Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Author Interview: S.R. Johannes

I'm thrilled to have author S.R. Johannes on the blog today to celebrate her MG debut, On The Bright Side which is out TODAY!!! Here's a little bit about her book:

Published by: self
Released on: January 31st, 2012- TODAY
Purchase your ebook from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Read the 1st two chapters here

On the Bright Side is a hilarious road to guardian angeldom paved with so much drama and due-paying that it makes middle school look painless.

As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus,
the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, Skyphones and InnerNets are all the rage. Until Gabby finds out she has to protect Angela, her school nemesis,
in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. Problem is, Angela is now hitting on Gabby's should-have-been boyfriend. (awkward!)

Instead of protecting Angela, Gabby pranks her (like tripping is a sin?) at the hopes of cooling off the new couple. At first, they seem harmless until the school dance sabotage gets
completely out of control. Then, her Celestial Sky Agent, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, puts Gabby on probation, threatening her eternal future.

Determined to right her wrongs, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to Earth for just one day. Without knowing, she kicks off a series of events and learns
what can happen when you hate someone to death.

Makes you want to rush to your computer to purchase the e-book doesn't it!? I'm looking forward to reading it!

  1. How would you describe On The Bright Side in 5 words or less?

Disgruntled tween angel pranks school nemesis

  1. Gabby sounds like a fun character to get to know. What's something you came to admire about her and her character?

In my mind – when we think of angels. There is a certain expectation. That they are all pretty and perfect and never make mistakes.

Gabby goes against that theory. She is expected to be a certain way but she struggles to be herself while still trying to fit in and do what everyone expects her to do– and she remains herself in spite of the consequences. Gabby is honest and authentic and tells it like it is. She doesn’t care about being perfect. Unfortunately, in trying to be herself, she refuses to change when she needs to the most – along the way she loses herself but redeems herself in the end becoming a better person than she was before.

I think this relates to teens today. They struggle to be who they really are – unique and special – because of the peer pressure around them telling them to be something different. To be like everyone else.

  1. What inspired you to write Gabby's story?

I once saw a show where a man was talking about how he died on a table and experienced THE OTHER SIDE. He talked about how wonderful the OTHER SIDE was and how when he was there he felt no pain or sorrow. He just felt nothing but peace. He said even though he knew he left his family behind, he did not have the sorrow he thought he would. He actually felt sorry for THEM for being on Earth because The OTHER SIDE was so much better. When he came back, he was sad and depressed for some time because he had experienced true peace.

I don’t know if this is true or what. But it got me thinking. What if the other side was awesome! What if there was no pain or anger. Just happy?

I think there are so many negative and dark books about death. I wanted to write something funny and explore a different view of death – what if it’s a wonderful cool place on THE OTHER SIDE? So I started thinking about a Harry Potter types adventure mixed with the voice of Mia Thermopolis. Like a “Meg Cabot goes to heaven.” So if Mia Thermopolis were dead, she would be just like Gabby.

  1. What advice would you want to tell your 13 or 14 yr old self?

That if you can get through high school, everything gets better. To not be afraid to be yourself. Because it’s better to be unique and not fit in; then it is to fit in and be like everyone else.

  1. What's one of your favorite childhood books?

Pippy Longstocking. I loved her tenacity and humor. Her strength in who she was and how she stayed true to it – no matter what others did around her – she was just authentic. I love how she barely even noticed. She just was herself. I always wished I was more like that when I was in school.


Thank you to S.R. Johannes for stopping by Mundie Kids today!

You can purchase your ebook for $.99 now through Valentine's Day!!

Please be sure to follow S.R. on her Blog | Twitter

View her book trailer here.

Add On The Bright Side to your Goodreads list

Book Review: Bosley Sees The World by Tim Johnson

By: Tim Johnson
Published: self published
Source: e-book reviewed from author
To Be Released: TBA
Ages: 0 - 6
3 stars: It's A Good Read
Pre-order from: kickstart

Bosley Sees the World

The first book in a series of 'The Adventures of Bosley Bear'. This is the story of a small bear who is excited to see and experience everything around him. This story encourages children to take on new challenges and helps to build confidence for children experiencing new things. This book is about Bosley’s determination to challenge himself and discover new possibilities, and his realization that there is so much out there in the big world to explore. -quoted from Kickstart's site

Bosley's fun adventure book is one kids will enjoy as they get to explore Bosley's world right along side him. From his cave, to his backyard forest, the running river and the high mountain peak. Everything is new, exciting and fun to explore. The other great feature about Bosley's adventure is that this book is a dual language book. The version I read was both English and Spanish. There's a useful guide in the back that will help parents translate the words. I love it when books can not only entertain my kids, but teach them something. While I love that Bosley teaches dual languages, I hope that at some point this book will also come with a CD to teach kids how to speak the language, because my personal worry is if I'm saying the word correctly.

I think this book is most beneficial for toddlers through kindergarten aged kids. There's simple phrases and repeat words that make it easy for them to understand and follow along. Currently Bosley's adventure is being sold in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Arabic. If you're looking for a dual language children's book, I'd recommend looking into Bosley's world.

You can learn more about Tim's debut and the story behind Bosley's story here and preorder the book here. Here's an example of a page out of Bosley's book:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Middle Grade Monday & Book Review: Scholastic's Discover More Series

For today's Middle Grade Monday I'm featuring a FANTASTIC new line of interactive, educational reads from Scholastic's Discover More series. Each of these books will not only educate children at a level they'll understand (from ages 4 up to 9 +), but it will capture their attention and their interests in each of the subjects. On a personal level, I acted like a kid in a candy shop when I was invited to attended Scholastic's launch two weekends ago at ALA and received a few of these books from them there. They not only demonstrated how interactive the books are and showed samples of their *free* digital books that are included with some of them, but they got everyone in attendance excited about these books.

For example, Planets, this book is not only full of real pictures, but it's a great source for kids to go to understand more about the history of our earth, the universe and space itself. Want to teach your kids about the different planets or give them a brief history about our space exploration? They'll learn about it here. From each of the planets, to astroids, satellites, stars, the moon and even what Astronauts wear and do, you'll find it all. For example, did you know Astronauts have to wear a special kind of underwear? Yeah, I didn't, but I learned that in this book. My kids thought it was hilarious.

From Oceans, to the Elements, to Planets, Penguins, Grow with Me and Farm each of these books are not only valuable in classrooms and libraries, but in the home as well. These are also great for home schoolers. No matter what you want to teach your kids there is something new and informative they can learn with this series. I'm far from being a kid, and I've learned a few new things. This series has also been a great refresher for me. I've read all but Penguins and Farm, and there's more releases that will be out through out the year. You can be sure I'll be picking up the entire series. I HIGHLY recommend checking out Scholastic's new Discover More series. I give this series 10 stars. I'm all for a book that doesn't engage kids, but teaches them and gets them interested in learning more about their world around them.

You can purchase this series via individual books at Amazon | Barnes & Noble

You can learn about this series by clicking on the red highlighted Discover More series links at Scholastic's site.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

This is a feature I've not done a lot of here on Mundie Kids, but it's one I do weekly on Mundie Moms. With all the fabulous upcoming MG and Children's book releases this year, I thought now would be a fabulous time to start doing this feature here.

Published by: Aladdin
To Be Released on: October 2nd, 2012
Pre-Order from: Amazon | iTunes

Twelve-year-old Sophie has always been different -- she's years ahead of the other kids in school and can read minds. She's always assumed there's some kind of logical explanation for her talents, but when she meets an adorable and mysterious boy, she finds out the shocking truth. She's never felt at home because she, well, ... isn't.

There are secrets buried deep in her memory, secrets about her true identity and why she was hidden among humans, that others desperately want and would even kill for. And she must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world, before the wrong person finds the answer first -quoted from Goodreads

I seriously love YA books, but I get so excited over MG ones. There's something magical about stepping into their world, and this book is one of those I can not wait to sit down and read. Plus it's a debut!! I LOVE spotlighting debut books. I'm completely hooked on this story. I admit I will most likely do a fan girl dance when I get my hands on this book. Aside from the enticing story, check out this beautiful cover! I would seriously pick this book up based on the cover alone (not that I do that). I can't wait for Shannon's story to be out later this year. What middle grade/children's book are you waiting to be released?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to the following winners:

Amy F
Heidi G

Sarah R

All winners have been notified via email and have 48 hrs to reply back or a new winner will be chosen. Thank you to everyone who entered! We'll have more giveaways shortly.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I'm thrilled to be taking part in my first ever Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post! This is an awesome meme started by the lovely Shannon Messenger. If you haven't yet, please go check out her blog! It's fabulous!

Each week with MMGM, I'm going to take a moment and spotlight an upcoming MG (middle grade) release I can't wait to read. Having just spent this past weekend at ALA, I had a hard time deciding which book to feature. I am beyond excited for this year's upcoming releases. Today's spotlight is: Ghost Buddy, Zero to Hero. I received this from via an invitation I had from Scholastic to attend their launch of some of their newest MG and Children's books, and I have to say I was completely impressed not only with the presentation, but with the books they featured. Here's a little bit about the Zero to Hero:

By: Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver
Published by: Scholastic
Released on: 1/1/2012
Series: Ghost Buddy Book #1
Ages: 8 & up
Purchase from: Scholastic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A hilarious new series from Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver, authors of the bestselling HANK ZIPZER books!

Billy Broccoli is new to the neighborhood, and wants cool friends and a spot on the baseball team more than anything. But the one thing he never wanted is his own personal ghost. So imagine his surprise when he ends up sharing a room with Hoover Porterhouse, a funny ghost with a whole lot of attitude.

When an obnoxious school bully sets out to demolish Billy, the Hoove comes up with a plan for revenge. It’s all in the Hoove’s Rule Number Forty-Two: Stay cool. And like it or not, Billy and the Hoove have to stick together if Billy ever wants to get in style, get even, and conquer the school - quoted from Goodreads

I'll be posting my review for this later this week. Now go check out the rest of the MMGM features here. Happy Reading!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review: Tales of a Sixth Grade Muppet by Kirk Scroggs

Published by: Little Brown kids
Released on: September 5th, 2011
Source: book from the publisher to review
Ages: 8 & up
4 stars: I Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

On a scale of one to ten, sixth-grader Danvers Blickensderfer's life is a solid minus two. But he really hits rock bottom when he auditions for the local talent show: his death-defying hula-hooping-ninja tribute to Gonzo the Great is beat out by the world's most obnoxious middle school boy band, Emo Shun.

With his daredevil dreams dashed, Danvers goes to bed... and wakes up feeling a little fuzzy-literally! He's turned into a Muppet! Fortunately, there's an internship open at the Muppet Theater and Danvers has a chance to meet his long-nosed, stunt-lovin' hero! All aboard The Electric Mayhem bus as this misfit makes good and joins the zaniest crew ever: The Muppets! -quoted from Goodreads

Growing up a Muppets fans, I adored this book and it's one my son enjoyed just as much as I did. Scroggs does a great job at staying true to the humor and misadventures that the Muppets are known for. I thought it was really creative in the way the story is told, which is through a kid name Danvers who wakes up one morning to find himself now a Muppet. Not only do readers get a behind the scenes glance of all that goes in the Muppet's world, but it was really cool to see how a huge fan of the Muppet's himself tries to adjust being one now.

The story is told in an engaging way with plenty of humor, mixed in with illustrations and words that were a bit similar to the way Diary of a Wimpy Kid is written. I think this style of story telling is great for reluctant readers or kids who easily get bored with a bunch of text. Within the illustrations are some hilarious jokes and mis adventures that happen with the Muppets. I loved that a lot of my favorite Muppets are featured in this story, as well as some new ones that fit in perfectly with Danvers. Scroggs does a fabulous job at introducing a new generation to all of the Muppets from the original show with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Scooter, Gonzo, Animal and the Electric Mayham Band, Beaker and Dr. Bunson Honeydew (who try to unsuccessfully return Danvers back to being a human), Sam the Eagle, Rowlf, and Fozzie. This story wouldn't be complete the famous duo of Statler, Waldorf who are of course constantly poking fun at everything that goes on and start heckling Danvers from the moment he becomes a Muppet.

This story is written in a way I'd except a Muppets book to be written. There's plenty of laugh out loud moments, jokes and puns that both tween readers as well as their parents will get a good laugh at. If you ever wondered what it would be like to be apart of The Muppets world, you'll know after reading Danver's story. I liked that Scroggs was able to create a story that takes place in both The Muppet and Danver's world and combines the two of them. It definitely makes for an interesting read. There's a few things that weren't tied up at the end that leaves me wondering if they'll be a sequel. Even if there's not, this is still a book I'd recommend picking up. I enjoyed the story line, the world Danver's is now a part of and the illustrations are fabulous.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review: Peep in the Deep, Sea Creature Counting Book by R.M. Smith

Published by: Clarence Henry Books
Released on: January 16th, 2012
Source: book from author to review
Ages: 1 & up
5 stars: It's A Great Read
Purchase from: Amazon

Beneath was a peaceful, quiet place when barely a peep gave way to something in the deep. Your child will love learning their numbers with this bright, and colorful book. Watch the ever growing number of sea creatures chase their former group across the pages til the last but not least! Each spread displays each group and number in a large, easy-to-read typeface. - quoted from Goodreads

What a fun under sea adventure! This is a book that will be easy for beginning readers to read, and one younger children will enjoy having read to them. Kids will enjoy counting the various groups of under sea creatures and enjoy the easy to read, rhyming words that make up this story. The illustrations are eye catching and bright and the story itself is quick, educational and engaging for younger children. It's a great read for any personal, school or classroom library.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Review: The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards

By: Jasmine Richards
Released on: January 17th, 2012 TODAY
Source: ARC from publisher to review
Ages: 10 & up
5 stars: I LOVED It!

Magic, Djinn, Ogres, and Sorcerers. Thirteen-year-old Zardi loves to hear stories about fantastical beings, long banned from the kingdom of Arribitha. But anyone caught whispering of their powers will feel the rage of the sultan—a terrifying usurper who, even with his eyes closed, can see all.

When her own beloved sister is captured by the evil ruler, Zardi knows that she must go to any lengths to rescue her. Along with her best friend, Ridhan—a silver-haired, violet-eyed boy of mysterious origins—and an unlikely crew of sailors led by the infamous Captain Sinbad, Zardi ventures forth into strange and wondrous territory with a seemingly impossible mission: to bring magic back to Arribitha and defeat the sultan once and for all
-quoted from Goodreads

A fantastic debut that's full of adventure, fantasy, friendship and a whole lot of charm. I felt like a kid all over again while reading this compelling story. There's something about a well written middle grade book that reminds me of the excitement I had when I first started reading them (what feels like eons ago), and this book has that excitement. The journey with Zardi and her best friend Rhidan isn't just thrilling, it was completely engaging. The world of Arribitha screams of adventure, because it is dangerous, full of myths, magical creatures and a place where magic is strictly forbidden. It's also ruled by an evil and cunning Sultan who isn't afraid to do whatever it takes to keep his people in line. He definitely gives evil villains a who new meaning. Mixed into the story's danger are two well characters I've really come to admire.

I love that this story's main character is a strong female lead. Zardi will do everything she can to save her family from the Sultan, and thankfully she has her trusted best friend, Rhidan, who's equally as strong in his own right, to help her. These two have such an amazingly strong bond and will do anything to help each other on their journey and to fulfill Zardi's destiny. I loved being introduced to the two of them, as well as to some of the more vibrantly written secondary characters that aid them on their journey.

Jasmine's writing is beautiful, descriptive and it held my attention the entire time I spent reading The Book of Wonders. She made it extremely easy for me to picture her richly detailed world, and her characters in my mind. Their world is beautiful, enticing, magical and the story itself is fascinating. Jasmine does such a brilliant job at weaving together all the right elements to bring this adventure to life. Her lore is rich and inviting, her fresh spin on the mythology of Sinbad, and the tales of Aladdin and the Arabian Nights is intriguing. If this beautiful cover doesn't already lure you into the world of Arribitha, than the story definitely will. I highly recommend picking up this exciting fantasy/adventure story! I'm looking forward to reading the next installment in this series.

Check out the book trailer here:

Follow Jasmine on Facebook | Blog | Twitter

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review: The Deadlies: Spiders on the Case by Kathryn Lasky

Published by: Scholastic
Released on:
Source: Book from publisher to review
Ages: 7-10
4 stars: A Really Fun Read
Purchase from: Scholastic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Can the world's friendliest spiders spin a web strong enough to catch . . . a criminal?

They're sweet and friendly . . . but they just happen to be super toxic. The Deadlies are the world's most misunderstood family of spiders. Kicked out of home after home, all the Deadlies want is to settle down in a cozy web with no exterminators around.

Now they've found the perfect place - the Rare Books room at the Boston Library. The librarian isn't afraid of the Deadlies, and they have lots of lovely books to explore. But their peace is threatened when a thief starts targetting the library. Can the Deadlies spin a web big enough to catch a crook - or is it back on the road once more? -quoted from Goodreads

What a fun adventure with a unique family of crime fighting spiders. Who would have thought that spiders could be so cool? Certainly not me, but if this family of spiders lived in my house I'd definitely keep them around. Not only do they protect the Boston Public Library's collection of books from those pesky silverfish who eat through pages and the collectable paintings, but together they stop thieves who keep stealing pictures out of books.

Not only did I like the library setting, but I liked the way Kathryn was able to incorporate some fun science and history lessons into the story. I like it when my kids can read a fun book and take something away from it. The history part of the story comes from the collectable books were the spider family makes their home and the science part of the story comes from learning a ton of cool (or gross) spider facts, depending on how you look at it. The illustrations that go along with this story are great.

I also loved how the spider family learns to read and uses hieroglyphs in their webs to send messages to Tom, the friendly librarian in order to help him stop the thieves who vandalize the library's books. I really liked Tom, and admired his respect for the spiders and how nice he was to them. There's also a great lesson about respecting the public library and it's books, as well as historical artifacts. I'd definitely recommend this book for home, classroom and library settings. It's a creative way to get kids interested in reading, learning more about spiders (and this is coming from someone who's afraid of spiders), and respecting our public libraries. Kathryn also includes a great facts page at the end of her story about the library and spiders.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Book Review: Jay: Ninja of Lightning (Lego Ninjago Chapter Book Series) Books #4

Published by: Scholastic
Released on: January 1st, 2012
Source: book from publisher to review
Chapter Book Series: Book #4, 2 books in 1
Ages: 7 & up
5 stars: We Loved It!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Walmart

Masters of Spinjitzu: a new force to save the world!

The next book in the Lego Ninjago Chapter Book series!Jay is much like the element he represents: fast and full of energy. Always good in a fight, always up for a laugh, and always, always inventing. Even if those inventions don't always turn out the way he wants! -quoted from Goodreads

Another fabulous read for fans of the hit lego series, Ninjago. We loved getting to learn more about Jay and enjoyed reading about some his and the team's adventures. Like the other three books in this series, the story starts off with an entry about his Ninja from Sensei Wu's journal and than leads right into the first of the two stories featured in this book.

The first book is a short read called Dragon's Roar which is taken from one of the episodes that's aired on TV where the young ninja's meet their dragons. The bulk of this book is the chapter book featuring the story The Truth Seeker, which takes fans on a brand new adventure with Jay, Zane, Cole and Kai. Jay is one of our favorite ninja's, because he always provides the right amount of humor in any situation, no matter how dangerous it is.

Though we fell in love the TV series before the books were out, my son has fallen in love with the books just as much as he loves the series. He carries these around with him all the time. As a parent it's so rewarding watching my kids get lost in a good book. I HIGHLY recommend picking up the books. If you have a young fan of this series I strongly recommend looking into picking up each of the books in the series. This series of books is perfect for 1st and 2nd grade reading levels.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review: Cole: Ninja of Earth (Lego Ninjago Chapter Book Series) Books #3

By: Greg Farshtey
Published by: Scholastic
Released on: January 1st, 2012
Ages: 7 & up
Pages: 80
Source: book from publisher to review
5 stars: I HIGHLY Recommend It
Purchase from: Scholastic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Masters of Spinjitzu: a new force to save the world!

The next chapter book in the Ninjago series!Cole is the leader of the team. As the Earth Ninja, he is (perhaps unsurprisingly) the most grounded of the four. And the strongest. There is no physical challenge Cole cannot overcome. Now is his chance to use his skills to save the world! - quoted from Goodreads

I didn't think it was possible for my son to love a new lego series/sets as much as he loves Star Wars, but that was before Lego Ninjago. The thing I love about this new series of cartoons and books, is each episode and each book teaches young readers a lesson. Being the huge book fanatic I am, I LOVE that Scholastic has released a new line of Ninajago chapter books. These books aren't just a huge hit for my son, but for many of the boys in his 1st grade class.

The first Ninjago book we purchased was an item we couldn't keep in stock at the school's fall Scholastic Book Festival, the Ninjago Official Guide. Shortly after we purchased one of beginning reader Ninajo books, which was devoured shortly after we got home from the story, followed by the 1st & 2nd books in the new chapter book series. I love it when there's something that interests my kids and that interest is then turned into a book, which continues to fuel the reading fire for my kids. When this book along with Jay's story arrived the week of Christmas from Scholastic, my son immediately took them and went off to read. After I sat down to read Cole's story, I can see why.

Ninjago fans will thoroughly enjoy this new chapter book featuring the leader of the Ninjago team. Cole is a natural leader and in the first of the two stories included in this book we get to see his leadership put to the test. In the second story we see how the team struggles with each wanting to be the leader and what happens when they stop working together. Like all Ninjago stories, this one teaches a lesson on the importance of team work and how everyone who's apart of a team has something to add to the group that helps them accomplish their goal. In turn, readers will see that once the team is able to do this, they're able to fight the Phantom Ninja. Aside from my son's love of this book, I as a mother love the valuable lesson it also teaches him.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND picking up this book, and this series. It's a must have for fans of the Lego Ninjago series and for readers who have advanced to reading chapter books.
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 ~