Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Princess Academy; Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

 By: Shannon Hale
Published by: Bloomsbury Children's Books
To Be Released on: August 21st, 2012
Pre-Order from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she should help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends’ ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city. 

Picking up where Princess Academy left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom -quoted from Goodreads

I love Shannon Hale's books and I'm so excited about this sequel! If you haven't already, I highly recommend picking up her books. They are fabulous. I'm looking forward to sharing my review for this book in the coming weeks here on the blog. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review: Isabella Girl on the Go by Jennifer Fosberry

By: Jennifer Fosberry
Illustrated by: Mike Litwin
Published by: Sourcebooks
Released on: 2/21/12
Source: book to review from publisher
5 stars: I Loved It!
Purchase from: Source BooksAmazon

The precocious, purple-haired traveler spends the day playing with her dad as she pretends everyday things (like the sandbox) are extraordinary places (like the desert and the pyramids of Egypt). Isabella ends the day in her own home-sweet-home, the most wonderful place to be. Illustrations.

Isabella's grand imagination makes for an incredibly engaging story that will take readers all over the world. With each occupation Isabella pretends she has, it takes her to some where new. From being a Warrior and protecting her people at the Great Wall of China to being an Archeologist and searching the pyramids, to pretending to be an astronomer atop a Mayan temple, Isabella's vast imagination teaches children about various occupations while giving them a taste of various places around the world were these jobs can be found.

The way in which this story is told is brilliant. While she's outside playing, Isabella's father asks her to help with a project, to which she replies she can't, because she's not that certain occupation. For example, her father says,

"Then who is going to help me today?" asked the father.

"I am an Archeologist, searching the hottest, driest desert for the tomb of a king." 

"Well, Isabella, I think you will discover that your mummy gave us plenty to do today." 

I loved the fact that one, Isabella's father plays a big role in the story, and two, he allows her to pretend to be whomever she wants. While he continues with his various projects outside, he continues to engage with her and her imagination, and supports her in allowing her to play and pretend. I loved it.  The cutest part of the entire story was of course at the end of the book after Isabella has traveled all over the world, she walks hand in hand with her dad into the house and tells him what her favorite place. I'm thrilled that a father/daughter relationship was explored like this one was. 

I loved this book and I highly recommend picking it! Not only is the story adorable, the illustrations are fabulous and match this story perfectly. I liked that Jennifer adds in some extras at the end of the book. She included a photo of each place Isabella imagines she visits, and some snippets about each place. After reading about the place Isabella visits, kids will get a to learn a little about each place. That's a win, win for teachers, parents and kids. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Review: Stay Close to Mama by Toni Buzzeo

By: Toni Buzzeo
Illustrated by: Mike Wohnoutka
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Source: unbound book from publisher to review
Ages: 2 & up
3 stars: It's A Cute Read
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Preschoolers are sure to relate to Twiga's desire for independence in this gorgeously illustrated picture book about baby giraffe that is oh-so-curious. Full color. -quoted by Goodreads

Twig is an adorable little giraffe who's learning to gain a little of independence as he learns more about the world around him. His unease and not wanting to travel far from his mom is something young readers can easily relate to. While the illustrations in Twigs story are just as adorable as he is, I didn't get into the text as much I would have liked. There's not one thing I can pin point about the text that made me feel this way. It's definitely a cute story though and the illustrations are ones I think kids will really enjoy. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book Review: Meet Me At The Moon by Gianna Marino

Written & Illustrated by: Gianna Marino
Published by: Viking Kids
Released on: March 29th, 2012
Ages: 2 + up
Source: unbound book from publisher at ALA midwinter
4.5 stars: I Really Enjoyed It!
Purchase from: PenguinAmazon | Barnes & Noble

A heartwarming love story between mother and child

When Mama Elephant must leave Little One to ask the skies for rain, the young elephant is worried. Who will care for Little One? Who will sing Mama's special songs? When will she return?

Mama is very reassuring - Little One will hear her song on the wind and feel her love in the warmth of the sun, and, after the rains come, they will meet where the moon sets.

Exquisitely illustrated and supremely comforting, Meet Me at the Moonis a mother and child love story to be enjoyed again and again -quoted from Goodreads

An adorable story about the love of a mother and baby elephant. As the mother elephant is preparing to take a journey to go ask the sky for rain, she re-assures her baby elephant that she will come back to him and reminds him of all the things he can look for to be reminded of her love for him until she returns to him. This is a story that young kids will be able to relate to as they see the love the mother and baby have for each other, read about baby elephants unease for his mother leaving, his worry when she doesn't return right away and his joy when she does return. I LOVE the illustrations in this book! Aside from the cute story, the pictures alone depict the story perfectly. If you're a picture book fan, I recommend adding this book to your bookshelf. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Happy Monday! I am so sorry that yet again I've had so much going on that I've sadly missed another week of this fabulous feature. I'll be back on the MMGM train next week. In the mean time be sure to stop by these fabulous MG blogs to check out their MMGM features:

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is a weekly feature started by MG author Shannon Messenger and is a weekly post featuring an upcoming MG release, a MG Author Interview or a MG review. You can find out more about this series posts, and find links to author authors and bloggers who are taking part in this feature here. You can also my Must Have Middle Grade Reads feature on Mundie Moms

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli

Published by: Balzer & Bray / Harper Collins Children's Books
Released on: May 8th, 2012
Source: ARC from publisher at ALA, midwinter
Ages: 8-12
5 stars: I Loved It!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Jake and Lily are twins. Even though they seem pretty different—Jake is the calm one and Lily has a temper; Lily is obsessed with trains and Jake collects cool rocks—they feel exactly the same, almost like two halves of one person. When one of them gets hurt, the other can feel it. They can communicate without words. And mysteriously, every year on their birthday, they sleepwalk to a train station in the middle of the night.

But the year they turn eleven, everything changes. Their parents announce it’s time for separate bedrooms, and Jake starts hanging out with a pack of boys on the block. Lily is devastated—not to mention really, really mad. And as she struggles to make friends and get a life apart from her twin, Jake finds himself dealing with a neighborhood bully and has to decide what kind of person he really is.

Beloved author Jerry Spinelli has written another perfectly on-target, humorous, and brilliant story about the struggles of growing up and discovering who you are.

This is a story about me, Lily.
And me, Jake.
We're twins and we're exactly alike.
Not exactly!
Whatever. This is a book we wrote about the summer we turned eleven and Jake ditched me.
Please. I just started hanging out with some guys in the neighborhood.
Right. So anyway, this is a book about
goobers and supergoobers
true friends
things getting built and wrecked and rebuilt
and about figuring out who we are.
We wrote this together
(sort of)
so you'll get to see both sides of our story.
But you'll probably agree with my side.
You always have to have the last word, don't you?
-quoted from Goodreads

A fabulously told MG contemporary that is laced with humor, touching moments and the important lessons we all face when we start to grow up. Jake and Lily is a story MG readers and adults alike will enjoy. I loved having the chance to sit down and read this story, as well as having the change of getting to know twins Jake and Lilly. Though they're just a eleven years old, they've spent most of their life doing everything together, until now. As the twins make new friends, and develop different tastes, they learn that it's okay to let go and try new things with out the other.  

Jake and Lily have always been best friends. They've done everything together. They play the same games, share a room together, and even know how the other one is thinking and feeling. They even share an incredibly strong connection to one another, which I was completely intrigued with. Each year on their birthday they end up sleep walking to the nearest train station together. Their connection to trains ties back to their birth, as they were both born on a train a few minutes apart. Now that they've turned eleven, everything is changing. Their parents have separated them into their own rooms, Jake makes friends with a group of neighborhood boys, and Lily is left trying to learn how to go on without the attachment of her brother. This is the year that the twins gain their independence, learn to rely on each other in a different way and enjoy the differences they both have. 

I loved the way in which Jerry tells their story, and how he allowed me to get to know each character more. He allowed both Jake and Lily to tell their story together, by alternating their points of views. I loved it! The story is being told as they're writing about their experiences over the summer they turned eleven. Jake is the more laid back, level headed one, and Lily is the more upfront, feisty one. Together these two bring the humor, the heartbreak and the important lessons in friendship, honesty, letting go, standing up for themselves, bullying and growing up to the surface in this book. It was so easy for me, as an adult to identity with the emotions they both felt through out their story from when I was that age, and I feel it will be easy for a lot of younger readers to connect with Jake and Lily as they identify with those same/similar thoughts and feelings that the twins are experiencing. 

I loved getting to see how Jake and Lily grew during the course of this story, and the changes they made. They each learned to find who they were, and were able to grow into their own person, instead of being "Jake and Lily". Though a lot of things change for them, I enjoyed getting to see how they both experience similar things, though their out comes are different. For Jake and Lily it was also important for them to learn how to connect with each other on a whole different level than they did before. Though I adored both Jake and Lily, I also loved the role some of the characters played in the book. Their Poppy has a huge support in helping Lily learn to cope with finding herself without her brother, and for Jake, it was his friend Soop who taught him some important lessons in friendship and honesty. There's so much more to be said about this book..... I'll end my review by saying this is a fabulous book and it's one I highly recommend picking up! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review: Tua and the Elephant by R.P. Harris

By: R.P. Harris
Illustrated by: Taeeun Yoo
Published by: Chronicle Books
Received from: ARC from publisher at ALA midwinter
Released on: April 18th, 2012
Ages: 8-12
4 stars: I Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon 

Ten-year-old Tua Thai for peanut has everything she needs at home in Chiang Mai, Thailand, except for one thing she s always wanted: a sister. In the market one day, Tua makes an accidental acquaintance one with wise, loving eyes, remarkable strength, and a very curious trunk. And when Tua meets Pohn-Pohn, it s clear this elephant needs her help. Together, the unusual team sets off on a remarkable journey to escape from Pohn-Pohn s vile captors. From the bustling night market to the hallowed halls of a Buddhist temple and finally, to the sanctuary of an elephant refuge, this clever girl and her beloved companion find that right under their noses is exactly what each has been searching for: a friend - quoted from Goodreads

A delightfully diverse middle grade read, Tua and the Elephant is a story about a young girl named Tua who "adopts" a young elephant, and their adventures together. Set in the bustling back drop of Thailand, Tua's story offers authenticity and richness to a culture not often found in books for young readers. I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into the culture through Tua's daily adventures through the market, and her wondering around. Debut author R.P. Harris did a superb job at capturing my attention with his descriptions of Thailand's sights, smells and sounds. He also includes some Thai words in his story.  As a reader, I loved how easy it was for me to picture the setting that made up Tua's story, and feel like I was getting a glimpse into it.

Tua is a character readers will enjoy getting to know. Not only is she a young female Thai protagonist, but she's a pretty clever girl. Given that her mother is often times working to support them, Tua is often times left to wonder the market and visit her other family members. The thing I loved about Tua is her big heart, which leads her to rescue Pohn-Pohn, the young elephant she finds and frees. I loved the bond these two had. It seemed like they immediately hit it off, and understood each other to a degree. It was refreshing to see a different kind of friendships formed in this story, and it was one that given the setting felt realistic to me. 

Tua rescues Phon-Phon from some pretty horrid guys who abused poor Pohn-Pohn, and end up pursuing Tua and Pohn-Pohn through out the book. While that unnerved a little bit being a mother and knowing how young Tua is, I loved that Tua wants nothing more than to see her elephant safe, and she will do all that she can, along with the help of her family and friends, to see her elephant make it to a sanitary. A heartwarming, adorable adventure ensues and it's one that I'm sure will capture the attention of children and adult readers a like. 

This story has some strong solid themes of friendship, doing what's right, and elephant rescues. To match this wonderful story are some lovely illustrations! The illustrations are fabulous treat to this book, and really compliment R.P.  Harris's attention to detail for the story! I think readers, teachers and librarians will enjoy this story's diversity, the wonderful message and seeing how a young girl made all the difference in the life of one elephant. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Book Review: Little Lamb, Have You Any Wool? By Isabel Minhos Martins

Illustrated by: Yara Kono
Published by: Owlkids Books
Released on: March 13th, 2012
Ages: 4 & up
Source: book from publisher to review
3 stars: It's A Good Read
Purchase from: Amazon

Through charming dialogue and warm illustrations, Little Lamb, Have You Any Wool? tells the story of a young child and his lamb preparing for the cold winter ahead. The little boy asks the lamb if he can use its wool to protect everything from his head to his toes from the coming frost.
The lamb agrees, and the boy uses the soft wool to make himself a coat, a scarf, some socks, and everything else he needs. But then, he wonders, won't his newly shorn little lamb be cold? In the spirit of cooperation and caring friendship, the boy makes another set of winter clothes for the lamb. Now, they are both warm and ready to face winter together!
Young readers will delight in the saturated colors of the illustrations and the classic message of friendship communicated through the whimsical text of Little Lamb, Have You Any Wool? -quoted from Goodreads
Cute illustrations and a great message about sharing make this a great picture for young readers. 

You can never go wrong with engaging illustrations that pull a reader into a book. This book's illustrations do a fabulous job in telling the story of a little boy and his lamb. The story also treats readers to a great message about sharing, and it's one that even toddlers will understand. The only thing that kept me from giving this book a higher rating was the direction the story takes for it's ending. I felt like while the story starts off strong, it didn't end on the high note that I had expected it to. That's not to say it's a horrible book, because it's not. It's a one of those good pictures book that young readers will enjoy looking at. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Stay Close To Mama by Toni Buzzeo Blog Tour & Giveaway

Just in time for Mother's Day, I'm thrilled to be the next stop on the blog tour for Toni Buzzeo's newest children's book, Stay Close to Mama. Let me introduce you to Toni and her beloved character Twiga.

Twiga is an adorable character. What made you want to write a story about a cute "little" giraffe?
Before my first trip to Kenya in 1995 (I recently returned from a second trip where I visited the International School of Kenya in Nairobi and spent time in Amboseli National Park), I didn’t know how very much I would love giraffes. But on that trip, they enchanted me with their gracefulness and their near-invisibility—until they moved. Their tawny colors blend into the dusty savannah. Most of all, though, I fell in love with those “little” babies. At six feet tall, they are thin and lithe and oh so curious.

When I heard about a small giraffe falling into the swimming pool at the ranch on Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, I couldn’t help but imagine him in my mind, determined to get to the fruit of the sausage tree overhanging the pool, despite his mother’s warnings. And, over time, I was persuaded to have the swimming pool morph into a more-universal watering hole (complete with a dangerous looking crocodile).

What kind of research went into writing Twiga's story? 
I am a librarian, so research is one of the most splendid aspects of a new story’s beginning for me. I read everything I could find about giraffes. Most importantly, I learned what they eat (they are especially fond of the sausage tree fruit), what they are afraid of (not much except WATER—even rain!), what they should be afraid of (all sorts of savannah predators such as hyenas and cheetahs), and the relationship between babies and mothers.

A mother giraffe has few predators but she must keep an ever-watchful eye on her baby, so she’s likely to be right out in the open where she can spot danger lurking, but she does always want her baby right at her side. Giraffes of all ages, however, are incredibly curious!

As an author, how closely do you get to work with your story's illustrator? Do you have any say in how they illustrate your characters?
Authors are always free to embed illustration notes in their manuscripts that direct the illustrator about what the author has in mind for a particular scene. However, we are cautioned to use these illustration notes sparingly, advice I take to heart. So, when the text says “Ka-splosh!” I might let my illustrator know that the baby giraffe has fallen into the water hole. Or when the text says “danger lurking” I might insert a note that tells him it’s a cheetah in the tree above.

But it’s wise, as well, to allow the illustrator, whose creation the book is as much as it is my own, to have his free reign in interpreting the story. So the first round of sketches come off Mike’s fingers with only my few and brief illustration notes in the text to guide him. However, once those first sketches were complete, they came to my editor and designer and to me. That’s when I got involved in thinking deeply about what Mike had imagined.  

As a librarian, I’m always looking for accuracy first. Is that the way a giraffe’s legs bend when he runs? Is that how the canopy of an acacia tree looks? What does the fruit of the sausage tree look like, anyway? Of course, in the case of Stay Close to Mama, I was able to draw on my personal experience in Kenya, as well as online research.

Mike did such a splendid job with the illustrations—and added his own touch of brilliance by creating a story that follows the giraffes from sunrise to sunset on the broad African savannah.

What inspired you to start writing children's books?
It was actually this very story that started me on my children’s writing career! In 1995, on a trip to Kenya, I encountered the story of a little giraffe who’d wandered away from his Mama and fallen into a swimming pool. Of course, there isn’t a swimming pool in Stay Close to Mama, but the water hole Twiga falls into has its roots in that pool.

Of course, the inspiration goes back much farther than 1995. I grew up with books in my hands from the time I was very small. Both my mother and my grandmother were huge readers and library users. They took me to the library every week, and we brought home enormous piles of delicious children’s books which they read to me until I could read on my own. Books, and all of the authors of the stories I loved from Maj Lindman to Beverly Cleary to Hugh Lofting, were my inspiration to grow up to become a children’s book author.

What message do hope young readers take way from Stay Close to Mama?
There really are two important messages in Stay Close to Mama. The first is that Mama (or Papa) really does know best when it comes to keeping little ones safe. But as with my earlier book, Dawdle Duckling, I also want to support young readers in their curiosity, imagination, and budding independence. And as parents, we all know that this is an enormous tight-rope walk!

Thank you for stopping by Mundie Kids today Toni. Congratulations on your newest children's book, Stay Close to Mama. 

Meet the Giraffe that inspired Twiga's character:

About the book:

In the wide, shining world there is so much to see, and Twiga is curious. But Twiga’s tall, tall Mama wants her baby to stay close, stay safe from the dangers that lurk near each irresistible sweet smell and sparkling sight that Twiga finds.
With lyrical text and enchanting illustrations, this story of a mother’s love will soothe and delight readers of all ages. -Barnes & Noble

Be sure to catch Toni's next stop on the tour will be Susan Heim on Parenting.


Thank you to Disney  Hyperion, I have a signed copy of Stay Close to Mama to giveaway to 1 lucky winner! To enter, please fill out the form below.

- US & Canadian residents only
- Must be 13 yrs & older to enter (under a parent/guardian's permission is required)
- This giveaway on May 21st, 2012
- 1 entry per person

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Giveaway

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is a weekly feature started by MG author Shannon Messenger and is a weekly post featuring an upcoming MG release, a MG Author Interview or a MG review. You can find out more about this series posts, and find links to author authors and bloggers who are taking part in this feature here. You can also my Must Have Middle Grade Reads feature on Mundie Moms.

Happy Monday!!! Today's lovely MMGM feature is a GIVEAWAY for these AWESOME bookmarks, and I seriously mean that. I am totally loving these bookmarks! Thank you to Shannon Messenger, the debut author Keeper of the Lost Cities, I've got three sets of these lovelies that I'm giving away!!

 To enter, leave me a comment along with your email address to be entered. This is open internationally. This giveaway will end next Monday. GOOD LUCK!!

AND in other exciting Keeper of the Lost Cities news, I am hosting the official blog tour for Shannon's debut this coming fall. You can sign up to be on my blog tour for it here, on Mundie Moms. 

Be sure to stop by and check out these other MMMG Bloggers (click on their links below):

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Blog Tour/ Book Review: The Hero's Guide To Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

I'm thrilled to be apart of The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom blog tour today. 

By: Christopher Healy
Published by: Walden Pond Press
Released on: May 1st, 2012
Source: ARC from publisher to review
Ages: 8 & up
5 Stars: I Loved It!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Enter a world where everything, even our classic fairy tales, is not at all what it seems.

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You've never head of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as "Prince Charming." But all of this is about to change...

Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Guztav stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it's up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other associated terrors to becom the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

This title is the first in a series about the adventures of Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav. The second title is due out in 2013 -quoted from Goodreads

I absolutely love a fresh spin on the beloved fairy tales I grew up with and Christopher Healy does just that with his debut, The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. This fun mix up of fairy tale Princes and Princess is one that kids and parents a like with enjoy. There's adventure, plenty of mishaps and of course plenty of laughs as readers journey along side Prince Liam, Prince Frederic, Prince Duncan and Prince Gustav. 

This story starts off with the not so well known fairy tale spin of Prince Charming and Cinderella. This story is about Prince Fredric and Cinderella. Yes Fredric is charming, but he's not the Prince you're picturing from the Disney Classic, okay except for maybe his looks. And Cinderella, well that's just say Christopher's Cinderella is full of spunk and plenty of adventure. It's that sense of adventure that has Cinderella fleeing the castle and Prince Fredric chasing after her. During Fredric's pursuit of Cinderella he meets other the Princes, whom I might say are just as enduring and lovable as Prince Fredric.

One of the many things I loved about this book is the humor. Christopher Healy's humor is one young readers will get and adult readers will love. I thoroughly enjoy a middle grade book that both my son and I can sit and read together, as well as get something out of it. This fairy tale mesh offers more than just humor and adventure, there's an important lesson in friendship that each of the Prince's as well as the readers learn. 

Here's the thing I liked about each Prince, they all of these little quirks about them that they all learn to accept with each other as their story unfolds. They're not your average dashing Disney Prince, but these really fun, and some what relatable characters all end up learning to accept each other and themselves for who they are, which is a huge lesson for young readers to understand. In doing this each Prince learns to trust the others, which allows them to work together over the course of their adventures. There's a lot at stake for these Princes as they uncover the evil plot that could ultimately destroy each of their Kingdoms. Their team work is vital for them. I have to say, it's a lot of fun reading about how these charming Princes all learn to work together. 

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is fun, highly entertaining, enchanting mesh up of the classic fairy tales. It's an engaging story that the entire family can enjoy. This is one of those outstanding MG books that I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND picking up and adding it to your bookshelves. You'll definitely see this book on my list of 2012 must have books at the end of this year.

Giveaway: Thank you to Walden Pond Press I have 1 copy of The Hero's Guide to Saving your Kingdom to giveaway! To enter, please leave me a comment telling which fairy tale Prince is your favorite, along with your email address. (US residents only).

Chris Healy Bio: Christopher Healy spent years reviewing children’s books and media online and in print before setting off to write The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, his first children’s book. He lives with his wife and their two children in New Jersey. You can find him online at

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 ~