Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade

Henry and the Chalk Dragon unleashes imagination!

Henry and the Chalk Dragon, by Jennifer Trafton/Illustrated by Benjamin Schipper, (Apr. 2017, Rabbit Room Press), $15.99, ISBN: 9780986381881

Recommended for readers 8-12

Henry Penwhistle is a young boy with an active imagination. He’s an artist and a dreamer who draws his quests in secret, afraid to share his art with anyone – even his best friend, Oscar. His mother used blackboard paint to transform Henry’s door into a canvas; a canvas on which he’s drawn a dragon. A dragon that has managed to escape and wreaks havoc all over Henry’s school! Henry, Oscar, and their classmate Jade – who chronicles the boys’ heroism in epic poetry – try to save their classmates and teachers and bring an end to the dragon’s mischief. What Henry discovers is something far deeper.

This book is so many things. It recognizes the dreamers, the artists, those of us who look at life a little differently. It’s a gentle squeeze, a hug, a reminder to us grownups that we don’t really have to give up our robots and superhero personas, just because we’ve gotten older. And it’s a call to action to readers – grownups and kids alike – to rethink ways of tackling problems. Henry has his own hero’s quest through Henry and the Chalk Dragon, as do – to a slightly lesser degree – his teacher, lunch lady, and principal, and he emerges as a very different boy at the book’s close.

Henry and his friends are stuck in dreary school life, but so are the grownups in that school. His principal, beaten down by the School Bored, tells Henry, “the world doesn’t care about your art… the world only cares about facts and numbers and budgets. I’m sorry, but it is my job to prepare you for the world you’re going to have to live in, Henry: the real world.” His lunch lady is an artist who wails that “everyone wants pizza, and meatloaf, and macaroni and cheese made from a box. A box! How can anything beautiful come from a box?” They’re artists and dreamers who’ve been worn down by the world around them, but Henry is here to show everyone, with a child’s innocence and imagination, that things are so much better than that. Finally, Henry and the Chalk Dragon is about the enduring power of friendship: Henry and Oscar spend the better part of the book working out an argument that took place before the events of the book, and Jade makes sure that Henry and Oscar know that the old boys’ club isn’t a formula that works for her; she’s going to be part of this adventure.

Give this book to your dreamers, artists, and adventurers. Give it to your teachers and your parents that used to be superheroes, and should be again.

Henry and the Chalk Dragon received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist.

Would you like a chance to win your own copy of Henry and the Chalk Dragon? Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway!

About the Author

Jennifer Trafton is the author of The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic (Dial, 2010) which received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal and was a nominee for Tennessee’s Volunteer State Book Award and the National Homeschool Book Award. Henry and the Chalk Dragon arose from her lifelong love of drawing and her personal quest for the courage to be an artist. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where, in addition to pursuing her love of art and illustration, she teaches writing classes, workshops, and summer camps in a variety of schools, libraries, and homeschool groups in the Nashville area, as well as online classes to kids around the world. To learn more, and to download free materials, visit jennifertrafton.com.

Praise for HENRY AND THE CHALK DRAGON:

★“A delicious face-off between forces of conformity and creativity run amok, spiced with offbeat names as well as insights expressed with eloquent simplicity.” —Booklist (starred review)

★“A perfect title to hand to young readers looking for laughs along with a wild and crazy adventure.”

—School Library Journal (starred review)

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Duck and Hippo brave the rain together!

Duck and Hippo In the Rainstorm, by Jonathan London/Illustrated by Andrew Joyner, (March 2017, Two Lions/Amazon), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-5039-3723-9

Duck and Hippo are the best of friends, and want to go for a walk in the rain. But the umbrella isn’t big enough for them both! Luckily, the two friends find a solution and go off on a rainy day walk, filled with adventures, until a strong gust of wind sends one of them up in the air!

Jonathan London is best known for his Froggy series, most of which end up on my library kids’ summer reading lists every year. Booktalking Duck and Hippo will be a breeze – the author already has a tremendous fanbase. Then, we have Andrew Joyner’s brush and ink illustration, with wash and pencil, then digitally colored; which it makes me happy just looking at it. It’s classic illustration; hearkening to timeless books like Frog and Toad and Danny and the Dinosaur. colors are soothing with bright touches, like Duck’s red jacket and yellow umbrella, which matches Hippo’s yellow rain boots. The definitive outlines make each piece, each character, step off the page. Sound effects are in playful font sizes and colors, swirling along like the water in a creek or coming down with the rain.

This book is a fun read-aloud about friendship and sharing. Read and display with Frog and Toad, James Marshall’s George and Martha, or Sue Gallion’s Pug Meets Pig. Hand out a Duck and Hippo coloring sheet, courtesy of Andrew Joyner’s website – and give your bigger readers Joyner’s How to Draw Duck and Hippo instructions!

About the Author and Illustrator

Jonathan London is the author of more than one hundred children’s books, including the bestselling Froggy series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. Many of his books explore nature, among them Flamingo Sunset, illustrated by Kristina Rodanas, and Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica, illustrated by Julie Olson. He is currently writing a middle-grade series, which started with Desolation Canyon, illustrated by his son Sean London. Jonathan lives in Graton, California. Learn more online at www.jonathan-london.net.

Andrew Joyner is an illustrator, author, and cartoonist based in South Australia. He has illustrated a number of picture books, and he wrote and illustrated a chapter book series about a warthog named Boris. He has also illustrated for newspapers and magazines, including the Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, and Rolling Stone magazine, among others. Learn more online at www.andrewjoyner.com.au.

Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win your own copy of Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Tale of the Mighty Brobarians!

Brobarians, by Lindsay Ward, (March 2017, Two Lions/Amazon Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-15039-6167-0

Recommended for readers 3-7

“Two barbarians, once at peace – Uh-Oh! – were now at odds.” Otto and Iggy are brothers and barbarians, but when Iggy stages a takeover of the land, Otto fights back and the two go to war. Told as an epic tale, Brobarians is the adorably fun story of two brothers and their disagreement, resolved only when a higher power interferes.

This book is adorable. The endpaper maps that depict Otto’s (he’s the bigger brother, so I assume he created them) layout of his and Iggy’s territory, the illuminated manuscript-like exposition that leads into the tale and the epic storytelling style are wonderful. If you’re a fan of sword and sorcery movies like I am, then you’ll hear the Conan the Barbarian-like narration in your head and squeal with joy.

The art – cut paper, pencil, and crayon on chipboard – escalates, dipping into the brobarians’ imaginations to render them as fierce (but still really cute) brothers on wild steeds. The fonts are exaggerated, colorful, providing readers with a wholly fun storytime experience. You can’t read this in a monotone, you just can’t. I read it to my little guy and immediately slipped into epic narrator mode, with mock gravity and urgency at different points of the story. I was rewarded with belly laughs, which are wonderfully contagious.

You need this book for the kids you love. Heck, you need this book for yourself. Let’s try and see my kid get this off my bookshelf, where it lives next to my Red Sonja comics!

About the Author
Lindsay Ward would never have written this book if she hadn’t stayed up late one night watching Conan the Barbarian. She finds the idea of baby barbarians to be very funny . . . and hopes you do too. Lindsay’s recent books include Rosco vs. the Baby and The Importance of Being 3. Most days you can find her writing and sketching at home in Ohio with her family. Learn more about her at www.lindsaymward.com or on Twitter: @lindsaymward. She’s got Brobarians activities coming soon, too – keep an eye on the website!

Praise for BROBARIANS:

“Highly cinematic, both in imagery and narrative soundtrack…Good and campy and a fine opportunity for vocabulary building.”—Kirkus Reviews

“As readalouds go, it’s pretty epic.” – Publishers Weekly

 

Giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of BROBARIANS courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway here!

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

All Aboard! Blog tour for Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite

Mr. Fuzzbuster is an adorable black cat that lives with his favorite person, a girl named Lily, and a family of other pets. Lily loves them all, but Mr. Fuzzbuster knows that he’s Lily’s favorite… right?

mcanulty-mrfuzzbusterknowshesthefavorite-21153-cv-ftMr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite, by Stacy McAnulty/Illustrated by Edward Hemingway, (Feb. 2017, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1503948389

Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite is going to be a favorite in pre-k classrooms and at bedtimes. It’s a sweet story about playing favorites and being favorites. Parents will get a kick out of it, especially parents of siblings always quarreling over who’s the favorite. Kids will love the suspense of each page turn, when Lily declares that each pet – Fishy Face, the fish; Feathers, the bird; King, the lizard; Bruiser, the dog, and of course, Mr. Fuzzbuster – her favorite of its species. Mr. Fuzzbuster’s epiphany leads him to write a letter, telling Lily that she’s the collective favorite, and the story ends on an adorably hilarious moment that will leaves readers giggling.

Edward Hemingway’s pencil, ink, and digital art makes for a vibrant look combined with a warm textures. The pets, especially our star, almost pop off the page, and Lily maintains a warm, loving presence, interacting with her friends through each repetition of “You’re my favorite…” I’ll have to create some flannels to go with this story for my pre-k storytime, for sure.

stacy_mcanulty_01STACY MCANULTY is certain she’s her mom’s favorite. Her younger brother disagrees. She’s the author of Beautiful, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach; and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. Originally from upstate New York, she now lives in Kernersville, North Carolina, with her three children, two dogs, and one husband. She doesn’t have a favorite. You can find her online at www.stacymcanulty.com.


edw
EDWARD HEMINGWAY is certain he’s Stacy McAnulty’s favorite illustrator, although the illustrators of Stacy’s other books may disagree. Edward himself is the author and illustrator of the children’s books Bump in the Night, Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship, Bad Apple’s Perfect Day, and Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus. Originally from Bozeman, Montana, he now lives in Brooklyn where he teaches creative writing at the master’s level at SVA in Manhattan. If he has any favorite students, he’ll never tell. Learn more about him online at www.edwardhemingway.com.

 

Did you know Mr. Fuzzbuster loves writing notes? He wants to send cards to young readers across the country.  Maybe he will be your favorite. Visit http://www.stacymcanulty.com/fuzzbuster-email to find out how to get mail from Mr. Fuzzbuster!

Last but not least, we have a giveaway! Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win your own copy of Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite!

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

Blog Tour: Twisted True Tales from Science!

Happy New Year! What better way to kick things off than by talking up a new, cool nonfiction science series?

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Series information:

Title: Twisted True Tales from Science

Author: Stephanie Bearce

Release Date: February 1, 2017

Publisher: Prufrock Press

Did you know that Nikola Tesla invented a death ray gun and was also afraid of women who wore jewelry? How about the Chinese scientists from two-thousand years ago who were trying to create a medicine that would make them live forever but accidentally blew up their lab and discovered gun powder?

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Find out more about the strange history of science in Twisted True Tales from Science, a new non-fiction series that introduces kids to some of the most twisted yet completely true stories from science. These books are perfect for the gross-but-true legends of the Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not! stories.

Freaky Facts from Explosive Experiments

Gunpowder was a chemical explosive discovered by the ancient Chinese. But they weren’t experimenting to invent a weapon. They were actually trying to make a medicine that would give their emperor eternal life. Boy – were they surprised when the elixir for life exploded and blew up their laboratory.

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The mission was code named Starfish Prime and it was one of the largest man-made explosions in the history of the world. In 1962 the United States tested a nuclear bomb in outer space. The explosion was so bright that it lit up the sky over Honolulu just like it was the fourth of July. But instead of fireworks, it was a nuclear bomb 100 times bigger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

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GIVEAWAY for one bundle of the entire Twisted True Tales from Science series (4 books)

Don’t miss your chance to win a bundle of your own Twisted True Tales from Science! Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway today!

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Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Spell Thief

The Spell Thief
By Tom Percival
December 6, 2016; Hardcover, ISBN: 9781492646648

9781492641773-pr

Book Info:
Title: The Spell Thief
Author: Tom Percival
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Summary:

Join Red, Jack, Rapunzel, and Anansi in this fun fairy tale mash-up chapter book series!

Jack (of the beanstalk fame) and his magical talking chicken, Betsy, have always been great at making new friends, like their BFFs Red and Rapunzel. But when Jack spots Anansi, the new kid in town, talking to a troll in the Deep Dark Woods, he immediately becomes suspicious. Everyone knows that trolls mean trouble, and Jack will do anything to prove to the rest of his friends that Anansi is a troll spy. Even if that means using stolen magic!

Goodreads Link: http://ow.ly/rDgP3065Ww6

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://ow.ly/ud3O3065WD0

Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/o76x3065WMa

IndieBound: http://ow.ly/9sfN3065WPn

About the Author:
Tom Percival studied graphic design in South Wales and has illustrated several picture books. He lives with his family in Bristol, England.

Social Media Links:
Author Website: http://tom-percival.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AllAboutTomPercival
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TomPercivalsays
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/tomp/

1
A Ship Comes In

spellthief_1

Jack walked through the Deep Dark Woods with his pet hen Betsy tucked under one arm. He took a deep breath of the woodland air. It smelled fresh and exciting. Today was going to be a good day—he could just tell.

He walked toward a small, wooden cottage surrounded by a well-kept wooden fence. There was a fountain in the garden, also made of wood, but instead of water, it was blowing sawdust high into the air.

spellthief_whatsquawked Betsy.

 

 

“Don’t worry, Betsy. It’s only sawdust,” replied Jack. He wasn’t surprised that his hen had just spoken to him. After all, Betsy was a magical hen. Sadly, “What?” was the only thing she could say, which made most of their conversations rather one-sided.

spellthief_2Jack wiped his feet on the wooden doormat and knocked on the door. He heard booming footsteps from inside. The door swung open with a creak and a very woody smell.

A large man stood in the doorway, covered in wood shavings and holding a lopsided wooden cup.
“Well, look who it is!” he exclaimed with a smile, “Come on through, Jack! Red and the others are all out back.”

He ushered Jack inside, where every surface, and in fact everything, seemed to be made from wood…including the carpet and the curtains.

“So, how have you been, Jack?” asked Red’s dad.

“Good, thanks,” replied Jack politely. “How about you?”

“Oh, good, Jack, very good!” exclaimed Red’s dad. “In fact, I’ve just made a breakthrough!”

“A breakthrough?” asked Jack.

“With the wooden socks!” replied Red’s dad.

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“Don’t you mean woolen?” countered Jack.

“Woolen socks?” repeated Red’s father, as if it was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard, “I’m a wood-cutter, Jack, not a wool cutter!”

“Er, right…” said Jack.

“Do you want to try them on?” asked Red’s father, holding out two very solid, very wooden–looking socks.

“Um, not right now,” replied Jack. “I’d better go and catch up with Red. But thanks for the offer.”

Jack raced through the house and into the garden. The tree house towered up in front of him. Red’s dad had carved it out of one giant tree.

Jack’s friends were all sitting in the main room when he climbed in.

“Morning, all!” he called out.

Red grinned, Rapunzel did her very best curtsy, and the twins waved enthusiastically.

“Hey,” started Hansel.

“Jack!” finished Gretel.

Hansel and Gretel often finished each other’s sentences. Sometimes it could be confusing.

“Hey, Jack!” called Red. “Do you want the good news or the bad news?”

“The good news?” asked Jack hesitantly.

“The good news,” said Rapunzel, leaving a long pause, “is that there’s a ship coming into town from Far Far Away!”

spellthief_whatsquawked Betsy.

 
Jack gasped. A boat from Far Far Away! His dad might have sent him a letter…

“Yep!” added Red. “It should be arriving any minute! We’re going to have a race up to Lookout Point to watch it come in—last one there is a smelly troll!”

“So what’s the bad news?” asked Jack.

“The bad news is that Hansel’s just tied your shoelaces together!” said Rapunzel, as she and everyone else scrambled excitedly from the tree house.

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Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance at one of 2 Copies of The Spell Thief!
Runs December 4-December 16 (US & Canada only)

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

Blog Tour: Puppy Pals – MURPHY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social Media Links:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/childbkauthor

 

 

 

Enjoy an excerpt from Murphy right here!

9781492634003-prChapter One

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

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

Kat was in her classroom, sitting at her desk.

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

Her mother and father smile at her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ms. Mitchell smiled. “How wonderful!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Right!” Grace chimed in.

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

“Agh!” moaned Grace and Maya.

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

 

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