Monday, September 24, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Guest Post / Giveaway with Darkbeast author Morgan Keyes

Happy Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! I am so excited about today's feature, as I have author Morgan Keyes on the blog today!! She newest release, Darkbeast was recently released by Simon & Schuster, and she's hear to talk about it.

Many thanks to Mundie Moms, for allowing me to visit and tell you about my middle grade fantasy novel, Darkbeast.  Due to the generosity of my publisher, Simon & Schuster, I will give away a copy of Darkbeast to one commenter chosen at random from all the comments made to this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight.

In Darkbeast, twelve-year-old Keara runs away from home rather than sacrifice Caw, the raven darkbeast that she has been magically bound to all her life.  Pursued by Inquisitors who would punish her for heresy, Keara joins a performing troupe of Travelers and tries to find a safe haven for herself and her companion.

Life in Keara's world is controlled by the Twelve, by a dozen gods and goddesses.  Each deity has a specific "area of expertise" (darkbeasts, money, death, etc.)  Each is worshipped in a particular type of building (round wooden hall, rectangular marble enclosure with an open roof, etc.)  Each is signified by a specific animal (a dun cow, a brindle hound, etc.)

I reveled in creating the details about the Twelve.  I pored over lists of gods and goddesses from other religions, picking and choosing from Greek, Roman, Slavic, Celtic and other pantheons.

In part, my fascination with Keara's religion stemmed from my experience designing worship rituals for my first fantasy novel.  There, my world was built around the Thousand Gods.  People in that society looked to literally hundreds of deities; every aspect of their lives was controlled by some divine being.

Defining the Thousand Gods was challenging.  I needed to decide just how granular to make worship.  Was it enough to say that there was a god of animals?  Or was there a god of cats, one of dogs, one of cows, and on and on and on?  What about foods?  Weapons?  Emotions?  

One thousand is a large number, but it's obviously far short of infinite.  Would a thousand gods accommodate different deities for different phases of the moon?  If those gods were developed in modern society, probably not – we twenty-first century folks aren't particularly tied to a lunar calendar.  But if we needed the moon for night-time illumination, we might pay more attention to its phases.  Nocturnal people who lived in an age before man-made light might very well devote four of their thousand gods to lunar phases.  (Maybe even more!)

The Thousand Gods taught me that specified deities describe their societies in subtle ways.  I applied that knowledge to Keara's world.

In Darkbeast, every person is magically bound to an animal, a scapegoat that takes away their darkest, most evil thoughts and deeds.  Surely that function is so important, so vital to social structure, that one of the Twelve would be dedicated solely to darkbeasts.  Thus, Bestius was born.

Similarly, Keara and her people worship Venerius, the god of the hunt.  Hunting provides key food to people.  It's also a sign of prestige for noblemen who are allowed to hunt the most valuable prey.

One by one, I identified the pantheon of the Twelve.  Each time I settled on a specific god or goddess, I filled in huge gaps about the society I was crafting.  Religion defines my characters, even as it illuminates their behavior.  The Twelve are the basis for almost everything that happens in Darkbeast.

So?  What do you think?  What books have you read that contain unique twists on religion?  What gods or goddesses do you remember the most clearly?

Morgan can be found online at:

Darkbeast is for sale in bricks-and-mortar and online bookstores, including:  Amazon | B & N | Indiebound

Morgan Keyes grew up in California, Texas, Georgia, and Minnesota, accompanied by parents, a brother, a dog, and a cat.  Also, there were books.  Lots and lots of books.  Morgan now lives near Washington, D.C.  In between trips to the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery of Art, she reads, travels, reads, writes, reads, cooks, reads, wrestles with cats, and reads.  Because there are still books.  Lots and lots of books.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Audition & Subtraction Blog Tour: Guest Post / Giveaway

Welcome to the Worst Blog Tour Ever!

Audition & Subtraction, the newest tween novel by Amy Fellner Dominy (OyMG), has just been released.  Amy is celebrating by sharing her WORST moments of middle school.  (Why should her characters suffer alone?) In fact, Amy invites you to share your memories too—with a chance to turn your angst into prizes.  At the end of the tour, Amy will be giving away 2 PRIZE PACKS, each with a signed hardcover of Audition & Subtraction, book goodies and a $10 iTunes gift card. 

Dances are such a wonderful-terrifying part of school life.  Even in Audition & Subtraction the characters begin talking about the school dance months in advance.  They’re a big deal—especially these days.  (My kids went to dances in middle school that were as elaborate as my senior prom was back in the day.) Though my junior high didn't have big school dances, we had something just as traumatic:  Roller Skating parties.
I LOVED roller skating parties.  My friends and I would doll up and go to the roller rink.  We’d rent skates, and while I wasn’t the essence of grace and beauty, I could skate without falling on my tush.  I could even skate backwards.  Yeah, I thought I was pretty cool.
So, every Saturday night there would come a point called Couples Dance.  A few of you out there may be nodding in remembrance and maybe even groaning at the creation of this torture that I should have been smart enough to avoid. 
But didn’t.
The boys lined up on one side of the roller rink.  The girls lined up on the other.  The music started and a certain number of boys would start out, skate by, and “pick” their partner.  Then the couple would skate together until a horn sounded which was the signal to separate and pick another partner.  So, basically, I waited along the wall while boy after boy skated past, silently rejecting me. No one ever picked me.  Even worse, boys would pick my best friend—and she’d turn them down!
To be honest, I would have said yes to the pimply, greasy-haired boy with sweaty palms.  But of course that guy was too smart to be at Couples Dance.
What about you? Did you go to dances in middle school—or in high school?  Roller skating?  Were you out on the dance floor or were you a wall flower?  Be sure to leave a comment and earn as many entries as you can for your chance to win a Prize Pack.


You can follow Amy on: 
* Her website: 

About the Book:

For as long as Tatum can remember it’s been:

Tatum + Lori = Best friends

They do everything together, including a yearly clarinet/flute duet for District Honor Band auditions. But when a new boy transfers to their middle school and their band, the equation suddenly changes to:

Lori + Michael – Tatum = One happy couple

With her best friend slipping away and her parents recently separated, Tatum’s life has turned upside down. Plus her good friend Aaron thinks that they are secretly boyfriend and girlfriend, all because of one little lie Tatum told. Accepting change isn’t easy for Tatum, but just how much is she willing to give up to hold on to her friendship with Lori and life as she knows it? For Tatum, the best way to move forward may require a whole new formula . . .

Published by: Walker Books
Released on 9/4/12
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Win an Autographed Hardcover,
 a Swag Pack
and a $10 iTunes giftcard!

To enter, please fill out the rafflecopter form below. 
(Only US and Canada, please.)
The giveaway will end on Monday, September 24th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the TourFollow along each day for a new WORST at some of the very BEST blogs:

Mon, Sept 17: A Thousand Wrongs: Worst Best Friend Moment
Tues, Sept 18: Mundie Kids: Worst Dance Memory
Wed, Sept 19: I Read Banned Books: Worst School Picture
Thur, Sept 20: The Story Siren: Worst Crush Comedown
Fri, Sept 21:  Books 4 Learning: Worst Injury during a School Activity
Sat, Sept22: Cari's Book Blog: Worst Beauty Makeover Idea
Mon, Sept 24: The Write Path: Worst Band Uniform
Tues, Sept25: Amy Fellner Dominy: Best Thing That Came From My Worst Experiences  (PLUS—winners announced!!)

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Templeton Twins Have An Idea Blog Tour

I am so excited to be the next stop on The Templeton Twins blog tour! Today's stop features a guest post from author Ellis Wiener along with a giveaway!

 The Templeton Twins Have an Analogue World

 When I started writing the second Templeton Twins book, I realized something that had determined the content of the first book.  Planning the second made me become deliberate and conscious about something that had been instinctive in the first.

 It was: that there would be no digital anything in the Twins’ world.  (There would also be no vampires.  Some readers will ask, “Not even one?”  Not even one.)

 The digital miracles we all take for granted—computers, cell phones, dvds, video games, the Internet, etc., etc.—is great, epochal, fun, and so forth.  But it’s also essentially magical—in a boring way.  Digital devices make no noise, have no moving parts, and do their work inside black boxes we don’t want to—and couldn’t, if we did-open.  And if we did manage to open them, we would learn exactly nothing about how they work by observing them in operation.

 So I resolved that the Professor’s inventions, and the difficulties the Twins would encounter, and their solution to these problems, would all be “analogue,” which is a fancy way of saying, physical.  There would telephones and electricity, but there would not be cell phones or any real presence of electronics.  

This decision was not philosophical or political.  I love computers and am writing these very words on an already-obsolete Toshiba netbook that I, in my always-behind-the-curve appreciation, think is v. cool.

 No, this decision was strictly authorial.  It is extremely difficult to have your protagonists get into scrapes and be forced to use their wits and resourcefulness, if they can whip out a cell phone (w/ GPS) and tell—or, worse, text to--their parent, guardian, bodyguards, or legal representatives where they are and what’s happening.  

There is no reason for the Professor to invent a device that turns the pages of books via a compressed air foot pedal, if his reader is using a Kindle.  Of course, you can have the villain confiscate the phones, but not every time.

 Better, then, to put the Twins in a world in which there are still pay phones, and even television, but no iPods or –Pads, no social networks, and no Twitter.

 There is, of course, a well-established sub-culture dedicated to exactly this kind of thinking.  It’s called Steampunk, and its creations are gorgeous and amusing.  But I think it’s more an aesthetic style, and a nostalgic science fiction conceit, than an actual alternative to digital.  A steampunk computer keyboard may make use of the actual keys of an old Underwood, but the keys are still connected to electronics.

 Not that I’m a maniac about “realism.”  I’m happy to invent analogue objects that probably—or definitely—could not exist.  But I want the Professor and the Twins to be bound by at least some visible, identifiable restrictions of cause and effect.  It’s more interesting for me, it’s more interesting (I assume) for the illustrator, it’s more challenging for the Twins, and I think (or at least hope) that it’s pleasing to the reader.

 Besides, part of the fun about writing about the Twins is explaining how they figure things out, both physically and intellectually.  And you can’t do that with iPads and ultrabooks.  When everything is find-able on Google, nothing is a mystery.  And that’s no fun for anyone.

About the book

By: Ellis Wein
Illustrated by: Jeremy Holmes
Published by: Chronicle books
To Be Released on: 9/2012'
Ages 9-12
Suppose there were 12-year-old twins, a boy and girl named John and Abigail Templeton. Let’s say John was pragmatic and played the drums, and Abigail was theoretical and solved cryptic crosswords. Now suppose their father was a brilliant, if sometimes confused, inventor. And suppose that another set of twins—adults—named Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean, kidnapped the Templeton Twins and their ridiculous dog in order to get their father to turn over one of his genius (sort of inventions. Yes, I said kidnapped. Wouldn’t it be fun to read about that? Oh please. It would so. Luckily for you, this is just the first in a series perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever, and funny (just like the twins), and enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn’t?!)
“An entertaining start to a new series.” - School Library Journal
“The scene-hogging narrator steals the show in this clever series opener.” - Kirkus Reviews
“Illustrations…play up  the story’s humor as well as highlighting the twins’ ingenuity.” - The Horn Book
“This book is for those students who enjoy a little sarcasm with their humor.” - Library Media Connection

About the author:

Ellis Weiner’s writing has been making kids and grown-ups laugh for more than 30 years. He skewered popular culture at Harvard Lampoon and Spy Magazine, and entertained the preschool set as a writer for such beloved TV shows as Bear in the Big Blue House, Reading Rainbow, and Eureka’s Castle. He is the author of several books, including Yiddish with Dick and Jane, and Arffirmations: Meditations for Your Dog. A frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and national magazines, his essay for the New Yorker, “Subject: Our Marketing Plan”  is a viral classic in the publishing industry. In addition to his busy writing schedule, he teaches humor writing at UCLA and performs frequently with his jazz band, The Status Seekers. He lives in Studio City, California.

The Giveaway:
I have a SIGNED copy of The Templeton Twins to giveaway to 1 lucky blog tour follower. 
To enter, please LEAVE A COMMENT below telling me one of your goofiest, creative or just plan bright IDEAS you've had. Don't forget to include your email address.
- Open to residents of the US / Canada 
- You must be 13 yrs & older to enter (under is required to have a parent/guardian's permission).

Friday, September 7, 2012

Book Review: Katie Woo Rules the School by Fran Manushkin

Published by: Capstone Kids
Released on: August 2012
Ages: 5-7
Source: book from publisher to review
Series: Katie Woo
4 stars: We Enjoyed It!
Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Katie Woo is a spunky, sassy, and stylish schoolgirl that readers will fall in love with. These early chapter books are perfect for explaining life changes, family celebrations and growing up. Award-winning author Fran Manushkin outdoes herself with these fun, lighthearted stories.

Focused around school activities
4 stories in 1 book
Katie Woo is an Asian American girl in first grade
Katie Woo has 24 individual titles published in this series -quoted from Goodreads

A fun read with super cute illustrations. This was our first Katie Woo book to read, and now I can see why this series is so popular with younger readers. This particular book is a great collection of 4 short stories about Katie and her daily adventures. Written in an engaging chapter book style made it easy to follow along and enjoyable for my daughter. Once she starts learning how to read on her own, this will be a book she'll easily be able to sit and read by herself. With it's cute illustrations and short paragraphs on each page, Katie Woo fans will be sure to enjoy this new release. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Reviews: Forget-Me-Nots Poems to Learn by Heart by Mary Ann Hoberman / How? by Catherine Ripley

Illustrated by: Michael Emberley
Published by: Little Brown
Released on: April 3rd, 2012
Source: book from publisher to review
Ages: 5 & up
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

When you learn a poem by heart, it becomes a part of you. You know it in your mind, in your mouth, in your ears, in your whole body. And best of all, you know it forever. 
From the creators of the bestselling You Read to Me, I'll Read to You series comes this new collection of poems especially suitable for learning by heart and saying aloud. With personal introductions by former Children's Poet Laureate Mary Ann Hoberman -- as well as her own time-tested tips and tools for memorization and recitation -- and vivid illustrations by Michael Emberley featuring his trademark wit and lively characters, Forget-Me-Nots includes more than 120 works from both classic and contemporary poets, from childhood favorites to lesser-known treasures.
This anthology will inspire a love of learning poetry! - quoted from Goodreads

What a fabulous collection of poems! I've always been someone who has loved poems, and I really enjoyed being able to sit down and read through these poems with my kids. I like that the book's large collection of poems is broken up into sections. There's poems for the various seasons, about animals, Storybooks, Time and much more. I love the great collection of a various poems that make up this book. Some of these poems are ones I remember from when I was a kid, and many were ones I hadn't heard of before. Some were silly, entertaining and others were just plain fun to read. There's short poems and long poems, and some really cute illustrations to accompany them. This is another fabulous book that is perfect for the home, classroom and library!

Illustrated by: Scot Ritchie
Published by: Owl Kids
Released on: May 15th, 2012
Source: book from publisher to review
Ages: 5 & up
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

When Oma arrives to stay with Jake, Lizzie, and their parents, they want to make her visit extra special — so off the family goes to Jake's birthday party, the library, the beach, and many other places! These familiar childhood excursions prompt many questions from Jake and Lizzie. How do candles stay on fire? How do librarians remember where all the books go? How does the sand get so hot? Curious kids everywhere want to know — and no adult has all the answers.

In the same style as the highly successful Why?, How? provides kid-friendly explanations for nearly one hundred everyday mysteries. Bright, playful illustrations from Scot Ritchie complement the clear text and set the scenes for the common questions that kids ask. A scrapbook-style page at the end of each chapter offers additional information in snapshots and captions. How? combines the best qualities of non-fiction and picture books to delight young readers again and again. -quoted from Goodreads

Ever wondered where birthday parties originated from, where libraries get their books from, and why some animals act the way they do? These are just a few of the questions that are answered in this new book for inquisitive kids. Questions from why do we get sick to how a car works, to questions about how sand is made, and much, much are answered and explained in a way that young kids will understand. With it's fun illustrations and easy to read text, HOW? would make a great addition to any home, school room or library. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Author Interview with Storybox creator Steve Light

I'm excited about today's author interview with Steve Light. I recently had the chance to review a Steve Light's Storybox, Hansel & Gretel, and I completely fell in love with it. I should say we, as my daughter now carries it around and loves recreating the story and playing with it. You can read my review hereI'm thrilled to have had the chance to interview the creator behind these fabulous story-boxes, Steve Light. 

Hi Steve! Thank you for being on Mundie Kids today. I love the concept of Storybox sets. I wish I had one of those when I was a kid. What inspired you to create your line of storybox books? 

I was a storyteller in a school. One class ONLY wanted to hear the story "Hansel and Gretel". At home in my work shop I had two little pieces of wood that were the same size so I decided to carve a little wooden doll of Hansel and Gretel and use it to tell the story to that class. After the story the children asked "Well, where is the father and the witch?" So I carved those and more and found a box to put them in so I could carry it from class to class, and that is how the storyboxes were born.

Can you tell us a little bit about your planning process with the storybox sets? How do you go about creating a set and how do you decide what to include in the set itself (character and accessory wise)? 

It all starts in my sketchbook ad a lot of drawing and planning. I tell the story over and over in my head, deciding what I need as far as props and what I can do with out. A lot of it is what I think would be fun for the kids to see or what they would want to play with. Can  Hansel and Gretel sit on the back of the duck? How big I can make the tower for Rapunzel and still have it fit in the box?  How can I make the Oni's stomach be poked with Little One Inch's needle?  These are all the fun problems that I love to solve. I think about what would add to the story.  Then I do full size drawing of figures and props to fit the size of the box. I then use the full size drawings to hand carve the figures. Once they are hand-painted I use the Storybox in classrooms  and make changes to the story and the props and figures so that the telling of the story flows and the props enhance the story. 

To date, what has been the storybox set you've had the most fun creating? 

They are all fun but figuring out how the tower would fit in the box was alot of fun. I actually went to this great coffee shop/knitting store to sketch that story. I sat next to this huge wall of yarn in every color imaginable and drank tea and drew. I think the colors in Rapunzel are so good because of that wall of yarn.

What was your favorite children's story from growing up? Are you hoping to create a storybox for it in the near future? 

One of my favorite stories growing up was Hansel and Gretel. I love stories with dragons and have a prototype storybox of "Dragon Feathers" that I have been working on. The story is still a little clunky, so I am working on simplifying it. 

Can you tell us about any future storybox sets you're either working on now or hope to work on? 

I hope to do "Three Little Pigs" and "Three Billy Goats Gruff" I have both done as storyboxes and have performed them for children with great success. "Three Billy Goats" is one story that I have told alot with out a story box--it only gets better with the storybox!

All the best--Steve Light

Thank you Steve for visiting Mundie Kids today!

You can check out the rest of Steve Light's Storybox collection here
Purchase each individual story box from: Guide Craft | Amazon

Book Review: The Unwanteds, Island of Silence by Lisa McMann

Published by: Aladdin
Released on: September 4th, 2012 TODAY
Ages: 8-12
Source: ARC from publisher to review
5 stars: Love This Series!
Purchase from: Simon & Schuster | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Series: The Unwanteds #2

The battle is over. The magical barrier between the dreary land of Quill and the fantastical world of Artimé is gone. Now residents of both places are free to mingle, but tensions are high. The artistic warriors of Artimé struggle to forgive those in Quill who condemned them to death, while the Quillens attempt to recover from the shock of Artime’s existence, the loss of their leader, and the total collapse of their safe, orderly world.

14-year-old Alex Stowe has recovered from his physical wounds since his death-defying role in Artime’s victory, but his confidence is shattered. He battles self-doubt after Artimé’s beloved mage, Mr. Today, makes a stunning request, which is further complicated by the mysterious arrival of two silent, orange-eyed teenagers.

Meanwhile in Quill, Aaron is devastated by his fall from grace and seething with anger toward his twin brother Alex. Spurred by rage, Aaron recruits a team of Restorers and devises a masterful plan of revenge that will return him to power…if no one gets in his way.

Bestselling author Lisa McMann delivers another trademark page-turner in this second book of The Unwanteds series, as Alex and Aaron's parallel stories ultimately come together for a shocking climax that will leave readers desperate for more -quoted from Goodreads

What a fabulous sequel! Island of Silence picks up right where The Unwanteds left off and dives right into a plot line full of action, betrayal, chaos, and suspense. I swear Lisa McMann's writing gets better and better with each book. Every time I read her newest release it becomes my favorite Lisa book because of that. This time around I really liked how she not only told the story, but how she allowed me to understand the motives that drove the two brothers to make the choices they did. 

It was really fascinating for me to see the brothers in a very different light than I had in The Unwanteds. I felt like I understood Alex a lot more in this book, and I got why Mr Today was so eager to teach him and train him in his ways. I also like the fatherly patience and wisdom that he gave to Alex. One of my favorite quotes from this book comes from Mr Today when he's talking to Alex:

"...... There will always be times we struggle, make bad decisions, even fail. What's important is not that we fail, but that we learn and grow. And that we know there is always someone out there who believes in us." 

..... "Where problems you may face, you must know this: I do believe in you." (pg. 250)

I liked seeing Alex's hesitation and admire him for stepping up to the plate to fulfill his duties when the time was right. It made him more relatable to be unsure of himself and then see him grow into this confident person. Alex is a hero who learns to overcome the little voice in his head that fills him with doubt. He learns to embrace his talents and he finds the confidence he needs to accomplish his mission.

Aaron on the other hand surprised me with all he does in this book. These two brothers reminded me of Yin and Yang. It seems with them you can't have the good without having the bad, and in some strange way the good and bad each brother sides with balances everything out. One brother's horrific actions leads another brother to his destiny. I know this sounds crazy, but when you read the book you'll see what I'm talking about. I liked how Lisa wove the two brother's paths together without the other knowing what his brother was really up to. I really wish I could talk specifics, but I can't without giving anything away. This story line seriously surprised me. I wasn't excepting some of the thing that happened to happen at all. It's so well written. 

I enjoyed being able to dive back into the magical world of the Unwanteds. What I wasn't excepting was the incredibly fast paced story line, nonstop action, and surprising twists that Island of Silence has. I feel like I'm still catching my breath after finishing it. I can not wait to read the next installment in this incredibly addicting series. I highly recommend picking this up today! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Familiars- Circle of Heroes: Interview with Adam and Jay

I am thrilled to have Adam and Andrew on Mundie Kids today to celebrate TODAY's release of their third book in The Familiars series, Circle of Heroes. Before I share my interview with Adam and Andrew talking about heroes, I wanted to share a little bit about their book.

Can the familiars bring magic back to the queendom?

Vastia is in a state of war. Led by the evil Paksahara, whose command of the Shifting Fortress gives her nearly unstoppable power, an army of undead animals is wreaking havoc on the queendom. With human magic still gone, it's up to the three prophesized familiars—Aldwyn, Skylar, and Gilbert—to capture the fortress and bring Paksahara down.

But it won't be easy. The three familiars must embark on a quest to gather seven descendants of the most ancient and powerful animals in Vastia. And to make matters worse, Aldwyn finds a troubling scroll that causes him to doubt the very truth of the prophecy that guides them.

With inventive magic, epic action, and laugh-out-loud humor bursting from every page, circle of heroes is an extraordinary adventure you won't want to see end - quoted from Goodreads

Adam and Andrew - With the release of the third book in The Familiars series, The Familiars - Circle of Heroes, we are stopping by some of our favorite blogs discussing all things heroes.

MK: Hi Adam and Andrew, thank you for stopping by Mundie Kids today! Your series, The Familiars, has a lively cast of amazing heroes. If you were a character in your series, what animal would you be and what power would you posses?

Adam - If I could be any animal in the Familiars, I would choose to be a teleporting wombat. There are so many places that I would love to visit and traveling isn't always easy. Being able to teleport would make it a snap. Plus Wombats are so cute.

Andrew - I'd love to spend a day in Gilbert's webbed feet. He can see the future in pools of water, and that seems like a talent that could come in pretty handy. Certainly with the stock market, anyway.

MK: Aside from having a fabulous side kick, what are some other things you think a young hero should have?

Adam - A young hero should always have a dead parent with a mysterious past and an all powerful adversary that wants to kill him above all else. Oh, and a weapon that he hasn't learned how to wield yet.

Andrew - I think Adam pretty much covered that one. Some good wisecracking one-liners never hurts, either.

MK: Who were some of your favorite middle grade book heroes? (either ones you liked from growing up or ones you like now)

Adam - I loved Bink from Piers Anthony's A Spell for Chameleon and Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer. Also Encyclopedia Brown. There are too many to list. And I  am really excited about a new hero we will be introducing this fall from our book Starbounders: Zachary Night.

Andrew - Of late, I'd have to say Harry Potter is tough to beat. He's kind of got it all. 

MK: My favorite comic hero from growing up is and will always Wonder Women. I have to ask you guys, who is your favorite marvel comic book hero? Why? 

Adam - My favorite Marvel comic book character is Dr. Strange. I love the way that he speaks and that he has magic. There was something wonderfully unworldy about the diabolically devious denizens of Dr. Strange.

Andrew - I'd say Spider-Man. I could really believe that his story could be my story. Average, nerdy kid (definitely relatable) turns superhero. 

MK: What is your definition of a hero or what do you think makes someone a hero?

Adam - A hero is someone who will sacrifice something important or risk their own lives for others. Whether you have superpowers or a super heart, anyone can be a hero. 

Andrew - What he said.
We want you to send in stories about your own heroes, the real people who have had an impact on your life. Parents, grandparents, teachers, or friends. We'll be featuring them on our blog, our Twitter feeds, and our Facebook page. We want to know who's in your Circle of Heroes. The ones voted the most inspirational will win a signed copy of book #3. Send them in!

The Familiars - Circle of Heroes will be on-line and in bookstores everywhere September 4th.

Adam and Andrew

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Book Review: Interactive Books/Stories for Kids; Hansel & Gretel, A Steve Light Storybox / Manga for the Beginner, Kawaii)

I love kid books. I always have, and I probably always will. There's something fun, and exciting about kid books, and I made it my mission to make sure my kids have a variety of books to read out of, learn from and play with. Today I've got two fabulous interactive books for kids. These books age in range from 4 yrs and up, and with the upcoming holiday season these will make some great stocking stuffers, and really gifts for any upcoming holiday occasion.

By: Steve Light
Published by: Guide Craft
Released on:
Ages: 4 yr old +
Source: book from publisher to review
5 Stars: We LOVED It
Purchase from: Guide Craft | Amazon

I grew up loving the beloved nursery rhythms that were shared/read to me, and I've really enjoyed sharing them with my kids. What can be more fun than reading with your kids? Acting out the story while sharing the story with them. This is exactly what Steve Light's Storybox books do. Not only do you get a small version of the story, but you get everything you see here to allow your child to have hours of fun in acting out the story of Hansel and Gretel. Sounds absolutely brilliant doesn't? YES it does, at least to me any way. Wooden pieces, a storage place for them, and book all in one. 

Here's the picture of our set all set up. Well it's a little cropped as I couldn't fit everything in the picture this way. When this lovely story box surprised arrived in the mail I don't know who was more excited about it, myself or my daughter. We immediately pulled open and started playing with the story. The fun thing with this story, is my daughter is able to set it up and play with it however she wants to. She can retell the story, make up her own story or come up with something on her own. As a parent, I love it when my kids spend any amount of time using their imaginations, and this is exactly what Steve's storyboxes do. They allow kids the freedom to imagine and play. This may also make a fabulous addition to any preschool/kindergarten teacher's reading time as well.

I will caution, as does the side of the box, that there are small pieces with this particular story, making this unsuitable for children 3 and under. Those 4 years and older will really enjoy the time they spend playing with this fabulous storybox. After playing with this story with my daughter I definitely want to add another story or two to our collection. You can check out the rest of Steve Light's Storybox collection here

By: Christopher Hart
Released on: August 7th, 2012
Ages: 7 & up
Source: book from publisher to review
5 stars: I Loved It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble IndieBound

Kawaii—so cute it hurts!

You probably know this already, but the superpopular manga genre of Kawaii is everywhere! From Hello Kitty to Pokémon, these supercute Kawaii creatures are taking over. These characters are intensely cute, simple to draw, and colorfully graphic. The Kawaii genre puts its supercute stamp on a variety of well-known manga staples from adorable anthros to lovable monsters and animals to dark-but-still-cute Goths. Even the breathtaking and beautiful ladies of the Kawaii subgenre moe get their turn in the spotlight. The undisputed master of manga, Christopher Hart provides you with all the tools and techniques you will need to bring these beloved Kawaii characters to life. The supercute drawings and step-by-step directions provide you with everything you need to draw with Kawaii-style charm and personality.

From color contrasts to simplifying designs, Manga for the Beginner Kawaii provides the complete inside scoop on what it takes to make it as a Kawaii artist. This is the ultimate guide to bringing supercute characters from manga’s most adorable genre to life.

This book is AWESOME! If you're like me than you'd say this is a super cute book, and it's one you'd recommend to all my manga loving friends. 

Christopher Hart makes reading/looking through this book exciting. With step by step processes on drawing styles, details and much more, young artists will be able to understand the concepts Christopher is trying to teach. He does an amazing job at not only talking about his different drawing styles, he also gives examples of the proper way to draw and improper way to. I found this book to be extremely engaging and motivational to those who want to learn how to draw Kawaii. Ever since I was a kid I have loved to draw despite not having the talent to draw very well, and have loved manga. This book is the perfect combination of the two. This is one book I think both manga fans and young artists will want to have. I highly recommend picking this one up! It's even one I think parents, teachers, librarians would enjoy having on hand.

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 ~