows up to teach him how to stomp and roar just like a dinosaur. But dinosaurs aren’t so great at soccer or video games… Maybe being a little boy isn’t all bad?

A story about being whoever (or whatever) you want!

Goodreads 

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes&Noble

BooksAMillion

!ndigo

Indiebound

Heath1About the Author (photo by Angela Ginsberg):

Heath McKenzie has illustrated numerous picture books and children’s book jackets. He lives with his wife and kids in Melbourne, Australia. Visit him online at heathmck.com.

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance at one of two finished copies of I Wanna Be A Great Big Dinosaur! (Runs May 1-May 31st; U.S. & Canada only)!

 

 

 

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Don’t Touch This Book! More interactive fun from Bill Cotter

don't touchDon’t Touch This Book!, by Bill Cotter (March 2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $16.99, ISBN: 9781492632245

Recommended for ages 3-7

Larry, the monster from Don’t Push the Button! returns with another interactive book that fans of Herve Tullet will love. Larry shows off his new book, complete with his picture on the cover, but warns you: Don’t Touch This Book! He relents a bit, offering to let readers drag a finger down the page, which delights Larry – and the reader – when the page changes color! Larry leads readers through more fun interactions including stirring the colors, flapping their arms to help him escape a dinosaur, and talk like robots.

Books like these are great for storytimes, because you get the kids in there with you from the beginning. If your storytime is small enough, you can have individual children take one of the actions; larger groups, you can have the kids sit on their spots and play along. I found books like this really helpful with special needs audiences; the hands-on interaction captivated them and focused their attention on the storytime.

The art is great for toddler and preschool audiences, with a friendly, brightly colored monster, fun fonts, and active movement in the pictures. Go crazy with this book; it’s the perfect way to get the kids reading along with you!