Meet the Exceptional Maggie Chowder

The Exceptional Maggie Chowder (Hardcover) | Albert Whitman & Company

We were so excited to meet The Exceptional Maggie Chowder! Author Renee Beauregaud Lute has invited us to join the book’s blog tour which releases this week! This story is one that will warm your hearts and leave you feeling like you’ve made some new friends along the way!

We meet Maggie Chowder who aspires to be just like her comic book hero, the Exceptional Eagirl. Like Eagirl, Maggie is hoping to become a forest ranger one day. When Maggie and her family move to a smaller house she tries hard to make the most of what she’s given. With many obstacles in the way, a brother who many don’t seem to understand like Maggie does, a mom who is exhausted from work each day, a best friend who has moved away into a huge house (and a puppy) and her grandma who comes to stay with them and is less than thrilled about her enjoying comics.

With each written chapter comes a short comic about the Exceptional Eagirl. Renee has cleverly paralleled the superheroes adventures with circumstances in Maggie’s life. It is a fresh take on storytelling that I enjoyed. I think this will give readers a chance to stop and reflect after each chapter. I also liked how authentic I felt the characters were. The problems Maggie encounter can easily be ones the children reading this book might face.

Renee was kind enough to answer 3 questions about the book and three questions about herself!

3 ?s about The Exceptional Maggie Chowder 

What are three words you would use to describe this book?

Funny, family-oriented (is that two words?), full of adventure (that’s definitely three words. I’m on the first question and I’ve already broken the rules, but the alliteration is so worth it!)

We adored how we got a glimpse into The Exceptional Eagirl’s world at the end of each chapter, how did that structure come to be? 

I really love comics and graphic novels. When I started writing The Exceptional Maggie Chowder, I had the thought–”wouldn’t it be cool if this character (Maggie) loved comics, and I got to invent a comic book and write comic scripts, and the comics kind of paralleled Maggie’s story?”–and I went for it! I had so much fun writing The Exceptional Eagirl comics, and I really can’t imagine this book without them. Luna Valentine is the comic artist, and she did such an amazing job!

 Fill in the blank: 

Fans of _Caterpillar Summer___ would really enjoy The Exceptional Maggie Chowder!

3 ?s about You

What is your “go-to” kidlit book to give as a gift and why?

I can’t stop gifting (nor talking about) The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser. I love this series so much. My kids are ages 8, 6, and 4, and I read the first book out loud to them at the beginning of this pandemic. All three of them loved it, and that’s a really rare magic in a book! 

If you could have a dinner party with three people (dead or alive), who would you invite and why? 

I would invite Shirley Jackson, because she was so wonderfully strange and talented, and because I recently started reading through her memoirs about motherhood, which are incredibly relatable. She was a mom-writer who struggled to balance her mom life with her author life, and I feel that deeply, especially this past year. I would invite Jordan Peele because even though his movies terrify me, I am obsessed with them.  He’s ridiculously funny (I miss Key and Peele) and can tap into his strange side, so he and Shirley would have lots to talk about, and it wouldn’t be an awkward dinner party. Finally, I would invite Steve Martin, because he’s also a pretty great writer with a funny/weird side, but additionally he plays the banjo, and I feel like this dinner party could use some music. 

What is one item in your refrigerator  that tells us about you? 

The oatmilk coffee creamer. This tells you that I drink coffee (so much coffee. I love coffee) and that I’m lactose intolerant. (What a weird note to go out on. I am so sorry.)

Thank you for having us on your blog tour and for Albert Whitman for providing us with an advanced copy to read. All opinions are our own.

*GIVEAWAY* Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Goodnight

A playful and silly read that may just be like looking in the mirror for many parents and children! Charlie and his pet dragon, Rosie face the challenging feat of bedtime! Charlie has prepared for every possibility during bedtime procrastination making sure to have all the supplies beforehand: writing a bedtime schedule together, extra towels for bath time, a fan for overheating in footie pjs and some other well-prepared ideas. Even after all the prep work bedtime is still a long process but Charlie learns being prepared sure does help! But just when Charlie settles in for a spa moment in the tub a surprise ending puts him back to work. Sound familiar parents?

I don’t know about you but my three boys struggle every night to fall asleep, even on days where I think I wore them out completely. Reading Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Goodnight with them was a fun one because we definitely identified with all the procrastinating Rosie does before she finally falls asleep! You might be thinking you don’t want to give your kids any more ideas on how to perfect bedtime procrastination but reading this book gave us a moment to laugh at all those long drawn out nights…and that’s something I need sometimes! The illustrations also brought a sense of playfulness to the story and we loved the bright color pallet. As a reader and teacher I loved seeing the different colored fonts between when Charlie was narrating the book and when he was talking to Rosie. This gives the reader a clear view of the story and is a great teachable moment to notice with children. After reading this one I can’t wait to get my hands on the other book in the series, Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Make Waves. Which you could win if you enter our giveaway! See below for entry information!

Thank you so much to Blue Slip Media for sending us a copy to review. All opinions are our own.

GIVEAWAY!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of both Rosie the Dragon books! Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Make Waves and Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Good Night, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses only please). To enter please follow our blog and comment on this post. Feel free to enter on our social media pages too for extra entries! Giveaway closes on Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 11:00 CST. Winner will be picked at random and contacted soon after.

About the Author

Lauren H. Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She lives in Colorado with her husband, Josh; their dragons…er, daughters, Sarah and Danielle; and her rescue dogs, Hudson and Duke. Learn more about the author at www.LaurenKerstein.net. Twitter: @LaurenKerstein Instagram: laurenkerstein

About the Illustrator

Nate Wragg works as a production designer and illustrator for animation and book projects. He lives in Southern California with his family. Learn more about the artist at https://natewragg.tumblr.com.

Reviews

“This humorous story is a sweet representation of care-taking and patience, with a parallel that can extend to older and younger siblings as well as to parent-child relationships, perhaps making young readers a bit more self-reflective and empathetic. This dramatic bedtime tale…will satisfy many.”

Kirkus Reviews

*GIVEWAY* To Meet One Purrfect Kitty

I have to start by saying that I lied in the title of my post, this wasn’t one purrfect kitten, but that’s what I loved about this book! Let me explain. Clover Kitty Goes To Kittygarten is about a kitten who starts kittygarten but soon becomes overwhelmed with the closeness of people, noises of the room and lack of time to be alone. Kitty finally has enough and refuses to go back to school. During her time at school, one student took a fondness for her and goes to her house to check in on her each day she isn’t at school. After a few days, Kitty finally decides she is ready to return. Geared with “survival gear” she is prepared and learns how to make the experience of kittygarten a wonderful one.

When I first got this book I felt something inside having the story about someone starting kindergarten. My son is entering kindergarten and I know he won’t have the noisy block corner or close circle time mentioned in this book. But I have to say a few pages into the book I started to shed the sadness and look at this book in a whole new light. It isn’t a kindergarten book, it’s an “everyone who might be starting something new” book. I adored how this character wasn’t purrfect, and that she loved being alone and that being in large groups is not something that she feels comfortable with. This book can be used to teach many social emotional lessons. I see Kitty as an introvert, a character trait we don’t often see. We also see her get so fed up with her environment that she “quits” kittygarten, a boiling point we’ve seen our kids and students come to. And at the end when she comes back with her survival tools is a great to show kids that we also have tools we can use to help in uncomfortable situations.

Let me leave you with the last line “kittygarten has its ups and downs (mostly ups).”

The was the purrfect ending to a story that had my emotions up and down (but mostly up!). Thanks for making this story happen Laura and Hiroe!

And thank you Blue Slip Media for sharing this with us! All opinions are our own!

More about the author: Laura Purdie Salas is an award-winning author of more than 125 books for children, including her recent books Snowman – Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations, illustrated by Micha Archer, and Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons, illustrated by Mercè López. Her books have received such honors as Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books for Children, IRA Teachers’ Choice, the Minnesota Book Award, and NCTE Notable book. Laura went to kindergarten in Florida and now lives in Minnesota. She hates crowds and knows a good friend makes everything better. Learn more about the author at www.laurasalas.com. Twitter: @LauraPSalasFacebook: @LauraPSalas


Illustrator: Hiroe Nakata grew up in Japan and moved to the United States when she was sixteen. She is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design. Artwork from her first picture book, Lucky Pennies and Hot Chocolate, was chosen for the prestigious Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition. Since then, she has illustrated numerous books for children, including her recent titles, Baby Builders, written by Elissa Haden Guest, Baby’s Blessings, written by Lesléa Newman, and One More Hug, written by Inside Edition’s national correspondent Megan Alexander. Hiroe vividly remembers her daughter’s struggles in kindergarten and is happy to report that, at fourteen, her daughter excels in school and plays in the school band.Instagram: @hiroenakata

“Young readers will identify with Clover’s feelings about starting school or any new adventure… A perfect story to share at the beginning of the school year.” —School Library Journal“Salas shapes a read-aloud that will spark conversation with first-timers who are sensitive to stimulus, while Nakata humorously conveys the resolute feline’s emotions in expressive watercolor images.” —Publishers WeeklyCheck out the book trailer, activity sheets, and more at https://laurasalas.com/clover/ 

Giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a copy of Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). To win follow our blog and comment on this post. You can also enter on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Kat and Juju *GIVEAWAY*

My boys loved this story about Kat, an independent girl with some anxiety around what others will think about her. She is a shy little girl and that makes her feel lonely. She just wants to have a best friend and she knows that once her birthday comes a friend will show up at her doorstep. That’s when Juju arrives; a big fluffy red bird.

Juju is very different from Kat and challenges her to experience life more boldly by doing happy dances, experiencing life and letting go. Kat is still worried but a baby bird changes all that when Kat and Juju need to help take care of the bird. They work together to help the bird become stronger and learn to fly. With this Kat does things she would never try before shown through the beautiful illustrations and expressions on Kat’s face. Kat realizes that worrying about what others think about her was holding her back from the friendships she could have and she breaks free from her loneliness and worry.

My boys and I had some beautiful discussions during our reading together. My six year old is just like Kat, a rule follower and constantly caring about what others think about him while my four year old is riddled with anxiety about the unknown. So Kat and Juju’s story gave us a chance to talk about these very real feelings in a nonthreatening way. While this book hasn’t changed them completely it sure has helped them reflect and relax just a little bit.

Thank you Barbara Fisch from Blue Slip Media for sending us a copy for review. All opinions are our own. Don’t forget to enter our giveaway! See below for entry information!

About the Author

Kataneh Vahdani is a children’s book author and illustrator. Kat and Juju is her first picture book series. She is currently directing her original feature animation movie. Kataneh has been a professor for over seventeen years and she also saves fallen baby birds and rescues them. Together with her students, they have raised over 13 fallen injured baby birds and set them free once they were ready to fly away. Sometimes in her classes, birds fly from the head of one student to the other. Visit Kataneh on Instagram: @KatandJuju


“This debut gently encourages personal growth while reinforcing the value of being different.” —Kirkus Reviews

**GIVEAWAY**

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Kat and Juju  courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Please follow our blog and comment on this post. Please feel free to enter on our other social media pages too.

It Is (Not) Perfect…..Giveaway

It is (Not) Perfect by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant, hits so many important notes. While building a sand castle, one friend thinks it is perfect, while the other makes a suggestion for their “perfect” improvements. This suggestion cycle continues as new friends come to the sand castle. Together, with their “perfect” ideas, the friends build a huge sand castle that they all stand by, admire and deem it perfect….until…..

Well, without giving away the ending, which builds hope and resilience, I want to say that I admired the character’s ability to accept constructive criticism and be open to the suggestions. I adored the teamwork that they all showed and allowed others to help make the castle. On a deeper level this book can help us talk about what perfect really means, if there is one way to do something , or what is everyone’s definition of perfect.

A book to enjoy with all ages and conversations that are important with our kids. We thank Blue Slip Media for including us on the blog tour.

Some more information about the creators:

Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Smallas well as series titles That’s (Not) Mine, I Am (Not) Scared, and We Are (Not) Friends. They also wrote and illustrated Eraser, Can I Tell You a Secret?, and Will You Help Me Fall Asleep? Christopher’s work can also be seen in The New Yorker, and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their rescue dog. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.Twitter: @annakang27 @chrisweyant05Instagram: annakangbookschristopherweyant   Facebook: Anna Kang – Author; Christopher Weyant“Colorful cartoon illustrations add a lightheartedness to what could be a stressful real-life situation for kids. Another life lesson neatly packaged in child centric humor.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This award-winning duo have created a lovely tribute to the old adage that perfect is the enemy of good. Recommended for purchase for all collections.” —School Library JournalGiveaway!

***Giveaway****One lucky winner will receive a copy of It Is (Not) Perfect, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Please follow our blog and comment on this post. Please feel free to enter on our other social media pages too.

Bear and Fred -Love is All We Need

Bear and Fred – A World War II Story written by Iris Argaman, illustrated by Avi Ofer and translated from Hebrew by Annette Appel, will touch the hearts of readers of any age. Told by Fred’s teddy bear with no name, this is a story of love and hope. Fred and bear stick together through World War II where they have to flee their home to remain safe from the Nazis. Bear becomes worn and tattered through the years, almost unrecognizable, but Fred cares deeply for him and finds ease in his stuffed friend.

There were a few moments while reading that pulled at my heart. Fred shares his secrets with Bear, as he knows that telling the truth to others could lead to danger. But talking to Bear gives Fred hope and the much needed comfort during this time. As I read I thought about how so many kids right now are using a stuffed animal as their companion in these uncertain times. I think reading this book might be a good reminder to all of us, that it’s ok to find an escape any way that feels right, even if it’s with our stuffed friends.

Another connection to the books was that I fortunate to have taken a trip to Israel many years back. While there I got to visit Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, and take a guided tour with a docent there. The museum pours with emotion and I felt connected to the past as the guide spoke to us about all the photos and artifacts. The story of Bear and Fred came to be because Bear was in that museum. Unfortunately I didn’t see it while I was there, but author Iris Argaman did, and knew she had to tell Bear’s story.

Thank you Blue Slip Media for sharing this book with us. All opinions are our own.

Giveaway! Comment on this post and one lucky winner will receive a copy of Bear and Fred: A World War II Story, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. addresses). 
Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.

Check out our other social media pages for more chances to win!

Here is more information about the creators:

Iris Argaman is the author of a number of books for children, including Bear and Fred, which was awarded the Yad Vashem Prize in Israel and the Giovanni Arpino Prize for Children’s Literature in Italy. She lives in Israel, where she is a lecturer on children’s literature, holds writing workshops, and writes activity books which promote museum education.
Avi Ofer is an illustrator and animation director born and raised in Israel and now based in Spain. His work has been exhibited in art shows and screened in festivals around the world. Annette Appel is a translator of books for young readers and truly enjoys the challenge of making stories written in Hebrew accessible to English speakers.

 “Translated from Hebrew, it reads seamlessly and beautifully presents a family caught up in war…Without in any manner diminishing the actual horrors of World War II or any current fighting, the author enables a child to grasp in some small manner the impact of conflict on a family. Moving and accessible.” —Kirkus Reviews

Zany Poetry in A Hatful Of Dragons

A Hatful of Dragons and More Than 13.8 Billion Funny Poems is a collection of poetry, dragons and fun! This poetry book was written by Vikram Madan and was released last month. If you are looking for a fun, fresh, poetry book to use with your students or kids, this is a great book to purchase. The poems he writes are silly and wacky, which reminded me of the style I adored from Jack Prelutsky. The book is filled with rhyming poems, some of which leave the last line for the page turn, allowing the reader to guess and be surprised at how it ends. He incorporates different types of poetry styles including concrete poems. Another favorite part of the book is when he leaves one of the poems with some words missing, then gives readers a word bank to fill in. Each word bank contains a few choices of words, leaving readers with endless possibilities of how to read one poem (really over 13 million ways as he explains at the end of the poem!). Vikram uses sophisticated language (i.e smoldering, discordant) which can help readers learn new words in the process. Another teaching point can be the use of figurative language, which is used throughout the book. With humor, zany adventures, this book will surely be a hit with any poet!

Thank you Boyd, Mills, Kane Publishers for putting us on the blog tour and allowing us to read and share this poetry book with our audience. All opinions are our own.

To learn more about Vikram Madan visit his website or follow him on Twitter .

Please seek out your local independent bookstore to buy your copy today. To read what other bloggers had to say, check out the graphic below.

World So Wide *Giveaway!*

A beautiful and meaningful read for all ages! World So Wide by is a book that will make any parent tear up as they are experiencing the baby years or reminiscing about them. The book begins with a newborn baby and every few pages it poses questions about how they baby will experience the world through his/her senses. What will the baby see, hear, smell and touch. The story continues to unfold as the baby becomes an adult with his own child. The most beautiful part is each of the experiences revolve around making loving connections. I read this book with my six year old and as we read I told him stories about him as a newborn and what types of things he experienced when he was so little. He’s the oldest of three and he misses that special one-on-one time. Reading this book together, just the two of us, was such an amazing moment of connection. The smile didn’t leave his face and the hugs just kept coming. That’s the beauty of books that are as gorgeous as this one, they can serve as connections, reminders and shared experiences. 

Praise for World So Wide

★“While it will certainly touch new parents, Pulitzer honoree McGhee’s text and Alizadeh’s tender pictures will delight readers of all ages.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Breezy illustrations are pleasingly attuned to the author’s spontaneous verse as both reveal the marvel—and regeneration—of human life.” —Publishers Weekly

“Smudgily outlined illustrations bring a soft but bright energy to the author’s tender text. Pleasant and sentimental ponderings for new parents and children.” —Kirkus Reviews

About the Author and Illustrator

Alison McGhee is the author of many highly acclaimed works. Her children’s books include the #1 New York Times bestseller Someday, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds; the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award–winning Bink & Gollie, cowritten with Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Tony Fucile; and the Christopher Award–winning Firefly Hollow, illustrated by Christopher Denise. Her novels for adults include Pulitzer Prize nominee Shadow Baby and Never Coming Back. She lives in Minnesota, Vermont, and California. Learn more at www.alisonmcghee.com.Twitter: @alisonmcgheeInstagram: alisonmcgheewriter 

Kate Alizadeh is the author-illustrator of Quiet and the illustrator of That Is Actually MY Blanket, Baby! by Angie Morgan. Her distinctive hand lettering appears on the covers of Unboxed and Second Best Friend by Non Pratt, and her black-and-white illustrations are featured in Proud: Stories, Poetry and Art on the Theme of Pride, compiled by Juno Dawson. A graduate of Falmouth University, she is currently based in Northern Ireland. Learn more at www.katealizadeh.net. Twitter: @katealizadeh Instagram: katealizadeh

GIVEAWAY!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of World So Wide, courtesy of Two Lions. (U.S. addresses only please) Leave a comment below for an extra entry and be sure to visit us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more entries! Giveaway ends 3.9.20 at 11pm CST.

We Could Be Heroes and a GIVEAWAY!

Happy book birthday We Could Be Heroes by Margaret Finnegan! This book was a sweet and heartfelt read. You’ll fall in love with Hank, Maisie, Booler the dog and the parents of the two children are just as thoughtful and caring as the main characters. The story starts with Hank setting fire to a book his teacher is reading about the Nazis. He’s a sensitive and empathetic kid who takes the story to heart. Reading the book has made him so upset and he has decided he’s had enough of feeling upset when they read the book in class. He meets new-girl, Maisie and she notices he’s all wet from the fire alarm sprinkler. At first he feels uncomfortable with her but as they get to know each other a little bit he starts to cherish the time they spend together. They have a shared mission to save Booler, the dog with seizures who they feel isn’t being taken are of. It’s a wonderful story of the realities of friendship: the ups and downs, the connections, the love and the idea that “different isn’t less”. With characters who have differences it’s a wonderful story for middle grade children as both a “window and a mirror” for readers, a term coined by Dr. Sims Bishop.

About the Author

Margaret Finnegan’s work has appeared in FamilyFun, the Los Angeles Times, Salon, and other publications. She lives in South Pasadena, California, where she enjoys spending time with her family, walking her dog, and baking really good chocolate cakes. Connect with her at MargaretFinnegan.com.

Twitter: @FinneganBegin

Instagram: @finneganbegin

ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of We Could Be Heroes, courtesy of Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.  (U.S. addresses only please). Please follow and comment on this blog post for one entry and visit Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages for other opportunities to enter. US only. Giveaway ends 2.29.20!

Calling All Scientists! 🎉Giveaway🎉

Happy book birthday Dream Big, Little Scientists! 
A goodnight book for all the young scientists in your life! This adorable book explains twelve different branches of science from astronomy to chemistry in a very discreet and early childhood way. Each two page spread shows a child in a bedroom full of objects: a poster of a famous scientist(s) in that branch, quilts, books, art, etc. with clever text explaining the science and saying goodnight. For example, the paleontology page says, “Slumber’s been a part of life since prehistoric days.” The words and illustrations so perfectly tell a little bit about each part of science my boys and I already learned so much together! We also enjoyed reading the last two pages which gives a few sentences about each type of science. Author, Michelle Schaub, created a book trailer and has great extra information about science on her webpage!https://www.michelleschaub.com/dream-big

Giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a copy of Dream Big, Little Scientists, courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing (U.S. addresses only please).To enter: 1. Follow our Blog 2. Leave a comment 3. Visit our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook  
Winner chosen at random when giveaway ends on 2.21.20 at 11pm CST. Giveaway not affiliated with Instagram.
Thank you to Blue Slip Media for sending us a copy to review! All opinions are our own