Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Star Wars Reads Day III

STARS WARS READS DAY is back!! I am so excited about this announcement from Disney Hyperion! I took my kids to our local Indie Book store the first year Star Wars Reads Day kicked off, and it was a blast! I highly recommend joining in the fun. Here's the announcement from Disney:

From the youngest Stormtrooper to the wisest Jedi, this October 11th, artists, authors, educators, librarians, book retailers, and readers will join forces to celebrate the global phenomenon of Star Wars Reads Day!  
THIRD ANNUAL STAR WARS READS DAY STRIKES BACK ON OCTOBER 11, 2014 Franchise Events Will Include Star Wars Rebels for the First Time 
Celebrating a love of literacy and all-things Star Wars, Disney Lucasfilm Press, along with its publishing partners: Abrams, Chronicle Books, Dark Horse, Del Rey, DK, Klutz, Quirk Books, Random House Audio, Scholastic, and Workman Publishing, will join forces with fans, authors, and artists to celebrate the third annual Star Wars Reads Day. Last year, authors and costumed volunteers participated in over 2,000 Star Wars Reads Day events across North America, but, for the first time, this year’s festivities will include Star Wars Rebels!   With the debut of the animated series Star Wars Rebels launching on Disney XD October 3rd, this thirdStar Wars Reads Day comes at an exciting time! 
Booksignings and panels featuring Star Wars Rebels have already been scheduled for October 11th during New York Comic Con, and the robust list of talent confirmed to participate in official Star Wars Reads Day events around the country include: Chris Alexander (Star Wars Origami), Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda series), Jeffrey Brown (Goodnight Darth Vader, Star Wars: Jedi Academy), Troy Denning (Star Wars: Crucible), Tony DiTerlizzi (The Adventures of Luke Skywalker: Jedi Knight), Ian Doescher (William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, William Shakespeare’s Empire Striketh Back, William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return), Pablo Hidalgo (Star Wars Rebels: A New Hero), Michael Kogge (Star Wars Rebels: The Rebellion Begins), Daniel Lipkowitz (LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles), John Jackson Miller (Star WarsA New Dawn), Chris Reiff and Chris Trevas (Star Wars: Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual), Daniel Wallace (The Bounty Hunter Code, The Jedi Path), and Ryder Windham (Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide, Star Wars Rebels Junior Novel). 
An official Star Wars event kit (free of charge), including reproducible activity sheets and trivia, is available as a printable PDF in colorand black and white, and for event updates and more information, follow Star Wars Reads Day on Facebook and the #starwarsreadsday on Twitter.

May the force of reading be with you!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Disney Planes Fire & Rescue: Dusty's Big Job, Book Review

By: Disney Book Group
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Released on: June 3rd, 2014
Ages: 3-5
Purchased from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads

Follow the thrilling adventures of Dusty Crophopper and all his pals in this exciting storybook. Plus, download the Planes Storybook Deluxe app!

Dusty, the beloved plane fans loved getting to know in Disney's Planes, is back! This time he has a new job, and that's as a firefighter. With new friends, and an exciting brand new adventure, Dusty learns to conquer his fears, be a team player and help his friend save others from the fires that devastate the neighboring woods and hotel where guests are staying at. With a little help, Dusty learns how to be a firefighter, and how to properly drop water from high in the sky.

Dusty's Big Job is a story that is full of adventure, has a great message, and is a fun story to read about. After readers check out Dusty's story, they can go see the movie in theaters! Disney Planes Fire & Rescue: Dusty's Big Job is a book that is sure to be a hit with pre-school and kindergarten age kids. With it's exciting story, and sturdy pages, this is a book little hands will love looking through. Parents will like the free digital download that comes included in the back of the book.

This is a must have for fans of Disney Planes. 4 owlets!

Monday, September 22, 2014

#BannedBooksWeek: 15 Classic Children’s Books That Have Been Banned In America

ALA Banned Books Week: Celebrating The Freedom To Read!

Image from here

I'm kicking of this week's BANNED BOOKS WEEK with Buzzfeed's list of the 15 Classic Children's Books That Have Been Banned in America. Yes, you read that right, CLASSIC CHILDREN'S BOOKS that have been banned. You know the books that many of us grew up reading. Yeah, those. 

Wait till you read some of the reasons why these books were banned. I'm having some issues with why there is even a list of classic children's books that were/have been/are banned. HERE are the reasons why each of these books was banned (via Buzzfeed). 

My thoughts on this article are this:

Who bans CLASSIC children's books!?!? Seriously?! I am having a hard time not posting snarky comments here for some of the banned reasons. As a parent, yes, I understand some of the reasons to ban these book (notice I said understand, not the I agree with the public banning). I personally feel these reasons for banning these books are PERSONAL reasons, and as a parent I respect that These however are NOT reasons that should publicly ban a book. Hence the reasons my snarky comments. 

There is a book on here that got banned, and that reason alone is why I, as a parent, will not let my kid read the book. I never liked the book as a kid, and I don't like it as adult, nor is it a book I want my kid to read. BUT, that is my personal reason. Since I don't like the book, I personally don't feel that, that is justifiable for me to make it so that on one else is allowed to read it. That is why I have an issue with banned books. Just because someone else doesn't like the book, does not give them the right to tell me or my kids what they should be allowed to read. 

The beauty of reading is this: 
There are books out there for everyone. Not everyone is going to like every book. If you don't like book, you choose another one. At some point you'll find the book that is right for you. No one should have the power to take that right away from someone else. Banning a book doesn't make that book go away. It just prevents a reader from finding a story that was meant for them. 

Maybe that next book that gets banned was written for someone who's been trying to find a story that may help them through a situation they otherwise won't find a way out of. Or maybe that story is one that opens the door to possibilities. Or maybe that story is one that will allow a creative mind to realize that writing is their dream. Or maybe, just maybe, that story is meant to bring comfort to child who is dealing with a scary reality. You never know what stories will impact readers.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Halloween Reads from Random House Children's Books!

Check out these spooktacular Halloween reads from Random House Kids!

Happy Halloween from
Random House Children’s BOOks!

By Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller;
Illustrated by Karl Kwasny
Published by: Delacorte BFYR
On-sale September 9, 2014
Ages 8-12

Sleeping has never been so scary. And now waking up is even worse!
Multi-talented actor, Jason Segel, teams up with New York Times bestselling author, Kirsten Miller, for the hilariously frightening middle grade novel, Nightmares! The first book in a trilogy about a group of kids who must face their fears to save their town. And any chance of a good night's sleep. 


By George Hagen
Published by: Schwartz & Wade
On-sale August 26, 2014
Ages 9-12

Impress your friends with some riddle knowledge!
A fast-paced, exciting--and emotionally rich--fantasy novel for middle graders that reads like a cross between Harry Potter and The Phantom Tollbooth.
How can 11-year-old Gabriel find his missing father, who seems to have vanished without a trace? With the help of Paladin--a young raven with whom he has a magical bond that enables them to become one creature--he flies to the foreboding land of Aviopolis, where he must face a series of difficult challenges and unanswerable riddles that could lead to his father... or to his death.

HEXED by Michelle Krys
Published by: Delacorte Press
On-sale June 10, 2014
Ages 12 up

It's Bring it On meets The Craft in this spellbinding witchy series debut. A stolen book. A deadly plan. A destiny discovered. If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won't stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn't want to be her?

By: Ruth Chew
Published by: Random House
On-sale January 28. 2014
Ages 7-10

There's something SPOOKY about that tree. . . .
Ruth Chew's classic chapter books full of everyday magic are a perfect introduction to fantasy--now in print again as Stepping Stones.
For decades, Ruth Chew's chapter books about matter-of-fact magic have enchanted early readers. Now a new generation of fantasy fans can discover the magic in these Stepping Stones books.

By Ruth Chew
Published by: Random House BFYR
On-sale January 28, 2014
Ages 7-10

How do you hide a wizard in the attic?
When Barbara and Rick Benton find a wizard named Harrison Peabody in an old bottle, they quickly discover that magic isn't as simple as it looks. But even tricky magic is better than no magic, and soon the Bentons fly around Prospect Park with a large black umbrella and befriend a sea serpent in the lake. How can they keep Harrison a secret, though, when he's living in their attic?

by Ruth Chew
Published by: Random House BFYR
On-sale September 23, 2014

Why did a witch appear at Nick's window?
Could it have something to do with a mysterious tree in Prospect Park? Ever since Nick and Marjorie discovered it, strange things have been happening. First, they find an odd spoon with no owner. Then a spooky bird follows them home--and talks to them! It must be the witch's magic!

By Ruth Chew
Published by: Random House BFYR
On-sale September 23, 2014
Ages 7-10

A little bit of magic can mean big adventure!
Andy and Robin are stuck doing chores with an old bottle of silver polish. But when they use it, incredible things happen. The salt and pepper shakers don't get shiny--they turn into birds! The dustpan doesn't clean--it starts flying! And when Andy and Robin tuck the birds' feathers behind their ears, they shrink until they're small enough to fly the dustpan out into the night. Where will their magical ride take them?

By Mary McKenna Siddals
Illustrated by Jimmy Pickering
Published by: Random House BFYR
On-sale August 5, 201
Ages 2-5

A rollicking, rhyming Halloween romp--in every color!
 What color is Halloween? Why, it's as green as an "eerie glow, evil grin, vile brew, clammy skin," as white as "cobwebs clinging, a misty trail, a skull, a spook, a face gone pale . . ." Children will learn their colors as they follow a cute little creature on his adventure through haunted halls, moonlit forests . . . perhaps even a Halloween party! Jimmy Pickering's stylized settings and adorable monsters add a blast of colorful creepy-crawliness that will make kids giggle. Who knew that learning colors could be such spooky fun?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

EVIL SPY SCHOOL by Stuart Gibbs, Cover Reveal

Hello & welcome to today's cover reveal for Stu Gibb's EVIL SPY SCHOOL, which will be released on 4/21/15 from Simon & Schuster. 
Stu has really been skyrocketing in terms of his popularity with kids and EVIL SPY SCHOOL is the third in a series featuring SPY CAMP and SPY SCHOOL. 

Check out the cover!!

During a spy school game of Capture the Flag, twelve-year-old Ben Ripley somehow accidentally shoots a live mortar into the principal’s office—and immediately gets himself expelled. Not long after going back to the boring old real world, Ben gets recruited by evil crime organization SPYDER.

And he accepts.

As a new student in SPYDER’s evil spy school, which trains kids to become bad guys with classes like Counter Counterespionage and Laying Low 101, Ben does some secret spying of his own. He’s acting as unofficial undercover agent, and it becomes quickly apparent that SPYDER is planning something very big—and very evil.

Ben can tell he’s a key part of the plan, but he’s not quite sure what the plan is. Can Ben figure out what SPYDER is up to—and get word to the good guys without getting caught—before it’s too late?

What do you think of the cover? This cover gets a big thumbs up from us! 

The Tour
Stu will be on tour promoting SPACE CASE (on sale now!) with Will Alexander, the National Book Award-winning author of AMBASSADOR. Check out where you can meet them at:

Monday, 9/22: Addendum Bookstore in St. Paul, MN at 7pm (165 Western Ave. N. #14, St. Paul, MN)

Tuesday, 9/23: Oconomowoc Public Library in Oconomowoc, WI at 6:30pm (200 South St, Oconomowoc, WI)

Wednesday, 9/24: The Book Stall in Winnetka, IL at 4:30pm (811 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL)

Thursday, 9/25: Anderson’s in Downer’s Grove, IL at 7:00pm (5112 Main Street, Downers Grove, IL) 

Saturday, 9/27Tweens Read Festival in Houston, TX from 10:30AM—5:00PM (South Houston High School, Pasadena, TX) 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz: Blog Tour: Guest Post: DIY Pirate Costumes

Arrr! Welcome to the next stop in the HOOK'S REVENGE blog tour! Today I'm thrilled to have the fabulous, dreaded pirate, Heidi Schultz, also known as the author of HOOK'S REVENGE, here on the blog! She's stopped by to tell us how we can dress like a pirate!! 

DIY Pirate Costumes

Arrr! International Talk Like a Pirate Day is in just two days! Yesterday I shared some piratical words to get your speech shipshape, but now we need to do something about your clothes. No self-respecting pirate would be caught dead wearing jeggings and flip-flops! You’ll want something to inspire a bit more terror in your friends and loved ones this weekend. But who has time to shop with all the pillaging you’ve got planned?

DIY Pirate costume to the rescue!

Follow these three rules and you’ll have a pirate costume in no time:

  • Pillage your own closet, keeping a weather eye out for black and red.
  • The hallmarks of any DIY pirate costume are these three things: scarves, belts, and jewelry.
  • Attitude is everything.

Pillage your own closet

Last Halloween, I decided, two hours before going out, that I wanted to dress up. I generally put on a costume every year, planning weeks in advance, but last year we had some other things going on and I didn’t think I would want to. When I realized I really did, it was almost too late!

I opened my closet to see what I could come up with and saw my old forest fairy costume hanging next to a long denim jacket. Eureka! I decided to be a pirate fairy.
See photo here.

For a straight-up pirate costume, I could have easily ditched my wings and replaced my fairy dress with a long, white men’s dress shirt under my jacket, perhaps tucking the collar under and adding a short red or white scarf, a la Disney’s cartoon Captain Hook.

Or, I could have turned myself into a lesser crew member with an oversized t-shirt, (striped would be great), belted at the waist with a long scarf. I’d wear it over leggings and boots or loose fitting, cut off khakis and sandals.

Once you start looking over your closet with the dead-eyed stare of a pirate, you may be surprised at the treasure trove that is there. Keep a particular sharp eye out for anything red or black, the most swashbuckling colors there are. And if you don’t see what you are looking for, perhaps you could move on to another closet in your house—a roommate or significant other’s? I mean, you are a pirate, after all, right?

Scarves, belts, and jewelry

Pirates love to accessorize. Scarves can be worn around the waist, draped across the body, or on the head.

Layer on some belts. Use different widths and colors. Fasten a couple together to wear across your body. If you have an old one you don’t want to wear any more, consider cutting it short and adding a new hole. It’s now a wrist cuff.

And bring on the bling: Oversized earrings, necklaces, and bracelets of all kinds. Show off your hard won booty. (Um, not that kind of booty. I mean, unless you want. Who am I to judge?)

Attitude is everything

In Hook’s Revenge, the pirates in Jocelyn’s crew weren’t very experienced (you’ll learn more about them later this week), but that didn’t keep them from acting the part.

They knew that much of being a fierce pirate is how you carry yourself. Sneer, growl, shout out “ARRRR!” and “Bucko!” at random moments.

Battle scars and injuries also help lend an air of danger. If you have an eye patch lying around (and who doesn’t?), go ahead and don it. But if not, you could simply adopt a squint. No peg-leg? Exaggerate a limp. No hook for a hand? Just do what One-Armed Jack, one of Jocelyn’s crewmen, did and tuck an arm inside your shirt.

Now that your pirate costume is complete, I’d love to see it! Tweet me a picture @HeidiSchulz or tag me on Instagram @HeidiSchulzBooks. And don’t forget the ARRRR, Bucko!

About The Book

Twelve-year-old Jocelyn dreams of becoming every bit as daring as her infamous father, Captain James Hook. Her grandfather, on the other hand, intends to see her starched and pressed into a fine society lady. When she’s sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies, Jocelyn’s hopes of following in her father’s fearsome footsteps are lost in a heap of dance lessons, white gloves, and way too much pink.
So when Jocelyn receives a letter from her father challenging her to avenge his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile, she doesn’t hesitate-here at last is the adventure she has been waiting for. But Jocelyn finds that being a pirate is a bit more difficult than she’d bargained for. As if attempting to defeat the Neverland’s most fearsome beast isn’t enough to deal with, she’s tasked with captaining a crew of woefully untrained pirates, outwitting cannibals wild for English cuisine, and rescuing her best friend from a certain pack of lost children, not to mention that pesky Peter Pan who keeps barging in uninvited.
The crocodile’s clock is always ticking in Heidi Schulz’s debut novel, a story told by an irascible narrator who is both dazzlingly witty and sharp as a sword. Will Jocelyn find the courage to beat the incessant monster before time runs out?
Purchase Hook’s Revenge: Powell’s | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Heidi Schulz is a writer, reader, and giraffe suspicioner. She lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband, co-captaining a crew made of their teen daughter, a terrible little dog, and five irascible chickens. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, HOOK’S REVENGE, will be published by Disney•Hyperion on September 16, 2014. A sequel, HOOK’S REVENGE: THE PIRATE CODE, will follow in fall 2015. Bloomsbury Kids will publish her picture book debut, GIRAFFES RUIN EVERYTHING, in 2016.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Journey by Aaron Becker, Book Review

By: Aaron Becker
Published by: Candlewick Press
Released on: August 6th, 2013
Source: Bought
5 Owlets: We Loved It!
Age Recommendation: All
Add it to Goodreads

Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship.

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

JOURNEY is a wordless book that is full of imagination and wonder. Filled with beautiful illustrations, the story takes readers on an epic adventure with an amazing young girl and her red crayon. I love that this is a book where the story is told using pictures, vs words. Journey is a picture book that is just that, a book full of pictures. There's a few pictures that I would totally take out of the book to frame and hang in my library, they're that good.

Journey is a timeless story that readers of all ages will enjoy. It's a story with an unforgettable adventure that will inspire young minds to pick up their crayons, and allow their imaginations to take them on their own journey.

* JOURNEY was awarded the Caldecott Honor this year.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back To School with Jessica Darling: Back To School Advice from Author Megan McCafferty

Happy Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!

Today we're going Back To School (Middle School that is) with Jessica Darling!
Just in case you've not yet met Jessica Darling, she is the character in author Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling's IT LIST, and her upcoming release, Jessica Darling's IT LIST 2. 

Inquiring minds wanted to know, what kind of advice author Megan McCafferty would give to those in Middle School. Here's what she said:

I started middle school with no friends.  I’m not exaggerating. No one from my elementary school was in my Honors classes. This wasn’t much of a loss because my sixth grade diary is filled with ALL CAPSY pronouncements such as:




So I was kind of desperate start my own clique in seventh grade. And I went about my friendship recruitment all wrong. I tried WAY TOO HARD to appeal to TOO MANY PEOPLE. Being open-minded and approachable is one thing. Being needy and fake is something else entirely and it’s NOT GOOD.  I could write a book detailing the intricacies of making and breaking friendships--OH WAIT I TOTALLY DID. So read that. But here’s the recap: ONE TRUE FRIEND IS BETTER THAN A POSSE OF POSEURS.

My story has a happy ending. Eventually I fell into a superduperbestfriendship with a smart, funny, artistic girl in my Honors classes named T.J. And when we were together—a clique of two, talking about everything and nothing at all—I felt like the most popular girl in school.  

About Megan's Books

By: Megan McCafferty
Published by: Poppy
Released on: 9/3/13
Add it to Goodreads

Move over, Dork Diaries! Jessica Darling, star of Megan McCafferty's bestselling Jessica Darling series for adults, is back in a hilarious new series perfect for tween (10 to 14) girls.

I hadn't even gotten to homeroom yet and I'd already discovered five hard truths about junior high:

1. My best friend had turned pretty.
2. She didn't know it yet.
3. It wouldn't be long before she did.
4. That knowledge would change everything between us.
5. And there wasn't a thing I could do about it.

It's the first day of seventh grade. Is Jessica Darling doomed for dorkdom?

New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty's hilarious series opener will have you laughing, cringing, and cheering for Jessica Darling as she learns that being herself beats being popular, pretty & perfect any day.

By: Megan McCafferty
Published by: Poppy
To Be Released on: 9/23/14
Add it to Goodreads

Jessica Darling is getting the hang of seventh grade -- finally! While her old BFF, Bridget, is busy talking (nonstop) about her new boyfriend, Burke, Jessica tries to fit in with her new friends, Sara, Manda, and Hope. The IT List instructions from her sister, Bethany, and an epic slumber party may help Jessica secure her spot in the cool clique, but does she even want it?

Megan McCafferty's It List series introduces readers to Jessica Darling, an unabashedly brainy seventh grader who stays true to herself, even if it means being (totally not) cool.

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 ~