Dog Driven & GIVEAWAY!

Look at that cover! This middle grade novel is just as thrilling as the front cover makes you believe! What a page turner! A book of bravery, determination, grit, perseverance and figuring out that your challenges only make you stronger young readers will be drawn to this story.

Fourteen-year, McKenna is asked by her younger sister, Emma to run her team of sled dogs through a terrifying and dangerous race in order to raise awareness around Stargardt disease. A disease that Emma has had since she was a young child and one that McKenna fears she is developing symptoms for as well. The Great Superior Mail Run is a race complete with terrible ice and wind, freezing temperatures, scary owls and a treacherous trail to deliver mail just like they did way back when. How can McKenna say no now that she is having her own vision challenges as well? However, no one knows McKenna has been having some of the same challenges except her sister because she’s been doing a really good job hiding it from her parents and her friends, which in turn has made her feel more isolated then ever. With a connection to a historical dog sled with a letter at the end of each chapter being sent back and forth in the 1890’s we loved the special story inside the story.

This book was beautifully told and you will inevitably cheer for McKenna and her new musher friends (a term for a person who leads sled dogs in a race) as they struggle to deliver the mail

About the Author:

Terry Lynn Johnson, author of Ice Dogs, Sled Dog School, and the Survivor Diaries series, lives in Whitefish Falls, Ontario where for ten years she owned a team of eighteen Alaskan Huskies. Learn more at terrylynnjohnson.com. Twitter: @TerryLynnJ

Other Reviews:

★ “Like Gary Paulsen’s Winterdance, Johnson shows the deep bonds and trust between musher and dogs . . . .”—Booklist, starred review

★ “A densely plotted, fast-moving, thematically rich tale set at the intersection of ability and disability.”—Kirkus, starred review

ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Dog Driven, courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers (U.S. addresses only please). Please follow and comment on this blog post for one entry and visit our other social media pages for other opportunities to enter. US only. Giveaway ends 12.5.19!

Flash, The Little Fire Engine

This book is adorable! My boys love the front cover and from the second we got it in the mail they wanted to read it. Now we’ve read it multiple times and they say the onomatopoeias, “Weeoo! Honk! Whoosh! RRRing! Smash!” with me as we read.

It’s a story about a new firetruck, Flash, who is ready to save the day. But every time Flash gets to a new emergency there is some other emergency vehicle that tells him he isn’t big enough or fast enough and he begins to get discouraged. We learned a lot about the different emergency vehicles like an airport crash tender, a turntable ladder fire truck and the airplane firefighter.

Finally, there is the perfect call for him that no other vehicle can get to and he saves the day! After reading we had a great discussion about how sometimes even when we are the best intentioned, we need help from other people because we might be too small or too late. But my boys (6 and 3 years old) brought up that sometimes you are the perfect helper too! We also shared with each other what our special and unique talents are and how we are different from other people. Flash, The Little Fire Engine is the perfect book for all your little ones who are enamored with emergency vehicles. While reading we are sure you will have meaningful conversations about how everyone does unique jobs but we all work together. And with the beautiful and vibrant illustrations your children will want to read again and again!

Author Bio:

Pam Calvert is an award-winning children’s book author. Her books include the Princess Peepers series, illustrated by Tuesday Mourning; more recently, Brianna Bright, Ballerina Knight, illustrated by Liana Hee; and other titles. Formerly a science teacher as well as a writing instructor and coach, she speaks to thousands of children every year. When she’s not speaking or writing, you can find her having fun with her family in Texas. Learn more about her online at www.pamcalvert.com or on Twitter: @PammCalvert. 

Illustrator Bio:

Jen Taylor is an illustrator and arts-and-crafts enthusiast born and raised in New Jersey. She attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she majored in illustration and animation. She is the illustrator of the Brave Little Camper series as well as the picture book Ninja Camp, written by Sue Fliess. She previously worked in animation on such shows as Sid the Science Kidand MAD. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and their corgi, Rocket. Learn more about her online at www.jentaylor.net.


“Calvert deftly finds a new way to introduce kids to different kinds of firefighting vehicles…sure to slip in effortlessly with other firetruck books.” —Kirkus Reviews

Giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a copy of Flash, the Little Fire Engine, courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses only please). Head over to our social media pages to enter!

GIVEAWAY & Inside Scoop: Pippa’s Night Parade

Do you know children who have amazing imaginations but are sometimes afraid to go to sleep? I know two boys in particular with wonderful imaginations but who have trouble falling asleep. I read Pippa’s Night Parade to my two boys and we couldn’t stop talking about all the amazing and exciting things that Pippa imagines from her story books and how she tries again and again to overcome her fear. Personally, I love how the illustrations hint that her imagination is coming straight from the books she reads. Especially since as a family of readers we are constantly book talking the books we love and my boys often think about a book long after we’ve read it. My boys have had many conversations about scary parts in a story and sometimes have trouble sleeping, just like Pippa. However, Pippa isn’t one who just hides in her fear, she faces it straight on and becomes a problem solver. Even after her first attempt, and second, and third, and fourth don’t work she perseveres and keeps trying to make a plan to overcome her fear and finally change her worries into an opportunity for some fun! A wonderful story about overcoming a fear, being a problem solver and not giving up when at first you don’t succeed. We loved the beautiful, bright illustrations that added so much to the story!

Author Interview…

Can you give us an inside scoop that we wouldn’t learn from reading your book? 

Yes! Pippa’s Night Parade was always about a girl who was afraid of storybook monsters . . . but early versions of the story started out with a different solution to her problem. In my original drafts, Pippa defangs her monsters by imagining them in silly underwear—boxers, bloomers, pantalettes. This particular idea arose from the advice about calming jitters for speaking in front of an intimidating audience—imagine the audience in their underwear! However, my editor felt that there were too many underwear books on the market. So Pippa’s current solution—using fashion and costumes to make her monsters less scary—became the new end to the story. 

Question from a 5.5 year old…How did you get the creatures to come out of the stories? (Or how did you get the idea to have the creatures coming out of the stories?)

Many kids love scary stories, but sometimes their imaginations run wild after the story ends, especially at bedtime when the lights go out. As I was dreaming up this book, it occurred to me that all those books on the shelf (with monsters inside them) might feel worrisome to an imaginative kid trying to fall asleep. And so this story was born. I love how the illustrator, Lucy Fleming, shows the creatures coming out of the books! 

If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be and why?

That’s a tough one. I love being a writer and it’s all I ever dreamed of (even though I also like my current job as a therapist). If I could pick anything, I’d be a circus artist—I do aerial silks with my children at a local circus studio and it’s an important part of my life. I wish I’d known about circus arts many years ago! 

What is one book that has stuck with you since you’ve read it?

Where the Wild Things Are remains one of my most favorite books ever! I love those monsters so much that I have two stuffed Wild Things in my therapy office, perching on my bookshelf with my books. 

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

Pickled hot peppers! I love anything that’s pickled and especially things with vinegar and heat. I pickled a jar of Hungarian Wax peppers from our farm share this past weekend and I’m excited to eat them on everything I can . . .

About the author and illustrator…

Author Lisa Robinson was born in Kampala, Uganda, to Peace Corps volunteers who later became world-traveling diplomats. When she was a child, her family moved frequently, so books became her best friends. She now works as a psychiatrist and writer. She holds an MFA in creative writing for young people from Lesley University. She is also the author of Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten!, illustrated by Eda Kaban, and has more books forthcoming. She lives in Massachusetts with her family and three cats. Learn more about the author at www.author-lisa-robinson.com, or on Twitter: @elisaitw.

Illustrator Lucy Fleming, like Pippa, has a wonderfully wild imagination, which she uses to create illustrations for children’s books. She has illustrated more than twenty titles, including River Rose and the Magical Christmas by Kelly Clarkson and For the Beauty of the Earth by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint, which was a Junior Library Guild Selection. She is a graduate of the University of Lincoln in England. She lives and works in a small town in England with a cup of ginger tea in hand and her cat close by. Learn more about the illustrator at  www.lucyflemingillustrations.com. Instagram: @illustratelucy

GIVEAWAY!!!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Pippa’s Night Parade, courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses only please). Head to our Instagram or Facebook to enter to win!

Giveaway!! Along the Tapajós

This stunning book gives the reader a peek into life in the Amazon rainforest. Told through the eyes of a child, we hear about a typical day Cauā and his sister Inaê have: eating breakfast, going to school, moving to a new house as soon as the rain starts, which is the beginning of the winter season and finally going back home to get their forgotten pet turtle. There is so much to see and learn on every page about the Amazon and the way of life for children who live there. The illustrations are spectacular and share even more details about life in the Amazon. We were blown away by how beautiful this story and pictures are. My kindergartener was enthralled and wanted to learn more about the different animals and the way the children go to school. This would be a wonderful addition to a classroom library to show how children in the Amazon go to school, the animals that can be found in the Amazon, what a different community looks like and how they deal with drastic weather changes.

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

**********************GIVEAWAY************************* Courtesy of Amazon Crossing, we are hosting a giveaway for this incredible book to one lucky reader! Head over to our Instagram or Facebook to enter!

About the Author/Illustrator: Fernando Vilela is an award-winning author and illustrator from Brazil. Published in Brazil under the title Tapajós, this book was inspired by one of his trips to the Amazon rainforest. He has received many awards for his books, and he has exhibited his artwork at home and abroad, including at the MoMA in New York and the Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo. For his picture books, he has received five Jabuti awards (Brazil) and the New Horizons Honorable Mention of the Bologna Ragazzi International Award. He is also a plastics artist, and he teaches courses, lectures, and workshops on art and illustration. Learn more about him online at www.fernandovilela.com.br.

About the Translator: Daniel Hahn is an author, editor, and award-winning translator. His translation of The Book of Chameleonsby José Eduardo Agualusa won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007. His translation of A General Theory of Oblivion, also by José Eduardo Agualusa, won the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award. He recently served on the board of trustees of the Society of Authors. In 2017, Hahn helped establish the TA First Translation Prize, a new prize for debut literary translation. Learn more about him online at www.danielhahn.co.uk

★“The vibrant colors in Vilela’s illustrations and the expressive faces of Cauã and Inaê bring lightheartedness to their dangerous journey and the cyclical living it prescribes. A riveting journey.” —Kirkus Reviews(starred review)


“This is one of those engaging titles that offers a glimpse of a location new to most American readers. More translations like this one, please!” —Fuse #8 ProductionGiveaway!

Being Small

As short kiddos my boys loved reading the book, Being Small by Lori Orlinsky, illustrated by Vanessa Alexandre. Both of my boys commented on how they like being short and small because they can do so many things…and the message of the book was received! We discussed how like the character in the book they can do so many things that taller people cannot. We also loved how the story is told in rhyme. With a wonderful message about confidence and self acceptance this book is perfect for all the young ones in your life!

Thank you Lori for sending us a copy for review. All opinions are our own!

That’s Not For Babies Inside Scoop

That’s Not For Babies is a great book to celebrate the toddler years. We all know toddlers love to move from their milestones as a baby to being independent and doing things that big kids do. Prunella celebrates her birthday by doing only things that big kids do and saying goodbye to all the things she used to love…heart-shaped pancakes, bubble baths, playing at the library story time and eating double-scooped ice cream. But after a scary thunderstorm she quickly realizes that she misses all the things she used to do and that being a little bit vulnerable is okay. We love that author, Jackie Kramer, wrote this book inspired by Daisy, her daughter who recently got married this past weekend. Congrats to their family! Thanks also for sending us the book to review. Check out the inside scoop from Jackie!

Can you give us an inside scoop that we wouldn’t learn from reading your book?

Oh YES! One wouldn’t get it from ‘reading’ That’s for Babies, however, you would by seeing it. Lisa Brandenburg was the amazing illustrator for the book, as well as my previous picture book, If You Want to Fall Asleep. In the first spread of the book, Lisa added a little homage to my picture books, or meta detail, to the illustration. Prunella loves to read and on her bookshelf, you’ll find The Green Umbrella and If You Want to Fall Asleep. Lisa added one more fun detail, but I’ll let your readers discover that themselves.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be and why?

Oh gosh…that’s difficult to answer…I have lots of interests. I once worked as an actor and I think it might be fun one day to give it a go again. I also LOVE to travel. I’ve travelled to five continents and discovered new cultures, people, places and food. Maybe be a travel reporter and have my own show like Samantha Brown.

What is one book that has stuck with you since you’ve read it?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn written by Betty Smith. The story of Francie traces her individual desires, troubles and affections while growing up in an ethnic family and neighborhood. Francie is such a memorable character and through her life the book reflects the universal hopes of immigrants in the early twentieth century to rise above poverty through their children. Betty Smith’s writing is so evocative, detailed, and disarmingly romantic.

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

Nothing special in my fridge, however, there is something super yummy in one of my (yes…MY) kitchen cabinets. I LOVE savory, crunchy and spicy snacks. My favorite are jalapeño potato chips and sea salt plantain chips. Must be my Latina culture…hot and spicy, haha!

Jennifer

Jackie Azúa Kramer studied acting and voice at NYU and earned her MA, Queens College, Counseling in Education. Jackie has worked as an actor, singer, and school counselor. Her work with children presented her an opportunity to address their concerns, secrets and hopes through storytelling. Now she spends her time writing children’s picture books. Her picture books include, the award-winning The Green Umbrella (2017 Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year), If You Want to Fall Asleep and That’s for Babies. Upcoming books- The Boy and the Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla (Candlewick, 2020); I Wish You Knew (Roaring Brook, 2021); We Are One (Two Lions, TBD); Miles Won’t Smile (Clavis, TBD). Jackie lives with her family in Long Island, NY. When not writing, you’ll find Jackie reading, watching old movies and globe trekking. 

Jackieazuakramer.comk

Twitter @jackiekramer422

Facebook Jackie Azúa Kramer

Instagram

When Sue Met Sue-The Inside Scoop & **Giveaway!**

Happy Dinosaur Day!! We are doing a giveaway to celebrate! Dinosaurs are fascinating to young children and let’s be honest, everyone really. When Sue Met Sue by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Diana Sudyka is the perfect nonfiction read for dino enthusiasts and it’s out today! Thank you to Abrams Books for sending us the book and for providing one for our giveaway. All opinions are our own.

“Never lose your curiosity about everything in the universe-it can take you to places you never thought possible!”

Sue Hendrickson

The fact that all of the Storymamas have at one point lived in Chicago (2/3 of us still reside in Chicago) and have seen Sue the T. Rex, who lives at The Field Museum, we knew this was going to be a book we would love. Author Toni Buzzeo tells the fascinating, empowering story of Sue Hendrickson, the explorer and fossil collector who discovered the skeleton of the largest and most complete dinosaur to date-a T. Rex. Toni does an amazing job of telling the story behind this fascinating woman. A curious yet shy child, Sue began to collect and discover things around her. After she visited the Field Museum as a child she wondered if she could become a treasure hunter like the ones who found all the beautiful artifacts she saw. As Sue got a little bit older she traveled around the world discovering tropical fish, extinct prehistoric butterflies, whale fossils and finally making her way to dinosaur fossils. Toni’s beautiful details and Diana Sudyka’s gorgeous illustrations show Sue’s journey of discovering.

We love how Toni and Diana showcase Sue’s determination and hard work, empowering young children, especially shy children, that you can do anything and follow your curiosity. Check out our interview with Toni for the inside scoop of When Sue Met Sue.

3 Questions about When Sue Found Sue

What inspired you to write When Sue Found Sue?

I want to inspire young people by sharing stories about outstanding adults who, like them, were once children with their own unique personalities and talents and gifts that led them to the adult lives they are choosing to live. In particular, I want girls to know that science is an EVERYONE field, not just a place for boys and men to excel.

So, after I wrote A Passion for Elephants: The Real Life Adventure Of Field Scientist Cynthia Moss, I went in search of another woman scientist. When a fellow school librarian mentioned Sue Hendrickson. I was excited by the suggestion because I’d seen Sue the T. rex long before and also the replica of her at O’Hare Airport many times. The opportunity to explore Sue’s life was too enticing to pass up! And it was a delicious research journey.

How did you research the story of Sue Hendrickson?

I began my research by reading some articles online about Sue. Of course, the focus of those articles was primarily about the discovery of Sue the T. rex, so I soon learned a great deal about the momentous event as reported at the time of the discovery. I built that knowledge by reading many more articles published in newspapers and journals. There was a wealth of information about Sue Hendrickson, the dinosaur finder.

But when writing a picture book biography, the gold is really in learning about who the subject was as a child. The readers of such early biographies are so young themselves and want to be able to see themselves in the subject of the book, want to be able to imagine that they might grow up to do the grand things that the subject has done. Published interviews with Sue helped so much, because journalists would often ask her questions about her past, and she was very honest about the very shy, curious child she had been who was always an outsider. In all I consulted more than thirty sources, though because Sue herself is so reclusive, I wasn’t able to interview her.

What do you love about dinosaurs? (question from a 5.5 year old)

The thing I love most about dinosaurs is the mysterious nature of them. Yes, we’ve learned so much, especially through the work of paleontologists like Sue Hendrickson and the many others who have devoted their lives to finding the fossils. But even when we reassemble the bones, even when we have a nearly-complete skeleton as we do with Sue the T. rex, we can’t really know what it would have been like to see them in action, living their lives, locating food, raising their babies, navigating an environment that may have been radically different from ours. In that way, they are still a mystery!

3 Questions about You

If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be and why?

I suppose the answer depends on whether I can choose what I would be with my current talents and skills or whether, by magic, I could obtain new talents and skills. If I would be limited to the talents, skills, and loves I already have, I would dedicate my life to working with fiber and fabric. It’s what I now do as a hobby. In particular, I would love to make original creative landscape quilts. However, if I could magically take on new talents, I would be a visual artist, particularly one who paints. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

What is one book that has stuck with you since you’ve read it?

In 1995, Patricia MacLachlan published a short middle grade novel entitled Baby. That book touched my heart so deeply because it spoke to my own childhood experience. I remember closing the book and sobbing almost without control for a very long time. In the story, young Larkin discovers a baby in a basket near her home. The baby has a note tied to her wrist saying that the baby’s name is Sophie and that her mother will someday return for her. Larkin’s family takes the baby in and loves her, knowing they will one day have to let her go.

In some ways, it is quite similar to the story I told in my first book, The Sea Chest (Dial, 2002) in which a baby washes ashore in a sea chest and the main character’s family, the lighthouse keeper’s family, takes her in and adopts her as their own. Only in my story (a retelling of a mid-coast Maine legend) the parents are lost at sea and so there is no returning of the child. But in my very real life experience, my foster sister lived with us for nearly a year and then was placed in a permanent adoptive home. The loss was so painful and Baby recaptured it for me.

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

I suppose I ought to mention the stack of dark chocolate bars. I allow myself 1 ounce of dark chocolate a day because 1) it’s delicious and 2) it’s health food, right? Alternately, I could talk about the big jar of minced garlic because an Italian gal should never be without garlic even if she’s used up the fresh cloves.

Thank you to Toni for answering some of our questions about the book and yourself. For more information about her books visit her website or you can follow her on Twitter. Check out illustrator Diana Sudyka’s work as well through her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

This Book is Spineless-Inside Scoop & Author Interview

Thank you to author Lindsay Leslie for sending us this hilarious book. All opinions are our own.

We can’t get enough of This Book is Spineless by Lindsay Leslie illustrated by Alice Brereton. It’s hilarious and so entertaining! We love how the book is personified as a scaredy cat and doesn’t want you as the reader to turn the page because you may just stumble upon a very frightening experience! YIKES! But we can’t stop turning the pages! The gorgeous colors of the illustrations make you want to jump in the book and help it move past the anxiety it’s feeling. They are the perfect match to the words! This book for sure will get any child (and adult) giggling and feeling a little bit comforted by the fact that others share anxious feelings towards things! We can’t wait for her next book, Nova the Star Eater, coming out May 2019. Lindsay was kind enough to give us the inside scoop on how she came up with the idea for the book and answer a few fun questions for us!

Can you give us an inside scoop that we wouldn’t learn from reading your book?

Ooooo, the scoop! The biggest scoop is my inspiration for THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS, which has two parts. I came up with the title of the book when I walked into my youngest son’s messy room and stepped on one of his picture books. I don’t remember exactly what happened in my brain, but I can imagine it was thinking something like, “I stepped on a book. I hurt the book. I broke its spine.” Then I shouted out, “This book is spineless!” My second inspiration wasn’t quite so in-the-moment. I have always dealt with anxiety — from a young child to even now. This title gave me the perfect vehicle for a story that could show an anxious moment to a child in a palatable, silly, even endearing way, and how even a scaredy-pants, fraidy-cat book could face its biggest fear. The last bit of scoop is I wanted to make sure the book wasn’t completely resolved of all its anxiety, as that is not reality for those of us who live with more than our fair-share of anxiety and not the reality I wanted to convey.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be and why?

This is difficult to answer, because writing has been a part of every career I’ve ever had. Maybe a therapist? I do like to help people work through their issues. It also helps me to reflect on what I could be working on, as well. Maybe a clown? I do like to goof around and make people laugh. Maybe a clown therapist? Zoiks. But I could not imagine a life where I don’t write as part of what I do day to day.

What is one book that has stuck with you since you’ve read it?

OK, I’m going to break the rules. I’m going to give you two books. One adult, one children’s. I’m going to have to say Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood because of its structure and approach to storytelling. It was a liberating and inspiring read for me and made my mind explode with possibilities. It was the book that convinced me creative writing was an option and I should explore it.

The second is The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak. I love the rule-breaking, envelope-pushing spirit of this book. It creates the best engagement between the reader and audience. No one gets away from that book without a big laugh and a shared experience.

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

Jalapeno hummus.

Thank you again to Lindsay Leslie for sending us the book for review and for the interview. If you’d like to learn more about her check out her website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The Inside Scoop: Be a Maker

 Thank you Lerner Publishing for sending us a copy for review; all opinions are our own.  We love this book! The rhyming and catchy text take you on a making journey. The reader is challenged to be a maker from creating a tower to a rhythm to making a difference. The question at the end brings it altogether, “are you proud of what you made?” The illustrations are beautiful in color, detail and diversity. A wonderful read for classroom bookaday or really anywhere/anytime. After reading you will be inspired to make something! We were lucky enough to get the inside scoop from author, Katey.

Can you give us an inside scoop that we wouldn’t learn from reading your book? 

I’d love to! BE A MAKER actually started as a list of ways we use the word “make” in English. I was comparing it to other languages, thinking about how broad a meaning that one word carries, and how confusing that could be to non-native speakers. You could make a sandwich, and you could make a face, and the actions involved are so very different. Why would we use the same word?! When I switched from thinking about the verb “to make” and instead considered the noun “maker” – it all seemed so much more intuitive. A maker has the power to add something to the world that wasn’t there before, to change something that isn’t working, to affect others’ lives.  I asked my kids and scout troop what the word “maker” meant to them – and so many of them immediately thought about robots and computers and engineering. “Maker” and “Makerspace” had such strong tech vibes in their experience that they didn’t really think beyond that. I wanted to find a way to broaden that image in their minds to include all sorts of creative endeavors – and BE A MAKER began to take shape. 

Thank you Katey for giving us the inside scoop! To learn even more about Katey, please visit her website. Or follow her on Instragram and Twitter.

Read STEAM: Children’s Literature & Lessons to Help Support Your Classroom Learning

We shared about all of these amazing books at the Illinois Educator Conference (ICE) in Chicago. Some of the below titles scream STEAM while others take a bit more out of the box thinking to create a STEAM experience for your children/students.