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
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.
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
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.
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.
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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!
From cover to cover this book gives us all the feels! Bernard, a bird with especially long wings doesn’t feel any different than the other birds. But once all his bird friends start flying he begins to feel lonely since he can’t fly. Determined to fly he first tries to slingshot himself out of a tree. When that doesn’t work, he tries making his wings shorter. Feeling hopeless, he gives up and perches on a tree to feel sorry for himself. One night he hears a sobbing sound coming from a very sad orangutan. All he knows to do with his long wings is give the orangutan a big, huge, gigantic hug with his enormous wings. Once he gives one hug he begins to feel better and soon he realizes he can give the BEST hugs; hugs so good that the animals are lined up to receive his amazing hugs. Bernard begins to feel confident again and so he tries flying, but, still he is unsuccessful. He finally realizes flying isn’t everything and having friends can help you do anything! We loved the beautiful illustrations with a pastel color palette, the vocabulary words and the way Bernard realizes even through all the hard work sometimes things still don’t work out how you want them to and that’s okay! We think it’s so important to teach children that they won’t be good at everything but everyone is good at something; figuring out what that something is matters. Bernard takes on the challenge of being different and becomes great at something else, hopefully sending the message to readers that differences should be celebrated and valued.
Ged Adamson is a children’s book author and illustrator. His picture books include A Fox Found a Box; Douglas, You Need Glasses!; Shark Dog!; and Ava and the Rainbow (Who Stayed). He has also worked as a cartoonist, storyboard artist, and composer for film and TV. He lives in London with his partner, Helen, and son, Rex. To learn more, visit his website: https://gedadamson.myportfolio.com/home-page
Twitter: @ged_adamsonInstagram: @gedadamson
Praise for Bird Hugs:
“Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The lesson is a simple, familiar one—selflessness and sympathy are key to making friends—but Adamson’s gentle humor and his eager-eyed characters’ yearning become an eloquent testimony to the power of a little TLC.” —Publishers Weekly
One lucky winner will receive a copy of Bird Hugs, courtesy of Two Lions. Please follow our blog (if you aren’t already) and comment on this post to be entered. US only please. Visit our Instagram and Twitter pages for more entries.
We are so excited to be part of this blog tour! A Mixture of Magic is the 3rd book in the Love Sugar Magic series by Anna Meriano. We adored the first two books and were so thrilled Walden Pond Press asked us to read the advanced reader copy of the third book to review on our blog.
I was texting with my husbands cousin about books her 10 year old daughter was reading. She mentioned she was reading the Love Sugar Magic series and couldn’t wait until the release of book three! I told her I have the book and she was welcome to read it in exchange for an honest review as a part of the blog tour we were asked to be on. She was so excited to get her hands on the book early because she LOVED the first two. A goal of Storymamas is to put quality books in the hands of kids and this was a perfect opportunity to do so along with the opinions of a child reviewer. So today we introduce our guest blogger Elena, a 10 year old living in Chicago and an avid reader.
Love Sugar Magic book 3 is a suspenseful and interesting book. Your questions are answered from the end of book 2 when Leonora sees her abuelo. My favorite things about it is when Leonora finds her birth order power, and when Leonora fights her abuelo. In this book Leonora finds another magical adventure in fighting her abuelo with her family and friends. I would recommend this book for people who have read the first 2 books and people who love magic and baking.
Publisher Walden Pond Press has offered to send one lucky reader a copy of the book. Please follow our blog (if you aren’t already) and comment on this post to be entered. US Only. Visit our Instagram and Twitter pages for more entries.
Don’t forget to check out the other stops for A Mixture of Mischief Blog Tour
Anna Meriano is the author of the books in the Love Sugar Magic series, A Dash of Trouble, A Sprinkle of Spirits and A Mixture of Mischief. She grew up in Houston, Texas, and earned her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in writing for children from the New School in New York. She has taught creative writing and high school English, and she works as a writing tutor. Anna likes reading, knitting, playing full-contact quid- ditch, and singing along to songs in English, Spanish, and ASL. Her favorite baked goods are the kind that open hearts. You can visit her online at www.annameriano.com.
An adorable story about a little girl who looses her tooth but she accidentally swallows it! She decides, even though she knows it isn’t right, she will put a popcorn kernel under her pillow so she can still get a visit from the tooth fairy. As the tooth starts popping, the tooth fairy realizes the lie the little girl told. She goes back to the girls house to teach her a lesson and gives her a notepad so she can write a note next time and be honest. This rhyming book has an important message to be truthful especially when you want something very badly. Thank you to author Lori Orlinsky for sending us a book to review. All opinions are our own.
An adorable ninja story with a lot of imagination that your young kiddos will want to read again and again! Since reading my three boys are in the jungle, the desert and the ocean imagining dangerous adventures all the while in full ninja gear!
A silly story about a Naughty Ninja, a young boy, (Will) who has an imagination that takes him on an adventure to save his dad! If you’re around small kiddos you know how a child’s imagination can take over all too well. Naughty Ninja makes it his mission to protect his dad from ferocious alligators, poisonous jungle flies and samurai warriors.
His dad knows what is going to come and pleads with Naughty Ninja to not say his famous line, “Ninja to the rescue!” because when he does craziness ensues! Just beware if you decide to read this one with children you may have some ninjas on your hands!
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
★ “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
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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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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
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!