Tuesday, March 6, 2018

*The Super Life of Ben Braver* Blog Tour & Giveaway!

The Super Life of Ben Braver is the first novel I've read by Marcus Emerson. 
The Super Life of Ben Braver will not be the last novel I read by Marcus Emerson.
This guy is great!
I am so excited to put this book in the hands of one of my eager 3rd grade readers tomorrow. I will book talk this one and I can already envision the hands popping up and the arms wiggling in the air. I can hear the "memememes" and the "oooooeeehhhhhaaas" as kids stretch their bodies longer and longer in hopes of me choosing to bestow this book upon the kid that can look most like a stretched piece of saltwater taffy. 
But why will they all want it, you ask.
They will all want it because I'm going to tell them that this book is awesome! And I never lie about that. Ben Braver is a character I instantly fell in love with. It might be because he is so honest about who he is and what he likes. I wanted to sit on that questionable couch, eat a Reese's, watch an old sci-fi movie, and listen to Ben's commentary on it. He just feels so real.
I'm also going to tell my readers that the story kicks into gear right away with Ben being sent to a boarding school for kids with special abilities (super powers!!).
I'm going to tell my readers that they will find mystery, action, barfing, teasing, and tons of humor within these pages!
And they won't be able to resist it.

If you know/work with/or want to impress kids in grades 3-5 I would highly recommend grabbing a copy to share with them. Lots of white space and lively illustrations throughout will make this book accessible to a variety of readers.

Visit https://www.marcusemerson.com to learn more about the author. 

Read a bit!
(Book description and book interior are taken from macmillian.com) 

Many thanks to Macmillan for providing a copy for this giveaway! Winner must provide a mailing address in the U.S. or Canada.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

*GRANTED* Blog Tour & Giveaway!

I've blogged before about The DungeoneersMs. Bixby's Last Day, and Posted. 
I've more than blogged, I've shared my love of John David Anderson's characters, worlds, and experiences. And I hope what I've really done is help his books find their way into the hands of more readers. I don't know this author personally, but sometimes I feel like I do. I feel like I know what kind of man Anderson is. A great one. The characters he wrote in Bixby and Posted are so rich and complex. I loved Dungeoneers, but find his next two novels to be an entirely different experience. Anderson's writing is evolving so beautifully. And I simply cannot wait to see what unfolds in the pages of this novel.

Here's a bit of honesty: The book was overnighted to me, but with a full day of toddler momming and teaching 3rd grade, there just wasn't time to read it in under 48 hours. Which I'm not sad about, because I wouldn't want to rush this anyway. I'm only telling you this because it's important to know why I'm not sharing my honest review of the book today. That's to come, in case you want to check back. *Spoiler alert: I will probably love it.*

Granted by John David Anderson 
(Published February 13, 2018) 

Everyone who wishes upon a star, or a candle, or a penny thrown into a fountain knows that you’re not allowed to tell anyone what you’ve wished for.  But even so, rest assured: There is someone out there who hears it.

Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets is no ordinary fairy – she is a Granter: one of the select few whose job it is to venture beyond the boundaries of the Haven and grant the wishes of unsuspecting humans every day.  It’s the work of the Granters that generate the magic that allows the fairies to do what they do and to keep the Haven hidden and safe.  But with worldwide magic levels at an all-time low, this is not as easy as it sounds.  On a typical day, only a small fraction of the millions of potential wishes get granted.  And even granting those promised few means navigating a human world fraught with danger.

Today, however, is anything but typical.  Because today, Ophelia is going out on her first assignment.  And she’s about to discover that getting what you truly want takes much more than a handful of fairy dust. (Granted)

John David Anderson is the author of Ms. Bixby's Last Day, Posted, Sidekicked, Minion, and The Dungeoneers. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org.

Did you know that Anderson will skype your class or book club for FREE? I'd suggest you read aloud one of his amazing stories before requesting a virtual visit.

Check out all the stops for reviews, insights, and giveaways!

Feb. 22 – Gina Reba at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Mar. 01 – Nicole Levesque at Bluestocking Thinking
Mar. 02 – Sara Grochowski at The Hiding Spot
Mar. 05 – Michelle Knott at Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook
Mar. 06 – Maria Selke at Maria’s Melange
Mar. 09 – Katherine Sokolowski at Read, Write and Reflect
Mar. 10 – Sara Gundell Larson at Novel Novice
Mar. 13 – Jennifer Kelley Reed at Reederama

Mar. 14 – Jillian Heise at Heise Reads

****Win a SIGNED copy!****

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 26, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2-26-18

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers. Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews and recommendations!

Books I Read this Week:

Best Buds Under Frogs by Leslie Patricelli
Candlewick Press, 2018
288 pages
Realistic Fiction
Recommended for grades 3-5

I've been reading Leslie Patricelli's board books to my boys for a while now, coming to love that awesome little baby with a single strand of hair. I can't recommend her board books enough to my friends with babes. So imagine my excitement upon discovering Patricelli was writing a book with more than 20 words! Turns out she should have started writing middle grade novels long ago! And, she better not stop.

What I love about this one: The friendship struggles are so real. When Lily throws up on her first day at a new school, it can't get any worse. But a kind stranger takes her by the elbow to the nurse's office. Lily is so thankful for the rescue, and begins a friendship with Darby. But here's the thing, Lily can't figure out what is up with Darby. Is she a genuine friend, or not? She does things that seem mean, so Lily finds herself confused about how to navigate this friendship. I loved it because it made me think. Do we have people in our life like Darby? Or not? Would I continue being friends with Darby? Probably. Should Lily? I don't know!
I also love how Lily is far from perfect. Kids don't need to read about perfect kids, they need to read about real kids. Lily is real. 

What I don't love about this one: Nothing. Ha, I just wanted to keep things balanced.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
First Second, 2018
277 pages
Realistic Fiction
Recommended for grades 7+

Grab this one if you have older readers. There is a scene where the prince drinks too much, so you be the judge on the age you want to recommend this one to. That's the only thing that makes me hesitant about handing it to younger readers.
I have a longer post about this book here, and I really love this one!

Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable
First Second, 2018
128 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5

A graphic novel about a couple of sloths, what's not to love? Peter and Ernesto are hanging in the treetop, finding pictures in the clouds. All is perfectly simple and sweet. Until Ernesto gets the great idea to see the WHOLE sky. And sets off. Peter is against the trip, but soon finds he misses his friend too much not to set out after him.

The illustrations are bright and appealing, the story is silly and fun. 

I book talked this one recently and passed it off to a 3rd grade boy. He enjoyed it so much that he was borderline disruptive during independent reading! (hehehe) When he finished, he started it over again. If that's not a genuine thumbs up rating then I don't know what is!

This one hits bookshops in early April.

Up, Down & Other Opposites by Ellsworth Kelly
Phaidon Press, 2018
30 pages
Recommended for ages 1-3

This little beauty showed up at my doorstep out of the blue. What a treat! 
This glossy board book features opposites, of course! Each picture is an original abstract artwork by Ellsworth Kelly, an American painter and sculptor, born in New York in 1923. (Book Biography) The biography in the back is a cool section for the grown-up reader.

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck:

Blog Tour Post: 3-1-18 Giveaway!

Blog Tour Post: 3-6-18

Bog Tour Post Coming Soon!

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great reading week!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Prince and the Dressmaker *Blog Tour & Giveaway*

February, 2018

At nearly 300 pages long, there is a lot to love within these pages. Dressmaker Frances is all we want to be. She is independent, driven, and talented. She is also loyal, trustworthy, and kind. Prince Sebastian could not have found a better dressmaker, or friend, than he found in Frances. Their complicated relationship somehow seems uncomplicated because it is sweet and gentle at its core.

For this tour bloggers are asked to share their favorite panel or page from the book. Here is my choice:
Why I love this panel: This is the first time Sebastian puts on one of Frances' designs. Frances looks so surprised. Is it because her dress is so beautiful? Because Sebastian is so beautiful in her dress? Because Sebastian is wearing a dress in front of her? You'll need to read the next page for more insight.
I also love how happy Sebastian looks. You can feel it radiating off the page. The confidence he gains from Frances' designs and friendship change his life, and this is just the beginning.

The final section of the book is a glimpse into Jen Wang's process of creating The Prince and the Dressmaker. When I got to this section I had already thoroughly enjoyed the story, and then I was given pause to really let the process of creating it sink in. I think you're going to enjoy every bit of this one.

Thanks for stopping by! For other stops in the tour visit: Fierce Reads

Monday, February 5, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2-5-18

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers. Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews and recommendations!

Books I Read this Week:

They Didn't Teach this in Worm School: One Worm's Tale of Survival
by Simone Lia
Candlewick Press, 2018 (Feb. 13th)
192 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5

Marcus the worm is almost eaten for breakfast by Laurence the bird (that looks like a chicken but thinks he is a flamingo)...Marcus uses quick wit and smooth talking to convince Laurence that they should travel to Africa so Laurence can be with his true kind.

The book is super silly, not the kind that I particularly enjoy...but I was wrong about how popular Fortunately, the Milk turned out to be...soooo, who knows.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Charles Santoso
Feiwel & Friends, 2017
215 pages
Recommended for: Everyone! Grades 3+

What a beautiful story, from start to finish. Narrated by the tree, we are taken on a short journey of great importance. The theme of tolerance ripples in and out of the tree's story, sometimes highlighting the humans living around her throughout the years, sometimes highlighting nature's creatures and processes. This is the kind of book entire units can be created around. The kind of book that brings people together and broadens perspectives.

Whose Moon is That? by Kim Krans
Random House, 2017
36 pages

Whose moon is that? The cat, bear, and bird all think it belongs to them, and they are not the only ones. The simple text is brought to life with stunning illustrations. I shared this with my students and each page was a delight.

Alfie by Thyra Heder
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017
48 pages

My third graders loved this one! Adorable illustrations, and a fun dual perspective story. The fact that it is based loosely on the author's real pet turtle made it that much more fun!

I'm Currently Reading:

Candlewick Press, Feb 13th

On Deck:

First Second, Feb. 13th

Thanks for stopping by!
Have a great reading week :)

Monday, January 22, 2018

*Love Sugar Magic* Review & Giveaway!!

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble
by Anna Meriano
320 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

Leonora (Leo) is a: pre-teen, Mexican-American, Texan, and 5th daughter. Oh, but that's not nearly all...she's also a bruja! Leo begins getting suspicious and grumpy at all the secret keeping going on between her sisters and mother. In preparation for Dia de los Muertos, Leo's sisters and mother are making big plans for working at the family bakery. Big plans that don't include Leo. And she's getting tired of it. The book kicks into action when Leo sneaks away from school to uncover the family secret.
Leo is the kind of character you want young girls to connect with. She is brave and loyal and ambitious. She is also nervous and sneaky and unprepared. She is genuine, and reminds us all that being a great person doesn't mean being great every step of the way.
I loved the mix of characters, and especially felt drawn to Leo's friend, Caroline, who had lost her mother to cancer before the book opened. 
So, grab a copy, and grab a cookie. 

Find the teacher's guide here.

Read more about the book at two other spots in this mini blog tour!

Author Anna Meriano herself wrote the Nerdy Book Club post which I just read before completing my post. She opens up to the vulnerability she felt over releasing her book at a time when other books and a blockbuster movie (Coco) are seemingly already "covering" the Mexican-American or Dia de los Muertos angle. Luckily she seemed to come around on her own. Which a good because I'd hate to call her out as being so, so, so wrong. 

Coco is an awesome movie. See it if you haven't! With a movie like that out I know it is bringing new understandings and wonders to people all over. When one kid sees that movie he will want to learn more of, not be tired of, the setting, people, and customs. Another kid will see it and see some of themself in the story, also craving more of that reflection. So wipe away any last crumb of doubt, Anna, because there is room, plenty of room, for all the stories.

Enter for your chance to win a copy, courtesy of Walden Pond Press!
Please share the book love via facebook, twitter, etc.!
Contest Closes Sunday, January 28th at 8PM EST

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Christmas Picture Books!

What a delight to open a box full of Christmas books! I was truly zipped right back to childhood as I poured through the pages of these books. I look forward to sharing these books with my students, my own children, and anyone else looking for new holiday titles!
Do you have a special way of displaying your holiday books? As a child my mother had wrapped the top and bottom of a large sturdy box and it held our Christmas books. I remember being so excited to see that box each year. The magic never faded. I was gifted a lovely painted wooden crate for my family's holiday books. I hold such fondness to my childhood memory that I also plan to recreate it for my own children. Luckily I have a book collection habit, so we will more than fill both book storage options! 

If you're looking to keep building your holiday book collection, check out these new offerings from Candlewick Press. Then, enter below for a chance to win one!

My 3 year old is obsessed with the original edition of this story. He is going to flip when he sees this special edition! 

Matt Tavares is from Maine, which means that from time to time our paths cross...when I hunt him down for book signings. Tavares' artwork is stunning, always, so I couldn't have been more exited to find out that he was working on a Christmas book!
Red and Lulu, a pair of cardinals, live happily in a large pine tree in the suburbs, until their tree is eyed for a special purpose. Problems arise when Red and Lulu become separated. 

I first thought this was an Elf on the Shelf story, but it is not. This one I'd recommend for the crowd under 7. A young girl wakes up on Christmas Eve, hears noises downstairs, and creeps down to investigate.

Adorable board book with moving parts. I had fun sharing this one with my 3 year old!

Follows the story of a fairy learning to be a Christmas fairy. Things don't go so smoothly for this little fairy.

Perhaps my new favorite of the year! From picking the tree to decorating the tree, what's not to love? One of the most exciting parts of preparing for Christmas is depicted in vintage inspired illustrations that I just love!

If you are a fan of this series I know you'll be excited to get your hands on this one! Bear has agreed to have a Christmas party but he's never had one before. His idea of what happens at the party might just differ from Mouse's ideas.

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!
And stay tuned for more holiday books!