Friday, May 19, 2017

THE GREAT TREEHOUSE WAR by Lisa Graff / Blog Tour: Spotlight & Giveaway

Hello and welcome to the next stop in the THE GREAT TREEHOUSE WAR blog tour, hosted by Penguin. I'm so excited about Lisa's newest release. Today I thought I'd do something fun with my tour post. Tree Houses! 

Let's be honest, given the chance, I'd totally have a tree house in my back yard that would be family friendly. Meaning, I'd use it as much as my kids. As a kid, I always loved playing outdoors, and climbing trees. One of the things my kids have recently been asking for, is a tree house. Being a kid at heart, I totally want one as well. So I decided to look into tree houses. This is great for today's post.

Here are a few of the tree houses that I completely loved in my search for tree houses. These would be considered dream tree houses. I linked to the sources, as some of them are featured in a series, and others have interviews with the creators of the tree house. Either way, these are definitely some amazing tree houses that I can see winning the tree house war.

This is a tree house I'd LOVE to have. It's a mix of what I would have loved as a kid and would love to have now. Plus, look at those amazing trees surrounding it. 

Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, this birds eye view living up in the trees caught my attention. How cool is this tree house?!

Now this is a treehouse of my childhood dreams. Who wouldn't have a castle tree house? I would have added a trap door, and possibly a mot just for fun. Though the trap door would have dropped you off on a trampoline and wouldn't have been too high up. 

I'll be honest, the best tree house of all, would be on similar to the Ewok Village. That would be big enough for a number of friends to come over and hang out in. Plus, it's Star Wars. I love this painting of the village I found here.


There are a lot of things you should probably know to understand why a bunch of kids decided to climb up a tree house and not come down. But to really understand it, you'd probably have to go way back in time, and peek through the living room window of a girl named Winifred Malladi-Maraj, on her last day of fourth grade . . .

Thus begins the story of Winnie's parents' divorce (sad though it was), of the arrangements that followed (three days a week with each parent, and Wednesdays to herself in a treehouse smack in between both of their houses), and of Winnie's growing frustration with her lack of free time (due to her parents' ceaseless efforts to make the most of the time they each had with her). It was just this frustration, which was caused by several weeks of missing out on activities with friends, of skipping homework, and of wishing she had time to create a story for the upcoming contest, that prompted Winnie to barricade herself in her treehouse and refuse to come out -- an idea which her friends from Tulip Street Elementary found so appealing that they decided to join her. But with ten kids in one treehouse, all with their own agendas and demands, Winnie discovers that no one is happy with their status quo, and they're counting on her to change it! What had she gotten herself into?

The kids have turned the tables on the parents, and all rules have been tossed out the window. But as Winnie quickly begins to realize, having a community she can count on is a good thing--and it makes her realize what it is she truly wants from her parents.


Lisa Graff ( is the critically acclaimed and award-winning author of the National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots, as well as A Clatter of JarsLost in the SunAbsolutely AlmostDouble Dog DareUmbrella SummerThe Life and Crimes of Bernetta WallflowerThe Thing About Georgie and Sophie Simon Solves Them All. Originally from California, she lived for many years in New York City and now makes her home just outside of Philadelphia. Follow her on Twitter at @lisagraff.

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff (ARV: $16.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 15, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. 

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Week One:
May 15 – Books 4 Your Kids – Review
May 16 – Margie’s Must Reads 
May 17 – Pirates n’ Pixie Dust 
May 18 – We Are Word Nerds 
May 19 – Mundie Kids 
Week Two:
May 22 – The Reading Nook Reviews – The Coolest Treehouses Roundup
May 23 – Crafty Moms Share – Review + Craft
May 24 – Word Spelunker – Review + Dream Treehouse
May 25 – Reading is Better With Cupcakes – Review 
May 26 – Mama Smiles

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Stick Cat: A Tail of Two Kitties by Tom Watson & Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere by Elise Gravel / Giveaway

It's the end of the week (almost), which is the perfect time to celebrate some recent releases and host a giveaway! We've teamed up with Harper Collins to giveaway a copy of Stick Cat: A Tail of Two Kitties and Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere. Both of these books are great for reluctant readers, and are in stores now. Not to mention, they're great for young aspiring artists, as the books are full or illustrations. 


Perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and animal lovers everywhere – meet Stick Cat!  A heavily illustrated young reader series, from the author of Stick Dog – Tom Watson!

In the first adventure (available now), it’s a big day in the big city for Stick Cat and his best friend, Edith. There are treasures to hunt, songs to sing, pigeons to catch, and naps to take. But way up on the 23rd floor, danger lurks just around the corner. Terrible noises and violent crashes trap a desperate man in the building across the alley. Stick Cat will need to navigate his way across the alley—and around Edith’s peculiar ways—to attempt a rescue. 

The next adventureStick Cat: Cats in the City, arrives on April 25th

About The Author

Tom Watson lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter, and son. He is the author of the Stick Dog series and the Stick Cat series. This is the first book in that series. Tom does not have a cat. So his ideas for the Stick Cat series come from a whole different place. He’s not sure where that place is exactly, but he knows it’s kind of strange there. While he has your attention, Tom would like to make one thing perfectly clear: There are not going to be any other stick animal books. There won’t be a Stick Monkey, for instance. Or Stick Chicken (even though that’s fun to say) or even Stick Giraffe (even though that would be fun to draw). He’s having plenty of fun just with dogs and cats.

Additional Content

Visit the Official Site for the Stick Cat series


Olga finds a creature in her garbage can one day, and all it says is “MEH!” 

It won’t eat, it won’t sleep, it snores, it stinks, and Olga studies it like mad. She adores it and eventually names it after herself--an OLGAMUS. A trip to the library reveals little, while a trip to the local shop proves successful when Olga discovers Meh’s favorite food is olives! These episodes take place over a few days in Olga’s never-dull life, and she manages to reveal a great amount of information not only about herself, but about everything from the scientific method and Jane Goodall and some of her favorite odd creatures to the ins and outs of friendship and every human’s use for living in a community. 

Perfect for fans of Dear Dumb Diary and My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish, and great preparation for El Deafo, Roller Girl, and Smile.

About The Author

Elise Gravel is an award-winning author/illustrator from Quebec. She is the winner of the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Illustration in French, and is well-known in Quebec for her original, wacky picture books. She has published a number of books with US publisher Blue Apple as well as a graphic novel for Roaring Brook Press. Having completed her studies in graphic design, Elise found herself quickly swept up into the glamorous world of illustration. Her old design habits drive her to work a little text here and there into her drawings and she loves to handle the design of her assignments from start to finish. She is inspired by social causes and is likes projects that can handle a good dose of eccentricity. Follow Elise on Instagram.

Additional Content
Visit the Official Site for Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere
Read a sample from Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere.
Learn to Draw! Embed the video: Drawing Animals with Elise Gravel


  • Copies of Stick Cat: A Tail of Two Kitties and Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere
  • Art prints from each book’s creators

Open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by HarperCollins.

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Good luck & Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


By: Josef Anton

Illustrated By: Lucie Brunelliere
Published By: Abrams Appleseed
Released On: March 7, 2017
Ages: 3 & up
Purchase From: Publisher l Amazon l B&N
Add It To: Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets-We Loved it!
A copy of this book was provided by the published in exchange for my honest review

Deep in the forest, early in the morning, the animals slowly wake—except the panda, who is sleeping in. The monkey stretches, the red ant hides, the black bear yawns, and the gazelle smiles. But where is the okapi? Can you find it?

Over 50 animals—including the okapi—hide on the pages of this beautiful board book. The gorgeous forest scenes take readers from morning to night, from high in the trees to deep underground. Deep in the Forest is as much a visual treat as it is an introduction to exotic animals.

This book is extraordinary! We stepped into a jungle and we saw into the trees, we looked over a river, and peeked under the ground. The pictures and colors are so beautiful that we just sat and admired the pages before reading it. Each page was packed with animals to discover and we got a glimpse in the animal's day-to-day happenings. The prompts for searching animals on each page only cover a few of the animals hidden. We loved searching for all the different jungle animals and we were surprised by the flap on each page that hid even more animals.

This book is a great companion book to read with your children and also a great independent discovery book for young readers and adventurers. It is a large, and durable, board book which makes it suitable for younger children. Animal lovers and little explorers will love this book!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

THE FALLEN STAR by Tracey Hecht / Author Interview #TheNocturnalsSeries

Today we're thrilled to have Tracey Hecht, author of The Nocturnals series on the blog today. She's stopped by to talk about the third book in the series, THE FALLEN STAR, which was released yesterday. Before I share her Q&A, here's a little bit more about her newest release. 


By: Tracey Hecht
Illustrated by: Kate Liebman
Published by: Fabled Films Press
Released on: May 2nd, 2017
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Ages: 7 & up

In The Fallen Star, Dawn, Tobin, and Bismark awaken one evening to a disaster: all of the forest's pomelos have been mysteriously poisoned! As the Nocturnal Brigade sets out to investigate, they encounter Iris, a mysterious aye-aye, who claims monsters from the moon are to blame. While the three heroes suspect a more earthly explanation, the animals of the valley are all falling ill. And then Tobin gets sick, too! The Nocturnal Brigade must race to find answers, and the cure, before the pomelo blight threatens to harm them all.

Read a chapter from the book, here.


The third book in The Nocturnal series, The Fallen Star, just came out. Tell us a little bit about it! 

It’s juicy!  (Ha, no pun intended! You’ll see what I mean…). My writing partner Rumor conceived the story line to include aliens and meteor showers and crazy physiological elements of animals. It was a fun one to write and I think a great read. 

Both The Mysterious Abductions and The Ominous Eye have sympathetic villains. Is this a motif that we can expect in the following books, as well? 

I think for the most part, yes. We tend to show the full range and complexity of all of our characters when we develop them, so most of our villains have some moment of redemption. And I love the villain in The Fallen Star. She’s an aye-aye named Iris and she’s a fun combination of creepy and alluring.

How different does the first draft of the book look from the finished draft? 

It depends. The first draft of The Mysterious Abductions was pretty straight forward, but we really retooled The Fallen Star. We have a really good collaboration going on at Fabled Films, so there are a lot of different points of view during the process and we use that to achieve a stronger story line. 

What are three words to describe The Fallen Star?

Fun, creepy, outrageous. 

What was your favorite scene from the book? Which scene was the most difficult to write? 

It was fun to write the introduction scene to Iris. She is such a menacing and beguiling character, striking a balance in her. The reaction of the brigade was also fun to craft. But I think my favorite scene is where the brigade chases the flowers as they disappear into the earth. You almost want to reach into the text and grab the flowers for them!  

The most difficult scene to write was the climax. There are glowers, blue flowers, Iris, the lemur army, the brigade, the clouds and the moon, etc. There is a lot going on, and many different elements, and yet it's the climax of the book, so it has to be delivered in a very calculated way. I'm happy with where it ended up, though! 

* Questions provided by Saichek publicity. 

*  *  *  *  * 

About The Fallen Star Series

In The Fallen Star, Dawn, Tobin, and Bismark awaken one evening to a disaster: all of the forest's pomelos have been mysteriously poisoned! As the Nocturnal Brigade sets out to investigate, they encounter Iris, a mysterious aye-aye, who claims monsters from the moon are to blame. While the three heroes suspect a more earthly explanation, the animals of the valley are all falling ill. And then Tobin gets sick, too! The Nocturnal Brigade must race to find answers, and the cure, before the pomelo blight threatens to harm them all.

About The Author

Tracey Hecht is a writer and entrepreneur who has written, directed and produced for film. The American Booksellers Association chose her first book in The Nocturnals series, The Mysterious Abductions, as a Kids’ Indie Next List pick. Last year, in partnership with the New York Public Library, she created a Nocturnals Read Aloud Writing program for middle graders that has expanded nationwide. She splits her time between Oquossoc, Maine and New York City. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

BABY-BOO, I LOVE YOU by Sheryl Haft / Book Review

By: Sheryl Haft
Illustrated by: Jane Massey
Published by: Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin 
Released on: May 2nd, 2017 - TODAY
Ages: 3 & up
Purchase from: Publisher | Amazon
Add it to Goodreads 
Rating: 4 Owlets 
Source: book from publisher to review, in exchange for my honest review

Little ones love playing with their dolls! Celebrate that love with Baby-Boo, I Love You, and follow one imaginative little girl who adores playing mommy. And as she bathes, feeds, and frolics with her doll, she emulates a nurturing parent-child relationship, showing the universal joys of being cared for and cherished.

Sheryl Haft’s delightful text and Jane Massey’s endearing illustrations make this a wonderful read-aloud for every child with a favorite doll or stuffed toy, and a reminder of their own parents’ never-ending love.

Simply adorable! 

This is picture book happiness wrapped up in a story about a young girl's love of playing mommy with her baby doll. From play time to snuggles, to tea time, and nap time, this young girl's imaginative play with caring for her baby doll is simply adorable. With simple wordage, and illustrations that are perfect for capturing young readers attentions, this is a picture book that readers who love imaginative play will love. 

Young children who love playing with their own babydoll will be able to easily identify with this book. They'll see the similar ways they love their baby dolls, as the young girl in the story does. It's also a great gift to give to young kids who may soon become older siblings. 

Check out the trailer for the book: 

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill / Audiobook Review / #thegirlwhodrankthemoon

By: Kelly Barnhill
Audiobook narrator: Christina Moore
Published by:Algonquin Young Readers
Released on: August 9, 2016
Ages: 10-14
Purchase from: amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 4.5 owlets

Winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal
The New York Times Bestseller

An Entertainment Weekly Best Middle Grade Book of 2016
A New York Public Library Best Book of 2016
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2016
An Amazon Top 20 Best Book of 2016
Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016
School Library Journal Best Book of 2016
Named to KirkusReviews’ Best Books of 2016
2017 Booklist Youth Editors’ Choice

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is kind. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge--with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Deadly birds with uncertain intentions flock nearby. A volcano, quiet for centuries, rumbles just beneath the earth’s surface. And the woman with the Tiger’s heart is on the prowl . . .

The Newbery Medal winner from the author of the highly acclaimed novel The Witch’s Boy.


This story took me completely by surprise. I'm not sure what I was expecting maybe a less of a whimsical fantasy, but what I read reminded me so much of Victoria Schwab's first book, The Near Witch. It had an almost Neil Gaimain-like twist on a dark fairy tale environment. I wasn't expecting the depth of world-building or the bittersweetness of the storytelling. And as yes, I enjoyed every page of this surprising story.

First, let me just say -- THERE ARE DRAGONS. Okay, a perfectly tiny dragon. And a witch in the forest, who rescues babies that are left there because of an arcane ritual. The reason behind this ritual twists all around the story and you do find out the whys and hows it developed, but talking about it would be such a huge spoiler that I won't mention it further.

The most beautiful part was the story of Xan and Luna. The way their relationship develops into a grandmother and child relationship that is tinged with an inevitable sadness. It made me think of my own grandmother and how she passed on her bits of wisdom through stories that were sometimes fantastical and sometimes hilarious, but always had a point to them.

The folklore feeling to the world is one that is described in such lyrical terms that you will find yourself easily lost in the phrasing and word choices. The characters, too, while recognizable, will surprise you with a few well placed twists in their character arcs. There were moments in the plot that seemed to lose a little momentum, but the tension was always there, and it stretched easily through the conclusion. My curiosity simply wouldn't let me be as I more questions popped into my head as the story progressed. I think that every well-told story has that same trait.

The audiobook narrator was well chosen. She had a lovely, almost grandmotherly tone that suited the story so well. The narrator, Christina Moore,  also narrates a number of mysteries as well as the Beverly Cleary collection. She was well cast and acted out the characters beautifully.

If you have a midde-grader who enjoys fantasy settings and a story that has echoes of classic fairy tales, you must read The Girl Who Drank the Moon with them. This is one story that should make all the Summer Reading Lists.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Doctor Who / Roger Hargreaves Series / Book Review #DoctorWho #PRHPartner

There's a brand new series out TODAY! If you grew up a fan of the Mr. Men books, and love Doctor Who, you're going to love this brand news. A mash up of Doctor Who and Mr. Men, the first four books in the Doctor Who / Roger Hargreaves series, from Penguin Random House, are out NOW! 

You can pick up a copy of Dr. First, Dr. Fourth, Dr. Eleventh, and Dr. Twelfth. More details, and to purchase a copy of the first four books, please visit Penguin Random House, here. Books may also available at many book retail locations.
More books in this series will be released last this year. 

Here's a sneak peak into one of the books, shared by Mental Floss, here.

I can't tell you how excited I was to receive these books in the mail. This is such an awesome mash up. Let's be honest, these are great for both kids, and those who are still young at heart. This series is getting 5 stars from us! Definitely check out these 4 doctor books, and keep an eye out later in the year for the other 4 doctor books to be released.

*Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending us a copy of each of the books to read & review. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

THE NONSENSE SHOW by Eric Carle / Book Review

By: Eric Carle
Published by: Penguin Random House
Released on: October 12, 2015
Ages: 3 & Up
Rating: 5 Owlets-We Loved It!
Purchase from: Publisher | Amazon B&NAdd it to Goodreads

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Ducks growing out of bananas? A mouse catching a cat? What’s wrong with this book from the creator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar?
Yes, there’s something strange, something funny and even downright preposterous on every page of this book. But it’s not a mistake – it’s nonsense! And it’s also surrealism. Nonsense lies at the heart of many beloved nursery rhymes. Children readily accept odd statements like “the cow jumped over the moon” and “the dish ran away with the spoon.” This fanciful bending of reality is also basic to surrealism.

In this book, nonsense and surrealism combine to spark creativity and imagination. What’s true? What’s impossible? What’s absolutely absurd? From Eric Carle, creator of the classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, comes a book to make children laugh and think, preparing them for a lifetime of loving both words and art.

Following on the heels of The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse (an homage to the artist Franz Marc and expressionism) and Friends, with its semi-abstract artwork, The Nonsense Show forms a trilogy of sorts, dedicated to introducing young readers to different styles of artwork without ever overlooking the need to, first and foremost, appeal to children and their love of play. One of the true legends and pioneers of picture book making continues to expand and challenge the genre.

This book is a little topsy-turvy but that is why we loved it! The nonsense and silliness of each page was fun and we kept laughing as the book went on. Although not a sequential story, the randomness of the pages is fitting for the overall "show" of the book.

We are huge fans of Eric Carle, and so we immediately loved the pictures. They are silly and imaginative and child-approved fun. Seeing Mr. Up eat his cake upside down is just as silly as seeing Mrs. Down eat her cake right side up. Younger audiences might not understand all of the puns, or play on words, but they will still enjoy the rhyming scheme and bright pictures. This is a perfect book to read as family when you just want to be a little silly or just have some random fun!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

DEAR ZOO ANIMAL SHAPES by Rod Campbell / Book Review

By: Rod Campbell
Published by: Little Simon
Released on: August 30, 2016
Ages: 4 & Under
Rating: 4 Owlets-We enjoyed It!
Purchase from: Publisher | Amazon B&N
Add it to Goodreads
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

From Rod Campbell, the bestselling creator of the beloved classic Dear Zoo, comes an all-new board book about your favorite animals! 

An elephant? Too big! 

A giraffe? Too tall! 
A puppy? Perfect! 

What will the zoo send you? With bright, colorful artwork and easy-to-turn shaped, sturdy pages, Dear Zoo Animal Shapes is a hands-on, engaging way for little ones to find out more about their favorite animals.

This book is just fun and perfect for young children. We enjoyed flipping through the animal cut-out pages and reading about each animal at the zoo. It is a simple board book with silly animal pictures that are creative and perfect for a young audience. I loved the 1-3 word sentences on each page that held the attention of my toddler. This is a great book for young children or beginning readers!

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~