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!

Giveaway: Look!: Babies Head to Toe

We love this adorable board book, Look!: Babies Head to Toe by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Anoosha Syed. It is a perfect book for your little ones to discover their body and senses! As we were reading my little guy kept touching his body parts while making the accompanying noises and gestures that the babies in the book were doing!

In LOOK!, Robie created an introduction to parts of the body and senses for the youngest readers:

  • Captivates babies and toddlers with repetitive sounds and a melodic voice
  • Follow-up to her first board book, WHO?: A Celebration of Babies, which New York Magazine named one of the best board books
  • Helps infants make sense of their world and gives them opportunities to respond with their own sounds and eventually words; fosters infants’ language skills and conversations with others
  • Bonus material: developed note cards (front and back) that include 5 tips for parents and caregivers to share LOOK!

To enter the giveaway head to our Instagram @storymamas

About the Author:

Robie H. Harris has written award-winning and internationally acclaimed children’s books and is known for writing about serious issues with honesty, understanding, and humor. Harris has written over 20 books for everyone from toddlers to older kids, including the definitive Family Library about sexuality: IT’S PERFECTLY NORMAL, IT’S SO AMAZING!, and IT’S NOT THE STORK!. Harris travels around the country speaking about how picture books address the genuine feelings and concerns of young children.

Book Trailer and Giveaway: Operation Photobomb

We are so excited to premiere the book trailer with for the hilarious book, Operation Photobomb by Tara Luebbe & Becky Cattie, illustrated by Matthew Rivera! The perfect photobomber, Chameleon, wants to be a part of everyone’s photos but the other animals aren’t excited to see his colorful smiles in their photos. Together they come up with a plan to make sure Chameleon knows what it feels like to get photobombed. Once it happens to him he begins to understand but he still can’t stay away and uses his camouflaging skills to be more discreet in his photobombing ways! But then he finally finds the perfect species that loves his photobombing skills!

To enter the giveaway head to our Instagram! US only please. Ends 9.1.19 CST at 10 pm.

About the authors:

Tara and Becky are sisters and collaborators. Tara lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina, with her husband and three boys. Becky lives in Chicago. Together they’ve written several picture books, including I Am Famous and I Used to be Famous, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, and Shark Nate-O, illustrated by Daniel Duncan. Visit Becky and Tara online at http://beckytarabooks.com/.

Facebook: BeckyTara Books Twitter: @t_luebbe and @b_cattie Instagram: @taraluebbe and @beckycattie

About the illustrator:

Matthew Rivera began drawing animals when he was old enough to hold a crayon. His parents still prize the toucan he drew when he was five.He earned his degree in fine arts from the University of Arizona. Now he lives with his family in the jungles of Los Angeles where he may, or may not, photobomb unsuspecting tourists. Visit him on Instagram @matthewdidit.

Praise for Operation Photobomb “Illustrations in this upbeat offering are lush and playful.The narrative is a lighthearted take on the trickster tale . . . that will resonate with young readers. A fanciful foray into lessons learned.” —Kirkus

A Very Important Post

If you mention the name “Margaret Wise Brown”, most people’s minds instantly go to Goodnight Moon, The Important Book, or The Runaway Bunny, and childhood memories of reading her books come flooding back. She wrote over a hundred books, but her unique life was unbeknownst to many. Until now. The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown, written by Mac Barnett, with beautiful illustrations by Sarah Jacoby, shares the story the infamous author that few really know.

We were generously given copies of The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown from Harper Collins to read and review, and we thank Sarah Jacoby for taking the time to share some thoughts with us!

Here’s our interview with illustrator Sarah Jacoby…

Can you give us an inside scoop on the illustrations that we wouldn’t learn from looking and reading the book? 

I actually have an entire blog devoted to the research behind the images. Check it out! (https://veryimportantmargaret.tumblr.com)

Here are some secret easter eggs:

Did you see the bunnies in the modern times library? One of them is supposed to be a little Mac and one of them is supposed to be a little me. (See photo of little Mac and art from the book).

There is also a scene with a horse and a flower cart. That is a real horse that I saw when I was visiting the Hollins University Archives. I had fun imagining Margaret riding her.  I learned from her yearbook that she was in the riding club. (See photo of horse and photo of Margaret in the riding club and art from the book)

You’ll notice that there is a flower pattern running through the book. If you look closely you’ll see it withering over time. 

Also! If you look closely you’ll notice that all of the historical-time images of Margaret doing things have a slight border. That’s to indicate that these images are contained by something-like the book the modern librarian bunny is reading. Everything else is full bleed (fills up the whole page). 

Is that enough secrets for now? There are more.

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

Oh boy, many many many books have stuck with me. Many. Let’s see if I had to choose one (from many!) I might choose 

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. She’s someone that I look at a lot (perhaps that’s obvious?) for her incredible art, but also for her imaginative storytelling. I recall reading the book when I was small and being awestruck by the character if Miss Rumphius-especially when she traveled to distant lands. As an adult I love the type of role model Barbara Cooney supplied there.  

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

I have many of one item: half drunk mugs of coffee. Perhaps that’s gross. Here’s what happens: I make a nice hot cup of pour over coffee in the morning. It takes me like, ten minutes. It’s a waste of time, I know, but I love it. It’s my little ritual as start to warm up and paint. I then take a couple sips and enjoy that hot mug of coffee as I begin painting. I then get distracted by painting and my coffee gets cold. Eventually I’ll put it in the fridge with the dream of making iced coffee in the afternoon. But I usually don’t get around to it. So yes, I have at least three in my fridge right now. What does this say about me? I am passionate and loyal to my activities at hand, but I am also highly distractible.  

Thank you Sarah for taking the time and answering our inside scoop question. We enjoyed learning more about the book and its process.

A Spiky *GIVEAWAY*

What happens when you think you are meant to be bad and then one day your world is turned around? In the book Spiky written and illustrated by Ilaria Guarducci, translated by Laura Watkinson, we find out just what can happen when Spiky looses his spikes. Now without his armor, he doesn’t feel as scary, or act in wicked ways. He simply feels lost, lonely and out of place. Fortunately a wise bunny comes along and helps him see that it isn’t what is on the outside that matters, but what is on the inside.

The message in the story is an important one, and throughout the book we see many animals acting in fun ways, which will get the kids giggling (who doesn’t love to see a bunny sun tanning?). Using this book with kids can be a huge help discussing how other people feel when you aren’t nice, or about stepping out of your comfort zone. The greatest lesson I discussed with my son was to judge people based on their thoughts and actions, and not how they look.

Thank you to Blue Slip media for sending us this book to read and review. All opinions are our own.

***GIVEAWAY*** To celebrate this stop on the blog tour, one lucky winner will receive a copy of Spiky, courtesy of Two Lions. To enter:

  1. Follow us on Instagram, like the post, tag at least one friend (more tags = more entries)
  2. Follow us twitter, like and retweet post

Author Bios

Ilaria Guarducci studied at the Nemo NT Academy of Digital Arts. Since 2012, she has worked as a freelance author and illustrator for various publishing houses and advertising agencies. She has written and/or illustrated seven children’s books. Spiky, published in Italy under the title Spino, was shortlisted for the Soligatto Award for Best Picture Book. Ilaria lives with her family in Prato, Italy. Learn more at www.ilariaguarducci.blogspot.com.


Laura Watkinson is an award-winning translator of books for young readers and adults. She translated Soldier Bear and Mikis and the Donkey, both by Bibi Dumon Tak and illustrated by Philip Hopman, and Mister Orange by Truus Matti, all of which won the Batchelder Award. Additionally, her Dutch-to-English translation of The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt won the Vondel Prize. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in a tall house on a canal in Amsterdam with her husband and two cats. Learn more at www.laurawatkinson.com.Spiky is the first release from Amazon Crossing Kids, a new imprint for children’s books in translation. Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.

Two Truths and A Lie & **Giveaway**

We are so excited to be on the Two Truths and A Lie: Forces of Nature blog tour. We love this series!

If you aren’t familiar with the series, this is the 3rd book by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson. In each book the authors have given us three stories in each chapter. All the stories are engaging, fun, detailed and written with such conviction that you have to believe them. But things aren’t always what they seem, it turns out one of the stories isn’t true. Your job as a reader is to figure out which one is a lie. Seems easy enough? Well, you’ll just have to dive in to see!

What we think is so wonderful about this book (and the other two) is that it makes the readers detectives. In this day and age with so much content being presented at kids, it is nice to see a book that makes us use many of the reading skills we have been taught to figure out what is real and what isn’t, because, truth be told when you read it, all the stories are written so well, it is hard to figure out the lie. At the end of the book, and included in the educator’s guide, are tips to help readers determine what is the truth. These are such great tips and strategies that we can all follow in the “fake news” day and age.

Questions for Ammi-Joan (AJP) and Laurie (LIE):

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

AJP: One of the most fun parts about working on these TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE books has been spotting and selecting the stories that we want to tell. Something you might not know is that Laurie and I have an enormous spreadsheet on Google docs; every time we come across a fantastic story, we put the info about it into our spreadsheet. Then, when it comes time to write the next book, we have a whole mountain of material available to choose from. 

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

AJP: This is SO hard! I’ve been sitting here for ages trying to answer this question, and finally I started scrolling down my list of books I’ve read over the past years. Reader, this did not help! Instead, I just spent a highly enjoyable twenty minutes going, “Oh my goodness, that was such a good one!” and “I loved that read!” So many books have stuck, and all in different ways, that it seems impossible to spotlight just one. That said, the book I am in the middle of reading right now is MERCI SUAREZ CHANGES GEARS, and it is definitely one that will stick with me for a long time—it’s fantastic!

What is currently in your fridge that tells us about you?

AJP: In my fridge you will find… (a) three different types of butter; (b) multiple varieties of cheese; (c) a can of non-fat whipped cream. One of these facts is NOT true – can you guess which? ☺

Thank you to Walden Press for providing us with a copy to giveaway. (US only) There are several ways to enter:

  1. Follow our blog (if you don’t already do so) and leave a comment on this post
  2. Follow us @storymamas and authors Ammi-Joan Paquette & Laurie Ann Thompson on Twitter and Retweet
  3. Follow us and the authors on Instagram and Like/Comment on the post
  4. Follow us and the authors on Facebook and Like/Comment on our post

Be sure to checkout the educator’s guide that accompanies the series!

Lastly, did you figure out the lie from above?  It is a true fact that non-fat anything is not welcome in my fridge… if there is a more fundamental food fact about me, I don’t know it!

Books Can Inspire To Help Those Around Us

June is Adopt-A-Cat Month! And if you know us, you know there is a book recommendation coming. Max Attacks by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Penelope Dullaghan, is a fun book that makes you think of all those feisty felines and what they do best…attack! Whether your a cat person or a dog person, we hope you can agree that there are so many animals out there that need help.

We have a lot of wonderful animal shelters and rescues in our area, and we teach our own children that they can help these animals. They’d prefer to adopt them all, but we find other ways to help out.

Last summer our kids held a lemonade stand and donated the proceeds to the shelter. People were more than generous in their donations, and it was meaningful for my daughter to walk in with a jar of money to give directly to the shelter.

Most shelters also have a wish list on their website, which can include anything from used bath towels to newspaper to baking soda. These are inexpensive and easy ways to help, and make for feasible options to include your kids in the donation process.

As we kick off summer, our bucket list continues to grow. But woven into the parks we want to visit, or activities we want to do, are the ways that we can teach our kids to be good humans and help others. When we finally get some warmth and sunshine, you’ll find us on our bike path, holding a tall glass of lemonade with your name on it.

Head on over to our Instagram account, @storymamas to enter to win a copy of Max Attacks! Thanks to Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy with us.

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.

The First Men Who Went to the Moon – With Author Interview & Inside Scoop

I was able to bring my son to a lovely author event sponsored by Book Beat, in Metro Detroit area, this past month. To celebrate March is Reading Month, Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rhonda Gowler Greene both spoke at the Oak Park Public Library about being an author and their new books.

Rhonda’s presentation was centered around her newly released book, The First Men Who Went to the Moon. It is a wonderful story that teaches readers about how Apollo 11 took its men on a mission to the moon. The book uses a rhyming and repetitive text structure that is also circular. On the side of each page, is even more information and facts about the text and illustrations. The book is entertaining, engaging and informative. The illustrations by Scott Brundage are gorgeous and make you feel as if you are in space. The story will hook readers of all ages. My son and I loved hearing her speak and have enjoyed reading the book and learning even more about the historical event!

Rhonda was kind enough to answers some interview questions and give us the inside scoop on the book!

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

Well, this year is the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing.  When I wrote the story a few years ago, I didn’t have the anniversary in mind.  But, I’m so glad the manuscript sold when it did and the book is out for Apollo 11’s 50th.  

The story sold the summer of 2017.  I was told then the book would have a Spring 2019 release.  The publisher definitely wanted it out for the anniversary. I was so happy to hear that, but also a bit worried it might not actually happen because getting a picture book published in less than two years is a very tight squeeze.  Several of my books took three to four years from contract to release. But everyone worked VERY hard to keep the book on schedule. Right around Thanksgiving when I was so busy with other things, I had revisions to do. Then I had more due right around Christmas.  The illustrator (Scott Brundage- whose art for the book is amazing!), my editor, the copyeditors, the fact checkers, the designer, etc. were crazy busy, too, meeting deadlines. Everything came together though—and beautifully. I appreciated the team effort!

The 50th is being celebrated all over the country this year, and especially in July because the Apollo 11 mission was July 16–24, 1969.  I’m honored to be speaking and signing at the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on July 21.

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

  I would be a children’s media specialist/librarian because I love books and I love working with kids.  I actually got my master’s to be a media specialist. (Before that, I was an elementary teacher.). I never worked as one, though, because I became a stay-at-home mom after my husband and I started a family (4 kids within 7 years).  I read A LOT to my kids. I think that sparked an interest in writing stories of my own. Luckily, after a few years (and 220 rejections!), I began selling some of my stories to publishers.

Maybe I’m a librarian at heart though.  I own so many books, my house looks like a library!

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

 Wow, it’s hard to pick just one.  I can think of certain books in all genres that have stuck in my mind.  But, I’ll pick one of my favorite picture books– Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin.  It’s a classic and a 1996 Caldecott Honor Book.  I never get tired of reading it. The writing by Lloyd Moss is so clever.  And the whimsical illustrations by Marjorie Priceman match the text perfectly.  Maybe it sticks in my mind because I have a music background (minored in music/piano) and— because I love going to the symphony!

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


 Homemade yogurt.  I hate to cook (would rather be reading or writing!), but I make my own yogurt, a big batch every couple of weeks.

Thanks so much Rhonda for putting together a wonderful presentation and for stopping by Storymamas for this interview. The book is published by Sleeping Bear Press and is out now! Lastly, we wish Rhonda all the best at Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum in July!

Happy National Pet Day!

It’s National Pet Day! Whether you’re a dog love, a cat person, or prefer pets with gills, today is the day to celebrate those companions we can’t live without.

We’ve partnered with Penguin to share some recent books about some clawful cats. Be sure to check out our instagram and twitter pages for giveaway info!

Flubby by J.E. Morris – My emergent reader at home instantly gravitated to these two books. Adorable illustrations, accessible text, a cat with a personality…what’s not to love? The repetitive and decodable text make this book series perfect for your early reader.

Think you have a mischievous pet? You haven’t seen anything until you read Klawde – Evil Alien Warlord Cat by Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth. Told from alternating points of view, we’re introduced to Raj, who has just moved from New York City to Oregon, and Klawde, an evil cat who was banished from his own country to planet earth. The two become friends, and Raj eventually learns that his new cat can talk. Throughout the book, they learn to navigate their new homes and the trials that come with being somewhere new. This funny series will attract your pet lovers, your science fiction readers, and any kid who loves a quirky, funny book. There are currently two Klawde books that are out, with the third being published in October.

Molly Mischief: My Perfect Pet by Adam Hargreaves, is a book that is relatable to almost every kid out there. Molly has a pet mouse, but decides she wants a pet that is bigger and better…perhaps a rhino, or an elephant. In the end, she realizes that her small pet mouse is the perfect size and the perfect pet for her.

Big or small, scaly or furry, pets have become a huge part of who we are. Give them a big hug today as we celebrate National Pet Day!